Native Fontographer for Mac OS X now available

Grant Hutchinson's picture

Give it up for those crazy kids at Fontlab. Yes, believe it or don't - Fontographer 4.7 for Mac OS X is now available. Here's a short list of the fixes and features of this release:

* Native support for Mac OS X,
* Support for the Euro character
* Updated encodings
* Copy-paste compatibility with new Illustrator and Freehand versions
* Numerous bug fixes

Huzzah.

http://www.fontlab.com/Font-tools/Fontographer/

Stephen Coles's picture

Excellent. Now, anyone want to attempt a brief tale-of-the-tape for Fontographer vs. TypeTool or FontLab? I can see how this is very welcome news for FOG vets, but it doesn't make much sense for newbies to try and pick up FOG at this point, right?

Grant Hutchinson's picture

Here is Fontlab's point-form product feature comparison chart for starters:

http://www.fontlab.com/Font-tools/Product-Comparison-Chart/

silas's picture

I'd buy it if I could only customize the keyboard commands.

silas's picture

...and if it was offered at a discounted "downgrade" price for FontLab users.

Eric_West's picture

Just outta curiousity, how is it that Typetool, as a scaled down Fontlab, supports more characters than FontLab Studio?

Down10's picture

Hey look, an upgrade — nine years later! Is there a record for this kind of delay in the software world (excluding Y2K core updates)?

Anyhoo, thanks for picking up the ball, FontLab. You guys rock.

david h's picture

hey, the first "bug": problem with the Installer; where's my upgrade?

dberlow's picture

http://www.fontlab.com/Font-tools/Product-Comparison-Chart/

;) this is interesting: "Undo" is N/A in Fog now.

I've only used FL since spring (after 16 yrs or Fog), drawing 30 or so fonts in that time. Here is a top list of things Fog Does Better in the LETTER DRAWING phase of type design:

1. End points connect like they know they are supposed to in Fog. In FL, they need to be no farther apart than the thickness of a flea's pubic hair in order to get the points (connected).
2. FL bolding adds, sometimes dozens of, unwanted points. Fog = 0.
3. FL interpolation is practically useless for the same reason as #2, i.e. it does not understand matching points, the cleanup is more work that manual
Interpolation.
4. Fog is smart enough to know that when you have the pen tool, and you click on a contour, it should add a point to the contour, (you can draw all day long with Fogs pen without EVER changing tools). FL = special tool for the same simple function, change tool, change tool, change tool.
5. Fog's metrics window knew that the baseline was not ness., in fact it's a distraction to good spacing. FL Lets you know exactly where the baseline is in the metrics window whether you like it or not.
6. type an unoccupied character in Fog, it shows up blank. FL crashes 50% of the time, and otherwise misbehaves when you type the as yet defined.
7. Fog = Correct path direction. FL = Reverse all contours. The former just works, the latter, I don't even know why they bother unless you're supposed to delete every contour that is correct, "Reverse all contours" to correct the contour(s) that are wrong.
8. 15% of all zooms in FL's glyph window fly to a minuscule and uneditable 12 point. Fog = 0% of all zooms are correct.
9. FL is seriously deranged about the differences between "copy", "delete", and "merge". Fog's got it 100% right. (In FL, I still have not figured out how to select more than one point and merge the contour around it...)
10. Fog has a tiny number of icons for all the tools you need, and every single one is useful every day. FL is Totally Nuts about tools and icons.

Things on the other side of the ledger:
1. FL is pretty. Fog is not.
2. FL goes on, Fog does not.
:-)

.'s picture

FL supports the development of OpenType fonts (without using an external compiler) and Fog does not. FL is the 777 to Fog's Sopwith Camel. You can't fly a 777 through a barn, but you can't carry 500 passengers in a Camel.

Yes, the drawing environments are different, in much the same way that Illustrator and FreeHand's drawing environments are different. Which one's better? The depends upon which one you like use best.

Personally, I was delighted to make the wholesale switch to FontLab in 2002, and I haven't looked back since. I have had the chance to poke around with FogX, and was amused by the anachronism: made me want to thrown on some neon legwarmers and fire up the Flashdance soundtrack.

All of which to say: If you're a devoted FogHat, you'll be delighted to have the application ported and tweaked for use on OS X. If you've made the switch to FontLab and are happy with it, you probably won't find a reason to switch back to Fontographer.

