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Microsoft release VTT 4.2

Redmond, WA - 2 March 1999
Microsoft has released Visual TrueType version 4.2. VTT, a professional level tool for instructing (hinting) TrueType and OpenType fonts. The following e-mail was sent out to members of the VTT forum.

Why the delay in releasing VTT 4.2?

We decided to take some time to understand and address the concerns raised by VTT users who completed our questionnaire. [We recently surveyed VTT licensees to find out what we could do to encourage the use of the tool] Specifically we decided to amend the VTT license to allow for the tools commercial use. The restrictions of the evaluation license have been removed, as has the 60 day trial period. VTT is now licensed free of charge for a period of one year. When a year has elapsed the tool may be relicensed. Getting the new license drawn up and approved by our lawyers contributed to the delay.

In addition we discovered problems with the Mac version of VTT running of Mac OS 8.5. At this time the tool does not work on this operating system. We hope to have a compatible version available in the near future. [A MacOS 8.5 version is now available]

How do I get VTT 4.2?

Go to the VTT info page. Print the license agreement, read it, complete and sign it, then return it to Microsoft Corporation, Attn: Microsoft Typography Group, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399 or fax it to Microsoft Corporation, Attn: Andrew Pennock, Microsoft Typography Group, 425 936 7329.

VTT 4.2 will be forwarded via email to the address provided on the completed license.

About VTT 4.2

Some information has been posted to the developers section of the Microsoft Typography site, Basic VTT information and license and VTT Resource information. All the new features are documented in the Releasenotes.doc Word file supplied with VTT 4.2.

Some notable changes with VTT 4.2

The CVT table has now been converted into a higher level 'Control Program'. This Control Program is used as in the past to set control values for hinting, but it now does much more. The control program creates a 'pre-program' based on the settings in the Control Program. The old style CVT table source fonts are supported, VTT intelligently recognizes old CVT or new Control Program source files.

A new optimized and more intelligent set of Visual Delta commands that allow you to Delta conditionally for Grey scale or for binary or Both. Deltas also may be converted to function calls (which are more efficient and smaller in file size) when a range of the same Delta is requested or when the amount shifted is greater than a single pixel.

VTT 4.2 now checks outlines for proper orientation. Some commercial tools may not always correct path directions when they are very complicated. VTT will correct this or if the user does not wish to correct them the offending outline will be coloured red. VTT will also colour single point outlines.

VTT now has 16 level Undo functionality.

For more information see the Releasenotes.doc.

The sample font 'myfont42_source.ttf' shows some of the new examples and possibilities with VTT42. (again this is just a sample of basic hint structures and not a final hinted font with complete deltas and code).

  • The lc 'n' uses conditional greyscale deltas from 15..18ppem.
  • The UC 'V' has a slight ink trap and shows how the use of 'PPEM Limit's with an align command. (note: enable Tools / options / glyphvisuals / ppem limits checkbox)
  • In the Control Program I've introduced a new Group called Diacritics. VTT 4.2 allows you to define new groups (used during Visual hinting to select appropriate CVTs). Adding new groups in the Control Program immediately makes that group available as a character group. Using the 'change character group' menu item you can select this new group for the current glyph. For automatic glyph group selection the glyph and Unicode index needs to be added to the Character Group data file CharGrp.dat. see the release notes for more information.
  • In the 'font program' (and VTT template FpgmTmpl.txt ) Function 80 for horizontal placement of diacritics has been rewritten and optimized.
  • A euro was imported with VTT 4.2 and a bitmap (from another font) has been embedded at 13ppem (using sbit32.exe). The Mac sbit tables 'bdat' and 'bloc' where generated but later removed because of unknown problems displaying 13 point on the Mac. I'll try to look at this when I have more time.

Known issues with VTT4.2

  • Mac version of VTT can not open font files on system 8.5 without a rasterizer error.
  • VTT does not write the 'cmap' and 'post' tables. These tables traditionally have been edited during final production and with other tools. Importing and creating new glyphs leaves them unmapped in the 'cmap' and without a name in the 'post' table. (note: when importing a glyph in a new glyph position you may see a new Unicode value of the glyph after it is imported. The values can not be saved to the 'cmap' or 'post' tables at this time.) If the glyph is imported into an existing glyph position it will take the Unicode and PostScript name of that glyph.
  • Syntax colouring of text (Windows only) is very useful in the new Control Program to differentiate comments from code, but when displaying other text such as the font program it may initially display slowly on some computers.
  • When saving a file VTT does not prompt the user if there is a file that exists with that name and VTT will overwrite the file.

Vincent Connare

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article posted 2 March 1999 and last updated 3 February 1999.

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