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Fonts behaving badly.

Before upgrading your Mac OS from 10.5.8 to what will eventually be 10.6.8, especially in these complicated times, you really have to plan ahead if you use your computer for work. Especially if that work includes graphic design that uses fonts, they will betray you! But you can get them to come crawling back, you just have to spend a little time taming them.

I had decided to be lazy, against everything I’ve learned in the past 15 years, and try to upgrade my OS while leaving my software as is. I have 14+ applications that I use regularly and I was not up for reinstalling all of them. Looking back, that was a stupid decision, in addition to being lazy. It made a mess out of pretty much all of my design apps and trashed my font management abilities completely.

I started looking for other users comments and experiences and found I was not a unique case, and I just needed to update until I reached 10.6.8 to regain control of my fonts. Whew! Since I installed the new OS from a purchased CD, it was not up to date, it was just plain OS 10.6, a lot had changed. I figured all right, I’ll download the system updates, and all will be well (with a home DSL connection, these take forever). Updates downloaded, and installed, my fonts were still behaving badly. They were not being recognized and every time I tried to verify a font I got an error message and a new “big red x” beside the font.

Now I’m thinking I have to go back to my old OS 10.5.8. Fortunately I had backed my entire system up to a bootable drive so I could go running back in time if it got too scary. I was clueless about the font problem when I did this or I may not have upgraded at all! Note here: I never save work to my computer’s hard drive. I always work off of external drives. I love the ones that contain two drives that you can set up to mirror each other. I have backups of everything, and it’s all in one neat little box!

I looked into updating my font management software thinking that would help. Well, that wouldn’t even install. No matter how many times I pleaded with it. I’d invested a good 15 hours in this process between downloads, research and installs, and I was not going down without a good fight. I lost the battle. I caved…

Since I abhor disorder, and weirdness going on while I’m working, I concluded my only intelligent options were to go back to the old, or wipe the entire drive and start from scratch with the new OS from the CD. I would like to add here, this is where I should have started, as I mentioned earlier. Don’t be lazy, just back up everything to a bootable drive, your safety net, and dive in, wipe that drive clean, install the new OS and all of its updates.

Next, check with the vendor website for each of your apps to see if you need to update them to be compatible with your new OS. You don’t want to install incompatible software and mess up your pristine new system. I spent another 15 hours updating and installing and installing and installing. It was worth it though, my machine was and is screamin’ fast now! But my fonts were still having issues.

Back to web research, I’d found before I did the clean install that the Mac OS’s prior to 10.6.8 had issues with Postscript, Type 1 and OpenType fonts as well as a bunch of other font issues. This site is very informative and helpful. http://www.prepressure.com/fonts/basics/snow-leopard-fonts
Once I read this, since my system software was now up to date, I looked for the solution on my font management software vendor’s site and learned that they offered a fix for the font problems I was having. Personally, I’d rather have software manage my fonts then delve into some of the more complicated solutions. I just want the fonts to be there when I need them, magically!

Most importantly this took care of my font weirdness once and for all. Bad font problems like fonts that won’t display, incorrect font menus, garbled text, faulty font substitutions, false font corruption warnings (which I got for every single font), application instability and all weird performance problems. Big relief. Imagine not being able to open any of your legacy client files. No don’t. I did, and it was not an enjoyable experience.

Insert me here, hugely grateful at this point. Please understand, since I’m a bit obsessive compulsive, I had been at this process pretty much every waking hour since I’d started. I downloaded while I slept! I needed to be up and running to get back to work. Today, everything is running great, and I’m glad I finally got smart and decided on the “clean install” avenue, even though it is time-consuming. I suggest a nice glass of wine to keep you patient, ok, sane, when working during cocktail hour.

As usual, I will not upgrade to the newest, the world’s most advanced OS, Lion 10.7, until 10.8 is announced, since stability, performance, and predictability are important to me while I’m working. I’ll let you brave, edgy folks out there test it out first, oh many thanks to you daring Mac OS devotees. By the way, what animal do you think we’ll have as a mascot for 10.8? Or, hey maybe Apple will use a raptor? Ya think? How about an osprey?

Anyway, just fyi, I use Adobe CS5 Design Premium, Insider Software’s FontAgent Pro for Mac and that cool solution they provide called, Smasher 2. The font tamer!!! Love it. Docile fonts! Find them right here…http://www.insidersoftware.com/ While you’re at it check out their sweet deal on OpenType fonts!

So far, Office, Toast 11, Spin Doctor, Painter 11, Genuine Fractals Print Pro, Photomatix Pro, and VueScan are all doing well with the appropriate upgrades where needed. I haven’t been able to get my LaCie Blue Eye Pro to work correctly yet, and the upgrade won’t install…hmm, ya just can’t rest the mind these days…I must find the answer to this one. Eventually, it’s not a big issue.

