The FontLab Blog

For better fonts

Say hello to FontLab 7.2!

We have just released FontLab 7.2, a significant update for macOS & Windows, and the best font editor we’ve ever made!

FontLab 7.2 boasts 120 new or improved features: • New Rotate, Scale and Slant tools • Adaptive freeform grid with Suggest distance • Per-font rounded or fractional coordinates • Flexible dynamic instance and 30× faster interpolation • Powerful attached and variable components • Visual proofing and better editing of features • Microsoft VOLT integration • Font window filtering by color flag and glyph name suffix • Better UFO 3 and .glyphs 2 and 3 interchange • 80 fixes.

FontLab 7.2 is free for existing FontLab 7 users, and $99 for FontLab VI users. If you already have FontLab 7, use Preferences › General › Check now to update.

If you don’t have FontLab 7 yet, get a fully-functional 30-day trial from our website — but remember, the sale ends on Sunday, 6 December 2020!

Below are selected highlights from FontLab 7.2. Click the button above to read the full story!

In FontLab 7.2, interpolation works 30× faster than in previous versions, so you can preview variation animation in Preview panel and Glyph window. In Preview panel, you can also preview interpolation steps between any two instances.

If Preferences › Variations › Show instance layer is on, the Layers & Masters panel shows an instance layer in all variable glyphs. The instance layer corresponds to the dynamic instance selected in the Variations panel.

In the Font window, when you make the instance layer current, and you then choose a dynamic instance in the Variations panel, you will see that instance in all glyph cells.

In the Glyph window: When you make the instance layer current and use the Variations panel to choose a dynamic instance, then you can see the detailed view of that instance in the Glyph window. You can even use the Play buttons to animate the variations along the axes, and watch the Glyph or Font window update.

In FontLab, a component typically points to a different glyph in the same layer, but it can also point to a glyph in a different layer, or to a dynamically interpolated instance.

When you open the Elements panel, turn on Show/hide element properties at the top, and click Expand properties (^), the panel shows the Base layer name field. In this field, you can enter a different layer name, or you can click the Select component instance to open a widget with variation sliders.

To assemble glyphs from existing glyphs, you can use components. If a component is attached, it automatically snaps to the location determined by the corresponding anchors. You cannot manually move an attached component but you can scale, rotate, slant or interpolate it. To move an attached component, move the anchors that determine its position.

With attached components, you can use the benefits of anchor-based placement of components, while you’re flexible in editing the metrics, and you can mix contours with components. To attach a component, select it in the Glyph window and turn on Element › Attached, or toggle the “paper clip” icon in the Glyph window property bar, or click in the Attached component column in the Elements panel.

When you turn on View › Suggest › Distance, and you drag a node, handle, selection or anchor, FontLab now draws a temporary suggested outline at the distance defined in Font Info › Other Values › Contour properties › Suggest distance. This is like having a freeform grid that adapts to your current drawing.

You can define separate horizontal (x) and vertical (y) distances, separately for each master. Use Suggest Distance to position anchors at a specified distance from existing contours, or to transform the existing drawing.

In FontLab 7.2, we have revamped the quick transform tools: Rotate, Scale and Slant. They work better, and you can access them from the toolbar.

In FontLab 7, you can use the Font window search box (at the top right) to find glyphs by glyph name, Unicode character name, script, Unicode codepoints, Unicode range, codepage or installed encoding. The search results create an ad-hoc filter.

Drag a remembered search to the Bookmarks section to use the filter in future. This is a very fast alternative to creating encoding filters. The bookmarked searches are stored in your preferences. To remove a bookmarked search, click it and click the – button at the bottom. In FontLab 7.2, you can double-click a bookmarked search and give it a custom name.

The Glyph window in FontLab 7 is a text editor in which you can edit the glyphs. By default, it’s single-line. You can make manual wraps with Enter, or switch to Auto wrap. When you Apply the text wrap in Glyph window, you can switch masters and instances without reflow of longer texts.

Introducing FontLab 7: The pro font editor, evolved.

