The Suitcase Fusion Core is the background application that keeps your fonts active, communicates with the auto-activation plug-ins and more.
In Suitcase Fusion 2 and earlier versions, the preferences for the Core were contained within the Mac OS X system preferences or the Windows Control Panel.
With the release of Suitcase Fusion 3, these Core preferences were moved into the Suitcase Fusion application preferences.
To open the core preferences, launch Suitcase Fusion 3 and choose:
- Suitcase Fusion 3 > Preferences (Mac OS X)
- Tools > Preferences (Windows)
October 19th, 2011 by Alexandra Barltrop
Attend an Extensis Total Control Seminar co-hosted with Extensis Preferred Partners and learn how to take control of your digital assets and fonts with Extensis’ leading Digital Asset Management and Font Management Solutions.
See in action the newly released Portfolio Server 10 and Universal Type Server 3. Discover how the days of struggling through production and output issues, troubleshooting font problems and chasing down missing assets can be a thing of the past.
Extensis experts will demonstrate the new features and outline how these newly released products can help save you and your business time and money.
To register or for further details please click on the links below:
Looking forward to seeing you at an event soon!
October 18th, 2011 by Jim Kidwell
Recently we concluded a series that explored the topic of excellent use of typography on the web. In a series of three webcasts, Thomas Phinney gives you the tools to make your use of typography on the web shine.
The webcasts were recorded, and can be viewed at your convenience.
Part 1: Font selection: choosing (and combining) fonts for web sites
Part 2: Setting type for web sites
Part 3: The bleeding edge of OpenType on the web
October 14th, 2011 by Edward Smith
If you’re in IT at an institution of higher learning, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Educause, the nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.
This year Extensis will be participating in the Educause Expo at the annual conference, and we’d like to invite you to stop by our booth. We will be demonstrating our digital asset management and font management product lines.
If you’re interested to see how Extensis Portfolio Server can be used to manage your digital assets, or to better understand how Universal Type Server can help you maintain font compliance in your educational institution, drop by booth 353 in the Exhibit Hall and say hello!
While you’re at the booth, scan your badge for a chance to win an iPad!
We’ll be there starting with the opening reception from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 18th.
- Educause Annual Conference
- October 18-20, 2011
- Philadelphia, PA
- Conference website
Following on my first post about the conference, here are more thoughts on Reykjavik and some interesting talks on fonts and global typography.
As mentioned previously, Reykjavik was a blast. The entire population of Iceland is about 400,000 people, and one thing about being small… well, the President of Iceland himself opened the conference, with an entertaining and surprisingly design-literate talk. Further to the fabulous food mentioned before, Reykjavik has at least two top-notch Indian restaurants (yes, really). Also a world-famous hot dog stand, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, just a couple blocks from the conference location. It’s known for having fed Bill Clinton, and for the hot dogs, which are topped with a remarkable mix of honey mustard, catsup, remoulade, and both fresh and crispy-fried onions. The crispy onions are what makes them work for me, so the second time round I asked for extra on those, and it was fabulous.
So, on to more talks and observations from the conference, some lightly edited notes. I didn’t always have my laptop with me and take notes, unfortunately. Then again, reading summaries of all those dozens of talks would doubtless get dull; this can at least give you a good bit of flavor from what was probably my favorite type conference I have attended to date.
Steve Matteson and Dawn Shaikh
Steve (Ascender, now Monotype again) talked about the evolution and development of the open source Droid typefaces for Google, with particular focus on the Latin (English) and Arabic designs. Two different styles were required for Arabic, kufi and naskh to cover the needs of different countries. They did much discussion of how style was coordinated to have the Arabic echo some features of the Latin, and also on-screen legibility for Arabic (especially at the high-res screens being used on modern mobile devices).
The feedback process was a big challenge. Dawn talked about research with users and stakeholders on the international (non-Latin) fonts. She was brought in to the project quite late. Among other things she had to decide when the fonts were good enough to accept, which in practice meant securing 100% stakeholder buy-in for each new font. At the same time, she was under pressure for speed. Because of tight timelines, the research was qualitative rather than quantitative in her stakeholder reviews. She used 1:1 interviews with native speakers, Googlers, and external particiants. Sometimes she did focus groups, as with Thai where she couldn’t get anyone to give any critical feedback 1:1, but a focus group got them to open up. Some reviews were by email as well; some people wrote multi-page documents at each step! However, it was really hard to keep some people interested and involved over multiple iterations.
