Autohinting: Fontlab v AFDK 2.5

Ramiro Espinoza's picture

Hi there,

I've been making some experiments with the AFDK 2.5 autohinting and I rather like its outputs.
Problem is it autohints .PFA or OTF files and I would like to have these hints in my FL (or UFO) masters.
Is there a way to export the AFDK generated hints in the OTF font back to my FL master file?

Thanks in advance.


Ramiro Espinoza's picture

OK, I just found the FL scripts inside one of the AFDK folders. I installed them and it works. Now I can run the AFDK autohinting inside FL. The script that calculate V and H stems is also very cool. I like it :)
It is a pity that Miguel Sousa's PDFs do not mention that you can run these scripts inside Fontlab.

John Hudson's picture

Note that running the AFDKO autohint script in FontLab does not write flex hints; if you want flex hints, you need to run the external autohinter. I've got it in the back of my head that there are other differences too.

Ramiro Espinoza's picture

Thanks John! Maybe Miguel Sousa will pay a visit to this post and enlighten us on the subject (fingers crossed :) )

Ramiro Espinoza's picture

Wait... but after you have run the AFDK auto hinting inside FL with the script, you can correct what you want and press the "Automatically generate Flex hints..." check box when necessary. Or won't it work?

Ramiro Espinoza's picture

I found this:

"Not the macro, but FontLab Studio. All you have to do is to activate flexhint generation in the FontInfo dialog of FLS (Not in the options dialog!). FLS will add the flexhinting. Note, that this will not destroy the autohinting from the macro! There is no disadvantage with regard to the macro. Just use the bug fixed version, because then you can choose, if you want to generate hints with or without replacement.
If you want to convince yourself, just autohint your font one time with the macro (with activated flexhint option) and one time from the command line (with flexhint option). Then decompile the name table of both font files with TTX and compare them with the help of a program like UltraCompare.|


Richard Fink's picture

Thanks Ramiro. Good catch.

Now, if only someone would tell me what a "V counter hint" is....

dezcom's picture

it is for all the counter space on your veranda, Rich ;-P

charles ellertson's picture


1711, from Hindi varanda, which probably is from Port. varanda, originally "long balcony or terrace," of uncertain origin, possibly related to Sp. baranda "railing," and ultimately from V.L. *barra "barrier, bar." Fr. véranda is borrowed from Eng.

Also where Thomas Jefferson use to smoke hemp...

dezcom's picture

"...Also where Thomas Jefferson use to smoke hemp..."


Richard Fink's picture

Look, I can't be expected to know this because at some point along the route from north to south on the East Coast, a back porch becomes a patio. Further south it's a veranda and then - at around the Mason-Dixon line, I think - it becomes a lanai.
Enough to make one get a prescription for hemp.

charles ellertson's picture

Wait until you have to factor in east to west...

John Hudson's picture

Or head up to Canada, where its a deck.

blokland's picture

Ramiro: ‘Then decompile the name table of both font files with TTX and compare them with the help of a program like UltraCompare.’

Another way of comparing (some of) the guts of OpenType fonts, which does not require decompiling, is provided by DTL CompareMaster.


Té Rowan's picture

And I who thought that V counter hints were tips on finding shows and stuff with 'V' in the name: "V", "Codename: Sailor V", "V for Vendetta", so one could tot them up.

Richard Fink's picture

Frank: I had printed out the manual for DTL OTMaster a long time ago but never really read through it so I packed it today for a five day trip where I'll have the time to finally peruse it.
But it got me to thinking that I wish there was a simple, one-page summary of DTL's product line and what they all do that the other tools in the market don't or can't.
The RELEVANCE of DTLOtmaster to certain situations is really apparent once you:
1) have the need
2) Experiment with the product

But is there something you've got posted somewhere that spells all that out? I mean, the main strengths simply stated. (I've perused your site, but there's a lot of stuff with a lot of features and therefore it's tough to key in on exactly what problem(s) the products solve and how they compare head-to-head with alternative products.)

Ramiro Espinoza's picture

Hi Frank,
For the moment, I am more interested in the new version of Kern Master you have promised for 2012. Please, keep us updated about it.

blokland's picture

Richard: ‘ […] one-page summary of DTL's product line […] the main strengths simply stated.

