FontLab vs. Glyphs

lex's picture

Who has any experience editing/designing with "Glyphs' (http://schriftgestaltung.de/) - in other words, how would someone compare Glyphs vs. FontLab in terms of features and usability.

I think the most important question is if it is possible to create a complete font in "Glyphs" e.g. after having all the single shapes prepared in Illustrator...?

Many Thanks - Alex

1996type's picture

Glyphs has a very handy 'smooth corners' function which I use occasionaly, but it's still in development I believe, so for now. I'd go for Fontlab if I were you.

blank's picture

Glyphs is a decent entry-level font design tool. It’s a terribly inefficient program because it crams too many ideas into one tabbed window, which leads to lots of annoying tab switching and zooming. But from a new user’s perspective that eliminates much of Fontlab’s harsh learning curve, so that’s probably a net gain.

Synthview's picture

Hello everybody :)

I’m intensively testing Glyphs since, more or less, May 2010 and honestly I like it very much. Of course is a 0.X beta; some functionalities aren’t ready yet and there are some little bugs (but Font Lab has bugs too and it’s not free).
I’m designing and developing 2 font faces with Glyphs and I can definitely say that Yes, you can create a complete font, or you’ll be able to do very soon (for instance, I’m waiting to some advanced OT implementations to be ready).

About the UI, I’m sorry to say I’ve never seen an uglier interface than FontLab (!)

I find Glyphs’ UI much easier, friendlier and visually pleasant.

Working with nodes is lovely (quite similar to FL but a bit nicer).

Personally I prefer to have my App in one window only especially as I can edit my glyph into an inline text (great feature!).

Glyphs automatizes many tasks you have to do manually in Font Lab; it does the stupid job leaving me thinking about design.
In particular:
1. it auto generates standard OT features
2. it auto generates all derivative glyphs combining components (accented letters etc.)
3. you can easily set kerning classes and dynamic side-bearings (that means to give your glyph the value of another and make them change together) all inside your editing window.
4. you can keep only one production file with open paths; Glyphs merges them automatically while exporting
5. Glyphs interpolation feature seems good (I’ve tried it on sans-serif only for now)
6. for now glyphs is free, as FontLab isn’t

Glyphs drawbacks
1. You can’t export in TTF nor PS (personally I don’t care, but maybe someone would like it)
2. Kerning management on the entire-font or multi-layered-font scale could be easier
3. for the moment you can import .otf files but without reading OT features (It seems it should be implemented in next releases).

gargoyle's picture

You've got nothing to lose by trying out the beta of Glyphs while it's free. (It will be a paid app once finished, though the developer hasn't yet hinted at the price.) You can copy and paste outlines from Illustrator, though just as with FontLab they need to be properly scaled first. While Glyphs can't match the extensive functionality of FontLab, it's got the basic tools and offers some unique features and clever ideas, all within a comparatively elegant UI. I can't think of any reason it couldn't be used to develop a complete font, but keep in mind it's beta software, so save frequently.

lex's picture

Thank you for all the valuable replies!

twardoch's picture

What I can add to that is that Georg Seifert, the developer of Glyphs, joined the FontLab team a couple of months ago. We've been working with him on our new applications ever since, and it's a very promising collaboration.

Best regards,
Adam Twardoch
Fontlab Ltd.

schriftgestalt's picture

I’m the developer of Glyphs. I posted some notes about my status with FontLab on my page schriftgestaltung.de/news.html.

Georg Seifert

Stephen Coles's picture

Is Georg still at FontLab?

twardoch's picture

> Is Georg still at FontLab?

Sure he is :) Actually, the interesting stuff he's doing for us is just only starting.

brianskywalker's picture

I personally liked the functions for accents in Glyphs, which uses anchors.

Chris Risdon's picture

So I haven't been on the forum in a long while. I was curious, is Georg at Fontlab now? And if so what does that mean for future support/development of Glyphs? The link to Georg's blog post no longer works.

colon's picture

Yeah, is Glyphs of today all we will see of it or will there be future releases? Let us know.

gargoyle's picture

Glyphs appears to be under active development. Version 1.1 was released a couple of days ago.

schriftgestalt's picture

To make it clear:
I’m working for FontLab as a consultant on interface and software design. This is part time and does not effect my work on Glyphs. I work on it most of my time and improve and expand functionality.

