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Ralf Herrmann

Typography in OS X El Capitan and Pages

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Ralf Herrmann

I received this via email, but I guess it’s best discussed more publicly: 

Everyone talking about the typography in OS X El Capitan comments on Apple’s San Francisco fonts, but they ignore the issue of whether or not the typography commands in OS X will be accessible and work in Pages ’09 and Pages 5 under OS X El Capitan.

In a letter to Tim Cook in December 2013, I requested that the typographic capabilities of Open Type fonts be restored to Pages 5. As of today, they haven’t been.

When I spoke with an Apple Senior Specialist in January 2014, I learned that Apple’s software engineers were aware of the typography issues but had not addressed them.

Now the situation is worse. Under OS X 10.10.5, the typography commands in Pages ’09 do not work consistently. From font to font, the response to those commands varies. Since I cannot use Pages ’09 reliably in OS X Yosemite, I’m stuck in OS X Mavericks.

In both Pages ’09 and Pages 5, the typography commands are accessible through the Typography Window, which is accessed by clicking on the gear in the Fonts Window (called by typing ⌘T). They are visible in appropriate OpenType fonts, such as Hypatia Sans.

I prepare correspondence, financial reports, and scientific documents for my clients. In Hypatia Sans, for example, the typography commands allow me to use:

  • Monospaced Numbers — also known as tabular figures, necessary for financial information and for producing tables in reports;
  • Proportional Numbers — used for technical reports, addresses, and dates;
  • Old-Style Figures — used in long, non-technical documents because they are easier to read and more economical;
  • Superiors/Superscripts — used in scientific reports;
  • Inferiors/Subscripts — used for scientific reports;
  • Ordinals — used in many disciplines;
  • Real Lower Case Small Caps and Real Upper Case Small Caps — used for acronyms, for emphasis, and for tables and charts;
  • and Alternative Styles — used to set the style of a document.

The typography commands work in TextEdit, Nisus Writer Pro, and Mellel, but I much prefer using Pages because it’s a better and more useful program overall, especially Pages ’09.

As I said above, in Pages 5 the typography commands are accessible, but they do not work. I cannot upgrade to Pages 5 or to OS X 10.10.5 until they do.

If there is anything you can do to bring this issue to the attention of Apple, please do.

Many thanks.
Onward,
Bill G.

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Thomas Phinney

From chatting with a friend at Apple, I gather that the issue is with Pages and not the OS.

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Chris Lozos

When was the last makeover for pages? It seems to not get much attention.

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Ralf Herrmann

Now the situation is worse. Under OS X 10.10.5, the typography commands in Pages ’09 do not work consistently. From font to font, the response to those commands varies.

I’m not really sure what this means. Are certain features missing? Or are the not working when activated? And if they work for some fonts, but not others, is there a pattern, i.e. AAT vs OT fonts, TrueType-based vs. PostScript-based or something like that?

I guess the recommended way to address this is the normal one: file bug reports on https://bugreport.apple.com/
I’m not a fan of their procedure there. I hardly see any acknowledgements for the reports I submitted and the release cycles of those app are rather long, so for such typography bugs, a resolution might only come in the next major release one year later. So I rather not use these apps for serious work anyway. 

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Chris Lozos

I wonder how much Apple cares about its secondary applications.  I hope you can find a good substitute?

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Ralf Herrmann

I wouldn’t say they don’t care, but they might have a different focus for such apps meant for a broad range of Apple users. For example, it looks like a recent focus was to make the files for these apps also browser-editable. That’s an area where a full range of smart-font feature is a problem on its own. 

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Chris Lozos

I am assuming these apps are not targeted to the design/typography professional.

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Thomas Phinney

Apparently the new version of Pages just released is improved in this regard.
https://www.apple.com/productivity-apps/whats-new/pages/:

• “Enhanced support for OpenType font features like small caps, contextual fractions, alternate glyphs, and more”
 

Edited by Thomas Phinney
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