February 25th, 2009 by Jim Kidwell
The next time you’re talking through the choice of typography for a project with a client, you might think to refer to this study published in Scientific American. Two psychologists from the University of Ann Arbor recently studied how the choice of a typeface affects how readers process the written word.
The study took two identical pieces of text that described an exercise regimen. One group received the instructions set in Arial, a sans-serif face, while the others received the same text set in Brush Script. They then asked the students to say what their perceptions are of how difficult the exercise regimens would be, and how likely they would be to do them.
The results indicated that people tended to think that the easy-to-read instructions set in Arial would actually be easier to accomplish. Participants actually equated the how difficult something was to read with the content of the message.
We’ve already seen another study out of a Michigan University looking at how typefaces influence opinions of restaurant patrons.
So, next time you’re trying to convince a client that Helvetica might be a better choice than Hobo, you might just want to point to this study.
February 23rd, 2009 by Jim Kidwell
Font auto-activation is the holy grail of font management. When it works properly, when any document is opened, the precise fonts used in that document’s creation are activated. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
There are many ways that font management companies like Extensis have been implementing auto-activation over the years. Automatic activation can depend heavily upon the operating system, or be controlled by external plug-ins that must be written for each design application.
In the case of Mac OS X, global auto-activation is controlled deeply by the operating system. If implemented properly by the software developer, an application can send a request to the font manager to activate a font. This is called global auto-activation. Typically the applications request fonts by the PostScript name. This works well if you only have one version of a font. But if you have multiple versions, such as a TrueType, PostScript and dFont versions, they may all have the same PostScript name. Thus, you may inadvertently get a different version than the font originally used in the document.
Plug-in activation can work in much the same way, but the font activation requests are sent directly from the plug-in to the font manager. Depending upon how the plug-in was developed, you may or may not get any better activation results than with global auto activation. If you use a non-professional font manager, you can never be sure how the plug-ins were developed.
With Extensis plug-ins, we have integrated a font matching technology called Font Sense. Through this technology, we are able to accurately identify a specific font, not only through its type, but also through its kerning metrics and other characteristics unique to each font. Think of Font Sense like a fingerprint for your fonts. When the plug-ins for Suitcase Fusion 2 or Universal Type Server make a font activation request, you can be sure that the correct font is always activated. We currently have plug-ins for the most commonly used design applications, including Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and QuarkXPress.
As an additional precaution to prevent inadvertent activation, we also integrated a new feature in Suitcase Fusion 2 that gives you the ability to limit which applications are able to globally request font activation. Basically, you create a list of applications that you consider OK to automatically activate fonts. So, while you’re working on an Adobe InDesign document, if you open another document in Microsoft Word, you can be sure that Word isn’t able to activate fonts that may conflict with those you’re currently using with your InDesign document.
So, if you haven’t tried plug-in based font auto-activation, I highly recommend that you download a demo of any of our font managers and check it out for yourself.
I recently discovered a blog called Daily Routines and it is a really interesting read. When people come across someone describing their daily routine (say in a magazine or in a book), they send it in and those are posted on the blog.
This is no list of executives you don’t recognize or people from fields that you aren’t interested in. These are people most all of us recognize: Charles Darwin, Mister Rogers, and Winston Churchill to name a few. Worth noting to me was this list of people all felt the need to have a daily routine. Maybe that’s what helped them get where they are today? I’m not certain of that but I am guessing it was a big help! I also liked reading how people with similar professions had some similarities (Stephen King AND CS Lewis both enjoy their tea) but how also they could be wildly different (some people have NO social engagements at all while in the midst of a project, some actively try to go out each evening).
I looked around to see if there were any other interesting takes on daily routines and found an article at Yahoo! Finance where a survey was sent out to 20 CEOs and he got 17 replies back about daily routines and wrote up some general trends and patterns in how these people operated. Also interesting was who he talked to: Motorola, Pepsi, and Xerox just to name a few.
Currently I have no daily routine, what I do during the day depends on a lot of other things so I don’t have anything more than I come to Extensis each morning. What’s your daily routine? Do you have a power tip that you are willing to share? Here’s one of mine from David Allen of GTD fame: The Two Minute Rule. If something comes your way and it will take two minutes or less, then do it and move on. I have been trying to stick to that and it really seems to help keep little things from hanging around.
