FL TransType 4

As a lot of you know, FL's announced a new beta. Anybody here have any experience with TransType? Is it a good tool?
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  • Are they going to support a blacklist for font conversion like Fontsquirrel and Fontprep?
  • Are you saying those places have blacklists, so they will not convert fonts on the blacklist, or that those places should be blacklisted?
  • Sye, I believe James means the former.

    Max, I've used TransType in the long ago past. It did a fine job of data conversion but the family naming was a nightmare to manage. This one looks very promising.
  • Thanks, James M. Did you stop using TransType because of the family naming issues, or for some other reason? And what are you using now, if you don't mind my asking?
  • I stopped using TransType because I use FontLab. I think the old Trans Type was geared towards users who had to make format changes between mac and pc type1 and tt fonts without having to learn a complex font editor. This new version looks promising because of the web font format capabilities.
  • So far the web font generation seems to work OK, but they don't offer anything in the way of options during webfont generation, such as truncating the character set or other things one might wish to do to try and protect their property. Of course they may add that capability for the final product.

    One thing I definitely do not like about the program is that fact that it can be used to open woff files and then generate desktop-usable fonts. It just encourages piracy for those weak enough, or cheap enough, to succumb to the temptation.

    I realize other programs are available which will do the same thing, but does FontLab just have to join the crowd?
  • George - re ease of piracy, the same arguments were made against CD ripping software when it was still new, now we take it for granted, it's built into iTunes for example.
  • they don't offer anything in the way of options during webfont generation, such as truncating the character set
    I've found that being able to subset a webfont is essential. 150k files don't cut it for customers who are serious about their site's performance.
    re ease of piracy
    Ripping CDs to MP3 isn't the same thing as extracting TTFs from WOFFs. I can think of zero legitimate reasons someone would need to get a TTF out of a WOFF.
  • RalfRalf Posts: 170
    edited January 2013
    The fact that WOFF fonts would be easily convertable to desktop fonts was known, the minute WOFF was invented.
    I don't think TransType will do much harm in this regard. It will be a commercial tool (the last version is US$179!) for the people who really need to do professional conversions of some sort. (This could even be typedesigners themselves who want to check their WOFF exports.)
    For the people who don't want to pay their licenses, there are many free conversion tools available. They don't need TransType.
  • I can’t really see paying more than $5 for a web font conversion too. Because that’s what I paid for Fontprep. Given Fontprep isn’t great for batch jobs, but I would probably do that with Fontforge anyway.
    For the people who don't want to pay their licenses, there are many free conversion tools available. They don't need TransType.
    Bingo. Pirates are more likely to spend their time installing Fontforge than cracking Fontlab’s DRM so they can run TransType!
  • I've found that being able to subset a webfont is essential. 150k files don't cut it for customers who are serious about their site's performance.
    What's the best tool for making WOFFs these days that allows subsetting?

    I've used the online Font Squirrel generator, which works well, but the three-fonts-at-a-time limit gets to be a drag. They told me they have an unrestricted version called Fontivity, but they wouldn't sell me a license.
  • I don't know. I've been paying other people to build my webfonts.
  • An inability to subset seems like a significant drawback.
    […] there are many free conversion tools available.
    Ralf, do you feel these free tools do a good job? If not, what un-free tool do you prefer?

    Jackson, would you mind telling who do you use to make webfonts? (Whom?)
  • I Installed all the commandline tools necessary and wrote a shellscript that triggers them one after another. The script will convert any number of OTFs to WOFF, SVG, as well as autohinted+unhinted TTF and EOT. For the WOFFs, it also needs a Meta.xml in the same folder. Installation of all tools is hell and I'm still tweaking the script but I am planning to put it up on Github one of these days.

    The script assumes that the OTFs already have been subset. Because… can one trust a subsetting algorithm? What happens to OT classes when some of the glyphs are removed? What about affected kerning groups, what if there are complex contextual substitutions in the GSUB table etc.? Because of this, I am not sure if subsetting can be done safely with a compiled OTF.
  • For the WOFFs, it also needs a Meta.xml in the same folder. Installation of all tools is hell and I'm still tweaking the script but I am planning to put it up on Github one of these days.
    Turn it into a plugin for Glyphs/Robofont. I’d pay for that.
  • the script will convert any number of OTFs to WOFF
    Which command-line tools ar you using for the conversions? Sfntly?
  • Jackson CavanaughJackson Cavanaugh Posts: 373
    edited January 2013
    Jackson, would you mind telling who do you use to make webfonts? (Whom?)
    My terrific webfont partners at Webtype.
  • I've been using TransType 4 in beta, and have been impressed so far. It is the first app coming from FontLab (the company's) new code base, code name "Victoria."

    I'm just about to run the output through some tests, so I will have more to say after that.
  • Ps. One of the most important principles we're aiming for is reducing the number of complex "font technology knowledge" each type designer needs to employ. TransType is the first solution in that direction. The "Styling Group" visual editing UI (the Icon mode of TransType) is first such thing, but there will be more highly intelligent "auto" solutions. Our goal is to minimize the number of entries a type designer needs to make, and our software generating all the hundreds of different Font Info and other tech entries in font tables — consistently, according to the industry standards, and, above all, quickly.
  • Thanks for the update, Adam. Glad to hear progress is still being made. FWIW, I'd much rather see auto features do the job consistently and correctly than quickly.
  • Jackson,

    you're right. "Above all" was not the right I was meaning to use. I should have said something like, "in addition". It's interdependent: the fact that we're simplifying many things allows us to do the job more consistently and correctly, while speed is just a most welcome by-product for us.

