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FontLab Studio, TypeTool & old TransType issues on macOS 10.13 High Sierra

Until further notice, we recommend FontLab Studio 5, TypeTool 3 and TransType Pro 3 users consider the issues below before they update to macOS 10.13 “High Sierra.” People using axis-based (Multiple Master) type design in FontLab Studio 5 should not upgrade at this time.

Fontographer 5, TransType 4 and FontLab VI have no issues particular to High Sierra that we know of.

We will update this notice with more details as they become available.

Install/Launch Problems

  • Older versions of FontLab Studio (5.1.4 and earlier) and TransType Pro 3 cannot be installed on High Sierra. If installed, they cannot launch on High Sierra.
    • If installed prior to High Sierra upgrade, you will see this error message:
      • “Error while writing license file /Library/Preferences/[name of license file]. Please make sure that you have rights to write to the folder and that such a file doesn’t already exist. Otherwise your license will be lost but your Activation key will be marked as used.”
    • In installed fresh after High Sierra upgrade (or if the license file is removed), you will see this error message:
      • “Error initializing license system. Bad or missing or expired RLM license (-130)…”
  • The solutions are to install Fontlab Studio 5.1.5 (a free update for 5.0/5.1.x), or upgrade from TransType 3 to TransType 4
    • For FontLab Studio, be aware also of issues below!

Operating Problems

  • FontLab Studio 5.1.5 and TypeTool 3.1.2 are affected
  • The problems occur only on macOS 10.13 “High Sierra”
  • In the Font Window, copy/pasting or appending glyphs does not work normally
    • The “paste” and “append glyph” options are grayed out (even after you “copy”), and the corresponding keyboard shortcuts also don’t work.
    • There is a good workaround, below.
  • Within a Glyph Window, copy/paste of contours is broken for multiple-master (MM) fonts—only one master gets copied and pasted.
    • Single-master fonts do fine with copy/paste within the Glyph Window.
    • There is currently no reasonable workaround for this problem!

Workarounds

We do not currently have any ETA on a true fix, nor any solution for MM font editing. However, this is a decent workaround for the first problem:

To copy one or more glyphs in the Font Window:

  1. select the cell(s)
  2. click and drag the cell(s) to their destination, but do not let go of the mouse button
  3. Now press the Command key, and keep it pressed while you let go of the button

This works within a Font Window, or between two Font Windows.

You can let go in any empty slot. If no empty slot is available, let go in an occupied slot. You will get a dialog asking if you want to replace the glyph(s). If you say “no,” then the glyph(s) will be appended to the font instead.

 

Last update: Fri 6 Oct 2017, 10:16 pm PST, v 3.04

FontLab VI on Mac OS 10.9

Although our recent FontLab VI Public Preview builds on Mac have supported OS X 10.9 “Mavericks,” the latest and future builds will only run on 10.10 “Yosemite” and higher.

Making this change allows us to use a newer version of our development framework and give you a higher-performance app. Our research suggests that about 4 to 5% of Mac users are on 10.9, and that all Apple hardware that is capable of running 10.9 can also run 10.10 and 10.11.

So for those on 10.9 and using FontLab VI Public Previews, it is time to upgrade!

Job: FontLab QA tester (p/t)

(Note: position was filled)

Do you love font editing apps?
Already trying FontLab VI?

Work from wherever you want, whenever you want. One weekly (virtual) meeting. Part-time, paid at an hourly rate.

Apply to: “thomas” at the obvious domain.

QA or Quality Assurance is software industry jargon for “testing software so it doesn’t suck.” This part-time position will help test, log and reproduce bugs with FontLab VI, currently in Public Preview. The app has been rebuilt from scratch, the interface is new, and there are many new features—hence many possibilities for bugs. This job is ideal for someone who has some experience with FontLab Studio 5 and is learning VI.

There is plenty to be done at FontLab, and an energetic candidate with varied skills and interests will be given other tasks if they want them! Given the right candidate, this position could be combined with one or both of our other part-time positions: doc writer and tech support.

Requirements:

  • Experience using FontLab VI, currently in Public Preview
  • Ability to work independently, “self-starter”
  • Communicate well in written English
  • Mac preferred, as we do screen shots on Mac
    • If Mac, 2560×1600 retina screen (or better) recommended.
    • If Windows, 1920 x 1080 (or better) screen recommended.

Primary duties:

  • Create plans for rigorous testing of feature areas
  • Test also new features and newly fixed bugs
  • Understand and reproduce bugs reported by users
  • File new bugs in bug tracking system (ZenHub), explaining how to reproduce
  • Verify whether supposedly fixed bugs are actually fixed

Possibilities for Growth

  • Help write and edit FontLab VI documentation
  • Create tutorial/educational videos for FontLab VI
  • Test and write bugs on TransType and other products
  • You tell us what else you can do!

