September 29th, 1999

[9:30 AM] Adobe Announces Incompatibilities Between OS 9 And ATM, Fix To Come Weeks After OS 9 Release
by Nora Feder

In an odd - some would say 'stealthy' - announcement last Thursday, Adobe revealed that Mac OS 9 harbors a surprise for graphic designers and other users of Type 1 (PostScript) fonts: Adobe Type Manager will not run on the new system, which is slated for October release.

Mac OS 9 will "deinstall any version of ATM Light or ATM Deluxe that it detects because all versions of ATM are incompatible with this new OS," according to the September 24 announcement, which we have seen only on the ATM user-support forum on the Web and an unofficial Adobe forum on CompuServe. A user will be able to install a copy of ATM on a Mac running OS 9, but "the machine will crash at boot time when it encounters the ATM control panel INIT," Adobe says. Adobe Type Reunion is also incompatible with OS 9.

This means that applications that rely on ATM for Type 1 font rasterization will be unable to show these fonts clearly onscreen, and - more seriously - will not be able to print them on non-PostScript printers, a category that includes most of the inkjet color printers widely used in graphic design studios today for creating comps and proofs. The announcement blames Apple - specifically, "late changes in the OS 9 development cycle" - for the conflict, saying that "Apple removed an API (application program interface) which ATM depends upon. Removing this API causes the computer to crash at boot time when any version of ATM loads." Adobe promises a fix - new versions of ATM Light, ATM Deluxe, and Adobe Type Reunion Deluxe, to be available "after the first week of November." This, however, is some weeks after Apple's scheduled OS 9 release date, and Adobe says the date is subject to change.

The Mac Observer Spin: Tucked away at the end of Adobe's statement is a paragraph that says owners of current versions of Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and certain other Adobe applications "WILL be able to continue to use PostScript Type 1 fonts in OS 9, even without ATM. This is because these applications have built-in Type 1 font support."

This raises a fantastic question: Does Adobe intend to abandon ATM? (The last we heard, it was to be built into future versions of both Mac and Windows operating systems.) Thinking fantastically (even paranoically), It's possible to imagine a software developer in Adobe's shoes thinking that would be a neat trick to pull on Quark and Macromedia - designers would have to stick to Adobe applications if they wanted to use publishing industry-standard Type 1 fonts. The question is fantastic, of course - no company of Adobe's stature (or success) could expect such a ploy to work. Or is this just a gigantic Adobe-Apple communications SNAFU? It has been a while since anyone tried to reassure us that Adobe and Apple are boon companions.

Both companies are probably counting on market inertia and the likelihood that the majority of Mac users will never notice the incompatibility. Those who use only TrueType fonts (with no version of ATM or ATR installed) will also be immune. Apple isn't shipping OS 9 on its new G4 computers, which will also help - it takes time, money, and effort to acquire and install OS 9 deliberately, so most of us won't have it.

What is clear from software history is that some users will be caught short, with potentially calamitous results. Regardless of how they got to this point, Adobe and Apple are duty-bound to publicize the OS9/ATM incompatibility loudly - and soon - instead of sweeping it under a rug.