Thursday, November 22, 2007

Font change mystery solved

There have been a lot of postings on the Internet help forums about problems with fonts and fontbook after arrival of Leopard and new 2008 version of Pages.

I have decided to hold off Leopard until I have mastered the new features in Pages. That way I can see if a problem is related to iWork, and not to the operation system. Installing both new iWork and new OSX would make that more difficult.

• Size of text suddenly shrank to 20-25 % of what it used to be
• Palatino not displayed properly in command+T fonts panel

I have just finished a long session with my computer service provider, Océan Assistance based in Caen, Normandy. We were trying to figure out what had happened to the Palatino font after iWork/Pages 08 installation.

The main difference compared to 06 version was that text suddenly shrank. Every page of my document had 20 to 25 percent more room for text. Another sign of trouble was that Font display panel (Command+T) wouldn't display Palatino properly. While the name of the font was saying 'Palatino' I could see in the display window that it was more like Helvetica (for those who don't know Palatino: it is like a more modern, elegant and sparse version of Times New Roman.)

It wouldn't be such a problem had I used just one machine, but the pages of my project are processed on two machines connected to a small network, so all computers must display pages in exactly the same way - and they didn't. Another concern was that Palatino is the main text font I use in the magazine.

I had blamed the older of the two machines for causing problems, but after extensive checks and trials, we found that it was the new iMac that had corrupt Palatino font files. We compared the pages on our two iMacs and computers and the technician's MacPro laptop. The older Mac and the laptop displayed the page in the same way, while the page on the new iMac was different.

So, Watson, we deduced that the problem was inside the new machine. It took more time to re-synchronise fontbooks, trawl through libraries and plists to find out what had happened. The Palatino font file on the new iMac got corrupted after the iWork 08 installation. The problem was solved after the corrupt Palatino file was replaced by the correct one.

  • 112 Kb - corrupt Palatino file size
  • 700 Kb - correct Palatino file size

What's also baffling is that iWork was installed on two different machines from the same disc and one got a corruption after installation while the other one didn't. It was especially confusing, because the older machine already had been repaired, so I had less trust in it than in the brand new iMac that I've only been using for three months.

It was a huge relief for me to have this problem sorted, but the question still remaiins: why iWork installation would have created that corruption?

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