Georg

TipoTipos's picture

I've read the Appstore and website info, played a little with the beta version and one thing I haven't understood is where exactly is Glyphs aiming as a development effort. In the long run, is it intended to be a basic font editor (sort of like Type Tool), a more full-fledged font production application (sort of like Fontlab) or something else entirely?

Mark Simonson's picture

I like it. I work with several other UFO-based tools, so it's easy to add Glyphs to my workflow. I have not been using it long, but here are some of the things I like about it so far:

- Simple, clean interface that lets me focus on what I'm doing.
- Automatic anchor placement and accented glyph generation (this is one of the big things I've been using it for).
- Ability to edit font data pretty much wherever it appears (e.g., the glyph names and unicode values in the font window).
- The extensive list of "smart" groups in the left column of the main window, with the ability to add your own. (Robofont has a similar feature, but comes with almost none pre-made.)
- The ability to type in the glyph window, so I can see the glyph I'm working on in context.
- Virtual slanted sidebearings.
- Simple search filter in the main font window (e.g., type "caron" and instantly see only the glyphs that have "caron" in the name).

Things I don't like so much:

- Transformation tools seem difficult to use (or maybe I haven't figured out how they are supposed to work).
- No way to go to the next or previous glyph in the glyph drawing view.

I have not used all the features yet, and have not started or finished or completely created a font in it, but it has been a useful addition to my tool set and has already saved me a lot of work. I am also starting to work somewhat with Robofont.

I don't see Glyphs by itself replacing FontLab, but it's not hard to imagine spending more of my time in Glyphs + Robofont + the other UFO tools than in FontLab. It will also be interesting to see how FontLab evolves in this changing landscape (and with Georg on board).

schriftgestalt's picture

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your nice summary.

- No way to go to the next or previous glyph in the glyph drawing view.

There is a way to do this. on the compact/MacBook keyboards use Fn+left/right on the extended keyboards use the scroll up/down keys (the two in the middle of the six keys block above the cursor keys).

- Transformation tools seem difficult to use (or maybe I haven't figured out how they are supposed to work).

I know that the transformation panel is a bit confusing. I will try to explain.

Transformation Panel:

  1. First item, like in Adobe apps, is to choose the origin of the transforamtion.
  2. Then two buttons to mirror the selection.
  3. This this is the tricky part. If you put in 10% and click the "+" button it actually scales 110%, if you click the "-" button, it does exactly the opposite, scaling to 1/110% = 90,91%. So the both operation reverse themselves exactly.
  4. The rotation and slanting should be clear
  5. The slanting has one hidden functionality. If you hold down the shift key while clicking the slant right button, it actually "cursivies" the letter. It applies corrections that remove the slanted appearance. This only works if you have set the standard stems correctly. The same option is available in the transformation filter.

I hope that helps a bit. If you have more question, please ask (either here or in the Glyphs forum). I’m happy to help.

And can you describe your workflow with UFO - RoboTools - Glyphs?

Mark Simonson's picture

Thanks for the tips, Georg. I will try them out.

Regarding my workflow, it's a bit in flux at the moment with all these new tools becoming available (well, two new tools, anyway).

Up to this point, I have used UFO mainly when I want to use Metrics Machine, Superpolator, Rounding UFO or other UFO-based tool, but still doing most of the production in FontLab.

I am interested in moving to a more UFO-centric workflow and Glyphs seems well-suited to be part of that. I like having some flexibility in choosing tools. The .vfb format sort of forces you to stay inside FontLab for most of the process, and only using .ufo in a supplementary way. Having editors like Glyphs and Robofont that can work directly with .ufo format gives me more options, which I'm now exploring.

Bendy's picture

>The slanting has one hidden functionality. If you hold down the shift key while clicking the slant right button, it actually "cursivies" the letter. It applies corrections that remove the slanted appearance. This only works if you have set the standard stems correctly. The same option is available in the transformation filter.

Wow, this sounds very interesting. Does it correct the round letters as well (which may not have stems)?

schriftgestalt's picture

Does it correct the round letters as well (which may not have stems)?

