FontLab 7.0.1 for Mac and Windows released!

Adam TwardochAdam Twardoch Posts: 449
edited December 2019 in Type Design Software


I have some good news for the end of 2019 ☺️ If anyone wondered why I was gone from TypeDrawers for a long time — this is pretty much the answer. Together with my phenomenal team at Fontlab Ltd., we’ve been hard at work. It was a long march! I’m pleased and excited to finally announce the release of FontLab 7, a major upgrade of our flagship pro font editor for macOS and Windows.


FontLab what? FontLab 7.

Based on the foundation of FontLab VI introduced in 2015, the new FontLab 7 focuses on stability, productivity and technical excellence. We’ve worked hand-in-hand with type designers from around the world to incorporate countless user requests; polish the interface; and iron out glitches. As with the previous release, FontLab 7 also adds some unique magic that lets you work easier and faster — whether you’re a pro font maker or just starting your type design adventure.

Users of FontLab VI can upgrade for US $99 , those who bought FontLab VI after August 1, 2019 can upgrade for free.

We are celebrating this release with a special 25% discount valid until December 22, 2019:

  • new users can buy FontLab 7 for just $345
  • users of FontLab Studio 5 can upgrade for $149
  • Fontographer 5 users for $172
  • and users of TypeTool 3 for just $299!

Students and teachers can get FontLab 7 for $229 or for $89/year, with discounts for lab and group licenses.

Your license lets you run FontLab 7 on macOS Sierra-Catalina, Windows 7-10, and even Linux with Wine.


What’s new in FontLab 7?

  1. Type design is about cleverness. FontLab 7 greatly reduces the technical complexity of smart OpenType font creation. It automatically generates OpenType Layout features for small caps, ligatures, stylistic sets, fractions, figure styles and other advanced typographic substitutions. No coding required!
  2. Type design is about precision. Hold Cmd (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows) to activate precision dragging of nodes and handles and make fine contour adjustments without having to zoom in. FontLab 7 brings numerous enhancements to its unmatched vector editor, but if you prefer to draw in Affinity Designer or Sketch, you can now paste or import PDF vector artwork. Pasting and import of Adobe Illustrator and SVG drawings is also refined, and the redesigned Autotrace lets you turn bitmap images into smooth, beautiful vector contours.
  3. Type design is about consistency. FontLab 7 lets you find and fix inconsistencies and problems that are hard to spot. With new thickness measurement, it’s easy to make perfectly even diagonal stems or glyph strokes that precisely follow the typographic contrast. FontLab’s unique built-in FontAudit quality checker finds and automatically equalizes stems that are uneven within one glyph or across glyphs. New Audit Kerning identifies and fixes kerning combinations that cause visual clashes.
  4. Type design is about habits. FontLab 7 brings back FontLab Studio 5 fan favorites, like handles in Mask, or Font Info copy-paste.
  5. Type design is about whitespace as much as about what’s drawn. Tapping the semicolon key lets you quickly autospace a glyph as you draw or edit it. FontLab 7 slashes the time-consuming kerning process: a built-in pair list sorted by priority; instant creation of kerning classes to kern some glyphs like other glyphs; and the ability to create “both-sided” kerning classes.
  6. Type design is about scope. FontLab 7 fully embraces variable OpenType fonts, with new CFF2 support, intermediate glyph masters and conditional glyph substitution. Designing variable fonts and large font families is now simpler, as you can view and edit multiple masters at the same time.
  7. Type design is about reducing repetition and increasing interchange. FontLab 7 can run multiple actions in a sequence, and lets you batch-rename glyphs and use different naming schemes. With the refined import and export of UFO3 and .glyphs formats and the new JSON-based copy-paste, you can effortlessly exchange font source projects with users of other apps. Designers of complex families can now install Vassil Kateliev’s TypeRig, a mighty batch-oriented plugin that supercharges FontLab’s already powerful handling of masters, metrics, guides and anchors.

FontLab 7 is an integrated type design and font-making solution. 