Grant Hutchinson's picture

David, I think you nailed it with your list... Fog feels like a type ‘designing’ tool to me, whereas Flab has always felt like a type ‘programming’ tool. I'm not adverse to programming and the more technical aspects of type development, but if it gets in the way of the design process, then a different tool needs to be used. I use both applications, and I prefer them for different reasons.

> “2. FL goes on, Fog does not.”

The fact that Fog 4.7 has been released at all negates this point entirely.

Thank goodness Fog is a player again.

.'s picture

>Thank goodness Fog is a player again.

Speaking of "play" and "again":

Mark Simonson's picture

But you've always had the ability to go back. All you have to do is boot up your old Mac, click two times and say, "There's no place like FOG. There's no place like FOG..."

It will be more interesting when they do the real upgrade--FOG 5--due out next summer.

yuri's picture

David: are you on FontLab Studio 5/Mac beta list? If not - contact me - most of things in your list are fixed.

Mark: I think that even more interesting it will be when we release Fontlab Studio with all best Fog features.

dberlow's picture

> “2. FL goes on, Fog does not.”
"The fact that Fog 4.7 has been released at all ..."
No, I mean the real tool, not 4.anything. I only ever used 4.x in a pinch, and never for drawing. Getting 3.5 to work in X'd be a hoot, but that ain't gonna happen.
The overall appearance, interacitve piece-wise scaling of parts, "I'm sure there must be some way to do this" adventure, continuing into the "I'm sure there must be a better way to do this" adventure, makes FL worth sticking to, at least until I get to it's last nook. Sure, I could've drawn 50 fonts in the same time in my old Fog, but those days are gone, My list is for FL improvements (; O O ;)

david h's picture

> when we release Fontlab Studio with all best Fog features.

when?

yuri's picture

> when?

We are working on it. Right now. :-)

Grant Hutchinson's picture

By the way, I didn't run into any issues with the demo installer. Has anyone else had a problem like Mr Hamuel experienced? Just wondering...

Yuri, is there a definitive list of what ‘bugs’ were actually ‘fixed’?

Cheers.

david h's picture

They* fixed it; just ordered FogLamp and faced the same issue, but right now - everything is fine!

(* well... Lisa Devlin fixed that).

> Mr Hamuel

ahhh.... this is too heavy Mr Hutchinson :)

yuri's picture

Grant: not much. Layout of all dialogs is updated to match current UI standards, some old crash-bugs were fixed, embedding problem is fixed, clipboard exchange with AI works (do not forget to turn on AICB option in AI files & clipboard preferences) and all encodings are updated to include Euro. Also, few things in TT export were fixed so it basically produces better TT fonts. Anyway, we recommend to post-process Fog export using TransType or a combination of FogLamp and TransType.

Nick Shinn's picture

A quite bizarre event, from an open-minded, big-hearted company.
It hasn't been easy for the tech-minded FontLab to accomodate the criticisms of diehard Fogoholics, but they have found ways to make Flab more user-friendly, e.g. working with indie-foundry beta-testers -- and now this.

.'s picture

Yes! I second Nick's statement. Let's all send thanks to Yuri, Cyril, and the team in Russia, and Ted, Lisa, and the American team. Without their tireless work we type types would be in quite the pickle, selling our rubdown sheets door-to-door.
Thanks.
c

PS; I forgot to shout-out to Adam, whose knowledge of the software is invaluable; hiring him was one of the best things FontLab has ever done.

twardoch's picture

David,

thanks for your list -- it's almost as good as your list of 10 things you like about Matthew Carter :)

> 1. End points connect like they know they
> are supposed to in Fog. In FL, they need
> to be no farther apart than the thickness
> of a flea’s pubic hair in order to get
> the points (connected).

In FontLab 4.6 or FontLab Studio 5: Options / Glyph Window / Snap-to distance. Set to 50 and you'll be talking elephant pubic hair.

> 2. FL bolding adds, sometimes dozens of, unwanted points. Fog = 0.

Agreed. I believe FontLab Studio 5 has some improvements on this, but in addition, FontLab Studio 5.5 will include Fontographer's "Change Weight" command.

