Wrapping Type I fonts in OpenType for the novice

Maurice Meilleur's picture


Searching the archives for threads on this topic yielded an embarassment of riches that I couldn't sort out, so apologies in advance if this brings up a topic specifically addressed elsewhere (perhaps people might point me to particularly relevant threads of which they know).

Here's my problem: I have recently purchased InDesign CS (Mac OS X) and am in the process of teaching myself typography and page layout. I have licensed a series of Mac Type I fonts (Scala, Seria, Meta) that I would love to be able to set easily in InDesign--but, of course, their not being OpenType makes it harder to access in-line figures and lining figures in the same block of text, or to use the expert sets' ligatures.

I can get access to FontLab for the Mac (4.6), which I know can "wrap" (a phrase I've heard many times) Type I and TT fonts in OpenType wrappers, and presumably combine the regular, LF, and expert sets.

Here are my questions:

1. My reading of FSI's EULA suggests there are no ethical problems with this, since I'm not editing the font (changing the metrics, hinting, or kerning); am I right about this, or can someone set me straight?

2. Assuming there are no ethical questions, is this the kind of project a novice can complete without great wailing and gnashing of teeth? I'm not entirely ignorant about font software, and I would love to know more, but I have a full-time job as a professor and advisor already.

It seems to me, for example, that one would have to know the Unicode glyph naming conventions in order to properly array and label the glyphs in the "new" OT font. That can't be an easy thing to learn from scratch. Would FontLab automate or streamline this process?

3. If this project is reasonably within a novice's abilities, how can I get good information about the steps involved? FontLab's manual, for example (at least the .pdf version you can find online) is not terrifically helpful--but am I missing something?

Also, I noticed that Adobe offers free software that allows a user to wrap Type I/II fonts in OpenType wrappers, but it seems like that software requires a Mac OS X user to be fairly font- and Unix-savvy. Is that impression correct?

Any help would be appreciated. --MM.

Maurice Meilleur's picture


Good luck indeed! Thanks for your response. Let me see if I can distill your answer in order to make sure I grasp what's going on:

First, I would have to open in FontLab all the individual Type I fonts whose glyphs (or some subset thereof) I want to combine under an OTF wrapper--so, for example, Scala LF Regular, Scala Regular, Scala Expert, Scala SC, Scala SC Expert.

Second, using the AGL naming conventions, I would need to rename all the glyphs in these five Type I fonts I want to use in the final OTF.

Third, I would need to save from these fonts five new Type I fonts in order to generate kerning tables with the right glyph names in new AFM files.

Fourth, I would need to open all five of these new Type I fonts and combine all the glyphs from them I want to use into a sixth, new OTF. (Which names, exactly, would I need to "type in again"? Doesn't FontLab have drag and drop glyph insertion? My own copy of TypeTool does.)

Fifth, I would have to read all the old AFM kerning data for all the glyphs and their combinations into the new OTF (making sure there are no duplicate kerning calls with different values in the file).

Sixth, and finally, I would have FontLab generate the new (CFF-flavored) OTF.

I see what you mean by things being cheaper when you just buy the OTF versions. Of course, that's not yet possible for FontShop's foundry, and in any case, it would/will be pretty pricey when FSI does start offering OT versions of their fonts to get versions of everything I have licensed (small as my collection is).

Not to mention, wouldn't renaming glyphs and combining kerning tables start getting me into trouble with FSI's (or any foundry's) EULA? I know you wrote that you wouldn't worry too much, and your reasoning is on the surface sound, but is that a consensus opinion? My guess is that at least some of this is ethical, else why would Adobe offer software that allows people to do this?--unless, of course, they meant only for people to edit and combine their own work.

Lots for a neophyte to chew on. Other thoughts and advice are welcome.

Thomas Phinney's picture


With regards to our own FDK, I recommend its proofing/testing tools but not its building tools. You have to be a real gearhead to get very far with those (no offense to my fellow geeks intended, here). Also, you'd still need something else to combine original fonts and so forth, so you might as well use FontLab for the entire process.

Mind you, that assumes that you're going to actually do this. I can't see how this would not constitute modifying/editing the fonts. If the FSI license does not allow such, then I would think you'd be out of luck as far as being able to do this legally. Not that I'm a lawyer, and of course this is a legal question.


Maurice Meilleur's picture


I had another look at FSI's EULA. Given Charles's account of the process with FL and your hints about FDK's steep learning curve requirements, I'm inclined to read that EULA very conservatively. Less facetiously, I agree with you: I can't see how combining kerning tables and renaming glyphs doesn't mean you are changing fonts.


If wisdom consists in knowing that you don't know, then I come away feeling pretty wise.

