Thursday , May 23 2024
If you need the power of a professional font editing program, then FontLab Studio 5 is a must have.

Software Review: FontLab Studio 5 From FontLab Ltd.

FontLab Studio 5 is, at its base, a serious, versatile font editor that will appeal to many levels of users. First, and foremost, it is for large font foundries wishing to design and create new typefaces, and final font products. It is also for the smaller font houses that want to give that professional look to their products, and compete with the larger foundries. It will also work for design houses that need to keep their products fresh and vibrant by adding the flash of what a unique font design can bring.

The requirements to run FontLab Studio 5 are, for Mac, a Power PC or Intel Based Mac with Mac OS X v 10.2 or later installed (10.4 is recommended). For Windows, a PC that can run Windows 98 or later (including Vista). You will need at least 10 MB of free space on the hard drive, and 64 MB of RAM. You may need more to open larger fonts.

Since the early 2000's, FontLab Studio has been the standard, for commercial digital font development. FontLab was first developed around 1992 and ran only under Windows. In 1998 the first Mac OS product was released with FontLab 3. Today, FontLab Ltd, has a wide range of products with FontLab Studio 5 as its flagship.

So what is new with FontLab Studio 5?

• They have added better glyph design; glyphs are the characters that make up a font. They have added true tangent points, in-context glyph design with Neighbors and Shape groups; by having shape related glyphs appear in the background, it allows you to keep related shapes in sync. There are also color-customized and streamlined glyph windows.
• There are new metrics and kerning editing features such as multi-line previews; allowing you to view much smaller characters on the screen, better class kerning and smart auto-generation of classes.
• You can now import BDF files and create the rectangular block outlines using the Trace Pixels feature and make pixel fonts.
• Support for Unicode 4.1
• Multiple Master Support: This allows large multi-weight families to be contained in a single file as opposed to multiple files as in Fontographer.
• Improved OpenType support with better VOLT integration including round trip editing of complex-script fonts.
• Improved font proofing with five new printing modes and the Quick Test feature that tests fonts with system rendering.
• Redesigned preferences open and save enhancements and improved Python scripting.

Having worked with FontLab 4.3 a bit in the past, some of the things that I really liked about this version are the changes in the metric window. I love the multi-line preview. I like the way that tools can be arranged and hidden and I like the much more logical menu design. I also like the ease at which one can work within the metrics window. The in-context feature made it easy to get the size right.

FontLab Studio 5 is not an easy program to learn, but the support that FontLab provides in their easy to read and understand, 900+ page manual, user forums, and free email support is outstanding. It has been said that there have been times when a reported bug has been fixed within a day of its report.

If you want to see more, you can watch a series of video tutorials that show the use of FontLab Studio 5 or you can review the manuals or take a demo test drive. If you need the power of a professional font editing program, and have the willingness to learn how to work with it, then FontLab Studio 5 is a must have.

FontLab Studio 5 is available at the FontLab online store for $649.95.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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