Font editor of choice??

Hey TypeNerds!

I'm about to do a study (BA project) on the identities of font editor software! And i need your help!

I'm would like to hear which software for fontdesign is your number one choice? Fontlab, Glyphs, other? (and maybe why?)
Does the company behind the software, and its appearence on the market matter to you?

Greetings from Denmark, and thank you so much for you time!

Comments

  • Just get the test version from all app you can find an see for yourself what fits you.

    There where discussions about that topics in this site...
  • Check it out on this side: http://typedrawers.com/discussion/comment/11476/#Comment_11476 you will find some answers.
  • Thanks, im familiar to most font design tools. What i'm really interested in is YOUR choice of software, and why? i've noticed that many type designers switch between different tools, and i'm interested in thoughts of why - or on the other hand, why are you most loyal to one specific software! - is it usability, features, community, other?
  • There are way too many variables, aka people, to do a meaningful study. Any conclusions one could come to will change within the short term anyway as new variables enter the mix.

    Also, all you gave us is a name and some questions. What university are you at? The way you structured your initial questions sounds more like a market survey, something a marketing firm would do.
  • I'm just gonna say Glyphs Mini. (Full) Glyphs isn't on my buy list; it's out of my budget, It's functional, doesn't require too many tutorials, and is very cheap*.
    *Compared to most font editors.
    But as George said above, there are many variables. There might be a bias, even.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,346
    sometimes you can only buy a hammer until you know what you need in a toolkit.
  • To George:
    I'm about to do my BA in graphic design from the danish school of media and journalism. 
    I'm pretty well wandered in the font making process (and business), and i usually does all the digitizing, kerning etc in glyphs or fontlab - because its the program i've been taught, i personally consider switching to Glyphs due to all the praise it gets and a much more slick overall design.

    But for this project im mainly concerned about your opinion on choosing software, and why. Call it market analysis, or qualitative research. 
    Its just to get an idea on what people choose when they go buy font editing software, the main concerns and so on.

    Hopefully all this gathered information will make me more capable of designing a new and much better looking font editing software, for my final school project (my Bachelor exam)
  • Thanks Philip and Chris!
  • I'm not a professional type designer, just a simple Joyscribe. My only credo is; can you read my letters? For the last ten years I've used TypeTool. It's very cheap and easy to use. Soon I might venture into Glyphs and give that a go.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,103
    edited April 2015
    I'm would like to hear which software for fontdesign is your number one choice? Fontlab, Glyphs, other? (and maybe why?)

    My Number 1 choice is FontForge.

    As for why, this isn't a popular view here, and has been hashed to death, so I'll say only this: It is libre software, and that makes it far better for me, despite its shortcomings today, because I believe my freedom is important and trumps today's features. If you want to know more, we should discuss it elsewhere.

  • I tried Glyphs a couple of years ago when it came. At first it was hard getting used to the super-simple interface. Compared to FontLab it felt like a toy. But it wasn’t, it just made drawing typefaces more fun.

    Today it’s my main editor for all font development except TT-hinting for which I still use FontLab. Hoping to abandon FontLab when I can confirm the TT-hinting tool in Glyphs 2.0 actually works and maybe even gets a little more developed. Hopefully with a Windows rasterizer or emulator built in.


  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,103
    > and has been hailed to heaven

    I don't know Frank, I hear of people using OTMaster, but I don't think I've met more than a couple of people who use FontMaster and GlyphMaster. How many licensees to these editors are there? :) 
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,752
    Glyphs lets you add the TTF hinting very early in the design on the interpolation masters and before removing overlaps! This is huge, because it means means the hinting becomes part of the design process, and the burden of manual hinting (when it is necessary) becomes much more manageable. 

    That one has been rocking my world in the last few weeks. It’s now convenient to start hinting a font at the prototype stage and fix things like overshoot distances that won’t render consistently on Windows.

  • attarattar Posts: 209
    I'm curious though: why would you start hinting early in the design process?

    I agree it's good to have a single source file for when you make a new revision of a font (for collaborative project, I think that it simplifies a few things).
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,318
    edited April 2015
    I'm curious though: why would you start hinting early in the design process?

    So that you don't have to redo it (or have it redone) every time you do a new font revision. If fonts never need to be updated or revised, it wouldn't matter so much, but that's almost never the case.

    Consider this: It's typical to use a single source file drawn in Bézier (PostScript) curves for a font that will eventually be output in both OTF and TTF formats. OTF fonts can't have composites; TTF fonts use composites to keep file size down. Most (maybe all) other tools for manual hinting require TTF curves or a TTF source font, so by necessity you have to keep a separate TTF source, both for the hinting and to retain the composites.

