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Michael Shavalier, Director of Creative Operations joins us on September 14th for a live webcast to share SANDOW’s font management success story.

During a recent interview Michael talked about the critical role font management plays at SANDOW, and how finding the right font management solution has helped him and his team improve their efficiency and productivity.

Join us live on Wednesday, September 14th, 10:00 a.m. Pacific; 1:00 p.m. Eastern, where he delves deeper and shares best practices he used from planning to implementation.

Michael will talk about

  • the importance of brand consistency and font license compliance
  • challenges that led to the need for a font management solution
  • the most critical components to SANDOW in a font management solution
  • learnings in preparing for and implementing a font manager
  • SANDOW’s continuing journey with font management

Michael will be available for a live Q&A session after the webcast. After the webcast a recording will be emailed to everyone that registers.

To register, please follow this link.

Hope you can join us!

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Dir. of Creative Ops at SANDOW talks about font manager.


Font management plays a key role at SANDOW, a rapidly growing global publishing and media company with brands spanning design, luxury, fashion and beauty. SANDOW’s rapid growth not only brought an ever expanding list of brands, but with each brand their own sets of fonts. This skyrocketed SANDOW’s font collection into the tens of thousands making the need for effective font management critical.

SANDOW recently joined the Extensis family. They were using a different font management solution, but when they experienced limitations in their ability to manage groups effectively, instability with other key applications and technical support that was non-existent, they made the switch to Universal Type Server.

We sat down with Michael Shavalier, Director of Creative Operations at SANDOW to get a deeper look into his experiences with font management.


To hear more of Michael’s story live along with best practices he used to prepare and implement a font management solution, sign up for our webcast on Wednesday, September 14 at 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern.


Extensis: Can you tell us a little about your role as Director of Creative Operations?

Michael: When people ask that I tell them that I’m a former creative director, which evolved into a creative operations role. I don’t design too much anymore. In my life before SANDOW, I worked for the Village Voice’s corporate entity as their design director. I gained lot of experience there with managing art departments and production work flows across the country in 15 locations. So, I had some creative operations experience with setting things up for a lot of users, across remote locations, and adding governance and things like that.

As SANDOW evolved, they brought in a Chief Operating Officer that was looking at everything and trying to combine it into more of a universal workflow where we could gain greater efficiencies. My role at SANDOW naturally evolved as well from being involved strictly with the creative and design teams to where I now I report to our COO. I’m in charge of “creative operations,” but I have a lot of things that involve just straight up operations now.


Extensis: Why are fonts and managing them so important to SANDOW?

Michael: Being a publishing and media company with magazines and websites that span the globe, fonts are a key component to our business. Brand consistency and license compliance are at the top of the list where fonts are concerned.

Each brand has its own fonts, which they should be able to manage. Even though the brands are well separated, there’s a lot of synergy and cross-pollination between brands. There are separate design groups, but at the same time there is some overlap.

One of the biggest problems our designers had is when they were asked to do something across brands.  They had to load the other brand’s version of the font, and may have conflicted with other fonts on their system. Sometimes they had to spend a good deal of time trying to work through the glitches of having font conflicts which wasn’t productive or efficient. Now, with a centralized system that manages our fonts, we’re able to identify the font right away and make sure everyone is using the same version. It’s one less thing for everyone to manage. We now know across all brands which font is needed, where it is, or where it should come from and if we’ve got enough licenses. I don’t see many emails anymore saying “this brand is using this weird font, and I don’t know where to get it from”.

Designers and art directors are half of our font users with an understanding and familiarity with font management. The other half are editors, brand leads and such. Typically, the second group is where we’d find we had issues because they had the access to install fonts on their machine without the understanding that fonts are software requiring licenses to adhere to. For about eight years, it was pretty common for an advertiser to send in a font that somehow landed on one of our servers, and no one knew whether they could use it or not. It became time to think about licensing and the legal implications of using these fonts. Now, I can have a lead in each brand, usually a design director or art director, who manages the fonts for that brand by adding or taking them away. It’s allowed the non-design teams not to worry about fonts. They’re there for them.

We’ve done a couple of redesigns here in the last year. We made sure we bought enough font licenses for the brand. The nice thing is I could say, which I wasn’t able to before- when we had that redesign, the brand spent money on these expensive new fonts for their redesign purchasing the correct number of seats, and then was able to remove anyone else from being able to see or use them to maintain license compliance.