Job: FontLab Tech Support Engineer (p/t)

(Note: position was filled)

Do you love helping people & teaching?

Work from wherever you want, whenever you want. One weekly (virtual) meeting. Part-time, paid at an hourly rate.

Apply to: “thomas” at the obvious domain.

This part-time position will handle incoming requests for help using FontLab apps, primarily for FontLab VI—possibly others depending on your background and interests. The VI interface is largely new, and there are many new features. Currently support is primarily by email. This job is ideal for someone who has some experience with FontLab Studio 5 and is learning VI.

There is plenty to be done at FontLab, and an energetic candidate with varied skills and interests will be welcome to do other things too! In fact, given the right candidate, this position could be combined with one or both of our other part-time positions: QA Tester and Documentation Writer.

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with a font editing/creation app, preferably some with FontLab VI
  • Ability to work independently, “self-starter”
  • Sympathy for end users
  • Communicate well in written English
  • Mac or Windows
    • If Mac, 2560×1600 retina screen (or better) recommended.
    • If Windows, 1920 x 1080 (or better) screen recommended.

Appreciated Bonus Attributes:

  • Experience using FontLab VI, currently in Public Preview
  • Interest in using FontLab VI as an end user
  • Have both Mac and Windows computers
    • or have space to install a Windows “virtual machine” on your Mac hard drive

Primary duties:

  • Respond to user inquiries via our support portal and user forums
  • Understand user problems with the application; reproduce problems and determine if bugs exist
  • If there is a user error or misunderstanding, help the user understand how to better use the software, by explaining things, quoting sections of the user guide, whatever is needed
  • Explain features, bugs, and workarounds to users
  • File new bugs in bug tracking system, explaining how to reproduce
  • Verify whether supposedly fixed bugs are actually fixed
  • Point out when existing documentation (or video) is unclear or incomplete

Possibilities for Growth

  • Help write and edit FontLab VI documentation
  • Create tutorial/educational videos for FontLab VI
  • Make product workflow & feature suggestions
  • Test and write bugs on TransType and other products
  • Depending on timing of hire, might help us migrate to new support system
  • You tell us what else you can do!

Encoding choices for symbolic fonts

Sometimes people make fonts that don’t have letters and such in them, but instead have some kind of symbols.

In many cases such symbols have legitimate encoding slots in the Unicode standard, which is used to dictate encoding for most fonts made today. But working with unusual characters from Unicode can be a bit of a pain. So sometimes people assign unusual symbols to the same slots as A, B, C, etcetera. This is technically wrong, but often convenient.

Here is a quick guide to the options and tradeoffs when creating a symbol or “pi” font. This advice is applicable across all font creation tools, not only ours.

Options:

  1. Use “proper” Unicode codepoints for all glyphs in your font. This means looking up correct Unicode codepoints for the symbols.
    • Disadvantage: People won’t be able to type the symbols directly, unless you create custom keyboard drivers for your font. Likely they will need to use a character picker built into their OS or app.
    • Advantages: If they switch fonts to another one that has the right symbols properly encoded, their content will remain correct. Unicode/text purists won’t complain.
  2. Use “normal” codepoints for your symbols, so that your symbols are assigned to a, b, c, 1, 2, 3, etc.
    • Disadvantage: If people switch fonts, the symbols will turn into alphabetic gibberish, and it may not even be apparent what was intended. Also, that alphabetic gibberish really is the underlying text, so this approach will confuse screen readers, search, and other things that rely on understanding the text. As a result, it is considered technically “wrong.”
    • Advantage: Can by typed off the keyboard!
  3. Use Private Use Area Unicode codepoints. These are codepoints reserved for special purposes, that have no pre-set meaning.
    • Disadvantages: Has all the disadvantages of using proper Unicode, plus most of the disadvantages of of assigning the symbols to alphabetic codepoints
    • Advantage: usually none, unless others have used these PUA codepoints in some consistent way.

How to Choose

Personally, if the font is going to be used to create public documents and text, I will tend towards option #1. If nobody is going to need to manually enter text using the font, or not often, I will tend towards option #1, If neither of those things is true, and the content will have more limited use or be in a closed system, I will tend towards option #2.
What if your symbols don’t even have proper Unicode codepoints? In that case, the first option is unavailable to you. You might consider whether there is a semi-standard solution being used for those symbols (for example, there is a block in the Private Use Area that has often been used for Klingon).
Thanks to the user who wrote me the question that prompted this blog post!

