Fontlab 5 interface peeves

billtroop's picture

I have lately been using Fontlab 5 on the PC for some time, and recently switched back to the latest publicly released Mac build. I have been very happy with it, although I save multiple versions every day or so, just in case. But in spite of the truly wonderful things about this program, there are some things about the metrics window that have irritated me so much that I must speak out in ill temper. Apologies if these issues have already been raised.

Why isn't the tab useful in the metrics window? Look how Fog does it. The tab is a useful key. It is there to be used. So USE IT!

Why do kerning and metrics have to be two completely different operations, with enormous amounts of time lost whilst switching between them? For example, you are in the metrics mode. You have adjusted sidebearings. Now you notice a kern that is required. You now have to switch to kern mode. Now focus is lost on the character you were working on. So you have to select it again. DUH. So you select it, adjust the kerning and now . . . return to metrics. But you have lost focus. You have to select the character again.

Look how Fog does it.

Sidebearing and kerning adjustments all take place fluidly at the same time, with simple, easily remembered keystrokes. Why is there this artificial, time-consuming dichotomy between the two operations in Flab?

Why don't cursor keys work in the intuitive, expected manner they do in fog? Why do they either do something unexpected, or nothing at all?

Cursor keys are there to be used!!!!!!

CURSOR KEYS ARE THERE TO BE USED!!!!!!

LOOK AT YOUR OWN PROGRAM, now you own it!

Final example:

Let us suppose you are in metrics mode, and you are directly editing the metrics values in the value boxes. Up/down cursor will let you move up and down between width, left sidebearing and right sidebearing. But what happens to cursor right/left when you want to move to the next character? NADA! What happens when you want to move one element up to the character name box, as you can in Fog, and then move focus to the next slot, or gracefully move on to the next character? NADA!!!!

What possible reason can there be for such behaviour in a version 5 program?

Finally (really), suppose you now want to get into the tempting little kerning box. You can't.

You now have to switch to kerning mode, at which point . . . you lose focus and have to select the character again. OK. You're in kerning mode now. And you _can_ move up to the width/sidebearing cells with cursor up/down. But you still can't move up to the character name box and change the character you have selected, either by typing it or by using the keystroke for previous/next character. Also, the cursor keys now only control kerning. You can no longer change width values via the cursor keys.

Why all this confusing kerfuffle?

What is the intellectual justification for it? Is there some great philosophy of interface design here that I am missing?

Is it too much to ask to get these SIMPLE things RIGHT? I am totally exasperated at the total pointlessness of it all. This is not good enough! Yet I can't return to Fog at this point . . . . at least not until the metrics window gets antialiasing. Yet . . . I believe I could do this kind of fitting much more quickly in Fog . . . .

and what became of the fitting enhancements I and several others have been asking for, for . . . a decade? There's a lot of programming hours in a decade . . . . . . . . . .

billtroop's picture

To amplify (because I can't figure out how to edit the comment), you are in kerning mode. Cursor L/R changes values; Shift adds ten. So far so good.

But command and option also do EXACTLY THE SAME THING.

What is to prevent cmd/opt arrow from changing L/R sidebearings at this point?

The intellectual work behind figuring out what to do with these obvious keystrokes was done by Altsys 20 years ago. What is the problem with taking advantage of something absolutely expected in contemporary software? Or, one might ask, why is the primary key change in Fog 4/OS X that cmd-Y is no longer the undo key; instead it's shift-cmd-Z. WHAT ? ? ? ? ?

Who thought these things up? Why? How can they possibly be justified. I realize I am setting myself here for a 'well, Bill, if you would just read the manual, where we explain such and such, or well Bill, if you would just _think_ for a minute, you would realize why we did such and such and why it's such a good thing.'

OK. I'm ready for it.

Rob O. Font's picture

Monopoly?

twardoch's picture

> “Monopoly?”

As in, FontLab Studio, DTL FontMaster and FontForge all being fully-capable font creation environments (with FontForge being opensource and free), and numerous other tools such as High-Logic FontCreator available in the low-end market?

Users interested in getting the tools exactly the way they want them are welcome to write the specifications of how exactly they would like the tools to work.

A.

Rob O. Font's picture

"Users interested in getting the tools exactly the way they want them are welcome to write the specifications of how exactly they would like the tools to work."

