What should a student use?

For a design student, what is the best option for software to dip toes but do so decently?
There are free options for type design. FontForge but, runs as UNIX on Mac and there is Glyphr on the Web.
Otherwise paid: Fontographer, FontLab, RoboFont, TypeTool, or FontCreator.
Students often find the pen tool to be difficult to understand or use. So, if any of these has advanced since 1986, that would be good… Also, I like the idea of components and changing one adjusts them all across the whole design. Which have that?


  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    Free options should definitely include @Adrien Tétar's TruFont. It's new, but already more promising than FontForge and more, well, alive looking.

    For paid options, don't forget Glyphs, which has a free trial period.

    I think pretty much all font tools will include composite support. The upcoming FontLab VI also has live subroutines — I can't remember what they're calling them — allowing you to treat portions of outlines like components. [This actually harks back to FontLab 2.5, c.1994, which used PS subroutines.] Oh, and Glyphs has very clever interpolable composites.

  • FontCreator doesn't support the magic component stuff, but it allows you to generate over 2,200 (mostly accented) composite characters.

    FontCreator is a true native font editor, so no need to buy or install third-party tools or extensions.

    If you feel advanced OpenType features are important as well, you should seriously consider FontCreator.

    You can download a trail version to see if it suits your needs.

  • John Hudson TruFont: Install is beyond me. Even FontForge install was nearly imposible level for Mac user and then it has a unix interface.
    Does Fontographer do composites?
    Needed: Comparison chart and review of them all…
  • Glyphs Mini. It's cheap, easy to install and learn, has a manual, has limits to keep them out of trouble, and is reasonably functional without installing third-party scripts.
  • Oops. FontCreator is Windows only.
  • Allan MurrayAllan Murray Posts: 17
    edited February 2016
    Type 3.2 is generally considered 'easy to use', has composite support and is available for Mac and PC (under $100).


    There is individual review/comparison chart of several editors here:
    (though note, the feature list is not quite correct for Type 3.2 - which DOES support vector import, batch transformation and test font).

  • attarattar Posts: 209
    TruFont: Install is beyond me.
    Have you tried clicking the Install button on the website?

    Binaries are quite old but I'll make new ones soon.
  • What’s a binary… what’s an old binary…
  • Adrien Tétar: After checking out links UFO, Repository, Issues (which one should always do before hitting install on an app one is considering) I assumed, it would be via git hub (that is the beyond me part) and, just did not do it. Indeed, when I did, just now, it did an instant download. Not cool! 
    Instead, always take a user to a download page (even for one file) and tell them what they are downloading before actually downloading.  :-)
  • attarattar Posts: 209
    take a user to a download page
    That would be the other button, "All Releases".
  • What a student should use is very much depending on what exactly a lecturer wants to teach him/her. When it comes to the latter, I would teach them as much as possible. If you’re looking for a tool for yourself, I would investigate as many font editors as possible. And then, are you thinking about type design, font production, or both? Do you want to learn the details of OT Layout features and to build features per font, or do you want to use a tool that subsets the features and makes life in general more easier? Do you want to script stuff in for instance Python, or to combine different font editors in such a way that you have a large palette of prefixed options? Etcetera, etcetera. You’ll have to find out a workflow that fits your goals, interests, and capabilities best.

    In the program of the KABK LetterStudio I offer the 1001 ways to digitize type module. The students have to make a plan (i.e., to come up with a problem) first and subsequently to define a block diagram that shows the route from starting point (for instance analog drawings or pictures of historic prints) to the goal (in most cases a digital font). Many of them are experienced in drawing in Illustrator, so they compare this with the drawing tools in font editors. The more font editors they investigate, the better. In almost all cases they redefine the block diagram at the end of the course.
    Oops. FontCreator is Windows only.
    Well, that is not a restriction IMHO, but a good reason to get acquainted with the operating system that many font users use. And if you don’t like Windows for whatever reason, FontCreator is a good reason to install Wine on your Mac system. I like Wine, if only because one can allocate virtual drives to physical drives and folders (I have to switch often for all kind of supporting files).
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