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FontLab version»

12 April 2018

FontLab 6.0.5 is our biggest “dot release” to date, with over 100 improvements (40 new features or enhancements, and 60 bug fixes)!

New Features and Enhancements»

Autosave and Auto-Recovery»

When you enable the new option, Preferences > Save Fonts > Autosave opened fonts every … minutes, FontLab will automatically keep saving a backup copy of your working files as you work. You can set the frequency of autosaving in minutes, but you can also use fractions, e.g. if you enter 0.1, FontLab will autosave every 6 seconds.

The autosaved files do not overwrite the location where you are manually saving the file. Instead, they are stored in the ~/Library/Application Support/FontLab/FontLab/Autosave folder on macOS and in C:\Users\USERS\AppData\Roaming\Fontlab\FontLab\Autosave on Windows.

When you close a file or quit FontLab normally, and choose to either save or not save the opened file, the autosaved file will be deleted. But if your FontLab crashes and you start it again, it will detect the autosaved files and offer to automatically recover (reopen) them.

Note: We recommend the following Preferences > Save Fonts settings:

  1. Ask for the font file name — when you first save your font, FontLab will ask for the location and filename to save, subsequent saves will be done in the location you’ve chosen.
  2. Existing font files is set to Rename. Then, whenever you manually save a file (for example YourFileName.vfc), the previously-saved version will be renamed to YourFileName.YYMMDD-hhmm.vfc, where YYMMDD-hhmm is the date and time of when it was renamed. This serves as a series of auto-backups — you can always open any of the earlier versions if you’ve changed your mind about some edits.
  3. Autosave is enabled and set it to some reasonable setting. For example, 1 will autosave (in the special folder) once a minute, 0.1 autosaves once every 6 seconds (1/10 of a minute).

You may also enable any of the Save VFC and also options, but note that this will make your saves and auto-saves slower—especially if you’re saving UFO packages.

In short: with this release, you can have:

  • manually saved files (in the location you pick)
  • automatic backups of your manually saved files (in the same location)
  • the last autosaved version (in the special folder)

Drawing and Editing»

Easier editing with integer coordinates»

You can restrict FontLab to always work in integer coordinates. The new submenu Contour > Coordinates give you full control over integer coordinate rounding.

  • If you have fractional coordinates in a glyph, Apply Rounding will round them to integer coordinates in the current glyph layer, or (when used in Font Window) to all contours in the current glyph layer.

  • With the new Round when Editing setting, any editing (moving nodes and handles, scaling glyph content using the Free Transform tool) will produce integer point coordinates (like FontLab Studio 5). This setting will not modify your existing contours (for that, you need to run Apply Rounding, but with the setting on, your editing actions in the Glyph Window will always produce integer coordinates (except in the case described in the note below).

  • Note: Applying Rounding and Rounding when Editing will currently work only if the glyph does not use transformed elements. Currently, when you use the Transform panel or any transformation Action, FontLab will apply a non-destructive “element transformation” to any elements that have references (i.e. they’re in a composite glyph or they are used as a component in a composite glyph), and will apply a “contour transformation” only if an element in a glyph does not have references. The integer rounding always works on the contours in an element before their transformation is applied. We’re looking into how we can make the way transformations work more intuitive.

  • The Preview Rounding setting will also preview rounded coordinates within transformed elements — which is the result you’ll get after you export your fonts into font formats that use integer coordinates.

Other drawing and editing enhancements»

  • Preferences > Glyph Window > Show node name has a new third option, never. This option only affects Glyph Window viewing, node names will still be displayed in the Nodes panel.

  • During Free Transform, Undo cancels the transformation process in the same way it did in FontLab Studio 5, and does not undo the previous action


Glyphs are created in all masters»

FontLab will now always create master layers if you create or generate a glyphs — for all font masters defined in Font Info.

Previously, when you had multiple font masters defined in Font Info, then adding a new glyph via double-click in the Font Window on a blank glyph cell, via Font > Generate Glyphs or Font > Add Glyphs behaved differently depending on whether a generation recipe glyph was present in the bundled alias.dat file.

