What’s in a name?
The Adobe Type team has been wrestling a bit with Shakespeare’s timeless question as we wrap up some newly-enhanced typeface families here.
When we make changes in a typeface that could cause line lengths different from those produced by the previous version, we believe it’s necessary to change the font name a bit so the two versions can’t be accidentally swapped and reflow people’s existing documents. We usually do this by changing suffixes.
Std & Pro
One of the biggest changes we ever made was moving the Adobe Type Library into the OpenType format (starting in 1998). We figured the best way to preserve some continuity yet differentiate the new fonts was to add a suffix to each font’s name. Fonts with our Western European character set would get a “Std” suffix, while those that also supported the Central & Eastern European characters would get a “Pro” suffix. Today it’s simple to look at any Adobe OpenType font name and know whether the font’s language support goes beyond Western Europe. (Our East Asian fonts are a different matter, and have their own character collection suffixes.)
Although we explained the guidelines for our naming convention, some font developers chose to use our Std and Pro terms to mean something else. Thus a Pro font from a non-Adobe source might not include a single CE character. We think this is pretty confusing for our users. If we had the chance to do it over, we might not have used suffixes at all; perhaps we could’ve found a better way to differentiate OpenType names from Type 1 names. But now it’s too late to change the current names, because existing documents wouldn’t recognize the new names. That kind of change is necessary when the fonts themselves have changed, but we can’t inflict that amount of incompatibility on people just to clarify a naming convention.
Over the years we’ve moved a few families (like Bickham Script) from the Std character set to Pro, and of course we added a lot of other features along with the language support. Now we’ve added still more characters and cool new features to a handful of families that were Pro fonts to start with. It would be even more confusing if we kept making up new suffixes – what would come after Pro? And what would eventually follow that?
In the end, we can’t keep designating ever-bigger character sets with suffixes. You’ll soon see some Adobe Western fonts with numbers in their suffixes. The new fonts will still be Pro, but now the “Pro” will be followed by the major version number of the font. We re-set most of the fonts to version 1.0XX in the OpenType conversion, and moved most of them to version 2.0XX in our first set of major updates. When we make further big changes, the updated fonts become version 3.0XX – and their suffix will be Pro 3. Watch for it in an upcoming release!
[updated to correct version info]