What’s up with VI @ FontLab?

Things are so busy inside our team that I sometimes forget that our buzzing beehive of activity is not externally obvious. But as none of the FontLab team made it to the TypeCon and ATypI conferences of recent weeks, I thought I ought to share: below are some things that might otherwise be mentioned in presentations, Q&A afterwards, hallway conversations and over lunch, dinner or drinks. The reason we skipped these conferences is simply that we are busy finishing FontLab VI!

Behind the Scenes

Our tireless developers Yuri, Dima, Sofia and Oleg have fixed over a thousand bugs during the Public Preview period, to date. We are down to only 46 bugs on our to-do list—plus 18 fixed bugs we need to verify in our next internal build. (Usually our internal builds come once or twice a week with fewer fixes than that. But Yuri has been working on a big feature…)

Besides bug fixes, we have just a couple of key feature areas left to be implemented. Right now, Adam is working with Yuri to bring full support for Variable Fonts into FontLab VI. (Adam was one of the few visionaries who saw and evangelized the potential for reviving GX Variations in OpenType several years ago, and I did my own Master’s thesis in this area. So we are both very excited about it.) Adam and Yuri have also been working on finalizing the export of OpenType fonts in all their varieties—CFF, TrueType, various color formats, and so on. You will see fruits of these efforts in coming builds.

Our newest team members Pooja and Igor are both themselves type designers. So they are ideal people to be testing FontLab VI. They have also been working to complete the FontLab VI User Guide, alongside me, Adam, and our veterans Jim and Alex. Igor and Pooja will also become a core part of our support team when VI ships.

Sales and orders point-woman Lisa has been giving me feedback on my ideas to smooth out our ordering process before FontLab VI ships.

For my part, I have been coordinating our team efforts, working on a new support system and store changes, contributing to the User Guide, juggling all the usual administrative things, and generally preparing for the release of FontLab VI.

Thank You

We’re delighted that our FontLab VI Public Preview (for both macOS and Windows) already has several thousand regular users. That’s how many people download an updated build every couple of weeks when we publish a new one. Many of you have also reported problems and suggestions on our forum, and shared your experiences using FontLab VI. Thank you all! Your feedback is important, and we’re processing it constantly. Please keep the suggestions and bug reports coming!

We can’t wait to deliver the best FontLab app ever!

Welcome Pooja Saxena & Igor Freiberger to FontLab

I am pleased to welcome Pooja Saxena and Igor Freiberger to the FontLab team!

Some weeks ago we advertised for several kinds of work we needed part-time contractors to help with here at FontLab: testing/QA, documentation and tech support.

We had a small swarm of applicants. There were many plausible candidates, but Igor and Pooja stood out as being both versatile and well qualified. Both will be doing a wide range of tasks here, so you may encounter them in a range of roles. This week we are having Igor focus on reproducing and logging FontLab VI bugs reported by users in our forum, and Pooja working with some of the rest of us on documentation. (The FontLab Studio 5 manual was over 900 pages, and the app is all new, so there is plenty to write about.)

Igor Freiberger is a designer and type designer who has been using FontLab VI since before we even started the public preview, and has been an eager reporter of bugs and issues from very early on. He is a former IT manager and teacher, graphic designer and web designer, and was the first Adobe Certified Expert in Brazil. He is based in Porto Alegre, in the far south of Brazil.

Pooja Saxena is a 2012 graduate of the Reading MA Typeface Design program. Since then, she has been a consultant for large tech companies, including Google, and done type design for Latin and multiple Indic writing systems. Pooja is a regular contributor to the Alphabettes web site. Her work has been featured in several magazines, and covered by the Times of India. She is based in Noida, India (near New Delhi).

Job: FontLab Doc Writer (p/t)

(Note: position was filled)

Are you a type tech geek & writer? Get paid to become a FontLab VI guru!

Location: wherever you want to work from, remotely!

Hours: part time, whenever you want. Show up for a weekly virtual meeting.

Apply to: “thomas” at the obvious domain.

The Docs Writer will take a major role, with other staff, in documenting FontLab VI. The interface is largely new, and there are many new features.

There is plenty to be done at FontLab, and an energetic candidate with varied skills and interests will be welcome to do other things too! In fact, given the right candidate, this position could be combined with one or both of our other part-time positions: QA tester and tech support.

Requirements:

  • Good written English skills
  • Some familiarity with a font editing app, such as FontLab Studio 5, Glyphs, RoboFont or FontForge
  • Writing experience (bonus: software documentation or other instructional materials)
  • Works well independently, “self starter” (a cliché, we know!), copes well with ambiguity, can help define problems as well as attacking them afterwards
  • Mac or Windows computer (Mac preferred)
    • If Mac, 2560 x 1600 retina screen (or better) recommended.
    • If Windows, 1920 x 1080 (or better) screen recommended.

