4 best font editors

Best font editors

There are thousands of paid-for and free fonts available these days. But sometimes, when you just can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, creating a your own typeface could be the way to go – imagine that in your design portfolio!

Making your own fonts can be some of the most inspiring work you ever do but finding the font editor that’s right for you can be more than a little bit tricky. Here, London-based type designer Béla Frank considers the benefits and drawbacks of the four most popular font editors, laying out their pros and cons in a handy go-to style.

01. Fontlab Studio

Best font editors: Fontlab
FontLab is expensive but is it worth it?

At $649, FontLab Studio opens up the whole gamut of type design, from designing a single font to crafting a whole typeface library.

Pros:

  • Imports and exports fonts with support for up to 65,535 glyphs in a wide range of font formats
  • Offers an extended toolset
  • Can be used for a wide range of tasks, from outline editing to TrueType manual instructing
  • Scriptable
  • Runs on Mac as well as Windows

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve
  • Updates come rarely
  • Can be buggy
  • Documentation is less than satisfactory
  • Limited OpenType (no support for Arabic features, for example)
  • No native UFO file format support
  • Expensive

02. Fontographer

Best font editors: Fontographer
FontLab also created Fontographer for those with less of a budget

Coming in at $399, this is a cheaper option from the makers of FontLab, ideal for smaller projects.

Pros:

  • Quite easy to use
  • Intuitive interface
  • Automated processes
  • Imports and exports fonts with 32,000 glyphs in a wide range of font formats
  • Runs on Mac as well as Windows

Cons:

  • OpenType features are not preserved upon opening a font and code cannot be edited in the app, only imported as a feature-file
  • No native UFO support

03. Glyphs

Best font editors: Glyphs
Glyphs is great for font editing beginners

For beginners and casual users right through to seasoned type designers, and a snip at $300.

Pros:

  • Easy to learn, easy to use
  • Combined text and drawing views, in which layers can be automatically generated
  • Basic OpenType features that can be previewed
  • Scriptable and expandable
  • Extremely fast updates
  • Amazing support
  • Comes in two versions

Cons:

  • Mac only

04. Robofont

Best font editors: Robofont
Another expensive option but could this be the one for you?

For those looking for a scalable tool, and prepared to spend €400 for the privilege.

Pros:

  • Built in Python support and scalable
  • Loads of extra functions already available from a dedicated community
  • Full scripting access to objects and interface
  • Perfect base on which to build additional tools

Cons:

  • Mac only
  • Not the tool for quick jobs

This article originally featured in Computer Arts issue 229.

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