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Because software upgrades can be disruptive to a Production environment I’m frequently asked which best practices a company should employ when upgrading Universal Type Server.

Here are ten basic ideas to help guide you through the upgrade process.  Please feel free to share your own tips with us or any others I may have forgotten to mention.

  1. Forward with a Backup – starting your upgrade out with a way to quickly restore your environment in the event of unforeseen problems is always the best way to lower your stress level. Backup first, always.
  2. Keeping up with the Joneses – Often customers jump into the latest operating systems or other application updates before ensuring their software and plugins are compatible. Compatibility information is generally available on the Extensis website so be sure to look before taking the update plunge.
  3. Testing, is this thing on? – Whenever possible, we recommend you review upgrades in a “testing” environment before upgrading your Production environment. This helps you identify and deal with unexpected issues without bringing your business to a halt.
    Did you know? The Extensis software agreement enables you to use your licenses on a separate testing environment at no additional cost. So setup a test environment to ensure everything works as expected.
  4. Keeping up with the times – We realize that it’s very challenging to stay on top of the latest versions of all your software. But just like the rest of the technology world, critical changes occur every day so if you don’t stick to a regular upgrade schedule you’ll fall behind.
    If you want to be certain Universal Type Server upgrades go smoothly, we recommend you lag no more than one full version behind.
    For example, Universal Type Server is currently at version 6.x so if you are running Universal Type Server 4 or older it’s time to get updated. When it comes to databases, upgrading from two (or more) versions back to the current version may not be directly compatible. Upgrading may require extra steps to to ensure you’re current. Staying updated will save you time and energy in the long run.
  5. One step at a time – Remember it’s much easier to ensure a successful upgrade when you use a stepped approach. Complete one installation at a time then validate its results.
    For example, if you need to upgrade systems to Mac OS X, Adobe Creative Cloud and Universal Type Client all at the same time take it slow and implement one change at a time. If you don’t, how will you know where a problem lies when things don’t go as expected? I can assert you will not know and neither will our technical support team.
  6. Server upgrades first – In the Universal Type Server world, client versions are often optimized for their intended servers. Therefore, it’s best practice to upgrade your Server before the clients. This ensures any new database schema updates get handled before connecting new client versions.
  7. In-Place upgrades (over a restore) – Universal Type Server offers two upgrade options. We recommend performing an in-place upgrade over a backup restoration (whenever possible).
    In-place upgrades ensure your current server data is updated quickly and users have the least disruptive experience. Remember as a safety net, run best practice step #1 before doing an in-place upgrade.
  8. Stagger client upgrades – It’s often recommended larger organizations upgrade their client versions in smaller chunks. Doing so minimizes the first-time work Universal Type Server is required to perform when syncing newly connected clients. Many of our customers will schedule client updates by office location, floor, department, or publication so their users have advance notice. Also if an unexpected issue occurs, the number of affected users is manageable.
  9. Contact us, really – Many customers don’t think to reach out to us before they upgrade until something goes haywire. Next time, email or call us first. You’d be surprised how much useful information we can share before you begin.
  10. Finally, do not contaminate the crime scene – In the rare event you encounter an issue, requiring support assistance, please do not make additional changes until we can gather the information needed. Often times we are unable to resolve the issue quickly because important application files, databases and logs are no longer available.

I hope this article was helpful for you. On behalf of the Universal Type Server Team, thanks for being our customer and good luck with your next upgrade.

Feel free to reach out and let me know which other topics you’d like for us to write about.

FREE Guide: Server-Based Font Management Best Practices Guide

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If you’re in the NYC area, and have been wondering about how effective font management can help your workflow, I’d like to invite you to join me at a special seminar featuring Suitcase Fusion 3 at Tekserve this month.

This seminar will cover:

  • How font management can help your creative workflow.
  • How font auto-activation plug-ins work with creative applications.
  • The process of previewing and comparing fonts.
  • How Font Sense provides accurate font matching.
  • How you can maintain brand consistency by using web fonts from the WebINK web font service.

Event details:

  • Thursday, April 28th, 6:00 p.m.
  • Tekserve, 119 West 23rd Street, New York, NY (between 6th & 7th Avenues)
  • Cost: FREE

Register to attend this event at least 24 hours in advance. It might fill up, so please register as soon as you know that you can make it.

