Adobe recently announced the end of PostScript Type 1 font support in January 2023. Unlike the Latin based Type 1, Japanese Original Composite PostScript Type 1 (OCF) fonts that went on sale in 1989 had a short shelf life and serious shortcomings. They…
…could not be downloaded on a per-job basis, had to reside permanently on the printer and turned the production process upside down: service bureaus and printers were suddenly dictating to designers which fonts could and could not be used.
For every PostScript device, users had to invest in font licenses― and Japanese fonts were very expensive…Morisawa and Adobe came up with the idea of marketing two flavors of PostScript printer fonts: low-resolution (up to 600 dpi) and unlimited. A single unlimited-resolution RIP Japanese font cost ¥218,000 (about $2,000).The Second Wave of Japanese Desktop Publishing
Adobe fixed some of the problems with CID Japanese PostScript fonts but the expensive and forced upgrade in 1995 did not go well with Japanese customers. Actually it was more of a revolt. Morisawa was forced to backdown and support the older format. I remember spending endless hours upgrading output devices, feeding piles of unique key Morisawa font floppy disks into a Mac that downloaded the CID update to the output device, and often broke in the middle of an install.
Adobe didn’t really fix most Japanese font problems until the OpenType Japanese format arrived a few years later…with yet another expensive upgrade. Adobe and Morisawa wanted to move everybody to OpenType as quickly as possible but the CID upgrade disaster killed that possibility and customers stuck with OCF Type 1 Japanese fonts on output devices as long as they could.
Japanese designers and printers who don’t want to deal with OpenType upgrades and options for extended character sets, IVS enabled fonts, etc., have annual licensing programs like Morisawa Passport to download what they need, but at ¥49,800 per year per CPU it does not come cheap. A close reading of the Morisawa font catalog lists everything still available in OCF format and it’s not exactly clear if OCF is disappearing January 2023 with regular Type 1 (the Japanese notice does not specifically list OCF) but it really needs to go. At this point I imagine it’s mostly there for compatibility with very old RIP systems and files. CID font support ended in 2020. I hope Morisawa uses the opportunity to streamline their catalog option clutter and start delivering Japanese OpenType variable fonts though I think it’s a long shot.
Japanese Typography and Font Posts
This is a collection of long form Japanese typography posts. They were written as stand alone pieces, so there is some background explanation overlap, always a weak point of the blog format.
- The Second Wave of Japanese Desktop Publishing: recap of Japanese PostScript, first wave DTP problems and what OpenType Japanese fonts aim to fix
- Inside Hiragino: profile of the macOS X Japanese system font creation and design
- Hiragino Shock: the impact of Apple Publishing Glyph Set
- Requiem for Sha-Ken: the end of Sha-Ken and it’s legendary Japanese font library
- Legacy Rescued: Morisawa to release the Sha-Ken font library in OpenType
- TrueType GX lives on in OpenType Variable Fonts: the QuickDraw GX TrueType technology adopted of OpenType Variable fonts
- CSS and Japanese Typography: Japanese typography basics and how the web typography model breaks them
- The Art of Using Color Kanji
- Stroke Fonts Forever: the real solution for non-roman font development
- Apple’s Once and Future Variable Type System Font: Why Japanese variable system fonts for iOS and macOS will be a long time in coming, if ever.
- The Curse of Japanese PostScript will live on
- TextKit 2 and Apple text layout architecture evolution