Glyphs Updated for Mac Font Editing and Creation

While Adobe dominates most aspects of graphics creation and publishing, there are a few areas where it has yet to create a presence: tools for 3D content and font creation. The latter is somewhat perplexing, since Adobe's second product in the 1980s, after the success of its PostScript programming language, was digital fonts. The firm has been a major force in the advancement of font format standards and played a significant role in moving the then-analog graphics industry to a digital workflow by developing a library of high-quality fonts, exemplified by the Adobe Originals line of commissioned designs.

With Adobe not being a player in the font creation and editing field, you might think that developers would have provided a wide range of typographic tools by now, but that hasn't been the case. In fact, when it comes to professional-quality tools, veteran applications from FontLab, such as FontLab Studio and Fontographer, are pretty much it. So the arrival of Glyphs in 2011 from German developer Georg Seifert was a welcome one, although as we said at the time, the availability of a Windows version would have rounded out the offering, as well as a lower price.

For a first release Glyphs was surprisingly comprehensive and went to considerable lengths to make the sometimes fiddly process of font creation and editing as pleasant for the designer as possible. A good start was its combined text and drawing views, which allowed users to draw shapes, modify spacing, adjust kerning, compare font weights and glyph variations in the same view mode, with letterforms displayed as live text before the font was exported. The program's drawing tools were created with type in mind, with the developer claiming to provide "the most advanced node features of any design application." Other interesting features included accent generation; the ability to keep and compare glyph variations; smart glyph names; simplified language support; easy multiple master creation; a measurement tool; and for the real pros, a scriptable open architecture.

But then development seemed to have ceased. The good news is that we just stumbled across version 2, which apparently was quietly released in April. As you might expect after a four-year wait, the upgrade is a substantial one. First up is the new ability to create color fonts (shown below) as Apple-style Emoji fonts, Microsoft-style COLR/CPAL fonts or as a Layer Font for such applications as Adobe InDesign.

And it's good news indeed that Glyphs can now generate webfonts in WOFF, WOFF2 and EOT format, complete with autohinting, which is now built into the program and so can also be used for desktop fonts. A new TrueType tool is available to manually hint glyphs and many options for fine-tuning TrueType export have been added. Other improvements include significant updates to the program's built-in default glyph database; enhanced Multiple Master functionality; Smart Glyphs; improved non-Latin support; and a wide range of tweaks, such as better vector display and improved glyph handling.

Glyphs 2 for Mac can be purchased on the glyphsapp.com site for 249.90 euros. But a featured-reduced Mini version is also now provided for just 44.99 euros, with a feature comparison available. Trial versions of both can be downloaded.