Support for SF Symbols 4

Hi everyone and happy new year!

I am again considering to use Glyphs for creating SF Symbols, after doing it for a brief time two years ago. The goal is to have a good workflow for creating home-related symbols, like custom lamps.

I have a few questions and/or feature requests. I am new to Glyphs, and never designed a font, but I am amateur level familiar with other vector apps. None work well for SF symbols in my view and I am confident Glyphs can be a good app for this with a few changes and additions to the SF symbol plugin/workflow.

1. Variable Templates

An SF Symbols template needed 27 symbol variants, and Glyphs does a great job interpolating them by having the designer specify only 4 variants: Ultralight/Small, Black/Small, Ultralight/Large and Black/Large. However most commonly the Regular to Bold variants are used and those are only optionally designed, and interpolated by default.

The new Variable Templates in SF Symbols 4 solve this by letting the user design only the Small versions of Ultralight, Regular and Black. Interpolation to other sizes and between weights is done by SF Symbols, Glyphs would not have to interpolate anymore. But I could use its great tools to spot interpolation errors, a feature only Glyphs has.

My Question: Are Variable Templates planned to be supported? Can I somehow help in making this happen? It would make things a lot easier.

2. Symbol Variants

Many symbols have variants, especially a “filled” variant. If I created a symbol, e.g. a lava lamp, it would be great to have some sort of easy way to switch between filled/plain versions and have changes in one affect the other. I know that some “templaty” things already exist in Glyphs that can be used, but not being a font designer I am a bit confused and would love to hear how others are doing this.

3. Improved Export

Export could be a lot less labor intensive if there was a direct-to-asset-catalog export option. It would simply take all the symbols to export and create/update an asset catalog at the specified location, using the naming, and making this one-click.

Another option would be Drag-And-Drop export into the SF Symbols App. That way I could use Apples App to customise aspects like colors and the new variadic aspects if needed.

My Question: Would that be a useful feature and can I somehow be helpful in making this happen?

I am an Swift/SwiftUI developer on the last stretch of a huge project where I need a ton of custom SF Symbols and I am unfortunately not fluent in Python to experiment with Glyph plugins myself; also I assume some aspects also need support from the main app. But I am very willing to help where I can, test, provide input, etc.

Currently SF Symbols are widely used in iOS, but making your own is way too hard, even with Glyphs. Almost nobody does this, next to no custom symbols are available, everybody uses Apples symbols only and no-one knows a good way to fill the gaps there. I would love helping to change that.

Best, Gernot

Thanks for you input.

  1. Having a setup with the weight axis only will most certainty make thins easier. Do you think you need a mixed setup in one file? Meaning that you have some symbols that need the size and some that don’t?

  2. Most of that is already implemented for the 3.2 update. It might need some testing. I’ll give you access to the beta version.

  3. Do all symbols go into one catalog? Can you show an example of a folder structure?

Thanks for the response!

  1. For my use-case, I don’t think there is any need for the full size/weight spectrum in the templates. It might be different for others, but if I take a look at Apples SF Symbols the default export for all symbols is the 3-weights/1-size variable templates and looking at the existing symbols I have yet to find an example where there is any size specific magic going on all in their symbols besides the default scaling. Or to put it differently: The new format should be enough for the majority of custom symbols and having a regular version in the template outweighs the option of having more control over sizing.

  2. Awesome!

  3. Since you can have multiple catalogs, you can just have an SF symbol catalog that is touched by Glyphs and no-one else, alongside all your other catalogs. The Assets are (usually) referred to by name only, so from the code viewpoint any folder structure is fine as long as it conforms to the asset catalog format. The format is even officially documented for these kinds of use-cases: Asset Catalog Format Reference: Format Overview

Btw, one huge advantage of a Glyph-Controlled Asset Catalog would be a workflow where I can design in Glyphs, hit the Export button, and then see the symbol immediately in my app after I recompile or when the SwiftUI Preview updates.

  1. There are two options.
  • add option to export the whole font into one asset catalog. That is convenient.

    • not much setup by the user needed


    • one has to export everything all the time
    • inflexible (it needs an extra catalog for the stuff exported from Glyph)
  • Add a full file path to each symbol. (the “Glyph as Image” filter is doing it like this).

    • very flexible. You can export into an existing catalog.
    • more setup (each symbol needs its own file path (setup can be automated)