Extensis: What were the biggest challenges that lead you to implement a font manager?

Michael: As the company grew and became a little more corporate – taking on more and more smaller companies and brands – we had to integrate everyone. One of the problems we realized pretty quickly is, like so many startup companies, we had buckets of fonts. They were either on servers or people’s desktops, or you’d find 15 copies of the same font, or 30 copies of Helvetica but they weren’t the same. I’d venture to say we had tens of thousands of fonts. That’s including things people pulled offline from free font sites, or got on discs or from the different brands. If some designer was asked to put a cowboy style ad together and they grabbed a Giddyup, it ended up on our server, along with whatever else they grabbed at that time. Any designer here, could just get what they needed and move it somewhere because it wasn’t really locked down.

It was really causing a lot of havoc with the design teams, and it was also causing concerns about compliance.


Extensis: Why did you choose Universal Type Server as your font manager?

Michael: The font manager we had been using previously fell short in critical areas, in particular control in setting up users and groups, serving out fonts to them and in addition lack of technical support. Universal Type Server has given us the control we need and has excellent technical support.


Extensis: What are some of the features that are most critical for SANDOW?

Michael: We have a lot of remote editors in different parts of the country. A big feature for us is the ability to provide remote access to our Universal Type Server so editors can synchronize and manage fonts locally lessening the traffic load to our network. The Universal Type Client synchronizes with the Server automatically so an IT person doesn’t have to remotely access each system. This makes the process extremely efficient and saves hours of valuable IT resources.

Managing users in Universal Type Server is easy. With the way the admin console is set up, and by allowing us to tie it to Active Directory; it’s easy for our users to login with the same credentials they use for everything else. While I’m not doing full group mappings, because our security groups are a little different, using Active Directory does allow me to see any new users in the system, and to pull them through.

So more efficient access overall, and less taxing on our system, because we don’t have a bunch of people logging into the VPN to get their fonts.


Extensis: Where are you today with fully implementing font management at SANDOW?

Michael: Our first phase was basically to replace the other font manager for every user that was on it. We’re replacing it all now and we’re pretty close to being done. That would be at least three of our main brand groups.


Extensis: Looking a bit into the future, what are your next steps?

Michael: The next phase is going to be adding additional groups and users that weren’t using the other font management software, they are literally using folders of fonts. Our goal is to get Universal Type Server Clients installed across all brands. I’ve actually already built out a system to support the new users.

I have a feeling the next part of the project will be doing a lot of licensing and auditing. Utilizing the reporting features in Universal Type Server will help us sort that all out.


Extensis: Any parting advice for someone who needs to solve their font management challenges?

Michael: I’d carve out time to set it up for success on both the technical level and the user adoption level. There may be pain points in figuring some things out but it can be simple. I think a lot of companies, if they thought they had to go all in at the beginning, it would be too daunting. I realized early on in the project, it doesn’t have to be all in at the beginning. It’s been an ongoing project.


Extensis: Michael, thank you for your time and sharing your story with us.


Heartbleed and Extensis

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heartbleedYou may have recently heard about a bug named Heartbleed in the secure communication OpenSSL software library that could allow others to access the memory of affected systems.

While we do not believe that any of our secure communications have been intercepted, we wanted to let you know that we are committed to protecting the confidentiality of all user data by updating our systems.

How does this affect Extensis Products?

The Heartbleed bug affected none of our installable products. For details, see this knowledge base article.

How does this affect and

Like the vast majority of other companies, and were using a version of OpenSSL that contained this bug.

As of today, April 10, 2014, and have been fully updated using the new, patched version of the OpenSSL, and new SSL certificates for these sites and services have been re-issued and replaced.

For your best protection, we are working with any third-party services to ensure they are patched and up to date as well.

What can you do?

For optimal security, you may want to change your account password.

To do so:

  1. Navigate to the My Account page and login.
    If you don’t remember your login info, enter your email address and click Reset Password to get a temporary one via email.
  2. Click Edit My Account.
  3. Click Change Password
  4. Enter your old password, new password and click Save Changes.

Further questions

If you have further questions about this issue, please don’t hesitate to contact our customer service team.

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At Extensis, we pride ourselves on being where our customers need us to be. We like to be part of the conversation and are always here to answer your font management, digital asset management and web font questions.