When a glyph could be “generated”, its contents would be created for all font masters, but if the resulting glyph would be blank, then no masters were created in the glyph.

Generate Instance»

The new Font > Generate Instance command will allow you to choose any of the predefined instances or use sliders to precisely choose your instance and then:

  • Add as Master — add the instance as a new font master to the current multiaxis font in the axes location of the instance
  • Create as Font — create a new “static” font from an instance; the font will open as a new font in FontLab, so you can perform some post-production and save or export it

Previously, this functionality was only available in a limited fashion under the top-right button of the Variations panel.

Masters and axes sorting»

In Font Info > Font Properties > Masters, you can now sort your masters automatically and manually.

Clicking the header above the font sample will sort the masters according to the way the axes are sorted, and then by the location of each master on an axis (you can sort your axes manually via drag-and-drop in Font Info > Font Properties > Axes).

Clicking the Name or Location header will sort the masters alphabetically by the content of these fields. Click once for a descending sort, click again for an ascending sort.

You can also sort the masters manually via drag-and-drop.

Click Apply or OK, and the sorting of your masters will be reflected in the Layers and Masters panel and in the masters switchers on top of the font and glyph windows. The order of the masters also is used when you switch the masters with Alt,/Alt., or with the Alt1 to Alt9 keyboard shortcuts.

The order of Axes in the Variations panel is now in sync with the order defined in Font Info.

Initial default sorting of axes when opening an existing font for the first time is improved.

#instance layer»

  • Viewing the #instance layer can be turned off in Preferences > Variations

  • Preview of the #instance layer is now live while you are editing a contour

Improved “Match Masters”»

The Glyph > Match Masters operation has been improved:

  • with any number of masters, when Sort contours and start nodes is on in Font Info > Axes or in the Variations panel, Match Masters will sort the contours and start nodes in a simple way

  • with any number of masters, when Check masters geometry is on in Font Info > Axes or in the Variations panel, Match Masters will sort the elements, and will perform more thorough geometry checking (including checking angles and rotation) when sorting the contours and start nodes, and will also will correct the contour direction if needed

  • with two masters, it will also attempt to “blend” the outlines i.e. automatically add or remove nodes on the contours

Other variations enhancements»

  • Extended parameters control. The Parameters tab in the Font Info panel / dialog now includes all values that can act as a parameter: font dimensions, font guides and user variables.

  • Font Info panel: Tooltips in the Parameters tab of the panel show correct information.

  • Hiding a layer also hides that layer’s associated Mask layer

  • Turning off Append master fonts removes the #instance layer from affected single-master fonts

  • FontLab uses the a newer build (3.24.3.dev0) of the fontTools library to export OpenType Variations TT (.ttf) fonts

Elements and Guidelines»

  • In the Element panel, when an element is locked, users can no longer do drag-drop reordering of contours within the element

  • Edit > Invert Selection (CmdI) works with the Element tool at the level of element selection (not only for contours)

  • Guideline panel (metrics, hints, alignment zones)

  • when a guideline that represents one of the font metrics (ascender, descender, caps heigth, x-height, baseline) is selected:

    • just two fields are active in Guideline panel, Position and Expression, as no other value is editable for font metrics.
    • an option to lock/unlock the font metrics is available
  • When a hint is selected in the Glyph window, the prefix “H” is shown in the Guideline panel

  • when an alignment zone is selected in the glyph window, the prefix “Z” is shown in the Guideline panel

  • when hints, links or alignment zones are selected in a Glyph window, the Properties controls in the Guideline panel are disabled as they aren’t applicable.

Classes and Kerning»

Classes panel»

With one or more classes selected in the Classes panel, you can now click the Select glyphs button in the panel’s lower-right portion to select (in the Font Window) all glyphs that belong to the selected classes (like FontLab Studio 5).

This way, you can quickly assign a color flag to those glyphs (using the color flag picker in the Font Window).

