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FontLab is both the name of a company, FontLab Ltd, and the former name of their flagship font editor product, now called FontLab Studio. Since the early 2000s, FontLab Studio has been the dominant software tool for commercial/retail digital font development. This is partly because the once-dominant Fontographer by Altsys ceased development after its acquisition by Macromedia. During Macromedia's merger/acquisition by Adobe Systems in 2005, Macromedia sold Fontographer's rights and code to FontLab Ltd, so FontLab now owns and maintains both of the most popular font editing/development tools.
Originally, there were two separate companies. SoftUnion Ltd of St. Petersburg, Russia made the software, under lead programmer Yuri Yarmola. Pyrus North America Ltd, of the USA was formed in 1992 to distribute and market FontLab 2.0 for Microsoft Windows, which came out in 1993 (there was no Mac OS version at the time). Eventually Pyrus bought all the rights to FontLab; hired Mr. Yarmola; and renamed the company. Today they have a wide range of font editing and conversion tools. Programming is still done by a Russian team in St. Petersburg, and management is mainly in Panama, where the company is incorporated.
FontLab's first Mac OS product was FontLab 3 for Mac, in 1998. Since then, FontLab (now FontLab Studio) has been issued for both Mac and Windows, but the Windows versions usually come out first, by six months to a year. In addition, Fontlab has developed spinoff font editors for specific markets. TypeTool, a stripped down version of FontLab Studio, is quite inexpensive and serves as an entry level typeface editor which is popular with students, hobbyists, and those whose typographic needs are relatively simple. AsiaFont Studio, on the other hand, is probably the most sophisticated font editor in the world and can create and edit fonts with up to 64,000 characters. It has special features for editing Chinese, Japanese and Korean fonts.
Back when fonts came in different formats and were platform specific, Fontlab also began to create a line of font conversion utilities. ScanFont, a tool for converting scans/bitmaps of glyphs into vector glyphs/fonts was part of FontLab 2. But in the next version it was split off, and became its own more complete and powerful application. Next came TransType, a font converter for moving fonts between TrueType, OpenType and Type 1 formats and between Macintosh and Windows platforms. A few more specialized font converters followed: FONmaker, for converting vector fonts into bitmaps; FontFlasher, for converting vector fonts into pixelated fonts for lo-res display; and FogLamp, for converting native Fontographer files into modern formats.
- FontLab Studio (formerly FontLab) - font editor for professional type designers.
- Fontographer- font editor for graphic designers, artists, publishers
- TypeTool - font editor for students, hobbyists, users with minor editing needs
- AsiaFont Studio (formerly FontLab Composer) - font editor for professional typeface designers of CJKV or other Unicode fonts
- Photofont - a technology/format for creating bitmap fonts with color, texture and transparency and using them in page layout and website design
- SigMaker - a simple utility for adding a single character to a TrueType font
- TransType - font converter for Macintosh and Windows; OpenType, TrueType and Type 1
- Bitfonter - bitmap font editor
- ScanFont (Mac version is now a plug-in for FontLab Studio rather than a stand-alone application)
- FONmaker - a font converter that makes bitmap fonts from TrueType fonts
- FontFlasher - a font converter that optimizes fonts for display at small sizes and low resolution
- FogLamp - a font converter that converts Fontographer .fog files into several different modern formats
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