We maintain a social media presence to help you answer questions and better connect with us. Here’s where you can find us:

  • Extensis Twitter accounts

We’d love for you to follow us on Twitter, like our Facebook page, and add our blogs to your RSS feed reader.

Of course, if you have any technical support or customer service needs, please contact our teams directly. They’ll get back to you ASAP.

We also like to hear about conversations that include our software in other external forums and chime in to help where possible. If you see something that you think that we could help, please contact us, and we’ll help where we are able.

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We have posted a recording of the Monetizing Your Asset Collection with Digital Asset Management webcast. View the webcast to learn how online art and photography business In Transit Images is using Portfolio Server to make their photography collections available online for licensing and printing.

Watch the “Monetizing Your Asset Collection with Digital Asset Management″ webcast recording

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After several years of successive business growth in Australia and New Zealand, we are happy to announce the appointment of John Parnaby as Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand.

John brings a wealth of digital publishing and IT expertise gained throughout his career. Prior to his appointment at Extensis, Parnaby worked at Future Publishing and BBC Magazines, two of the UK’s leading print publishers, where he purchased and maintained Extensis’ server solutions and technologies.

John’s expertise will be invaluable to furthering Extensis’ technology lead in Australia and New Zealand and providing both existing and prospective Font Management and Digital Asset Management customers support and guidance.

The region’s diverse list of Extensis customers includes: Kmart, Pearson Australia Group, Royal Australia Mint, Target Australia Pty Ltd, Walt Disney Television Australia Pacific Magazines, The Australian Football League, CSIRO, Terry White Chemists (part of Symbion Health) and The City of Sydney.

John will be working closely with Extensis Preferred Partners and Resellers, and is responsible for providing Extensis Professional Services and Technical Support throughout Australia and New Zealand.

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Join us for a webcast about online art and photography business In Transit Images  who are using Portfolio Server to make their photography collections available online for licensing and printing.

In Transit Images Managing Director Bob Hendriks will discuss:

  • Challenges they faced with their manual system before DAM, including rising costs and general overhead
  • How they implemented and managed the system with no formal IT person on staff
  • How they linked their internal system to the Web portal using the Portfolio API to drive their online business forward
  • Overall benefits including cutting time savings in half with initial rollout (and 20% savings over time)
  • How In Transit plans to manage an expected doubling library of assets year over year

At the end of the presentation, Bob will be available for a live Q&A.

May 31st, 2012
11:00 AM (Pacific) / 2:00 PM (Eastern)
Register for the webcast

(A recorded webcast will be emailed to you if you register but can’t attend.)

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An important part of my job is meeting with Portfolio Server users to better understand their needs and workflow. It’s easy to assume that we at Extensis know how Portfolio should work and what features should be in it – I mean, we’re the experts right? The reality is the opposite. The people that use our product day in and day out are the true experts, which is why it’s so important that I get in front of those experts and listen to what they have to say.

Over the past few months I’ve visited Portfolio Server users whenever possible and in their native environment. So far I’ve visited users in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and New York City. As I’ve visited with these users, some trends have emerged that I’d like to share:

People Prefer Simplicity

Many of the users I spoke with preferred Portfolio over other DAM systems because it’s simple. They liked how Portfolio doesn’t enforce rigid workflow rules, doesn’t require drastic changes in the way they work, and how easy it is to create new catalogs for new projects that pop up.

A few users even mentioned using Portfolio along side other digital asset management systems that were more complicated because they just needed something simple that would work and could be setup quickly.

People Don’t Have Extra Time

The whole point of digital asset management is to save time, so naturally people don’t want to spend a bunch of time setting up and babysitting their DAM. There should be a net time savings – people want DAM to enable workflow, not workslow.

While some companies are fortunate enough to have people working in dedicated Digital Asset Manager positions, most do not have this luxury. Because of this human resource constraint, a common trend was reliance on automatic metadata generation. Basically, they add everything to a Portfolio catalog and let automatic keyword generation and metadata extraction be their “virtual” Digital Asset Manager.

People Build on Small Successes

Countless times I’ve heard Portfolio users say something to the effect of “We’re having great success with Portfolio, but we’re only using a fraction of its capabilities. We’re looking for ways to expand where and how we use it”. These users originally implemented Portfolio Server to solve a specific problem and are now looking for other problems that can be solved using their existing investment.

