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Staedtler von Przyborski, ©September 2000 , Translation: Frank
Websites and files this article refers to:
As the title indicates, this article is about freeware. To simplify things I
count everything as freeware if the user doesn't have to pay for it, regardless
of the program's license. That is, it's unimportant whether the file's under the
GPL (which is the best license, actually, since the program sources have to be distributed
as well), whether it's cardware, or beerware... So why especially freeware? Well,
the market situation has changed. Entire operating systems and office suites are
available as freeware; IBM's vague commitment to OS/2 made many commercial ISVs
withdraw, so users are thinking twice before they spend money for OS/2 (even why
they should spend it at all); and last, but not least, freeware simply is the 'salt
in the soup'. In The Free Files articles, single programs won't be the focus
very often. Rather, each article deals with a special topic, if possible, and looks
at all the files relating to it. The programs, which I look at, are meant to be
a sort of 'positive list', i.e. they work (at least for me) without errors, because
it isn't helpful for anybody if I'm tearing software to pieces.
At the very beginning, I'd like to make a request (or critiques). First to the
users of freeware: please, give some feedback to the developers from time to time,
but, please, not like "XYZ is the worst piece of software the world has seen
since Eniac..." Oh yes, developers love being praised (which gives you the
opportunity to add your wishes), which is all they get back from their software.
Secondly, to the developers: if for whatever reason you stop maintaining your program,
please make sure development can be continued by releasing the source.
I'd most like to start writing about programs I am using regularly - simply because
I know them best - but I think that would not be a good beginning. So this time
I have chosen a topic which surely has affected every OS/2 user at one time or another.
(And, yes, there are also women using OS/2 -- and doing a lot more. What is OS/2
worth today without for example Daniela Engert's driver? Which currently available
hard disk would run at a reasonable performance without her?): [Translator's note:
the term used in the original hints at male and female users.]
For a long time the only usable font management tool has been FontView (curently
I don't know a source for downloading) by Cliff Cullum, who developed the commercial
and highly recommended Fontfolder, and PFM2AFM
by Markus Schmidt. With Fontview it's possible to preview even currently not installed
fonts, but this only works for Postscript fonts - will it ever become available
for Truetype as well? PFM2APM is a tool to generate *.afm, which are required in
OS/2, from *.pfm to use Windows Postscript fonts in OS/2, for example. However,
this is not necessary anymore, since loads of free fonts are available (both, Postscript
and Truetype) in almost every shape and size.
Does anybody recall Amipro 3.0 or Starwriter 2.0? They both were missing a function
to "insert a special character" (or whatever creative developers may have
named it). Even WordPro 96 was suffering from that. Had there been a usable tool
like Charmap (as it comes with Windows 3.1), there would have been no problem, but
such a tool simply was not there. Everything I tried out (even Shareware), simply
turned out to be useless. Not until approximately two years, did two tools exist
that you can really work with: Charmap
by Joachim Scholtysik, and Charmap
1.14 by Dmitry Steklenev. The first one (Charmap), is a simple 1:1 copy of the
Windows 3.1 Character Mapper; the latter provides additional information about the
fonts used and has been more efficiently programmed. If only Charmap 1.14 could
be enhanced with a font-preview and a history function for the fonts least used,
it'd exceed my wishes. The irony with all of this: every recent word processor has
a built-in function to insert special characters. So the tools at least can be used
to get an overview about the overall shape of a font. Unfortunately, Describe has
been discontinued, which had a special feature that showed the font selection in
the way the fonts later appeared in the text.
At least there have always been quite usable ASCII tables, such as Goran Ivankovics
Table 1.11, or PMAsc
dated 1989 (for that it's extra lean), to insert special chracters via Alt-NNN or
the Clipboard. However, that's not too elegant.
Speaking about fonts, some may think about font editors. There was one - it's
name I fortunately have forgotten - that crashed any time one started to get creative
with it. A reasonably good beginning for a font editor was Display Font Editor,
by Victor Smirnoff & Kolosoft Group. But now, Display
Font Editor can be used only to edit screen fonts. It was initially developed
to display Russian fonts correctly in VIO applications. Now imagine if some additional
development could be done...
After all this mostly bad news, there are some positives: for Hewlett Packard
Laser printers Postscript
Display Fonts do exist, that are equal to those hardcoded within the printer.
To people who always wanted to write with strange fonts (no matter how exotic they
may be, even Sütterlin [translator's note: old-fashioned German handwriting],
and Fraktur are amongst them) I recommend Dr.
Berlin's URL. To make Chinese work as well, you just need Chiner/2
My desires? Well, I became a disillusioned realist: Freetype/2 2.0 and a font
viewer with a Truetype and Postscript preview will be virtually sufficient.