Oh, well--it's not as if I can't just sub in the right ligatures after finishing the rest of the setting for those FS faces, and at least InDesign comes with some pretty sweet fonts that are already OT. --MM.

twardoch's picture

> since I'm not editing the font
> (changing the metrics, hinting, or kerning)

Any conversion between formats implies editing. Converting from Type 1 or OpenType PS to OpenType TT / TrueType involves coversion of outline types and of hinting, hence editing. Converting from Type 1 to OpenType PS (.otf) involves changing the font's encoding and other modifications.

Your steps 1-6 are correct, with a few remarks to be made:

1. Do not use glyph names such as "oneoldstyle" or "Asmall". They are not Adobe/FontLab-recommended glyph names. Glyph naming recommendations from Fontlab Ltd. and Adobe can be found at:

2. Combining glyph sets of fonts into a single font in FontLab 4.6 can be comfortably done using the "Append glyphs" feature in the Fonts panel. In the upcoming FontLab Studio 5, this will be even easier -- we will have a new "Merge fonts" feature which will automatically merge kerning as well.

Adam Twardoch
Fontlab Ltd.

charles ellertson's picture

WARNING: Long, and maybe boring.

This whole matter of the licensing agreement is pretty charged. My own practical position has just two elements:

1. Nothing I do should cost the foundry (or designer or whoever) any money.

2. Nothing I do should cause the foundry (designer, whoever) any embarrassment.

Everything else in the licensing agreement is lawyer talk. To take an example outside our industry, every time you rent a car, when you sign your name, you not only agree to the conditions of the rental agreement, but certify that you have READ and UNDERSTOOD the rental agreement. Now that agreement is about three or four pages long (8.5 x 11 pages!), set in 6-point type. If you were to read it, everybody in line behind you would be screaming for your head. Moreover, it was written by lawyers (who typically can

filip blazek's picture

Charles, thank you for very interesting contribution. I agree with you. I face very similar problem, let me introduce you to it.

Many foreign companies are starting their businesses in the Czech Republic where I live. These companies also have corporate identities defining fonts. And that's the problem

twardoch's picture

> If you were to scan in a printed font

dewitt's picture

If you purchased these fonts from FSI, have you tried writing them to see if they'd give you a discount on the Opentype versions?

It's worth a shot.

filip blazek's picture

Again about localization.

Adam wrote: My view is that you really need the original vendor's consent to do it.

Adam, I agree with you. I usualy ask the client to contact the vendor of the fonts first and ask for the localization. Most of the clients is not satisfied with the answer of the vendor and come back to me. Maybe the reason is I can do the task very quickly and this is the most important thing for them. They don't want to wait weeks or even months.

Another problem is correcting diacritics. There are fonts distributed by large companies containing wrong diacritics and the vendor is satisfied with its product. Some clients want to modify the diacritics to respect typographic tradition and use for example correct carons (instead of breves) or commaaccents (instead of cedillas) etc. In such cases, me (and other localizators) offer the only solution.

charles ellertson's picture

I think *localization* must be a term that has come to have a meaning I

Maurice Meilleur's picture


This is what happens when you ask a simple question on this site . . . you learn a lot, more even than you thought you would.

Since I'm what most on this site would call a hobbyist, with no other reason to contemplate converting/rewrapping T1 fonts than pure convenience, there's no reason for me to stretch the bounds of ethical practice, especially considering all the work that would be involved (think of it as a happy convergence of practicality and integrity). But the discussion (technical and ethical) has been enlightening.

FYI: FSI has not (yet) packaged their material in OTF. I suspect that's coming, but considering all the steps involved and the size of their catalog, it will take them a while, I guess. --MM.

P.S.: Charles, Ygraine was Arthur's mom. His wife was Guinevere.

charles ellertson's picture

>> Charles, Ygraine was Arthur's mom. His wife was Guinevere. >>

Ah, you're right. I've gotten too old to rely on memory for important things like legends and proverbs.

There is a moral here: vant your galleys while you can.


hrant's picture

Charles, right on - great stuff.

> My reading of FSI's EULA suggests there are no ethical problems with this

An EULA does not cover ethics...

> Properly made typefaces include "optical sizes"

But Adam, do you realize what you're excluding by saying that wonderful thing? :->

> How about Yg?

It's interesting -to a geek at least- to note that Minion contains a "Yq" kern (like in "Yquem") but not a "Yg" (like in "Ygrec"). Tsk tsk tsk...

But what's "vant"?


johnbutler's picture

Rather than endlessly hypothesize and argue about how FSI might feel about this, the best people to ask about this are FSI. You never know, they might be working on their own OT versions and need an existing FSI customer to do QA testing for them. If you can demonstrate to them that you have paid for their product, value their rights and control, and will help them in ways that save more time than waste it, who knows what they might agree to. Try writing them a thoughtful email explaining what you're doing in detail.

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