You can also easily merge classes — select multiple classes, click the Select glyphs button and then click the + button in the bottom section of the middle part of the Classes panel. The selected glyphs will be added to the first class that you’ve selected, and — if this was a kerning class — they will be removed from the other kerning classes of the same type.

The Classes panel hamburger menu item Clean up selected classes will remove any glyphs from selected classes that are not present in the font (remember that classes can be defined using glyphnames and not all glyphs must necessarily exist in the font).

Note: In FontLab:

  • OpenType classes are defined once per font, and the order of the glyphs inside these classes matters.

  • Kerning classes are defined per master, but when instances or variable fonts are exported, classes from the main master are used (you can set the main master in Font Info > Masters using the blue radio button). To ensure that you have the same kerning classes in all your masters, visit each master and use the hamburger menu of the Classes panel to Import Classes, picking the main master each time.

  • When building variable fonts, kerning pairs that don’t exist in corner masters are assumed to have the value 0 but kerning pairs that don’t exist in intermediate masters get the interpolated value.

  • Kerning values that involve classes are stored with the class, not with the “key glyph of the class” as they were in FontLab Studio 5.

Kerning panel»

The Kerning panel has a few new operations in its “hamburger” menu (the popdown menu with three horizontal lines):

  • With Import Kerning you can import the kerning pairs and values from another open font or another master of your current font

  • With Flatten Class Kerning (previously: Expand), all kerning pairs that involve classes (class-to-class, glyph-to-class, class-to-glyph) are converted into a large flat list of glyph-to-glyph pairs.

  • With Compress to Class Kerning, you can convert your flat kerning into class kerning “safely” — only pairs where all class members have identical flat kerning values will be converted into a class kerning pair.

  • With Extend Class Kerning, you can convert your flat kerning into class kerning “more aggressively” (see notes below). This operation is great when you’ve kerned individual glyph pairs already (using flat kerning), and then you’ve created some classes or added glyphs to classes, and you want the glyphs in the new classes to inherit the kerning of the previously-defined individual glyph kerning pairs.


  • When you run Flatten Class Kerning, the kerning classes aren’t removed. They are simply not used because the kerning pairs are now associated with glyphs.

  • In this build, when you run Flatten Class Kerning, the list of flattened kerning pairs will include kerning pairs for glyphs that are defined in the kerning classes but aren’t present in the font. This is a bug — please select all classes in the Classes panel and choose Clean up selected classes before flattening kerning.

  • The difference between Compress and Extend is the following: if you have two kerning classes (AÁÄ and VW) you have two flat kerning pairs (AV and AW) with the same value, but there are no flat kerning pairs that involve the Á or Ä glyphs, then:

  • Extend Class Kerning will produce one kerning pair between the AÁÄ class and the VW class; so after the operation, the glyph combination ÄV will have the same effective kerning as AV.

  • Compress to Class Kerning will produce one kerning pair between the A glyph and the VW class; so after the operation, the glyph combination ÄV will have no effective kerning.

  • The Flatten and Compress operations are fully reversible. When you have flat kerning, create some classes, then Compress and then Flatten, you’ll end up with the same number of pairs as you had before.

  • The Extend operation is more aggressive. When you have flat kerning, create some classes, then Extend and then Flatten, you’ll end up with more pairs than you started with. When there are some flat kerning pairs with one value and some flat pairs with another value, but glyphs that are kerned that way belong to the same kerning class, Extend will choose the more common value as the class kerning value, and the less common value as a series of exceptions.

Font Window»

  • New Font Window options: Unicode Categories, Scripts. Now the Font Window can be organized by Unicode Categories (Uppercase, Math Symbols, Punctuation, etc.) and Unicode Scripts (Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, etc.). This is in addition to the previous Encoding, Unicode, Codepage and Index viewing. The same viewing options are available in Font > Add Glyphs for adding new glyphs.

  • Preferences > Font Window now has options to set a default mode and default glyph sorting order (in addition to the default encoding).

