capsule review

FontLab 3.1

At a Glance
  • FontLab 3.1

    Macworld Rating

Since the advent of the Web, typography has taken a backseat to other design concerns. But those who want to produce their own typographical forms can turn to FontLab 3.1.2. The program, which helps you create new fonts, modify existing ones, and convert fonts from one format to another, is capable, but its interface makes rough work of designing fonts.

With FontLab, you can alter individual characters or entire typefaces and convert them from Mac to Windows and back. It offers many tools and multiple Undo levels. The program also lets you import characters from vector-based applications such as Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia FreeHand. You can save fonts in TrueType, Type 1, and Multiple Master formats.

However, FontLab was obviously made by a Windows-oriented crowd. The tool-bar icons are small, nondescriptive, and unlabeled. And because the documentation is completely Windows-oriented, with nary a Macintosh screen shot, FontLab is difficult to learn.

The program can also be difficult to use. You can export several characters to EPS format at once, using the Copy To EPS command -- but the command is inconveniently hidden in the Symbol menu. And bringing characters back into FontLab is a singularly tedious task, entailing liberal use of the copy and paste commands.

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Comprehensive typographer's tool with a wide range of format output choices
    • Powerful typeface- and character-modification tools

    Cons

    • Primitive, confusing interface
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