I decided to post this just in case any of you are thinking of being lazy. ☺ Don’t make more work for yourself. It really is true. Do it right the first time. It takes way less time! And yes it did take me quite awhile to write this to explain why I did it wrong…and I know better!

“It takes less time to do a thing right, than it does to explain why you did it wrong.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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adobe illustrator wear and tear texture tutorial image.
I see this worn, distressed effect used all over the place lately. It’s not new, it just seems to be hanging on. I discovered this easy, easy way to recreate this distressed look and a lot more. So here it is, short and sweet. I used Adobe Illustrator CS5 this time, I was also able to recreate this effect in Illustrator CS3 too.

Step One: Set your type (I used Arial Black for this example). You can use a shape instead of type if you want to.

step one image adobe illustrator texture tutorial

Step Two: If you’re using type, convert your type to outlines; select your type, then go to Type; Create Outlines.

step two adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Three: Add color as desired. You can give the outlined text a a stoke too if you like. The shape has to be filled in order for the effect to work.

step 3 adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Four: Choose an image of a texture that you want to use. The image must be at least as large as the shape you are distressing. I used an image I shot for this example. It’s cracked pavement. If you don’t have any texture images you can get some really good images from Wetzel Company, Inc. Wetzel offers great, copyright free, background, texture, and pattern images for use in Photoshop, Illustrator too. GrungeTextures.com offers free high-res textures for digital art and graphic design.

Once you’ve chosen your image, open it in Photoshop, and increase the contrast a bit, and lighten the image if it’s very dark using Image; Adjustments; Brightness Contrast. This will help the texture show up better in the next steps. Save and close your image and go back to Illustrator. Although, not all images will require this step, and it may not be necessary at all given the colors you choose.
step four adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Five: In Illustrator, Go to File; Place, and navigate to the texture image file you have chosen. Scale your texture image as you wish, making sure it will cover the area of your type, or shape. (It is best to have an image that is bigger than your shape, you don’t want to increase the size of your texture image because it’s a raster not vector, and you will lose resolution).

step five adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Six: Now select both the type or shape, and your texture image. Open your Transparency panel (Window; Transparency), then open the fly out menu on the right, and choose make opacity mask.

step 6 adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Seven: Check out your Transparency panel, while both items are selected and you’ll see two image icons. One is your type shape, the other the texture mask. You can click on the texture mask icon in your Transparency panel, and using the direct selection tool, (A), you can move the texture image around as you wish to get the effect that you want.

step seven adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Eight: You can select Invert Mask in your Transparency panel for a result similar to this. Notice that you can click on either your mask image or your original shape from within the panel, be sure to click on your original shape in your Transparency panel when you’re done to get out of mask mode (if you don’t you won’t be able to select anything else). That’s all there is to it.

step eight adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

You can have a lot of fun with this method by layering textures on top of each other, masking shapes with texture images, and using a variety of textures and patterns. This look is useful for a lot of different applications from logos, to page layout, or posters, video, DVD interfaces. You name it. Your imagination is the limit! Experiment and see what you can do with it.

examples of texture transparency mask applied to various objects image.

Sorry, I’ve been gone for a while, and with good reason. I was offered the opportunity to work on a contract basis, for several weeks, for the company I used to work for full time. I’m one of the 1 in 10 Americans that are currently unemployed. I have the skills, but I cost too much.

Back to the subject…I created a 388 page master type catalog last year, using Adobe InDesign CS2, and I linked pricing data with the DataLinker plug-in. DataLinker is a very cool plugin for use with InDesign, it allows you to automate the update process for information in your document, by connecting directly to a data source, saving hours and hours of production time. Here’s to you Teacup Software!
Check them and DataLinker out at http://www.teacupsoftware.com/products/datalinker.html

When building the 2009 catalog, I used the DataLinker plug-in for Adobe InDesign CS2 to link every item number and price in the catalog, approximately 10,000 items, to a CSV file, a big CSV file, listing each and every item the company carried, by item number, along with the product’s description, and current sale price. I linked the item numbers and prices to the CSV file using the DataLinker plug-in, and doing it by myself, it took several weeks. It’s not a difficult process, just time consuming, but the reward is great. Read on.

Fast forward to this past December. The person that replaced me, was not familiar with DataLinker, and asked the owner to bring me in to handle the DataLinker process. I accepted the challenge.

