Glyphs broke Illustrator

Sorry for the potential waste of time topic, but I just had to share my thoughts on this. Before using Glyphs I was a long time Adobe Illustrator user and quite happy making illustrations and icons in that. I now realise of course the superiority of Glyphs’ handling of nodes, bezier curves, handles etc, but the problem I still need to use Illustrator for certain tasks and it now feels completely broken to me.

Feel free to have a chuckle at this point but I’m seriously wondering if there are others in my situation and how you have dealt with it — the inability to select and nudge/define coordinates for anchor point handles is unfathomable to me and I don’t know how I used to work any more (I had to incredulously check multiple times that the functionality didn’t exist).

There is a subscription plugin—Vectorscribe that adds this basic functionality in but that seems to be so overkill to me.

There it is, sorry for a post about Illustrator in the Glyphs forum but I felt like if anyone could relate it’s this crowd. If anything, take it as a compliment, Glyphs team :sweat_smile:

Update: I did of course also post a feature request in Adobe’s forum :leaves:


Yes, once you taste the sweet nectar of font editors, going back to Illustrator is like doing surgery with a hammer. Doesn’t help that Adobe keeps breaking features that at least used to work as intended. All you can do is use Glyphs for every logo/lettering/icon jobs and curse terribly during more complex assignments that Glyphs unfortunately can’t take on.


Haha, thanks @alx, I should have known the best I could hope for is sympathy.
I guess setting guides and snapping are my go-to handle-wrangling workarounds for now in Ai :sob:

Illustrator used to be simpler to use when I could just click off a line I was drawing to end it. Now I have to select another tool to end my line. Glyphs notifies me that I have unintentionally added a node on top of a node with a big red dot. I will probably follow your lead away from Illustrator at some point, Will.

What are the features that make you go back to Illustrator?

The concept of artboards/pages, colors, better layer and masking system, live corners etc. But that’s to make complex-ish illustrations, I don’t need all that in Glyphs. I would love kind of a lettering mode though: infinite canvas instead of a glyph box.

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You can do some of it in Glyphs.

Set the glyphs category to “Icon”. Then the glyph box is a bit more of a page. And you can do colors, shadows, gradients … and masking. And the live corners can be done with corner component. It is not the same, but for a simple lettering, it might be enough.


Interesting to steer the conversation to what do I miss in Glyphs that I go back to Ai for @GeorgSeifert . I mean really they are mostly two separate use cases — I am a digital designer most of the time, working between Figma for layout design (terrible for vector wrangling, though you can actually select and nudge handles!) and front-end code for the most part, but have also done a lot of illustration and icon work in Illustrator.

Have only relatively recently dipped my toes into type design but can see more and more the argument for using Glyphs for any kind of icon/pictogram work also. But it feels a bit wrong to be exploring directions in a freeform way without the artboard / open layout of a tool such as Ai / Figma. Everything in Glyphs is tied to … glyphs. But that’s also the point. Basically I agree with @alx that Glyphs isn’t really missing anything from those tools. Though the point of a “lettering” mode is very intriguing. Some kind of sketchpad area which isn’t tied to a glyph would actually be kind of amazing!

Edit: Also—for collaboration with others, Ai / Figma is (unfortunately) a more realistic option. It’s much harder to share an icon set for example for editing if it’s a Glyphs file — all designers on our team have an Adobe/Figma subscription but very few would have Glyphs, it’s more specialist.

Edit 2: I’m actually not so sure about the sketchpad on second thought — potentially extra bloat Glyphs doesn’t need. I don’t need it to be Illustrator :sweat_smile:

Edit 3: I keep thinking of other stuff. I work with svgs and text on paths quite a lot in code, therefore copying vectors to svg code is really useful for me, something which is easy with Ai. I literally had to just do that, so I drew the path in a random glyph in Glyphs, copied it to Ai, then copied as an svg. So actually ignore edit 2 — some kind of Glyphs scratchpad would be great :rofl:. I guess maybe svg code copy might be more plugin material.

working on bigger icon set might be easier in Glyphs as it is meant to deal with collections of shapes.

Glyphs does put svg code of the shapes into the clipboard. Alongside PDF and EPS.

And the .glyphs file format is plain text and can be handled in git rather well.

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Absolutely Glyphs is better for managing and organising icon sets with repeated characteristics, no arguments there.

I had no idea you could copy svg code from Glyphs though! I looked into it and it seems relatively complex as far as I could tell, I do like being able to draw a path and cmd-c to get the code directly in Ai (tried in Glyphs but it just pastes “image.png”).

I haven’t explored git versioning with Glyphs yet — great capability but I was more referring to other designers being able to open and edit design files (who more likely have Adobe suite than Glyphs, unfortunately. Anyway, it’s a little besides the point. I will try my best to promote Glyphs as a tool— the whole point of the topic really was to highlight that your app has the best vector tools I have used and lamenting the rest of the design tool landscape :sweat_smile:

I often use Glyphs to create icon sets – some clients require font formats, others image formats. Glyphs is great af the former and ok at the latter. This is my workflow if I need PNGs:

  1. Draw icons into custom-named glyphs with the width of 1000 units.
  2. Export to OTF (in order to remove overlaps and flatten the components, caps and corners)
  3. Open the OTF.
  4. Run a custom script that exports the glyphs one by one into a 1000 x 1000 SVG file using the glyph name as a file name.
  5. Convert the SVGs to PNGs at any necessary resolution.

This has worked for me quite well, but if I was able to do the following, it would be a dream:

  • Set custom width and height for each glyph.
  • Export SVG/PNG directly from Glyphs.

You can do already. But it’s a bit tricky.

Ah, yes, just found it. You’re right though, it’s tricky. :slight_smile:

Have you tried the “Glyph as image” filter? It is not very polished and will be replaced with a better solution, soonish. There you can setup several exports, with different sizes and file formats. I build it mostly for my own use (most icons in Glyphs itself are done with it) and found it useful enough to ship it.

I usually draw the icons scaled up by 10. So an icon that is supposed to be mostly at 32 px, I draw in a 320/320 units box. The “Glyph as Image” exporter has a “height” field that will scale the image to that size.

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“What are the features that make you go back to Illustrator?”

I don’t know if this would overcomplicate Glyphs, but I think one major feature that would loosen my reliance on Illustrator would be the adoption of something similar to the width tool to add varying widths along a path. Am curious to know if this feature has been explored and whether or not there is a possibility of it being added in the future. Thanks!

What do you mean by various widths?

You can either add one of the following filters (either pre-installed or available in Plugin Manager): Noodler, BroadNibber, Offset Curve

or use the Stroke feature (Glyphs 3+): select the path in question and add a stroke thickness and type in the panel showing up in the bottom right.

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I understand and have thought about it already. You might try