Back to typography but... Software?

Hey. I haven't designed type for around 10 years. At that time I was working with Fontlab 5 and it seemed enough for me with some caveats (interpolation, auto hinting.. and so on). Coming back to the design I've found myself against a wall. Tried the Fontlab 7 but all seems so complex, so hard to get into. After re-designing my type logo there, it seemed like it took me longer than expected but at the same time I've used new features. There isn't much tutorials regarding Fontlab 7 which makes it even harder to take on.

Anyway, the main thing that pushes me towards Fontlab 7 is the ability to run on something besides Mac Os. When I tried Glyphs some time ago it did seem to have some major features and simple enough to use but only Mac Os. So... What is the consensus nowadays on the community regarding font design software? Is even there a third alternative? Not talking about fontforge which is buggy, a "real" one.

I'm a developer by the way but I don't see where that could help me out on font design.


  • One other advantage on FontLab 7 is that it runs on Wine so I could even use it on Linux (I'm always interchanging OS).
  • edited January 2020
    I am also a developer mainly for Linux but I changed to Mac as desktop 6 years ago. Mac is not perfect for development, but with homebrew and other environments like perlbrew and rakudobrew it's convenient. On developer conferences I see 50% using Mac, 40% Linux and 10% Win. Windows is boring if you want to use open source. Mac can break third party software or drivers at updates. That's why I hesitate at the moment to upgrade to Catalina. 

    For type drawing software I'm not the right guy to give advice. I use FontForge (crashes often) for small tasks. FF is a big heap of bugs, as fontutils is. I prefer Font::TTF written in Perl by SIL, but restricted to TTF file format. It fits very well in my toolchain written in Perl and C. 
  • You want a serious general-purpose non-Mac font editing app, but you find FontLab 7 excessive and without enough tutorials, and FontForge too buggy?

    I can’t think of another serious option at that point, that is ready for prime time and suffers none of those limitations. Maybe in another year or three.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,379
    FontCreator is rock solid but only Windows. I think the only thing holding it back is the lack of interpolation. Eventually, every serious type designer is going to hit that dead end and will have to switch to something else. Unless there's a 3rd party tool that can take care of interpolation. But otherwise, it's fantastic.
  • For the FontCreator I think I would rather just have FontLab 5 in that case.
    I think I'll be using FontLab 7 as I was FontLab 5. I'll use the trial to get some things I have drawn. I think the biggest differences are metric related (which is confusing on 7) and with time I hope I get the new things. They have a good manual but it is so extensive. Too many things to learn about.
  • I haven't tried it much because I dont have much time to but just stating that FontLab (either 5 or 7) runs on Mac and Windows as you expect but also on Linux through wine without issues (for now).
  • For the FontCreator I think I would rather just have FontLab 5 in that case.
    Font Creator is actually quite nice.  The last two updates have added many features so if your experience is with older versions perhaps it is out of date.
  • So... There are some issues on linux. It keeps crashing quite some times so... not useful.
  • How about Type 3.2 from CR8 Software? Download the light version and give it a go. Paid for version (US $45) is much better version but the light one will give you an idea of the feel of the software.
  • Joel SantosJoel Santos Posts: 27
    edited February 2020
    @Richard Feasey seems interesting. Is your main software?

    I've been using FontLab 7 for a bit and seems it has a high learning curve but in the end it could be interesting. I don't get why you can't use "parameters" in general location fields like you can for example with Fusion360. Actually that is a very good piece of software that every developer (including myself) should take a look into. It would be awesome because then you would be able to easily change things around the font. Things like stem width, smart corners... I haven't got it to work yet even on the "computed" fields which don't make much sense for me to exist.

    EDIT: After checking a bit more that Type 3.2, it does seem the only advantage over lets say FontLab 5 is the price and in general I would rather just use FontLab 5, I think specially since I'm more used to it.
  • I use Fontlab since 2005. I always updated each new version, so by now I work with FL 7. I never regret the investment in term of money and time to learn Fontlab. My suggestion for you would be to continue with FL 5 and once you will be a *FL 5 pro user* you could switch to FL 7. Hope I understood your request, if not, forget what I wrote. Keep going.
  • Software familiarity is quite hard to overcome - for my day job I am migrating from Adobe Illustrator to Affinity Designer and it's like a breath of fresh air. I went with Type 3.2 (probably on price) and as it probably a good thing as my type creating aspirations have fizzled out due to a lack of time - had I have gone with more expensive software I would resent how things have turned out even more... I certainly didn't find Type 3.2 limiting - however, there are more in depth solutions out there.
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