FontLab and Glyphs — Round-trip font development (July 2021)

What a team of type designers should know about FontLab and Glyphs relationship if both apps are used in the type production process?

Looking at the latest FL release notes seems that export-import of .glyphs files works just fine with a few limitations:

- FontLab 7.2 does not read or export custom parameters for instances (there is a suggested workaround to define instances again)

- When you export variable components to .glyphs, FontLab replaces them with components that point to the current layer. This is a known limitation. (because FL has the option for variable components to point to "other than the current" layer)

Is there anything else to consider and adjust the workflow accordingly. How about metrics, kerning, hinting, alignment zones, masters, interpolation, open type features, classes...does everything works smoothly?



  • Igor PetrovicIgor Petrovic Posts: 261
    edited July 2021
    @John Hudson Many thanks John, this is very helpful!

    I forgot to ask, I guess that exchanging .glyphs files is a better option than .ufo?
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    Since some of our collaborators are using Glyphs, and FL7 can read and write Glyphs files*, I prefer to use this workflow just to avoid the extra step of converting from Glyphs or FL7 to UFO. We use UFO for some other things, notably as part of our build process.

    * We’ve only done this with Glyphs 2.x files; none of our collaborators are on Glyphs 3.x yet, I think.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    Thanks @John Hudson  ! I have been doing the dance from the other direction, FL7 to Glyphs 3, for several months now and I appreciate your description! I think the type World works best when you can interoperate between tools and find what works best for you!  Bless you, John!
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,704
    I would strongly second avoiding using additional conversion steps if they are unnecessary.

    I know of a couple of issues in my current FontLab>UFO>Fontmake workflow that are specific to the UFO export from FontLab.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    I know of a couple of issues in my current FontLab>UFO>Fontmake workflow that are specific to the UFO export from FontLab.
    Details please.

  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,704
    If I use notes on glyph cells in FontLab 7.2, and export UFO variable font from FontLab, Fontmake fails to compile the UFOs. (Just filed this one with FontLab, #6106)

    If we use colors other than FL-standard ones to to flag glyph cells in the FontLab font window, those glyphs get left out from processing by UFOprocessor. We just discovered this one in the last couple of days.

    For both of these, it is not completely clear where the bug lies, whether with FontLab or the UFO-consumer. FL seems more likely, but I make no assumptions.
  • Adam TwardochAdam Twardoch Posts: 507
    edited July 2021
    @Thomas Phinney — as a rule, presence of glyph notes does not interfere with DesignSpace+UFO export and subsequent fontmake use (I just verified this). I think there is something specific to your project, please kindly submit an attachment to us. 
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,704
    It is entirely plausible that there are multiple factors involved, and the issue is peculiar to our project for some reason. It’s a 4-axis font with ~ 2000 glyphs* and a complex build workflow, so… I am not assuming finding the answer will be simple or easy. That’s actually why we were slow to report this one—neither Vassil nor I wanted to have to really dig into it.  :P
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,704
    Apologies for thread drift. We’ll do this off-forum (though may report back later).
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