Fontographer Vs. Fontlab...

rootedideas's picture

This summer another student and myself will participate in a Students Partnering with Faculty Summer Research Program along with a faculty member/design professional. The program will involve researching typography, studying typefaces, typographic classification, and meeting with design professionals. Then, in late summer/early fall we will each begin work to design and create our own typeface.

I was wondering if those of you who have experience designing and creating typefaces can recommend the best computer program for it. Work will be done, of course, on Macs. Macromedia's Fontographer seems to be the first choice, but does FontLab seem a more appropriate choice?

Please discuss which programs you prefer and the reasons why. Any information you can provide would be extremely helpful.

Jason Alejandro's picture

AKA rootedideas...don't know why I can't log in under my profile.

I would like to thank all of you for your input and suggestions regarding my questions. I have learned a lot from the information you have all provided. My faculty advisor has decided on FontLab from information received in this thread as well as the recommendations from type designers Matteo Bologna (Mucca Design/Typo) and Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich (Bembo's Zoo). These two gentlemen will also be aiding us along as we take our first steps in type design with FontLab sometime in July. Again thank you to everyone who contributed to this thread, I'm glad I asked.

Christian Robertson's picture

I would concur with Dan on this one. While there are many type designers that still use Fontographer, it's mostly because they are old, and don't want to learn new tools. :-) If you are going to learn a new tool anyway, you might as well learn one that's going to be around for a while. What's more, FontLab is not more complicated to learn than Fontographer. In fact, I think it's easier by far.

Christian Robertson's picture

I thought I might get some bites on my fog troll :-) The best solution for FL import is ScanFont. It's truly amazing. You import your eps, and it automatically pulls all the characters out into FontLab.

Christian Robertson's picture

My pre-scanfont workaround was to develop my characters at 1/10 scale in Illustrator along the baseline of the artboard. I then used an Illustrator action to resize, move the x position to 0 and cut. It works great, if you want to do it by hand. Nowadays, ScanFont is the only way to go. If nothing else, it beats the heck out of tickmarks.

The other option is to write a JavaScript for Illustrator that automatically rolls out a bunch of separate EPS files, and a Python script for FL to pull them all in. ;-) (it's not as hard as you might think)

Christian Robertson's picture

Just for fun, here are a couple scripts that I will be using to export my fonts from Illustrator to FontLab. I might even prefer this over ScanFont.

Here is the Illustrator JavaScript that will take any selected illustrator objects and roll them into EPS files suitable for import into FontLab. The script assumes that the baseline of the characters is the bottom edge of the artboard, and that the characters are designed at 1/10 scale. Only the selected characters will export. By default, the script exports to a folder named epsexport on the desktop, but this can be changed to any directory.

 
if ( app.documents.length > 0 ) {

var transformAmmount = 10;
var saveOpts = new EPSSaveOptions();
saveOpts.compatibility = Compatibility.ILLUSTRATOR8;

var doc = app.activeDocument;
var sel = doc.selection;

for(var i = 0; i < sel.length; i ++){
var letter = sel[i].duplicate();
var ttop = letter.top*transformAmmount;

tdoc = app.documents.add();
letter.moveToBeginning(tdoc);

letter.width = letter.width * transformAmmount;
letter.height = letter.height * transformAmmount;
letter.top = ttop;
letter.left = 0;

var newFile = new File('~/Desktop/epsexport/char_'+i+'.eps');
tdoc.saveAs( newFile, saveOpts );

tdoc.close( SaveOptions.DONOTSAVECHANGES );


}
}
This is the python script that will import a series of eps files into glyphs in FontLab. The EasyDialogs.AskFolder function only works on the mac, but you could easily just enter the path of the directory in its stead.

 
import EasyDialogs
import os
import re

dir = EasyDialogs.AskFolder()
filearray = os.listdir(dir)

for eps in filearray:
print eps
if (re.search('eps',eps)):
g = Glyph()
g = g.LoadEPS(dir+":"+eps)
g.name = eps

r = g.GetBoundingRect()

p = Point()
p.x = r.width
g.SetMetrics(p)

fl.font.glyphs.append(g)

fl.UpdateFont()



Enjoy!

Ad3m's picture

You don't need a UniqueID. They are far more trouble than they are worth. Adobe stopped putting them in our western fonts several years back, when our testing showed no significant performance differences for fonts without UniqueIDs.

Back when printers had 8 MHz processors and data was sent to them on a 57K pipeline, the caching really did help. Today, not so much so.

As for FOND IDs, they have their own problems, in that the ID range also indicates the encoding. So even if you want to keep UniqueIDs, tying them to the FOND IDs seems like a bad idea.

Regards,
Sohbet | muhabbet

Nick Shinn's picture

There were some things that I preferred about Fontographer, but being old, I have forgotten what they were.

Tim Ahrens's picture

Deleting nodes is much more precise in Fontographer. You could blame FontLab's integer coordinates but I am quite sure this can't be the main reason.
Node deletion may seem like an insignificant detail but I believe this is one of the reasons why for some designers Fontographer just feels better.

gohebrew's picture

I fave both, FL Studio and Fog 5 - both from Pyrus.

The new Fog 5 is great. Now FL Studio must catch up.

I use MS Volt seriously. FLS fonts import, but not Fog 5. Why? A bug?

twardoch's picture

You mean, .otf or .ttf fonts generated by Fontographer 5 don't open in Microsoft VOLT? At all?

djaawn's picture

A New Tool for Illustrator folks: TypeBridge

Hi. I just wanted to comment in regards to the folks who were having difficulty with the transfer between Illustrator and TypeTool/FontLab. The way that FontLab works is logical, given that in font world there are no decimal numbers. However, for folks who are very comfortable in Illustrator, it would be nice to have a tool that automatically rounds all points (which have already been drawn) to whole points while keeping the integrity of the font.

But I once drew a typeface, and when I discovered the way FontLab works, I had to go in and move each anchor (ones that resulted from effects, rounding, etc). I had set up the grip as directed by FontLab, but that doesn't cover you in all situations.

So I have created a script that takes care of the non-integer anchors. If you have already drawn your typeface, or don't want to be too concerned with snapping while illustrating, this Illustrator script will be perfect for you. It automatically rounds all selected anchors to the closest whole integer, whether that means up or down. With a standard UPM of 1000, the tweaking is hardly noticeable. With a higher value for more precision, the tweaking would be nearly impossible to see. However, it makes it so that your art transfers perfectly into FontLab/TypeTool. I know there are some purists who will object, but to those of us who are very comfortable in Illustrator, this is an invaluabale tool, I believe.

Here it is: TypeBridge

Let me know if you have any questions or feedback. (Not hatemail).

djaawn's picture

The url has changed to a more intuitive one: http://www.derekweathersbee.com/products/typebridge-script

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