User Interface»

  • The File > Font Info dialog box now has an Apply button which applies the ongoing changes to the currently opened font. Note: you actually need to click Apply if you add, remove or rearrange axes in Font Info, only then the changes are visible in the Masters section of Font Info.

  • Renaming a master in Font Info > Master Properties > Names > Master name is instantly visible in the top and left-bottom master selectors.

  • Numeric keypad Enter key works for dialogs just like the main Enter key.

  • Preview panel automatically scrolls as needed to show the current glyph

  • Weight, Width, Slope and “Other” style attributes are referred to as Attributes in the Font Info panel. Previously, they were called “Parameters” but that term also was used elsewhere for another purpose.

  • Running the operation “Glyph > Add Power guides” makes font metrics and alignment zones visible, if they are made into Power guides and were not set to visible before. It also connects nodes from both sides of horizontal stems, not just one side.


In Tools > Actions > Effects > Engraving it is now possible remove the image selected as a background (not only to add it)

OpenType Features»

The Features panel hamburger menu items Import Features File… and Import Features (from another open font) works even when the feature definitions reference glyphs that are not present in the current font. This way, you use a larger, pre-defined feature definitions file but create just the features your font needs .


  • The Preferences > Autohinting section now has two options for PostScript autohinting:

  • When Remove existing hints when autohinting a glyph is on, and you do Tools > Autohint or press F7, FontLab will remove the existing glyph hints before calculating new hints.

  • When Convert hints to links when autohinting is on, and you do Tools > Autohint or press F7, the hints will be subsequently converted to links (same as Tools > Hints to Links). Links are “dynamic hints” — when you move nodes, the links will follow your design changes. This is particularly useful when you use View > Show > Hints or View > Metrics and Hinting Shadows as a visual design aid.

  • When View > Show > Hints is on, hint thicknesses that correspond exactly to stem values defined in Font Info > Master Properties > Stems are rendered bold on screen.

  • In the TrueType Hinting tool, the popup for the Single Link command now has a Reverse button which reverses the direction of the link.


  • PostScript Type 1 font export now generates fonts with “custom encoding” instead of “standard encoding”, and the %!Windows Charset:238 special keywords in an .enc file are processed correctly. In this build, all Type 1 fonts will get custom encoding. In a future build, encodings will %!Windows Charset:0 will get standard encoding again.

  • Automatic Unicode assignment based on glyph names no longer assigns the Unicode values for phonetic small caps to glyph names such as “Asmall”. These names were standard for Adobe Expert Encoding, where they were typographic small caps. The phonetic small caps are not a complete set (not even A-Z) and cannot be used meaningfully for typographic small caps.

Bug Fixes»

Drawing and Editing»

  • Convert line to curve works even when a line is bracketed by two tangent nodes

  • Creation of handles by Alt-dragging a node is now more reliable

  • Open contours can be joined with the Pen tool

  • Edit > Find Outline replaces contours correctly, even when replacing multiple instances of the same contour

  • Pressing spacebar changes the cursor to a grabber hand (to pan the canvas) even when Brush tool is selected

  • Snap to grid continues to affect Pen tool even after switching to Contour tool, moving handles, and switching back to Pen

  • Snap to grid works even if grid opacity is set to zero

  • Guidelines now snap to the Grid if View > Snap to > Grid is on

  • Node coloring becoming solid when perpendicular continues to work even when handles are close to the node

  • Snap-to-node works even when dragging a point to a node that is on a guide

  • Activating Power Nudge temporarily by holding the c key and using shift-arrow key combinations with it does not cause Power Nudge to get “stuck” on.

  • Transforming selected contours doesn’t change node types

Glyphs, Elements and Color»

  • When a sticker is applied to a glyph, and the VFC file is saved and closed, the sticker is saved

  • An element with smart fill filter rotates and moves correctly now

  • Dragging an element to an empty glyph cell no longer crashes the app, and does not cause a name/Unicode conflict when the glyph is created.