Right, is exactly the way we would like the tools to work. Without competition, we need not write you, we need to write code. You don't respond to even the simplest, or most basic requirements of the type designer with brain onboard. You have a monopoly on FL functionality.

This does not mean, by the way, that I don't like this tool. It means, I would never recommend it to anyone else, and I would not ever dare to teach using it, because I don't have time to explain its idiosyncractic and illogical behaviors.

William Berkson's picture

David, very few people have been drawing type constantly for 30 years, as you have. So that what is obvious to you may be far from obvious to others.

I am new to this, but my impression is that FontLab has been quirky, but that the developers at FontLab are responsive to the suggestions of their customers, and there has been a steady improvement in usability.

Perhaps listing your suggestions here will help. I'm sure others will chime in and confirm your suggestions, or make additional or different ones.

Rob O. Font's picture

You're Bill, I'm wrong to criticize FL. But, I'd rather be wrong than lazy.

Listing my suggestions is how I started this issue, here, a while ago. Many of those issues got better with 5, some did not, and of course, there were are more issues now that when I began. Since then, I've fed an-issue-a-month directly to Adam, as he asked me to do it that way, (better you know), so now I only raise issues here when they've lingered quitely in Adam's in box for more than a month, or if someone here reraises an issue that's still festers.

"As in, FontLab Studio, DTL FontMaster and FontForge all being fully-capable font creation environments (with FontForge being opensource and free), and numerous other tools such as High-Logic FontCreator available in the low-end market?"

This, misunderstanding of how monopolies are determined, is an excellent response for those who not wonder what their tools can do for them, but what else they can do for their tools.

Cheers!

Rob O. Font's picture

(sorry bout my typing, but my denrist, knowing of the fondness I have for his assistant, insisted on putting novacaine in my moyth an hqnds this mormng,

dezcom's picture

We know the drill David :-)

ChrisL

twardoch's picture

> You don’t respond to even the simplest, or most
> basic requirements of the type designer with brain
> onboard.

We *are* listening to you, David, as well as to other users of FontLab Studio. But please understand that we don’t randomly fix and change small things as they occur. Instead, we collect feature requests and bug reports, prioritize them (we have, after all, a rather small team of developers) and feed them into the development schedule. Just four days ago, we released TypeTool 3, a fully-new version of another product (that is closely related to FontLab Studio but separate). This all takes time and resources. We will revisit your ideas and requests during the next round of FontLab Studio development, I promise.

A.

andyclymer's picture

Adam,

What is the preferred method to submit interface comments/peeves to the development team? Will it make it to the right place by filling out the "problem report" form?

Andy

twardoch's picture

Yes.

A.

yuri's picture

This is what I really would like to do: collect many FLS suggestions that we got and put them into new update. Unfortunately what I have to do at current moment is to work on some other projects that we need to release. But FLS will always be a top priority for us.

dezcom's picture

I would be just thrilled if FL5 Mac version would not crash so often. It is the only program I have out of hundreds that I can guarantee will crash every time I use it.

ChrisL

billtroop's picture

>I would be just thrilled if FL5 Mac version would not crash so often. It is the only program I have out of hundreds that I can guarantee will crash every time I use it.

I have had my problems with 5.02 in the past, but whether it is 10.4.8 on a pretty fresh install, or improvements in the latest build, I and several others I know can now run 5.02 for days or even weeks without crashing, and that includes some pretty complex files and operations. In fact, in some respects, I have actually found the Mac build more stable than the some Windows builds.

I don't believe in private feature request lists. My experience is that companies only respond when things get public. Here's another gripe. Can you control the idiotic automatic strings that appear when you click on an entry in the metrics table?

For example, HOH6non is not useful when you want to look at H6H or O6O or n6n etc. It is incredible to me, so many decades after H_H n_n fittings lists have been in constant use, that Fontlab can't get this basic principle across. One sees all these wonderful things happening, yet one constantly gets the feeling that neither Yuri nor Adam has ever sat down for a day or two with a really competent font designer to observe what actually needs to be done. Too many geeks, too few craftsmen.

William Berkson's picture

>Can you control the idiotic automatic strings ...?

You can edit test strings and insert your own by clicking the button with three dots to the right of the window with the strings.