You can draw smooth, consistent glyphs; autotrace bitmaps; create overlaps; simplify paths; equalize stems; and scale outlines while keeping stroke thickness. You can draw in fractional or integer coordinates; see both numeric and visual measurements; and find & fix contour imperfections. You can space and kern in multi-line tabs or windows that feel like a text editor. You can create, open, extend, test and export font families, variable OpenType fonts, color fonts and web fonts for any Unicode writing system. And you can interchange with other font editing apps, and collaborate with their users.

In FontLab 7, we’ve made it easier to discover and learn about all this built-in functionality: move the pointer over a user interface element in FontLab 7 and hold F1, and the new Quick Help system shows a longer explanation.

And the just-released FontLab 7.0.1 brings some 30 more improvements, based on feedback from those who switched to 7 right away. ☺️ 


There was 6. I mean, VI.

In 2015, Fontlab Ltd. published a “Public Preview” of the new Victoria-based font editor. I decided to name it somewhat differently: with a Roman numeral. After all, FontLab VI was going to be as different from FontLab Studio 5 as Mac OS X was different from MacOS 9. Had I realized that the letters “VI” stood not only at the beginning of “Victoria” but also of… “Vista”, I perhaps would have been more of the difficulties that were still ahead. FontLab VI included many novel concepts, but it also took over from the rich legacy of our apps: Fontographer and FontLab Studio 5. It implemented some of the long-standing suggestions from our users.

FontLab VI Public Preview was “future-ready”: cross-platform at its core, rather than needing a tedious “porting” process; able to draw all its rich user interface on multiple high-density screens; supporting interpolation in a way that was compatible with the, at the time, upcoming variable OpenType fonts; supporting color, with SVG, bitmaps and plain outlines. Internally working with fractional coordinates. Full of ideas that our team had been tinkering with for several years by then. But above all, FontLab VI was filled with our experience of working with type designers all over the world for some 20 years.

On the other hand, the Public Preview was very “not ready”: at times, it was a radical departure from what people were used to. It was unstable, full of functionality that worked “in name only”. For two years, people were downloading FontLab VI Public Preview. Some were happy about the things that worked, and the way they worked, but many got very frustrated and discouraged with the things that didn’t work. Or about the way the things worked. We kept working. 

In 2017, we finally shipped FontLab VI 6.0.0. In many aspects, this version was very much like Mac OS X 10.0 — fresh, but immature. Hopeful, but also disappointing. Or indeed, like Windows Vista — which was a great step in the right direction, but was not quite yet the right follow-up to the successful Windows XP. Up until then, the 30 Public Preview releases were accompanied by about 100 book pages of “release notes” that detailed the changes, improvements and fixes.

Since 2017, we published 18 updates to FontLab VI, and the release notes (for which I was largely responsible) covered 250 book pages. Those updates gradually changed the face of the app, from “experimental” to “usable”. But FontLab VI still had its limitations.


And then, there is 7!

So in the first months of 2019, we decided to take another major step: rather than publishing monthly builds that addressed small problems and made limited changes, we took the time to re-engineer some major parts, based on the feedback from our users. We took a bird’s eye look on the entire app, and identified some major things that we needed to do. The two years since the 6.0 release taught us what type designers liked about the app, what they disliked strongly, what it lacked. We also knew what we had wanted to put in there originally, but were too busy with putting other things in there that also needed to be put in there.

Now, this is done — we released FontLab 7 in December 2019. The release notes are 100 more pages that explain the 150 fixes and 150 new features or improvements that went into FontLab 7 ☺️. 


How people used FontLab VI and 7

Designers from all over the world have used the app to create massive variable font families (Grand Gothik by Parachute, Circe Slab by Alexandra Korolkova & Oleksa Volochay / ParaType, Fact by Alexandra Korolkova & Manvel Shmavonyan / ParaType, Bolyar Sans by Jordan Jelev & Vassil Kateliev / Fontmaker), ambitious historical revivals (CAL Bodoni by Dave Lawrence / California Type Foundry), decorative one-offs (Wanchy by Matthijs Herzberg), and color OpenType fonts like the titling font for the Joker movie by Chad Danieley.

