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OpenType is a scalable computer font format jointly developed by Adobe Systems and Microsoft Corporation. It was first announced in 1996, and the first significant numbers of OpenType fonts shipped in 2000-2001. Adobe completed conversion of their entire font library to OpenType around the end of 2002.

OpenType was intended by Adobe and Microsoft as the successor to their previous warring font formats, TrueType (developed by Apple and Microsoft) and PostScript Type 1 fonts[?] (created by Adobe). Essentially, it uses the general structure of a TrueType font, but allows for either TrueType outlines, or PostScript-style outlines (though stored in the CFF/Type 2 format).

OpenType has several distinctive features:

  • the font encoding is based on Unicode and can support any language (or multiple languages at once)
  • the font files are cross-platform, working on either Mac or Windows
  • OpenType fonts can have up to 65,536 glyphs
  • fonts can have advanced typographic features, which allow proper typographic treatment of complex languages, and advanced typographic effects for simpler languages, such as English.

OpenType is not the first attempt to address some of these issues. Apple Computers' proprietary "GX Typography" did similar things, and still exists today as "Apple Advanced Typography" or "AAT." However, OpenType has been much more successful than GX/AAT in the marketplace.

OpenType is one of the many font formats supported by the FreeType Open Source font engine.

(Note: OpenType is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.)

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