FontLab's Bitfonter for pixelfonts designers..?

Miguel Hernandez's picture

Has anyone used or buy FontLab's Bitfonter? I just want to know if this app will finally offer to make the best chance on the market to make pixel fonts and super pixelfonts on a easy way.

Here in the typophile forums, many people are asking about how to make pixel fons optimized for flash, there are may ways to make them and the same now for pixel fonts with greys like super pixel fonts.

So if any one have any coments about this app, or questions about it, please post it here.

mh.

hrant's picture

I was a beta-tester for BitFonter. The two pre-release versions I had both seemed very nice - just some bugs typical of beta SW. Unfortunately, I was trying to do something tricky with Windows grayscale fonts, and the beta versions could never do it right. The MacOS fonts I generated worked great though. This past September I asked Yuri if the release version fixed that bug, and he said yes - I just can't afford to buy it right now.

hhp

Miguel Hernandez's picture

Maybe there is no foundry who make pixelfonts who bought Bitfonter.

Most of all use Fontographer, If Yuri or people behind Bitfonter can asume that the market of designers who buy pixelfonts is not small, a next version of this app have to include an automatic optimization from pixels to vectors. A rusian App called Pixfont are trying to make it, closely but with bugs.

A lot of people will buy this app if becomes as
easy as paint pixels and generate postcript fonts.

mh.

Mark Simonson's picture

I've got BitFonter and have been using it not to create fonts
directly, but as a design aid for creating outline versions of
my old bitmap fonts. I work out the design and spacing
in BitFonter until everything looks right. Then I export it as
a Mac bitmap fonts and import into Fontographer in the
template layer and manually trace the glyph shapes. It's
rather tedious, even with all the shortcuts and tricks I've
developed, so I'm interested in some of these recent efforts
to automate the process. It seems like an obvious next step.

I've taken a look at Pixfont, but I'm not too impressed. It
seems to throw out the sidebearings of the existing bitmap
font and replace them with one pixel on each side. It also
only exports in one size (8 point, I think), no matter what
size the source bitmap font is. You can fix this in FontLab
or Fontographer, but it's a bit odd. It uses an unusual
method for overcoming the Flash filled-in counter problem.
Basically, instead of using compound paths, it uses a single
path which cuts into the counter and back out again. This
seems to work okay for Flash, but it would create a visible
line in letters with counters if you used it for print work or
used the font very large. It also has a unique feature that
lets you edit the font in Photoshop (or whatever) but it's
pretty basic and would be a tedious way to do this type of
font.

yar's picture

During ATypI conference in Vancouver we plan to announce few things related to "outline bitmap" fonts creation and editing.

Mark Simonson's picture

Yes, I saw that on the conference site. I wish I was able to
make it to the conference. I am very curious about your
outline bitmap font plans.

Miguel Hernandez's picture

On the A TypI programme website, i read this...

New tools from FontLab
28 September 2003, 10:30 (60 minutes)

Yuri Yarmola, FontLab


FlashFonter

As Flash websites have proliferated some typographers have taken to creating special pixel-based TrueType fonts which render cleanly and sharply at low resolution on such sites. Craig Kroeger, of miniml.com, gave a demonstration of this technique at TypeCon 2003. Such fonts act like bitmap fonts in that they are not anti-aliased and turn on specific pixels in a grid when displayed at the size for which they were designed.

yar's picture

Friends,

We are looking for few beta-testers for the Win version of the tool. Signing of NDA will be necessary to join the testing program.

Best regards,
Yuri Yarmola
yar[at]fontlab[dot]com

Miguel Hernandez's picture

This is a question for all the pixel font designers and typographers around here..

Which features have to be included in a pixel font editor tool like Flashfonter?

Miguel Hernandez's picture

1. Draw fonts as bitmap window editor on fog

2. Copy/paste from gif, bmp.

3. Pixel grey effect tool, to generate smooth grey pixels.

4. Easy kerning pairs preview.

5. Generate bitmap and postcript font files.

6. A window to test the font on text paragraph, without generate the font, installed in the sistem, open in flash or photoshop...