Currently we have the following range of products (I cut and pasted some of the following texts from the DTL web sites):

      DTL FontMaster suite
DTL FontMaster is a set of utilities for professional font production. It includes a module for designing and editing letters in beziér format (BezierMaster), interpolating fonts (BlendMaster), testing and correcting glyph contours (ContourMaster), generating and converting font formats (DataMaster), the editing of the IK format (IkarusMaster), generating and editing kerning pairs (KernMaster) and scanning and auto-tracing letters and logos (TraceMaster).
      DTL BezierMaster, DataMaster, and IkarusMaster contain the modified URW++ version of Adobe’s Hatch Open Type (HOT) tool, which is also part of OTM. This means that the character set does not have to match the characters listed in the OpenType Layout features file, because all features that are not covered by the character set will be removed automatically (‘subset’) during compiling. All FM modules are batch-oriented.

FM is currently only available for Windows. Newly programmed versions of a couple of the listed modules will become available for OS X, to start with KernMaster 2012 this year. Perhaps we will make a separate module for manual digitizing under Mac OS X, which IkarusMaster currently supports for Windows.

      DTL OTMaster
This is a sort of Swiss knife for OpenType and TrueType fonts. One can use the application on a relatively simple level for altering for instance name tables or for adding, removing, or editing glyphs. Because of the modified HOT tool, it is also very easy to generate OT layout tables using an ‘all covering’ features file.
      OTM can also be used for entering and altering the guts of .otf and .ttf fonts, for editing mark positioning using a GUI (one could for instance import an existing feature file for for instance Arabic, and subsequently put the marks on their appropriate places)

      DTL CompareMaster
A small program for comparing the metrics, hinting, and contour data of OTF with OTF, OTF with Type1, and Type1 with Type1 fonts. The contours (showing the differences) can be plotted as PS files.

      DTL LetterModeller
This gives you some idea of a future program for parametrized type design and font editing, which we are working on.


Nick Shinn's picture

What about HintMaster, or is that covered by CompareMaster?

Richard Fink's picture

Thanks Frank - doing a copy paste on this. Succinct is hard to do, but you've certainly done it.
Somewhere, not sure where yet, I'll be writing up something on font tools.

The only thing missing is the comparison to the feature sets of the other products on the market. I mean, being an OTMaster user, I certainly know what it does for me that I can't get with other tools. But I had to find that out for myself and it was harder than it should of been. AND I could easily have passed OTMaster by and still be stuck scripting TTX or something like that. (Somebody on T-phile, once characterized OTMaster as 'TTX on steroids'. Not a bad description.)

BTW - I am ASSUMING that demo versions of all are available?


blokland's picture

Ramiro: ‘Please, keep us updated about it.

Hallo Ramiro, I definitely will do this.

Nick: ‘What about HintMaster […]

We don’t have a separate autohinting tool. The ones included in the FM tools are very good though; the cradle for the hinting technology stood in Hamburg at URW, after all. A couple of years ago (I think it was in Frankfurt) Miguel Sousa and I compared Adobe’s Type1 hinter with the URW++ one, and I recall that Miguel was impressed. When it comes to TrueType hinting, the IKARUS-based tools are also very good. But, again, we don’t have a separate hinting tool –at least not at this moment.

Richard: ‘The only thing missing is the comparison to the feature sets of the other products on the market.

I will see if we can improve the information on this. Over the years we organized exclusive FM conferences in ’s-Hertogenbosch, The Hague, and Hamburg, and also almost every year FM sessions at the ATypI conferences (which we sponsor also every year), where the functionality was discussed. So far, we did not receive many invitations for other conferences on font technology. Our experience is, that the majority of people interested in our products have an IKARUS background and are technically very savvy. And I must underline here that all the DTL/URW++ products are developed for internal use in the first place anyway.

Richard: ‘BTW - I am ASSUMING that demo versions of all are available?

Yes, you can download these from the DTL FontTools web site.


Richard Fink's picture

"When it comes to TrueType hinting, the IKARUS-based tools are also very good."

Hmmmm... wasn't aware that DTL's tools were capable of TT autohinting. I'll download whatever seems like the appropriate demo app, but exactly which product(s) would I need for that, Frank?

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