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What is this?

fontTools is a library for manipulating fonts, written in Python. The project includes the TTX tool, that can convert TrueType and OpenType fonts to and from an XML text format, which is also called TTX. It supports TrueType, OpenType, AFM and to an extent Type 1 and some Mac-specific formats. The project has an MIT open-source licence.
Among other things this means you can use it free of charge.

User documentation and developer documentation are available at Read the Docs.


FontTools 4.x requires Python 3.6 or later. FontTools 3.x requires Python 2.7 or later.

NOTE From August 2019, until no later than January 1 2020, the support for Python 2.7 will be limited to only critical bug fixes, and no new features will be added to the py27 branch. You can read more here and here for the reasons behind this decision.

The package is listed in the Python Package Index (PyPI), so you can install it with pip:

pip install fonttools

If you would like to contribute to its development, you can clone the repository from GitHub, install the package in 'editable' mode and modify the source code in place. We recommend creating a virtual environment, using virtualenv or Python 3 venv module.

# download the source code to 'fonttools' folder
git clone
cd fonttools

# create new virtual environment called e.g. 'fonttools-venv', or anything you like
python -m virtualenv fonttools-venv

# source the `activate` shell script to enter the environment (Un*x); to exit, just type `deactivate`
. fonttools-venv/bin/activate

# to activate the virtual environment in Windows `cmd.exe`, do

# install in 'editable' mode
pip install -e .

Optional Requirements

The fontTools package currently has no (required) external dependencies besides the modules included in the Python Standard Library. However, a few extra dependencies are required by some of its modules, which are needed to unlock optional features. The fonttools PyPI distribution also supports so-called "extras", i.e. a set of keywords that describe a group of additional dependencies, which can be used when installing via pip, or when specifying a requirement. For example:

pip install fonttools[ufo,lxml,woff,unicode]

This command will install fonttools, as well as the optional dependencies that are required to unlock the extra features named "ufo", etc.

  • Lib/fontTools/misc/

    The module exports a ElementTree-like API for reading/writing XML files, and allows to use as the backend either the built-in xml.etree module or lxml. The latter is preferred whenever present, as it is generally faster and more secure.

    Extra: lxml

  • Lib/fontTools/ufoLib

    Package for reading and writing UFO source files; it requires:

    • fs: (aka pyfilesystem2) filesystem abstraction layer.
    • enum34: backport for the built-in enum module (only required on Python < 3.4).

    Extra: ufo

  • Lib/fontTools/ttLib/

    Module to compress/decompress WOFF 2.0 web fonts; it requires:

    • brotli: Python bindings of the Brotli compression library.

    Extra: woff

  • Lib/fontTools/ttLib/

    To better compress WOFF 1.0 web fonts, the following module can be used instead of the built-in zlib library:

    • zopfli: Python bindings of the Zopfli compression library.

    Extra: woff

  • Lib/fontTools/

    To display the Unicode character names when dumping the cmap table with ttx we use the unicodedata module in the Standard Library. The version included in there varies between different Python versions. To use the latest available data, you can install:

    • unicodedata2: unicodedata backport for Python 2.7 and 3.x updated to the latest Unicode version 12.0. Note this is not necessary if you use Python 3.8 as the latter already comes with an up-to-date unicodedata.

    Extra: unicode

  • Lib/fontTools/varLib/

    Module for finding wrong contour/component order between different masters. It requires one of the following packages in order to solve the so-called "minimum weight perfect matching problem in bipartite graphs", or the Assignment problem:

    • scipy: the Scientific Library for Python, which internally uses NumPy arrays and hence is very fast;
    • munkres: a pure-Python module that implements the Hungarian or Kuhn-Munkres algorithm.

    Extra: interpolatable

  • Lib/fontTools/varLib/

    Module for visualizing DesignSpaceDocument and resulting VariationModel.

    Extra: plot

  • Lib/fontTools/misc/

    Advanced module for symbolic font statistics analysis; it requires:

    • sympy: the Python library for symbolic mathematics.