    The other thing is that, if you can hint the interpolation masters, it reduces the amount of work since you may not need to touch the hinting on the instances. If you've got an eight weight family, produced from three master weights (not uncommon), that's a big time savings.

    Take a look at Petr van Blokland's talk from Robothon2012: 

    The tool he talks about hasn't been released yet (as far as I know) but some of its basic concepts (e.g., hinting as part of the design stage) are present in Glyphs 2.0. (I particularly like the part that starts at 24:00.) (Also, RoboHint, as he describes it, would/will be much more powerful than what Glyphs does now. I'm just talking about some of the core ideas he mentions concerning the design process and when things happen.)
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,752
    I'm curious though: why would you start hinting early in the design process?

    To find out what in a design isn’t going to render well on Windows. For example, if your overshoots extend too far the top of O will pop up an extra pixel at some sizes while the bottom renders correctly. And if you don’t overshoot enough the overshoots will be suppressed at sizes where they would look better if they extended up a pixel. Fixing that stuff in a prototype font is faster than doing it in a font with hundreds of glyphs.

  • But why would one want to design a font that isn't going to render well on windows?

    and also, when did "OTF fonts can't have composites;" become possible?
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,318
    I meant CFF. Is that wrong?
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,752
    But why would one want to design a font that isn't going to render well on windows?

    My point was that if you test basic font features early on Windows rendering errors can be fixed before they’re repeated in numerous other glyphs 

  • Yes, I see. if one designs the font to have limited variation in vertical features, the autohinting will work better. I'm not sure you need to test this after a while, if one makes their vertical metrics, vertical stem locations, and stem weights, simple. 
  • As I am Dutch, I would love to use a simple Dutch made type design software for the Mac. I am unashamedly bias in that respect. Oranje boven! (Up Orange!)
  • Mark: ‘I really hate having multiple sets of source files.

    Recently the .qq format was reintroduced in GlyphMaster, because I actually want to edit and store quadratic splines separately. Otherwise we'll have to check the conversion from cubic splines every time. In FM one can select a .ttf in the background, but I’m glad that GlyphMaster shows the conversion on the fly. I don’t like it when the Bézier curves are tweaked to get a better conversion, so we tweak the quadratic ones after conversion. The supporting meta data and metrics files basically remain the same for both databases.

    James: ‘That one has been rocking my world in the last few weeks. It’s now convenient to start hinting a font at the prototype stage and fix things like overshoot distances that won’t render consistently on Windows.

    I could be terribly wrong, but I’ve always considered (delta) hinting as short-term technology. I don’t think that I ever would adapt a design to rendering deviations in Windows; I prefer to adapt the hinting instead. IMHO hinting is fading technology anyway when screen resolutions increase fast (I heard rumors about upcoming 8k Mac screens). From a financial point of view that is perhaps a pity, because we earned good money with manual hinting, but I’m happy with this development because manual hinting is utterly boring IMHO.

    Dave: ‘I don't know Frank, I hear of people using OTMaster, but I don't think I've met more than a couple of people who use FontMaster and GlyphMaster. How many licensees to these editors are there?

    The Windows and Mac versions of DTL OTMaster are doing quite well, and GlyphMaster is actually not available for the enduser market (yet). You’re right if you state that one will not find many FM users in the type-design community, as represented on this forum. Luckily there are many companies that use the IKARUS format still, especially in the Far East.
            Also it looks like manual digitizing using a lens cursor is becoming more popular (again). Quite recently we even sold two complete FM packages with tablets to a very large software/hardware developer. For educational purposes manual digitizing is interesting too, if only to provide practical insight in the technology that was at the cradle of digital type. Therefore, we have a number of second-hand A3-sized Wacom Intuos 2 tablets with brand-new lens cursors in stock (which we sell almost without profit).

  • As an actual answer to Bjørn: I chose RoboFont in part because I like the developer, in part because I like the thinking behind it, and in part because for me the spirit of type design is largely about being very close to the ‘metal’. RoboFont feels like a thinner layer on top of the PostScript than any other, perhaps because of the way Python is integrated (in fact, it’s the other way around, but let’s not get too nerdy).

    So yeah, I like the company and I like the vision behind the software. Thankfully, a lot of other people do, too, and they create amazing additional software on top of the same ecosystem. The modular design also feels, to me, like the best approach to the complexities of type design and production.
  • BjørnHansenBjørnHansen Posts: 10
    edited April 2015
    WOOOOOW!!! - Thanks guys! i'm happy my request and interest gave this useful debate! hinting is not my strong side yet, so this has been valuable info! Bless you!

    Back to my school project: is there any of you FontLab Studio users there are willing to be interviewed, over mail maybe?
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