FontLab 5 templates?

Ken Krugh's picture

Hey Guys,

The FL5 PDF manual states: "FontLab Studio 5 ships with a very extensive set of pre-installed default glyph template images" and that they "cover the entire Unicode 3.2 character set" but I'm unable to find them on my system on which FL5 is loaded.

This sounds like exactly what I need to get started creating a Unicode font from multiple Latin and Greek fonts that we maintain for a client (created in Fontographer 4, used currently as Type1 fonts).

Any ideas where I can get such a thing?

Many thanks,

Mark Simonson's picture

By "templates" I think they mean these things:

...i.e., the default character images you can see in the background in each glyph cell. It gives you some idea what sort of glyph goes in each cell.

Here's how it looks in the Glyph window (with the background image layer visible):

Ken Krugh's picture

Yes, that was my assumption as well.

The part that had me excited was the "cover the entire Unicode 3.2 character set" statement. When I do a File, New in FontLab I get just the "Default Encoding" of 255 "standard" characters. The info in the FontLab manual sounds like there is a vfb file out there that has ALL the Unicode glyphs which would, theoretically, give me a place to being "plugging in" all the glyphs from our fonts, rather than starting from scratch.

Mark Simonson's picture

Using various display modes (Names, Unicode ranges, and Codepages) with the Font window, you can select different ranges of characters. The appropriate templates are displayed when you select one of these.

Ken Krugh's picture

Yes, the display changes when I selected the various options but I'm looking for more glyphs than just the 255, which I'm unable to get.

I've tried changing the options in the font info and added code pages and selected Unicode ranges but I still only get the 255.

I'm sure it's just by inexperiance with FL5, there must be something I'm missing. I'll be back to it later today, hopefully dawn will break over this Marblehead.


Mark Simonson's picture

I think what you need is some sort of custom encoding. A good one to start with that has most of the character coverage you're looking for is the "FreeFont" encoding that comes with FontLab. Switch to the "Names" mode, then select FontLab > FreeFont from the encodings popup. Once you've filled in the characters you need, you can create your own encoding based on that if you want.

twardoch's picture


if you install the demo version of *Fontographer 5*, then in your FontLab Studio encodings list, a set of seven new OpenType encodings will appear in Names mode. (The encodings are shared between the products and can be used in any of them).

The new FontLab OpenType encoding files cover:
* OpenType Standard
* OpenType Latin Pro
* OpenType Latin Pro + small caps, oldstyle figures and other glyphs
* OpenType Latin, Cyrillic & Greek Pro
* OpenType Latin, Cyrillic & Greek Pro + small caps, oldstyle figures and other glyphs
* OpenType Latin, Cyrillic & Greek WGL4
* OpenType Latin & Cyrillic Asian

Those encodings will also be integrated directly into FontLab Studio 6 which is under development.

These encodings are very up-to-date (much more recent than FreeFont Pro), and you can use them as basis for developing/extending your own encodings.


charles ellertson's picture

The project is going to be a little more involved than you expect, but is certainly worth doing. I've done a fair bit of this kind of thing.

How I would work is to open your existing Type 1 fonts in FontLab, and first change all the character names to the correct names. For example, your "alpha" character is not currently named "alpha", because that won't work in Type 1 (unless you were working in something like TeX and wrote custom encoding vectors). Same for the ligatures, etc. etc. Happily, FL will change the names in your metrics file (.afm) automatically. If you don't want to lose all your kerning data, you'll need this as well.

Now start a new file in FL, and cut & paste the characters, bringing up all the appropriate "ranges" as Adam suggested. Once all the characters are in, generate the Unicode numbers -- FL has a pulldown menu that will do this. Then write off an AFM file of this new font. Next, in a text editor, open up the old Type 1 AFMs (the intermediate ones where the characters have the correct name), and move all the KPX data to your new AFM. Be aware that if any of the character names differ, you'll lose that kern pair when read into FL, and there will be no warning of that.

Now read the new ("combined") AFM file with all the KPX data into your new "combined" .vfb. You still have some OT features to write, but when that is done, you can use the "generate kern data" in the OT panel to move your kerns into GPOS type of kerning.

Depending on how many glyphs you have, this would take me 2-3 days for a roman and italic. I do everything by hand except renaming the characters in the old Type 1 files. (I use an old TeX program, AFAIK, no longer available. No doubt there are others.) You could probably program more of the needed work, but then you have to learn how to write and use the programs, which takes time too. It is probably easier to do it by hand for one set of fonts, or contract out the work.

Do a couple smaller test files to learn how thing work.

Once done, you will love it.

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