> 3. FL interpolation is practically useless
> for the same reason as #2, i.e. it does not
> understand matching points, the cleanup is
> more work that manual Interpolation.

This has been improved in FontLab Studio 5. FontLab Studio 5.5 will probably alternatively include Fontographer's blending algorithm.

> 4. Fog is smart enough to know that when
> you have the pen tool, and you click on
> a contour, it should add a point to the
> contour, (you can draw all day long with
> Fogs pen without EVER changing tools).
> FL = special tool for the same simple
> function, change tool, change tool, change tool.

Agreed. This is still subject to improvement in FontLab Studio.

> 5. Fog’s metrics window knew that the
> baseline was not ness., in fact it’s a
> distraction to good spacing. FL Lets
> you know exactly where the baseline is
> in the metrics window whether you like
> it or not.

FontLab Studio 5 has a multiline spacing and kerning window where you can turn everything off and have a very plain interface.

> 6. type an unoccupied character in Fog,
> it shows up blank. FL crashes 50% of the
> time, and otherwise misbehaves when you
> type the as yet defined.

I believe you will see great improvements on this in FontLab Studio 5.

> 7. Fog = Correct path direction. FL =
> Reverse all contours. The former just
> works, the latter, I don’t even know
> why they bother unless you’re supposed
> to delete every contour that is correct,
> “Reverse all contours” to correct the
> contour(s) that are wrong.

No. In FontLab 4.6, pick Tools / Transform / Contour / Reverse all and from the parameters pane pick "Set counterclockwise (Type 1) direction". Then it works exactly like Fontographer's "Correct path direction" but is not very well-accessible. Therefore, in FontLab Studio 5, we made the command easier to access: Contour / Paths / Set PS direction.

> 8. 15% of all zooms in FL’s glyph window
> fly to a minuscule and uneditable 12 point.
> Fog = 0% of all zooms are correct.

Can you elaborate on this?

> 9. FL is seriously deranged about the
> differences between “copy”, “delete”,
> and “merge”. Fog’s got it 100% right.
> (In FL, I still have not figured out
> how to select more than one point and
> merge the contour around it…)

Can you elaborate on this? (If you wish, you can contact me directly at adam at fontlab dot com).

> 10. Fog has a tiny number of icons for all
> the tools you need, and every single one
> is useful every day. FL is Totally Nuts
> about tools and icons.

I think you should like FontLab Studio 5 since it brings some improvements in the UI. You can customize your UI in FontLab Studio 5 -- just pick the icons you want, place them on one toolbar and forget about the rest.

Nick,

> It hasn’t been easy for the tech-minded
> FontLab to accomodate the criticisms
> of diehard Fogoholics

I never believed Fontlab Ltd. is as tech-minded as some people thought. I always thought of Yuri as a pretty good designer -- that was way before I started working for the company. Yuri had drawn most of FontLab's UI icons. While some may think there are too many of them, most of you will probably agree that the ones that are there pretty well illustrate the functionality of the various features. Even David agrees that FontLab is "pretty". In his spare time, Yuri does a fair bit of video editing and altogether, he has quite some visual taste.

Of course, the FontLab team is always learning. The original development of FontLab was influenced by Russian type designers who not only wanted to draw glyphs but needed to trick around various encodings and codepages. These were the days where nobody had heard of Unicode so FontLab came up with this sheer amount of various technical parameters -- very useful for non-Western type designers but daunting for Americans :)

The product evolved. I can only attest that the FontLab team was always very responsive to suggestions and "accomodating criticisms". I bought FontLab 3.00C on March 17, 1998. I sent an e-mail "FontLab 3.0 -- first impression" to Yuri Yarmola on March 27, 1998. I received a reply from him on the same day. His reply was: "Thank you for your messages. It seems that I have some work to do on the weekend... I will analyze all bug reports and suggestions you've made and will try to fix some of the problems in 3.00D release." On May 6, 1998, I received a beta version of FontLab 3.00D from Yuri. Most of the problems that I had reported 5 weeks earlier were fixed, and some improvement suggestions were also implemented.

Sometimes it took patience, time spent on detailed descriptions of intended functionality, making mockup screenshots. But my experience was: the more time you spend as a user to provide detailed feedback regarding functionality issues, the easier it is for the developers to accomodate for. As Yuri said on several occasions when talking about FontLab Studio 5, 90% of the improvements in this version were a result of ideas brought in by users.

