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Amiga Information

Daniel Amor contributes the following sections:

Font Concepts

The Amiga is able to use two different concepts of fonts. First of all there are the bitmap fonts. These fonts are created by drawing a letter pixel for pixel onto the screen. The advantage is that they look good at small sizes, but are not very good for printout. Also they don't look very good when you change their size. Therefore you have to recreate the font for each size. Second there are the vector fonts. They are created by curves which are stored as mathematical formula. This has the advantage that changing the sizes does not effect the output. But this only applies for larger sizes and print-outs. Vector fonts also use less memory.

Amiga Font Formats

  1. Agfa IntelliFont (suffix: .type or .lib) is the native font format on the Amiga. You can use it in any application and it can be converted to the standard bitmap format using the system utilities IntelliFont (OS 3.x) or Fountain (OS 2.x).

  2. Postscript Type 1 fonts can be used within many applications, it can be used in every word processor and DTP program. There are two versions of the Type 1 format: Binary and ASCII (suffix: .pfb & .pfa). The Amiga software uses the Binary format, but you can easily convert them with TypeSmith or some PD software products (z.B. PFB2PFA) . In Addition to the files mentioned above, there are the metrics files with the suffixes .afm or .pfm. They contain information about the size (width) of the letters and most programs expect this file to be in the same directory as the font file.

  3. Postscript Type 3 fonts (suffix: .ps or nothing) are not often used on the Amiga, but some applications do support this font format (e.g. PageStream). There are also some download utilities from PD sources available.

  4. Truetype fonts (suffix: .ttf) are not very common on the Amiga, there is one word processor supporting this format (Wordworth 3.0). Due to the lower quality of the format, Amiga users tend to use higher quality for their DTP, DTV and word processing... There are also two formats: Mac & Windows available. The Amiga software is able to use the Windows format.

  5. DMF fonts is the privat format of PageStream (suffix: .dmf), since PageStream is the market leader in DTP programs on the Amiga, so this format is very common!

  6. Bitmap fonts (suffix: .font and numbers in a directory by the name of the font, sometimes .otag when converted from IntelliFont) were used in the OS 1.x, but have been replaced by the superior IntelliFont Format in OS 2.0. Under 2.0 or higher you still are able to use the bitmap fonts for small sizes, but for printouts you should use the IntelliFont format or any other vector font format mentioned above.

  7. Colour Bitmap fonts (same suffixes as Bitmap Fonts, but the numbers have in addition a C, e.g. 35C) are also very common on the Amiga, they are mainly used for DTV applications, like the Video Toaster and Scala.

Frequently Requested Amiga Fonts

  1. First place to look for fonts is the AMINET archive. This is the biggest archive of Amiga software and there you will find also quite a lot of fonts. The Aminet consists of many mirrors around the world. Here are some of them:
    1. ftp.wustl.edu,
    2. ftp.luth.se,
    3. ftp.eunet.ch,
    4. ftp.uni-paderborn.de,
    5. ftp.doc.ic.ac.uk.

    Just log in as ftp and go to the directory


  2. Another good ftp server to look is the CICA-server:

    1. ftp.cica.indiana.edu

    To this server are also some mirrors around the world available.

  3. Also a good place to look for is the following WWW server:

    1. http://www.ora.com/homepages/comp.fonts/ifa

  4. Another good place is the Fresh Fonts I CD-ROM, there you will almost certainly find some nice fonts. The CD is available from

    1. Fred Fish / Amiga Library Services (orders@amigalib.com)
    2. Stefan Ossowski / Schatztruhe GmbH

    The CD is for free when buying another CD from that company. You can also access the HTML pages on the CD under the following address:

    1. http://macke.gris.informatik.uni-tuebingen.de:4711/~damor/

Commercial Font Sources

Commercial fonts can be obtained from a number of different companies, including the large font houses: Adobe, Font Haus, Font Company, Bitstream, and Monotype. At these companies, fonts cost about $40 for a single face, and must be purchased in packages. Adobe, Bitstream, and Monotype also sell pre-designated type collections for slightly lower prices.

There are also a lot of PD reseller who have a vast quantity of fonts, check out your local Amiga magazin for more information.

Please consult the vendor list for a more complete list of vendors.

Non-Latin fonts on the Amiga

Due to the really bad information policy by C= there was actually no information about non-latin fonts. But still it is possible to use them, without difficulty. You just have to get yourself some additional files. First of all you need the non-latin font files. There is a large selection of them on the Fresh Fonts CD-ROM mentioned above. In order to use the non-latin font files, you have to get yourself the appropriate keymap file, this will remap the keys on the keyboard to the appropriate letters of the foreign alphabet, e.g. in order to use a Russian font, you should set the russian keymap file in the preferences (via PREFS/INPUT). Not only that you can write with a non-latin alphabet, you can also localize your workbench. How about a Greek workbench or a Hebrew workbench? Have a look into the AMINET archive (mentioned above) for these files!

In addition to this you can easily use Hebrew & Arabic in any word processor incl. writing from right-to-left! This can be easily done by setting the kerning value to negative values (like this the cursor moves left and not right) and moving the characters into the negativ part! You can get fonts from me with this feature!