It rounds especially round forms. The stems (Font Info > Masters) are needed to "scale" the effect.

dezcom's picture

Georg, Does the "cursivies" tool only work if you have done it as onestep inside "gyphs" or can you import texted slant elsewhere and then correct t in "Glyphs" uses the same function but not applying slant?

ChrisL

schriftgestalt's picture

Does the "cursivies" tool only work if you have done it as onestep inside "gyphs" or can you import texted slant elsewhere and then correct t in "Glyphs" uses the same function but not applying slant?

You can’t only apply the correction. But why not slant it back first?

G

robarnow's picture

Glyphs is great, and seems much easier to use than Fontlab Studio so far. There's a 30-day free trial, so I'd definitely recommend it.

gilesdickerson's picture

So here's the million dollar question...I've bought FontLab and to keep it current, they're recent update. I have NOT used it yet. I'm about to start taking some typefaces (mostly display) that I've created for various projects and turn them into full faces for clients to use and for me to use for my work.

Should I just cut my losses and buy Glyphs?
Or does the future look promising enough for FontLab to start working with it and stick with it for now?

These guys seem so (maybe a little righteously so) confident that we should all ditch FontLab for Glyphs right now, and portrays fontlab as a lost cause. How much of this is opinion and how much is tried and tested understanding of the differences in the two apps? What are the major type foundries using? Like:

http://www.fountaintype.com/catalogue

http://www.vllg.com/fonts

https://ourtype.com/#//

http://www.dstype.com/posts/#dstype

Do they (you) feel the same way?

Bert Vanderveen's picture

I have been reading up on this subject and found that some (maybe not from a quite large enough sample) designers use Glyph to do the drawing and FL for the production side.

William Berkson's picture

It seems that quite a few are also using Robofont. I think there is going to be a lot of flux over the next few years on drawing programs. Until the next version of FontLab comes out I doubt there were be a clear winner. Then probably there will be some kind of movement one way or another, but who knows...

blank's picture

I doubt that there will ever be a clear winner, but soon we may not need one. If every app offers native UFO support we will be able to just use the best tool for any task and move between them on the fly.

dezcom's picture

The danger of the "clear winner" was proven years ago by Quark and is now proven again by Adobe. Developers who have no competition grow lazy and unresponsive.
Also, an open system encourages more creative development by all parties. If a small group or even single individual were to create a truly viable auto-hinting tool, they would not need to develop an entire font production product, but could simply sell their "one trick pony" to everyone and have it fit right in to any work flow.

twardoch's picture

Chris,

as I've written here several times, I agree with you. From our own perspective, it's been actually quite a burden to practically be the only font tool company on the market (apart from DTL/URW++). Many users have asked to implement various kinds of functionalities in FontLab Studio, and the tool has grown to become quite complex. We're happy that there are alternatives now, because the tool makers can learn from each other, and the tools can complement each other (provided the exchange of data is easy, and we hope to achieve that with the UFO format).

Best,
Adam

dezcom's picture

BRAVO! Brother Adam :-)

dezcom's picture

TYPO Magazine Winter issue has an interview with Georg Seifert on page 24.

It is well illustrated and helpful in describing Glyphs.

Synthview's picture

Dear Adam,
are you going to implement a full UFO 2/3 compatibility in next FL release?
Using actual robofab macros, the result doesn't seem to be fully satisfactory.
Thanks

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Adam answered that one already on another thread:

[22.Jan.2012 8.43am]
> as per Tal's recommendation, we definitely want to have UFO2 support in FontLab Studio 6. "FLS7" will likely support both UFO2 and UFO3.

Synthview's picture

Thanks Cristobal.

notanotherfolio's picture

Hey guys,

Does anyone have anything to add to this debate now that Glyphs has been out for a while now? Very curious to hear from experienced users from both sides, as the investment of each is quite costly. I am about to install the Glyphs demo after using the FLS demo for a while to check out its features.

Best,
Pete

dezcom's picture

Try the Glyphs demo first then before you decide. You will be best able to compare how you work with them both. The hardest part is switching from one to another. If you truly are just beginning, then you have no unlearning to do.

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