FontForge is a font editor that supports many common font formats. Developed primarily by George Williams until 2012, It is free software and is distributed under a mix of the GNU General Public License Version 3 and the 3-clause BSD license. It is available for operating systems including Linux, Windows, and macOS and is localized into 12 languages.
What is FontForge Font Editor?
FontForge is libre software, which means free as in freedom (like free speech) and not merely free as in price (like free beer.) Software freedom means that each user has an equal amount of power as the developers over what the software does: everyone who has a copy has access to the source code, and is free to modify the code to change what the program does.
Additionally, each user has an equal amount of power as the developers over when and how copies of the work are distributed. Everyone can redistribute copies, unchanged or with their improvements, with or without a fee.
The single biggest issue that makes type design different is the need for every glyph in the typeface to work with every other glyph. This often means that the design and spacing of each part of the typeface end up being a series of careful compromises. These compromises mean that we can best think about typeface design as the creation of a wonderful collection of letters but not as a collection of wonderful letters.
It is also useful to recognize that these characteristics not only help to create a font voice or atmosphere, but also to determine what the font will or will not be useful for, and sometimes to determine the technological contexts for which a font is suitable.
It may seem intimidating or excessively abstract to think about the design of font in this way. However, getting used to these ideas is the key to a faster, more effective, and satisfying type of design process.
FontForge Font Editor Features
Let’s begin by identifying the main systemic characteristics in type design.
Construction refers to the structure of the underlying strokes that form a particular glyph. Perhaps you can imagine the glyph’s skeleton. The kind of construction to use is arguably one of the most important questions to think about, because the construction affects so many of the remaining choices, particularly if your design is going to feel somewhat familiar to readers.
The proportion of X-height to Cap-height
The letters on the left come from Playfair Display, which has a large x-height relative to its cap-height. The letters on the right are from EB Garamond, which has a smaller x-height. In the sample above, the size of the H has been adjusted so that they match.
To facilitate automated format conversion and other repetitive tasks, FontForge implements two scripting languages: its own language and Python. FontForge can run scripts from its GUI, from the command line, and also offers its features as a Python module so it can be integrated into any Python program.
Taken together, long ascenders and descenders can become difficult to manage. If the typeface will be used with small line heights, the elongation means letters can collide across rows of text.
The width of a type of design will alter not just how it feels but also what it is useful for. The example on the right is from a text face. The example on the left is from a display design meant to be eye-catching.
Angle of contrast
In the below image, we see that the thin parts of the lower case letter ‘o’ shapes are different. In the glyph on the left, the thin points lie on a perfectly vertical axis. In the glyph on the right, the axis is diagonal.
FontForge supports Adobe’s OpenType feature file specification (with its own extensions to the syntax). It also supports the unofficial Microsoft mathematical typesetting extensions introduced for Cambria Math and supported by Office 2007, XeTeX and LuaTeX. At least one free OpenType mathematical font has been developed in FontForge.
FontForge Font Editor System Requirements
Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10