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.
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:
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.
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. ☺️
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.
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 ☺️.
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 Freiberger & Vassil Kateliev, Secuela by Fernando Haro / deFharo, or Optician Sans by Fábio Duarte Martins / Scannerlicker & ANTI Hamar.
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!”