This way to edit test strings is noted on p. 54 of the Windows manual. Bill Troop's question here I think indicates the weakness of the manual, which for me personally is the single biggest problem with FontLab at the moment. If you look under 'metrics' as I have just done, you will find that the metrics sections are scattered over three or four different places of the (huge) manual. So to find the answer you have to hunt all over the place. And you have to know what to ask in the first place.

If all the information on metrics were explained in a task-oriented way, all in the same place, it would help greatly to make the FontLab features accessible to the user.

This would mean repeating information in different places, but there is no problem with that. Currently the manual is organized as programmer's notes, rather than as a guide for users. The makes FontLab's treasures a lot less accessible.

dezcom's picture

As I said in another thread, Karsten Luecke should write book on FontLab. He seems to be able to explain it in a way that is more digestable by a user. The current manual seems to be written from the programmer's perspective, explaining things in a hardware store fashion rather than as a working process.

ChrisL

billtroop's picture

Hi William, that's not what I mean. One of the good things about the metrics window is that you can open the metrics table and it will appear in a window at the right. You can now cursor down through each character, and as you do so the new character will appear within a control string. The only problem is that the control string cannot be altered (as far as I know) and is not useful. It is as follows, taking / as the character we have selected:

HOH/non
HHH/nnn
OOO/ooo
XHX/xox

What we want is something more like HH/H OO/O, nn/n oo/o. The FIRST thing you want to see is the new character between the standard control characters of H,O,n,o. This is bedrock fitting practice.

So the questions are:

why did Fontlab do the string in such a perverse and useless way?
can it be customized?

If this were to work in the way I suggest, it would actually be a useful quick tool for font designers to use, always being mindful of the distortions that screen resolution, even with efficient anti-aliasing, will create. Fontlab had a great convenience idea here, but implemented it in such a way that is next to useless.

I am not referring to the fitting strings you can select from the drop down. They are not useful. What you want is something to scroll through. The program is almost there -- so near -- yet so far. Why, why, why?

>This, misunderstanding of how monopolies are determined, is an excellent response for those who not wonder what their tools can do for them, but what else they can do for their tools.

David has put his finger on what distinguishes those who need to produce good fonts and those who enjoy playing around with software.

As for private suggestions . . . how many years is it since I gave Fontlab a more or less simple way productively to semi-automate rational metrics fitting? Two? Three? Four? Five? Six? Seven? How many followup discussions were there? Could anyone even find the emails at this point?

billtroop's picture

Hi William, that's not what I mean. One of the good things about the metrics window is that you can open the metrics table and it will appear in a window at the right. You can now cursor down through each character, and as you do so the new character will appear within a control string. The only problem is that the control string cannot be altered (as far as I know) and is not useful. It is as follows, taking / as the character we have selected:

HOH/non
HHH/nnn
OOO/ooo
XHX/xox

What we want is something more like HH/H OO/O, nn/n oo/o. The FIRST thing you want to see is the new character between the standard control characters of H,O,n,o. This is bedrock fitting practice.

So the questions are:

why did Fontlab do the string in such a perverse and useless way?
can it be customized?

If this were to work in the way I suggest, it would actually be a useful quick tool for font designers to use, always being mindful of the distortions that screen resolution, even with efficient anti-aliasing, will create. Fontlab had a great convenience idea here, but implemented it in such a way that is next to useless.

I am not referring to the fitting strings you can select from the drop down. They are not useful. What you want is something to scroll through. The program is almost there -- so near -- yet so far. Why, why, why?

>This, misunderstanding of how monopolies are determined, is an excellent response for those who not wonder what their tools can do for them, but what else they can do for their tools.

David has put his finger on what distinguishes those who need to produce good fonts and those who enjoy playing around with software.

As for private suggestions . . . how many years is it since I gave Fontlab a more or less simple way productively to semi-automate rational metrics fitting? Two? Three? Four? Five? Six? Seven? How many followup discussions were there? Could anyone even find the emails at this point?

.00's picture

Bill,

To change those strings you can edit the text file at:

Library>Application Support>FontLab>Studio5>Data>Metrics.txt

James

.00's picture

Bill,

To change those strings you can edit the text file at:

Library>Application Support>FontLab>Studio5>Data>Metrics.txt

James

William Berkson's picture

Bill, I didn't get right the first shot what you are talking about, but I think I've got it now.