Download the VFC/VFJ work files of FontLab-created open-source projects, and explore the techniques used by the designers: Lato by Łukasz Dziedzic, Graduate by Eduardo Tunni, Science Gothic by Thomas Phinney, Brandon Buerkle, Igor FreibergerVassil Kateliev, Secuela by Fernando Haro / deFharo, or Optician Sans by Fábio Duarte Martins / Scannerlicker & ANTI Hamar.


What people said about FontLab VI and 7

Fábio Duarte Martins (Scannerlicker), designer of Optician Sans and Electrica, says of FontLab 7: 

“This baby is a rock-solid font development software, from design to engineering. Drawing is a joy: FontLab has the best drawing tools I’ve ever seen, and they just got better!”

Eduardo Tunni, designer of the Graduate variable superfont, says: 

“Great stuff! FontLab 7 is very stable. Congrats to the FontLab team.”

Dave Lawrence (California Type Foundry), designer of CAL Bodoni and CAL Zed, says 

“If you want to make more fonts faster and better and if you want to stay ahead of the competition, go with FontLab 7. My favorite parts of FontLab are auto layers, glyph masters and FontAudit. Using these features, I was able to create an average of 167 ornamental glyphs (in two weights) per day. By automating much of the grunt work, I think I’m doing some of the best work of my life.”

Vassil Kateliev (Karandash / The FontMaker), co-designer of the Bolyar font family and developer of TypeRig, sums FontLab 7 up: 

“I’ll put it simply: FontLab 7 is superb! What’s not to love? The best vector engine for drawing and manipulation I have seen in ages. Rock-steady interpolation engine that is also compliant with variable OpenType fonts. Start with an excellent multi- paradigm approach to type design — old-school outlines, element references, components, auto-generated glyphs, or all of them combined. Sprinkle on top a handful of nifty tricks to speed up your work like auto layers or auto OpenType feature generation. Combine that with a super powerful Python based API (that I actually use a lot). Let’s not forget multi-platform: a fact that I consider very important. The new FontLab is an endless ocean of opportunities — you get an app for every taste and workflow. FontLab 7 finally feels really mature. Don’t take my word for it — obviously I am a devotee. Just give it a try, and see for yourself!”


See the full FontLab 7 announcement


Comments

  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,230
    Adam, I just tried to load 7 and it won't lauch
  • Chris, please kindly contact https://support.fontlab.com/ — create a "ticket" with your operating system details, we Alex or I will figure it out! 
  • Claudio PiccininiClaudio Piccinini Posts: 323
    edited December 2019
    I have been using it since the day after the release (alternating it with 6) and after the early bugs experienced, I must say that 7.0.1.7276 looks pretty much stable now.

    Also, I don’t mind to be "nitpicking" or annoying, but I honestly believe that if you’d take the time to make a nice PDF manual and/or offer a more intuitive/detailed documentation, Fontlab 7 would be licensed ten times than it is.
    I honestly find truly frustrating the lack of documentation. :-(
    It would be a great program for beginners as well, and they might be put-off by its apparent complexity (and its many possible ways to approach work).
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,230
    Will do, Adam, thanks
  • Also, I don’t mind to be "nitpicking" or annoying, but I honestly believe that if you’d take the time to make a nice PDF manual and/or offer a more intuitive/detailed documentation, Fontlab 7 would be licensed ten times than it is.
    I honestly find truly frustrating the lack of documentation. :-(
    It would be a great program for beginners as well, and they might be put-off by its apparent complexity (and its many possible ways to approach work).
    Of course, I meant to write «I don’t *mean*», not «I don’t *mind*»… LOL.
  • Chris, 

    FontLab 7 runs on macOS 10.11 and higher, while macOS 10.12 or higher is recommended. Unfortunately, in order to support the newest macOS, we had to drop support for older Mac OS X versions. 
  • Chris, 

    FontLab 7 runs on macOS 10.11 and higher, while macOS 10.12 or higher is recommended. Unfortunately, in order to support the newest macOS, we had to drop support for older Mac OS X versions. 
    As I approached the upgrade to 7 I was scared to death when I read “10.12". It seems it works fine under 10.11.6. I’ll keep you posted. ;-)
    Ugh… sorry for Chris. :-(
  • Claudio,

    I wholeheartedly agree. In the last months or even 2 years, “taking the time” was tricky, since our core team has been pulling 12-16-hour work days, often 7 days a week. :) FontLab VI also changed very rapidly, which made the documenting effort tough. 