    For example, I've just learned from our developers that we'll be able to finally ship OTF generation in the next build of TransType. It was not trivial, because the industry-standard solution to compile OTF is Adobe FDK, which we're also using, but in its current incarnation it's very tough spaghetti code which "does things" to font files on top of generating the "CFF" table and the OpenType Layout tables. Pretty much everyone in the business right now (FontLab Studio, Glyphs, RoboFont) has, in some way, been using that spaghetti code, so parts of font generation has been "out of control" of the font tool makers. Which is, for example, why in current FontLab Studio, you'll get slightly different results if you make an OTF and a TTF from the same VFB.

    With Victoria (i.e. TransType 4 and the upcoming products), it looks like it's finally going to be different. We've cleaned up the Adobe code internally, so problems like the inconsistencies mentioned above will no longer occur. I don't want to bore you with technical details, because it's not something the audience here is interested in. But the bottom line is:

    1. With the next build of TransType 4, we hope that it already will be the best "build machine" for fonts: open an UFO, VFB, OTF, TTF — and generate OTF, TTF, WOFF, EOT, consistently, easily and quickly.

    2. We've consciously left some more advanced functionalities out of the initial release of TransType 4. You really need to think of it as a "1.0" release of a brand-new app. All code is brand-new there. So if TransType 3 was "PageMaker 6.5", TransType 4 is "InDesign 1.0". If you remember InDesign 1.0, it was actually quite horrible for users, although it "looked promising". But after a couple of releases, InDesign grew immensely and has now become the de facto standard, leaving PageMaker, Publisher, QuarkXPress and all those products far behind. With TransType 4, we're not only making "InDesign 1.0", but it'll actually already be quite useful.

    3. It is just the beginning. Input/output of TransType 4 *already is* much more stable than FontLab Studio or TransType 3 ever was. But it's the extensibility and the completely new architecture which is amazing about Victoria. Writing fully-functional plugins in Python or C++ will be very easy for a Victoria-based font editor — so much easier than it ever has been with FontLab Studio. Fixing bugs is much easier, because the new architecture is so well-designed (in the "Leningrad" code, one functional change required the developer to look into 5-6 different places in the code and change all these, and if the developer forgot one place, you got crashes; with Victoria, you only change things in one place, so it's "naturally" more stable, plus it's just much faster).

    4. If you choose to buy into my PageMaker->InDesign analogy: look at TransType 3 and compare it to TransType 4. It's fundamental change. Now look at FontLab Studio 5 and use your imagination. Then wait for a few more months and you'll be able to start comparing your imagination with the real stuff. :)

    Greetings from a very happy place
    and a very very happy product manager :)
    Adam
  • Adam, will it be possible to generate optimised web font formats (specifically, WOFF, EOT and SVG) through the new tool or will it be necessary/practical to employ TransType as part of a workflow involving web fonts?

    Transparent control over output would be very welcome, as would the ability to mine down into the data where needed/desired, allowing users to tweak advanced settings, even if the default set up is more user friendly.

    Thank you for the updates.
    "I don't want to bore you with technical details, because it's not something the audience here is interested in."
    For those of us who are interested will you be expanding on some of these details in the FontLab forums?
  • Adam, will it be possible to generate optimised web font formats (specifically, WOFF, EOT and SVG) through the new tool or will it be necessary/practical to employ TransType as part of a workflow involving web fonts?
    On that note, will you be adding subsetting capabilities to Transtype?
  • Quite soon, there will be a bunch of "white papers" we'll be publishing that explain the technical details in quite some length. (Actually, REALLY in-depth.)

    TransType 4 will be more like a consumer product but we're also working on a much more professional variant of it, codenamed "FoundryLab", which will have subsetting, more in-depth control over various autohinting and outline conversion options, more control over the output formats, the ability to set up your own custom profiles in addition to the ones that are now built-in, and yes, subsetting *including* intelligent subsetting of OpenType Layout tables. Also a few more convenience features and of course detailed "write" access to all Font Info settings (not just the few as in TransType).

    And you'll be able to save entire "conversion projects", and re-open them later. We're thinking also of "auto-conversion" whenever any source files have changed. So you'll have a bunch of VFBs or UFOs open in FoundryLab, and set the various export formats (e.g. a "Pro OTF", a "Std OTF", a "Pro TTF", a "Std TTF" and one or two webfont packages). You change something in the VFB or UFO editor, and — boom — FoundryLab will automatically re-generate all your final fonts.

    Portions of that UI will then be also integrated with the actual font editor, so these things will be working side-by-side seamlessly.

    That's just a rough sketch of where we're heading, and we're making good progress.

    TransType 4 is just the very first step, as I said. We'll be publishing the 3rd beta version in a few days, with OTF generation enabled along with some fixes and improvements. (Also a "Note about intellectual property" dialog warning users of legal consequences of converting fonts — that has been proposed by some font vendors).
  • It all sounds great Adam! Exciting for sure.
  • We've just published the 3rd beta version of TransType 4 for Mac: http://bit.ly/trt4macbeta3

    The "Webfont TT" export profile now includes the EOT compressed output format as well as some sample CSS and HTML documents and SVG output. We plan to improve the SVG output, but — anyone interested — please test the EOT output on Internet Explorer, and report your findings on http://forum.fontlab.com/index.php?topic=8704.msg28770

    Other improvements that I've announced in this thread above are planned for future builds!

    Best,
    Adam
  • Adam, That problem I had with the previous version has now extended to this one as well, the the added issue of now even from the desktop I cannot add fonts to Transtype. Very Frustrating. Working with OSX 10.6.8
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