Johannes discussed Minion Math, a bunch of fonts full of specialized math characters which act as third-party supplements to the fonts comprising Adobe’s Minion typeface. He picked Minion for a variety of reasons. One of them was that he felt he needed a typeface that had a range of optical sizes, and was a clear and unobtrusive text typeface. (If you don’t know about optical sizes for fonts, it’s a very interesting and cool thing, well written about by Adobe.)
Johannes added an extra optical size beyond the four minion started with, and did all four weights of Minion, for a total of 20 faces. The 2008 release had 1300 glyphs per font, but now has been revised with 2900 glyphs per font. It also implements support for Microsoft’s OpenType math extensions, first seen in Cambria Math. It should work well in MS Word.
OpenType CFF for Web Fonts
Christopher Slye, Adobe
Christopher presented an argument for web font users and consumers to treat OpenType CFF (either raw .otf, or in WOFF) as equally useful as TrueType TTF. It has a number of advantages from a font production POV, as well as some from a font rendering POV. For me personally, he was basically preaching to the faithful, but there may have been some in the audience with different views.
Not the title of a talk, just my grab-bag heading for a bunch of talks, mostly on the later days when I wasn’t taking notes right during the talks.
There were a number of talks fitting a conference theme of special characters that are part of the Latin alphabet but are peculiar to individual languages. Iceland has two of them, the eth (Ð, ð) and the thorn (Þ, þ), both of which appeared in several talks. The eth makes a hard th sound (like “the” or indeed like “eth”) while the thorn makes a soft th sound (like, well, “thorn”). As a type designer, my main takeaways on these letters are that the lowercase eth need not have the round part of the letter come to the full x-height, it is often just subtly shorter, or even a fair bit in a heavier weight (to allow the top part to maintain its shape and weight), while the capital eth needs to have more of its crossbar on the inside of the D part than on left side of the stem (to allow for better spacing). Also discussed were the specialized Swedish letters Æ/æ, Œ/œ and Å/å, and the gaelic “wynn” (Ƿ, ƿ).
The single most interesting such talk to me was the one on the German eszett (ß), which looks a bit like a lowercase beta, but serves the role of a double s or “sharp s.” Though it has long only been a lowercase character, being represented in caps as two capital S shapes. Recently a capital eszett has been added to Unicode, and this has been controversial. What made this talk interesting was that instead of spending half or more of their time discussing the design of this new letter, the talk was about the rationale for it and whether it was really necessary. This is apparently a very contentious hot topic among German typographers, and some heated opinions were heard at the conference. Personally I came away convinced that the capital eszett is clearly needed from a text processing point of view, and should be included in fonts. There’s a need to be able to round-trip case conversion so important information (such as the correct spelling of names) is never lost. If people don’t like it having a special shape, they can give it the shape of two S’s instead, but I think standardizing on a shape is a Good Thing. Graphs were shown of previous new-character adoption timelines, and it seems that I’m too old to see the end of the eszett controversy, but by the time my kids reach old age it will be a done deal.
Just a day or two ago, we on the ATypI board announced the location of next year’s (2012) conference: Hong Kong! It promises to be exciting. It will be hosted in large part by Hong Kong Polytechnic University, with lead organizer Keith Tam. I can’t wait!
October 12th, 2011 by Edward Smith
Last week Macworld UK reviewed Portfolio Server 10 and awarded it five stars!
The Macworld editors found the new features interesting and compelling. Here are just a few snippets from the article.
“…this is a product that has attained maturity, and more. However, Extensis hasn’t been resting on its laurels, as version 10 demonstrates.”
“Where Portfolio Server scores over using a NAS device or file server through Mac OS X’s Finder with Spotlight is in its sheer flexibility”
“If you work with digital media, and don’t already use Portfolio Server… you really should.”
In the outpouring of Steve Jobs tributes and analysis, most have understandably focused on bigger and broader questions of his impact on technology, society, and popular culture. But Digital Trends published an interesting piece last Friday just about Jobs and his impact on typography. After being interviewed for that, I decided I would like to expand on my comments there a bit. (If you’ve ever been interviewed, you know how it is—a tiny fraction of your comments usually make it to print or video. That’s just the normal and expected result, how reporting goes.) By now you’ve probably already read several, maybe even dozens, of articles about Steve Jobs life and impact (see Levy in Wired, or NPR as one of the many trumpeting the centrality of design in his technology). This is a narrower and more focused look at just one aspect of Jobs legacy: typography.
