Prompted by this on-going discussion, I finally printed out and read the
FontLab manual, trying things out in the program as I went along.
As a long-time Fontographer user, I'm both impressed and disappointed with
FontLab (although as the program matures, I imagine it will be less of the
First, the things that would be problems for me if I were to switch
completely from Fog to FL:
* Pasting outlines from other apps (e.g., Illustrator) is not very helpful.
Specifically, there's no automatic "scale to em" feature. In fact, I can't
tell exactly what scale it uses and there is no info about this in the
manual. The "do not scale EPS" option seems to have no effect.
* No shortcut to display the current glyph in the Metrics window (though you
can do the reverse).
* No undo in the Metrics window. You have to switch to a Glyph window of the
affected character to undo spacing changes.
* No shortcut to jump to a character in a Glyph window by typing it.
* The default action of opening a character in an already open Glyph window
is annoying. In fact, it lead me to mistakenly believe that only one Glyph
window could be opened at a time.
* Not being able to tell at a glance which characters have been modified
since the last save.
* Print previews are limited and not hinted. Outlines are apparently sent to
the printer as straight graphics (as opposed to creating a temporary font).
Printing is also much slower.
* No Metrics/Kerning Assistant.
* No Bitmap editing.
Some of these are "deal-breakers" for me such as the import problem since I
do most of my design work in Illustrator. The differences between Fog and FL
drawing methods are often cited, but not very important to me since I don't
draw in Fog anyway. The "vector paint" feature is neat, but I've always
gotten better results using pencil, paper and a scanner than using a mouse
or tablet for drawing.
On the other hand, I can see that once one is beyond the design and spacing
stage, FontLab is by far a more powerful and useful program, particularly
for character encoding and hinting. The manual contains some of the clearest
explanations of these topics I've seen as well.
Now that I'm over the hump, I have to say I like FontLab, though I can't see
it completely replacing Fontographer as it is. However, as some have
suggested here, the two programs really do complement each other, and I can
see that, at least for now, they both belong in my toolbox.