Friday, May 27, 2005

What Should FOG 5 Be?

Dear All,

'twas a "tremenjous" response we got out of the last posting...

Assuming that few, if any, newbies will ever find their way here... I thought we might zero in on what the actual specs of FOG 5 could be.

Please reply this way in order not to wander:

Here are my 5 "must haves" for FOG 5 - keep it short and to the point.

This is called a "bubble sort" -we can take all the comments form the last posting and melt them down and then contrast and compare them until -lo' and behold- the hottest items will float to the top.

With that in mind (and based on 10 years of hearing what the masses want) I will start the process with my best shot.

JG's TOP 5 "Must haves"
1. Modern encoding support (such as CE encoding which is very hot right now)

2. Slam-dunk family creation -including large fams on PC.

3. 2000% zoom was spec'd in FOG 5 alpha at Macromedia. Revealed twisted BCPs which have been the root of many unknown problems. Obviously something wrong with FOG path direction switching.

4. Slam-dunk embedding for Acrobat. Mostly broken due to a bug in code at the moment. Since newbies try to use embedding in FOG every single day then it should be drop-dead easy to do rather requiring knowledge of the TTF spec.

5. Built-in conversion of Mac binary fonts to be opened in FOG. Currently requires a bit stripper.

(Font Preview was heavily requested but seems of minimal value to me since you'll never see the effects of hinting in a preview-what do ya'll think?)

Okey-dokey ---we've kicked the tires now it's time to be concise and diplomatic. The list has 5 items for a reason. If this is going to get done we've all got to be realistic and not gorge ourselves with all the pent-up emotion due to our long history of waiting for this moment.

The time is now! Let's be professional about it. Spec it tightly and realistically and get it done!

Jimmy G.
Der FontMeister


Blogger Henry Warwick said...

Hey Jim!

thanks for your kind words. Much appreciated - I've been rather Bleakly Depressed lately (like I was *ever* happier than Eeyore or Marvin the Paranoid Android) and your compliments came with great welcome. To return the favour, you should know that your effort in keeping the Fog Flame burning hasn't gone unnoticed in these quarters.

jeeeez - it's like WHAT HAPPENED for the past ten years? Remember back then when you, me, and Kent were basically *IT* for fog support? (esp. after Judie went over to Fog and then FH QA?) Amazing how life flies by...

Anyway: per your request, here's my top 5 - they're much similar to yours. Before I get into them, however, like the good little QA geek that I am, I would urge the engineers at Fontlab to closely examine the Fog bugbase (I assume they got a copy of it from MM when they bought the codebase.) and fix the outstanding bugs in Fog, several of which are listed in my "request round up" of the previous blog entry's requests. I would see your request for fog made fonts to work in Acrobat is more under this category: it's a real bug and needs to be fixed, period. The importance of fixing all bugs is clear and obvious and so it's kind of like Request #0.5.

Anyway: try these:

1. The ability to open and generate most any encoding or font format, simply and cleanly.
The only exception would be something like Chinese fonts which require a special vast uber-editor due to their size. Also, for some formats, it may not be necessary to to give everyone access to every little tweaked out detail. The idea with Fontographer is to get work done, quickly and well.

2. Complete and totally simple font family creation for any format on any platform.
Developing families in Fog was a royal pain in the arse, and getting it together on that end would be a grand and welcome relief.

3. Massive Zoom Tool.
jim wrote a 2000% zoom, That would do, but I would prefer more like 4000, but that's me...

4. Library
I tend to weight this greater than more/user definable layers (which would also be SUPER COOL) as each entry in a library can be seen as a kind of displaced virtual layer. This feature would make the nuts and bolts of font development SO much easier. The tricky part would be m-squares: to scale or not to scale the library element in units relative to the m-square it's being imported to? I think that could be handled with some check boxes in a preference or even right on the Library palette itself for each entry. The important thing is to get the element in there and at the "right" size, however that is defined.

5. Element Handling: Align and Group
I see these two as closely related, and therefore under one request. If something is grouped, it is a selection of elements that have a shared relationship relative to other elements. A fundamental kind of relationship between elements is their alignment (or lack thereof) and hence the importance of an Align Palette that takes advantage of the Group command.

I look forward to your response.



11:57 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Gallagher said...

Hmmm... you caught me napping!

I had the Library or "boneyard" idea in the back of my mind as a heavily requested feature and forgot all about it. I need CONSTANT reminders to take my medications.

Yes - anyone who has ever seriously made a font wants a "boneyard" so they can make the R out of the P and so forth. A MUST have!!!

I'm involved in some threads with folks who are currently debating the Align to Grid issue. The Type 1 spec says this is required so that all points fell on whole integers.

