We hear you!

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The questions never end. We hear them from customers on the phone, at events, and during site visits. We hear them from creative agencies and publishing companies. We hear them in the US, Europe and Asia.

OK. We get it. You want more information on the next generation type server that’s in the works. So we’ve decided to do a series here that gives you some exposure to the development process, sneak peeks at some of the functionality, hear about what it is like to work on the team, and learn about the philosophy driving the development of our next generation type server.

The #1 question we get- without fail- is “When will it be done?” So there seems no better place to start than at the top. I posed this question to Brian Berson, General Manager of Extensis. That’s all it took. One question and he was off to the races…

A: Brian, I’ll cut to the chase. Here’s the question: Why is this taking so long?

B: Wow. Don’t softball it!

Really, that is a valid question. Some days I wonder that myself. The short answer is: this project is complex.

On one hand, we’re creating a new product that combines what we already have: two unique font management server solutions, which happen to take different approaches to client-server font management. Font Reserve Server is all about control of the font assets to ensure absolute correct use of fonts, while Suitcase Server is all about the best end-user experience. One focused on the IT administrator and the other focused on the creative user. Both have their place and what we set out to do was to merge the two approaches to give our customers the complete solution. Quite honestly – that’s not as easy as you might think. We did make some assumptions at the outset that didn’t work out as planned. Sometimes that happens.

On the other hand, we are also starting fresh by employing a more modern and adaptable architecture. We’ve recognized that our expertise is in understanding fonts and font workflows, and there is no point in re-inventing the wheel by building a proprietary technology, so we are using open, existing technologies and standards. This will give our customers a faster, more scalable and stable product. It will also allow us to more rapidly adapt, modify, and add new features and functionality. We’ve known from the beginning that this needs to be more than the sum of Suitcase Server and Font Reserve Server. Our customers deserve more than 1+1=2.

Then there is the need to hit the ground running. We have a mature customer base with thousands of installations- from small shops to multi-thousand seat sites. For each one, font management is mission-critical. If we miss a step, they’ll be sure to let us know! Our next generation type server can not come out of the gate feeling like a 1.0 product.

Oh yes- and we are doing all of this while continuing to support our other products that are being used in production today. And certainly Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, and Quark don’t make this job any easier! Suitcase Server and Font Reserve Server integrate with both the operating system and parent applications. So when the operating system updates, for example, we have to be there with an update ASAP. Users count on it. And with QuarkXPress 7, Intel Macs, Windows Vista, Adobe CS3, and Leopard (Mac OS 10.5) all shipping in the same year- this continues to be our biggest challenge. Keeping up with these changes is a continuing challenge for our IT and creative customers, and the same is true for us as a developer.

So yes, it is complex. That said, I’m really excited about where we are now. We’ve been working on this for a couple of years already and are now in the home stretch. The product team is looking forward to talking about what we’re working on. But I’ve definitely gone on long enough, so that will have to wait for the next installment.

To see the face behind the words, you can see a brief interview with Brian in this snippet, cut from a longer interview.

You can also view the entire 1-hour show, Fonts, Fonts, Fonts!, produced by Left-Hand-Man Productions.

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Extensis Service Engineer Russell Cheung at the ARLIS eventRecently we attended a great UK event organized by ARLIS, the Art Libraries Society of the UK and Ireland. This “study day” was titled “‘DIP’ping Your Toe in the Water: Digital Image Projects, Where to Begin and How not to End.”

The event was designed for librarians, visual resources curators and other professionals working in higher education, further education, art colleges, museums, galleries and art collections, as well as anyone involved in managing digital images. The content examined whether slide libraries and image collections are getting any closer to achieving the transition from analogue to digital as well as giving some practical guidance on how to manage and, just as importantly, sustain such a project.

We were honored to have Portfolio included in the first presentation, “Extending Digital Folders with Extensis: a case study of collaboration and compromise” by Marie-Therese Gramstadt, Slide Librarian, National Gallery, London.

National Gallery Slide LIbrarian, Marie Therese Gramstadt

National Gallery Slide Librarian, Marie-Therese Gramstadt presents at the ARLIS study day.

The National Gallery uses Portfolio in many ways, some of their implementation is described in one of our Portfolio case studies (PDF).

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Ducati LogoDucati is to the world of motorcycles as Apple is to the world of computers. Ducati creates sleek, fashionable and powerful machines that inspire a lust and desire practically unmatched in the motorcycle world. I’m sure that some of you feel exactly the same way about your MacBook Pro or iPod.

We’re proud to have been a long time software provider for Ducati. A few of our European staff recently visited Ducati to check in on their current installation, usage and to talk about the potential for an expanded Portfolio implementation.

Lars and Chris visit the Ducati museum

Extensis Business Manager, Lars Thunstrom and Sales Engineer Chris Stevens visit the Ducati museum.

Ducati museum thumb 1 Ducati museum thumb 2

Classic motorcycles from the Ducati museum.

Our Italian distributor, TechnoSolutions Srl, has been helping customers with their digital asset management needs for many years. Some of our other customers hailing from the land of the Etruscans, Romans and the Renaissance, include Viabizzuno, IMA and Giorgetti.

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