I NEED A STABLE MAC VERSION OF FONTLAB NOW!

Kristian M's picture

Setup:
I own a MacBook Pro i7 2,8 Ghz processor with 8 GB memory, 250 MB SSD, Lion installed (10.7.4) with FontLab 5.1.2 (4447).

Problem:
Crashes constantly (ten times a day) an irregular but usually when editing in glyph-window-mode.

Any one else with similar setup – do you have this problem?

Right now I’m looking for replacement software like ”Glyphs” any suggestions?

–FontLab, SHAPE-UP!!!
In one years time I’m going to need retina-supported software as well!

BW,
KTKM
(Frustrated but devoted FL-User since 2004)

clauses's picture

Fontlab will never deliver because they can't. I moved away from Fontlab a few months ago and I've been extremely happy with that decision. Go with Robofont or Glyphs instead.

J Weltin's picture

Funny enough FL is very stable on my G4. Better stick to it …

hrant's picture

If you must use FontLab, maybe switch to Windows.

hhp

dezcom's picture

I have been using FontLab on Mac 10.7.4 with hardly ever a crash since 4447 came out. I only have problems with MS-Office, Word.

John Hudson's picture

On my Mac, I only run the Windows version of FontLab, under Parallels.

Karl Stange's picture

On my Mac, I only run the Windows version of FontLab, under Parallels.

John, which version of Parallels and the Windows OS are you running and do you use VOLT through this set up as well? Also which version of OS X are you running?

John Hudson's picture

I'm still running Snow Leopard. I'll probably update to Lion when I'm reasonably confident about the latest version of FontLab. My only complaint with the Parallels approach is that it can be slow if I have more than a few apps running.

I'm running Windows 7 under Parallels v.7 (build 7.0.15106) . I tried installing an early Win8 beta under Parallels, but it didn't seem to work; I'll probably try again with the release version, presuming that Parallels might need updating to handle it.

Yes, I also run VOLT this way. Actually, I do almost all my work on the Mac in the Windows environment, since that is what I am used to. I only use the Mac OS for running UFO tools like Prepolator and UFOStretch. Oh, and for watching films.

Karl Stange's picture

Thanks, John. I'm intrigued about what films you might watch but will save that for another thread.

Nick Shinn's picture

I’ve been running Fontlab 5.1.1 on Mac OS 10.7.4 (whatever creature that is), for almost a year.
It’s very stable.

Occasionally I’ll be working on a glyph and the vectors will fly all over the place, very scary, but Undo plus Save fixes it.

oldnick's picture

Do you people listen to yourselves? Apple abandoned its core mission years ago, and became a boutique designer brand for airheads. Is it nostalgia or simple stubbornness that keeps you from seeing this?

OTOH, yesterday, a guy was telling me what a super deal Apple stock is, and he should know, because he has an MBA…and is working as a stock-boy at Target.

hrant's picture

As John hints however there are some font tools that only run on OSX. Which however is not nice.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

I'm no hardcore Mac fan, Nick. I've only had one for about a year, and only because some of the more interesting recent font tools are Mac only.

oldnick's picture

Okay: I am not an OS Nazi. If something works for you and it’s Mac only, that is cool. Strokes for folks, and all. All I wonder is: is “interesting” also “useful”?

jasonc's picture

I think until/unless Tal makes a Windows version of Metrics Machine, we're kind of stuck.

Jason C

hrant's picture

1) Why do you think Metrics Machine is so critical?
2) Why doesn't he?

hhp

oldnick's picture

Hrant,

Excellent questions. BTW, whatever happened to DTL Kernmaster 2012? I have a free upgrade coming.

Which will be welcome, after I pissed away €255 on DTL Countourmaster six years ago…

John Hudson's picture

Of the Mac-only tools I've tried, UFOStretch is the one that I use most frequently and have found very useful. I've not tried Metrics Machine because I have my own kerning workflow that targets VOLT rather than AFDKO feature code.

jasonc's picture

I suppose "critical" might not be the correct term, and maybe if you've got a kerning workflow that works for you, you aren't likely to change.
But it's so much more efficient, I wouldn't want to have to go back to working without it.

Jason C

writlarge's picture

I'm beginning to think FontLab has basically shut their doors except for rooking some of us remaining suckers in and taking our money.
I have support requests that have gone unacknowledged for two weeks now. Makes me wish I hadn't paid for the software, and bought something else instead.

eliason's picture

Glyphs is not crash/bug-free, but communication from the developer inspires more confidence that it's on a better trajectory than FontLab. I have found it a pleasure to work with so far.

hrant's picture

That's how FontLab used to be. So the/one question is: if/when Glyphs becomes as successful as FontLab -which means growing the operation- might it not also lose its responsiveness?