    These last two years, I did manage to write those 450 pages of release notes, and my colleagues Alex & Igor had done quite some work on the help. In FontLab 7, we also have the new Quick Help (F1).

    Documentation is as equally important as the software itself. Unfortunately, with a new product, it wasn’t really possible to even hire an external writer, because he’d need to be trained first.

    But with 7 out the door, we’ll finally have time to complete the documentation. And there are designers who have now gathered enough experience with the app that they will also be able to contribute bits, I think. 

    So — stay tuned! 

    Thanks,
    Adam
  • (BTW, I myself am on 10.12 primarily. Certainly won’t upgrade to Catalina for my primary machine anytime soon. Maybe to Mojave.)
  • Claudio,

    I wholeheartedly agree. In the last months or even 2 years, “taking the time” was tricky, since our core team has been pulling 12-16-hour work days, often 7 days a week. :) FontLab VI also changed very rapidly, which made the documenting effort tough. 

    […]

    But with 7 out the door, we’ll finally have time to complete the documentation. And there are designers who have now gathered enough experience with the app that they will also be able to contribute bits, I think. 

    So — stay tuned! 

    Thanks,
    Adam
    Heck, if I was in a different situation (concentrating on the design of typefaces to sell right now) I would have already started gathering/learning/writing down bits of "how to" and tutorials. :-)

    In FontLab 7, we also have the new Quick Help (F1). 
    Huh? What is this? "F1", as is, seems a shortcut for the toolbar.
  • When you hover over a UI element and hold F1 or Fn+F1, the app will show an extended help tip.
  • I’m curious: for me (Windows), it works as a toggle button: once I press F1, the tooltips start to show, and when I press it again, they stop showing. Was it supposed to work by holding down the key the whole time? (I wouldn't want it to).
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,230
    Will FontLab 5x work on 10.12?
  • Adam TwardochAdam Twardoch Posts: 449
    edited December 2019
    Chris: the newest FontLab Studio 5.1.6 works well on macOS 10.14 and older. Earlier FLS5 versions worked well on macOS 10.12 and older (I’ve been on 10.12 for a long time now).

    FLS5M stopped working on 10.15 (though there are ways to run FLS5W, but that's a bit ugly, see https://blog.fontlab.com/fontlab/fontlab-studio-5/fls5-fog5-tt3-macos-catalina/ )

    I think at this point 10.12 (Sierra) is a very sweet spot, if you’re a bit conservative. 10.13 (High Sierra) is also decent.

    In 10.14 Mojave and 10.15 Catalina, Apple started introducing things that may be interesting to some, but I haven’t been convinced.

    The only reason I may upgrade to 10.14 will be to be able to reliably test variable and color fonts in a more modern environment. 
  • Adam TwardochAdam Twardoch Posts: 449
    edited December 2019
    Adam: F1 works the same as our tool-switching keys: 

    - tap the key briefly to toggle (turn Quick Help on/off, switch to the tool)
    - hold the key to activate temporarily, release to go back where you were before

    I often hold 2 for Eraser or J for Knife, click where I want to click while holding the key, then release the key. Almost feels like a modifier. 

    We’ve invented this approach for FontLab VI. I haven't seen any other app that would do it this way, but I think if you get used to it, you'll find it very comfortable.

    Of course the temporary holding doesn't make practical sense for *all* the tools — but it may be useful even for things like G (Guides) if you want to measure something.