When I open the kerning table with the 'metrics' button pushed on the bar and click on E, I get the string HOHEHOH followed by HHHEHHH followed by OOOEOOO and another string. And this is what you are asking for, no?

When I click on a lower case letter, it has caps to the left and lower case to the right, as you say. That is a not good, I agree.

When I open the kerning table with the 'kerning' button pushed and click on say Es, I get the strings you are complaining about, but those seem rational for kerning no?

I didn't know about all this before, so I'm glad you bring it up.

So far as I can see none of this is even documented, much less explained in the FontLab manual.

I really think that lack of documentation is a screw-up, like the lack of documentation of many of the keyboard short cuts.

edit: I think what may be going on here is that there is one metrics.txt file for 'metrics', as James points out. If you have a kern to lower case, such as 'To', then I suppose it is best to have caps to the left of T and lower case to the right: HHHTonnn or some such. But if you want to space both sides of the o, then it would be better to have nnonn, etc. But with only one metrics table, probably intended for kerning, then the way FontLab does it is the only way to go. But then you can't use the table in the same way when the 'metrics' button is pushed. You would need to change the text in the metrics.txt file when you switch between spacing and kerning, if I am understanding this rightly.

billtroop's picture

James, thanks for this info, William, it actually is in the manual if you do a search for 'metrics.txt' -- so there really is some documentation. However, I have been editing this file and have not seen anything change! I changed the ownership of the directory from System to my name, otherwise I wasn't allowed to edit. Could that screw things up? But where is Fontlab getting the tables from then? Oh, this is driving me nuts, what a waste of time! PS Yes William I think you are right about the kerning. Right now I'm just trying to deal with straight metrics. The better your metrics, the less kerning you need.

billtroop's picture

OK, I changed the ownership back to system; no change. Why isn't Fontlab accepting the edits? Yes, I have rebooted in case there was some kind of nutty caching going on . . . .

William Berkson's picture

Ok, my mistake on the documentation. Sorry FontLab. However, you are going to find it difficult to locate this in the index. In future, I guess I will have to search the PDF rather than using my hard copy. A better index would be welcome. Also there is no mention that it works--sort of--in metrics mode. You could say that using it in metrics mode is a 'hack', as they don't mention it. But so long as they have the functionality shouldn't they explain it?

On changing the metrics.txt, might you be having a cache problem?

.00's picture

Bill, I'm sorry I wasn't specific enough.

There are two libraries in OSX, I believe you are following the path the the metrics.txt via the Library at the HD level. What you need to do is use the Library that is located under User. Username/Library/Application Support/Fontlab/Studio 5/Data/metrics.txt

I just made some edits there and they show up fine, without having to manipulate permissions.

James

billtroop's picture

OK James, good info. However, I had only been able to find one metrics.txt file on my system; the data folder was blank in /username/lib/etc. OK. So I copied the modified metrics file over. Still no response. What gives? Grrrrrr!

billtroop's picture

OK, OK, finally found yet another data folder . . . . yes, it works.

billtroop's picture

OK, I now have the metrics window working. I have two fonts whose widths I am comparing. I am using the metrics table to scroll down. I look at font 1. I scroll down from A to B.

I click on Font Window 2. I scroll down from A to B.

Now I click back onto Font 1. I want to scroll down to C. But I can't do that just by using the down arrow! THE WINDOW HAS LOST FOCUS. Why? Why? Why? I now need to go through the additional steps of using the mouse or pen to click on metrics table, select B or C, etc. etc.

Just because for some reason this program -- unlike any other I have ever used -- somehow loses focus on what was going on right after you click on another window.

I think this kind of thing might be what David is talking about when he talks about designing for humans?

Similarly, the arcane undo feature. In Fontographer, it is assumed that undo applies only to what you are doing in a certain layer -- it is layer specific. Do 6 actions in the template window. Now go into the outline window and do 5 actions. Now you see something you want to undo in the template layer so you go there and undo it. What happens in Flab? You go into the template layer and it undoes the 5 actions you just did in the outline window (the ones you don't want to undo) because Flab's undo doesn't respect layers. Same thing with masters. This is intolerably bad design in my view. What is the rationale for it? And by the way, what is the matter with UNDO letting you know what action it is undoing -- something most programs have done for a long, long, long time ? ? ? ? We're HUMANS . . . . . . . .

