Useful Truetype/Opentype font tool

I have been doing a lot of work with fonts recently for our PDF to HTML5 convertor. This has involved taking apart many Truetype and OpenType fonts and even building new fonts which I then need to analyse. I usually use the excellent Fontforge for this. The main problem I have found with this tool is that if it does not like the font, the software crashes out with a segmentation fault – not the most useful message!

The Apple command line Truetype tools have never been updated to run on Intel processors, so only run on very ancient systems. Microsoft have some pretty decent utilities but they are Windows specific and I usually work on Unix/Mac systems.

So I was very pleased to discover that tucked away inside Fontforge (it is an additional package) are some additional tools. In particular showTFF is a very robust command-line tool (you can install it as a pre-built binary in Ubuntu). Inspite of the name it works with both Truetype and Opentype fonts. It has attempted to decompile everything I have thrown at it (including some very broken font data) and even makes suggestions on fixing wrong values in the data. Highly recommended!

What are your favorite tools when working with fonts?

This post is part of our “Fonts Articles Index” in these articles we explore Fonts.

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Mark Stephens

System Architect and Lead Developer at IDRSolutions
Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.
Markee174

About Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX.

He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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