Sun readies solution to Java's font dilemma

Sun Microsystems is less than a month away from addressing one of Java's most glaring real-world shortcomings - font handling. The Java 2D API is about three weeks away from going out on Sun's early access developer programme, a Sun official said last week in Sydney. It will cover a range of imaging functions, including support for OpenType, TrueType and Type 1 fonts. Java 2D will also ship as a core class library in the Java development kit 1.2. Such support will help bridge a major credibility gap for network computing and Java-based productivity applets.

Sun Microsystems is less than a month away from addressing one of Java’s most glaring real-world shortcomings — font handling.

The Java 2D API is about three weeks away from going out on Sun’s early access developer programme, a Sun official said last week in Sydney. It will cover a range of imaging functions, including support for OpenType, TrueType and Type 1 fonts. Java 2D will also ship as a core class library in the Java development kit 1.2.

Such support will help bridge a credibility gap for network computing and Java-based productivity applets — including the eSuite package announced last week by Lotus, which has word processing and presentation applets able to output RTF and HTML, but only primitive imaging capabilities. NCI’s Java-based NC software also uses an old Unix-derived bitmap font technology.

Businesses which have paid to license or develop company fonts would be far less likely to move to NCs (and away from large office suites) if staff could no longer use them in printed material.

Lotus’s Tom Kane maintained at a press conference last week that adding TrueType support to eSuite “would not be a major re-engineering effort”, but others at the conference admitted afterwards that taking fonts across platforms was traditionally a nasty job.

Sun is likely to focus mainly on Open-Type font technology, and to work closely with Adobe in doing so. Java 2D was originally co-designed by Adobe and Sun, and is based on Adobe’s Bravo model for cross-platform imaging. Adobe’s Bill McCoy told a Java developers’ mailing list several months ago that Adobe was “committed to Java and to Java 2D as the foundational graphics API for the Java platform”.

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