There are all sorts of interesting iPhone applications coming down the pipe. And, when it comes to design and typography related apps, there are some defintely useful ones, such as MyFonts.com’s What the Font and FontShop AG’s FontSuffle.
Here’s one that made me chuckle a bit. Created by Jason Franzen and Adrian Johnson, in the game KERN a word with a missing letter drops down the screen. You position the letter at the bottom of the screen appropriately before it reaches the bottom, and then it’s scored by how appropriately it’s kerned with the other letters in the word. Looks a bit challenging to me.
Check out this video of the game in action.
[via the FormationAlliance]
We had a ton of funny, creative and interesting posts in our font haiku contest. Our panel of judges met this morning and after a bit of hearty deliberation in a smoke-filled back room, here are the final results.
The winner of the $50 iTunes gift certificate and Extensis prize pack is Krishna.
the earth is made of
Second place, winning Starbucks gift cards and more goes to Megan E.
once we were thisclose
now Gill Condensed wants spacing
please don’t lead me on
And third place goes to Leach with his entry:
On the midnight train,
There it sits, italicized:
‘Georgia’ on my mind.
Congratulations to all of the winners! You have our undying admiration.
I also would be remiss if I didn’t publicize a few honorable mentions. These other poems were in close contention for the lead. We give you all virtual high-fives.
Would have diminished impact
Without Cooper Black.
Stealthy, he walks in
All eyes trace his descenders
Franklin turned Gothic
How do I love the
Binary? Let me count the
ways. One, two. Two ways.
won’t stand for your bad leading.
akzidenz or not.
Obama gave you
A nation’s love. But Gotham
You’ll always be mine
Razor sharp serifs
balanced by those lovely curves,
I love Bodoni.
i think he’s cheating on me
lipstick on his tie
Georgia on my mind.
Where have you gone, Matthew Carter?
Be my valentine.
I composed this one
On a Linotype machine
1. What is your job title?
Technical Support Engineer
2. How long have you been with Extensis?
3. What is your cog in the Extensis machine?
I am here to help our French customers
4. What is your favourite Extensis product?
Universal Type Server
5. If you were a font, which font would you be?
6. What is at the top of your iPod play list?
Antony and The Johnsons, Curtis Mayfield, The Who and Nitzer Ebb
7. When were you most happy?
Driving my vespa in the streets of Paris
8. What is your greatest accomplishment?
To be in love
9. What is your biggest regret?
To be in love
10. What is your biggest passion?
To eat in a good French restaurant
11. What do you like to read?
Magazines which explain how to fix a house
12. What is your most treasured possession?
13. What food can you not live without?
14. How are you a weekend warrior?
Do not disturb
15. What is the strangest thing on your desk?
A Microsoft mouse
16. What is one thing that people do not generally know about you?
17. Which website do you visit daily?
18. In another life you were?
19. What is your ultimate destination?
I already told you: eating a rib-eye-steak in a good French restaurant
20. What do you want your dying words to be?
I don’t know yet
OK that might be a bit extreme, but when I came across this site I was very impressed that anyone had given thought to something that a lot of people just take for granted: Typography For Lawyers. I like that Matthew Butterick is doing what he can as a lawyer to raise the level of typography knowledge (and by extension improve the aesthetic) which will make legal documents a bit easier to read. For most people, trying to sort out all the legalese in a document is hard enough but then to puzzle around a bad font choice too makes it even more difficult. I wonder how many deals have gone bad or fallen through altogether because all those pages of poor type and boilerplate were just too overwhelming.
Another nice thing about this site is that it explains typography to people as though they have never heard of it before and have no idea what it means. If you are a design person or even a plain old font nerd then for you this is desperately boring. However, if you know someone who needs a good place to start after asking “What do you mean by ‘different font’ exactly?”, this is a great place to start the uninitiated on a path to Type Enlightenment. As a Tech Support person I really like this approach because he starts at zero, which everybody does at the beginning, and he is working it out himself and sharing that knowledge with you. I am looking forward to how this site develops.
