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Release notes for FontLab

18 August 2022

The free FontLab update brings 40 new or improved features, and over 20 fixes, compared to FontLab Highlights:

  • Sketch smoother curves with new Soft Brush and Soft Pencil sub-tools.
  • Sketch even smoother curves and simple geometric shapes with new Smart Pencil sub-tool.
  • Choose how the Pen tool works with Preview next segment toolbox toggle.
  • Easily Slide nodes and perform Harmonized drag with Contour toolbox.
  • Slant contours or elements vertically with Transform panel.
  • Specify slant and rotation angles with higher fractional precision.
  • Apply Stroke properties to selected elements.
  • Round fractional coordinates in selected nodes.
  • Replace a segment or the gap between the start and end node with a corner.
  • Equalize handle angles with Suggest handles.
  • Enjoy improvements to the Delta filter.
  • View height and width of counters with Auto-meter.
  • Use components in the Mask layer as live references to existing glyphs.
  • Use #exit/#entry anchors to position the components in a ligature glyph.
  • Quickly customize the Preview panel.
  • Change zoom and preview nodes in Actions.
  • Create better shadows and 3D extrusions, improved engraving effects, as well as repeated outlines with redesigned Actions.
  • Repeat your search in Features and Scripting panels.
  • Rename suffixed alternates or just the current glyph.
  • Improved .glyphs format support.
  • Additional improvements.
  • Numerous fixes.

Explore & prepare

Commands & Shortcuts dialog

Custom keyboard shortcuts with Alt and ShiftAlt

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, or a key with the ShiftAlt modifiers. For example, you can assign AltB or ShiftAltB 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 shortcuts 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.

User interface

New Improved appearance of disabled editing fields.

Dark or light theme

Dark theme in Glyph window

The Glyph window content uses the light theme by default. The Glyph window will use the dark theme if the Preferences > Glyph window > Background section:

  • has Allow dark theme turned on and the Background color is a light color such as white
  • New or has Allow dark theme turned off and the Background color is a dark color such as black (this works on macOS only)

New On macOS, you can set the Glyph window background color separately for the Metrics and Kerning modes (in Preferences > Spacing), for the Mask layer, and for all other editing modes (in Preferences > Glyph window > Background). If the background brightness is dark, the Glyph window will use the dark theme.

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.

Change Stroke in multiple elements

In the Stroke panel, you can set the stroke properties (the stroke thickness, caps, color):

  • for the current element in the Glyph window (immediately)
  • New for the selected elements in the Glyph window (if you click Apply)
  • for all elements in the selected glyph cells in the Font window (if you click Apply).

This works with a simple stroke and with a Power Stroke.

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.

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

Vertical slant

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

Increased precision

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

Corners and Scissors tool

Replace with Corner

New You can now replace any segment, or the gap between a start and end node of an open contour, with a corner.

If you select one segment, or the start and end node of one open contour, you can choose Contour > Replace with Segment. FontLab then removes the segment if it exists, then elongates the adjacent segments until they intersect, and then adds a sharp node at the intersection.

Alternatively, activate the Scissors tool and drag between or around two neighboring nodes that have a segment between them, or between (or around) the start and end node of an open contour.

If the elongated segments (the segments adjacent to the segment you are replacing) are line segments, FontLab removes the original nodes. If the elongated segments are curve segments, FontLab keeps the original nodes, and selects them after the operation.


Replace with Corner works only between the start and end node of the same open contour, or between two neighboring nodes which are at the opposite ends of a segment, and it works only if the angle between the segments to be elongated is sufficiently large.

Selecting contours with Cmd

New With the Contour tool active in FontLab 8 for Mac, if you hold Cmd and drag a marquee around some nodes or handles:

  • if the setting Preference > Editing > Activate Contour tool on Cmd hold is turned on, FontLab selects the nodes and/or handles inside the marque,
  • if the setting is turned off, FontLab selects the entire contour to which those nodes or handles belong.

Consistency & precision

View > Suggest

Snapping suggestions

New FontLab has a new type of snapping suggestions: angles of handles. If View > Suggest > Handles is turned on, FontLab shows snapping suggestions for handles of a curve segment:

  • thin red line: makes the the handle horizontal or vertical if the angle of a handle is close to it (you’ll get the same snapping suggestion if Suggest > Nodes is turned on)
  • violet line that connects both nodes of the curve segment: makes the angle between the handle and that line the same as the angle between that line and the opposite handle of the segment
  • cyan lines with a square: makes the angle between both handles of a curve segment 90° (right angle)


Use Auto-meter to view height or width of counters

New The Glyph window shows the Auto-meter values for counters (whitespace enclosed by contours):

  • if the Auto-meter for counters toggle in the View panel is turned on,
  • or if Preferences > Glyph window > Auto-meter > Counters is turned on,
  • or if the Guides tool is active.

Auto-meter for counters shows the height if the counter is enclosed vertically (like in a c or o), and the width if the counter is enclosed horizontally (like in a u, n or o). Technically speaking, Auto-meter for counters shows distances between hints, which are being generated on the fly. Therefore, Auto meter may show some additional distances e.g. in the middle of a bold s.

Auto-meter for corner angles

New If the zoom level of the window is close enough, the Glyph window shows the angles between the line segments or curve handles adjacent to a sharp node:

  • if the Corner angles toggles in the View panel is turned on,
  • or if Preferences > Glyph window > Auto-meter > Corner angles is turned on,
  • or if the Guides tool is active

Previously, to view corner angles, you had to turn on the Auto-meter for both Stem widths and Corner angles.


