what's the unit of measure for the FontLab grid? as far as i understood it is not measured in points.
can you set the FontLab grid in points?
No, you can't set it in points - that would be meaningless, as the type is itself scalable.
Fundamentally, the unit of measure in FontLab is in fractions of an em. You set the number of units to the em in your preferences - I think the default is 1000, which is the common units-per-em for Type 1 and OpenType CFF fonts. The other common value is 2048, which is commonly used for TrueType.
Wikipedia definition of "em": An em is a unit of measurement in the field of typography, equal to the point size of the current font. This unit is not defined in terms of any specific typeface, and thus is the same for all fonts at a given point size. So, 1 em in a 16 point typeface is 16 points.
Typophile definition: http://typophile.com/node/13761
The grid you see in some circs can be set to match a specific ration of the em to a target rez.
But it's not going to tell you everything. It's a hint about what to expect on screen. Not a promise.
thus, glyphs are scalable. well, i'm thinking of the print resolution which is usually 300 dpi, sometimes even more. or should i match the lpi resolution?
What are you trying to do? You can't really "match" anything from within FontLab. Once the font is in use, it is going to be scaled to all sorts of sizes that don't correspond to either FontLab's grid or to any specific printer resolution. That's the point of these outlines, they scale to any size, while retaining detail.
Or are you making bitmaps? If you are working with the bitmap editor, you may want to consider the sizes of your type (in height) as pixels per em, as in 9, or 12, or 24 pixels of vertical area. Those bitmaps will also look different, and appear to be different sizes, on different devices with different resolutions. On a Mac screen with 90 pixels/inch, bitmaps will look smaller than on an older 72-ppi monitor. On an iPhone, they'll look tiny, since the resolution is 200 ppi.
i draw glyphs in illustrator using a grid set in points then i paste into fontlab which sholdn't create mismatch. regretably if i try to modify such a glyph in fontlab later i can't because the fontlab grid is different. well i can do it, but the glyph won't be consistent anymore.
Just draw in FL. AI -> Fl path is a waste of time. Spend 5 days just drawing in FL and you will forget all about AI.
One big reason for this is the difference in the grids. The fonts have to end up in either 1000 units/em or 2048 units/em, so that's sort of the max that will get saved/used anyway.
Big reason #2: all the tools you use in AI are there in FL, plus the FL drawing tools are easier to get type shapes and outlines with directly. For the specific kind of drawing that is required for type design, FL's tools really are better/easier to use. You're probably very comfortable with Illustrator, but trust me, you will be equally comfortable with FL and spend less time moving outlines back and forth.
The FL grid is consistent; but it does snap every point to the grid, preventing you from making an outline that it can't export as PostScript.
i've already realised that FL has remarkable editing capabilities, but there are two major obstacles for me when trying to draw in FL:
1. FL has only basic Pathfinder tools, like three buttons, while illustrator CS3 has the excellent Pathfinder palette. it's easier to pathfind shapes than to draw all of them, considering that one has to draw hundreds of characters for a single typeface.
2. if i draw a glyph in FL, the transition points will be misteriously marked as corner ponts, and i still haven't find a solution for that. in my opinion, this might become a technical problem when building the final font file.