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Release notes for FontLab beta

24 July 2022

Explore & prepare

Commands & Shortcuts dialog

Custom keyboard shortcuts with Alt

New If you open Tools > Commands & Shortcuts dialog and click the gear button, you can now assign custom keyboard shortcuts that use only the Alt modifier key plus some normal key. For example, you can assign AltB to Contour: Balance.

The custom Alt-key shortcuts work in the Glyph and Font window, but if the Text tool is active or if your cursor is in a text field, the Alt key works as it normally does and inputs additional characters.

In FontLab 8 for Windows, you cannot assign custom shortcut to Alt combinations with the letters C, E, F, G, H, M, S, T, V, W, X. FontLab uses these combinations to open the menus in the menu bar, for example, AltC opens the Contour menu. Also, on some Windows keyboard layouts, the custom keyboard shortucts assigned to Alt-key combinations only work with the left Alt key. The right Alt key is used to enter special characters.

Preferences dialog

Grid slant angle

New In Preferences > Grid, Guides and Hints > Slant angle, you can now use higher decimal precision, and you can define the grid slant angle as a X/Y slope ratio. This is an alternative way of specifying the slant angle, which FontLab has used for italic angle in Font Info > Font Dimensions > Slope.

Edit & refine

Fractional coordinates

If you work with fractional coordinates, you can use Contour > Coordinates > Apply Rounding to round all coordinates in the current layer to integer values.

New Use Contour > Coordinates > Round Selection to only round coordinates of the selected nodes or handles.

Transform panel

Increased precision

New The Transform panel now accepts values at higher decimal precision, which is useful for precise slant or rotation.

Test & adjust

Preview panel

Quickly customize the Preview panel

New If the Preview panel sidebar is closed, the right side of the Preview panel has buttons, which you can use to change the essential aspects of the panel look and content. The buttons, from top to bottom, are:

  • Open/close sidebar: open the sidebar to change all aspects of the panel look and content, or close it and use the new buttons to change the essential aspects.
  • Content: toggles between text, glyph waterfall, and text waterfall.
  • Align text: toggles between centered, right-aligned, and left-aligned text.
  • Font size: toggles between Fit text, 1 line, 2 lines, 3 lines, and Predefined size (which you can specify numerically in the sidebar).
  • Invert preview: inverts the colors of the preview area, and applies an automatic dark palette to the colored glyphs.
  • Echo/Custom text: toggles between custom text and text that mirrors the current Glyph window text or Font window selection

If the panel sidebar is open, only the Open/close sidebar and Echo/Custom text buttons are visible. Use the sidebar to change all aspects of the panel look and content.


In the Tools > Actions dialog:

  • New You can now drag the top edge of the preview area (the lower part of the dialog) to enlarge the preview. You can also use Alt-scroll with the mouse wheel or pinch-zoom with the touchpad for additional zoom in/out.
  • New You can toggle the Show nodes and outline button to show a filled or “wireframe”. The “wireframe” preview is useful if you want to preview the results of contour-specific operations.

Outline action

With the Outline actions, you can create an outlined version of a glyph. FontLab does this by creating parallel contours. You can specify the thickness of the outline and the join method.

New With the Repeat setting, you can create multiple outlines, offset by the same distance as the specified thickness.

New If the Inside checkbox is turned off, FontLab applies the outline outside the contours. If the Inside checkbox is turned on, FontLab applies the outline inside the contours.

Engrave action

The Tools > Actions > Effect > Engrave action produces a live, editable filter, which fills the existing glyph contours with engraved lines of specified angle and thickness. By default, the engraved lines are of uniform thickness, but if you load an image into the action, the lines thickness modulates by the grayscale value of the image pixels.

Once you’ve added the Engraving filter, you can still edit the original contours, and the engraving will adapt.

New We have extended the Engrave action.

In the Engraving column, you can decide how the engraving interacts with the original contours.

  • Subtract engraving keeps the original contours as filled, and adds the engraving as unfilled. The engraving creates holes in the original contours.
  • Intersect engraving makes the original contours transparent, and adds the engraving as filled.

In the Lines column, you can customize the appearance of the engraving lines.

  • Angle: angle of the engraved lines, in degrees.
  • Thickness: thickness of the engraved lines, in font units. The is the maximum thickness if you load an image.
  • Gap: thickness of the white space between the engraved lines, that is, the distance from the final edge of one engraved lines to the start edge of the next engraved line, in font units. This is the minimum distance if you load an image.
  • Indent: distance of the engraved line endings from the original contour.
  • Peak: the length of the portion of each engraving line that becomes thinner as the line approaches the original contour.