Click here for a complete list of upcoming seminars and events at Tekserve. of the fun new features that are available in Suitcase Fusion

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Today Extensis announced the immediate availability of new font auto-activation plug-ins that include a TweetFont – a revolutionary new social-font (“soc-fon”) technology that tweets the name of every font automatically activated by Suitcase Fusion.

This exciting new feature allows creative professionals to share up to the minute information about the fonts being used in their designs. Each tweet includes the font’s FontSense™ ID, to assist followers in keeping track of the exact fonts that have been activated.

“After seeing the success of our FontFuse website, where users can create and share font pairings, we knew we had to take the social approach to font management even further” said Jim Kidwell, Product Marketing Manager at Extensis. “TweetFont takes soc-fon to the next level by providing creative professionals an easy way to flood their Twitter stream with even more mundane updates.”

For more information about the TweetFont auto-activation plug-ins, go here.

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Last week I delivered a presentation on effective font management using Suitcase Fusion to a group of graphic designers and creative professionals at The InDesign Seminar Tour in Denver, Colorado.

To align my presentation with the seminar’s focus on providing tips, tricks and techniques that boost productivity, I spent most of the time talking about the new time saving features in Suitcase Fusion 3. I also had the pleasure of awarding one lucky attendee a free copy of Suitcase Fusion!

The seminar attendees brought up several good questions about the details of font auto-activation and system fonts conflicts. Of course these were easy to answer since Suitcase Fusion uses Font Sense to always activate the correct font and can automatically de-activate conflicting system fonts.

The next stop for The InDesign Seminar Tour is Dallas, TX  on March 3rd where we’ll be presenting again and giving away another copy of Suitcase Fusion 3. If you can’t make it, don’t worry – you can read our Font Management Best Practices Guide (PDF) or download a free trial of Suitcase Fusion 3.

What type of font management topics would you want to learn about at an InDesign seminar?

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Today we released new font auto-activation plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop CS5 and CS4 for Suitcase Fusion™ 3. The plug-ins automatically activate the exact fonts required for each file using the patented Font Sense™ technology to create a unique fingerprint for each font.

We understand that Photoshop is a core part of many designer’s daily workflow, and these plug-ins bring powerful auto-activation to the industry-standard imaging application.

The new plug-ins are available for our Suitcase Fusion 3 font manager on both Macintosh® and Windows® operating systems. The full list of auto-activation plug-ins now includes:

• Adobe InDesign® CS5, CS4 and CS3
• Adobe Illustrator® CS5, CS4 and CS3
• Adobe Photoshop CS5 and CS4 (32 and 64-bit versions)
• QuarkXPress® 8 and 7

If you already have Suitcase Fusion 3, you can download the new plug-ins through the Check for Updates features of Suitcase Fusion 3. If you haven’t purchased yet, all new versions automatically include the new plug-ins.

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Universal Type Client

Today we released an updated version of the Universal Type Client for Mac that includes new auto-activation plug-ins for Adobe InDesign and Illustrator CS5. This is a free update for all Universal Type Server users.

Download the update (v2.1.2) here.

We are also developing a Windows version of the Universal Type Client that will contain CS5 plug-ins, and plan to have an updated installer early this fall.

Suitcase Fusion

The current version of Suitcase Fusion 2 for Mac and Windows is compatible with Adobe CS5 products. You can activate and deactivate fonts and Suitcase Fusion 2 places fonts in Adobe CS5 application font lists.

We will be releasing new plug-ins for Adobe InDesign and Illustrator CS5 with Suitcase Fusion 3 later this summer.

New Photoshop plug-ins

As a special bonus, along with a number of great new features, Suitcase Fusion 3 will include entirely new plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop. The new plug-ins will feature the same reliable Font Sense technology for precise font auto-activation that you’ve come to expect from Extensis font management plug-ins.

Free Upgrade to Suitcase Fusion 3

Beginning July 1st, all purchases of Suitcase Fusion 2 will receive a free upgrade to Suitcase Fusion 3 when it’s released later this summer.


