5.0365 PS Greek; Scripture Fonts (2/128)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 8 Oct 1991 20:44:52 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0365. Tuesday, 8 Oct 1991.

(1) Date: Sat, 5 Oct 91 16:58:33 PDT (24 lines)
From: "John J Hughes" <XB.J24@STANFORD.BITNET>
Subject: Complexities of Multilingual Work om IBMs

(2) Date: Sat, 5 Oct 91 17:01:51 PDT (104 lines)
From: "John J Hughes" <XB.J24@STANFORD.BITNET>
Subject: Multilingual Again...

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------

Date:(3) Sat, 5 Oct 91 16:58:33 PDT (9 lines)
From: "John J Hughes" <XB.J24@STANFORD.BITNET>
SUBJECT: Complexities of Multilingual Work om IBMs

Donald Spaeth's recent note regarding the complexities of setting up a
successful multilingual word processing IBM/DOS-based system reminded me
of the fits I had a year and a half ago trying to get a PostScript Greek
font that started life on a Macintosh to work with FinalWord II and
Sprint, two DOS programs. With assistance and suggestions from several
kind HUMANISTs (Paul Bradley, Paul Bacsich, Douglas de Lacey, and Roland
Hutchinson), I finally got this marriage to work. It took a lot of
counseling, but it was worth it!

Alan Coopers message about the frustrations he has had with his Epson
FX-850 and ScriptureFonts illustrates how difficult it can be to get DOS
applications to communicate with output devices the way they are
supposed to. This can be true even when not using an add-on product like

If its ease of installation and use you want, buy a Macintosh! If it's
more "bang for the buck," buy an IBM clone. Maybe a case can be made
that bang for the buck is offset by ease of installation and use...

John Hughes

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------123---
Date: Sat, 5 Oct 91 17:01:51 PDT
From: "John J Hughes" <XB.J24@STANFORD.BITNET>
SUBJECT: Multilingual Again...

Alan Cooper rightly notes that ScriptureFonts behaves in a temperamental
fashion with some printers. Alan's frustrations are unfortunate, and I
hope that I can find a way to help him get the program working properly.

The following remarks are not an attempt to excuse ScriptureFonts'
errant behavior on Alan's Epson FX-850. They are an attempt to explain
why sometimes (in the DOS world) it can be difficult to get an
application to print successfully.

Because no two printers "speak the same language," software developers
(e.g., Word Perfect Corporation, Zondervan Electronic Publishing,
Dragonfly Software) have to develop "printer drivers" for each output
device they wish their program to be able to communicate with. A
"printer driver" is nothing more than a little translation program that
takes the characters the application (e.g., WordPerfect, ScriptureFonts,
Nota Bene) sends to the printer and translations them into the
appropriate printer-specific codes to cause the printer to print the
proper characters. Unfortunately, because the printer world is like the
Tower of Babel, software developers must develop a separate printer
driver for _every_ different output device they wish to support. The
Word Perfect Corporation, for example, has developed over 500 printer
drivers for WordPerfect, and they continue to develop new drivers as new
printers or new models of printers are released or as existing printer
models have their ROMs modified. Every time a new printer comes out and
every time a new model of an existing printer is released and every time a
change is made to the ROMs of an existing printer model, WordPerfect
either has to write a new driver or modify an old one or do nothing.

To create a printer driver, software developers must obtain a model of
each printer for which they wish to write a driver and all the technical
information about each printer they can get their hands on. Developers
obtain printers and technical literature from the printer manufacturers.
After obtaining printers and information, developers have to write the
drivers and test them.

Here is one of the many pitfalls that can cause printer drivers to
misbehave. If the printer (e.g., Epson FX-850) used to develop a driver
has older or newer ROMs from the ROMs in the _same model_ a user has,
the application may not be able to print correctly. Two printers can
have the same name and model number and look exactly alike and yet be
different at the level of their ROMs. All printers have ROMs (Read Only
Memory chips; in printers, ROMs sometimes are referred to as
"firmware"). These chips store the programs that the printer uses to
take the stream of characters the computer sends it and print them
properly. From time to time, printer developers change the ROMs in their
printers to fix a bug, to make an improvement, or for some other reason.
Recently, for example, I requested and received a firmware upgrade
(i.e., new ROMs) for my NewGen Turbo PS/480 PostScript/HP II printer.
This upgrade fixed a host of small errors the printer could make under
certain conditions when run in its PostScript mode. Before I could
install this upgrade, I was notified that a second, even-more-recent,
firmware upgrade was being shipped to me. Among other things, this
second upgrade fixed a bug in a Greek PostScript font that I had been
having trouble with.

Now imagine that you are a software developer and that you have just
received a NewGen Turbo PS/480 with the latest firmware and that you are
going to develop a driver for this printer so that your software can
print on it. You develop your printer driver, test it, and assure
yourself that it is free of bugs. You then advertise that your program
is compatible with the NewGen Turbo PS/480. I rush out and buy your
program, completely unaware (as you, the developer, also are) that you
developed the printer driver around the newer firmware in the NewGen
Turbo PS/480 the factory sent you and that this driver will not work
properly with the older firmware that I have in my NewGen Turbo PS/480
but which was unavailable to you, the developer. When I try to print
from your program on my NewGen Turbo PS/480 with the older firmware, I
discover that it will not print correctly, and I become a frustrated
customer. You, the developer, have trouble understanding my problem
because you know that your program prints correctly on the NewGen Turbo
PS/480 you have sitting in front of you.

Of course, the inverse of what I just described also can (and does)
happen: a printer driver developed around a 1991 model of the NewGen
Turbo PS/480, for example, may prove incompatible with the firmware in
the 1992 model of the NewGen Turbo PS/480 so that when your program
tries to print on the 1992 model, it is unsuccessful. The 1991 driver
will not work properly with the 1992 firmware.

The only 100% foolproof solution to these firmware woes is for software
developers to get _all_ the old versions of the firmware for _each_
printer they wish to support and make their initial printers backwards
compatible for each supported printer and then to get all the new
firmware revisions for each supported printer and continually issue
upgraded printer drivers that take account of each new firmware
revision. Neither of these courses is practical. Printer manufacturers
will not give software developers old firmware and old technical
documentation. As far as printer manufacturers are concerned, what is
old is gone and forgotten. And printer manufacturers only loan
developers printers for a limited period of time at the end of which the
printer must be returned. Thus receiving new firmware upgrades would not
be meaningful, unless you had a printer in which to place the upgrade.
Finally, one of the most cost-intensive aspects of software development
for multilingual DOS applications is creating the printer drivers.
Theoretically, continually upgrading and/or creating printer drivers
could cost a developer more than he made on the program.

Unfortunately, the person who suffers the most in this process is the
end user, in this case, Alan.

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------------

Alan mentions MegaWriter as a "highly functional" and affordable
multilingual word processor. I agree. I'm not too clear, however, if
this program still is being sold by its original distributor or not or
if it is still available from the original distributor (Paraclete
Software). In the most recent edition of Byte magazine, I saw an add for
ChiWriter, which was/is the basis for MegaWriter (my understanding is
that MegaWriter was/is ChiWriter with Greek and Hebrew and other fonts