Dear Alphabettes: What is a good font editor for Windows 10?

Dear Alphabettes,
I worked in Typographer a long long time ago. I made a few of my fonts back then. What I would love to ask you, what is the modern version of that programme? which one can I use for the Windows 10. Thank you very much for your answer.

Dear Windows,

Thanks for your question. We are going to assume you are referring to Fontographer, which you can actually still buy (for Windows or Mac) from its vintage but functional website. What if you wanted to spread your wings a little and fly a bit closer to the sun. What would be your options then, Dear Windows?

At first, we thought this might be a quick LMGTFY situation. However, we treat each Dear Alphabettes question with the utmost respect it deserves. Also, we did that and got this hot mess:

a google search for "font design software for windows 10" turns up a bunch of unrelated things like CorelDRAW and Hallmark card design software.

Thanks but no thanks, Google.

CorelDRAW? Hello, 1998! Hallmark Card Studio? What are you even talking about?! The first page of results did welcome us to a few free editors (Birdfont is new to me), along with the anemic Wikipedia entry for “font editor”, but none of this really answers your question, Dear Windows.

That’s when we called in the experts. First, Alphabettes Windows correspondent Jess McCarty of Rare Bird Font Foundry has this to say about your query:

“I’ve spent 20 years working on both Mac & Windows. I’m currently using FontLab Studio 5 (FLS 5) and FontLab VI, running on Windows 10, for font development. These are the Windows editors “closest” to Fontographer. FWIW, I do have a copy of FLS 5 for my Mac as well Glyphs, but 99.9% of my production happens in Windows 10. Why? Quite simply, I began developing fonts waaaay before Glyphs was even a glimmer in Georg’s eye and got used to the FLS 5 workflow. A lot of designers will tell you that Glyphs is the only way to go but don’t let the Mac Fanclub intimidate you; it’s definitely possible to create professional fonts in Windows 10 and not just because that’s the OS you’re familiar with. Many developers prefer the drawing tools in VI — they’re comparable to Glyphs — but switch back to FLS 5 for the rest of the build, as it’s a bit less buggy & the kerning previews/controls are easier to use. FLS 5 is now somewhat stable and documented, which is advantageous if you’ve got better things to do than figure out whether the inevitable bugs are in your font or in your font editor. That being said, there are advantages to abandoning Windows for Glyphs; the construction of global scripts as well as complex Latin scripts are faster & more intuitive. It’s also quite approachable for novice designers. This “I Can Haz All The Editors” problem plagues just about every developer; do this long enough and eventually you’ll wind up with a ridiculous collection of apps on multiple platforms.”

Thanks, Jess! Unfortunately, Glyphs is not available for Windows, nor is it likely to be anytime soon. And maybe, it’s not the only answer. Another Alphabettes-approved expert has this to say:

“Glyphs seems suited especially beginners and freelancers. Robofont is modular and appealing to people with Python knowledge who like to customise their workflow. FontLab is for designers who don’t have the time getting used to a different editor, are so set in their processes that it makes it difficult to switch, or are concerned about regression and software reliability and parallel working. Well, and for people on Windows who don’t want to deal with virtual environment.”

So, there you have it, Dear Windows: a steel-caged death match for the ages. If you liked working with Fontographer, Font Lab VI or FontLab Studio 5 might be worth checking out. As our expert who-shall-remain-nameless responded: “It all basically comes down to UI. All font editors are unreliable pieces of shit but some make it easier to do certain tasks.”

Any other suggestions or thoughts? Comments are open.

Amy

Do you also have a question about font software, the universe, or everything else? Tweet at us @alphabettes_org and if the answer doesn’t fit into a tweet, we may reply here.

1 Comment Dear Alphabettes: What is a good font editor for Windows 10?

  1. Laura

    Another great font editor for Windows is FontCreator. It has many powerful features for the professional font designer, but is also perfect for people who never made a font before.

    Reply

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