I can admit that very early on, the FontLab team had a sense of "idea competition" against Fontographer. The developers didn't want to just copy the UI or solutions from Fontographer 1:1 but were looking for their own -- potentially better -- solutions. But after the FontLab product assumed an identity of its own and the company didn't face the danger of it being dubbed "the cheap Fontographer knock-off", the developers could become friends with the idea of actually borrowing some solutions from FOG.

This year, we have acquired Fontographer from Macromedia. So now, we not only can "imitate the look and feel" but we can actually physically bring together both products including the programming code.

Fontlab Ltd. brought out the FogLamp product that converts .fog to .vfb just two months after laying the hands on the Fontographer source code. It may be a little gimmick, but technologically, it proves that the merger is possible.

The long-year Fontographer tech support lead Jim Gallagher joined the Fontlab Ltd. team in a similar capacity. We plan to continue the development of Fontographer in 2006, and we are gathering the ideas for the product. Please send your feedback at fogideas at fontlab dot com. We're listening.

Regards,
Adam Twardoch
Fontlab Ltd.

twardoch's picture

David,
> this is interesting: “Undo” is N/A in Fog now.

This does not mean that "undo is not available". It means that the information about the supported number of undo levels is not available. Undo is there but I (who made the table) don't know how many steps it supports. I'll ask our developers :)

Regards,
Adam

yuri's picture

>> 4. Fog is smart enough to know that when
>> you have the pen tool, and you click on
>> a contour, it should add a point to the
>> contour, (you can draw all day long with
>> Fogs pen without EVER changing tools).
>> FL = special tool for the same simple
>> function, change tool, change tool, change tool.

>Agreed. This is still subject to improvement in FontLab Studio.

If we are talking about the same pen tool (the thing that looks like pen and adds lines and curves), then I have to say that it adds a point on a contour if you click contour. I don't remember if it was so in FontLab 4.x but it definitely works that way in 5.0. Or you mean some other pen tool? :)

Nick Shinn's picture

>I never believed Fontlab Ltd. is as tech-minded as some people thought.

It's a PC-first product.
Creatives use Macs.

paul d hunt's picture

It’s a PC-first product.
Creatives use Macs.

I won't feel bad if Hrant tears you apart for that blanket statement.
>^P

Stephen Coles's picture

I'd like to hear Hrant's argument. Sheer numbers prove Nick is correct.

paul d hunt's picture

well not that hrant really has an opinion on this, i was just making a joke. but the argument goes like this: "so are all those people that use a PC not creatives?" nick's statement was overly broad, implying that all creatives use macs. Numbers Shnumbers.

Nick Shinn's picture

Paul, there's a difference between being creative and being a Creative.

We get 'em when they're young; "This is the design lab with its G5s. You belong here. Elsewhere in the university/college they use PCs."

paul d hunt's picture

all i know is i hated those days at the newspaper when my mac was crashing every 15 minutes. (a slight exaggeration) And if being tech-minded is what made FontLab come out with Studio 5 for PC first, i welcome this line of thinking.

Diner's picture

Hey Yuri and Adam!

Many thanks for the FOG port for X! I was playing with the demo and was kind of surprised to see that you hadn't enabled smooth aliasing of the outline forms in either the glyph window or the metrics preview window. Is this really a feature enhancement you'd save for the 5.0 version or could it have been easily included in this version of the software?

Stuart :D

Thomas Phinney's picture

I'm sad to see this previously interesting discussion degenerating into a platform war. Yawn. Time to change the channel.

However, having seen sales figures for many Adobe products broken down by platform (sorry, the details aren't public info), I can say that Mr. Coles' statement that "sheer numbers prove Nick is right" is really wrong.

T

Grant Hutchinson's picture

> Undo is there but I [...] don’t know how many steps it supports.

It's user definable and limited by available memory. The default setting (as shown in the screenshot linked below) is 8 steps. It should be interesting to see how far this number can be pushed given the way the OS X handles application-specific chunks of memory.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/splorp/68169184/

Nick Shinn's picture

Thomas, licensing an Adobe product does not a creative make.

Now, about the aliasing...

