Softy - Frequently Asked Questions

Step-by-Step Guides

Many of the questions asked are of the "How do I make this sort of Font" nature. I have written a couple of step-by-step guides in response, and have included them here to see if they help. So are they useful, useless, some help, could do with a bit more....? Let me know, because, if the level of mail continues to rise, these will soon be the only answers available, especially to unregistered enquirers.....

Step-by-Step: Create a .FON file from bitmaps

Step-by-Step: Create a TrueType font from a logo

Other FAQ grumpy

What does a TrueType font file look like? How do I install a TrueType font?

I've always found that the Microsoft typography page to be very useful in answering general TrueType questions, with many good links. Look particularly at TrueType Fundamentals.

Where can I find a list of Unicode values?

Here on the Microsoft Web Site.

What's this mapping business all about?

This is the most Frequently Asked Question. I don't think I've found the right words to answer it yet, so if the following leaves you more confused than ever, let me know.
You have created a new glyph or outline, say, by tracing a scanned in bitmap of a logo, You then click on Glyph / Update, The new glyph hopefully appears as the last glyph in the list on the left. Great! However, at the moment, no application can get at your new glyph to use it in a document or show it on screen. To do this, the application has to have a character code by which to refer to the glyph...and there isn't one - yet. This is where the mapping bit comes in. When you enter a number into the box displayed when you click the Glyph / Map, you are saying that when a program wants to print or display the selected glyph it can use the code you've just entered. I say 'can', because the same glyph can be mapped to a number of codes: a special case of this is the use of the 'zero' glyph - normally a hollow rectangle - to represent any character code used by a program to which no glyph has been assigned.

Why does Softy sometimes add 61440 when mapping glyphs?

This happens when a font is defined as having a 'Symbol' character set, i.e. the font does not have the normal character set of upper and lower case letters ,numbers 0-9 etc. The TrueType Specification has a lot to say about character codes. One is that for Microsoft ANSI or UGL fonts (the normal ones with letters, number etc.), Unicode character codes should be used. To see what this means, Open one of the standard Windows fonts, and click on Platform / Show Char Set. The character codes under each listed glyph will be a Unicode value. The Specification also says that the codes for characters in Symbol fonts should start in 'Unicode User Space', which means that they should be at or above 61440 (hexadecimal f000). Again, to see an example of this, look at a standard Windows Symbol font like WINGDING.TTF. Note that when a Symbol font is actually used, Windows effectively subtracts 61440 from the character code to bring it into the range 32-255, so if you have a Symbol font that has 'normal' characters in it, you can map them to their normal character codes. For example, if you have an "A", you would map it to code 65, Softy would add 61440 and when the font is used, Windows would mask off the 61440 - back to 65 again.

Why do I get the message '.... is not a valid Win32 application' when I try to execute Softy after downloading it?

I don't know how, but sometimes the Softy download files ,which are held on my Web site as .ZIP files, seem to end up on the downloaders system as .EXE files. Any attempt to execute such a file certainly does give the above error. If you think this has happened, you should rename the file to have the .ZIP extension then try and unzip it.

Why are the holes in some of my characters missing when I use my new font?

When Windows fills in the outlines defined for your characters, it uses the definition sequence of the points that make up a contour to decide which side of that contour should be filled in. This is to the right hand of the path drawn in ascending sequence of point definition. If you define a contour in Softy by plotting the points in a clockwise direction, this means that the inside of that contour is filled in when the font is used. So, if you define both the outer and inner contour of the letter 'O' in a clockwise direction, the hole that should be defined by the inner contour is not visible when the font is used. To correct, use the Clockwise/Counter Clockwise command on the Contour Menu

Why can't I use my font after I have installed it?

Problems concerned with selecting a font after installing it, or not seeing the characters you expect even after apparently selecting the font successfully, are commonly because of naming conflicts or omissions. In the list of standard names displayed when you select the Platform/Names dialog, there is one labelled Identifier. This is used by Windows to select the font. If you have two fonts installed with the same identifier, confusion arises. So make sure, especially if you have modified a standard installed font, that this has not happened. The other thing that seems to be required is that the Identifier for the Apple Platform should be set to be the same as that for the Microsoft Platform. To do this, click Platform/Select and select the Apple entry. Click Platform/Names to set the name values. Then click Platform/Select and reselect the Microsoft entry before you do anything else!