FontLab 7 is a major upgrade to FontLab VI. FontLab VI was long in the making. We shipped the first public preview version in 2015, premiered the app in 2017, and we tirelessly kept making it better. You’ve seen some of these improvements in the free updates that we have published since the premiere. But we’ve also been working on a more comprehensive upgrade. So after a super-busy summer and autumn, we’re proud to present FontLab 7, the follow-up to FontLab VI!

Until December 22, 2019, you can buy FontLab 7 or upgrade from FontLab Studio 5, Fontographer or TypeTool 3 at a 25% discount. If you have FontLab VI, you can upgrade to 7 for just $99, and if you bought FontLab VI on August 1 or later, or if you have a full educational license for FontLab VI — the upgrade is free! See below for details.

Auto OpenType features • Equalize uneven stems • Edit all masters • Precision dragging • View centerline & thickness • Batch glyph renaming • Conditional glyphs • Both-sided kerning classes • Fix kerning clashes • VF intermediate masters • Parametric GPOSPDFJSONCFF2STAT • Quick Help • 250+ features & fixes

We’ve learned a lot from you in the last four years. So FontLab 7 focuses on stability, productivity and technical excellence. We’ve incorporated countless user requests, and we’ve implemented some of our ideas that didn’t make it into the previous release. FontLab 7 brings more than 250 new features, fixes and improvements!

With FontLab 7, you can edit curves precisely without zooming, improve consistency of the weight (thickness measurement, equalize uneven stems), quickly create kerning classes (now also both-sided) and fix clashing kerning combinations. FontLab 7 fully supports variable fonts. You can open and export both CFF2- and TrueType VFs, with intermediate glyph masters and conditional glyph substitution, avar axis mapping and STAT axis instances. You can view multiple masters at the same time (as overlaid wireframes, and as cousins on the sides), and edit them (Edit across Layers, Match when Editing).

FontLab 7 now understands glyph naming from other font editors, and can automatically generate OpenType features based on different glyph naming schemes (it’s easy to batch-rename glyphs, too!). When you run FontLab 7, hold F1 over a user interface element, and let the new Quick Help tell you more about it. Built on a solid 64-bit foundation, FontLab 7 runs smoothly on macOS Catalina, on Windows 10, on older systems, and even on Linux with Wine!

Download 30-day trial

We’d love to know what you think about the new FontLab 7. So go ahead and download the 30-day trial version, which you can run side-by-side with your existing FontLab VI.

Buy FontLab 7

Upgrade from FontLab VI

$99 or free!

Download, install and run the FontLab 7 30-day trial version. The app is fully functional, so start working in the trial mode right away. You can install and use FontLab 7 parallel to FontLab VI, but when you save VFC/VFJ in FontLab 7, you won’t be able to open them correctly in FontLab VI.

Upgrade to FontLab 7 for free

If you bought FontLab VI on August 1, 2019 or later, or if you bought an full educational FontLab VI license in the last two years, you qualify for a free upgrade to FontLab 7!

If you bought FontLab VI on store​.fontlab​.com (after August 1 or educational), we will send you your free FontLab 7 serial number per e‑mail. Please wait a few days, but you can already download and run the 30-day trial. If your serial number does not arrive within a week, check your spam folder.

If you haven’t received your serial number per e‑mail in a few days, or if you bought FontLab VI through a distributor after August 1, visit our store and “buy” the “FontLab 7 for Mac & Win (FREE upgrade if you bought FontLab VI after Aug 1, 2019)” product (it’s free, you don’t need to pay). Enter your FontLab VI serial number (FL60…) in the Add Comments section of Step 5 of Checkout. We will verify your order and will send you the serial number in a day or two.

If you bought a FontLab VI school lab license, please contact orders@​fontlab.​com and we’ll issue you free upgrades for your lab.

Upgrade to FontLab 7 for just $99

If you bought a FontLab VI full license or a paid upgrade before August 1, 2019, or if you received your FontLab VI license through the free upgrade program from FontLab Studio 5 — upgrade to FontLab 7 for just US$99, the cost of a small font family.

Upgrade to FontLab 7 from FontLab Studio 5, from Fontographer and from TypeTool 3

25% off until December 22!

