Pangrammer Helper, RoboFont Style

Almost ten years ago, I made a little program called Pangrammer Helper. It’s a little tool to help compose pangrams, which are sentences containing every letter of the alphabet. It was built in Flash and was designed to run in a web browser.

Type designers are especially enamored of pangrams, as you can imagine. Fellow type geek and friend, Craig Eliason, has been using it for several years to compose entries for his Daily Pangram site.

Recently, a new font editing app called RoboFont was released, and I’ve been starting to use it in my work. One of the neat things about it is that it’s fully extendable—that is, if you are willing to do a little Python programming, you can add features to it.

Last week, the Robothon 2012 conference was held in The Hague. It was all about type design and technology. I wasn’t able to attend, but videos of most of the talks have been made available on Vimeo, and I’ve been watching them the last couple days. Two of them in particular, one by Tal Lemming about Building Stuff and another by Frederick Berlaen introducing RoboFont, inspired me to rewrite my Pangrammer Helper in Python so it could work inside RoboFont.

It took less than a day to do it, and it works great. You can use it by itself, and it works a lot like the old Flash version (a bit simplified), or, if you have RoboFont’s “Space Center” window open (the window were you work on your font’s spacing), the text also appears there as you compose it.

If you happen to be a RoboFont user, you can download version 1.2 of the script here. Just drop it into your scripts folder and you can run it right from the Extensions menu.

Update: Frank Grießhammer (currently working in Adobe’s type department) has contributed some improvements to my script, mainly adding the ability to add non-ASCII characters (as in “Grießhammer”) and an option for mixed-case pangrams. Thanks, Frank! The download link above will download this version (1.2).