OpenOffice.org 2.0 font problems on Mac OS-X

I’ve been running OpenOffice.org 2.0 on Mac OS-X/X11 for a couple of days now, and the major complaint I had, was that the quality of the OOo standard fonts was too low.

The problem was most annoying with Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, so finally I decided to do something about it.

The problem is that most MS Office documents uses the TrueType fonts Arial and Times New Roman, and since these weren’t available in my OOo installation, OOo had to perform font substition on the MS Office documents I openend. The results were less than satisfying (understatement). The difference between the OOo standard fonts, and the TrueType fonts used by most MS Office users, are too big for font substitution to work. I found this strange since Arial and Times New Roman are standard on Mac OS-X, but the OOo install doesn’t seem to support the Mac OS-X fonts directly.

I consulted the OpenOffice.org support pages for Mac OS-X, and I found some good information:
http://porting.openoffice.org/mac/support.html

On this page there is a link to the trinity font FAQ

One of the problems with the Mac OS-X fonts is, that even though they’re TrueType, they’re packaged in a different way (dfont), than plain TrueType (TTF) files. According to the trinity site, OpenOffice.org 1.2.1 installer is supposed to perform the conversion from dfont, to TTF, by using a conversion program from the SourceForge project Fondu. Unfortunately this conversion wasn’t performed during installation of OOo 2.0 on my Mac.

I then decided to download the fondu utilites, but I wasn’t able to get them running. I don’t think this is due to problems with the fondu utilities, but it’s more a result of the fact that they’re UNIX commandline tools, and that I’m not really patient enough for that – life is too short for commandlines 😉

Now I decided to follow another suggestion from the trinity FAQ, that sounded more straight forward.

First I obtained the TTF files from another source, e.g. a Windows machine, I then copied the TTF files to the OpenOffice 2.0 TrueType directory, and finally I removed the pspfontcache file.

On my Mac the OOo 2.0 TrueType directory is located here:
/Applications/OpenOffice.org 2.0.app/Contents/openoffice.org2.0/share/fonts/truetype

And the OOo 2.0 pspfontcache file is located here:
/Applications/OpenOffice.org 2.0.app/Contents/openoffice.org2.0/share/psprint/fontmetrics

I’m happy to report that my Microsoft Office documents opened in OOo 2.0 now looks very similar to the way they look in Office:mac, and that I now have the same high quality fonts avaliable in OOo as I have in Office:mac and on Windows.

I suspect that this is not an issue on Windows machines, where the TrueType files already exisit in the filesystem in a format that is supported by OOo, but the same problem must exist on other UNIX platforms.

Solving this issue has significantly improved the usability of OpenOffice.org 2.0, and I’m now feeling confident that I can make the switch from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice, and that nobody will notice that the documents I send them in the Microsoft Office format, were actually created in OOo.

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