  • Upgrade from FontLab Studio 5 for just $149 (later $199)
  • Upgrade from Fontographer for just $172 (later $229)
  • Upgrade from TypeTool 3 for just $299 (later $415)

Buy FontLab 7

Just $345 until December 22!

If you’re a first-time user of our font editors, hurry — buy FontLab 7 at the special introductory price of $345 until December 22, 2019! After that, you can buy it for $459.

Student? Teacher?

If you’re a student or a teacher, buy the full educational version of FontLab 7 for just $229. You can use the app for any purpose (including creation of commercial fonts), even after you leave the school.

If you’re a student or teacher and you already own a 1‑year educational FontLab VI license, or you’re new to FontLab — you can buy a new 1‑year educational license for FontLab 7 for just $89.

If you represent an educational institution (a high school, college or university), or you’re a group of students, buy 8 or more licenses at just $184 per license!

Hear the early adopters of FontLab 7!

Fábio Duarte Martins (Scannerlicker), designer of Optician Sans and Electrica, says of FontLab 7: “This baby is a rock-solid font development software, from design to engineering. Drawing is a joy: FontLab has the best drawing tools I’ve ever seen, and they just got better!”

Eduardo Tunni, designer of the Graduate variable superfont, says: “Great stuff! FontLab 7 is very stable. Congrats to the FontLab team.”

Dave Lawrence (California Type Foundry), designer of CAL Bodoni and CAL Zed, says “If you want to make more fonts faster and better and if you want to stay ahead of the competition, go with FontLab 7. My favorite parts of FontLab are auto layers, glyph masters and FontAudit. Using these features, I was able to create an average of 167 ornamental glyphs (in two weights) per day. By automating much of the grunt work, I think I’m doing some of the best work of my life.”

Vassil Kateliev, (Karandash / The FontMaker), co-designer of the Bolyar font family and developer of TypeRig, sums FontLab 7 up: “I’ll put it simply: FontLab 7 is superb! What’s not to love? The best vector engine for drawing and manipulation I have seen in ages. Rock-steady interpolation engine that is also compliant with variable OpenType fonts.”

Start with an excellent multi-paradigm approach to type design – old-school outlines, element references, components, auto-generated glyphs, or all of them combined. Sprinkle on top a handful of nifty tricks to speed up your work like auto layers or auto OpenType feature generation. Combine that with a super powerful Python based API (that I actually use a lot). Let’s not forget multi-platform: a fact that I consider very important. The new FontLab is an endless ocean of opportunities — you get an app for every taste and workflow,” he continues.

Kateliev concludes: “FontLab 7 finally feels really mature. Don’t take my word for it — obviously I am a devotee. Just give it a try, and see for yourself!”

FontLab Studio 5, Fontographer 5 and TypeTool 3 on macOS 10.15 Catalina

[Edit: Updated on Match 20, 2020 with info about FontLab 7 and with videos and info about CrossOver 19]
Apple released macOS 10.15 Catalina on October 7, 2019. This version of macOS only runs apps that are 64-bit, and removes the ability to run 32-bit Mac apps. This means that you cannot natively run our classic font apps on macOS Catalina: FontLab Studio 5, Fontographer 5, TypeTool 3 and BitFonter 3. In this blog post, we’re discussing options that you have if you’d like to use Catalina.

FontLab Studio 5, Fontographer 5, TypeTool 3 on macOS Catalina — important news

FontLab Valar Ilis! A Song of Conscripts and Conlangs

Some of our users of FontLab VI who live in Westeros have been asking what the “VI” actually stands for. Since the TV tale of Westeros (that is, Game of Thrones) has just ended, we’re here to provide a spoiler-free answer: “VI” is an abbreviation that in High Valyrian means “Valar Ipradtis” (all men must eat). Or was it “Valar Ilis” (all men must have a registered place of residence*)? One of those, it was.

