Should I switch from Glyphs?

Hey, TypeDrawers.

I’ve been learning typeface design for the past 4 years with Glyphs, and since I’m teaching myself, with a small annual income, Glyphs has been fitting my needs well since the interface is intuitive, and I didn’t need to crack open the UFO files.

When I interned with Ben Kiel, I used his hardware with RoboFont and occasionally FontLab.
When looking at type design job postings, the requirements are usually RoboFont and FontLab (except Monotype, which uses Glyphs—seems unusual).

I’m applying to KABK soon; I don’t know their preference in using a font editor program, but I have a feeling they teach using RoboFont.

Should I start using RoboFont, possibly start phasing out Glyphs? I’ve been told that what program I use doesn’t make that big of a difference (especially since Glyphs has 3-axis masters now), but I don’t know how true that is in terms of working and learning with others.


  • attarattar Posts: 209
    I have used both in the past and do not see them as incompatible in terms of workflow. Glyphs does more out of the box. UFOs are compatible between the two programs (modulo little tricks e.g. things like the bracket trick in Glyphs) so you are not bound to one or another whatsoever, it's just about using different scripts and stuff but Robofont and Glyphs (plus their respective scripts, plug-ins etc.) seem to agree what eachother in terms of ergonomics, so as long as you find your way around setting up all the scripts you need in both programs, I'd say you can switch back and forth between the two programs in a drop-in way.
  • I'm attending KABK now and I gotta tell you if are working with glyphs just stick with it. t]m is more focused on Robofont since the program is created by one of the graduates and also you will have many python classes and some of them are only being taught in Robofont. I have classmates who are using Glyphs in their assignments and their work is incredible. Sometimes I think it's because they are more focused on design more than coding like me. I mostly work with arabic script and I need to take care of every bit of the project such as glyph names and so on and also I need more control on generating Open type features so I prefer Robofont. If you are not the kind of person who is a fan of coding just stick with the Glyphs and you'll survive ;).
  • This thread is super-helpful. I'd be curious to hear any other "professional" type designers thoughts on the subject.
  • Your choices will soon be widened when FontLab VI makes its appearance. You may wish to wait and see what they produce.
  • I work with Fontlab since almost 10 years. I'm totally satisfy of it. I only do some small amount of coding. I'm more focused on design rather than coding. I let this later tasks to my foundry. But It is certainly a good idea to learn Glyph, Robofont or other type design software.
  • I agree with Paul. It is not an either/or question. The great advantage of all the new tools is that you can very easily integrate them into one workflow, and for each task, you simply choose what works best for you. E.g., I know a lot of people who go back and forth between MetricsMachine and Glyphs.

    BTW, Glyphs will warn you if you are trying to do something in a UFO file that cannot be saved (non-destructively) in the UFO file format.
  • Besides Paul’s very good point about it being a very personal choice in a very interoperable environment, he’s also a professor of type design at the KABK. If you’re going to have anyone answer your KABK questions, his answers might just work.
  • Paul van der LaanPaul van der Laan Posts: 241
    edited January 2015
    To add to Bahman’s comment: earlier this week I talked to the t]m group about Python scripting in font editors. I showed how the RoboFab object model works, and that it allows you to write the same scripts, whether you are using FontLab, RoboFont, or Glyphs.

    That again makes it possible to switch between editors relatively easy. I have written many scripts for FontLab in the past, and for a large part of them I was able to quickly adopt them to RoboFont.
  • I'm more focused on design rather than coding.

    This would me one of the stronger arguments agains FLS ;)

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  • Glyphs works well with Retina screens, my FLS5 doesn't.
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • One almost would start wondering how we managed at DTL without Python scripting in the past 25 years. ;-)
  • FLS5 works fine with my Retina screen.
    Are you sure?
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  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,827
    There are issues with FontLab's bitmap UI elements being too small with 5K screens. I've not looked at Retina. Screenshots anyone?
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,601
    edited January 2015
    FLS5 is tolerable on my MacBook Pro Retina as long as I use the "more space" option in the Display settings to shrink the UI and I'm about 18" from the screen. I have my screen set that way most of the time anyway (when it's not hooked up to my 27" monitor). At the "best for display" setting, it looks very pixelated.
  • Georg SeifertGeorg Seifert Posts: 667
    edited January 2015
    FLS is running in standard resolution, that means each pixel draw by four screen pixels. That produces very jagged outlines. So it "works fine" if you are happy with it showing anything and does not crash.