Grant Hutchinson's picture

Hear, hear Nick. Corporate IT departments commonly mass-license software on a CYA basis, fonts included. But, see... we're perpetuating the off-topicness again... enough of that.

Mark Simonson's picture

It should be interesting to see how far this number can be pushed given the way the OS X handles application-specific chunks of memory.

I've been playing around with the demo. I just set it to 100 levels of undo and did a little over 100 things, then undid them. It worked right up to the limit I set. Not a hiccough. Based on this experiment, I would guess you could set this pretty high.

Having to specify a number is a bit 1996-ish. The modern thing to do would be to simply make it "unlimited."

Grant Hutchinson's picture

Mark, that would be five-point-oh country, I would assume.

dberlow's picture

Yuuuuuuri, Yuuuuuuri, Yuuuuuuri, Yuuuuuuri, Yuuuuuuri,
Yuuuuuri, Yuuuuuri, Yuuuuuri, Yuuuuuri, Yuuuuuri
Yuuuuri, Yuuuuri, Yuuuuri, Yuuuuri, Yuuuuri,
Yuuuri, Yuuuri, Yuuuri, Yuuuri, Yuuuri,
Yuuri, Yuuri, Yuuri, Yuuri, Yuuri,
Yuri, Yuri, Yuri, Yuri, Yuri!

1. Saved by the Elephants!
2. A NEW “Change Weight” command! will that be for a selection of points, a whole glyph, and selection of glyphs, all from a single pick? (Will it still do the action on a glyph if nothing is selected?. i.e treating the selection of nothing the same as the selection of all? Just curious!)
3. Interpolation without scripting? Goal!
4. Pen tool, yes, that's the one that looks like a fountain pen nib, to be precise. Maybe it's a fontain pen now though. Unless the tolerance is an ameoba's you-know-what, no it does not insert points.
5. "turn everything off" then we can see everything!
6. 'till then auto-save every 5 seconds.
7. "Set counterclockwise (Type 1) direction” now I remember! Thanks, I keep loosing this unhandy command. I know, keyboard macros would help here, but it should be top level stuff, replace Reverse All and I'll be happy. In effect, this would put the "let me change font format" out in the goop somewhere, and bring the letter drawing fix-it you may need 30 times a day in the front window.
8. It happens in multi-click zooming, where an inadvertent drag of a pixel or two occurs, and the character either becomes really big, or small. I've not seen anyone use FL without having this zooming happen. My suspicion, is that the tolerance for zooming to a marquee needs to be 5-10, and it's like 1. Elephants?
9. how to select more than one point and merge the contour around it? This is hard to describe because with the same tool, you can select a point 5 different ways (that I can count on the one hand available, AND there is a preference to set on this simple task as well... ;•) )
10. "I think you should like FontLab Studio 5 since it brings some improvements in the UI. "

UUUUUUiiiiiiii, UUUUUUiiiiiiii, UUUUUUiiiiiiii, UUUUUUiiiiiiii,
UUUUiiiiii, UUUUiiiiii, UUUUiiiiii, UUUUiiiiii,
UUUiiiii, UUUiiiii, UUUiiiii, UUUiiiii,
UUiiii, UUiiii, UUiiii, UUiiii,
UUiii, UUiii, UUiii, UUiii,

Thanks for all your comments, and now back to making sure that grindstone knows it'd've been better never t've been born. :)

.'s picture

David, FLStudio has more neato buttons for things like "Reverse All" both in PS and TT directions. And you can seriously customise the keyboard shortcuts. You can do that in FL4 as well, but in my opinion FLStudio does it much better.

dezcom's picture

Will everything that is in the latest FOG become part ofthe Mac version of FL5 when it comes out? I am mostly interested in the "cleanup paths," "bold", and "outline path" features.

ChrisL

ktinkel's picture

Thanks for the OS X upgrade — using Classic was getting pretty annoying (FOG was all I had left there).

However, I am having a problem with keyboard shortcuts, especially two that I was addicted to:

• Option-[ and Option-] to move from one character window to the next

• Option-arrow and Option-shift-arrow to move a selected element either 1 em-unit or 100 (assuming the base is set to 10)

The online manual suggests these work as they used to, but although I have repaired permissions and rebooted a couple of times, they do not work in 4.7 here.

Any way to fix these? Thanks.

