Is Snow Leopard Ready for Prime Time for InDesign Users?
The new version of Mac OS X called Snow Leopard (10.6) was released about two months ago—August 28. Lately, there has been some debate about whether it’s time to install it.
One of my favorite podcasts for graphic design news is Design Tools Weekly, hosted by Jay Nelson and Jeff Gamet of Design Tools Monthly. In two recent podcasts, Jay and Jeff have strongly recommended that graphic designers not upgrade to Snow Leopard. Their primary reason is that “Apple hasn’t fixed it’s crippling problem with PostScript fonts.”
Wait a second! What crippling problem? It seems that Apple changed the way it handles PostScript Type 1 fonts in Snow Leopard. The problem is that if you created a document in a version of OS X before Snow Leopard, when you open it in Mac OS X 10.6, it may reflow. The problem is widely reported in QuarkXPress 7 and 8, and in Apple applications like Pages, Keynote and Numbers. However, as far as we can determine, this not a problem in InDesign CS3 or CS4, or in any other Adobe Creative Suite 3 or 4 product. Adobe uses its own CoolType font engine for handling fonts, and InDesign uses its own proprietary text handling routines. Adobe products don’t depend on the operating system to handle text and font routines and so apparently are unaffected (at least I haven’t been able to find any reports of problems as of this date).
I’ve had Snow Leopard installed on two MacBook Pros since its release. There was been one update issued—10.6.1—to fix some bugs, and 10.6.2 is reported to be in development. But I had no problems at all. There is an issue with the Adobe PDF Printer which I reported earlier, but there are workarounds, and this doesn’t affect most people.
However, there may be other reasons not to upgrade. While InDesign CS3 and CS4 (as well as most other CS3 and CS4 applications) seem to run well in Snow Leopard, you’re more likely to have problems if you have old versions of software like InDesign CS2 or earlier. Apple did change the default gamma (screen brightness) to 2.2, now matching that of Windows, and this may cause problems for some people in color managed environments until color management software has caught up with the changes. Or, you might have an old device like a printer or scanner for which you have trouble finding a new device driver. And, of course, you have to have an Intel Mac to do the upgrade to Snow Leopard. But, in my opinion, most InDesign CS3 or CS4 users who are relatively up-to-date, can probably now upgrade if you wish.
What do my fellow InDesignSecrets.com colleagues say? James Fritz says:
I completely agree with your points Steve. I am also running Snow Leopard. Although I did a complete reformat. Whenever a new OS comes out I like to start completely clean and it also gives me a chance to get rid of any software that I downloaded and haven’t used in a long time.
Bob Levine says:
The only thing I will tell you is that I made mistake of buying into the Apple propaganda about just popping in the disk for an upgrade…BIG MISTAKE. Everything slowed to a crawl and forget about printing. A clean install fixed the mess which I should have just done in the firstplace. CS3 and CS4 seem to be running just fine. Now…back the peace of my Windows 7 machine. :)
But, not everyone needs to upgrade (or can upgrade). You could take Anne-Marie’s position:
I can tell you that when clients running Leopard ask me if I recommend they upgrade their department to Snow Leopard, I say “No”. … not as a warning, but more of a “why bother.” Mainly because I’m from the “if it ain’t broke” school. I have not read about any significant advantages Snow Leopard has over regular Leopard. CS4 is running fine on their Leopard machine. There is nothing they want to use that requires Snow Leopard. So why bother?
What do you think? If you’re a Mac user, have you upgraded? Have you had any problems?