Mark Simonson's picture

The ideal, for me, would be to be able to go directly from a bitmap design in BitFonter to an optimized outline in FontLab in one step.

I'm curious about one thing, Miguel. Through my own investigations, I have found TrueType pixel fonts work better than PostScript pixel fonts in Flash. Atomic Media (who publishes your fonts) only offers them in PostScript format. Any idea why?

Miguel Hernandez's picture

I have no idea about which format work better on Flash. I like to test Flashfonter soon, i am making fonts with greys now, i call him gpx, grey pixel fonts, so i need an app as easy to draw, kern, test and generate.

There are other people around internet who are making pixel fonts with greys on fontographer.

Here is an example Mark

www.pixietype.com

look at the example down on the left in the homepage, they call it fx fonts. Zoom it, is a swf, and i found that this effect is a tiny 25% pixel who make a grey possible, something like this..



Mark Simonson's picture

Regarding gpx: Very interesting.

Here's what I mean about TrueType vs. PostSript fonts. These screen grabs are from Flash showing what happens when you type all the possible characters in a Static Text box and then exit text editing. First, PostScript:

pft1

Next TrueType:

pftt

Notice that the character encoding is all messed up in the PostScript font. I'm showing pixel fonts here, but this is true of any font, not just pixel fonts.

With Dynamic or Input text, in both cases certain characters do not display at all, but the same scrambled effect happens with PostScript fonts.

I'm just wondering if there's some advantage to PostScript for Flash fonts that I'm not aware of. It really seems like TrueType is the way to go.

Miguel Hernandez's picture

You're right.

mh.

hrant's picture

Flash does indeed prefer quadratic bezier fonts (TT) versus cubics (PS), probably because it converts the latter to the former internally before use. This is most evident in the fact that less funny things happen to letterform outlines (typical when you zoom in a lot) if they're in TT than in PS. But the encoding issue is strange - I have a hunch that can be fixed, although I'm not sure how...

Miguel: "gpx", eh? Hmmm, I guess I'll need a nice name for my stuff. Maybe "BMX", as in BitMap eXtreme. It can never hurt to have cool name for something.

hhp

yar's picture

> 1. Draw fonts as bitmap window editor on fog

Yes.

> 2. Copy/paste from gif, bmp.

No. It can convert any system font at any size to "pixel font" and it doesn't work with real bitmaps. You can use ScanFont or BitFonter to convert any picture to a bitmap font. Btw, next release of BitFonter will support export of "flash fonts" to FontLab.

>3. Pixel grey effect tool, to generate smooth grey pixels.

Using outline-editing tools you can create triangle "pixels" that will simulate grayscale in Flash.

> 4. Easy kerning pairs preview.

It is still outline font, so you can use FontLab's (or TypeTool's) kerning editor. Simple script may round kerning values to pixel grid.

> 5. Generate bitmap and postcript font files.

Why do you need bitmaps? Btw, TrueType export format is preferred - it is more predictable and works better in Flash (at least on Windows).

>6. A window to test the font on text paragraph, without generate the font, installed in the sistem, open in flash or photoshop...

No. It is not possible to do that without installing font. And if it is installed, it is better to test it in Flash or Photoshop. There is a preview panel that will show how font will work in different font sizes, but it is not rendered by the OS, so we cannot garantee that it will work the same way in applications.

Please note, that FlashFonter (or PixlFonter - we yet not decided on name) is a simple and unexpensive application. It is not a font editor, it is a kind of plugin to FontLab.

Best regards,
Yuri

Mark Simonson's picture

But the encoding issue is strange - I have a hunch that can be fixed, although I'm not sure how...

As far as I can tell, this PostScript font thing is a bug in Flash. It mostly seems to affect embedded fonts. If you use "device" fonts, the encoding problem is reduced (but not eliminated), but using device fonts for static text introduces other worse problems, especially for pixel fonts.