--Kathleen

yuri's picture

Kathleen: thanks. We will check these and provide an update if we can fix them.

ktinkel's picture

Thanks, Yuri.

I guess that means that you changed them? Can you explain why?

Thanks.

--Kathleen

gthompson's picture

I'm happy Fog is back only because it was easier to teach students how to use it. We tried FL one semester and students hated it so we switched to Typetool when it came out. It works fine, but I miss having a mask or template layer to work with.

Personally I would never trade FL for Fog. Back around FL3.1 I might have, but not now. I agree that it's more technical than Fog ever was yet I don't see how it couldn't be at this point given the comlexities of Opentype and font production. Learning Python, or trying to, is a pain. I still have trouble getting a handle on writing something I need.

My only complaint about FL is the size of nodes and handles. In Fog you could adjust to larger ones and I could use that now since my eyesight is slowly going to hell.

George

I felt bad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no Bodoni

paul d hunt's picture

My only complaint about FL is the size of nodes and handles. In Fog you could adjust to larger ones and I could use that now since my eyesight is slowly going to hell.

yet another thing you can customize in FLS5.

Thomas Phinney's picture

I'll just note that I have always heavily customized my FLS 5 interface (with beta versions, it's been ~16 months now). I both stick a lot of buttons on the toolbars for my favorite actions, and assign more keyboard shortcuts. It's worked wonders for my productivity.

Cheers,

T

dberlow's picture

"Any way to fix these? Thanks."

KT - I had the same problems with cmmd-[ and '-], and the -/+ keys on the numeric keypad zoomed the metrics window instead of allowing text input, (like -56)...For a while I could not believe such a simple thing (next character), didn't exist just on my FL...

Then! when I upgraded to Tiger, or whatever the latest Mac os is now, right now, everything started working just like everybody else' FL. I think, this is bad behavior, but I accepted it.

"David, FLStudio has more neato buttons for things like “Reverse All” both in PS and TT directions."

Chester - I'm absolutely certain there are more neato buttons in FL. thanks.

dezcom's picture

"...I’m absolutely certain there are more neato buttons in FL. thanks."

But is it clear what all the "neato" buttons are for? I would much rather have text to tell me or a drop-down menu where I don't have to guess what all the cryptic doujiggies on the button are trying to tell me. We don't need more buttons, we need more clarity.

ChrisL

William Berkson's picture

>But is it clear what all the “neato” buttons are for? I would much rather have text to tell me or a drop-down menu where I don’t have to guess what all the cryptic doujiggies on the button are trying to tell me.

Amen. As relatively new to FontLab, I love its power but don't appreciate its "choose your own adventure" approach to menus, where the learner of the program has little clue to what does what. I much prefer the InDesign approach, where you can blow up menus and put them on a second screen. Then the icons are big and detailed enough that you can tell what the hell they mean, or there is text right on the button to tell you.

Come to think of it, it would be excellent if the menu items had both an 'expanded' and a 'compact' mode. Then you could expand to get details of what does what. I see on Typophile that even very experienced users of FontLab hear about a useful feature that they didn't know about. This means that the interface could be a great deal improved as far as being learner-friendly or learner-accessible.

.'s picture

Chris, further to Thomas's post: The Toolbar buttons do have "tooltips" which pop up when you hover over them for a spell, so you can decrypt the doujiggies. AND you can also drag individual buttons in the Toolbars. Once I discovered this I was happy as a clam: I created a set of Toolbar buttons which I wanted to have at all times and none of the ones I didn't. Also, all key commands can be monkeyed with using Tools/Customize Keyboard... You can even change standard commands. (David will like this too.) My personal additions are: Control-arrows to flop shapes horizontally and vertically; Control-O for the OpenType panel; Control-Shift-O for OpenType Preview panel; Control-S for Generate Font; Control-R for Reverse Contours.

The only problem with the Customize Keyboard window is that it's not immediately clear how to use it. First, find the command you want to add a key command for. Select it. Then select the "Press new shortcut key" field. Press your desired key combo. If it is already assigned, you will be told; if it is available, it will say "Assigned to: Unassigned". Then click the little check box. Voila! You can have a dozen key commands for the same thing, if you are so inclined.

The Customize Keyboard window is even more powerful in FLStudio, allowing you to list by command if you so desire, which is great.

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