BUT the RoboFont guys pioneered the concept that this doesn't matter and then some friends at Adobe chimed in and said it doesn't matter.

All I know is you better know how to manually hint a font if you don't Align to Grid in Fontographer.

Jimmy G.
Der FontMeister

10:32 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Gallagher said...

Er... RoboFont guys was meant to be, of course, RoboFog...

Where IS my medication when I need it?

Jimmy G.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Henry Warwick said...

Align To Grid is required in my littleworld. I always align to grid. It doesn't matter "technically" but I find that fonts that have points aligned to Grid usually print more cleanly and are easier to kern.

Also, if the Adobe folks are so "who cares" about it, why does it seem that all their fonts are aligned to Grid?

Anyway - I'm glad you agree with the Library idea. It's not just P -> R type stuff, but it's also serif storage. the serif on the left baseline of an n is very different from the right serif, but wll often be largely similar to corresponding serifs on the m. Also a lower case i can solve a world of pain, but the right serif on an i is very different from that on an n or m, so the Library would make it a lot easier.

Also, when I'm doing some crazy mod work, where I take one of my old fonts and hack it into something new - a Library would be mighty nice. Esp. if one could save them as individual library files, and build up a storehouse of parts. Parts is Parts...

I wish we could hear from some others on your quest for 5 features...


11:40 PM  
Blogger Henry Warwick said...

Well, it seems that everyone's run away from this little exchange, which is sad.

Where did everyone go?



1:34 PM  
Blogger Jeff Lee said...

1. Able to run on systems with large amounts of memory without the user having to jump through hoops.

2. Full support for OpenType.

3. Help file or PDF manual which actually documents all of the program's features and capabilities (including the various TrueType/Type 1 advanced settings).

(Yes, I know that's only three.)

6:34 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Gallagher said...


You would need a copy of the Type 1 spec -which has now evolved...

The TTF tables can be edited as per tech note 12333.

As far as ALL features -I've been working on a book which attempts to do this.

After 10 yrs as the Fontographer Team Lead it is amazing how much there is to try to communicate AND to do it in such a way that newbies aren't left out.


Jimmy G.
Der FontMeister

11:45 AM  
Blogger poohbah said...


Thank you much for all of the quick replies lately through the FontLab Open Ticket... I'll outline my thoughts on what I feel would be value added to anyone deeply involved in using FOG for their typography needs.

Due to the woeful lack of updates, and the enthusiasm surrounding this, I'd rather take the approach of tackling really the main issue of the investment we all made with 4.x:

1) Provide a patch to counter the memory allocation error and other known operation issues for newer system architectures.

2) Provide that patch as either a nominal upgrade, so that we can still utilize 4.x (or can't afford the 5 upgrade for the time being), charging a more affordable price for it in the meantime that version 5 is completed.

3) Provide a timeline as to when a patch would be released to market, via the FontLab web site and additional media outlets (I'm sure the media over the Net would latch on to a patch in a heartbeat anyway).

4) Present us with the option to upgrade to the patch for 4.x, or for the complete upgrade to the newer functionality of version 5 (most will probably opt for version 5, but it would be a nice thing to have the option for those of us who are more comfortable but are having problems installing or operating 4.x!)

5) Have a most awesome and exciting time, and celebrate the future of FOG, as the elation that all its users must be feeling as we see this whole process unfold before our beedy little eyes.

Take care,
Daniel Denk

2:20 PM  
Blogger poohbah said...

For Version 5:

1) Request that Scanfont be given the source code to generate a .FOG file for use in Fontographer, as an option to outputting to a font. (This is more of a Scanfont thing, but I do think it would make for a value-added work-flow option).

2) Possibly incorporate a pixel-font editor, perhaps similar in functionality to the bitmap editor (but calculating the overlap necessary to connect properly?). This functionality would see heavy use toward more Flash fonts and mobile device fonts.

In a world where the 'Wireless Cloud' ( appears to be imminent in the reasonably near future, I would gather to believe that, or be excited toward, true functionality in design as the mobile explosion comes to fruition for all end-users. There is also a current need for more mobile development, as there are many organizations already in phase 1 or 2 of said development.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Gallagher said...


I have ALWAYS wanted to use that word in a sentence!

As far as the mobile world -plenty of folks have used FOG to create BDF fonts which can be converted to work on cell phone and other devices.

And I don't know of any other editor which makes this any easier.

Jimmy G.
Der FontMeister

1:27 AM  
Blogger theaverageman said...

1. Generate Opentype fonts

2. Preferences option to create PC fonts with longer names.

3. Perhaps an option to generate all and/or multiple platforms/formats at once?

Do the above two, though, and I'll no longer need (ick) Fontlab.

Thanks for asking! I'm just happy to be using FOG in OSX.


3:24 PM  

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