I have tried Hiero but it has NEVER worked for me. Is there an alternative application for creating fonts for cocos2d?
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Glyph Designer is pretty good. It's easy to use and the results are nice, they do a good job with options for outlines, shadows and gradients and the fonts look good enough that I have come to prefer using bitmap fonts generated by Glyph Designer over TTF fonts even in places with static text that are not performance-sensitive.
It has a few annoyances, like you can't simultaneously export a normal and retina asset, so you have to manually export twice to support both. It would also benefit from command-line automation, as I would often like to generate a set of sizes from a given set of parameters, and that means manually moving the size slider and exporting from the GUI, which is tedious. But it gets the job done with good results.
It's late in the day, but 71Squared has now released a command line app for Glyph Designer that allows you generate your font assets as part of your build process and also specify the size you would like, so you can automatically generate SD/HD output as required by your project.