Aside from the initial question asked of which product to buy now, the
side thread of the future of Fontographer is of equal interest.
While it is said to be true that Macromedia has no immediate known plans
for a current update/upgrade to Fontographer, it is probably untrue to
say that they have necessarily abandoned it altogether (although it may
feel like that at times). Unlike most software development teams that get
disbanded when product sales falter, the Fontographer programming team is
said to be basically intact and working together on Macromedia Fireworks.
This is a fairly significant issue of capability for Macromedia, for if
they were to believe that an adequate market existed for such an
update/upgrade, they would have a reasonable critical path and presumably
little or no retraining needed to bring a programming group up to the
speed of the last revision.
Software development is costly and an upfront expense that by it's very
nature has carrying costs. Marketing, packaging, and distribution costs
are also extraordinary, and the overall task of management has it's cost
as well. And the number of folks willing and needed to ante up for a
probable $100 or higher FOG upgrade price is a bit suspect.
Which is why after all this said and done, a million dollar question
remains: Is the paying market for professional font creation programs
large enough to support both Fontographer and FontLab? I don't know the
absolute answer nor have anything other than subjective intuition to
predict for certain, but I suspect not as it is currently marketed. And
I'd bet that the folks at Macromedia have done the math as well - which
is probably why we haven't seen it. If Macromedia does not feel they can
make a sufficient profit on it, and faces a high degree of probability
that they will incur a loss, I do not fault that decision. Instead I hope
that somehow the climate and potential of such an effort as an
update/upgrade becomes more favorable and financially viable. Viable in
such a way that there is a large enough market that supports continuing
development for both FontLab and FOG (Hold the pipe dream comments please
- I am well aware of the slim potential of this viability, but not
wanting to see the demise of either).
My question for the group is whether they feel a annual subcription model
would work to overcome the financial issues, and whether or not they
would participate. Not like Robofog, where a new language and scripting
knowledge is required, but some sort of cross breed that eliminates the
retail channel, uses electronic delivery (and yeah - maybe a printed book
in the mail - Jill Bell is right), as well as an active discussion
support group that is limited to the paying customers. I can conceive of
a $100 or more annual cost, with something like a reduced fee if one had
TDC, Atypi or SOTA membership (thereby encouraging wider adoption by the
target audience). Additionally I see no reason for this question to be
solely FOG related as a variant of it is equally valid for FontLab to
consider. For me, it would be a relatively easy decision - and I would
most likely subscribe to both for their individual strengths to be used
as respective tasks demanded.
In the meanwhile and of important note to this group until then is
Fontographer 4.1.x and OS X capability. Although I do not believe that is
is an officially supported configuration by Macromedia, all one has to do
is reinstall the software in the non-FPU version for a fully functional
Fontographer under OS X (and thank yourself for saving those old install
discs or CDs). One remarkable point that is seemingly never made about
FOG is how it is like the Eveready Bunny and still (knock on wood)
working like a champ after all this time.