Rob O. Font's picture

Fog 3.5 "knew" and I'm not going to say how ;) that the "type designer" "wants" the mouse to "stay" in the glyph window and not be "run" about to get "stuff", and that the "designer" "wants" to "work" in the metrics window "ENTIRELY" by keyboard is proven.

I can only say for sure that there is a fully functioning model of exactly what it should look like and work like, that it has been available since 89, and that the developers of FL can see, use and copy it at their pleasure.

Maybe if they had to DO THIS JOB, they could do theirs too, but in the absence of either doing it, or listening to those who do, I'm only designing fonts that "need no kerning," or "already have it", 2 years now.

Cheers!

billtroop's picture

>Fog 3.5 “knew” ... Maybe if they had to DO THIS JOB ...

Are you listening, Yuri? Yuri, you know I love you beyond telling for all the wonderful things you have done, but . . . are you listening?

Advice from the very highest places doesn't get any better than this.

The world's most competent typeface designer is saying something important here.

How much does it cost to fly to Boston for a couple of days to sit down with someone who can help you beyond measure? And please let's not hear anything more about email suggestions and posts. Sitzfleisch is what is needed here. That 1989 was a long, long, time ago proves that.

billtroop's picture

Yet more interface insanity:

I'm in the metrics table. I'm scrolling down, trying to fit a face quickly.

WHAT DO MY CURSOR KEYS DO? ? ? ?

Well, right/left arrow increases/decreases RIGHT SB by 1 unit, adding shift by 10 units.

So far, so good, apparently.

But what if I want to change the left sidebearing? What does option, command, control, etc. do? EXACTLY THE SAME THING!

Will tab get me to the next field, shift-tab get me to the previous field? NO.

The only way to get more control is to use the mouse and click on the OTHER metrics table, the one at the bottom. Here, you have option and shift regulating left/ride SB; plain cursor moves the character within the field.

So nothing works as expected or as logic would dictate. Everything is so cumbersome you want to cry. Or, as David says, give up kerning altogether. Because it _is_ a monopoly situation here. The other options are no longer serviceable.

yuri's picture

I will try to follow:

- "HOHhoh". It is customizable, but it is class-based. Some classes such as "uppercase" or "figures" are "virtual" - you don't need to define them, but for more specific things you have to. When you have classes, that "metrics template" can be adjusted by editing the metrics.txt file.

- Shortcuts in the MW. On Windows it is designed in a way that it is not needed to use mouse at all - everything can be done by keyboard. I will check if that was not lost during the Mac port.

- Mixed metrics and kerning editing. Well, technically it is very easy to implement. I always though that it is right to work on metrics separately from kerning, so in non-kerning environment font will look good. OK, I will do Fog-style mixed editing, will see how it works.

- Undo. I only can agree that its implementation in FLS/TT is not good. It was improved, but unfortunately it cannot be done as I'd like it to work until next Big Rewrite (which is soon). That Rewrite will also introduce completely new UI and new workflow.

- Fog 3.5 was a great tool and we still have to learn a lot from its simplicity. Unfortunately font technologies changed so we have to care about such complex things as class-kerning, non-Latin fonts etc. Typical font is not Mac Roman anymore and it makes impossible to have simple and elegant solutions that will really work only for Latin.

Anyway, it gives us no excuse to lose focus in windows. I beleive that is implemented OK in Windows build but what I need to check it in on a Mac side.

Good news - now I got Mac computer at home so I am gaining a lot of personal end-user OS X experience :)

dezcom's picture

"now I got Mac computer at home so I am gaining a lot of personal end-user OS X experience"

Yes! Mac users are people too and would like equal trteatment :-)

ChrisL

yuri's picture

More news:
We decided to not rely only on internal testing and beta-testing programs but also do extensive professional out-site testing of our key applications.

Upcoming new version of BitFonter passed this testing process (about 2 months of work, about 300 fixed problems) and TypeTool/FLS is in progress (already almost a month, about 100 problems to fix).

yuri's picture

MW keyboard (as it now works in Windows build). In metrics mode.

When focus is in main area and some glyph is selected:

Arrows - move glyph left-right without changing width;
Ctrl + Arrows - change LSB and width, RSB is not changed;
Ctrl + Alt + Arrows - change RSB and width, LSB is not changed;

Pressed Shift increases "force" by the "shift accelerator" value that you can specify in Tools > Options > Glyph Window (!) > Dimensions.

