New Open Source Editor - Birdfont

edited April 2015 in Type Design Software
Just came across a new font editor & was wondering if anybody here on TD has seen or tried it? 

It appears to be relatively new & from what I've seen so far it's an entry-level editor, so not really equipped for producing professional type work. Although it could be a viable option for beginners just starting to explore, or a relatively decent quick icon font workspace for professionals.

Birdfont - free font editor that lets you create vector graphics and export TTF, EOT & SVG fonts.

Haven't really had a chance to have an in-depth look yet, but at a quick glance it appears to be a cross-platform, open source editor with similar capabilities to Fontographer. 

As I mentioned it's entry-level so it's nowhere near as powerful or feature rich as say Fontforge which is the only other OS editor that I'm aware of. The interface looks pretty clean for an OS project & it seems to have avoided the problems normally directed at Fontforge by the community i.e. bad UX & an overly complicated installation. Rather disappointingly I love the idea of Fontforge more than the actual software itself, so it's good to see new software being produced. 

I've pretty much stayed with Fontlab as my editor of choice, I'm not a fan of the trend lately in font editors being only available on the mac so more cross-platform solutions are always welcome. Just to make it clear, I've nothing against Apple per say I just prefer to have the choice & not be forced to use one particular Op System because the developers can't / won't port software.) 

Comments

  • I would like to point out that FontForge installation is a three-steps job from the source and there are binaries available as well. In terms of UX, it's clearly not the best out there but certainly better than sth. like FontLab 5.
    Anyways, if you have specific UX concerns with FontForge feel free to write them down.
  • "...not be forced to use one particular Op System because the developers can't / won't port software."
    That isn't always the reason. Some developers have limited resources, personnel-wise, so can't support more than one platform.
  • edited April 2015
    Thanks for the input Adrien, I don't think I was being overly critical of Fontforge. Like I mentioned above it's a very powerful, feature-rich OS application. I was only highlighting it's almost infamous standing among the community with regards to its installation process, google it - I think that's a fair point when the results are taken into account.

    After reading & responding to your comment above I revisited the Fontforge website (something I should have done beforehand) & was surprised to see the amount of work that's clearly gone into addressing issues within the last year, it's clear my comment no longer applies & is a good 8 months out of date.        

    Personally I've never had any trouble with that aspect of the program, although I can see why it's considered difficult, but it's not alone, getting python installed & working with Fontlab can be tricky for the less computer savvy among us.

    My main issue with Fontforge is the UX, but it doesn't seem fair to compare or hold it to the same standards as proprietary applications. I wouldn't consider that fair to the countless developers like yourself freely giving their time working on the project.

    I've already gone off topic more than I would have liked with this comment, but I think if developers like yourself actively started a new discussion here on the TypeDrawers forum seeking feedback I would be more than happy to positively engage in that discussion. Although I don't see how you would avoid the majority of people using that opportunity as a free shopping list.               
  • edited April 2015
    George, that's a very fair point. I think that happens to be the case with Glyphs. I think I read somewhere that Georg Seifert readily admits there's no plans to port the software as he can't work outside the Cocoa framework, don't quote me on that though. 

    Realistically I suppose I could always configure a virtual desktop to run the software to get around the one platform issue if I ever wanted to veer away from Fontlab.  
  • Sorry for the OT.

    George, it's also a matter of tools, e.g. a GUI toolkit like Qt (which is what FontLab 6 uses) yields a single codebase that runs multiplatform since code-wise Python already takes care of platform-specific differences like different file path conventions.
    Such tools weren't there e.g. when FontForge was first conceived so it's built on the X Server toolkit which isn't exactly native on the Mac and not really on Windows (e.g., you can't use system clipboard to c/p text), but it's perfectly doable today with minimal maintenance burden.

    As for Glyphs, isn't it written in Objective-C? If so, it's hardly portable to other platforms.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 709
    edited April 2015
    Christopher,

    It appears to be relatively new

    It was first published on Aug 24 2012, and it has quite a lot of features. However, I've found its windowing very buggy on Mac OS X. 

    was surprised to see the amount of work that's clearly gone into addressing issues within the last year

    Thanks! :)

    Although I don't see how you would avoid the majority of people using that opportunity as a free shopping list.   

    But ummm, I don't understand this? :)

    the only other OS editor that I'm aware of

    There are 3 new, web based ones:

    Adrien,

    Such tools weren't there e.g. when FontForge was first conceived so it's built on the X Server toolkit which isn't exactly native on the Mac and not really on Windows 

    This isn't quite right in the technical details.

    FontForge was started before any libre GUI toolkit (Qt, GTK, etc) supported Unicode, so George Williams wrote his own libre GUI toolkit, which we could call "GWTK", for the X Window System.

    (X was created around the same time as the GNU OS, and GNU started from its manifesto with the intention to use the base, libre, version of X for its GUI. Only in the last few years has anyone wanted to replace it as a GNU+Linux window system. There are many ports of the X Window System to run lots of operating systems, including Windows and Mac OS X, even MacOS v7.)

    This means that FontForge's widgets are not native to ANY other desktop, they are completely custom. However, GWTK supports themes, and today the theme in the FontForge Mac and Windows installers is fairly close to Mac OS X and GNOME, at least compared to George William's theme. 

    (e.g., you can't use system clipboard to c/p text), but it's perfectly doable today with minimal maintenance burden.
    You should be able to use the Windows system clipboard to c/p text in the widely used X Window System programs that run on Windows, eg http://superuser.com/questions/440128/xming-clipboard-only-works-one-way

    And the maintainer of the Windows version says it works for him, but there are issues if you use a non-us keyboard, eg https://github.com/fontforge/fontforge/issues/1884#issuecomment-61029215

    Glyphs, isn't it written in Objective-C

    It a mix of Objective-C and C; the latter used to make the most intensive operations as fast as possible.
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