Better display and control of auto change and save functions

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gwideman
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Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:28 am

Better display and control of auto change and save functions

Post by gwideman » Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:43 pm

Overall it's great that Font Creator provides access to view and change many parts of font files. However, in some places Font Creator could be a little better in helping the user stay in control of editing steps. One important aspect of an editor of data of any type, is for the user to be able to see, and to control, what changes the software will or won't make to the data, and which file they will be applied to.

In Font Creator, there are numerous places in Font > Properties, and also in Export Settings, and possibly in Tools > Options, where there are settings that cause the exported font data to be different from the imported data.

So I suggest some revisions to consider:

1. Default to no changes. In general, unless the user makes explicit edits to data, or explicitly requests automatic functionality or explicitly selects inclusion/exclusion of components, Font Creator should not change data.

2. Default choices to 'same as original data'.Where Font Creator has an option like "Include/Exclude a something" (eg: Glyph names), the default setting should be to do whatever the imported data had (and Font Creator should show what that was). Otherwise the user has to guess what the imported data was in order to try and set Font Creator's settings to match.

3. Indicate changes. Items that have been changed by the user should indicate that they are different from the original data. Other kinds of software does this by marking user-changed data fields in a different color, or bold, or with a background color change. (Ie: the software maintains in memory a copy of the original data as loaded, and on an ongoing basis does a diff relative to the current data in the UI, highlighting items hat the user, or some auto calc, has changed.)

4. Export auto/optional change summary. During the font export process, it would be very helpful if there was an info panel summarizing which auto features have been selected, and what optional font components will be included etc (and which differ from the font data as earlier loaded). Each item should have a tooltip hint telling where in the UI that setting can be changed.

(This info panel would make it less disruptive to have some auto changes default to "on" -- for example "Auto update 'modified' timestamp when exporting".)

5. Clarify/improve the Export font/Export settings model. Currently, the Font Export Settings dialog sets some features which pertain to subsequent Export Font invocations. However, it's not clear whether these settings apply once, or to all subsequent saves (including to multi different font files that are open).

Especially error-prone is that the Font Export Settings dialog allows setting file paths (for ttf and otf exports). If one or other path is set, then when later invoked the Export Font function performs a save immediately with no opportunity for the user to see what file path will be used. This makes it far too easy for an existing previously-saved font to get overwritten unintentionally, and without the user being aware that it has happened.

Overall, I think that the "export font" part of the workflow needs some rethinking so that it can continue to be fast for users conducting long detailed glyph editing, but also so that on each export the user is presented with info that makes it clear what changes will be applied (point 4), and which font file(s) are the destination (point 5).

-- Graham

Reference: Support thread: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4482

Erwin Denissen
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Re: Better display and control of auto change and save funct

Post by Erwin Denissen » Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:12 am

Thank you for your feedback. It helps us understand what people like about our software, and where there is room for improvements!

When we first released FontCreator over 15 years ago our goal was to provide affordable font editing software which provides full control of all internal tables. So FontCreator contained numerous complex dialogs where one had to take great care to ensure all fields where in harmony.

With version 7 we decided to simplify the most complex dialogs with two things in mind:
1) Allow full control of all important font settings, but no longer aim to give full control of all internal tables
2) If possible, let FontCreator calculate fields. This results in less problems and is a great time saver as well

One of the great benefits of this approach is the fact numerous corrupt fonts can be easily fixed; just open and export them with FontCreator, without making manual changes will fix 95% of all common font issues!

We strongly believe this works best for most users, as long as the way a font is displayed is not affected by our internal changes.

Note: The issue you had with the exported font to fail to work with cmd/powershell (due to an incorrect defined codepage 932) affects the way the font works on your system, and is definitely a bug. It will be fixed soon.

When you open an old Word document with a more recent version, and save it without making any changes the newly saved document file will contain a lot of internal changes. Same goes for opening and saving a .png or .jpg file.

Although your first 3 suggestions sound like a great idea, they go against our philosophy. There are four fields at the bottom of the Identification tab located on the Font Properties dialog that hides the original information. I admit I sometimes wish to see the original information, but right now this is not possible. This is on our to-do list.
gwideman wrote:4. Export auto/optional change summary. During the font export process, it would be very helpful if there was an info panel summarizing which auto features have been selected, and what optional font components will be included etc (and which differ from the font data as earlier loaded). Each item should have a tooltip hint telling where in the UI that setting can be changed.
We have thought about adding an information panel which shows information about opening and exporting a font. It is on our to-do list, but I'm not sure if and when it will be included. It could contain numerous warnings, like: "unrealistic date created: March 27, 1933", etc.
gwideman wrote:5. Clarify/improve the Export font/Export settings model. Currently, the Font Export Settings dialog sets some features which pertain to subsequent Export Font invocations. However, it's not clear whether these settings apply once, or to all subsequent saves (including to multi different font files that are open).

Especially error-prone is that the Font Export Settings dialog allows setting file paths (for ttf and otf exports). If one or other path is set, then when later invoked the Export Font function performs a save immediately with no opportunity for the user to see what file path will be used. This makes it far too easy for an existing previously-saved font to get overwritten unintentionally, and without the user being aware that it has happened.

Overall, I think that the "export font" part of the workflow needs some rethinking so that it can continue to be fast for users conducting long detailed glyph editing, but also so that on each export the user is presented with info that makes it clear what changes will be applied (point 4), and which font file(s) are the destination (point 5).
I can't agree more, as I really don't like the current workflow to get a font saved. Unfortunately we haven't found a way to make this more intuitive (yet!). The best alternative so far, is to combine saving of font project files and font files. It has several benefits, but also has a couple of flaw. The Font Test dialogs depend on the export settings, and these need to be easily changed without being forced to first save a font file. All your feedback and suggestions are more than welcome!
Erwin Denissen
High-Logic
Proven Font Technology

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