PfaEdit has changed its name to FontForge. Current releases are found
PfaEdit -- An outline font editor
that lets you create your own postscript, truetype, opentype, cid-keyed,
multi-master, cff, svg and bitmap (bdf) fonts, or edit existing ones. Also
lets you convert one format to another. PfaEdit has support for many macintosh
I have no one to do QA for me except users on the net, so this is essentially
(and eternally) beta software. Expect to find bugs. Please
let me know when you do.
See the dependencies section below
for external libraries/programs you may want to add to your system to enhance
You can download a source RPM: Version:
Or you can download the source tree in
one .tgz file: Version
Or you can go to the
tree and get the most recent version. (This is currently delayed by 24
If you want to do autotracing around character images you should also download
If you want to edit CID keyed fonts you need these character
set descriptions. (These were last updated 3-Mar-2003)
You might want a copy of this extension to PfaEdit's built in
character set encodings.
With the appropriate libraries, PfaEdit can import
png, tiff, and gif images to act as character backgrounds for tracing purposes
(PfaEdit can import bmp and xbm formats without external libraries). With
libxml2 PfaEdit can read SVG fonts. With the freetype library PfaEdit will
do a better job making bitmap characters for you. None is required for the
proper compilation/execution of PfaEdit, if the libraries are not present
they will not be used. If your machine doesn't have them and you want them
they are available from:
Image Libraries (to allow PfaEdit to import images in those formats)
To parse SVG files and fonts
To display unicode names and annotations. And to know what
To do a better job rasterizing bitmaps, and to enable the truetype debugger
|Some of PfaEdit's commands depend on your compiling
freetype with the byte code interpreter enabled. This is disabled by default
because it infringes on certain
patents granted to
Apple. If you have a license from Apple then you may enable the interpreter
by setting the appropriate macro in .../include/freetype/config/ftoption.h
before you build the library (see the README.UNX file on the top level of
the freetype distribution).
PfaEdit needs to have the freetype source directories available when it is
built (there are some include files there which it depends on)
Versions of shared libraries in my builds
|i386 linux builds
|Mac OS/X builds
Normally PfaEdit depends on the X11 windowing system, but if you are just
interested in the scripting engine (with no user interface), it may be built
on systems without X (the configure script should figure this out).
PfaEdit has been ported to the following systems (at some point in its life)
Linux (obviously, (redhat, debian, suse, mandrake),
OpenVMS7.3 for Alpha
cygwin with X running on top of MS windows.
You might also want to pull down some unicode
bitmap fonts that pfaedit uses
All the documentation files in this directory bundled up into one
tgz file 1-Mar-2004.
If you do the following then PfaEdit will find the docs for you when you
press F1 (ie. PfaEdit it will look in /usr/local/share/doc/pfaedit before
it looks on the web):
$ mkdir -p /usr/local/share/doc/pfaedit
$ cd /usr/local/share/doc/pfaedit
$ gunzip pfaedit_htdocs-*.tgz
$ tar xf pfaedit_htdocs-*.tar
$ rm pfaedit_htdocs-*.tar
Or you can download an rpm which
should install them properly for you 8-Feb-2002.
Or you can just browse the docs online. (Always
$ gunzip pfaedit_full-*.tgz
$ tar xf pfaedit-full*.tar
$ cd pfaedit
# make install
PfaEdit now compiles dynamic libaries by default. If you would rather not
deal with dynamic libraries (or if the compiler generates internal compiler
errors when asked to generate PIC code, as Mac OS/X did in older versions)
instead and things should be configured for static libraries.
If you want access to type3 editing
$ configure --with-multilayer(this has the disadvantage of using even more memory that PfaEdit
normally does, so it is off by default)
The executable tarball contains a shell script doinstall
$ gunzip pfaedit-*.tgz
$ tar xf pfaedit-*.tar
$ cd pfaedit
See above on how to install using the makefile.
$ pfaedit font.pfa font2.pfb font3.sfd font4.ttf font5.otf font6.gsf
will start pfaedit looking at the fonts you specify on the command line.
It can read either pfb or pfa fonts, and some ps fonts (type 0 fonts based
on a type 1 dictionary) as well as truetype fonts, non-CID open type fonts
and bitmap fonts.
