I'm still very new to FontLab, an old Fontographer user who upgraded, then found Fontographer couldn't handle glyph names beyond the standard Latin1 set, and other features, so I needed FontLab.
I've been wading through FontLab while still working in Fontographer. (I need to devote study time to the manual.)
Some observations from a usability and needs / wants standpoint for a typical font producer, a typical user of FontLab and Fontographer:
* No drawing program I tried could successfully import EPS exported from Fontographer. Inkscape, iDraw, others (Mac OS X Mountain Lion, later Maverick). (I don't have a current version of Adobe Illustrator, for sure not for the Mac. ... I sorely miss Macromedia Freehand, the cousin of Fontographer.) -- Successful export / save as from FontLab and Fontographer, of EPS files.
* Output / export / of SVG 1.1 files, as artwork and/or as fonts, from FontLab and Fontographer.
* Import SVG art into FontLab and Fontographer, like other vector art can be imported for characters.
* Why not go all the way and have both programs able to generate not only OpenType but the web font formats, SVG fonts, so web font kits can be a ready-made package? Surely FontLab could talk with MyFonts.com, FontSquirrel.com, FontSpring.com, and othe vendors to accomplish this in a way that's, I would hope, easier for customers and designers and vendors alike.
* Publish the manuals in EPUB3 and Kindle KF8 formats, so Kindle and iPad and open EPUB3 standards are met and everyone can get an ebook format, in addition to the PDF for printing. IMHO, the EPUB and Kindle formats are far easier to use on your computer or tablet than PDF.
* As others have said, OpenType features, kerning pairs, non-Latin and extended European / Latin character support are needed. When I'm working in Fontographer or FontLab, I need to see the glyph, its name, its Unicode numeric value (hex at least), perhaps what it looks like in a standard system font also, just for navigating within the character set I'm creating glyphs for.
* I see things about FontLab Studio I like, but there's a lot about Fontographer I like and am used to it. Should the two be combined into one program with the best of both, offered for a single upgrade price to users of both? I don't know if that is the best solution from other *users'* points of view, so I'm only presenting that as an option to consider, and to seek input from registered users of both products for what they want/need.
* Two things about OpenType I wanted immediately to produce with FontLab Studio, rather than to create two or more separate font files as done in Fontographer, were:
1. Small capitals and old style (lowercase) figures (numerals). Personally, I much prefer lining (uppercase) figures, but font users want the old traditional option. I can see the need for small capitals and I want to produce them right along with the upper- and lowercase letters. -- But so far, finding how to add these to the character set has been a hunt through the manual, which I haven't yet read fully or in order. -- I'd think this is one of the tasks most font designers want to be simple and easy to start on. So a walk-through of the process as a specific section in the manual is a good idea. (It's likely there and I've missed it so far.)
2. How to add alternate glyphs for a character. Suppose, for example, I want both a regular zero and a slashed (or dotted) zero. Or suppose I want to provide both single and double decker "a" and "g". (Single: see Futura. Double: see Times Roman.) Or suppose I want swashed letters or some other stylistic variant, such as alternates for a grunge font. Things like that. -- But how do I add those to the glyphs in FontLab (wish I could do it in Fontographer) and how do I write this into the font features? This, I am guessing, is something is in the manual but I've either skimmed too fast or not found it yet. (Not necessarily the manual writer's / design team's fault, but maybe it should be easier to find?)
* I was surprised that FontLab did not import the guidelines (as a makeshift grid) I'd made in Fontographer's Guides layer. I'd like to see FontLab able to import the Guides layer from a FOG file.
* At a first try, I was overwhelmed by the options in FontLab Studio for adding character sets (Unicode sections) to a font. FontLab opened the VFB file output from Fontographer, or the FOG file directly, but insteda of what Fontographer calls the "OpenType - Standard" set, FontLab opened it (I think, guessing) as MacRoman. What would happen if someone had, say, added Greek or Cyrillic glyphs, or small caps? -- My point is that, to me, just starting with FontLab Studio, it was confusing to me how to set up (or reacquire) those additional ranges of glyphs, such as Greek, Cyrillic, small caps, additional Latin, and so on. As font designers, we are now trying to produce huge, global character sets to support world languages, because that makes sense for everyone (and hey, the artistic challenge of drawing other alphabets is exciting too). We also are trying to produce more professional and sophisticated design features (like small caps, various kinds of numerals, alternate glyphs) so users of fonts (designers like us too) can have beautiful, rich typography on the page (or screen). In order to produce those advanced, complex things, the font design tools (FontLab, Fontographer, etc.) need to handle the workflow, the set of tasks, the glyph ranges and adding options / features to the font, in a way that makes production sense and usability sense. It needs to be easy to do and not confusing, when first learning or as an experienced user.
....I will now run away before the programming team all chase me with ... whatever implements of doom programmers chase users who post feature wish lists....
Seriously, guys and girls, we love ya, we wouldn't have the design tools without you, type design is a much more complex task now than it was, but well, we need the design tools to be able to make our lives easier so we can produce more great new fonts with your tools.
* Um, while I'm wishing, I wish there were a good alternative out there for Mac and Windows for a vector drawing program. But that's another topic altogether. Just mentioning it because, long ago, Freehand and Fontographer were cousin or sister products from Altsys, then from Macromedia, before being gobbled up by a company that dropped support for both, and couldn't be bothered to import properly all my old Freehand source files. -- I'm a one man outfit, I can't readily afford the price for that suite's subscription fee, and I really miss having a professional, capable vector drawing program. Just saying.
That aside, based on comments in the forum from other FontLab and Fontographer users, it seems there are great things FontLab and Fontographer can do, but a lot of room for improvement that would make users' lives a lot easier and more enjoyable, to use your products.
Please keep up the good work, guys and girls. We depend on it. Thanks.