Kind of off-topic, but: The other Flash font problem I'm having is that "auto kern" seems to have no effect in FlashMX. I've been unable to find any information about this problem on the web. I've tried posting about this on Macromedia's Flash newsgroup, but no relevant response so far. Works correctly in Flash 5, but I can't get it to have any effect in FlashMX on three different Macs running either OS X or 9. Can any other Flash users confirm or deny this?

Dan Weaver's picture

I have a bunch of question: 1. I understand bitmap fonts work better in small sizes in the web, but who has them installed on there computer. The new Indie Fonts 2 has two sites who support bitmap fonts, but why? The average person isn't going to download bitmap fonts. Educate me, thanks, Dan

Mark Simonson's picture

The fonts we're talking about here are not real bitmap fonts, like the ones that were used before PostScript and TrueType fonts became popular. What we're talking about are fake bitmap fonts, which are actually PostScript or TrueType outline fonts that look and behave like bitmap fonts.

The reason they came into being is because many people were unhappy with the way anti-aliased text appears in Flash, especially at small sizes. Bitmap fonts might have been the answer, but Flash does not support them at all. Some people discovered that you could create outline fonts to achieve the same effect.

For more info, see the interview with Matthew Bardram elsewhere on this site (here).

yar's picture

Very soon we will start beta-testing process of the Mac version of the FlashFonter (and we still looking for a better name!). Please, contact me offlist if you want to join.

Best regards,
Yuri Yarmola
yar[at]fontlab[dot]com

hrant's picture

What about just "FontFlasher"?

hhp

yar's picture

I'd like to avoid word "flash" in its name.

hrant's picture

FontPixer?
Pixelator?
Pixie?

hhp

eomine's picture

What will happen to BitFonter?
What about PixFonter?
:-)

yar's picture

I like Pixelator. We had PixlFonter as a backup name but PixFonter seems to be better.

BitFonter will stay with us. We plan to release OS X version (with many improvements) so nothing bad will happen to it.

Thank you!

Miguel Hernandez's picture

just cal it..............ATOMIZER!


mh

Miguel Hernandez's picture

just call it..............ATOMIZER!


mh

Miguel Hernandez's picture

>Please note, that FlashFonter (or PixlFonter - we yet not decided on name) is a simple and unexpensive application. It is NOT a font editor, it is a kind of plugin to FontLab.


Its looks like the New comming Bitfonter will generate all the bitmap and vector Pixelfonts.

When Bitfonter will be finally ready to test?

mh.

gberry's picture

Font Flasher is available.

www.fontlab.com

Any review, please ?

peterbruhn's picture

Any tips on how to get my bitmap fonts that don't have any vectors into Fontflasher?
Iv'e tried to make "fake" vectors & export but it doesn't work.

yar's picture

I thought that it should work with any system fonts, including bitmaps, but I am not sure how it implemented on Mac. Are you on Mac or Windows?

peterbruhn's picture

Hi Yuri, I'm on a Mac (OSX panther 10.3.2).
I made a new file in fog, then imported the old bitmap font, and then I just added some vectors in each of the glyph window.

Then I generated the font and installed it in the system.

But whatever I do FontFlasher ignores the bitmaps in the font & makes new bitmaps based on the added vectors instead of the "embeded" ones.

twardoch's picture

Peter,
I understand that by "I generated the font", you mean that you generated the font in Mac Type 1 format? I may be wrong but I think MacOS X does not at all use bitmaps associated with Mac Type 1 fonts. I hope a new version of BitFonter will directly export FontFlasher fonts...
Adam

peterbruhn's picture

Adam, yes Mac PS1.

the strange thing though is that it can read the birmaps of other Type 1 fonts.

So I should do a TrueType with embedded bitmaps?

It's strange though.

peterbruhn's picture

I seem to like the word "though" ;)

Jared Benson's picture

Yes, inquiring minds want to know!

Bitfonter is the only app I use anymore that brings me back down into the clunky world of OS 9, and I look forward to the X version with great anticipation.

jb

Syndicate content Syndicate content