Why is Adobe so anal about "faux" bold and italics?

Every other program I’ve ever used since Windows 3.1 was more than happy to let you bold or italicize any font with the standard Ctrl-B and Ctrl-I shortcuts.

On the other hand, Adobe design programs (Illustrator, Photoshop, not Dreamweaver, not sure about others) insist on you either choosing a heavier version of the font (if you have it) or resorting to “faux” bold and “faux” italics.

What’s the big deal? Why is the normal method of bolding and italicizing that works for the rest of the world not good enough for Adobe?

For professional purposes fake italics and bolds may not print right. In addition they don’t represent the vision of the typeface designer. Fake typeface modifications may look okay, but it isn’t considered professional to use them.

Basically, Word is for office work and InDesign and the other Adobe Products are for professional printing and design.

Why don’t they print right if they’re just vectors with thicker strokes? The “vision” of the font designer… but wouldn’t the person actually using the font be able to make that call for themselves at time of use?

I’m not arguing that, but “professional” doesn’t have to mean “deliberately harder to use”.

And just to clarify my question, I guess I’m trying to understand the intent of Adobe’s UI designers in making such a common function hidden so deeply (you have to activate the typography panel in a different workspace and then find the faux bold button), instead of something having a simple regular bold button and hotkey and a dialog that pops up that first time you use it saying “Because this font doesn’t come with a bold typeface, you will see only an approximated “faux” bold. This may or may not print right. Don’t show again? (Y/N)” and be done with it.

Likewise, something else I find really annoying is how hard it is to preview the list of fonts. They’re sorted in some crazy non-alphabetical order and there’s no standalone dialog box, like in Word, to be able to browse through the list at various sizes and options. The best I could find was to slightly enlarge the font previews in the drop-down list, but that’s still not very usable.

It just seems bizarre to me that a multi-hundred-dollar software package that’s gone through decades of evolution is still, well, so hard to use. Is it just me? I’ve been using Photoshop since I was in elementary school and I still can’t believe how awful the UI can be sometimes, even compared to competitors like Paint Shop Pro.

(Note to mods: And if this is better suited to IMHO, please feel free to move it. I was hoping there’d be a GQ user interface design answer to this, but maybe not?)

I think the answer is kerning (or at least part of the answer) - it’s simply not safe to assume that vector figures will still fit together properly as designed after they have been transformed.

(interesting aside: when kerning goes wrong, it’s sometimes called ‘keming’)

It’s not just Adobe; it’s any professional-quality typesetting program. What you call “normal” bolding and italicizing is not actually (or at least historically) normal. A bold font isn’t just a regular font with thicker strokes, and an italic font especially isn’t just a regular font slanted slightly to the right. True bold and italic fonts—or even different point sizes of the same font—need to be designed from the ground up as entirely new typefaces, both for aesthetic and practical purposes (such as readability). You can see a very good illustration this in Knuth’s The TeXBook; he compares regular and faux italic by unslanting both; you can then easily see that the letter forms are very different. Similarly, he magnifies a subscript-size font up to 10pt to show that it’s not just a regular 10pt scaled down; there are important changes the font designer needs to make to the typeface in order for it to remain optimally legible at such a small size. Perhaps the question you should be asking isn’t why Adobe is so anal about faux italic/bold, but why it’s so lax with letting you proportionally scale TrueType fonts. (I take it a lot of newer OpenType fonts actually encode separate versions for different point sizes.)

Interestingly reminiscent (although mostly coincidentally) of Galileo’s work on scaling up and down with respect to bones.

Quite so. Check out Trebuchet MS, which has a different lowercase ‘a’ in italics.

That was the letter I was going to mention. Check the italics in any serifed font, and chances are the "a"s are going to be quite different.

The term for a font that’s merely slanted but uses the same typeface as the roman/“regular” version is “oblique.” A lot of sans serifs do not have true italics (Trebuchet, Gills Sans, and Goudy Sans are the big exceptions here). Serifed typefaces generally look horrid, IMHO, in oblique versions and require their own italic typeface.

See here for further explanation and an example of true italics vs oblique.