Before the Mac, there was digital printing and publishing, but it was far from WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get). It was a grim world of cryptic codes embedded in text to produce visual results in print, but not on screen. I imagine we would have gotten WYSIWYG publishing eventually (it was already happening at Xerox before the Mac), but how mainstream, and when?
When the Mac shipped in 1984 with built-in proportional fonts that you could see on screen (remember Chicago, Geneva, Monaco and friends? Designed by the same woman who did the original Mac icons, Susan Kare, later adapted as scalable outline fonts by Bigelow & Holmes), with printers that printed the same fonts you saw on screen, it was an immediate impact on typography for everyday computer users. When the Mac shortly thereafter (1985) combined with Aldus (later Adobe) PageMaker and the Adobe PostScript page description language (Warnock and Geschke’s brainchild), with PostScript supported both in the LaserWriter personal laser printer (even if it did cost 3x as much as a Mac) and Linotype’s Linotronic 300 imagesetter, desktop publishing arrived. Suddenly people could design and proof on a desktop hardware that was affordable to a professional or business user—and soon thereafter even to hobbyists. Compared to previous dedicated publishing systems, the ability to see what you would get, and the cost difference, were nothing short of revolutionary.
Jobs soon was drummed out of Apple for a decade, and went and did NeXT Computers instead (and Pixar, but that’s another story. By integrating Display PostScript as an integral part of the NeXT operating system, he created a computer system where for the first time WYSIWYG worked practically seamlessly and included fonts scaled on screen from the same outlines used to image them in print. NeXT never did terribly well, for a variety of reasons, but some of the ideas in it went very far (and indeed, eventually Apple bought NeXT and made the underpinning of that OS the core of OS X).
So Jobs wasn’t at Apple in the late 1980s, but I credit Apple’s next typography move in part to the example of NeXT. On the Mac (and Windows), fonts still looked like junk on screen, even if they were nominally WYSIWYG. Previews for PostScript fonts were still achieved in the 1980s by scaling bitmap fonts on screen. Other fonts were bitmaps only. For either, at a different zoom level or at any size that didn’t have a hand-tuned bitmap, they looked awful. Even at designed sizes they were jaggy. There was no system level support for scaling outline fonts on screen.
So around 1989-91 Apple developed TrueType, which they immediately swapped with Microsoft in exchange for a PostScript language clone (which was pretty awful, Microsoft got the best of that deal by far). Suddenly we had really good-looking scalable fonts on screen! Adobe responded to Apple’s announcement by making PostScript fonts also render better on screen with the “Adobe Type Manager” add-on (which would be integrated into operating systems a decade later), and even got to market first with. Between these two moves, a second typography revolution occurred in the early 90s. Suddenly fonts looked great on screen and you could print them at full resolution to just about any printer.
There have been assorted improvements since, but many key elements of modern typography were brought to the mainstream by Jobs. Being able to see what fonts look like on screen. Showing proportional fonts on screen. Scaling the same font outlines for screen as for print. Putting a “font” menu in applications, and having all applications share a pool of fonts installed at the system level (instead of associated with some specific printer).
In another company one would not necessarily credit the leader for so much. But Jobs legendarily ruled such details, and even smaller minutiae. By all accounts he was often hell to work with, and his singlemindedness caused plenty of problems. But I can’t even begin to guess how long modern digital typography would have taken to reach its current state without him, and whether so much of it would be available to the average computer user. Even 15 years ago a person on the street could have a “favorite font,” and we can thank Steve Jobs for being one of those who made it so.
This week we will be attending the AIGA National Conference in Phoenix, Arizona with the theme of Pivot.
The conference has a slew of great designers speaking, and will surely be a great learning experience.
Extensis will have a booth in the Expo hall, and will be giving away an iPad to one lucky attendee. Be sure to stop by the booth for details about how to enter the drawing.
Oh, and even if you aren’t going to attend the conference, ge sure to check out their site. It’s kinda fun how it loads the first time.
October 10th, 2011 by Alexandra Barltrop
Come and see us this week at IFRA Expo 2011, the leading event of the news publishing and media industries.
Visit Torsten Köbel and Davor Kantuser on stand A570-3 in the Open Lounge Area, and see the recently released Portfolio Server 10, Universal Type 3 and the new Web Font Photoshop plug-in in action.
Stop by to learn how to:
- Manage fonts across multiple workgroups with ease and efficiency
- Keep your organisation compliant with non-invasive, font license reporting
- Centralise and archive images, audio, video and document files
- Automate asset delivery and benefit from NetMediaMax
- Use WebINK to improve your readers’ online experience as news and content coverage continues to ‘converge’ at speed.
