No one could tell exactly how many code snippets, black-magic recipes and thrilling scripts Theunis posted on the forums. Thousands, no doubt. Maybe tens of thousands. His profile page reports disembodied numbers like 12,001 posts, 1,172 solutions, but the 2019 reset made this meter quite unsound—not to mention that Jongware's stamp marked other areas from InDesignSecrets to Typophile… In fact, anyone reading this tribute has benefited from his help, directly or indirectly, at one point or another. All of us will remember his patience, generosity and humor.

Theunis de Jong (aka Jongware), email 11.01.2013

Theunis was a public benefactor and a secret genius. Not only a talented, jack-of-all-trades geek. He loved books, typography, math, science, programming, to the highest degree. That is, the breaking-new-ground degree. He could both name all the fonts that were used in a magazine and dive inside dark specs like PostScript, SVG, XML/XSLT, EPUB, GREP, IDML, OpenType… As a “nights-only hobby programmer” (his words) he wrote codes in pure assembler, C++, JS, and likely any language that might solve the problem at hand. Nothing would have quenched his thirst for skill and knowledge.

Just an example: from 2013 to 2016 he gradually managed to read information straight out of native InDesign files and developed its own parser in plain C. “No sweat, he concluded. At the moment it's still a solution looking for a problem.”

“So many ideas, so little time!”

This was Theunis’ strength and maze! Being creative, doing the un-expected, sharing, and moving on! “So many ideas, so little time!” was a recurring pattern. Being overwhelmed with new projects, not being able to lead them all. “My hard disk is littered with the remains of abandoned projects…”

Theunis de Jong (aka Jongware), email 14.12.2014

Yet he had great and fruitful ideas! To stick to the InDesign side, just remember scripts like “3D Extrude Object”, “WordMap”, “Spirographs”, “What the GREP!?”, “Mazes Everywhere”, all written in the heyday of the scripting forum. Theunis also found a way to re-format all JavaScript Reference Guides into HTML. From 2012 to 2020 he tackled tougher issues: XML parsing, Markdown syntax, custom panels, SVG import… Much of these works remained (almost) confidential.

“I Started to ‘Dream’ IF”

Towards the end of 2011, Theunis was silently working on his magnum opus, a pure OpenType font builder fully embedded in InDesign. “IndyFont was special to him,” writes a member of his family. “He told me how it felt different from his other stuff when he made it; he had an idea … and for six months, he spent time just thinking about how to implement it, figuring out how to do this and that, connect such and so, etcetera. And then spent another couple of months writing the code.”

Theunis de Jong (aka Jongware), email 09.03.2012

I had the honor that he offered me to finalize and market the product, now recognized as the most amazing in its class. As a typophile, as a self-taught developer, Theunis was very proud of his achievement. “I started to ‘dream‘ IF,” he wrote, “so I'm glad you have taken it off my hands for the moment.”

Theunis de Jong (aka Jongware), email 28.05.2013

Jongware vs. InDesign

Theunis really enjoyed making books. He was “in the business of Language & Linguistics” and all suggests he was working with the diligence of a Benedictine monk. He experimented with WordPerfect, PageMaker, FrameMaker, rubbing shoulders with various publishing technologies and formats. So, obviously, he loved the founding spirit of InDesign. But he couldn't stand how marketing or incongruous policies were taking a toll on this legacy.

Theunis de Jong (aka Jongware), email 15.04.2018

He could sometimes severely criticize Adobe, and the least I owe him is to revive his thinking on this topic, because it was for him a major concern. “My long term hopes for InDesign has always been for it to move towards the FrameMaker niche: that of a dedicated ‘professional’ level design tool. Instead Adobe took it the other way around: a tool for ‘everyone’ to use, No Expertise Needed Whatsoever, Latest Fad of the Week E-platform features Haphazardly and Incompletely Included...” (June 12, 2017.)

I think Theunis felt and expressed all the discomfort of a suddenly abandoned generation of skilled book designers. “Perhaps our market is saturated,” he admitted, “just as InDesign's is”, but then, why should we ‘pretend’?

A Dutiful Mind

Theunis hardly ever wrote about his “Real World” life (I never met him in person.) His attachment to his family was very strong. His attachment to his job was somewhere between devotion and exhaustion. For sure his boss was incredibly lucky to have on his team a guy who could learn and digest almost everything, then engage in Herculean challenges.

Theunis de Jong (aka Jongware), email 03.09.2020

The unsolved mystery is, how could he do so much both in depth and in parallel? Also, how could he give so much to others, and expect so little in return?

When he knew his days were numbered, Theunis de Jong sent me a few personal words. Among them, a sentence was already sounding like the last secret he wanted to share with you:

I am really happy to have been a member of that community for so many, many years, and having been able to teach people the occasional tidbits about design, layout, and typography, InDesign in general and scripting specifically. —Theunis de Jong, Oct. 7, 2020.


Theunis de Jong (4 September 1966 Rotterdam – 28 November 2020 Dordrecht)