Generating TrueType fonts in FontLab and Fontographer

Mark Simonson's picture

This is driving me crazy. I'm in the final stages of finishing some fonts. I'm working in FOG right now because it's what I know best. I plan to switch to FL after I finish this batch but, frankly, I am behind schedule and don't have time to get used to a new program. I generally do the Mac PostScript Type 1 versions first, and those are working great.

The problem I'm running into is this: When I generate the Mac TrueType fonts (from FOG), the built-in kerning does not show up in Adobe apps (I've tested Illustrator 8, 10, Photoshop 7). The problem occurs in both OS 9 and X. Kerning shows up fine in other apps. Kerning shows up fine in Adobe apps when using the Type 1 versions.

I've never noticed this before and I don't know if it's a new problem or an old one. Most people (including me) who use Adobe apps are professionals and don't use TrueType fonts anyway, so maybe it's not a big deal. I can't find anything on the web about it either, which makes me think it's something about my system or that maybe I'm doing something wrong.

I do know that Adobe apps use their own internal system--CoolType--for handling font rendering, so I'm sure it's related to that. Either FOG is doing something wrong when it generates TrueType fonts that manifests itself in CoolType, or that CoolType perhaps is somehow defficient when it comes to TrueType support. The former seems more likely.

I know that FOG is known to do a bad job with TrueType fonts, so I imported the data into FontLab and generated them from there. This fixed the kerning problem (yay!) but introduced an even more annoying one: The fonts are no longer compatible with Font Reserve 3. Most--but not all of them--will cause an "error -600" when I try to add them to Font Reserve's database, eventually leading to a system crash (in OS 9). I can't see any pattern to explain why some work and some don't. These same fonts work fine otherwise, such as putting them into the Fonts folder the old-fashioned way or using Suitcase 10. They also work fine when installed manually in OS X. I tried using TransType to do the conversion with virtually the same results.

I'm inclined to just go with the FL version of the TrueType fonts based on these assumptions:

1. Almost everyone who uses Font Reserve 3 would probably use the Type 1 version.

2. People who prefer TrueType fonts are unlikely to be using Font Reserve 3 (or any other font manager).

3. If assumption 2 is wrong, they can always use the Type 1 version. (I normally include both versions with my retail fonts.)

Obviously, I would prefer not to make such a compromise. The fonts should simply work as intended. Does anyone know how to fix either of these problems? Has anyone ever even heard of these problems before?

Mark Simonson's picture

Judging from the number of replies (1 private, but on the wrong track) I conclude that this is not a common problem. After several days of trying everything I could think of, I was finally able to generate the fonts from FL without getting errors in Font Reserve.

Although I don't fully understand why, it has something to do with using a non-standard UPM (1008), importing such fonts from FOG-generated Mac PostScript Type 1 format into FL and then exporting as Mac TrueType. On import, FL scales the font down to a UPM of 1000 (and no way that I could find to tell it to do otherwise). Somehow, this affects the resulting Mac TT font in a way that in certain cases causes Font Reserve to freak out, even though the fonts work otherwise (and even get a clean bill of health from Font Doctor!).

The method that works is to import FOG-generated Mac TrueType fonts instead of Type 1. For some reason, the kerning tables are missing from the FOG TT fonts (perhaps explaining the problem between them and Adobe apps), so those have to be imported separately.

The resulting Mac TT fonts generated by FL work beautifully now and play nice with both Font Reserve and Adobe apps.

joevdb's picture

I'm following along Mark, even if I have nothing useful to contribute. Thanks for continuing clarifications,

Joe VanDerBos

Mark Simonson's picture

A bit more information about this:

The scaling that I was getting--from 1008 down to 1000--was happening in FOG when it generated the PostScript font, not when it was imorted into FL, as I had previously thought.

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