Best font creation software?

truth14ful's picture

Hi everyone,
I'm fairly new to the typography community, although I have been using FontStruct for a while. I'd like to move on to non-modular typography but I'm not sure which font maker to buy. Should I use FontLab, FontCreator, or FontForge? Or is there an even better one?

Some requirements are:
OpenType ligature support
Anti-aliasing /supersampling options (not necessarily ClearType)
FULL Unicode support, including private use

Some things I'd like:
Macros for adding diacritical marks, super/subscript, &c.
Ability to export to SVG

Thanks,
truth14ful

PS: I have tried making a few glyphs in SVG, but it was very slow and not visual in any way. I'd like a program that doesn't require this.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

There is a comprehensive list here:

http://typophile.com/node/20717

Most pro’s use FontLab Studio. Or the reborn Fontographer. Interesting newcomer is Glyphs.

Té Rowan's picture

IIRC, there are two paths from [OT]TF to SVG: FontForge and Batik. I think Inkscape has SVG as its native format. Some folk like to draw their glyphs in Inkscape and then pull them into FontForge.

Seems to me that lots of folk here swear by FontLab. Or at it. Sometimes even both.

William Berkson's picture

That list is now out of date. The newest kid on the block is Robofont, which some leading type designers seem to be using now. See http://typophile.com/node/85575 for some discussion.

truth14ful's picture

Can FontForge do what I need (OpenType ligatures, supersampling, private use)? If so, I'd like to use that, just because it's free. How about FontLab? Can it do those things?

Té Rowan's picture

AFAIK, all those mentioned can do OT ligatures (and other features) and the PUA in their sleep. The PUA is just a range, after all. Same with the GASP table (which lists at which pixel size ranges the MSWindows renderer should apply hinting or smoothing (anti-aliasing)).

Ware, FontForge is not install-and-go. There is at least one pre-packaged Windows version, I think, mentioned elsewhere on Typophile, but its primary distro is source-only. Makes sense, since its target is Unix/Linux machines, and these vary a lot.

Can't tell you how FF feels in use, since I never compiled X on my LinuxFromScratch5.* box and can thus only run it in scripting mode.

If you are a Python programmer or hacker, FontLab and FontForge will both integrate with Python.

Remember, the payware font editors do come with explicit support, possibly some hand-holding as well.

mekka's picture

I’ve switched from Fontlab to Glyphs.


OpenType ligature support
Anti-aliasing /supersampling options (not necessarily ClearType)
FULL Unicode support, including private use

Glyphs handles Unicode and OT ligatures automatically provided you use correct glyphnames. Name your glyph uniE020 or f_f_j and everything's alright.

Not sure what you mean by anti-aliasing options.


Some things I'd like:
Macros for adding diacritical marks, super/subscript, &c.
Ability to export to SVG

Diacritics handling in Glyphs is the best I’ve seen so far since it makes extensive use of anchors. Glyphs also has a few options for realtime manipulation of multiple glyphs. Plus, just like Fontlab and Robofont, it has a Python interface, so you could write your own macros.

Exporting to SVG? Use Fontforge.

adumpaul's picture

FontLab Studio 5.1 can be used for font edit.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Bring on the non sequiturs!

I've heard of a little program "Photoshop" that's allegedly good with photo's.

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