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What is the best way to organize your kern classes?
The class names are arbitrary unless you have identical ones. If you start messing around with the order it can cause FontLab's autonaming to generate class names which already exist. If you have to remove a class, make sure you replace it, so the order isn't thrown off. Otherwise, years later, you might open the font, generate a new class and end up with a duplicate class name. I usually do caps, lowercase, misc, period, hyphen, quote. If you want to manually name your classes, knock yourself out but I stick with the autonames.
The best way to organize your kerning is definitely by using MetricsMachine. I know this is not quite the answer you were looking for but I promise you will never look back after giving it a try:
Autonaming: When you add a new kerning class in Fontlab it automatically names them _kern1, _kern2 etc.
Maybe I'm missing the point of the question. I never found the need to organize kern classes in a particular way. I just make them and, well, there they are. Do you mean how do you decide what's contained in each one of those kern classes? I don't get it.
if you don't want to switch to a different tool, you can use the KLTF Make Kern Feature script for FontLab Studio 5, which will automatically optimize the OpenType kerning classes:
I want to work in Fontlab, at least for now. What I’m really asking about is a good way to organize glyphs in classes: e.g. figure out which classes you need.
Figuring out the classes is a matter of your eye, and so a matter of your decision as the designer. Which glyphs should be kerned the same on that side of the glyph? Should the D and the O be kerned the same on the right side or not? Depends on the design.
I never used FontLab, but went right to Metrics Machine. Even Yuri, chief programmer for FontLab, has recommended it highly here on Typophile.
William, I understand that you need to kern based on the design. I’m not looking for a predefined set of classes, but rather some insight into how you all organize your kerning classes.
Frode, I guess I didn't understand because in Metrics Machine the classes are already organized as you set them up. Here is what the Metrics Machine Kerning Groups window looks like--or did, because it is probably improved in the current version:
I just start with A, add all the A accents.
C, then all the C accents.
and so on.
Sometimes an O can be a parent to a Q. Sometimes o can be a parent to e and in rare cases, c. If it looks like it might work, add it to the class. If it's not working out, take it back out of the class. You can add and remove stuff while you're kerning. Copy and paste special can save some time when you boot something out.
I usually don't make add lowercase i accents to the i class. Sometimes it works out that lowercase i gets no kerning but you might choose to kern dotless i on its own. Lowercase i accent collisions can be dealt with beforehand with spacing adjustments.
Usually period, comma, ellipsis and base quotes can safely go together.
I usually make the straight single quote the part of all other quotes unless they've got a steep angle.
Usually hyphen can be the parent of emdash and endash. You can try make guillemots children of the hyphen but it often doesn't work out . . . but sometimes. Give it a shot.
For stuff like AE OE, I just copy/paste special the left kerning as a last step. Yeah, I waste a few kerns by not defining left/right classes but that time can be better spent improving something else and it's less prone to errors (for me). The end result is the same anyway.
Watch out for Lslash, Ldot, Lcaron, tbar and Tbar. You're better off leaving those out of the classes than including them.
I try to organize by script, case, and logical function. Fontlab sadly always place a new class at the bottom instead of where the cursor is.
Have you tried Generate Classes from the Classes panel?
I've tried Generate Classes. The results varied, but usually resulted in some figures being thrown in with glyphs which is rarely a good thing. I don't use it anymore.
Humm, humm. I have to try my hands at this, and see what makes sense to me. I’ll come back when I have more specific questions. Thanks.
"Have you tried Generate Classes from the Classes panel?"
Yes, but as James says, never again. I also learned to avoid automatically generated anything.
Also, once you have your classes, be sure to save the class file. They not only are usable as a backup when you accidently click the show only class button and they fly away, but you can import that file into other similar fonts you are working on as a start point.
Random tip: never copy classes from a font in FontLab. Always save the class file and load the class file. Otherwise, you aren't presented with options if some of those glyphs don't exist.