  • Copying an element from one glyph slot to another

  • no longer changes the element location within the glyph

  • no longer creates a new separate element with a conflicting name

  • Element frames are slightly more visible now

  • Doing Font > Detect Element References does not break ability to move a selected node with the arrow keys

  • When you have two or more elements selected, and they belong to a larger group, you can still nudge or drag all the selected elements (not only the last one selected)

  • Tools > Remove Font Guides no longer removes zones as well as font guides

  • Adding a new font master filled with an existing layer does not break the element references on that duplicated layer

  • Element references are not displaced when adding a layer that duplicates the contents of another layer

  • Font > Detect Element References does not remove element guides

  • Element > Expand Filters can now be Undone

  • Element > Expand Stroke can now be Undone without creating duplicates

  • Expand Stroke respects stroke end caps, even when applied to multiple glyphs

  • Elements > Expand Filters works even when the Contour tool is active

  • Some stroked elements were previously rendered incorrectly

  • Apply buttons in the Colors and Swatches panels are enabled after the Glyph window closes


  • Anchor cloud (from View > Anchor Cloud) from only the current master is shown in the Glyph window

  • Masters for blank glyphs such as space are shown as compatible in the Layers & Masters panel

  • Exporting a master does not break the family name

  • Fixed problem where “Check masters geometry” could prevent interpolation

  • Adding axes in Font Info > Axes no longer adds duplicate axes especially after master switch


  • Exporting TTF from VFB source with manual TrueType Hinting created in FontLab Studio 5, preserves that hinting properly

  • Export of variable fonts works again

  • Kerning is correct in all masters exported from a variable font.

  • Glyphs using multiple instances of the same element no longer lose any of them on export

  • When a Type 1 font’s glyph has a BBOX of 0, a generated AFM file still gets correct semicolon line ending

  • Generated AFM files use LF for line endings instead of (old-school Mac OS) CR

  • You can export a completely unhinted Type 1 font (autohinting only kicks in if you tell it to do so)


  • Transformations applied in the Elements panel become instantly visible in the Font Window

  • No crash from using to show/hide panels

  • The very last changed field in FontInfo keeps its changes after you click OK

  • Trying to close a file while in the middle of saving it does not abort the save, nor crash the app if done repeatedly

  • When a color flag on a glyph is removed, and the VFC file is saved and closed, the flagging remains removed when the file is reopened

  • Copyright symbol in Font Info > Legal > Copyright is now displayed correctly

  • Fixed intermittent crash when using Add Power Guides

  • Undocked toolbar is no longer cut off when app window is resized

  • Preview panel still shows the correct layer after Contour > Apply Rounding

  • Fixed crash that happened when switching layers/masters in the Layers & Masters panel, in some circumstances

  • You can still rename glyphs in place in the Font Window when == Preferences > Font Window > Caption content is editable== is set, Unicode > 1F00 Greek Extended is selected in Encoding, and other panels are open.

  • When a vector guideline is selected, the position icon in the Guideline panel changes to the point of origin icon

  • Glyph is no longer re-centered unexpectedly unexpectedly when working on a master that is specific to just the current glyph

  • Edit > Copy now copies text correctly in the text mode of the Glyph window

  • Using the “Center in Metrics” button in the Elements panel doesn’t crash

  • Using Font > Link Glyph Metrics with “Apply to entire font” on very large fonts no longer causes a crash

  • Closing the Font window now closes the font when needed (if Preferences > General are set to “Font has at least one Font window”)

  • Wacom tablet: canvas now auto-scrolls properly when drawing

  • Arrow keys work reliably in pane with glyphs (invoked with the / shortcut).

  • Font Info > Master Properties > Other Values are saved to vfc files

  • “Unsaved” marks in Font Window don’t disappear right after save

  • Guideline panel: The prefix “H” is shown in the panel, when a hint is selected in the Glyph window; and the prefix “Z” when an alignment zone is selected.

  • Other minor/cosmetic UI issues