I remember being a Lightwave user on the Amiga when the whole thing was one guy whom you could call and talk to. Hah.

hhp

oldnick's picture

What precisely does “as successful as Fontlab” really mean? As successful as Monotype? If so, we are all SO screwed…

Karl Stange's picture

I remember being a Lightwave user on the Amiga when the whole thing was one guy whom you could call and talk to. Hah.

Maybe we could look at reviving, TypeSmith. Never used it but I loved the Amiga OS. Did you ever use it, Hrant?

hrant's picture

Now that you've jogged my memory, yes I do remember trying out TypeSmith! But Fontographer ran so well* via MacOS emulation that I had no reason to use it much.

* In fact all Mac programs ran better on my Amiga than on a Mac (because of the co-processors).

hhp

dezcom's picture

Bring back FontStudio

William Berkson's picture

My impression is that many who are producing the most and best stuff, if they are not using FontLab, are using Robofont. It would be interesting to know who is using what now, and why.

hrant's picture

Define "best".

hhp

Karl Stange's picture

I use a combination of tools; primarily FontLab but also FontForge, DTL OTMaster and increasingly TTX. I have trialled both Glyphs and RoboFont and both seem like great applications but as I do not currently require either I would not consider moving unless FontLab broke completely. Not to suggest that I am doing anything that would be considered the "best stuff", whatever that means.

dezcom's picture

Bill, I assume you mean the FontBureau folks? Since they were big sponsors for RoboFont, they probably had great input on what went into it and became committed to using it because of their involvement. I don't think the "Best Stuff" comment is applicable or even important. My guess would be that the Brothers Berlow needed something that fit into their workflow and were sick and tired of waiting for FontLab to fix their mess. You have worked with FB so you know more than I but it seems to me that they had a set of tools from several sources (Metrics Machine included) that did everything but be a drawing tool. They then made RoboFont into their drawing tool and kissed the bug-infested prior software of choice goodbye. They have the developers of RoboFont on speed dial and are listened to quickly there.
This has nothing to do with "best stuff" and everything to do with an efficient production process that is not held hostage by the snail-paced exterminators at FontLab.
Personally, I have all three applications (RoboFont, Glyphs, and FontLab). My problem is that everything I have in process was begun in FontLab and I have had difficulty switching over without spending my time learning the new ones instead of finishing what I have on the front burner now. I will begin my next "from scratch" font with RoboFont to give it a shot [I too am sick of the slow pace in bug fixes--notice I say bug fixes and not "new features" because new features just bring new bugs].

As to your question? I don't know what other people use. Perhaps you could post it as a survey question on Typophile and see?

William Berkson's picture

Yeah, a survey would be good. I don't mean just FontBureau. I think Mark Simonson is using Robofont and also Hoefler and Frere-Jones, but I may be wrong. I'm guessing that there are quite a few in Europe, but I don't know. I'm still using FontLab, but I have used Metrics Machine, and have Prepolator and Superpolator, which are amazing, but in the end were not suited for what I wanted right now.

Hrant, 'best' for me combines excellence in craft and aesthetics, but I know there's a big subjective factor...

hrant's picture

Maybe FontBureau should've paid a bit more to make it proprietary? (Unless they realized it would leak out anyway...)

hhp

dezcom's picture

Why would they want it to be proprietary? There is no gain for them and they got added support from all of us other folks who also purchased the software. They just want tools to work with, not a jump into the software business.

Kristian M's picture

I feel I should say something? But I enjoy this conversation too much! I just realized I have RMX-tools installed as well! Would that add to the problem? I also noticed that Glyphs is far from stable, but at least they focus on the user experience?
People are going on about Robofont! Is it stable for let say 4 MM’s with 700 characters?

KTKM

dezcom's picture

I also have RMX tools installed and they cause me NO problem whatsoever.

William Berkson's picture

Kristian, you'll have to ask those using Robofont, but I would think that it would do fine. But you would do interpolation in conjunction with Superpolator, not Multiple Masters. The idea of Robofont is that you use it with other UFO tools.

Mark Simonson's picture

I have been using RoboFont over the summer and plan to continue using it. FontLab is still part of my toolbox, and probably will stay there. I haven't made anything from start to finish in it yet, and I definitely don't feel as fluent with it as I am with FontLab yet. But it also took some time to get accustomed to FontLab.