We continue to test Portfolio to be sure that files generated by CS5 applications are cataloged and converted appropriately.

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Last week we talked about the entropy of over-organization and breaking old habits. This week we unlock the mystery of the Suitcase Fusion 2 font vault in part two of this three part series. Let’s begin:

Entropy #2 : Why keep your fonts “in-place” instead of in the “font vault”?


If you went to a bank to deposit a large sum of money and the bank said you had the choice of:

  1. keeping your money in their vault (made of two feet thick solid steel walls, a dual-control combination lock, protected by 24-7 cameras, multiple alarm systems and three trigger-happy security guards (underpaid and jacked up on coffee) or
  2. you could keep the money in your apartment spread out in a couple of shoe boxes and old paper bags

Which would you choose? Which sounds more secure for the long term? Which is a better “system?”

In may aspects of life, we have a strange misplaced desire to either 1) control things we can not control or 2) continue to control things we have already delegated to someone else to handle. The result of each is pain and suffering.

A classic example is someone who constantly complains about the weather. You can complain till you’re blue in the face that the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry, and guess what ? the weather remains un-changed. It is a complete waste of energy; as fruitful as shaking your fist at a storm cloud or talking to a tornado. You cannot control the weather; accept that as natural law and let go. When its hot, work on your tan. When it’s raining, consider it a free shower. When someone gives you lemons, make margaritas. If the weather wherever you live is that miserable for you, then do something you can control, move to another location with weather that suits your preferences. As they say in Las Vegas, “put up or shut up” because talk is cheap in the silver city and time is money.

Another classic example: a boss who assigns you to handle “important problem X with customer 17” (because they’re too busy) but micromanages your every move along the way. Good managers delegate tasks and trust their employees to deliver results; bad managers pretend to delegate tasks and want an “update” or to make a “suggestion” every thirty minutes in the process. It’s a confusion of ownership and both manager and employee miss out on the benefits of delegation. High entropy. Getting Things Done guru, David Allen talks about achieving a zen-link mental state of “mind like water” where your mind is always clear from worrying about things in which worrying is fruitless. In Buddhism, the tendency to worry about that which one should not worry about, is called “monkey mind” (“unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable”); “mental noise”, “just spinning wheels”, “a dog chasing it’s own tail”, “running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off”, “beating a dead horse” and “beating your head against the wall” are western idioms that point to the same concept of futility.

If you’ve purchased a font manager to manage your fonts then hello, let it manage your fonts. Delegate and let go. Let SF2 manage your fonts and let iTunes manage your mp3s. When you are dead and buried, looking back on your life, does it really matter if your 80’s hair metal is in a folder called “/music/hair metal/80’s/motley crue” or “/music/itunes/itunes media/music/motley crue”?  Over-riding the default preferences of each program to organize your fonts/mp3’s manually because you think you have “a better way” smacks of ego unless you are an advanced user and have a really, really, specific reason for doing so to justify the performance loss and overhead needed to maintain your system. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating total passivity in the face of technology (never bow down to the robot overlords without a fight!), rather I am advocating that you choose your battles wisely grasshopper and that you make good decisions on how you want to spend your time. If I had a magic wand and could grant you an extra two hours a week, every week of “free time” to spend on either:

  1. designing great work that puts food on the table and might just change the world or
  2. renaming folders, copying files, searching and re-linking broken links on your hard disc

Which would you choose? Which achievement are you more likely to feel proud about 10 years from now? Which will bring you recognition, fame and fortune?

Unlocking the Suitcase Fusion 2 Font Vault

Many customers don’t use the Suitcase Fusion 2 font vault because they fear it’s something really complicated but it’s actually quite simple. You have your original fonts on your hard disc in “location A”, organized meticulously or simply in a big giant hairy folder called “my fonts” [see part one of this series]. You drag them into SF2 in order to use them which copies the actual fonts into “location B” i.e. the suitcase fusion 2 font vault located at:

/Users/[username]/Library/Extensis/Suitcase Fusion/Suitcase Fusion.fontvault

The font vault is a special folder called a “package”. You can see what’s literally inside the font vault by stopping the Suitcase Fusion Core and then right-clicking the font vault and choosing “show package contents”. This will allow you to see whats inside the package just like a regular folder. Here’s a screenshot:


The SF2 font vault organizes your fonts by Type (MM = Multiple Master, OTPS = OpenType Postscript flavor, OTTT = OpenType TrueType flavor, PS = Postscript, TT = TrueType), then by foundry, then by font name, then by version number, then by Font Sense number. Simple and orderly. In the screenshot below, you can see I have three different versions of ACaslonPro-Bold, an OpenType – Postscript flavor font from Adobe.


