FontLab Studio 5 is dead

I know that I’m not the only one who has been sticking with FontLab 5 despite the copy/paste issue that arose on Macs post-Sierra.

Just to let everyone know, the macOS 10.14.4 update kills it completely. Working with existing .vfbs still seems to work, but opening existing fonts is broken. OTFs will open, but their unicode assignments are missing and the UPM is messed up. TTFs won't open at all.

Just a heads up.
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Comments

  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,135
    Guess I keep my 2011 Mac a bit longer.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,475
    edited March 28
    One more reason to stick to Windows...

    "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
    – FS5
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 1,475
    edited March 28
    {duplicate}
  • One more reason to keep my 2011 Mac in good condition the next years.
  • Sadly, I have no 2011 Mac. Fortunately, though, I have a Snow Leopard VM in which FLS5 seems quite happy.
  • Hopefully you can last another three years and match my previous Dell. Which could actually have kept going, because another death that's been greatly exaggerated is that of Win-XP:

  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,109
    edited March 28
    Fortunately, though, I have a Snow Leopard VM in which FLS5 seems quite happy.

    Me, too. It also lets me run the old Mac versions of ScanFont and BitFonter. Of course, you can run the Windows versions of any of these in a Windows VM on a Mac, too.
  • Igor FreibergerIgor Freiberger Posts: 141
    edited March 28
    Please note that, although copy-append is not available in FontLab Studio 5 running is macOS Sierra and higher, you can still copy glyphs from one font to another by drag-n-drop. Just set the two font windows to use Index mode, select the glyphs and drag.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,135
    I don't think the FontLab crew has any intent of spending any time porting FLS5 to any modern system software.  Either they just don't care or just don't know how. They seem to work incredibly slowly compared to other vendors like Glyphs. I hope one of them proves me wrong.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,479
    Although we do not plan any updates to FontLab Studio 5 (it having been replaced by FontLab VI over a year ago), we certainly want to understand its limitations on the newest macOS. We are testing to see what the new problem is.

    From the symptoms Andre described, it may be in some way related, at least in part, to support files used by FontLab Studio 5, and perhaps their location. We are looking into it.
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 350
    Hopefully you can last another three years and match my previous Dell. Which could actually have kept going, because another death that's been greatly exaggerated is that of Win-XP:

    I also stuck a long time with trusty old XP. I guess it's true what some say that a product is as good as the team that creates it. Future teams may actually be less qualified.

  • Bring back FontLab Studio 5!
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,135
    I might as well switch to Glyphs then.
  • Igor FreibergerIgor Freiberger Posts: 141
    edited March 29
    Clipboard problem in FLS5

    The clipboard problem is caused by a change Apple made in macOS. Unhappily, they provided no solution for that (nor we found a workaround). But, as I stated above, you can still copy glyphs between fonts using drag-and-drop.

    This way, FontLab Studio 5 is still fully functional in both newer Windows and macOS — except the new 10.14.4, of course.
     

    InDesign 1.0 to 1.5

    I am a user of InDesign since its inception. And, while I was not able to use 1.0 as a production tool, the scenario changed completely when version 1.5 came to light.

    My opinion may be biased, but I believe the jump between FontLab VI 6.0 and the latest 6.1.3 is comparable to InDesign's. FontLab is quite conservative regarding version numbers so x.1.3 may not reflect how many new tools were added nor the amount of improvements and bug fixes were made.

    Of course, we are aware FLVI still needs several  adjusts and improvements, but I invite users who had a bad experience with early versions to try the last one. And to report their findings in our forum.
     

    A FontLab Studio 5 mode?

    An interesting idea. To some extent, this is already under adoption.

    Those who don't like FLVI elements can work with components. It is still not the same, but the overall use matches FLS5's. A number of tools and behaviors from FLS5 were brought back recently, especially in 6.1.2 and 6.1.3. And more is expected for 6.1.4.

    The user requests in our forum are serving as a thermometer for this, so the feedback you give there is extremely important.
     

    A final note: it does not matter what I say or how much each version improves if you need a given tool that is not available. We are working hard to close the gaps, but we understand that for some of you FontLab VI is just not a choice (for now).

  • Clipboard problem in FLS5

    The clipboard problem is caused by a change Apple made in macOS. Unhappily, they provided no solution for that (nor we found a workaround). But, as I stated above, you can still copy glyphs between fonts using drag-and-drop.

    This way, FontLab Studio 5 is still fully functional in both newer Windows and macOS — except the new 10.14.4, of course.

    While the clipboard problem may have been triggered by a change made by Apple, I suspect there’s more going on here since I have not found reports of a single other application experiencing problems with cut and paste in Sierra. FontLab Studio was presumably doing something strange with its clipboard. While Apple is notorious for its lack of concern for backward compatibility, I'm not convinced that the blame can be placed at Apple's feet in this particular instance.