In the Image column, you can load an image, which FontLab will use as a “mask” that changes the thickness of the engraved lines. The thickness will vary depending on the grayscale value of the pixel. Fully white pixels produce engraved lines at maximum thickness specified in the Lines column, and fully black pixels produce lines of zero thickness.

  • Load opens a dialog where you can open an image file. Grayscale images without transparency work best.
  • Paste pastes the image from the clipboard.
  • Glyph lets you choose an existing glyph from the current layer of your font to serve as the mask image.
  • Clear removes the loaded image.
  • Invert reverses the influence of the image on the thickness of the engraved lines, so that fully black pixels will produce engraved lines at maximum thickness.
  • Scale lets you resize the mask image. If you load or paste an image, then at 100% 1 pixel corresponds to 1 unit. If you choose a glyph, at 100% the glyph PPM equals ½ of the UPM.

Increased precision

New Actions like Scale, Rotate, Slant and Shift now accept values at higher decimal precision.

Glyphs & fonts

Classes panel

Improved design

New The Classes panel has minor design improvements and has a new button that you can use to remove a glyph from a class.

Features panel

If you’re in the Features panel and you press CmdF or CtrlF, FontLab jumps to the panel search box. Type a string (part of a glyph name, class or keyword) and press Enter to find the first occurrence of the string. New Press CmdG or CtrlG to find the next occurrence.

Scripts & extensions

Scripting panel

If you’re in the Scripting panel and you press CmdF or CtrlF, FontLab jumps to the panel search box. Type a string and press Enter to find the first occurrence of the string. New Press CmdG or CtrlG to find the next occurrence.

Bug fixes

  • Fix If you enter a transformation value into the Transform panel and press Enter, FontLab now applies the transformation only once, just like clicking Apply. Previously, pressing Enter caused the transformation to be applied repeatedly.
  • Fix If you drag-drop PDF files that have fractional coordinates into the Font window of a font that has Font Info > Family Dimensions > Round coordinates turned on, FontLab shows the dialog that asks you to decide whether to keep fractional coordinates or round them only once.
  • Fix Fixed a problem with activating the Glyph window while the TrueType Hinting tool is active.
  • Fix If you turn on Soft Pencil in the Pencil toolbox, and you hold or release Alt during drawing, FontLab now correctly draws curves (without Alt) and lines (with Alt). Previously, Soft Pencil produced unwanted artefacts at the transition between a line and a curve.
  • Fix If a glyph is monochrome and you apply the Engrave action to it, FontLab no longer marks the glyph as “colored” in the Font window sidebar Properties section, which no longer triggers the export of additional color font formats.
  • Fix If you open a .glyphs format 3 file, FontLab now correctly imports OpenType features, and correctly imports .glyphs exports ad predefined instances.
  • Fix In Preferences > Glyph window > Quick measurement if End lines is turned on and Precision is Round, Quick measurement now shows integer values at the end lines.
  • Fix If you have a class that includes some glyphs that are not present in the font, the Classes panel sidebar highlights that class in red, as it did in FontLab 7.
  • Fix If you use keyboard arrows to move the thickness control points in the Thickness tool, you can now undo the changes.
  • Fix Fixed an issue with exporting “outlined” contours into OpenType TT (.ttf).
  • Fix If Font Info > Other Values > Unfill looped corners is turned on, FontLab treats looped corners (triangular loops outside the filled area of a contour) as transparent. If a part of such a looped corner is inside the filled area of a second contour that has the same direction as the first contour, FontLab now correctly renders that part of the looped corner as truly transparent. Previously, it unfilled the overlapping portion of the second contour.
  • Fix Various fixes.

Changes in FontLab beta

Explore & prepare

User interface

New Improved appearance of disabled editing fields.

Edit & refine

Transform panel

New You can now perform vertical slant transformations in the Transform panel. To see the Vertical slant box, make the Transform panel wider.

Glyphs & fonts

Renaming alternate glyphs when renaming a glyph

FontLab offers two methods to rename glyphs.

Simple rename: If you change the glyph name directly in the Glyph panel or in the Font window cell if Preferences > Font Window > Caption > Editable, FontLab only renames the glyph, but does not update other structures.

Full rename: Choose Glyph > Rename Glyph or click the name icon or the Unicode icon in the Glyph panel to open the Rename Glyph dialog.

New If you perform full rename for a glyph without a suffix, FontLab also renames the corresponding glyphs that have a suffix if the Also rename alternates checkbox is turned on. If the checkbox is turned off, FontLab only renames the current glyph.

Bug fixes

  • Fix If you close the Pencil toolbox, you can now double-click the Pencil toolbar icon to open the toolbox again, just like the other toolboxes.
  • Fix FontLab now renders the True Fill of a Power Brush correctly.
  • Fix FontLab now correctly calculates italic sidebearings in italic fonts if a glyph contains an element that has Stroke.
  • Fix You can now import custom export profiles exported from FontLab 7.
  • Fix If you’re using the dark UI theme, the format icons in the Export Profiles and Export Font As dialogs now appear correctly.
  • Fix Various fixes.

