As many of you know, managing fonts is one of the most cumbersome tasks designers face on a daily basis. I have been fairly happy with the software I have been using for the past years on my mac, FontExplorer X, but they stopped supporting the free version and they are having now a paid version, how could they?
First thing I wanted to set up my priorities, why do I need a third party font management software in the first place:
- Activate / deactivate fonts easily without having to remove them from the folders.
- Being able to store fonts in other places than the system folders.
- Auto activation of fonts when launching specific software, not at booting.
- Create font sets, keeping your clients / projects font sets separated is important, so that you can deactivate full sets when a project is over and you don't plan to go back to it in a near future.
- Clean, system and application font caches, locate missing fonts and delete corrupted fonts.
- Previsualization of fonts as well as comparison.
With these premises I went ahead and amused myself with the quantity and quality of software specialized on font management. I was not aware that the fight for this (I thought) niche software was so interesting. I guess I will need some time to understand what is out there and what solution fits best to my needs.
The first software that grabbed my attention was Extensis Suitcase Fusion 4. You can say whatever you want but having a modern looking website it is a big plus when deciding on a software -at least on my case. I liked the way they presented the software and I found a few features that sounded very attractive specially foe working with web fonts.
Extensis owns a tool called WebINK with a similar functionality to Typekit but with some interesting features. You can drag and drop fonts to a site to see how do they look like, niiice!! Other feature that I have been waiting for some time already is integration of WebINK fonts with Photoshop via Suitcase Fusion 4, yes, you can design an interface and show your client how it will look like before even starting to code, double niiice!!
OK, suddenly Suitcase Fusion 4 is on top of my list, time to get a trial and start playing with it.
The first impression is very positive, fonts seem to load fast (I have a lot) and the activate, deactivate buttons are intuitive. It seems that we have the basics covered.
I started cleaning caches and fixing broken fonts and things seemed to workout fine, unfortunately next time I started it things started to go bad. Unexpected crashes and freezes that made me impossible to keep using the software, it might be something with the MacBook Pro with retina display (not bragging) that was messing up the software but I have no patience for these things, if we start having problems I decided to give up and move to the next option on my list.
Just to say, Suitcase Fusion 4 is $49.99 with is a fair price tag for such a tool. The next option was the FontExplorer X pro. Somehow I felt I should give a shot to the pro version of the software that served me so loyally for the past years for free, some sort of karmic compensation.
Well, after uninstalling Suitcase Fusion 4 and installing the FontExplorer X pro, bu the way, you don't want to have two font managemet software at the same time running on your computer, bad things might happen. First thing I realized was that the software is updated for the MacBook Pro with retina display (good), and the first step, loading fonts was the fastest I have ever seen, very very impressive. Also you can see that they have plugins for the latest CS 6 software, and you can from the interface to choose if you want to activate / deactivate the fonts on a specific application, optimizing resources, it works like a charm.
The features to group font in sets and to organize the fonts seemed comparable to the one in Suitcase Fusion 4, it all seems faster in FontExplorer X pro. At this point I was almost convinced, the price tag of $79.99 seemed a bit higher of what I would have liked but the software works perfect is fas and it has all the features I need, and some I very rarely will be using like the LinoType shop integration. The web features from WebINK sound very interesting but I have a license of Typekit that I will keep as long as they give it to me with the Adobe Creative Cloud package so I see it unlikely that I will switch anytime soon, I might go ahead and try it out and tell you how did it go.