Best Font Creation/Editor Software

randomishlying's picture

I recently designed a font in Adobe Illustrator, and I am attempting to turn it into a font format. However, I do not know what the best software for this situation is. I was hoping that I could find a program that would allow me to import the file I already created and simply change it into a font format.

Any help would be appreciated.

Ramiro Espinoza's picture

You will have to evaluate and choose between:

- Robofont
- Glyphs
- Fontlab
- FontForge (GNU/free and a bit complicated if you compare it with the others)
- FontMaster (A bit outdated and not user friendly IMHO)

There other less powerful (but easier) options like:
- Fontographer
- TypeTool
- FontCreator (0nly for PC)

My personal advice: choose between the first three in this list.

Cheers.

eliason's picture

If you're on a Mac, I would guess Glyphs Mini would be the most appropriate tool for what you want to do. It's a good balance of affordability, features, and ease of use.

abattis's picture

I believe FontForge is not more complicated than any other. It is easy to install for mac - http://fontforge.github.io/en-US/downloads/mac/ - and a similarly easy version for Windows is coming our soon :)

Not only is is the most affordable - zero price - it is libre software, so you can participate in its development at github.com/fontforge/fontforge :)

allanm1's picture

One not listed above is Type 3.2 (Mac and PC):
http://cr8software.net/type.html
With which you can import .SVG files from Illustrator (probably the least expensive commercial option).

You probably now have a complete list of all the font editing software currently available. Which is the best? Well that would depend on your other criteria - as they all have their own merits/disadvantages, costs, feature lists and learning curves.

You might want to think about and tell us what other features you require (and will require in the future), whether cost is a factor etc - otherwise this thread is probably not much help.

blokland's picture

Alan: ‘Which is the best? Well that would depend on your other criteria - as they all have their own merits/disadvantages, costs, feature lists and learning curves.

I fully agree. Since the mid 1980s I have worked with different font production tools; first IKARUS and not much later Fontographer. In the course of time I have seen other applications being developed and, of course, together with URW++ we developed our own suite of font production tools.

Our tools fit our needs best, because they were tailor-made for us. That doesn’t imply that this is the case for others too. I think it’s quite human to think that the tools one uses are the best, and often it looks to me that users of a certain tool want to convince the rest of the world that their tools are the best. If other people follow you, they prove you are right. And people often like to be part of a community.
        Basically this is not a problem, but in case a monoculture is developed in education, i.e. education based on one specific tool, this is wrong IMHO. And I have seen this happen and this resulted in replies from students when I showed functionality not covered by their favorite tool, i.e. their lecturer’s, preferred tools like: ‘Okay, we will wait until this will become available for the tool we use.
        Perhaps circumventing limitations is fine if you have more time than money, but from a production point of view it makes sense to combine tools then (for drawing, for generating fonts, for adding OT Layout features, etc.). Or even switch to another tool. So, in education all tools should be discussed.

Ramiro: ‘FontMaster (A bit outdated and not user friendly IMHO)

Perhaps I’m a bit biased, but I think the FM is actually quite user-friendly and not outdated at all. FM uses a nice versatile file system, has a lot of powerful batch-functionality built-in (for instance the OT Layout features subsetting is very user-friendly), has very good autohinting capabilities, and IMHO a nice interface for drawing glyphs (but, as mentioned above, it was mostly tailor-made for DTL). Also the (batch) autotracer is excellent.
        FM supports the IKARUS format, which may not be important to you, but it is for (very) large software companies which use our tools still (especially in the Far East). And FM is the only tool available that offers manual digitizing with a tablet, as far as I know.

However, if you compare it with your favorite tool, then perhaps FM has a steep learning curve because it handles things differently. And if you want a native Mac OS X version, you will have to wait for the new edition (see the first link above). And if you’re a novice and you’re not thinking of handling many font files, then FM is perhaps not the best choice. And in case you want to apply deltahints, FontLab Studio is the only application mentioned here that offers this option.

Ramiro: ‘There other less powerful (but easier) options like: - Fontographer

Well, if you combine Fontographer with DTL OTMaster, you have a very powerful combi. Generate a glyph database in Fontographer (using its quite good drawing capabilities), generate an OT Layout features file in OTM (with the forenamed subsetting), and combine this in Fontographer. Or add colored glyphs using OTM.

Alan: ‘You might want to think about and tell us what other features you require (and will require in the future), whether cost is a factor etc - otherwise this thread is probably not much help.

Yes, define your needs first.

FEB

blokland's picture

duplicate: removed

Stinger's picture

Are there people around with experience with Glyhps Mini? Site and software looks well designed and polished, but how is it in practical use?

Richard Fink's picture

If you're working on Windows, FontCreator has changed a lot recently.
It was once totally TrueType centric but not so anymore. OTF is well supported.
It opens and exports to the WOFF format quite nicely.
It's got ttfautohint 9.5 built in.
It's got it's own project format now.

And AFAIK, it's the only editor that supports Microsoft's Color Fonts spec.

I very much like it for some things - working with composites is sometime easier in it. And I like the interface. I wish other font editors were as friendly. (This is, for me, the major sticking point about FontForge. It's a very capable program but visually I'm repulsed by it. It doesn't reveal what I need to see, easily.)

In my experience - no one tool has it all. And I agree with Frank that that's a healthy thing.

allanm1's picture

Richard,
FYI, the Windows versions of Type 3.2 and Type light (freeware) also support the new colour font format introduced by Microsoft.

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