What are you using now to educate people on fonts and type?
Question of the day: How do you effectively assign permissions to:
- Many users
- In various departments
- With different needs
- Working collaboratively together
Answer: Roles in Universal Type Server
Roles are created for the most common types of job roles in your organization, and allow administrators to very easily and quickly set up a set of permissions for multiple users in a workgroup. Universal Type Server comes with two built-in roles: font administrator and regular user.
You can, however, create your own role. Custom roles can be created with specific permissions in order to address the needs of your users and your organizational workflow. For example, I’ve created a custom role shown below, Designer, with certain permissions that I would like to give to those designers in my organization.
Roles are even more powerful when used in conjunction with a workgroup. You can set up a particular role to be the default role to your workgroup, and any user added to that workgroup will immediately inherit the permissions of the default role. You can change permissions on individual users later if you so desire.
My suggestion to you when setting up your Universal Type Server environment is the following:
- Create roles for your most common job types
- Create workgroups to reflect your organizational needs
- Assign default roles to the workgroups
- Create users
- Add users to existing workgroups
- If needed, change permissions on individual users
Because a workgroup is a collection of users and fonts, it is possible to have users in more than one workgroup with different permissions in each. In essence, you could have a user be a designer with certain permissions in the Design workgroup, and the same user be a restricted user in the Production department.
Universal Type Server is a true client-server solution, so changes made to fonts and font metadata, are available to others as well. So it is important that you choose wisely what permissions you give to your users.
If you would like to learn more about users, roles and workgroups, refer to the Users and Workgroups Admin Guide.
February 9th, 2009 by Jim Kidwell
UPDATE: The contest is now closed to entries, and the winners have been chosen. See this list of our Font Haiku winners, as well as those who received honorable mentions.
You know that you’ve got a favorite, we all do. That dirty little secret that makes your document “pop” or your new design scream “Look at me!” Yup, we’ve all got a favorite font that we use.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, it’s time to express your feelings publicly for your beloved. And what better way to express one’s love, but in poetry!
Bring us your proud bold words (in 5-7-5 format) that describe your feelings and admiration for that which we all love, fonts.
To make this little public expression of your infatuation more interesting, we thought that we’d offer some nifty prizes for the best of the bunch.
First place will garner:
- $50 iTunes gift certificate
- $25 Starbucks gift certificate
- Custom Extensis laptop skin (removable sticker)
- Extensis “We Serve All Types” t-shirt
- The undying admiration of web surfers far and wide.
Second place will be honored with:
- $20 Starbucks gift certificate
- Custom Extensis laptop skin
- Extensis “We Serve All Types” t-shirt
- The knowledge that you beat all of the other hack poets, except for that one guy, darn him.
Third place wins:
- $10 Starbucks gift certificate
- Custom Extensis laptop skin
- Meh, third best is still OK, right?
Here’s a little inspiration from our previous Helvetica Movie Haiku contest:
watching you try the new fonts.
It knows you’ll be back.
wedding invite came
they chose brush script mt bold
i give it six months
Strong, bold, smooth, clean lines.
Like all the men in my life,
You are just my “type”.
The contest closes at 12:00 midnight, Pacific Standard Time, on 2.14.2009. So, get your entries into the hopper today!
Be sure to use your correct email address in your comment entry so that we can contact you if you win. We won’t use your email address for any other purpose.
February 6th, 2009 by Paul Krummenacker
Extensis announces our latest Webcast:
Managing Rich Media Assets with Portfolio Server
Portfolio Server™ 8.5 Webcast (International English)
Date: 11 February 2009
Time: 10:00am (GMT)
Duration: 1 hour
In this webcast you will learn how to efficiently manage your company’s rich media assets—everything from logos, graphics and collateral for presentations. Your videos and photos shouldn’t be MIA or collecting dust on a CD somewhere, make them readily available and easy to use for people, both inside and outside your organization, when they need them.
Learn about the benefits Portfolio Server: a powerful, scalable digital asset management solution that makes all of this “stuff” manageable. In this webcast we will show you how Portfolio Server makes easy work out of tracking, accessing, archiving and distributing your media assets.
Participants will be able to take part in a live Q&A session.