In order to fully appreciate this story, you need a little background information. Last year we were running Adobe InDesign CS2, on an Intel iMac, with the appropriate DataLinker plug-in installed. Since the production of the catalog last year, we had updated our software to Adobe InDesign CS3. When I came in I made sure we purchased the update for our DataLinker plug-in, and we installed it with ease. We opened the 2009 file, and saw what we thought were the links from last year. DataLinker puts these nice brackets around the linked data in your document. The brackets were there, I assumed (I know I have to watch out for that assume word) that the data was linked, and we just needed to replace the data source (the .csv file) with one reflecting this year’s pricing, and synchronize the data. I was elated. So elated that I made the mistake of telling the “new me” to link the newly added product’s item numbers and prices to the 2009 CSV file without properly naming the data source. DO NOT make this mistake. It burns. I’ll explain in a bit.

The main love of DataLinker’s life, in your document, is the name you gave your DATA SOURCE or sources. This is big. Remember this name, it’s important. I did not. I didn’t realize its importance. I just went ahead and made up a new name for the data source in our 2010 file and just assumed, there’s that word again, that the links would be just fine. I decided to synchronize the document and found that the links were broken. I freaked out. All I could think about was how my eyes were crossing as I linked all of the items last year, and I could not possibly entertain the thought of a repeat performance.

It’s a good thing the nice people at Teacup Software really do respond to e-mail pleas for support. They are amazing. I was a bit, a bit? ok, very freakin’ concerned at first because they do not publish a telephone number for support. All that the freaky, little monster inside my head wanted was to talk to someone who could help me fix this problem really fast! Instead I wrote a heart felt, informative email to the nice people at Teacup explaining my circumstances, and begging for their help.

Within hours I received a response. The Teacup Software Support Team came to the rescue. They were actually sorry I ran into this issue. What a great team! They went on to explain that the data source was no longer part of the document. I had two choices to fix the problem: 1. Recreate the data source, naming it EXACTLY as it was named in CS2. 2. Pull in the CS2 data source file from your old preferences folder, to your CS3 preferences folder. You can do this by quitting InDesign, then go to your user folder > Library > Preferences > Adobe InDesign. Look in the folder named “Version 5.0” for a folder named DataLinker. This contains your CS3 data sources; rename it to something different to make sure you backup any data sources you’ve created in CS3. Then look in the folder named “Version 4.0” for the folder named DataLinker, and copy that folder to the “Version 5.0” folder. Then restart InDesign. You should be good to go.

I should have been good to go at that point too, except for one small, no big, problem. I had trashed every single file that Adobe CS2 had installed on the computer used to produce the catalog file in the first place when we updated to Adobe CS3. Bye, bye CS2 data source information! So much for option 2’s saving grace.

Enter option 1, and another fine rescue effort by the Teacup Software Support Team. Of course I wrote back to the nice Teacup Support people, explaining that I threw all of the old preference files that could help away. In desperation, I asked if there was folder installed anywhere on the computer that I could check to verify the name I gave the DATA SOURCE in CS2.

The wonderful angels that work at Teacup Software responded with the elusive answer to solve my dilemma. They told me all I had to do to see what my data source was named, was to look in the XML pane in InDesign CS3. You can get to this pane by selecting View > Structure > Show Structure. The XML panel shows up on the left. All you have to do at this point is select some text that you linked with DataLinker, and then open up the XML tree and scroll down until you see an item that’s underlined, that will be the text that you selected. You’ll see that most of the DataLinker items are tagged as “teacup-tag”. Open up that underlined item and you will see the attributes that define the record, the column, and the pot of gold I was searching for — the name of the DATA SOURCE I used last year. Ahhh, sweet relief.

All I had to do was make sure the new data source I made had the same name as the original data source from last year. It worked like a charm. Once I properly named the data source, and synchronized the document, the previously linked items updated themselves from the new 2010 CSV file just like magic, and as fast as lightening. Voila, success! All that remained was to relink all of the items I told the “new me” to link when we were using the wrong DATA SOURCE name.

Now do you see why remembering the name of your DATA SOURCE is so important? It’s almost as important as remembering your anniversary! Sort of.

I wrote this entry in my blog as a tribute to the Teacup Software Support Team, and to offer my sincere thanks for their outstanding customer support! For those of you that may have run into my situation, and are desperately looking for the answer right now, here it is, in black and white.

If you are considering the use of the DataLinker plug-in to connect data to your InDesign documents, I can assure you that doing so, although tedious to set up, is well worth the effort. You will recover the time you spent in set up, the very first time you update the linked data in your document. DataLinker is a simple, efficient, solution to managing data in your InDesign documents. Visit them today and check out their products, they deserve this plug.
http://www.teacupsoftware.com/index.html