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Fractions are an essential element in typesetting. They appear with great regularity in measurements and quantities, recipes, scores, numerical charts and listings, textbooks and manuals, as well as math and science.

Diagonal fractions are the most commonly-used fraction style in typeset copy. When they are called for, the challenge lies in knowing which diagonal fractions are available in any given font, and how to access or create them. Here’s some tips and general rules for typesetting diagonal fonts.

All three categories of diagonal fractions are shown above.

All three categories of diagonal fractions are shown above.

Diagonal fractions fall into three categories: basic, extended, and arbitrary.

Basic fractions are the ones that are available in most fonts regardless of the font format, and usually compromise ¼, ½, and ¾.

Extended fractions are a broader collection of diagonal fonts that are found in many – but not all – OpenType fonts. They consist of 1/8, 3/8, 5/8, 7/8, and sometimes 1/3 and 2/3. Extended fractions are also referred to as prebuilt fractions, as they are part of a font’s character complement.

Arbitrary fractions are any other random fraction, such as 25/1000 and 76/389. They are created on-the-fly by the fraction-building function available in some OpenType fonts, and therefore are not actual glyphs found in a font.

The Type1 font format of Minion only has room for the three basic diagonal fractions…

The Type1 font format of Minion only has room for the three basic diagonal fractions…

 

…while the Minion Pro OpenType version has the nine extended versions.

…while the Minion Pro OpenType version has the nine extended versions.

 

Setting Basic and Extended Fractions

The first step is finding out which fractions are available in any particular font. Both basic and extended fractions can be found in the Glyphs panel of most design software, usually under the Numbers subset.

Once you determine that a font has the prebuilt fractions you need, there is an easier way to set these fractions that does not require accessing them from the Glyphs panel.

Here’s how to access basic and extended fractions in InDesign:

  • Set the fraction manually, that is, using full sized numbers separated by a slash
  • Highlight this horizontal fraction
  • Then select Fractions via InDesign’s Character panel > OpenType panel (or submenu)

If using Illustrator, the process is slightly different:

  • Set the fraction manually
  • Highlight the horizontal fraction
  • Then click on the Fractions icon in the OpenType panel
    (Note that Illustrator has a separate OpenType panel vs. InDesign’s OpenType submenu accessed off of the Character panel.)

In both cases, the horizontal fraction will automatically be replaced with the prebuilt, diagonal style, if available in that font.

 

Setting Arbitrary Fractions

Arbitrary fractions are built on-the-fly using superior and inferior figures as well as a fraction bar, and therefore are not located on the Glyphs panel. As previously mentioned, the ability to create arbitrary fractions on-the-fly is a feature that is programmed into some, but not all, OpenType fonts.

The bad news is there is no easy way to determine which OpenType fonts have this ability; it is mostly a matter of trial and error to determine which do and which don’t. But the good news is there are still plenty of great-looking fonts that do, especially those intended for text.

The steps to setting arbitrary fractions are the same as prebuilt ones:

  • Set the fraction manually
  • Highlight the horizontal fraction
  • Then select Fractions via InDesign’s Character panel > OpenType submenu, or Illustrator’s Fractions icon.

If the font in question has the ability to set arbitrary fractions, it will automatically be converted. If not, nothing will happen.

The Fraction command is used to access the prebuilt ones, as well as to create arbitrary fractions on-the-fly.

The Fraction command is used to access the prebuilt ones, as well as to create arbitrary fractions on-the-fly.

 

Illustrator uses icons instead of words for many OpenType features, including Fractions.

Illustrator uses icons instead of words for many OpenType features, including Fractions.

 

The Fraction option is also included in both Character and Paragraph Styles.

The Fraction option is also included in both Character and Paragraph Styles.

Note: Only use the Fraction command for individual fractions, and not for an entire block of text, or all full-sized numerals will be converted to superscript/superior or subscript/inferior figures.

Other fraction styles include nut or vertical fractions (often used for math and science formulas), horizontal fractions (considered unattractive and unprofessional in most typesetting), decimal (5.25, etc.), and spelled out. Make sure you do your research, and use the appropriate fraction style for the job at hand.


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For all of you visual learners out there, here’s a video that explains the basics of typography in a short and visually interesting way. Created by Vancouver Film School students Marcos Ceravolo and Ryan Uhrich in the Digital Design program.


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So, the typical bane of all writers, what do I write? What do I have to say that people want to know, what is WORTHY of an RSS feed…

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you: Portfolio NetPublish and THE WATERMARK!!

Watermarked ImageWith the release of Portfolio NetPublish 8.5 you can add an electronic watermark to your images that you display on your web site. I’m sure most everybody knows what an electronic watermark is (a semi-transparent image that overlays an image). Digital watermarking is to be barely visible, not interfering with the user experience of the content

The type of watermark that NetPublish will place on a target image is considered “destructive” (it becomes part of the file) to the downloaded file. It’s important to note that the watermark ONLY affects the file that is downloaded by web users and it does NOT alter, in any way, your original assets

To create a watermark image to be used with Portfolio NetPublish choose any non-animated GIF image to use as a watermark. In general, a high-contrast, simple image (such as those containing text) will perform better than complex, low-contrast images. Place this file in a location that is easily accessible (or even better, local) to the NetPublish server.

