Another shot at type design

cdavidson's picture

Hi everyone,

I've got a bit of time on my hands at the moment and am seriously considering giving type design another shot. My previous attempts (2 years ago) have resulted in nothing special, and the software I was using (fontforge) was frustrating to install and use. In particular, the lack of compatibility between Illustrator and fontforge got the better of me, and I came to the conclusion that it was just too much trouble to be worth it.

I've been toying with the idea of giving either Glyphs or Typetool a shot (Typetool in particular seems a good cheap option, as I am a member of University faculty).

However, the interface of Glyphs seems much more friendly, and, even though it is more expensive, seems more integrated with the Mac environment.

I'm curious as to what people's thoughts are. Should I be giving fontforge another shot, or is it just too worrisome to deal with? Would Glyphs or Typetool be more appropriate for someone with no training in type design and someone who isn't going to pursue it professionally?

Thanks, your feedback would be appreciated!

Karl Stange's picture

If you really want to design type surely any port in a storm? FontForge may be frustrating at times but it is a very powerful tool and working with it, against it and through it will ultimately teach you a lot in the process.

I primarily use FontLab and FontForge to work on type. I have heard good things about Glyphs, but there are more detailed overviews elsewhere on this site. Personally I like working in FL, of which TypeTool is a basic version, so for straightforward type design it should give you everything you need.

hrant's picture

Whatever you choose do try to ween yourself off Illustrator - work directly in the font application.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I wish they would release Glyphs for PC. Mac nazis....

hrant's picture

I can't stand Apple just as much as the next free thinking typophile, but when you're developing software you have to start somewhere, and most people who pay for type design software (if not most people who design type) are on Macs, so it just makes business sense. If/when a software becomes successful enough, it ends up being ported; when you see a successful software that's only available on one platform, then you can start suspecting fascism.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Glyphs seems pretty successful to me. Maybe that's just because of my point of view. I emailed the creator of glyphs and begged him to release it on PC. He told me no, flat out. Not maybe if/when, blah blah blah. Just flat out no.

hrant's picture

Everybody has their character flaws.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I'm really suspect of people who can only create with one kind of tool. Imagine if you went up to an illustrator and gave him a #2 pencil and $100 and asked him to draw something for you, and he says "oh no no no no, I couldn't possibly create anything good with this standard #2 pencil. I have to use this other one." "Oh," you say, "what's the difference?" "Well, this one comes in a shinny white case, and it costs 5 times more."

JamesT's picture

Regarding Glyphs being released on PC, I think the issue is that of it being a small operation and not having a Windows developer; not because of a hatred of PCs.

Even though I work from a PC 99% of the time, I'd still release type design software on a mac before I would release it for a PC.

paragraph's picture

Everybody has their character flaws.

This is a bit rich. I do not think that Glyphs being at this stage a Mac only application is in any way a character flaw of Georg Seifert. The posts of Ryan Maelhorn and hrant could, on the other hand, show some character flaws, in my opinion.

cdavidson's picture

(ignore)

hrant's picture

I do not think that Glyphs being at this stage a Mac only application is in any way a character flaw of Georg Seifert.

Neither do I (and that should be plainly obvious from what I wrote). What cannot be held up as an example of wise, balanced, gracious behavior however is when somebody says "I won't port my software to [fill-in-blank] even if Hell freezes over."

hhp

Theunis de Jong's picture

From what I have seen in the beta, I can see both its (very pretty!) interface and inner workings of Glyphs lean heavily on Mac OS X native code libraries, and as such it's impossible to make a straightforward Windows "build".
Other than, for example, FontForge -- a self contained package, as witnessed by yrs trly when I needed to download literally hundreds of "supporting" libraries just to be able to build it! (And then observe, "gosh it's good but too fugly to work with"...)

So I don't think Georg has a hidden agenda here; he's a great programmer of Mac software.

cdavidson's picture

I ran into a problem this afternoon with FontForge (yet again), when Homebrew gave me the error "Error: can't convert nil into String" followed by a host of files which presumably contributed to this problem.

Unless someone creates a nice Fontforge package where one simply has to click through the installer, I consider it too scary to be used by someone with no experience in the Terminal.

hrant's picture

Theunis, that's not the point. Any software can be ported to another OS (sometimes by hiring other people to do it and/or rewriting code that was taken for granted) if it makes commercial sense (or for more altruistic reasons). What does not make sense (or at least is not commendable) is an ideological opposition to doing so.

For the record: Ryan's impression of Georg might very well be incorrect.

hhp

JamesM's picture

His firm "no" may have been a business decision, not some idealogical opposition.

A commercial program to edit fonts (and the full version is $300) wouldn't have a huge market. It would be purchased mostly by professionals (or students on their way to becoming pros), and the majority of professional designers use Macs.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Hrant, I respectfully disagree. Sure,

Any software can be ported to another OS (sometimes by hiring other people to do it and/or rewriting code that was taken for granted)

but a great deal of the look-and-feel of Glyphs is due to OS X's interface options. It's possible to emulate that from scratch for other OS'es, but certainly no mean task.

.. if it makes commercial sense ..

There you go. If a *huge* portion of the allocated budget would disappear just to get "semi-transparant pop-up windows", it's not commercially viable. Or else Windows users would complain their version costs more.

(It's not a one-way problem, by the way. Software I wrote myself that utilize Windows' GUI needs so much re-writing that I'd better start them from scratch. But these programs run just fine in VirtualBox on my Mac, so there is no need to.)

hrant's picture

But do you think Windows users would complain if their version didn't look exactly like the OSX one?

BTW, I had a Mac emulator on my Amiga, and it worked superbly (in fact it ran faster than a Mac).

hhp

JamesM's picture

It's not just a matter of the initial port; he'd also have to hire a Windows programmer to do periodic updates and tech support. And tech support can be time consuming.

But perhaps if he gets enough requests for a PC version he'll consider doing it.

Bendy's picture

I've asked Georg again this week about a PC version, and he's not ideologically opposed to the suggestion, but Glyphs is a one-person operation at the moment and it would take him many months of work to do the work. Considering that we PC users are in the vast minority among professional type design operations, it just doesn't make commercial sense at present.

hrant's picture

It's good to know there's a future possibility (and thanks for checking).

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Just want to clarify that my jest was aimed at the cult of mac in general and was not in anyway an attempt to insult Georg. If that is people's perception than I apologize for it.

I still think mac nazis are ridiculous though.

Té Rowan's picture

No more so than other nazis, be they attached to hardware, software, ideologies…

Syndicate content Syndicate content