When focus is in table:

Arrows - increase and decrease width by modifying RSB;
Ctrl + Arrors (new thing, will work in upcoming 5.0.3 update) - increase and decrease width by modofying LSB;

Shift - accelerates by the "shift accelerator" value (defaulting to 10)

Tab key alternates between "main area" and "table".
To select glyph for editing in the main area use "PgDn" and "PgUp" keys. "Home" and "End" also work. "Esc" drops selection so when you press Tab and switch to table, "HOHOhoho" templates will work again.

It is all about Windows build, I will make sure that it works the same way (and better) on the Mac.

William Berkson's picture

>Shortcuts in the MW. On Windows it is designed in a way that it is not needed to use mouse at all - everything can be done by keyboard.

Yes, in Windows you can move the left sidebearing with control + l & r arrow keys, and you can control the right side bearing with control + alt + l & r arrow keys. And the latter is NOT DOCUMENTED.

I have suggested in an e-mail to Adam that the up and down arrow keys control the width of the sidebearing, adding one unit to both sides (up) or subtracting one unit from both sides (down). That way it is easy to vary independently the two aspects of spacing a glyph between control characters: the centering and the advance width.

edit: I see I have cross posted with Yuri's latest. Let me just emphasize that the lack of documentation of the functions hurts usability, and is really annoying, at least to this user.

yuri's picture

Mixed metrics and kerning editing:

If you want to enter numbers, it already works perfectly if you use panel (almost direct copy of the similar thing in Fog 4).

[a trick: instead of entering numeric value there you can enter = followed by the name of the glyph from which this value must be copied. You can also enter things like 200/2 or 50+50(which will result in 100 in both cases)]

OK, that is not keyboard and not mouse - just typing in some numbers - we will consider adding mouse and arrow editing for metrics in the kerning mode.

yuri's picture

Adding a unit to both sidebearings seems to be a very nice feature.

Let me think how it could be done without changing current way of working. Maybe there could be an option which will alternate "ctrl" or "ctrl+alt" arrow modes with "balanced" weight-adjusment.

Or alternatively it will replace current Ctrl + Up/Down (currently shifts glyph up and down, with optional shift acceleration) with this new mode.

William Berkson's picture

>nice feature

Thank you. The idea comes from David Kindersley's book on optical spacing. He pointed out that there are two different problems in spacing: centering and advance width.

Currently the left and right arrows move the whole glyph left or right, and the up and down by themselves do nothing, at least on my windows machine. So if the up and down arrows would increase or decrease the advance width by one unit (or with shift accelerated 10 or a defined number of units) that would make for a very natural work flow, I think.

yuri's picture

Currently up and down keys are used to navigate in multi-line text. What I am doing is to provide an option (will come to Tools > Options > Metrics window and in similar place on the Mac) that will replace this with balanced width change.

It will change LSB when width is odd and RSB when it is even. Width will change by 1 unit.

William Berkson's picture

Thanks!

It would be nice if you could ask a sample of designers what defaults they want, on this and other issues. I suspect that the balanced width change would be a preferred default, but of course I don't know.

edit: I just thought of something else.

I don't know about anyone else, but if I am having difficulty spacing something I like to make it clearly too loose and then clearly too tight, and then I know the correct value is somewhere in between.

So if you have shift + up and down arrow keys move both side bearings simultaneously by say 2 units, then the user could use this function to get a rough indication of correct spacing. Then he or she could release the shift key and make the finer final adjustment, as you describe.

yuri's picture

I consider it OK to change some defaults in first-number version change (from 4.x to 5.0 for example) but when we go from 5.0.2 to 5.0.3 that's too much :)

Anyway, I just implemeted the feature as an experiment and it seems to work perfectly. Thank you!

dezcom's picture

Yuri,
Thank you for being responsive to us here. Many of us spend much of our waking hours with FLS and would be able to get more sleep if it were to have an improved interface. :-)

ChrisL

billtroop's picture

And don't forget the TAB!