$ pfaedit -new
will cause pfaedit to create a new font (in iso-8859-1 encoding)
will open up a file picker dialog and allow you to browse till you've found
a font file (or have created a new one). $ pfaedit -script script.pe
This will invoke pfaedit in a non-interactive mode, and have it run the named
script. Any further arguments on the command line will be passed as arguments
to the script and processed (or not) by it.
Copyright © 2000,2001,2002,2003,2004 by George
Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification,
are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:
Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this
list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice,
this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation
and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
The name of the author may not be used to endorse or promote products derived
from this software without specific prior written permission.
THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE AUTHOR ``AS IS'' AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED
WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO
EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL,
EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT
OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS
INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT,
STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN
ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY
OF SUCH DAMAGE.
This is essentially the
PfaEdit is by no means complete. And probably doesn't work very well. Be
prepared to save frequently and always work on a copy of the original.
No attempt has been made to be efficient.
No attempt has been made to interpret truetype instructions (hints), instead
the instructions will be stored and used as long as no significant changes
happen to the character they are associated with.
No attempt has been made to retain the change-over points for hint substitution.
PfaEdit will refigure this when it saves the font.
Many type 3 fonts will not be read in correctly (those generated by pfaedit
should always be acceptable)
Importing a type0 font loses the encoding. PfaEdit only imports simple type0
fonts (such as those made by itself), will get confused if there's more than
one font with a chars dictionary.
PfaEdit's support for the GPOS/GSUB/GDEF/VORG
table output is limited.
PfaEdit's support for Apple's Advanced Typography
tables (AAT) is limited.
There are currently three mailing lists established for PfaEdit. You may
subscribe to any of them on sourceforge:
You may not post to a list until you have subscribed (sorry about that, but
we were getting too much spam).
This list includes the gross bugs that I'm aware of but don't know how to
fix. Minor bugs get reported to me and are generally fixed within a week
and rarely appear on this list.
My truetype hinting is still bad. Especially for diagonals.
Some truetype fonts (kaiu and mingliu) do not store the correct outline.
Instead they rely on using the instructions to move points around to generate
the outline. The outline does not appear to be grid-fit at all, just positioned.
PfaEdit will not read the instructions. In most fonts this would be the wrong
thing to do, and I don't know how I could tell when it needs to be done...
After adding the Johab encoding 23/Nov/01, any old fonts (in sfd files) which
had a unicode encoding will suddenly claim to have a Johab encoding. I don't
see a way around this at the moment. Just reencode them as unicode and all
should be well.
I'm told AutoKern doesn't work too well. (I may have fixed this, but
I'm not sure)
PfaEdit is confused by small splines, on the order of one em unit. If you
need something that small, scale the font up by a factor of 2 or more (including
the ascent and descent).
There is a fundemental problem when importing a type3 font (or an eps file).
In an most postscript programs each contour is stroked or filled individually,
but in a type1 character, all contours are filled together. This can lead
to unexpected side-effects if contours overlap. (configuring pfaedit for
mutlilayered editing can help with this)
The MetaFont command doesn't work well.
On linux boxes the dashed lines representing hints or the outlines of references
get screwed up. I think this is a bug in the XServer on linux (it doesn't
happen on other systems) but I have not examined it closely.
PfaEdit will not copy and paste large (>XServer transfer (4Meg on my machine))
clipboards of text.
Under gnome mnemonics in menus don't work. Personally I consider this a bug
Under gnome, docked palettes don't work the first time. Personally I consider
this a bug in gnome.
Under kde, iconifying a PfaEdit window crashes the button bar at the bottom
of the screen. Personally I consider this a bug in kde.
PfaEdit only produces an approximation to the OS/2 Codepages fields.
I'm sure you'll find some. If you can isolate it and come up with a reproduceable
minimal case, that would be great. The executable has symbols in it so if
you run it in gdb you should be able to get a stack trace... Do what you
My writing leaves much to be desired. Anyone who can make my
documentation more readable is encouraged to do so. (or who wishes to translate
it into other languages)
The UI can be translated into different languages. Unfortunately
it does not use gnu gettext.
English I take care of
Russian is provided by Valek Filippov.
Japanese is provided by KANOU Hiroki.