The font vault is a SQLite 3 database for you techies out there. SQLite is an “in-process library that implements a self-contained, serverless, zero-configuration, transactional SQL database engine;” the same open source database code used by Apple for your iPhone, iTunes, Mail and Safari. It’s good to understand the font vault but don’t go monkeying around inside it just for kicks. Fonts are added or removed from the font vault though the SF2 program to keep the database in sync.

Benefits of the Suitcase Fusion 2 Font Vault

  1. requires absolutely no maintenance
  2. speed
  3. no more missing fonts, broken links or having to mount external drives
  4. fonts are checked for corruption before being added into the vault
  5. the vault does not allow duplicate fonts
  6. the vault is a single folder that can be easily backed up or moved to another computer

It all comes down to how you want to spend your time. You can spend Saturday night alone, quietly hunched over your computer, eyes bleeding, meticulously organizing your iTunes library, file by file, tag by tag into some complex series of personal folders or dancing with friends to the music blasting from your iTunes library. Living “the good life” means you spend more time “wining and dining” then you do “whining and pining.” Time may be our most precious human resource so re-evaluate how you’re spending yours if you’re micromanaging minutiae. Get outside, spend some time with your loved ones, follow your passions, pick up a new hobby, create something beautiful, think BIG, just don’t miss the forest for the trees. As they say at the morgue, “If you have time, you can always make more art but you can’t make more art when you’re dead.”

[Winona Savings Bank Vault image courtesy of Jonathunder from Wikipedia]

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Hello world: I’m Ken Beck, Technical Product Specialist at Extensis and I will be adding some content here that I hope you will find helpful. So here we go: Post Numero Uno :

In tech support, naturally we see a lot of screen shots from customers while troubleshooting their Suitcase Fusion 2 setup. One common pattern is over-organization. That sounds odd now doesn’t it? Can you really be over-organized? Is it possible to create a filing system so complex that you can’t find anything? Definitely. Over-organization creates entropy and not only is doing so largely a waste of your time but it creates unnecessary stress and is actually counter-productive to efficiency. Wait a minute: I can be less “organized” and more “efficient” at the same time with less work? I’m listening. In short, if your spending hours/days/weeks sweating blood to “organize your fonts” by creating byzantine nested sets within sets within sets, multiple font libraries to nowhere and twenty six alphabetical set folders, then “you’re doing it all wrong“.

Human beings are creatures of habit as they say and a lot of us are guilty of doing things a certain way through sheer force of habit. There’s no benefit or reason to our madness, we just keep doing it a certain way because “hey, that’s the way I’ve always done it”. Now don’t get me wrong, some structure is good: I like having hips to keep my pants up and having shoulders for people to cry on and riding a bicycle made of steel instead of jello gives me more “confidence” commuting to work though downtown Portland, but if all you have is the past to justify a current action, then it’s time to re-examine your goal and dig deeper for a solution. You may be using an outdated model from last year, five years ago, ten years ago, or some ancient psychological maxim you were taught by a teacher or a parent that has absolutely no relevance to what you are doing today. Yes we are getting philosophical here but remember technology is digital philosophy. If you are using new technology without changing your behavior/relationship/workflow then you’re probably missing the benefits of acquiring the new technology in the first place and therefore “missing the boat”. As they told me in trampoline class, “if you’re gonna jump, you have to let go of whatever you are holding onto”. And as they say in one of my favorite episodes of Samurai Jack, if you’re gonna join the tribe who jumps, then learn to jump good.

Over the next few posts in this three part series, I’ll give specific examples of over-organization in Suitcase Fusion 2 and how to achieve the same goal with less effort and more grace. Here is the first example:

Entropy #1 : Why have 26 “A thru Z” alphabetical sets in Suitcase Fusion 2?