Changes in FontLab beta

Draft & draw

Soft Brush and soft Pencil

New The Brush and Pencil tools now have a Soft toggle in the toolbox.

If you turn it on, the Brush and Pencil tools will have some inertia as you draw with it. When you draw with Soft Brush or Soft Pencil, FontLab ignores small jiggles of your hand so the resulting curves are smoother. The Soft mode of the Brush and Pencil tools also helps you make corners more pronounced, and produces fewer unintended line segments.

Smart Pencil

New If you turn on the Smart Pencil toggle in the Pencil toolbox and draw, the Smart Pencil performs simplification of the curves that you draw, so it produces smoother curves with fewer nodes, longer curve segments, and nodes at extremes.

If you turn on both Smart Pencil and Soft Pencil, the curves will be even smoother, but Smart Pencil may produce line segments if make drawing moves that are close to straight lines.

Preview next segment with Pen

New The Pen tool now has a Preview next segment toggle in the toolbox, which changes how the basic Pen tool works (if the first four Pen sub-tools are turned off).

If Preview next segment is turned on and you’ve started drawing, the Pen tool previews what will happen if your next action will be a click (but does not show what will happen if you click-and-drag).

  • If you’re drawing a line segment (the previous node was sharp and had no handle), Pen previews the line segment.
  • If you’re drawing a curve segment (the previous node was smooth or had a handle), Pen previews the curve segment that will be created if you click. The incoming handle of the next node will be similar in length and angle to the outgoing handle of the previous node.

If Preview next segment is turned off, Pen shows no preview. If you’re drawing a curve segment, and you click, the incoming handle of the next node will be retracted.

If your next action is a click-and-drag, the segment will be a curve segment regardless of the toggle. The node will be a smooth node with symmetrical handles defined by the drag. To create a sharp node with separately defined handles, hold Alt while you’re dragging.

If one of the first four sub-tools is turned on, the Pen tool always previews the next segment.

Edit & refine

New Contour tool toolbox toggles

With the Contour tool, you can achieve different goals when you click, double-click or drag a node, handle or segment, and additional functionality is available if you hold Shift (typically aligns to horizontal or vertical), Ctrl (typically disables snapping), Alt (various alternate functionality) and, on macOS, also Cmd. Yet different functionality is accessible when you hold multiple modifier keys.

Hold F1 or FnF1 over the Contour toolbar icon to see a compact description of the Contour functionalities, or tap ShiftF1 or open Help > Help Panel for a more detailed description.

Harmonized drag

With the Contour tool, you can drag smooth and sharp nodes in a special “harmonized” way. Previously, harmonized dragging was only available on macOS.

If you hold CmdAlt and drag a node:

  • If the node is smooth, FontLab changes the surrounding curve segments so that they form a smooth shape, slides the node along and nudges the handles of the surrounding nodes.
  • If the node is sharp, FontLab dynamically changes the handles around the node, so that they point towards the surrounding nodes, producing a harmonized corner.

New Now, you can turn on the Harmonized drag toggle in the Contour toolbox, and drag any node without using any modifier keys: FontLab will use harmonized dragging. This now also works on Windows!


When you hold ShiftAlt and drag a node, the node “slides” along a curve: moves along the curve while the shape gets preserved. When you drag a sharp node or a start/end node beyond the curve with ShiftAlt, FontLab continues (extends) the curve smoothly.

New Now, you can turn on the Slide toggle in the Contour toolbox, and drag any node without using any modifier keys: FontLab will slide the node, and will preserve or continue the curve.

Test & adjust

Delta filter

New Click a unidirectional move delta to convert it to a bidirectional move delta. Click it again to make it a unidirectional move delta. See Test & adjust for a revised description of the Delta filter.


.glyphs format

New The built-in .glyphs export profile now uses version 3 of the format by default. To export into .glyphs version 2, go to File > Export Font As, choose Glyphs, click Customize and turn on Use legacy format version. Change the Profile name from Glyphs (clone) to something like Glyphs v2, click OK and export the font.

New When you open or export a .glyphs version 3 format, FontLab reads and exports tags.

Bug fixes

  • Fix If you cut a portion of a contour with Edit > Cut or CmdX or CtrlX or you delete it with Del or FnBkSp then FontLab no longer converts some smooth nodes into sharp nodes in the remaining contours.
  • Fix If you cut or remove a line segment in a triangular contour, FontLab now keeps the remaining arms of the triangle as expected, as it did in FontLab 7.