- 10 – 12th October 2011
- Reed Messe Wien Gmbh, Messeplatz 1, Postfach 277 1021 Wien, Austria
We hope that you will join us.
This is the first of a couple of posts on the annual ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale) conference. AtypI is the primary annual international fonts and typography conference, held in a different world city every year. This year it was in Reykjavik, Iceland, Sep 14-18. Next year’s destination should be announced in a week or two, as we on the board are in the throes of decision-making right now. The decision is between Hong Kong and Yerevan (capital of Armenia!).
Flying in to Iceland was itself an experience. As we approached to land, I could see how barren and craggy much of the landscape was. No wonder Apollo astronauts practiced lunar excursions here! But Reykjavik itself turns out to be a remarkably cosmopolitan experience. Both the food served at the conference and nearby restaurants were fabulous; best food I’ve had while traveling since ATypI was in Rome back in 2002! I even tried whale for the first time, which turns out to taste a lot like Kobe beef (yes, really—whales are mammals, not at all fishy). Probably the last time as well, however, as I am not entirely comfortable with the idea of eating such bright mammals, no matter how tasty they may be. I’ll bet vegetarians taste great, too….
The conference itself was held in the amazing and beautiful brand new Harpa building, a combination of concert hall and conference center. Photos can’t do it justice, with its amazing glass walls with a mix of irregular hexagonal tiles and hexagonal vertical cylinders…. The whole thing overlooks the harbor with fabulous views. And yes, those angles are for real, not an artifact of some odd camera angle.
Most of the rest of this post is going to be about things of interest especially to those who design type: font development tools (three new font editors were shown!), competitions, and such. In my next post I’ll talk about web fonts and some other cool content.
Granshan International Type Design Competition
After a day of recovering from travel and visiting with type colleagues, my first “serious” day in ReykJavik was taken up with judging for this competition. This was my first time as a juror for a type design competition, so it was especially interesting. What makes Granshan different from some other competitions is that it is focused on non-Latin writing systems (English is written with Latin letters, btw), especially Armenian, Greek and Cyrillic. This is the fourth year it has been held.
It was an interesting process, and I enjoyed working with the other jurors, who included folks from several of our WebINK partner foundries, such as Veronika Burian (TypeTogether) and Emil Yakupov (ParaType). Language barriers were interesting, and as we sat and discussed, at least three languages were in general use for basic communication: English, Russian, Armenian.
I can’t give away the results, as they are yet to be announced later this month. But I am happy to talk about the process. The voting system involved rating the finalists on a 1-5 scale. In the end we ended up not awarding a top prize in one category, just second and third place. On the other hand, the grand prize decision was shockingly easy; one of the entries was simply so masterfully executed and stunning that there was hardly any discussion needed. It was the only entry that all the jurors gave a perfect “5″ to, and for at least half of us, it was the only “5″ we gave.
What is an EPAR table? “Embedding Permissions and Recommendations.” This is basically metadata with modular and easy-to-read info about the license terms of the font. The advantage to users, if it was displayed in font management applications like Suitcase Fusion and Universal Type Server, or even by the operating system, would be an easier to read short summary of the license terms. It would be to the full End User License Agreement (EULA) what one of the Creative Commons summaries is to the full legalese. That seems like a good thing. Of course, it also seems like there was nothing stopping type foundries from doing this even without a table to put it into a font….
Ted Harrison, CEO of FontLab Ltd (purveyors of various font editing tools), has been promoting the idea of adding this table to OpenType fonts for several years now, and getting it into his company’s products, though it is not yet part of the OpenType spec proper, nor is it yet under formal consideration AFAIK. It is now supported in Fontographer 5.1, just released a couple of months ago, and about to be in FontLab Studio 5.1 (the free update for Lion compatibility, currently in very late beta testing).
Originally, Ted has an “Electronic EULA Abstract” (EEULAA), and then David Berlow from The Font Bureau had a vaguely similar “EPAR” proposal, and now the two have merged. What’s changed with EPAR compared to earlier versions of the EEULAA, is that it is no longer so focused on language-independent, machine-readable bits. Now it is more short text blurbs on different subjects. This is at once less awesomely useful, but much more practical/achievable, IMO.
Ted wants to get font management vendors like us to expose this table’s metadata in their user interfaces. Of course, the ideal thing would be if OS vendors would do so as well. That seems to me to be likely dependent on actually getting it into the OpenType spec, as a start. TBD how that will go.
