Lesson Learned: Don’t rely on operating system fonts and plug-ins from tiny companies!

Pardon me while I vent (hypocritically) for a moment. [I’m a parent of teens. I’m qualified both to vent and be hypocritical. At the same time.]

As a software developer at a product company who shall remain nameless, I always pooh-poohed the lamentations of end-users about upgrade pain. It was much harder to write the software and ship it. What were they complaining about? Whiners.

Fast-forward to a new day. I’m not a developer (or employee of any type) at said company any longer and I’m annoyed. I’m annoyed at Windows 10. I’m annoyed at Adobe. I’m annoyed at the tiny little plug-in creator DTP Utils. Now it’s my turn to be the whiner. (I’m fully aware of the hypocrisy. . .and I don’t care.)


Let’s start with Microsoft. Everyone loves to hate Microsoft. They mostly get things right, but too many major decisions are delegated too far down the food chain. Individual developers are too far removed from the customer pain and impact that they cause by seemingly trivial feature decisions that they make inside the mythological “Redmond Reality Distortion Field” that wraps around King County. Today, I’m annoyed that two fonts that shipped with Windows 8.x got dropped for Windows 10. I’m sure that there was a “good” licensing or other reason to drop the fonts. . .but that’s why they should never have been been included in Windows in the first place. (And why I shouldn’t’ve relied upon them. Shame on me.) I only noticed because I have a “clean” install on my shiny new, self-assembled Frankenworkstation that never had Windows 8.x on it. Both Arabic Typesetting and MingLiU are gone. Microsoft.com confirms that those fonts are only available with prior versions. Zip. Zero. Do not pass go. Dammit. I need both for Starcrossed to ship print versions to Amazon. Grrr.

Next up the dynamic duo of Adobe and their partner, DTP Utils. I blame both. Adobe for stupidly breaking backward compatibility of their plug-in API. DTP Utils for being tiny, having a life (apparently), and not enough time to answer email or update their ParagraphBorder plug-in to the new InDesign 2015. I need both for Starcrossed to ship print versions to Amazon. Grrr. I really do hope that DTP will update their plug-in (or just sell me a new version. . .Take my monies!), but I’ve emailed, telephoned, and tweeted angrily at both of them for the past two months since the 2015 upgrade dropped for InDesign. Adobe politely blew me off by phone, email, and Twitter. DTP just ignored me without response. Next time, I’ll save my money and limp along with the built-in features and find a way to achieve the desired effect. That way I’ll only have Adobe (and myself) to blame when an upgrade breaks me.

Now, ultimately, it’s my fault for taking so damn long to get around to trying to assemble the print editions, but I haz goot excuses. Honest! /sigh

The biggest lesson learned for me affects the upcoming TOP SECRET project built in Unity 3D. Note to Self: Take dependencies carefully, even on toys produced by the big names. If it’s not a core part of the product, don’t count on it. Don’t bother buying plug-ins and other black box toys from no-name vendors in the marketplace. Even cheap ones. Write your own code. Draw your own art. Model your own assets.

Bit rot is real, people. It’s not just something that happens to coders! Whether it’s a novel project in Scrivener or Microsoft Word, a music project in Cubase, a game project in Unity, a mobile app or website in Visual Studio, or a PDF project in Adobe InDesign or Acrobat, if you haven’t cracked open your projects lately in whatever software you used to produce them, odds are good a patch or an upgrade has already broken your backward compatibility. All vendors are equally guilty. Your only defense is budget time to regularly update your work product and make sure you can [re]produce it as needed. You have been warned.

Which reminds me, I have to go rip all my Zune tunes to disc before support ends for the much maligned and ignored little player. Poor little Zune HD. It’s Gears of War logo is crying now.