Locked guides

New If you lock a guide and then right-click or Ctrl-click the locked guide, FontLab now shows a guide-specific context menu. Previously, FontLab showed a generic context menu.

Build & assemble


Attached components and auto layers with #exit/#entry anchors

You can use anchors named #exit and #entry to automatically position components in a ligature glyph.

If you use a recipe that includes the & simple / extended operator to generate a ligature-type glyph from components, FontLab will place the 2nd component so that the anchor named #entry of its source glyph is on the anchor named #exit of the 1st component source glyph:

  • New if the layer is an auto layer,
  • or if you build the layer with Build Glyphs, and you then turn on the Attached property of the 2nd component.

Metrics & kerning

Spacing Controls

Draggable Spacing Controls

The spacing controls (sidebearing lines) are draggable if the Contour, Element or Metrics tool is active, and if View > Lock > Glyph Metrics is turned off.

New If another tool is active, the spacing controls are not draggable.

Families & variation

Components in Mask layer

New If you add a component to the Mask layer, FontLab now adds a component that points to the parent layer. This way, you can have a live visual reference to other glyphs as you edit your glyph.

For example, if you create a glyph P and draw some contours in its Regular layer, and then in the glyph R, you choose Tools > Edit Mask or click Mask in the View panel, FontLab enters the mask.Regular layer of R.

If you now choose Glyph > Add Component, type P, turn off Apply to all masters and click OK, FontLab will insert a component into the R Regular layer mask that points to the Regular layer of P.

Now you can turn off Tools > Edit Mask or click Outline in the View panel, and you can edit your R while seeing the P in the Mask. If you update the P, the mask in the R will also update.


You can also use View > Cousins to have a live visual reference to other glyphs as you edit your glyph. Customize the Cousins in Preferences > Cousins.

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.

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

We have improved several actions from the Tools > Actions > Effects section.

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.

Shadow and 3D extrude actions

New When you specify 0 for Thickness in the Tools > Actions > Effect > Shadow or 3D extrude action, the result of the action is now truly just the shadow or just the extrusion, with the original contour fully subtracted.

Previously, FontLab produced a 1-unit-thick version of the entire original contour.


In some cases, 3D extrude produces incorrect results (some contours are missing or unwanted filled areas appear). We’re working on a fix.

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.

Glyphs & fonts

Font Info

The Font Info > Parameters page

New You can now drag-drop the Font Info > Parameters entries to reorder them.

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

Find next in Features panel

New 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. Press CmdG or CtrlG to find the next occurrence.

New If you’re in the Features panel, you can now use keyboard shortcuts to navigate between the feature definitions:

  • press Cmd] or Ctrl] to navigate to the next feature definition,
  • press Cmd[ or Ctrl[ to navigate to the previous feature definition.

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.

Manual reordering of glyphs

To manually change the GID order of glyphs in a font, you can set the Font filter type dropdown of the property bar to Index or to Encoding > None, and then drag-drop the glyph cells.

New This now also works if you use Window > New Font Window to open two Font windows for the same font, and then drag-drop glyphs from one window to the other.


.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.

Scripts & extensions

Scripting panel

Find next in Scripting panel

New 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. Press CmdG or CtrlG to find the next occurrence.

Bug fixes

  • Fix If you undo an operation, FontLab now undoes just the last operation. Previously, FontLab sometimes undid additional operations.
  • Fix If you export an OpenType+CBDT font, FontLab now exports a correct CBLC table. Note: if you’re exporting an OpenType+CBDT font for Windows, you need to include at least one traditional outline font.
  • Fix If you open a font that contains glyph names which start with a digit, FontLab adds an underscore (_) at the beginning of the name to ensure compatibility with the Adobe glyph name requirements.
  • Fix If you turn on Glyph > Auto Layer, you can now undo the operation, and FontLab correctly restores the content of the glyph.
  • {$bug} In the italic font, if View > Italic Angle > Apply to Metrics is on and you perform Edit > Paste Special and turn on Contours and Metrics, FontLab no longer shifts the pasted contours as if View > Italic Angle > Do Not Apply was selected.
  • {$bug} When you change the font UPM value and choose to scale glyphs and metrics, FontLab now correctly scales the Stroke thickness.
  • Fix If you use the arrow keys in the Thickness tool to change the thickness of a Brush or Stroke, you can now correctly undo the change.
  • Fix If you turn on Preferences > OT Tables > Decompile to XML in Tables panel, you remove some or all table tags from the field below and open an OpenType font, FontLab now correctly decompiles all tables into the TTX-compatible XML notation. Previously, FontLab failed on various tables and reported errors like Table 'GSUB' decompile error: name 'TTFont' is not defined.
  • Fix Generally, if you double-click one or more Font window cells, FontLab opens a new Glyph tab/window that show the glyphs you had selected in the Font window. However, if Preferences > Font Window > Open single glyph in existing Glyph window is turned on, and if you double-click a single Font window cell, FontLab will not open a new Glyph window if a Glyph window for that font already exists. Instead, FontLab will show the glyph in the existing Glyph window. If you have multiple fonts open, FontLab will now re-use the Glyph window only if it was showing glyphs from the same font as the Font window where you’ve double-clicked the cell. Previously, FontLab re-used an existing Glyph window even if it was showing glyphs from a different font.
  • Fix If you open a Glyph window with a glyph from another font, the Glyph window no longer becomes empty.
  • 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 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 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.
  • Fix Many additional fixes.