French is provided by Pierre Hanser and Yannis Haralambous.
Italian is provided by Claudio Beccari
I've also created a very minimal German translations that lapses into English,
anyone who wants to take this on is encouraged to do so.
Any other language additions would be great (the entire UI does not need
to be translated, any subset is a help)
Different font formats
PfaEdit supports Type1, truetype and opentype fonts (to greater and lesser
extents), also bdf and NFNT for bitmaps
PfaEdit will sort-of accept metafont files (essentially it runs metafont
and autotraces the result). It won't produce .mf files
PfaEdit will read acorn font files with a helper app.
But there are other formats out there that I can't find descriptions of:
Microsoft FON files (bitmap font resource files for windows)
There are certain commands which don't work very well and if someone
else wanted to they might code them better than I...
Autokern (might be fixed now)
generating instructions to do hinting in truetype (especially hints for diagonal
I've just started working on a very
testsuite-- more to weed out crashes in the underlying engine, than to
make sure it produces the right results. If anyone has a better idea for
an automated suite, or would like to contribute tests to the current stuff,
please let me know.
I find QA boring, and since no one is paying me for this I don't do very
much. This is obviously a problem. If anyone wants to undertake to do QA
for me (or several
anyones) I'd be delighted.
I'm always on the look out for short copyright free texts for printing. I'm
looking for samples from languages I don't have anything on, or in styles
that I don't have.
I'm also interested in phrases equivalent to "The quick brown fox jumps over
the lazy dog." (pangrams). These are short sentences which use every letter
in the script.
Indic languages have a series of special ligature features in opentype. I
believe that PfaEdit could probably generate some of these by default but
I don't know enough to say which. If you are familiar with indic scripts
could you give me a list of conversions in a format like
U+0066 + U+0069 => U+FB01 'liga'
The sample text in File->Print comes from many
The following people have helped debug pfaedit. Many thanks!
University of California, Santa Barbara
(which has several times let me use some of their machines to do builds and
find bugs if I didn't have the requisite system at home).
Dung Ta Quang
Andrey V. Panov
Edward G.J. Lee
And many others!
I owe David Turner (and everyone else) of
FreeType a debt for providing an API
which allows me to debug truetype instructions.
PfaEdit was inspired by AltSys's
now placed in graceful retirement by MacroMedia.
My father inspired a general interest in typography (though he is interested
in renaissance printing techniques rather than computers).
And finally I owe thanks to Linda Dozier, David Cole and everyone at NaviSoft
which company has given me the free time to write this program.
xmbdfed -- bdf editor.
gfe -- GNU font editor.
Eventually supposed to support other formats
fstobdf -- Part of the X distribution, reads a font from the server and generates
a bdf file from it.
Postscript/ttf font editors
MetaFont -- Knuth's font generation which produces bitmaps from a program
based on splines (& other TeX utilities)
(available with the TeX package)
the metafont language to produce PostScript pictures.
MetaType1, Which attempts
to generate a type1 font directly from the metafont splines (I think)
TeXTrace, generates pfb fonts from
TeX fonts by rasterizing at high res and then autotracing them
pk fonts (bitmap images) and creates pfb/pfa files. (formerly called pktrace)
gfontview -- displays a
-- another font displayer
t1utils -- Type 1 utility programs
& multiple master utilities
-- helps to install type 1 fonts under X and ghostscript
ttf2pt1 -- Converts truetype
to type1 postscript fonts and generates hints
ttftot42 -- Converts
truetype to type42 postscript fonts.
type1fix -- (part of the TeXtrace package).
Used to make some Type1 fonts work with ATM.
-- Type 1 decoders and converters. True Type & open type decoder.
Palm pilot font converters
Other font tools of mine
fondu -- Unwraps fonts from mac resource
files (this includes dfonts). Produces ttf, pfb and bdf files for 'sfnt',
'POST' and 'NFNT' resources
mensis -- Allows the user much finer
control over some truetype tables than is provided by PfaEdit.
-- Dumps the contents of a truetype/opentype font. Does some error checking
-- Reads a pcl file (to go to an HP printer) and extracts any truetype fonts
Other related links...
If you know of a tool you think should be on this list, please
let me know. I did
my research a couple of years ago and expect it is out of date.