TrueType 1.0 font advice

One of my favourite fonts in Panorama 6 is Helvetica Narrow. It is an original TrueType 1.0 font and it is a good looking, legible condensed sans perfect for putting a lot of text on each line of a report. Very nice in larger sizes too. But it is old, from 1991, and I worry about compatibility in the future.

Now I’m converting forms in PX I’ve tried changing it to Helvetica Condensed, which, it turns out, I don’t like it nearly as much, something about the character shape and the darker look on the screen and page in small sizes. It’s a PostScript Type 1 font but I see it’s also pretty old, most recently from 1997, it appears.

I’ve tried to find info on Google, but without much success. Can anyone advise whether we should trust TrueType 1.0 fonts to be continue to be supported, or whether it’s especially risky?

David Duncan

When I think back historially about all the things that Apple and others encouraged us to use, only for them to later abandon, I wouldn’t trust anything of the past to be supported. Jim Rea points out many times the advantage of using the system fonts in Panorama X since they’ll just go along for the ride.

Fonts are easy enough to change if necessary, but if it’s a critical application for you, my trust would be on something current or dynamic (the system fonts).

You can download a newer .otf (OpenType Font) version of Helvetica-Narrow from the site below. The .otf is a newer type format than the .ttf (TrueType Font) but both still work today. Apple system fonts seem to include .ttf , .otf, .ttc and .dfont files. The .ttc file is a collection of a true type family of font styles while the .dfont is a Mac only data fork TrueType font.

The problem of course with using non-system fonts is that they will be substituted for on other machines that do not have them installed. Here is a comparison between Helvetica-Narrow and Helvetica-Condensed at 18 point:

If there was a good substitute for Helvetica Narrow I’d be tempted. Some of my forms however have a lot data points per line, up to 40 across an A4 sheet. Rejigging forms like that whenever there was a system font revamp would be a pain.

Thank you very much for the link. I duly downloaded the .otf fonts and they are perfect! (The package even includes Oblique and Italic versions in roman and bold, each pair of which appear to be identical.)

I control the machines using our databases so it’s no problem to install all the fonts used.

Problem is that Font Book won’t activate the Helvetica Narrow .otf and .ttf fonts at the same time. As I can’t afford to lose the fonts in my P6 files while I’m adjusting the forms in files converted to PX, I’ll have to use the .ttf versions for the time being or else get a second computer (or partition).

You could try the Avenir Next Condensed. I think it runs even smaller than the Helvetica Narrow.

That is an excellent font, which I was not aware of, and it’s already installed. Thanks, Kurt.

Now here’s something unexpected. When I switched off the .otf font and turned the .ttf font back on in Font Book, after restarting both P6 and PX, the missing-font window did not appear when opening a database in P6; however, upon opening PX it simply used the .ttf font instead of the .otf font without any fuss. The PX forms look identical with .ttf and .otf versions.

If this turns out to be reliable, I should be able to replace the .ttf font with the .otf font in all my PX forms after I complete the conversion of all my P6 files to PX simply by swapping them in Font Book.

This sounds too good to be true.