Peterson at a convention. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Part of what lures viewers into author George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world is the sense of rich history and detailed background in the book series A Song of Ice and Fire that the TV show is based on. Much of this can be credited to Martin, but one thing he didn’t do, beyond a few words and phrases, was create the languages. That is instead the work of a remarkable linguist named David J. Peterson, who has invented dozens of languages, including at least 20 for films and television shows.

For Game of Thrones, Peterson first won a contest to create Dothraki, the language of the barbarian/nomad horse people of the plains, a tribe that key player Danaerys Targaryen marries into and becomes the leader of, after the death of her husband. Peterson followed that up with a rendition of High Valyrian, a dead/scholarly language occupying a role similar to that of Latin in Renaissance Europe; not spoken natively by anyone, but the language of scholars everywhere, particularly written.

These are just two of the couple of dozen languages Peterson has made for various media properties, primarily films and television. He has done so many that it is easy to lose count, but one simple metric is: how many separate shows has he created an Elvish language for? Three to date, and one suspects there will be more. He has at least six films and nine TV shows to his credit so far, including two Marvel movies (Doctor Strange and Thor: The Dark World), The 100, Bright, and more in the works, including the upcoming Denis Villeneuve version of Dune.

Peterson’s Sheli script

Peterson didn’t create writing systems (also called scripts) for the Dothraki and High Valyrian languages for Game of Thrones, since both the books and the TV show spelled the phrases using the Latin alphabet. However, he has invented the scripts for many of his languages, especially the many he has designed for his own entertainment, on his own schedule. He also designed fonts that represent his invented scripts. While the visual representation is not his first focus, he still needs a flexible and powerful tool to make fonts for these fictional languages — and his tool of choice for years has been FontLab. First FontLab Studio 5, and now FontLab VI.

Peterson’s Epiq script

The invented or constructed languages even have a shorthand name: conlangs. There is a whole conlang community around them! While some people are fans of just one particular conlang because of the media associated with it (such as Star Trek fans who get into Klingon, or Tolkien fans who get into his Elvish Sindarin and his Dwarvish Khuzdul), others get into the entire idea of inventing languages and scripts. Constructed scripts are called conscripts. Some are used to write just one conlang (usually of the same name), some are used for multiple conlangs (just like the Latin script is used to write English, German, Polish or Yoruba). Some people even invent conscripts to write existing human languages.

From a font creation perspective, conlang fonts offer a number of challenges, beyond just figuring out what the characters should look like. At least some written languages have characters that combine or alter depending on context, or group in some interesting ways. In our world, the Indic writing systems (such as Devanagari, used to write the Hindi language) are a good example of this. Coding this involves using OpenType layout features — found in the Features panel in FontLab VI.

Peterson’s Sidaan script

Another wrinkle is that these newly-invented characters have no standard slots in Unicode, so the designer is faced with the less-than-exciting choices of either using existing assigned slots “incorrectly,” or making use of Unicode’s Private Use Area (PUA) codepoints which have no standard meaning, and are not easily typed with standard keyboard layouts.

Peterson’s Tan Tils script

If the idea of making your own languages appeals, you are not alone, and making the fonts for them can be great fun. The ConScript Unicode Registry project coordinates the assignment of PUA codepoints for constructed writing systems, including scripts for conlangs, while the ConLang Code Registry provides ISO-639 – 3‑compatible language codes — so if you’d like to take a shot at making a Ferengi, Ssûraki or Tengwar font, make sure your glyphs are properly encoded!

More on conlangs and conscripts:

*) “Valar ilis” literally means: all men must “be” or “reside”; from High Valyrian “ilagon”: to be there, to be in a certain place, to lie, to reside, to exist. The phrase is used in Westeros by the officials of the Bureau of the Master of Coins to remind everyone that you need to have a registered place of residence when you’re applying for a permit to excavate minerals, to sell minerals, to sell swords or sword-like objects that are longer than 21.5 inches, to operate an establishment that serves alcohol after 9:35 pm, or when you wish to import live chickens or other birds that resemble chickens from the distance or that produce sounds that resemble those of a chicken, or when you intend to play a musical instrument in public, or for other related purposes, unless you carry a Vagabond Certificate issued by the High Office of Beer, Groceries and Migration.

