Introducing Expert Mode
We quietly launched a new version of the FontStructor editor last week. So what’s new?
We thought long and hard about the best way to add new features to the FontStructor editor without cluttering up the interface. Experienced users wish to create complex and sophisticated designs with FontStruct, but the platform has also always been about simplicity, ease-of-use and a non-technical approach to type design. How can we keep the interface simple and intuitive, whilst supporting those who want to push the boundaries of grid-based, modular design even further?
The new “Expert Mode” button is our answer. It’s there not only to provide access to bells and whistles for “experts”, but also to make sure that we have a “Simple Mode” for those (“experts” or not) who like to keep things minimal. Some existing features such as brick-stacking and composites have gone into expert mode, along with the first new features for a while.
In expert mode, by popular request, you can now create letters using standard unicode ranges. Select “Unicode Letter Sets” from the “Advanced” submenu to switch to unicode and you will see the dropdown change in the bottom right-left corner of the screen. Unicode support is not complete at the moment but there are 19648 unicode code points available using “Unicode Letter Slots”. In the standard character sets, 2793 codepoints are covered.
If you don’t know, or care what unicode is, don’t feel sad or bad. In a simple, pragmatic sense it just means you can design a more diverse range of characters. You can still have just as much fun constructing letters in FontStruct in blissful ignorance of unicode.
In expert mode, you now have access to an unlimited number of guidelines. Just rollover an existing guide to see the plus and minus buttons which allow you to add and remove guides. This feature has been requested many times and I’m very happy to be able to finally release it.
Another new and useful feature in expert mode is guide-locking. Once you’ve arranged your guides you may like to “lock” them – this keeps them visible but fixes them in one place so they don’t react to your mouse cursor and they won’t get in the way of your FontStructing. There’s a menu command and keyboard shortcut (shift+J) available for this.
Note that guide-locking also locks the width control line.
In expert mode, you now have access to a number of time-saving commands which automate repetitive tasks. There are commands to copy upper-case to lower-case and visa-versa, as well as a command to copy simple latin letters to their accented equivalents. You can read more about this feature as well as all the other changes on our updated help pages.
If you have any ideas for other time-saving commands, let us know.
Pen Type is now sticky
First of all, what used to be called “Mode” in the menu is now “Pen Type”. This is to avoid confusion with the new “Expert Mode“. The change in wording was a last minute thing (just now), so screenshots and help content may not reflect it for a while. More importantly, the “Simple” pen type, and the “Cycle” pen type are now “sticky”. This means if you choose either once, the system should remember that choice. So when you change away from the pen tool and back again, the pen should stay the same type. I know a lot of FontStructors don’t like the cycle pen so this should please them.
Under the hood the FontStructor has been almost completely rewritten. Over the years, the inner-workings had become a bit spaghetti-like and this was making it extremely difficult to add new features. Now everything is clean, shiny and tangle-free we hope we can add features more efficiently in the future. The complete rewrite also means there is plenty of potential for new bugs to appear. So please let us know if you notice anything wierd.