In my experience, DAM is more likely to be successful when you focus on solving specific problems as opposed to a shotgun approach. I often encounter users switching to Portfolio from other systems that tried to solve everything at once and  took months or years to implement (if implemented at all!).  This trend supports the idea that a phased approach to DAM is less risky and more sustainable than trying to fix everything all at once.

What do you think?
Are you a Portfolio user, someone investigating DAM, or maybe a user of another DAM system? I’d like to know what’s important to you. You can let me know in the comments section below, or you can email me at

Hopefully next time I’m in your town we can meet!

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Around here, we pay very close attention to the needs and desires of our customers. Over the past few months, I’ve been taking time to visit a number of our Universal Type Server customers to hear how things are going, and how our products are fitting into their workflows. I just returned from a visit to the Los Angeles area this week, and am happy to share some of the feedback that I received.

Primary focus is synchronization

I asked dozens of our customers to identify the most important problems that they’ve selected to solve with Universal Type Server. By far the most prominent response is that they use Type Server “to stay in sync.”

This doesn’t really surprise me all that much. IT administrators who manage thousands of users with thousands of fonts, keeping everyone on the same page, with the same font software is no small task.

Creative teams are fast paced and don’t have time to search for a specific font required to get the job done. It not only slows down the production workflow, it can bog down the IT department’s helpdesk as well.

Font compliance on the rise

A close second, if not almost equal to synchronization, is the importance of maintaining font compliance in the workflow. In plain terms, this means that knowing for certain that you have the appropriate number of font licenses for your projects.

I’m fond of saying, “What piece of software can you have purchased 20 years ago, and still have function on your current machine?” Honestly, I can think of no other software that has such broad, continued support across multiple operating systems.

Because of this, many organizations now have massive collections of fonts that they’ve accumulated over the past 20 years. With likely ongoing changes in personnel, many teams are finding that the person who originally purchased a font is long gone. The documentation supporting the purchase – the end user license agreement (EULA), PO, and so forth – might be missing or never properly filed.

Without a consistent purchasing and font integration process in place, most organizations lost track of font license purchases.

To keep their company, and more importantly their clients, safe from lawsuits, many teams are drawing a line in the sand. Many have split up their font workgroups to two big piles. One for all fonts where they know that they have purchased the correct number of font licenses for their team, and another where they’re not so certain. In the future, if a project requires a font from the “not so certain” group, then a process of research takes place. Looking for previous PO’s, receipts, etc. If nothing can be found, it’s usually a task to locate the original foundry, and purchase the required number of licenses.

I’ve definitely heard stories about the attempts of some teams to locate the original author of an obscure font. There are times where it’s just not possible, so people frequently need to choose another, similar typeface that they can obtain a legal license for.

Seeing the risks of font non-compliance, creative groups want to do the right thing and stay on top of font licensing.

Universal Type Server is being used to help groups maintain that font compliance. Paired with an established purchasing process, Type Server is being used to keep people from inserting random, unknown fonts into the workflow, tracking font usage, and adjusting the purchasing strategy to appropriately meet needs.

If your team isn’t on this path to compliance yet, don’t fret. It’s never too late to get started down the right path. For most organizations, it’s a process that takes time. With minor workflow changes and definitions, you can ensure that you won’t have unlicensed fonts going out the door with your next project.

I’m always interested in hearing stories about how server-based font management is working for your team. I’d love to hear your stories. Share yours with me by emailing jkidwell [at] extensis [dot] com. You can also tweet me @extensis.

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We collect data from our users to better understand the environment within which our software is used. Last week I shared the typical number of fonts managed in Suitcase Fusion.

Today, we turn our focus on the types of machines where people install Suitcase. If you’ve ever wondered how we make choices about our system requirements and so forth, this type of data plays into the decisions that we make.

Clearly the most important data at the core of font management is the support for specific operating systems. Apple can change the way that fonts are handled in Mac OS X, and it’s important that developments we make support what our customers are using. The first data point indicates that the vast majority of our users are working on machines with Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard.

While not as critical for software development, it’s interesting to note which machines Suitcase Fusion users are using. While we’ve seen many creative teams moving toward a more mobile workforce with laptops, it’s clear that many of you are still very happy using desk-based iMacs.

It’s also important to see what type of memory is available for the application to use. Clearly most users have either 4 or 8 MB installed with 16 MB trending upward.


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