Thomas Phinney Leaves FontLab

Five years ago, when Fontlab was in the midst of its ambitious goal of creating its next-generation font editor, I joined the company as Vice President to take over some management duties from co-founder and President Ted Harrison. Later, I became CEO, and Ted stepped down from most day-to-day operations.

Together with Yuri Yarmola (co-founder and Vice President R&D), Adam Twardoch (Director of Products) and the rest of the FontLab team, we revamped and modernized the way we develop our apps and collaborate across locations. We introduced a new support system and customer-centric approach, and saw a major increase in customer satisfaction with our tech support. We also updated our online store and most of our website from a 1990s look and feel, to something worthy of our modern apps.

Perhaps most importantly, we gave our users the long-awaited FontLab VI, a fully-modern overhaul of the company’s flagship pro font editor, and we have been providing them with regular updates and enhancements. The latest 6.1.4 update just shipped April 20th. We also recently updated three of our classic apps (FontLab Studio 5, Fontographer and TypeTool) to help our customers cope better with recent macOS updates. The FontLab team has really delivered for our users, and it has been deeply gratifying for me to help them do so.

At the same time, for me, what was once just occasional expert witness and forged-document investigation work has kept growing, and become quite frequent since I launched my “Font Detective” web site, a year ago — and more so in recent months due to publicity around a particularly high-profile case just this January.

Leaving FontLab allows me to further develop this detective work, which has already become too much to be compatible with my role at FontLab. Plus, I can take on other fun side gigs. (More on my blog.)

Where to find me: Font DetectiveBlogTwitterFacebook

I leave FontLab in good hands: Ted Harrison is rejoining Yuri and Adam in the active management team, to keep operations smooth. The current plan is that I will still be active with FontLab into early June. FontLab has been an incredible experience, and I wish my colleagues nothing but the best!

Adam, Yuri & Thomas at Typo Labs in Berlin. © 2017 Norman Posselt, www​.normanposselt​.com

FontLab VI 6.1.4: Open and export .glyphs files and other highlights

FontLab VI 6.1.4: new high-precision segment editing, Font window cell icons for composites and auto layers, smoother kerning workflow, italic linked metrics, snapping Knife — plus smarter glyph deletion, better OTF hinting export, and all-new .glyphs format support! See the full release notes for details!

Open and export .glyphs files and other highlights from FontLab VI 6.1.4

FontLab Studio, TypeTool & Fontographer Mac Updates

We have just released Mac updates for FontLab Studio 5 (5.1.6), TypeTool (3.1.3) and Fontographer (5.2.4) to address recent macOS compatibility issues with the recent macOS 10.14.4 release, and copy/paste problems FontLab Studio and TypeTool on 10.13 and 10.14 (High Sierra and Mojave).

To download FontLab Studio or TypeTool, go to the app page link below, then scroll down to enter your email address in the form; Fontographer is a direct download:

FontLab VI 6.1.3

FontLab VI 6.1.3 is faster and more streamlined: arrow-key Tunni lines editing; precise non-node segment editing; easier free transformations; better anchor decomposition; improved classes and features editing; easier font export customization; better UFO3 handling; single-stroke fonts; improved Sketchboard text frames.

Use Sketchboard Text frames in FontLab VI 6.1.3
Use Sketchboard Text frames in FontLab VI 6.1.3

FontLab VI 6.1.2

FontLab 6.1.2 is released!

With FontLab VI 6.1.2, you can now print, synchronize text across multiple windows with Echo Text, override and add custom OpenType tables using the new Tables panel, quickly add and edit classes in the improved Classes panel, create OpenType Symbol-encoded fonts, restore your panels when you open a VFC/VFJ, and much more! See the release notes for details about 6.1.2.

FontLab VI: 12 releases in 12 months!

FontLab VI: 12 releases in 12 months!

We’ve just published FontLab VI 6.1.2, the 12th release since the initial version of our ultra bold font editor 12 months ago. We’d like to thank you all, type designers and font developers, students and pros, for the fantastic feedback we have received this year. FontLab VI is evolving thanks to you, and we have many great things to come in 2019!


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