Cross Platform Font Layout

Ralph DiMola rdimola at
Tue Aug 25 15:10:00 EDT 2020

Couple of thoughts here.

I've been using PDFs since the early 90s (and postscript too). Even though I
detest the strangle hold that Adobe has on its PDF writer, reader and full
Acrobat, it has been the only reliable cross platform format I use that can
(most times) retain font Size, wrapping, kerning, leading and weight. PDFs
can be generated on any platform and still go to pre-press with confidence.
Not that there can't be snafus because of fonts not embedded or fonts that
are embedded incorrectly(more about that later). It's also not at its core a
programming language although one can write plugins.

Font "Consistent" Applications:
Indesign can keep a document consistent across platforms but that's all it
does. It's not at its core a programming language although one can also
write plugins. I do Mac/PC Indesign and it's in my cases 100% the same.

Now MSWord... It can also be cross platform consistent with a rub. If you
use the bold face of a font and send it to another person that doesn't have
the bold face Word will do the math and make the plain face bold and things
will not kern correctly. It does this without warning. Word will also does
silent font substations(a nightmare). Now send that file to a another user
with the bold font and it will be used and now kern correctly BUT the
document will not PDF correctly. Embedded fonts will have wrong names. I
spent a week one day ferreting this out. We got it straight but funny enough
like 5 years later that customers bad version of the document made its way
back to us with the same but different font issues.

Font Naming:
Font names and aggregating font families is totally different between
InDesign and MS Word on the same platform. InDesign will be consistent
between platforms but for the price I pay for the yearly subscription it
better. There are like 3 names in the font. I don't remember the exact
details but it was something like base name/family/face. And still in 2020
this has not been addressed in a user friendly way. There must be some
historical reasons for this. Maybe it was MAC/PC wars or Adobe sticking
their 2 cents in with ATM in the 90's to early 2000s. Why font names for the
same font are not the same in 2020 across Mac/Win/Linux/iOS/Android is
beyond me but I deal with it.

It would be ideal if font names/rendering was consistent between platforms
but I don't compose books in LC. When I need exact matching I use images.
This is what I did for pre-storyboard iOS splash screens.  Images were only
way to match the fonts of the IDE generated splash screens to the first card
rendered in iOS. I also use images to have customer logos with text to look
correctly. If you think that LC can be slow scrolling you don't want to
think how slow it could be if LC implemented the types of things that
InDesign does to keep fonts looking the same across platforms. Even in LC
the only way to keep exact formatting is to use the PDF Widget(back to PDFs

LC is not a high-end composition tool. After programming in like 15 or more
languages from 1620 SPS to LC, I find LC to be a pleasure. From chunks to
DBs to http tsNet to cross-platform to extensibility it's a daily load off
my brain. Yes there can be some ugly workarounds now and again but in the
end I save time and a bunch of brain cells. The fact there are workarounds
in most cases sometimes amazes me. Between this list, getting the Mothership
to chime in and Panos's help, I'm all in and will support LC to the end of
my programming days.

As the boss said in "Casino". "At least that's the way I feel"

Ralph DiMola
IT Director
Evergreen Information Services
rdimola at

More information about the use-livecode mailing list