[Fontinst] A question about reglyphfont

Pierre MacKay pierre.mackay at comcast.net
Wed Oct 7 19:47:28 CEST 2009

I am following this discussion with great interest, but I wonder whether 
the problems of using a font with the Adobe Expert Character set names 
have been looked at.

Adobe seems (it is difficult to be sure of the causes) to have set up 
Acrobat reader 8 and 9 so that they trap names like Asmall  . . .  
Zsmall, the old-style figures and the ff ligatures.  Unless I use the 
on-line distiller at Acrobat.com, I get PDFs in which all characters 
from the Expert character set are replaced by blank space.  Actually, 
not all, because the accented glyphs in the range E0--FF come through.

It is, of course, possible to bypass the problem by using something 
other than Reader 8 or 9.  Reader 6 and 7 did not have the problem, so 
it is something introduced by Adobe in the later versions of Reader.  I 
submitted a bug report over the problem when Reader 8 came out.  It was 
acknowledged, and I was told that it would be corrected "in the next 
major release."  It clearly has not been corrected.  One of the worst 
aspects of this bug is that it destroys the archival value of all PDFs 
distilled before the arrival of Reader 8.  (I don't know exactly when 
the change was made in Acrobat Distiller, but I suspect that it was 
contemporaneous with Reader 8).

A comparison of output from the online distiller at Adobe.com and output 
from Ghostscript 8.63 shows that in the Adobe distiller, any font with 
the names Asmall  . . .  Zsmall is treated to two consecutive 
operations, the first of which is associated with "/Tounicode."  I have 
been unable to find out what /Tounicode does.  Does it recode the entire 
Adobe Expert Character set into a page in the Private use sector?

In any case, even if you do manage to break the Expert character set out 
(and I do not at all share the idea that multiple fonts are taboo---the 
Korean Tex Users Group does a splendid job with multiple fonts, and even 
if a system cannot easily accommodate them on the main system hard disk, 
they can be put onto a UsbStick), it is a good idea to try the result 
out on the latest Adobe Reader.  You may find that your work simply 
results in an unusable PDF unless you subscribe to Adobe. com. For the 
moment, I have to do so, but that still does not answer the question of 
the loss of archival PDFs.

Footnote: The problem does not occur with every (mis)use of the 0 . . . 
127 glyph space that Unicode reserves for vanilla ASCII.  My Ibycus 
Greek font uses descriptive, non-ASCII names in exactly that coding 
range and gets printed with no problems.  It seems clear that it is the 
specific glyph names Asmall  . . .  Zsmall that get trapped by the new 
Reader versions.

Pierre MacKay

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