Adam Twardoch is Director of Products at FontLab, and a font consultant specializing in font technology, multilingual typography, CSS webfonts, Unicode and OpenType. He also works as the glyph wrangler at MyFonts. He regularly teaches workshops in font creation and is a board member of Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI). Originally from Poland, he lives and works in Berlin.
The new free FontLab VI6.0.9 update, together with last week’s 6.0.8, adds various improvements:
The Font Info dialog has a new section for Guides
better handling of composite glyphs and auto layers (live composite glyphs), including a quick way to create “auto layers” for multiple glyphs and layers, and a new extended syntax for glyph recipes that allows scaling and flipping of components
a better List view in the Font window, where you can decide which columns should be shown, and drag them to your preferred order
a new Glyphs Bar to help you navigate through your glyph set, right in the Glyph window
a new Guides section in Font Info to help you control font guides
ability to manually arrange classes in the Classes panel
auto-complete and drag-drop support in the Features panel
a new contextual Quick Help panel, accessible from the Help menu, and new Quick Tips in the Welcome screen
a setting to show and hide placeholders for missing glyphs in the Glyph window (if placeholders are shown, you can now double-click on them to create the glyphs). (Preferences > Editing > Show missing glyph placeholders)
Copy-Paste buttons in the Font Info sections for Family and Font Dimensions
improvements in working with Genius nodes
more control over outline conversion from PostScript to TrueType
easier ways to add missing extrema nodes and implied TrueType nodes
a more human-readable VFJ file format (the optional FontLab VIJSON format)
smaller file sizes for exported bitmap color fonts (Google CBDT and Apple sbix)
an optional Profile setting to include open contours in exported fonts
Quick Help shows contextual help/tutorial information.
The 70-minute tutorial Basics of Python scripting in FontLab Studio 5 has beed recorded in February 2015 by Adam Twardoch. The tutorial is primarily intended for users who have never written any Python code before, although some tips and tricks for more advanced users are given. Topics include: basics of Python, scripting-related user interface elements of FontLab Studio, installing Python, RoboFab and FontLab Python macros, writing simple scripts that modify a font and speed up the type design process. See below for additional resources.
2015-01-27: Updated builds 2015-01-23 available (segmentation fault 11 bug fixed; better handling of guidelines and composites, TTH bug fixed)
FontLab vfb2ufo is a two-way command-line converter for Mac OS X and Windows. It’s available free of charge from FontLab.
vfb2ufo converts between development font formats: VFB and UFO (including the compressed variant UFOZ). It converts both ways: from VFB to UFO (or UFOZ) and from UFO (or UFOZ) to VFB. If you supply it with a VFB, it will output a UFO (or UFOZ if you use the -z option). If you supply it with a UFO or a UFOZ, it will output a VFB. It converts one VFB or UFO or UFOZ at a time, but you can write batch scripts to facilitate conversion of multiple files at once.
OpenType Layout features allow for orthographically correct display of complex scripts such as Arabic and Indic and provide a mechanism for the user to apply advanced typographic formatting to text. They are used in the SFNTGSUB and GPOS tables.
This document contains a useful classification of OpenType Layout feature tags. It is based on the OpenType spec version 1.6, with some additional entries about removed features and Microsoft-only Math features related to the MATH OpenType table.
This document is very technical in nature, and is primarily aimed at software developers who wish to implement user interfaces for applying OpenType Layout features in applications.
It’s been long overdue... I wasn’t really happy about what the various blog templates looked like, so I have been putting away the creation of our own. But finally, this year, responsive web techniques have become easy to use, the proliferation of web fonts has made it possible to create a page that’s easy to read continuously, so we’ve prototyped a new look, and — well — launched it (semi-officially).
We have a long line of content articles that shall be appearing here in the coming months. So, don’t bite your fingernails while waiting for revelations here in the next weeks, but feel free to visit us from time to time.
(Also, please bear with us for the time being — there are some design and functional glitches here and there which we’re planning to fix.)
Although Fontlab Ltd. debuted the Photofont technology some 8 years ago, the typographic community did not show much interest for multi-color fonts or typography. In 2013, it changed. Actually, this started a few years ago with Apple introducing the color emoji font into iOS, and then Mac OS X 10.7. Now, all major industry players (Apple, Adobe, Mozilla, Google and Microsoft) have proposed their formats, which aim to extend the OpenType font format by the ability of including color glyph information. The proposals differ in many aspects. Below is a discussion of the proposals along with some personal comments.
This article is very technical. No completeness or correctness of the information presented below, and all views are personal.
The video tutorial by Adam Twardoch accompanies this article by providing a more practical take on color font creation issues.
Theoretically, OpenType PS (.otf) supports fractional coordinates, but there are some technical caveats associated with it. In principle, we could say that the final font formats only support integer coordinates but during the work process, having fractional coordinates would be helpful.
For example, if you have drawn your glyphs on an integer grid, but then you’d like to make some adjustments such as: make it slightly more narrow, then slightly wider, then perhaps slant it by a few degrees and then slant it back, or make some tiny rotations, or maybe scale the glyph down and then up again — on an integer grid, the result will have accumulated the rounding errors from every one of these operations. On a fractional grid, all your shapes (the positions of the BCPs, the angles, the stem thicknesses etc.) will always remain just as in the original design.
Therefore, a hardwired integer grid such as the one in FontLab Studio does impose a certain limitation onto the type designer. A fractional grid such as the one in Fontographer allows you to avoid those rounding errors. But of course, at the very end, when you decide to generate or ship the font, you’ll need to align your points to an integer grid, or the software will do this for you.