    And the drag and drop is only a partial solution — it doesn’t provide full functionality.

    A final note: it does not matter what I say or how much each version improves if you need a given tool that is not available. We are working hard to close the gaps, but we understand that for some of you FontLab VI is just not a choice (now).
    I do not doubt that people at FontLab are working hard to close the gaps, but the fact remains that there was much functionality in FLS5 that is still not available in VI. No doubt that functionality will eventually be added back, but the fact that it has not been yet leaves those who need it in the awkward position of choosing between using our favourite software and updating our systems. It's for that reason that other vendors continue to support older software for at least a period of time after the release of new software (4.5 years in the case of PageMaker).

    On an unrelated note, I just noticed that the 10.14.4 upgrade also breaks Fontographer 5.2.3 (this isn't particularly important to me, but it may be for others).
  • Michael JarboeMichael Jarboe Posts: 252
    edited March 29
    I've actually worked with the demo of FL VI recently and started getting really comfortable with it, although I keep FL5 open if it's needed. The impetus was that I had a new italic typeface style that I wanted to utilize slanted sidebearings in an effort to help retain my sanity during the development process. So far, so good!
  • I've eased into it a bit at a time, like wading into a cold lake... I've found FL VI to have a steep leaning curve, but not so bad really ... Once you're in. I still prefer the FL 5 interface for metrics and kerning, but otherwise, I like it. I'm half tempted to go back and kern my masters in 5 and do everything else in 6, but only half. I think it would be more trouble than it's worth.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,135
    The kerning in FL6 is just maddening.
  • Russell, once you get the hang of it I think you'll like the FL VI kerning and metrics interface. After working it in awhile I prefer the way it handles kern classes over FL5.

  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,479
    edited March 30
    My experiences with FontLab Studio 5 after moving to 10.14.4 are similar to André’s.

    Note: TTFs nominally “open,” but without any glyphs.

    You can re-encode an opened OTF based on glyph names, of course—which might be useful on occasion, but hardly entirely satisfactory for general ongoing use.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 877
    FontLab Studio 5 is not only alive; it's sentient. How else can you explain how doing the the same action generates different results?

    Generating a OT test displaying a system font? Try again. No? Try again. No? One more time. There you go!

    Does importing an axis put your equal sign and other symmetrical shapes in the wrong order. Close it open it. Try again? Still no? Keep doing it over and over and it eventually  will get it right.

    Is blend shuffling glyphs with identical components like colon, ellipsis, divide, double quotes, double guillemots? Blend the same fonts again and again and you'll see different results.

    Is blend killing half your kerns? That's only happens one in ten times so you'll probably just have to try once more.

    Exporting a typeface and one font didn't work? Give it another shot.
  • FontLab Studio 5 is not only alive; it's sentient. How else can you explain how doing the the same action generates different results?
    As with almost all software, unless the correct number of goats are sacrificed you may get capricious results.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 384
    I do not doubt that people at FontLab are working hard to close the gaps, but the fact remains that there was much functionality in FLS5 that is still not available in VI.
    Ah, the problem, then, is that FontLab 6 started from a new code base, instead of being FontLab 5 with improvements and new features.

    And, of course, this has to be done every so often, otherwise the program will become unmaintainable as layer after layer of stuff is added to very old code at the heart. So I guess the problem is that the customer base of FontLab isn't big enough to support a company big enough to have fully implemented and debugged every last bit of FontLab 5 functionality in FontLab 6 prior to release.

    Given that even companies the size of Microsoft can't get new releases right, though, it's unrealistic to expect perfection.

    One alternative might have been to somehow update parts of FontLab to a new code base, while keeping the old code base for functionality not yet migrated. That approach, though, has a danger of introducing bugs, but if it could have been managed, then customers could keep current without losing any functionality.
  • I do not doubt that people at FontLab are working hard to close the gaps, but the fact remains that there was much functionality in FLS5 that is still not available in VI.
    Ah, the problem, then, is that FontLab 6 started from a new code base, instead of being FontLab 5 with improvements and new features.

    And, of course, this has to be done every so often, otherwise the program will become unmaintainable as layer after layer of stuff is added to very old code at the heart. So I guess the problem is that the customer base of FontLab isn't big enough to support a company big enough to have fully implemented and debugged every last bit of FontLab 5 functionality in FontLab 6 prior to release.

    All of this I understand full well. I am aware that software must occasionally be rewritten from the ground up and that this will inevitably introduce new bugs, and that there will usually be a time lag before all features of the old version are reimplemented.

    My issue is the complete lack of overlap between the old and new versions. Support for FontLab 5 on the Mac effectively ended with High Sierra despite the fact that the new version had not even been introduced yet. Because of the complications which can arise when introducing a new code base, every other company of which I am aware normally continues to maintain the old version for a period of time following the the release of a version built around a new code-base. But this has not been the case here.
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