Primary duties:

  • Write, edit and expand FontLab VI documentation (considerable portions already written)
  • Help change the draft docs to be process-oriented
  • Illustrate docs with screen shots as appropriate

Optional Duties / Opportunities for Development

  • Create tutorial/educational videos for FontLab VI
  • Make product workflow & feature suggestions

Appreciated Bonus Attributes:

  • Experience using FontLab VI, currently in Public Preview
  • Interest in using FontLab VI outside of paid work
  • Experience with other font editing apps
  • Familiarity with Markdown (a lightweight formatting language used in both our bug tracker and our docs authoring system)

Deprecated vs. discontinued

Sometimes a particular app or utility we offer gets old, and we have no intention of updating it, generally because of lack of customer interest. Discontinued programs we do not promote at all, have no web page for, and do not appear in our regular store. Deprecated ones we have no current intention of updating, label the web page as such, but do still have a page for and store presence (ScanFont, BitFonter).

Mostly, we discontinue: just remove those product pages and discontinue the product entirely. I have done this with a number of things we have offered, such as FOGlamp (it converted Fontographer native files directly to FontLab Studio—newer versions of FontLab Studio just open those old FOG files). In such cases, if you desperately need it for some reason, contact our sales department and they may be able to hook you up.

But sometimes a product has a peculiar combination of attributes:

  1. It wasn’t selling enough units that it makes sense for us to update it or make a new version.
  2. Some people who want it or need it have no reasonable other alternative. Maybe any competing products don’t have the same features, or are not offered on the same operating systems. Or they just do not exist!

So, we keep web pages live for these programs and sell them, because we know a few people really need them. We also label them as deprecated. What does that mean?

  • We have no current plans to create a new version of this product. (Some or all functionality from this product might be folded into something else.)
  • Support for this app has some limitations. We still try to support it, but if there is a problem that is a known bug… well, there may never be a fix. Our expertise/ability to support it will likely be in a gradual decline.

Mac-specific issues for deprecated apps:

  • In some cases (BitFonter, ScanFont), the Mac version of this product no longer runs on any recent MacOS, and our solution for Mac users is to bundle the Windows app in a WINE wrapper. This makes a larger app that is running the Windows version under emulation, on a Mac.
  • Generally, the Mac version of the app has not been updated to be “retina savvy.” This means that on any recent Mac hardware with a double-res “retina” monitor, the app will still work, but some elements of the app will run at half that resolution and seem blurry. This can be worked around to some degree by running your Mac in a higher but non-retina screen resolution, but that is a compromise between blur and things getting smaller. If you run at full resolution but non-retina, everything will be very crisp but half-size. A utility such as QuickRes or DisplayMenu can help give you more choices for non-standard Mac resolutions. (Note: Even some of our non-deprecated apps are not retina-savvy. I will have a separate post about this soon.)

FontLab VI ship update

For the latter part of last year, and all this year, we have been expecting and saying that FontLab VI would ship, well, “this year” (2016). But we are not going to make that, as became clear to us earlier this month. Instead, we currently expect to ship in February.

FontLab VI in action

FontLab VI in action (click for full size)

We could have hurried up with the last couple of things and “just shipped it.” But anybody who has used software a long time knows what that will do—FontLab VI just needs more “bake time.” That is, time for us all continue to give it a real workout, doing extensive and ongoing type design tasks, so we can find and fix a bunch more bugs and usability issues before we ship it.

We continue to make prerelease builds available, and even more frequently! Another one just came out on December 15th. If you already have a Public Preview build on Mac or Windows, just launch it and it will prompt you to download and install the newest built. If not, you can register and get emailed a download link from our Preview page. When you find problems in the Public Preview, please report them in our user forum! We appreciate your help and feedback in making this a better app.

FontLab VI, like previous versions, is a very flexible tool that can be used in many ways. That means it has many possible workflows. This is great, but means the app will really benefit from feedback from real-world users trying real-world tasks. Not just us doing things the way we would do them.

We really want to make FontLab VI a great tool for type designers and font friends everywhere. Thanks for your support.

@fontlab

Business correspondence

Fontlab Ltd. 403 South Lincoln Street, Suite 4-51
Port Angeles, WA 98362
USA

Corporate address

Fontlab Ltd., Inc. Suite 406-407, Tower B
Torres de las Americas, Panama City Republic of Panama

Sales

Fontlab Ltd. Box 15959065
Sioux Falls, SD 57186
USA
+1-301-560-3208