Fontographer on Windows XP with 1GB+ Ram

Macromedia Fontographer is one of the still few font editing applications there are. Unfortunately, it has barely been updated since the days of Windows 95; the focus has been on the Mac version, and even that has not been updated much.

Fontographer for Windows is a port of the Mac version and as such, it is less stable than native Windows programs, which is why it has not fared as well with newer hardware and operating systems. Running Fontographer on modern systems does not work well and can simply fail and exit the app or cause a catastrophic crash which can actually bring all of Windows down and require a hard reset.

There are two main problems with Fontographer on modern systems. The minor problem is that when the combined physical+virtual RAM exceeds 1.5GB, Fontographer complains that you do not have enough memory and quits. This is because it uses smaller pointers which overflow and look like there is a minuscule amount of RAM.

The solution to this problem (if practical) is to reduce the amount of virtual RAM so that the total memory is less than 1.5GB. Of course this won’t help if you have more than 1.5GB of physical RAM and you would have to actually pull some out for the one program. This problem has been around for a long time but there do not seem to be any plans to fix it. Another option is to add enough RAM to the system so that the wrapped available RAM meets Fontographer’s requirements (in other words, ACTUAL_RAM_SIZE mod RAM_POINTER_LIMIT_SIZE >= FONTOGRAPHER_MINIMUM_RAM); surely it can’t need too much (depending on the version, it needs 6-16 megabytes).

The other problem that can occur with Fontographer on modern systems is a complete crash. When run, Fontographer can completely freeze Windows in it’s tracks and require pressing the reset button on the case to bring the system back up. This is probably also caused by it’s memory allocation problems but may be caused by something else.

One thing to try with this that has had success is to run Fontographer in “compatibility mode”—this is available in Windows 2000 and up. Select the Fontographer executable (eg: “C:\Program Files\FOG41\FONTOG.EXE”) and bring up it’s properties dialog. Select the Compatibility tab and set it to run as Windows 95.

Fontographer should now work and allow you to create fonts in Windows.