Seems to me that RoboFont's biggest fans are developers who are big users of UFO and Python, and who want total control over their workflow (as opposed to a workflow that's dictated by the font editor). It fits right in with the other existing UFO-centered tools better than FontLab. Plus, you can endlessly customize it using Python, and this is a big part of its appeal. Out of the box, it's not as capable as FontLab, but it's not meant to be. It's intended as a glyph editing and drawing component of a larger set of tools. So, comparing it to FontLab is a bit of apples and oranges.

dezcom's picture

Mark,
My main problem is in taking a FontLab file over to RoboFont. I have succeeded in making a UFO after stripping all the apostrophe marks out of the classes. My problem is that RoboFont balks at the code written by FontLab and me. I can output a font error free in FontLab but RoboFont has an error message for several lines of code--mostly, it can't find the class definitions to look up even though I can see them in RoboFont. I am trying to figure out how and where to paste the code text from FEA & FLC files to make RoboFont happy.

Mark Simonson's picture

Have you tried asking on the RoboFont forum?

I would add that RoboFont and the whole world of UFO-based tools assume a fair amount of knowledge about how OpenType fonts are built (particularly using the AFDKO), in a way that FontLab doesn't.

It's a bit more low-level in a lot of ways. FontLab tends to try to hide a lot of this detail as part of making an all-in-one solution. Glyphs is similar in this regard.

I would also say that the documentation could be better. Something like either the FontLab manual or Leslie Cabarga's Learn FontLab Fast that gives why's and how to's of using RoboFont/UFO workflow, rather than just the what's of the existing documentation, would be a big help. There is almost a "you're smart, you should be able to figure it out" attitude, if I'm not reading too much into it.

dezcom's picture

I feel the same way, Mark :-)

hrant's picture

Or: "We're busier than you are smart."

That can make sense in a brutal "survival of the fittest" sort of way, but the problem is it tends to exclude people who are smart enough, but also very busy: they can only afford to pick up a new tool if somebody helps them hit the ground running. It's not gracious -and in the big picture not fruitful- to exclude them.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Frankly, I have no interest in knowing how sausage is made; if a program does what it's supposed to do, I remain blissful in y ignorance of its workings. It is only when the program DOES NOT do what it's supposed to do that “deeper knowledge” becomes useful. Or, are you guys just a bunch of Jack Horners?

dezcom's picture

If FontLab were doing what I think it is supposed to do [run error free and not get in the way of production], I wouldn't have bothered looking or purchasing elsewhere.

True, I like to know what is under the hood, mostly so I can figure out problems on my own and not be held hostage to slow bug fixes.

I would be happy to do my coding in a text editor, and usually do. I also find a spreadsheet ap very handy to keep track of classes, search&replace, and refine sort orders.] I would like to know how to insert class text into the RoboFont file. Simple clues like "paste here" would do just fine. Better would be an "Import Classes" and "Import Features file".
I can see where to paste feature code but not "Classes" as a text file.

Mark Simonson's picture

Oh, well that's a simple answer: Paste them into the beginning of your feature code. (Actually, they can go anywhere as long as they precede the features that use them.)

I actually don't put my feature code directly into my font editor (either FontLab or RoboFont). Instead I do this:

include (features.fea)

...where features.fea is a text file (containing all my feature code) in the same directory as my font source file (.vfb or .ufo). I use TextMate or BBEdit to edit the code. Once it's saved, I can test the features in the font editor just as if I had typed them into my font editor.

This has two big advantages: Better code editing tools (like code completion and complex search and replace) and the ability to share the same feature code across a family of fonts.

You can use include multiple times for multiple files if you need to break things up more or have exceptions that don't apply to every member of a font family (like maybe all style don't have small caps). You can also use include in a .fea file if you want (though this tends to just make things more complex).

dezcom's picture

Thanks, Mark!!! I will try it!

Mark Simonson's picture

Don't forget that class definition syntax is a bit different than in FontLab. In FontLab you do this:

myclass: a b c d e

In AFDKO syntax you would do this:

@myclass = [a b c d e];

If you export your classes from FontLab into a text file, it does the conversion for you.

dezcom's picture

Mark,
I exported my classes into a text file which FontLab ends with .flc, is this what you mean?

Mark Simonson's picture

Yes, I think that's the extension it uses. I don't have my computer on front of me so I can't check.

oldnick's picture

Jeez: I love to see geniuses at work. I learn something new almost every day…then promptly forget it. Getting old sucks.

Mark Simonson's picture

Actually, no, Chris. The format of the .flc file is unique to FontLab. Nothing to do with feature file syntax.

What you want is the "Save features…" command in the little pop-up menu on the top left corner of the OpenType panel. This will export everything in feature file syntax, including the kerning classes and kern feature.

Note: Confusingly, RoboFont puts all your classes into its Groups feature. However, groups in RoboFont are not used by OpenType features. I'm not sure what they are good for. In any case, there is a RoboFont extension I would recommend called Groups2Features that does finish the job, allowing you to move any of your classes from groups into your feature code. I would also recommend the FeaturePreview extension.

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