    Extra: symfont

  • Lib/fontTools/

    To get the file creator and type of Macintosh PostScript Type 1 fonts on Python 3 you need to install the following module, as the old MacOS module is no longer included in Mac Python:

    • xattr: Python wrapper for extended filesystem attributes (macOS platform only).

    Extra: type1

  • Lib/fontTools/ttLib/

    Simplify TrueType glyphs by merging overlapping contours and components.

    • skia-pathops: Python bindings for the Skia library's PathOps module, performing boolean operations on paths (union, intersection, etc.).

    Extra: pathops

  • Lib/fontTools/pens/ and Lib/fontTools/pens/

    Pens for drawing glyphs with Cocoa NSBezierPath or CGPath require:

    • PyObjC: the bridge between Python and the Objective-C runtime (macOS platform only).
  • Lib/fontTools/pens/

    Pen for drawing glyphs with Qt's QPainterPath, requires:

    • PyQt5: Python bindings for the Qt cross platform UI and application toolkit.
  • Lib/fontTools/pens/

    Pen to drawing glyphs as PNG images, requires:

    • reportlab: Python toolkit for generating PDFs and graphics.

How to make a new release

  1. Update NEWS.rst with all the changes since the last release. Write a changelog entry for each PR, with one or two short sentences summarizing it, as well as links to the PR and relevant issues addressed by the PR.
  2. Use semantic versioning to decide whether the new release will be a 'major', 'minor' or 'patch' release. It's usually one of the latter two, depending on whether new backward compatible APIs were added, or simply some bugs were fixed.
  3. Run python release command from the tip of the main branch. By default this bumps the third or 'patch' digit only, unless you pass --major or --minor to bump respectively the first or second digit. This bumps the package version string, extracts the changes since the latest version from NEWS.rst, and uses that text to create an annotated git tag (or a signed git tag if you pass the --sign option and your git and Github account are configured for signing commits using a GPG key). It also commits an additional version bump which opens the main branch for the subsequent developmental cycle
  4. Push both the tag and commit to the upstream repository, by running the command git push --follow-tags.
  5. Let the CI build the wheel and source distribution packages and verify both get uploaded to the Python Package Index (PyPI).
  6. [Optional] Go to fonttools Github Releases page and create a new release, copy-pasting the content of the git tag message. This way, the release notes are nicely formatted as markdown, and users watching the repo will get an email notification. One day we shall automate that too.


In alphabetical order:

Olivier Berten, Samyak Bhuta, Erik van Blokland, Petr van Blokland, Jelle Bosma, Sascha Brawer, Tom Byrer, Antonio Cavedoni, Frédéric Coiffier, Vincent Connare, David Corbett, Simon Cozens, Dave Crossland, Simon Daniels, Peter Dekkers, Behdad Esfahbod, Behnam Esfahbod, Hannes Famira, Sam Fishman, Matt Fontaine, Yannis Haralambous, Greg Hitchcock, Jeremie Hornus, Khaled Hosny, John Hudson, Denis Moyogo Jacquerye, Jack Jansen, Tom Kacvinsky, Jens Kutilek, Antoine Leca, Werner Lemberg, Tal Leming, Peter Lofting, Cosimo Lupo, Masaya Nakamura, Dave Opstad, Laurence Penney, Roozbeh Pournader, Garret Rieger, Read Roberts, Guido van Rossum, Just van Rossum, Andreas Seidel, Georg Seifert, Chris Simpkins, Miguel Sousa, Adam Twardoch, Adrien Tétar, Vitaly Volkov, Paul Wise.


Copyright (c) 1999-2004 Just van Rossum, LettError (
See LICENSE for the full license.

Copyright (c) 2000 All Rights Reserved.

Copyright (c) 1995-2001 Corporation for National Research Initiatives. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright (c) 1991-1995 Stichting Mathematisch Centrum, Amsterdam. All Rights Reserved.

Have fun!