Thomas Phinney is CEO of FontLab. Previously he worked at Extensis (web fonts and font management tools) and Adobe (as product manager for global fonts and typography).
Thomas is also a type designer, teacher, writer, and consultant on fonts and typography. He has been consulted by Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, Oxford University Press, a “big three” US auto maker, the US Treasury Department, and PBS “History Detectives,” among others. He teaches type design with Crafting Type and has been a repeat guest lecturer for MA Typeface Design at the University of Reading. Since 2004 he has been a board member of ATypI, the international typography association. His typeface Hypatia Sans is an Adobe Original with over 3000 glyphs per font.
FontLab VI version 6.1.0 is now available as a free update to FontLab VI. This major update includes numerous new features, many tiny enhancements to make things work more intuitively, as well as countless bug fixes. This article covers major highlights, and gives brief explanations for some of them. We have another blog post that gives a detailed description of the font filters, components and metrics improvements, and our release notes describe all other improvements and bug fixes.
Design: Components, improved Metrics expressions, Nonspacing components, Measurements panel, X‐Ray view, display lengths and angles while drawing
Font Window: Sidebar, Filters, better character placeholders
Variations: Matchmaker enhancements, better kerning coordination across masters, Smart rounding, custom Family names for individual instances
Technology: Source panel, VFJ format improvements, customizable location of your user data, layer merging, improvements in TrueType Hinting and OpenType feature editing
The 30‐day trial restarted: Don’t have FontLab VI yet and your previous 30‐day trial run expired? We have restarted the trial period for the 6.1 update, so you can download FontLab VI and enjoy it again for a month! Buy or try it at https://fontlab.com/VI
Five weeks ago, we made many new users happy when we put FontLab VI on sale. The sale was about to end, but we have some great news: we’ve decided to make FontLab VI accessible to more people — permanently!
Effective immediately, what was the sale price is staying: you can buy FontLab VI at $459 instead of $689 today, tomorrow, and next month, too! FontLab Studio 5 users can upgrade at $199, Fontographer users at $229.
So if you didn’t get the chance to take advantage of our summer sale, visit our store to license FontLab VI!
FontLab VI is on sale for just $459 instead of $689 — 1/3 off until August 31! Buy FontLab VI now, and you’ll be drawing type, kerning or hinting faster and easier than ever, so you can spend more time in the sun.
FontLab VI, our radically re‐thought, “ultra bold” font editor, is already packed with functionality that lets you create variable fonts, color fonts and large font families with ease, and it’s getting better all the time!
Many of you who have tried or bought FontLab VI have praised how quickly and precisely you can draw new glyphs. The new FontLab VI6.0.7 update adds major new features that help you complete your fonts faster:
Auto glyphs: extend and complete the character set faster with our new smart composite glyphs that build accented letters on the fly and keep their look, positioning and metrics up‐to‐date.
Cousins: draw and edit your glyphs while you see related letters in the background for reference, and quickly switch between them.
Improved geometric transformations: decide if you want to scale, rotate or slant all references or just the base glyphs.
New property bar for the Text mode: type basic letters and quickly get to their accented variants or alternate glyphs.
Pixel‐perfect rendering: with sharper outlines, nodes and guides in the Glyph window, perhaps you don’t need those glasses quite yet.
FontLab VI6.0.7 also includes improvements in handling Elements, glyph names and Unicode, FontAudit, contour editing, plus user interface tweaks and many bug fixes — see the release notes for a full list.
TypeCon in Portland is about two weeks away, August 1 – 5, 2018. FontLab will be there! I (Thomas Phinney) will be teaching “FontLab VI for FontLab Studio 5 users.” There are still a few spots left in this half‐day workshop (Wednesday August 1, 9 am — noon), so sign up now!
If you’re not in the workshop, feel free to ask me questions any time you see me, get an impromptu demo of some feature, or just say “hi!”
Conferences — including TypeCon in particular — are a great way to meet people of all levels in the type community. Even many of the top folks in fonts are amazingly friendly and approachable! Not to mention all the amazing talks and panels. Highly recommended!
