Is this possible - keep spacing consistent while re-drawing a glyph

Apologies if this has been asked before, I did attempt a search first.

Let’s say I’m roughing out a glyph and I am road testing it with other letters side by side in the editor. As I adjust the shape, I also need to manually update the sidebearing values so I can preserve the spacing while I work.

I was wondering if it’s possible to have the sidebearings stay ‘fixed’ to a number so they remain consistent as the shape changes width? That way I don’t need to manually update the value all the time while testing ideas.

Eg. Here’s my shape with a value of 20 either side.
Screen Shot 2021-06-28 at 11.07.48 pm

Now I’ve edited the shape, I also need to adjust the sidebearing to prevent it from crashing into other letters:

What I’m looking for is ‘fixed’ values which does something like this:

This wouldn’t be something I’d use all the time - just in the early stages when working out proportions.

In that case, you type =| to the right sidebearing field, which means “the same value as the other side”, and you won’t have to do the math every time. Updating is still manual though; if it was automatic and live, it can be super distracting (either your path or glyph width can expand or shrink super fast)

You can also type =20 and then update with GlyphUpdate Metrics (Control-Command-M).

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The live width changing would become especially problematic in an edit window with several of the glyphs typed.

I started working on a plugin to live update spacing by tracking changes made to a glyph, but quickly realised it was very distracting, and also depending on what kind of changes you do, it doesn’t mean that spacing has to stay the same relative to the bounding box of the outlines. All considered, careful use of metric keys go 90% of the way, and the remaining 10% are very contextual to what you’re doing and do not necessarily take advantage from automation (from my experience).

You can try for yourself. There is a plug-in already that keeps metrics up to date, but I still don’t recommend it, especially if you have more than one glyph in Edit view. Glyph > Update Metrics (Ctrl-Cmd-M) is the better option for keeping your sanity.

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Try setting the sidebearing you want to have a fixed value with == double equal sign so the metric key is layer-specific (i.e. ==20). Then install the Sync Metric Keys plugin by @kontur from the plugin manager. With the plugin activated you can work on editing the shape and the sidebearing will update automatically.

would it not just be faster to type in “20” after each edit?


What happens if you do that to the LSB?

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If nodes are moved with the mouse then it can go wild and width changes quickly…but if changes are made incrementally with the arrow + modifier keys then it works fine.


I guess it’s a matter of preferences for sure, but this is exactly the reason why I abandoned the idea when I was thinking about this. Having my outlines move while I’m drawing is just too distracting, especially with multiple glyphs in the tab.

Thanks everyone for the great range of answers!

I managed to get @kontur’s plugin working and that’s more or less what I was looking for. I was planning on using it for glyphs that are used once in a string vs. repeating them.

However I noticed it didn’t work in a font with multiple masters (just a single master font only). I tried =|, =50, ==50 etc but no luck. Is that a bug, or by design I wonder?

You mean the plug-in doesn’t update these live? Add an issue to the repository.

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Thanks, I will do that :slight_smile: