A Font of Our Own

Voice Card  -  Volume 5  -  John Card Number 13  -  Fri, Mar 3, 1989 11:19 PM

Before describing the new improved voice font, I'd like to apologize once again for failing to add the font to the transit stack. It's in there now, so you should be able to use these new characters in your next voice card!

The first order of business is the annoying matter of the sticky punctuation marks. It's a nitpicky little problem, but it's been keeping me up nights. These parenthesis and quotes which hang by themselves at the end of lines drive me crazy, and last time I created four "sticky" characters that didn't misbehave in this way. But then a new problem surfaced!

These sticky characters work by fooling HyperCard into thinking they are ordinary letters. The problem is that HyperCard can't tell them apart from ordinary letters, even when you want it to. The upcoming PRINT feature will send voice card text to word processing files, but once there, the sticky characters turn to pumpkins and it could be a major nuisance cleaning them up. This becomes even more of a problem since I now use sticky punctuation in header text of reply cards. I wanted to clean them up automatically, but how could I do this when HyperCard couldn't tell them apart from other characters?

Further research revealed that there are exactly three characters which are both sticky and identifiable: the British Pound sign, the Yen sign, and the cent sign. I have therefore converted these three symbols to the three most essential punctuation miscreants, as follows:

OPTION 3   sticky (
OPTION 4   sticky )
OPTION y   sticky quote

The problem now is remembering these, since the assignment is not very intuitive. My solution is to provide special characters whose sole purpose is to remind you what the correct key strokes are:

OPTION 9   Use 3 for (
OPTION 0   Use 4 for )
OPTION "   Use y for quote
OPTION '   Use y for quote

Thus if you can't remember the obscure keystroke for sticky quote, just hold down the option key, hit the quote key, and the font will remind you to use option y! Best of all, the sticky punctuation and two other symbols will be AUTOMATICALLY converted to proper characters whenever you export voice card text! And I can rest a little easier.

As mentioned on the previous card, the new font also provides a palm tree rating system, with a potted plant used to represent half a tree.

Thus: translates as "Not half bad."


But wait! The best is yet to come! Back in volume two, Paul suggested that we use special symbols to add facial expressions to our comments. So far Holly has been the only one to use this system, perhaps because colons and what-not are not very inspiring. But now, thanks to the voice font, we have genuine faces that can be added at the tap of a key. I have created ten faces, numbered 0 to 9 as follows:

OPTION SHIFT 4     Sly Wink
OPTION SHIFT 5     Yuk Yuk Yuk
OPTION SHIFT 6     Loopy
OPTION SHIFT 8     Worried
OPTION SHIFT 9     Fiendish Grin

Sprinkle these faces liberally throughout your messages!

There are two more special characters you'll be seeing a lot of from now on.

Editor's note: is what I'll be using whenever I insert, you guessed it, an Editor's Note. It's created by typing OPTION SHIFT N. This symbol is automatically converted whenever you export text, as is the next one.

OPTION s creates the word See. This symbol will automatically appear whenever you insert a reference tag. The procedure is to A) mark the card to be referenced by clicking on its masthead, B) return to the text of your new card and position the cursor where you want the reference to appear, and C) hit the TAB key: the phrase See Vol x Name y will appear. If you have forgotten all about reference tags, See Vol 4 John 28.

See calls attention to the reference and also has the nifty property that if you double click on the center of it (between the e's), the reference tag will light up (and you can then use F to FIND it)!

Also, both See and Editor's note: can be searched for with the FIND command. Just type F and then type OPTION s or OPTION SHIFT N into the dialog box (the characters will appear as a German double S and a box respectively). In this way you can quickly find every Editor's Note or reference tag in the entire stack!

As before, OPTION k produces the symbol. And finally, all Macintosh fonts include a special symbol for missing or undefined character. This is a symbol which appears whenver you type a character that has not been defined in that font (Chicago uses a little box). It is a tradition when creating designer fonts to put a special signature character in that position. For the voice font, that symbol looks like this:

One of my next projects will be coming up with a new hybrid font for the HyperEssay Construction Kit, so that special characters in voice cards will translate correctly whenever they are sent to a HyperEssay stack. I'll keep you posted.

So what do you think? ?