1/3 off full price, 20% off upgrades and educational! We are celebrating this week’s #typolabs conference in Berlin by giving talks and demos at the conference — and by putting FontLab VI on worldwide sale for the first time ever. No matter if you’re in Berlin or elsewhere — sale ends Tuesday April 17, so get the discounts while you can!
At the same time, we have just shipped version 6.0.5, our biggest update since FontLab VI first shipped. We have added several of the most‐requested features to FontLab VI, including autosaving; easier ways to work in integer coordinates; class kerning improvements; font window browsing by Unicode categories and scripts; a host of improvements to variable fonts workflows; and more — a total of 100+ improvements and bug fixes, more than in any previous update!
If you are at #typolabs18 in Berlin, come see us on Saturday April 14. First at 9:30 Adam Twardoch will show you what FontLab VI can do for variable fonts, with no limits on the number of masters and axes you can use! Then at noon, get a deeper dive on FontLab VI variable fonts capabilities with Adam and FontLab VP Yuri Yarmola, plus Q&A and some broader discussions.
After years of hard work, we’re happy to announce that FontLab VI, our “ultra bold” font editor, is finally available. Rewritten from scratch and in glorious Retina HD, this release is an important milestone in the development of our pro font editor. The app has been in public preview for two years, and we’re immensely grateful for all the feedback from our users. We’ve made great progress, and rest assured — we’re not stopping now!
We’ve worked with the type industry’s best brains, creative thinkers and problem solvers. We’ve redesigned the user interface, so you can work with tabs on a notebook display or with floating windows on multiple monitors. We’ve unified the Glyph and Metrics Window, so you can draw and edit across multiple glyphs and masters, working on entire words or phrases at once.
Did we say draw? Drawing in FontLab VI is an immensely pleasurable experience! (As it should be, really, since that’s what you do most of the time.) The Pen and Pencil tools are better than ever, but with the brand‐new Rapid tool, you’ll get pretty curves in many fewer clicks. Fancy new phrases like Power Nudge, Servant and Genius nodes, Tunni Lines, tension, Curvature, Harmonize and Balance don’t just promise easier and faster ways of getting the right curves — they deliver! These new techniques can assist you in your drawing process, but of course you’re the one with the final control over the curves, whether they are TrueType or PostScript.
We’ve replaced the more limited old Multiple Master interpolation model with a new Variations workflow, so you can have virtually unlimited axes, intermediate font and glyph‐specific masters. You are no longer forced to have your glyphs point‐compatible at all times, but if you do need point compatibility, our revolutionary Matchmaker tool and automatic Match Masters will get you there.
Element References are a powerful way to work with repeating paths and contours — more like CFF subroutines than TrueType components. You can use them not just for base and mark glyphs, but also for open path fragments like serifs, and they’re linked in a bi‐directional way.
There are tons of other cool features to help you design typefaces and create fonts from start to finish, from a simple design to a really “ultra bold” complex project.
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” or 10.14 “Mojave.” Those using FontLab Studio 5 for axis‐based (Multiple Master) type design, or who need the “paste special” function, should upgrade and get comfortable with FontLab VI before upgrading their OS.
Fontographer 5 and TransType 4 have no issues particular to High Sierra or Mojave that we know of. FontLab VI being developed on an all‐new platform, is is compatible with High Sierra and Mojave.
Older versions of FontLab Studio (5.1.4 and earlier) and TransType Pro 3 cannot be installed on High Sierra and later. If installed, they cannot launch on these operating systems.
If you installed one of these older apps prior to your OS 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.”
If installed fresh after OS 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 for install problems 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!
FontLab Studio 5.1.5 and TypeTool 3.1.2 are affected. (FontLab VI is not.)
The problems occur on macOS 10.13 “High Sierra” and later.
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 no direct workaround for this problem.
“Paste Special” function in FontLab Studio 5 does not work. There is no direct workaround for this problem.
Workarounds for FontLab Studio 5 & TypeTool 3
We do not have any solution for MM font editing in FontLab Studio 5. However, this is a decent workaround for the first problem in both apps:
To copy one or more glyphs in the Font Window:
select the cell(s)
click and drag the cell(s) to their destination, but do not let go of the mouse button
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.
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.
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!
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!
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).