    I use that "more space" option on my MacBook but in the iMac 5K this is not needed.
  • Jacques Le BaillyJacques Le Bailly Posts: 85
    edited January 2015
    How did you get it to work on Retina ? On my MacBook Pro 15" it looks very jagged.
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 989
    edited January 2015
    As Mark implies, not all Retina experiences are equal. You gotta state your display size and scaling settings. At the right end of the scale your pixel density will be higher than someone with the same display at its default setting.

  • Right—I have mine set to the scaling option furthest to the right.
  • Mark DavisMark Davis Posts: 25
    edited February 2015
    Thanks, everyone for the input…I didn’t know people were answering my question until Bahman saw me in person told me about the feedback on the thread! This all makes sense that there are advantages to both and they aren’t as different as they seem. And Paul van der Laan you’re so right that I should learn on RoboFont too.

    This is off topic, is there a place to find out how to interpolate 
    glyphs masters with Superpolator3? I might buy it since I could use it with RoboFont too.
  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 623
    edited February 2015
    S3 documentation is available online now.
  • This is off topic, is there a place to find out how to interpolate glyphs masters with Superpolator3?
    You mean drawing in Glyphs and interpolate in SuperPolator? Why would you like to do that? And the question is not rhetorical. I really like to know. First to possibly improve the existing workflow in Glyphs and secondly to improve the flow from Glyphs to SuperPolator.
  • Georg, I’m emailing you at info@glyphsapp
  • I agree with Rainer that it's not an either-or situation.

    For many years, people had virtually no choice of tools because there was just one leading tool on the market: first Fontographer, then FontLab Studio. We now live in a time where there is competition — which is great news, because people think that it’s worthwhile to start developing tools, and see an economic interest in it. So it’s an indicator that the font market has grown. 

    I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point again where there will be one undisputed leader. In fact, I think we’ll see even more tools on the market, some of them will be web-based (see ). 

    And I think it’s a very healthy process. Most likely, one tool will be better in some aspects, another tool will be better in other aspects. Interoperability is the key. UFO is a good step in this direction, and I think we’ll see more work done in making it easier for type designers to be independent of one single tool. 

    After all, there is no single “do them all” tool for web design and development, and I’m sure there won’t be. For photo editing or illustration, we also see more tool makers enter the market after some decades of undisputed domination by Adobe. 

    We have one tester of FontLab VI who is working with FontLab Studio 5 and FontLab VI, another who works with FontLab VI alongside RoboFont, and another who uses FontLab VI and Glyphs. 

    I know that some people, including those who have spoken in this thread, prefer this “switch to” model. Fortunately for them, virtually all type design applications currently on the market are to some (sometimes more, sometimes less) degree inspired by Fontographer and FontLab Studio, so switching is not that hard. There are creative areas such as music production or film editing where this is much less the case, i.e. there are numerous different paradigms at work. Compared to that, most “font editor” type design tools are really quite alike — I never was fundamentally confused when switching between Fontographer, FontLab Studio, RoboFont, FontForge, Glyphs or the upcoming FontLab VI. There are of course many differences, the more you go into details. But with font editors, you don’t really get the “well, oh, where do I start?” moment. 

  • attarattar Posts: 209
    We have one tester of FontLab VI who is working with FontLab Studio 5 and FontLab VI, another who works with FontLab VI alongside RoboFont, and another who uses FontLab VI and Glyphs. 

    Tbh if you don't have a Mac, Fontlab VI can't come soon enough.
  • One almost would start wondering how we managed at DTL without Python scripting in the past 25 years. ;-)

    And yet the latest Letter Model software you posted screenshots of is built with Python scripting on RoboFont ;p
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