We're in the metrics panel. We change left sidebearing manually. Now we want to tab over to right sidebearing . . . . tab tab tab tab tab is an important key key key key

I had not realized there was so much difference between Mac and Win. I could perfectly well be using Win version but was enjoying Mac so much I didn't see the point. However, I will switch over to Win before adding to my gripe list, recognizing that Win always comes first with Fontlab. Truthfully, I have found that the build I am using on Mac is substantially more stable than the building I am using on Win, which is not what one would expect.

billtroop's picture

and my first grip about the Win build I am using is that it seems exactly the same as the Mac build when you're in the metrics table of the metrics window . . . . .

"- Shortcuts in the MW. On Windows it is designed in a way that it is not needed to use mouse at all - everything can be done by keyboard. I will check if that was not lost during the Mac port."

Not in my Win build it ain't.

billtroop's picture

Re metrics.txt (and ... how much sense does it make that there are three possible places it can go though only one of them actually has any effect ...), there are three classes: uppercase, lowercase, and smallcaps. Are there any other classes that are recognized by this file, such as numbers, punctuation, other, whatever? Where might they be defined and perhaps altered? (and not that it should be necessary to do this . . . . )

yuri's picture

Bill, what is "tab panel"? In FLS terminology it is a horizontally-oriented table that can be located on top or at the bottom of the main metrics/kerning editing table. There is main area, panel, table (vertically-oriented, at the right) and a ruler (thin line that shows metrics data for the current line and is not editable).

If you are talking about the same panel then (in Win version) Tab works there, it is used to go to previous and (with Shift) glyph. Vertical arrow keys allow to select which value you want to modify in the current glyph.

billtroop's picture

>Bill, what is “tab panel”?

Yuri, you must mean metrics panel. When I said metrics panel, I should have have said 'metrics table' -- the vertically oriented, editable panel which shows the entire font's metrics. Let us call the vertical arrangement the metrics table and the horizontal arrangement the metrics panel.

Because the only way we can automatically generate context for succeeding characters is by using the metrics table, this will be the primary way we navigate through metrics.

If, on the other hand, you had made it possible to generate a fitting string and then, by having the first incidence of the control character be a kind of master character, and then, each time you change that master character (for example by next/previous character) you change ALL incidences of the master character in the fitting string, then, we would be using the metrics panel, not the metrics table, as our primary metrics editing area.

But you didn't. Honestly, you will never, never, never understand what David, me, or any of the rest of us are talking about until you spend a couple of days sitting down with us. Discussion of this kind, by post and email, is a complete waste of time. Because more than fifteen or so years after being the best programmer of font design programs, you still have absolutely no idea how a font designer actually works. It is time to find out. Start with Berlow. In the entire world, there is nobody better to start with. The problem here is not intelligence, is not intuition. It is fifteen years of bad communication.

No matter how busy you think you are, drop it and force yourself to spend some time with a few key people. And I don't mean just an hour or so gabbing. I mean several hours with each, patiently observing how a font actually gets designed. There is no substitute for this. It is now abundantly clear -- indeed it has been clear for at least the past ten years -- that this is what you need to do. Words just don't do it. You've got see it, you've got to experience it. Don't you begin to see what a complete waste of time words are? The hundred misunderstandings on this thread, so time-consuming to elucidate, illustrate that.

yuri's picture

Bill, every designer has very different approaches to do the same things with the font. I am listening to many designers and I've spent quite some time learning how some of them work. In ideal world it will be possible to adjust every tool and every UI element of the program to fit any possible type designer. In a reality we have to make a tool that will suit as many designers (professional and not) as possible. So we have to make compromises. Again, it give us no excuse to make errors and we always try to fix them.

But you are right, we really need to learn more. I will be in Frankfurt on Typotechnica in few weeks, then I will certainly come to Brighton. Maybe TypeCon too. If anyone is ready to share any FLS or Fog experience with me - I will be glad to run my camera.

Actually, it will be even better if anyone interested can just record some routine font-editing process (metrics editing or anything else) with good screen-capture software. It will let us analyse the workflow and isolate any UI problems that eat time.

However, it is also necessary to just learn FLS if you want to use it at full power.

yuri's picture

"Automated Template", proposed by Bill:
Very similar thing can be already done in FLS using the Preview panel. In preview panel when you enter '@' into sample string it is automatically replaced by "current glyph" - glyph in GW that is active or currently selected glyph in MW. Which means that you may make something like "H@H@O@A@V@T" and put it into Preview panel. Then when you select different glyphs in MW, preview panel will automatically update.

This is certainly not the same as having this feature built into MW, but it may help.

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