Example:
Windows: C:\Program Files\Extensis\Portfolio NetPublish Server\Web Root\watermarks
Macintosh: /Applications/Portfolio NetPublish Server/Web Root/watermarks

Portfolio NetPublish can apply a watermark to all image file types that can be dynamically scaled by NetPublish, including JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP.

To use this feature, you need to edit the site.properties file using a text editor (such as BBEdit, Notepad, TextEdit, or even vi).

KEEP IN MIND, the site.properties file MUST retain the UTF-8 encoding format. This file is generated by the NetPublish Assistant whenever a site is published to the NetPublish web server.

The default location for this file on Windows is:
C:\Program Files\Extensis\Portfolio NetPublish Server\Web Root\site\<site name>\site.properties

The default location for this file on Macintosh is:
/Applications/Portfolio NetPublish Server/Web Root/site/<site name>/site.properties

The process of enabling Watermarking and asset download protection involves appending the necessary parameters to this file, selecting the options that you desire.

Now listen up, here’s the tricky part!

The watermark transparency pixel

The transparency of the watermark is determined by the upper-left corner pixel of the watermark GIF. The color of that pixel determines what is considered the “background” and thus transparent part of the watermark. It’s important to note that any alpha channels are ignored, and transparency is entirely determined by the upper left pixel.

Ok, now in English. Say you want to have a nice watermark that say ‘Copyright 2008, keep your grubby mitts off’ you need to create that file, in GIF format but make sure the upper left corner pixel is blank, or transparent. When Portfolio NetPublish looks at the image to be used as the watermark it knows to pick that pixel as the sample of the parts to knock out of the image when overlaying the watermark. Think of it like the blue screen process that they use in movies or on the nightly news with the weather map.

The easiest way to do this is to create a new image in an image editor (like Photoshop), create a new transparent GIF image. Slap whatever you want your watermark to say on the watermark image, and save the GIF. ONLY GIF’s work, don’t try a PNG, JPG or EPS.

You can set the alignment of where you want your watermark, as well as the opacity level. These are covered in depth in the Portfolio 8.5 User Guide update document. The opacity value can be any value from 0-100, and has a default setting of 50. This determines how opaque or transparent the watermark appears on the target image — from 0% where only the target image is visible (pointless) to 100% where only the watermark image is visible (pointless, again).

I usually shoot for about 40-60% tops for my opacity.

One other important thing to know, when you setup or change any part of your watermarking setup, you MUST clear the NetPublish site cache directory. This prevents NetPublish from inadvertently using previously generated (and possibly non-watermarked) images on the site.

So, there it is, it will take you a few times to get the hang of it, but soon, you’ll be watermarking with the best of them.

In other news, I did ride the scooter in again today, had to pile on the layers to stay warm, but it gave me time to think and come up with this blog post. With gas hitting $100+ a barrel, I think we’ll all be seeing more people on 2 wheels. I was asked by 2 people today at the gas station about my scooter. So, think about it, but whatever you do, get a good helmet and stay alert


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Our friends over at CreativeTechs have reposted their quick Portfolio NetPublish tutorial. It’s a good look into how you can create a website to share assets from your Portfolio catalog.

We also have quite a few video demonstrations of the Portfolio product line on our website. Take a moment to check them out.


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Warning IconCRASH! BOOM! BANG!! Darn it! There went your application, and that project you were working on. Nuts… But, you’re a pro and you save your work ever 5 minutes, so it’s not a total disaster, right?

What’s this? You’re suddenly greeted by a Problem Report for the offending application. What’s this all about? Who cares, what good will this do? Actually, it is pretty helpful. Let’s take a quick look at a Crash Report and see what they’re all about. One thing I want to say is that Extensis does look at and use your crash reports to help identify problems, trends and other issues. Please put in a few comments to help us better utilize your report. It’s very helpful to get a personal input, something other than just the code.

Apple has a pretty good reference page about the CrashReporter. (http://developer.apple.com/technotes/tn2004/tn2123.html)

From this we can see when the crash happened, what application was reporting the crash, what version of software and version of the operating system. One thing to know, is that often the crash report is thrown by an application that crashed, but it may not be the application that caused the crash. Often there are underlying processes or other applications that can crash that will bring down other applications. Frequently I see crash reports for Suitcase Fusion that show that what really caused the problem was the Apple Type Services (ATS), or some other operating system level process. Often other applications (in this case Suitcase Fusion) was waiting for a response from ATS and there was a failure. This in turn caused Suitcase Fusion to close unexpectedly.

