Getting to Know All about You, pt. 4 – Typography

At The MathWorks, new hires have to post a brief introduction about themselves. The messages are rather formulaic and goß a little something like this:

Hi, I’m Jeff Mather, a not-so-new software engineer in the Image and Scientific Data Formats team, which is a part of the Image and Geospatial Computing group. Before starting at The MathWorks, I attempted to defend the business model of a late-90′s dot-com start up in Cambridge, Mass., from people who said you had to sell things to make a profit.

In my spare time I like to photograph, catalog names at cemeteries, and watch obscure dramas and documentaries. A little known fact about me is that I’m a bit of a dilettante and hate bad type.

There you have it, friends, my secret shame. I’m a type aesthete who can’t abide bad page layout and artless kerning. That’s why you’ll only see em-dashes and smart quotes here. (Of course, you wouldn’t know the depth of my feeling from the current layout of this web site; but I’m working on that, and self-flagellation is a very old family trait.) But my shame is also pleasant, because I revel in good design, too.

To feed that font- and type-loving part of me, I follow these typographic weblogs:

[1] – For example:


(Click for larger…)

[2] – I love the way that text and graphics look on my Mac, but Microsoft is going to win the future if Apple isn’t careful. For several years now motivated Windows users have been able to get dead-simple multilingual support. The Windows type engine does a really good job of creating the complex ligatures in various complex scripts. Furthermore, for several South and East Asian languages, you simply type what you want in a Roman alphabet you get nicely transliterated script. On the Mac, if you don’t have a TrueType font, you won’t get all of those nice features, and forget about input method editors if you aren’t using CJK. Here’s a simple comparison that shows the incomplete support for OpenType fonts on Mac OS 10.4.10. (Note the appearance of the combining character ” ् ” and the awkward positioning of vowels with all faces except Devanagari MT.)

A comparison of OpenType and TrueType typefaces on Mac OS X 10.4.10

This entry was posted in Computing, General, I like type, Worthy Feeds. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Getting to Know All about You, pt. 4 – Typography

  1. fontguy says:

    FYI, Devanagari MT owes its appearance under OS X to AAT features (at the time they were known as “TrueType GX”), not OpenType. I actually worked on this font in the mid-90s in conjunction with Apple. It is largely unchanged since then.

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