I was surprised at how many different new and upcoming font editing programs were showcased at the conference. Font editors are useful not only to people who want to make new fonts, but folks who want to modify existing fonts (where that is permitted by the license terms), or just to crack open fonts to see how they are made or traipse through the font data.
By way of background, today most commercial font design and production is done using FontLab Studio, and most type conferences have many workshops and the like featuring FontLab. For more casual users Fontographer (also owned by FontLab Ltd) is also popular, as well as FontLab’s “lite” version, TypeTool. People who want a free or open source alternative have FontForge. For such a niche market, there is an embarrassment of riches in tools!
Designing with Spirals
Raph Levien from the Google Web Fonts team demonstrated and talked about his new web-based font editor, which had been called ‘Spiro” at one point (though he didn’t use that name in the presentation). It’s still very beta, not yet out there and usable. But it seems at least close now, which is cool as I remember first hearing about it some seven years ago now! This is Raph’s “20% project” at Google.
The big feature is using Euler (Cornu) spirals instead of cubic bezier curves as the basic graphics primitive. This not only allows for, but actually pretty well guarantees smooth curves! This is great for all sorts of things that are easy to mess up in existing font editors, such as the transition of a straight line to a curve, which is hard to get the right kind of “gradual onset” for, with cubic beziers. Another advantage of spirals is that they don’t get distortions in MM interpolation like we can easily get in cubic beziers (unless one designs them carefully with some irritating limitations).
It won’t change the formats of curves as stored in end user font files (and that’s okay, it doesn’t need to), but I’m a big supporter of using these as a better graphics primitive for type design tools.
Raph is already supporting multiple master (MM) like technology in Spiro, which again is just crazy useful as a font development tool, even though multiple master fonts are pretty much a defunct technology as far as being an end user font format.
Raph intends to do lots to support collaborative type design workflows. He didn’t go into a lot of details on this subject, but envisions multiple users being able to work on the same font at the same time. Presumably the file is stored in the cloud like Google Docs.
A few other key things about the tool. It:
- is integrated with Google Web Font directory, can open fonts from there directly.
- has great performance, even with huge Asian fonts. Competitive with native apps running on a desktop OS.
Parametrized Type Design
Frank has complex thoughts about type design, both outlines and spacing. For letter shapes he distinguishes between aspects that can be expressed as abstract parameters (potentially allowing for things like designing a serif once and applying it across a typeface), and a few things that are done at the level of the individual letter.
Frank also showed an approach to expressing the horizontal proportions of a typeface, and applying that to automatically spacing the typeface based on the internal proportions of the letters.
Some of Frank’s ideas are being brought to life in a type design tool! It is to be part of the existing DTL FontMaster suite of tools, which is developed by URW++ and mostly used by the folks at Dutch Type Library, but also made available to all who want to license it (though the pricing keeps it out of the hands of all but very serious users).
RoboFont: the UFO Font Editor
RoboFont allows direct editing of fonts/glyphs stored in the UFO format (Unified Font Object). For those who don’t know it, UFO is a public spec for font editing files. It actually stores individual glyphs as separate files in a directory structure, which has some potential advantages (for example, in collaborative font editing workflows). Because the format is open and public, it is popular among the very sharp folks I think of as “font hackers”—and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I think we’ll see more use of UFO not only among modular tools but also as a general font interchange format.
RoboFont does not try to be a swiss army knife like FontLab Studio. It does not do manual hinting or auto-kerning. It does not provide knowledge about glyph names. It integrates with MetricsMachine for kerning. But it is very modular and very easy to snap additional functionality into it, which might be provided free or for more $$, either by Frederik or by third parties. Even just in the couple of weeks since the conference several small modules have come available, and it is impressive how easily they are added to an existing setup, it’s as easy as installing apps on an iPhone!
Like “Glyphs” below, RoboFont seems about satisfying the needs of its creator and like-minded folks. It isn’t trying to be all things to all people. Whether it meets any individual’s needs will depend on whether they think like the person who invented it.
Glyphs seemed to me to be very much a tool intended to satisfy its creator according to his strong vision of what it ought to do and not do, which may or may not have everything other people want. There are some very sophisticated tools for guides and measurements. One notable feature was the eradication of the dividing line between preview strings and glyph editing; you can edit outlines in place while seeing those outlines as part of an entire string of glyphs. Very cool.
In my next post I’ll discuss some other talks, including several relating to the theme of the conference on specialized letters in the Latin alphabet, which is shared by western European languages such as English and Icelandic. For example, the German eszett is a lowercase double-s ligature—why does it need a capital form?