Looking at the actual Crash Report shows you some really good information:

First is the basic information:

BugReporter Report
——————
Date: [Tue Oct 2 20:22:09 2007]
Bundle ID: [com.extensis.suitcase]
Version: [12.1]
Problem: [Suitcase crashed when I opened Microsoft Word 2004.
techsupport@extensis.com] Crash Log: [********** Crash Log
**********
Host Name: pkrummenacker.local
Date/Time: 2007-10-03 10:23:08 0700
OS Version: 10.3.9 (Build 7W98)
Report Version: 2

Next is the Process Information:
The next part of the crash log contains information about the process that crashed,

Command: Suitcase Fusion
Path: /Applications/Extensis Suitcase Fusion/Suitcase Fusion.app/Contents/MacOS/Suitcase Fusion
Version: 12.1.6 (12.1.6)
PID: 342
Thread: 0

Exception Information:
The third part of a crash log shows information about the processor exception that was the immediate cause of the crash.

Exception: EXC_BAD_ACCESS (0x0001)
Codes: KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS (0x0001) at 0x05a08000

Backtrace Information

The fourth part of the crash log, which displays a backtrace for all of the threads in the crashed process, is typically the most interesting.

Thread 0 Crashed:
0 ATS 0x96b7a9f4 FixPostScriptName 0x128
1 ATS 0x96b79580 FOGetNameInternal 0x2a4
2 ATS 0x96b6ae58 _eFOGetName 0x288
3 ATS 0x96b6abac FOGetName 0x60
4 com.apple.QD 0x91659c7c ATSUGetIndFontName 0xa0

So, without getting any more technical, let it suffice to say that sending in your crash reports is very helpful and we do look at them. It’s through problems that people report that we are able to find problems that weren’t discovered in testing, or issues that might be the result of a new update in another application or a operating system update. So, send them in, make some comments and rest assured that they are helpful.

– Paul Krummenacker
Technical Support Manager, Extensis


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So, this weekend I got my new personal business cards. And while I don’t really need personal cards, I just became too darn enamored with a new little card design from the English company Moo to go without them. Moo is basically a print service that allows you to create the mini business cards, sticker books or note cards all from your existing images. You can upload images directly to Moo or link many online accounts to them, including Flickr. And, the best part is that each one of your 100, 28x70mm cards can have an entirely different image on it!

My set of Moo Cards

I first saw the mini cards while at Typecon, and fell in love right away. While I was recently on my honeymoon in Hawaii I specifically took a variety of images that I thought would look good on the back of a card. When I got home, I loaded all of the images onto my MacBook Pro, cataloged them in Portfolio and got to sorting. I keyworded about 60 images with the keyword “moo” and then used a smart gallery to find all of the images with that keyword.

moo cards - choosing the images in Portfolio

I then used the collect command to make copies of the images in a folder on my desktop. I then uploaded the files to Moo, and wham-bam one week later I’ve got cards!

The cards are printed on good stock, and are matte-laminated for smoothness. If I had any complaints it was that some of my images turned out a bit more dull than I had expected. They didn’t “pop” as they had done on my computer screen. They could also use a better variety of font selections for the text on the back. Yet, all in all, I’m a very happy customer. 100 cards for 20 bucks, not bad at all. Thanks Moo!

Oh, and there’s even a Flickr pool of what people are doing with their Moo cards. Check it out.


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Photoshop is an integral tool in any creative workflow. From advertising and graphic design to generally any business that requires the manipulation of imagery. The power of the tool allows you to change an image in amazing ways, yet how certain results are achieved might not always be immediately evident.

Sometimes you want to apply a certain effect immediately, and can do so easily through a programmed filter. Yet what happens when you’re just not sure how to achieve a specific effect? You can fumble around randomly applying layer adjustments, curves and such, or you can turn to a resource that has already spent the time to create what you need.

Photoshop contains a powerful feature called “Actions.” This feature allows any user to record any action that they perform in Photoshop, and then play those actions back at a later time. These actions can be saved, exported and shared with other users. Fortunately, many users provide actions they have created for download on the internet. You can download these actions, load them into Photoshop, and then step through each action to see just how the effect was created.

By default, Photoshop will playback the entire action in one fell swoop. You can change this so that Photoshop pauses after every step, allowing you the time to better understand how each step manipulates the image.

To briefly pause a Photoshop action after each step:

1. From the Actions drop-down menu, choose Playback Options.

Photoshop Actions playback options

2. In the dialog box, choose the Pause option, enter a number of seconds to pause and click OK.

Action Playback Options

Now whenever you playback an action it will pause between steps so that you can examine the modifications to the image, and even stop the action mid-application.

To get you started, here are a few places where you can download some interesting Photoshop actions for examination:


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Here’s another tip to help you to use Suitcase Fusion. Here, we explain how to use application sets to automatically activate fonts when an application launches. This can be helpful to use with programs for which there aren’t any auto-activation plug-ins, and where you still want to have a specific core set of fonts active.

Suitcase Fusion Tip #3
Creating application sets


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It’s time for the next two installments In our continuing Suitcase Fusion tutorial series. These next two videos deal with two very important issues in font management – managing system fonts, and how to cleaning up your dusty old font library.

Suitcase Fusion Tutorial #5
Managing system fonts

Suitcase Fusion Tutorial #6
Cleaning up your font library with Font Doctor

Click here to download the Font Management in Mac OS X Best Practices Guide PDF mentioned in Tutorial #6.