Amiga Font Installation

The installation of Postscript, DMF and Truetype fonts is described by the application that use them. Please refer to the manuals of the software packages.

The installation of IntelliFonts is very easy. Just start IntelliFont (OS 3.x) or Fountain (OS 2.x) and follow the guidelines from within the program.

In order to install bitmap fonts, either copy them to the logical device FONTS: or assign the directory with your bitmap fonts:

  ASSIGN Fonts:  ADD

Right after this you can start your application and use them. When using non-latin fonts, don't forget to set the appropriate keymap file!

Amiga Font Utilities

  1. IntelliFont

    IntelliFont is the system program by OS 3.x which lets you install Agfa IntelliFonts and converts them to bitmap fonts. The program is located in the drawer SYS:System/. For more information read your Workbench 3.x manual.

  2. Fountain

    Is the preceding program to IntelliFont and comes with the now obsolete OS 2.x. Please read the section about Fountain in your Workbench 2.x manual.

  3. PFB2PFA

    This neat little utility lets you convert Postscript Binary files to Postscript ASCII files. This is needed in order to use DOS & Amiga Adobe Type 1 fonts on the Mac!

  4. CacheFont

    This great program caches the fontlist for you, in order to save a huge amount of time. The program looks for all fonts available on the system and creates a special cache-file on disk.

  5. TypeSmith

    This is the best font converter on the Amiga, besides this function it is also a full blown font editor (see below) :-). The program is able to convert between:

    1. Truetype
    2. DMF
    3. Adobe (Type 1 & 3)
    4. IntelliFont
    5. Bitmap (Amiga, Adobe, DMF)

Making Outline Fonts

This is very, very difficult. Many people imagine that there are programs that will simply convert pictures into fonts for them. This is not the case; most fonts are painstakingly created by drawing curves that closely approximate the letterforms. In addition, special rules (which improve hinting, etc.) mandate that these curves be drawn in specific ways. Even designing, or merely digitizing, a simple font can take hundreds of hours. The easiest way of learning how to create fonts, is to have a look at existing fonts and try to change some letters.

Given that, there are two major programs used for font design on the Amiga, TypeSmith 2.5 ($150) and FontDesigner ($100). These programs will allow you to import scanned images, and then trace them with drawing tools. The programs will then generate Adobe type 1, 3, TrueType, AGFA Intellifont, DMF and Bitmap fonts for either the Amiga, the Macintosh or the IBM PC. They will also generate automatic hinting. They also open previously constructed outline fonts, allowing them to be modified, or converted into another format. As far as I know, there are no shareware programs that allows you to generate outline fonts.

There are also two programs for creating bitmap fonts. Personal Fonts Maker and Calligrapher. The second one has not been updated for several years, but it still is a good tool to work with. The first Program was created by adding some features to a good bitmap paint program (Personal Paint).

There are some shareware tools to create bitmap fonts which you can convert to outline (vector) fonts with TypeSmith.

Problems and Possible Solutions

  1. Pagestream does not recognize your newly installed font.

    This happens when you have two fonts with the same ID. The solution is to load such a font into a font editor and enter a new ID for one of the fonts. Still it might happen that you choose another one, that has already been used by!

  2. Your application does not find the IntelliFont.

    This happens when you haven't set the locigal device FONTS: to your drawer. You can change this by typing the following command into your SHELL or add this line to your S:User-Startup file:

      ASSIGN Fonts:  ADD

  3. You're using a non-latin font and the wrong characters appear when typing.

    This happens when you forget to set the appropriate keymap file. Enter the Prefs directory and start the program INPUT. There you can choose your keymap file.

Adobe Type 1 fonts for the Amiga

Darrell Leland contributes the following information:

There are now three high end DTP packages for the Amiga that can directly or indirectly use Adobe Type 1 Fonts or AGFA Compugraphic fonts. The best of the lot in both my and Amiga World's opinions is SoftLogik's Pagestream, currently in version 2.2 but about to go to version 3.0. Pagestream can take Adobe fonts in MS-DOS format directly with no format conversion needed. All you have to do is get them on an Amiga format disk, which is very easy using the new version of Commodore's Workbench operating system. Pagestream has import modules for MacWrite, Adobe Illustrator, and every other format in the universe (seems like). It is generally a very stable and well behaved program with a lot of features. I haven't had a chance to see 3.0 yet, but they are claiming it's going to be a real killer. We shall see. It does color seps, twists and rotates fonts, etc. Pagestream's job has been made easier with Commodore's (about time) release of their own Postscript printer drivers and Preferences postscript printer control tools.

SoftLogik also sells a program called Typesmith, which is (at last!) a structured font maker/editor for the Amiga. Typesmith will work with both formats mentioned above plus SoftLogik's own font format, which I get the impression they are discontinuing in favor of Postscript. They also sell ArtExpression, a very nice structured drawing package that does everything I can think of. I understand SoftLogik has also been getting several Mac and PC font makers to make Amiga fonts for them too. They even have a program system that allows programs to publish to other programs, sort of like in Mac System 7.0. They are lisencing it out to any Amiga developer who pays a paltry sum to lisence it.

Excerpted from The comp.fonts FAQ, Copyright © 1992-96 by Norman Walsh