    And holding T doesn't work for “temporarily activating” the Text tool, understandably, as there is no such thing. You switch to the Text tool by tapping T, you go back to the previous tool with Esc.
  • Adam: F1 works the same as our tool-switching keys: 

    - tap the key briefly to toggle (turn Quick Help on/off, switch to the tool)
    - hold the key to activate temporarily, release to go back where you were before

    I often hold 2 for Eraser or J for Knife, click where I want to click while holding the key, then release the key. Almost feels like a modifier. 

    We’ve invented this approach for FontLab VI. I haven't seen any other app that would do it this way, but I think if you get used to it, you'll find it very comfortable.

    Of course the temporary holding doesn't make practical sense for *all* the tools — but it may be useful even for things like G (Guides) if you want to measure something.

    And holding T doesn't work for “temporarily activating” the Text tool, understandably, as there is no such thing. You switch to the Text tool by tapping T, you go back to the previous tool with Esc.
    Trying this now. Seems quite useful, surely it is for measurement and the Knife tool. Having “F1" as a shortcut for toggling the Toolbar Window, however, makes a bit confusing when you have to understand about the hovering feature for the quick help hints, IMO.
  • Claudio PiccininiClaudio Piccinini Posts: 323
    edited December 2019
    Will FontLab 5x work on 10.12?
    It takes quite of a struggle to switch between Studio 5 and 6 or 7 (more or less like Jacob wrestling with the Angel! :-) ) but once you have defeated the learning curve you won’t get back to Studio 5, if not for specific features which might have still be to be fixed (Autohinting?).
    At any rate, Fontlab 6/7 is complex but extremely powerful. I have never used Glyphs but features similar to its ones have been added in a multiple-approach way (i.e. not with the immediacy of Glyphs, but in a way that allows for varied approaches to your workflow). You just have to decide how to use or activate them.

    The more we do the "bug signaling" the more the application will become pretty much flawless, I think. :-)
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,230
    @Claudio Piccinini  My problem is getting work done. I beta tested FLVI and then I bought FLVI when first released and never got a usable file out of it.  To me it is still beta. I just purchased FL7 but with my past experience with the slow FL6 development process, I have little faith that 7 will be workable for 2 years. I need to know that I can always go back and do work quickly in FL5.  I am not giving up on FontLab 7 but I do need a safety net.  Who knows how long it will be for a usable manual to be written.
  • Claudio PiccininiClaudio Piccinini Posts: 323
    edited December 2019
    @Claudio Piccinini  My problem is getting work done. I beta tested FLVI and then I bought FLVI when first released and never got a usable file out of it.  To me it is still beta. I just purchased FL7 but with my past experience with the slow FL6 development process, I have little faith that 7 will be workable for 2 years. I need to know that I can always go back and do work quickly in FL5.  I am not giving up on FontLab 7 but I do need a safety net.  Who knows how long it will be for a usable manual to be written.
    I fully understand. Having landed on 6 when it already has had various updates I experienced a pair of serious bugs so I was equally disappointed. In a while, there were just minor flaws (e.g. the toolbar onstantly disappearing or the right panels occasionally hiding) but not serious bugs in terms of work flow and stability for the output, so I sticked with it to learn the new features hoping they would solve all of the problems.
    With 7 already at the first update, the application feels really stable, and I have not felt the need to switch back to Fontlab Studio 5.
    Clearly it was a sort of "boomerang choice" releasing 6 after many years and with so many problems, but I see they are working hard to improve 7 by the day, and so far I am working well in 7.0.1.7276 (just released).
    Above all, no crashes, which is very important.
  • The hold-down trick is pretty clever!
    I do experience occasional crashes when I try out features I didn't try before and do something goofy. These are difficult to nail down and report, as they are not that easily reproducible. But all in all, if VI was like Vista, 7 definitely feels like, well, 7! (But I hope next comes 10 and not 8 >:) ).
  • FontLab 7 is essentially a newer version of VI; same codebase, and an evolution of the same app. Besides new features and improvements, it also has a lot of bug fixes. It seems much more stable to me, even after using it >40 hrs/week for months.
Sign In or Register to comment.