This is an old technique from Font Reserve circa 2002.  The “alphabet strip” was a cool and effective technique for sorting/finding a specific font in 2002 but life was different in the good old days of 2002. This was a time when men wanted to be a cross between Eminem, Brad Pitt and Spiderman and dreamed of picking up Jennifer Lopez, Pamela Anderson or Shakira, preferably all three, in their Ferrari, and driving to Paris, to see the World Cup and then relax watching the Simpsons. For a meta experience, google “2002 year end” to see Google’s 2002 year end zeitgeist to remember what else was “hot” in 2002 to get some perspective.

In 2010, with Suitcase Fusion 2, this “A to Z” outdated filing technique creates entropy because:

  1. Doing so maxes out your screen real estate in the sidebar. Where are you gonna put your meaningful sets (clients, projects, favorites) now?
  2. You can see your fonts automatically sorted in alphabetical order in one click by clicking on the “Name” column just like iTunes or Excel.
  3. If you need to find a font called “ken dash something I can’t remember” then use the QuickFind box (top right of SF2) to search for “ken” in the same way you would use Apple’s Spotlight or Quicksilver to find a file. A fast search trumps manually digging through multiple folders any day. This concept of searching/tagging items in “one box” being more efficient than painstakingly filing items in multiple discrete boxes was pioneered by a little startup called Google way back in 1998. Considering they made profits of 23.6 billion dollars in 2009 when many companies we’re downsizing or folding, I’d say philosophically they got it right.

Choosing/Sorting/Finding a font when creating new documents should be cake in Suitcase Fusion 2. If you are re-working an existing document created with Extensis’s patented Font Sense technology (included in Font Reserve, Suitcase for Windows 11, Suitcase Fusion and Suitcase Fusion 2) then there is no need to search at all for a font as your fonts are auto-activated for you when you open the document. If you are not using our auto-activation plug-ins for InDesign, Illustrator and QuarkXPress then once again,  you’re doing it the hard way.

As the immortal Merlin Mann says in his “Inbox Zero” tech talk, if you’re a sandwich maker, your job is to make sandwiches not organize food orders into neat little paper stacks, meaning don’t obsess about the wrong things, obsess about the right things that bring you joy. Don’t get lost spending weeks “organizing your fonts” when you could be creating. All you have to do is drag and drop your entire big scary messy font folder of 5,000 fonts into SF2 and let it organize them for you. SF2 will sort out your duplicates, check for corruption, OS compatibility, and extract the metadata (name, foundry, class, version, etc.) of all your fonts for you in the time it takes to enjoy a nice margarita. It can be that easy if you let go of the idea that it has to be hard.

You’re a designer so focus on designing; don’t micromanage your font manager. Let Suitcase Fusion 2 do the heavy lifting for you and get back to spending your time doing the fun stuff. Now, all this talk about sandwiches and margaritas gives me an idea. Who’s up for happy hour?

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Suitcase Fusion 2 Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) CompatibleToday we released a new version of our single-user font manager, Suitcase Fusion™ 2 (version 13.2) that adds support for Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

This update also includes:

  • Adobe InDesign and Illustrator CS2 plug-ins that are powered with our Font Sense™ technology.
  • Support for TrueType Collection (TTC) fonts, including the updated Snow Leopard system fonts.

Current Suitcase Fusion 2 users on Mac OS X Leopard v 10.5 or higher will receive this maintenance update at no cost. All current users of Suitcase Fusion 1 are eligible for upgrade pricing. English, French, and German versions of Suitcase Fusion 2 version 13.2 are now available for download from the Extensis website.

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Universal Type Server font manager KMWorld trend setting product

I’m happy to report that KMWorld recently selected Universal Type Server 2 as one of their Trend Setting Products of 2009.

All of the improvements included in Universal Type Server 2 has made client/server font management a must-have product for demanding creative environments.

For more information on Universal Type Server, and to check out a trial version for yourself, see the Extensis website. We’ve also posted a number of product demo videos on YouTube that will help you understand setup, configuration and font management with Universal Type Server.

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