Glyphs Mini 1.5.1 review - Brings typography to the masses

Glyphs Mini brings typography to the masses

Designers have been arguing over typography since 1473 when William Caxton printed the first book in the English language. Just the topic of serif versus sans serif is enough to strike up heated debate!

In terms of current font editors, developer Fontlab has an almost monopoly in the market, with the latest release of Fontographer sitting between its top-end Fontlab Studio and the more basic TypeTool. Yet even the latter retails at over £75, taking it out of the reach of those who do not require a powerhouse app. Read more Creative software reviews

And then there’s Glyphs Mini. A cut-down version of Glyphs (£199), the mini solution offers everything an inexperienced designer could want and almost does the full job for experienced typographers too.

The user interface is a lesson in simplicity and elegance with an icon-view window for the letters along with a top toolbar, a sidebar for different viewing categories and an options palette.

A really good example of how clean and uncluttered a user interface can be.

Editing a glyph is simple – just load the relevant typeface and double-click on a letter. The main window is replaced by a bézier-curve representation of that letter and a tab added just above the window.

It’s like working within a web browser, even down to using Command + and – to zoom in and out. The ‘cloud’ view of accent and diacritic positioning and combined text/drawing view really do simplify the job of font creation.

Whether editing an existing typeface or creating a new one, Glyphs Mini has an impressive array of tools. Some of them, such as the Roughen, Round Corners and Hatch Outline filters, are of a creative nature. Others are used to clean up paths, nodes, overlaps and corners in a created font.

While Glyphs Mini could be used to create a complete typeface, it lacks one crucial feature: layers. Without this it is almost impossible to keep variations of letters, something a creator would certainly want to do. Layers is the key difference between Glyphs Mini and the fully-fledged Glyphs.

It’s easy to see how letters interact and the precise placing of the various accents and diacritics with Glyphs Mini’s ‘cloud’ view.

Other differences include only being able to open TrueType and OpenType fonts, no scripting, no manual hinting and minimal support for non-Latin fonts.

So what can Glyphs Mini be used for? It certainly has all the prerequisite tools to edit an existing typeface. More interesting though is the possibility of creating logotypes or monograms.

Most designers would create such a corporate mark in Adobe Illustrator but this lacks the finesse of converting into a typeface. A logotype can be created directly within Glyphs Mini (possibly using a hand-drawn, scanned image in the background) or an existing design copied and pasted straight from Illustrator. A few minor tweaks and it can be exported as an OpenType font ready for use. Glyphs Mini is worth its price for this purpose alone.

Given the market it’s aimed at, Glyphs Mini is let down by the lack of a manual or dedicated online help (the supplied file is for Glyphs). There are some useful tutorials on the website but the author needs to address this problem to reduce the learning curve.

Created in Adobe Illustrator and copied and pasted into Glyphs Mini, after a minimal amount of tidying up this corporate logotype will be ready to go.

OUR VERDICT

For just over £30, Glyphs Mini is incredible value for money. If you need to create a personal/corporate logotype, edit some letters in a typeface, design a website dingbat or simply find out more about the nuts and bolts of typography, no other Mac app in this price range comes close. If only the online help and manual were up to scratch this would be a bona fide five-star review.

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