FontLab VI Public Preview 2 for Mac

FontLab VI logoWe’ve just posted a FontLab VI update, Public Preview 2 (build 5844) for Mac, because the initial public preview just expired on December 31st, 2015. We still don’t call this a “beta”; that would imply being feature complete and fairly stable. We are not there yet!

We are also hard at work on a Windows version of the app.

Read this for general information about the Public Preview.

NOTE: Public Preview 2 does not run on OS10.6.8 or earlier.

Ways to get the new Public Preview 2 (5844) build:

  • You can sign up for the Public Preview on the main FontLab VI page, and that will automatically send you an email with a link to the new Preview 2 download. Yes, this will work even if you already signed up before.
  • We were too late to allow you to use the auto-update mechanism, as Public Preview 1 app activation has expired. For future updates, we are changing it so that in the future it will check for updates before checking for expiry, but that was not the case for Preview 1.
  • If you already signed up for the Public Preview previously, you should have gotten an email with a new download link.

I should explain that while a few bugs are fixed, for the most part we have been focused on some major architecture changes that needed doing. Not all of these are done, and some of them are initially being done on a separate branch from the version of the app you will be getting.

Why not focus on bugs first? These big changes can be the cause of still more bugs, or have long-reaching ripples in the code. So we are focused on making such changes right away, instead of later. This means fewer bug fixes and visible new features right now, however.

What’s New?

Here are the big things that we have been working on, some of which are in the build you are getting:

  • All anti-aliased on-screen drawing is being changed to use OpenGL. Currently this is off by default, because it isn’t working well on our Windows build, and may still have bugs. It can be turned on in Preferences > General. When enabled, it will mean that drawing now uses graphics co-processors when available on your computer, with a major boost in drawing performance, especially on extremely complex shapes. (If your computer does not have a dedicated graphics card, you will see minimal speed improvement.)
  • The new FontLab native VFC file format is done, but not yet well tested. You may additionally set FontLab to automatically save in one or more of UFO, VFB, or XFO.
  • In the Preferences / General section, you can disable the option Open new windows as tabs. With this option disabled, after you restart FontLab VI, all new windows (Font Window, Glyphs Window, Metrics Window) will open as separate windows, creating the experience more familiar to FontLab Studio 5 users.
  • Adding a crash-reporting system! Still need to add an opt-out option and a screen shot option to this. Not sure it is in the new build.
  • The internal messaging system that app uses to communicate between its different parts is being rewritten.

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Thomas Phinney

Thomas Phinney was CEO of FontLab until 2019, when he retired from FontLab to pursue his font detective work and type design. 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 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.