To Free Font Or Not?

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Top Three Ways to Build Your Team’s Font Collection

Earlier this year, I wrote an article titled “Top Places to Build Out Your Font Collection.” The article is relevant for graphic designers, as well as IT professionals, creative directors, and others in various organizations who want secure ways to build a font collection. Some fonts are marketed as “free fonts” or “open source fonts.” Do you know if these fonts are OK to use within your organization? Is purchasing fonts from a type foundry the only secure path to take? Find out in this way-back, blog reprise. Enjoy!

Typography experts estimate that there are more than 300,000 fonts in existence, and more emerging from designer’s workshops every day.

What font should my team use?

We explored MyFonts to get one example and a bit of a perspective on this number. The results blew us away. On that one site alone, you can find:

31,000 font families
4,000 individual type designers
2,000 professional font foundries*
*Numbers procured from this page.

…that’s quite a bit more than a drop down menu can hold. How many fonts are in your organization’s font collection? Is your team getting the most out of your library?

As the number of free fonts and type options ever-inflates, so does the time invested in curating your team’s collection. “Every good designer doesn’t use more than a few typefaces.” Have you heard this conviction from celebrated designer Massimo Vignelli? So, we suggest that before you skim through our list of hunting grounds for new, fun fonts, get a hold of your unruly tangle of fonts by exploring the Top Three Ways to Manage Your Team’s Font Collection including managing free fonts.

1. Free Fonts: Behance, Creative Market, Dribble & Google Fonts (Free Fonts? Wha?)
Some organizations might be apprehensive to use free fronts. However, these are some great places to see what creative people are experimenting with. You probably won’t find full-fledged font families, but you will find some fun display type. These free font sites could give your organization some new, fun, creative ideas and your designer a creative boost.

behance fonts

There is an extensive list of curated free font collections on Behance, each with juicy creations, new and old. With discoverable gems from an array of designers of all levels and geography, it’s an excellent place to find new ideas in type. Creative Market features over 7,000 fonts from independent creators and handpicks fonts for you based on your tastes. That’s a win-win. Also, if free is more of your price point, check out this Curated Collection of the 30 Best Google Fonts.

2. Type Libraries
One way to build your collection quickly is to license an entire library. There are many to choose from: Adobe, Ascender, Linotype.com, Bitstream, Monotype ITC, and many more offer up the option to license full libraries.

While it might not be a readily known fact, Monotype has steadily been purchasing many of the historical font libraries from around the globe. Monotype now owns Fonts.com, FontShop.com, Linotype.com, Monotype.com, MyFonts.com and more.

3. Independent Foundries
Independent type foundries, often operated by the type designers themselves, offer some real typographic gems. Typewolf brushed together a list of his 24 favorite independent type foundries after the Monotype-FontShop merger. It’s still highly relevant.
Some of the highlights include:
• The Midwesterner Mark Simonson that gifted the type world with Proxima Nova
exljbris Font Foundry that bequeathed upon us the highly appealing, highly practical Museo Slab.
Grilli Type, the Swiss foundry whose GT Walsheim booms at us with impressive authority
Dalton Maag, the foundry from the early 90s whose international savviness easily translates to sleek versatility
• Renound type designer Tobias Frere-Jones is also now selling fonts directly as well.
Skim though the image below for more shoutouts to greats like Lineto, Type Together, Type Trust, Hoefler & Co. and more.

font foundries

 

Admit it: after simply scrolling through this list, you’re ready to download a wave of new fonts to onto your computer. Before doing so, read our free Font Management Best Practices Guide. You’ll learn effective ways to manage your organization’s font collection, avoid font copyright lawsuits, and enable your team’s creativity.

Server-Based Font Management Best Practices Guide

Where are your favorite places to build and maintain your font collection? Tell us on Twitter @extensis.


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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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Avoid font copyright lawsuits

It seems easy. Just download a font and use it, right? Well, not necessarily.

It is easy to quickly download a font and utilize it without giving the process much thought, but that’s the problem. Forgetting or not understanding user license agreements or utilizing fonts incorrectly can lead to font copyright lawsuits. Many organizations are at risk due to font misuse, but your organization doesn’t have to be one of them.

Here’s how to reduce your chances of getting sued:

1. License fonts for their appropriate usage

Using desktop fonts as web fonts without purchasing a proper web license can place you at risk. Even using some open-source fonts for commercial projects without purchasing an appropriate license can get you in trouble.

Reduce the risk

Your organization can reduce the risk by implementing font management software that tracks usage and keeps everyone in sync, but it is crucial that a font purchase policy is implemented, reviewed, and followed. If everyone knows the policy, they are less likely to make risky purchasers or use fonts incorrectly.

Learn more about implementing a successful font purchase policy by downloading our free Server-Based Font Management Best Practices Guide.

2. Understand font EULAs

EULA stands for End User License Agreement. You agree to this when licensing a font, but do you understand it? Fonts are licensed entities just like any software. When you install most software, you get a window that displays the EULA that you must agree to that covers the software. EULA’s aren’t exactly the easiest things to read so many designers don’t read them thoroughly or don’t read them at all. EULAs vary by foundry and can vary based on types of use that you’ve selected during the process. Do you want to use the font on the web? In a logo? Embedded into a mobile application? All of these uses are likely to incur extra costs and there may be specific language regarding usage in the EULA that was overlooked.

Reduce the risk

According to Exensis’s Font Compliance Survey, close to 80% of designers don’t regularly read EULAs. So, spending time reading the fine print is the first step to understanding how you can utilize your font purchases. Unfortunately, even after reading EULAs, 78% of designers are still confused about the EULA terms. If anything in the EULA is not clear, contact the foundry for clarification.

3. Transfer fonts properly

Once you have gone through the proper purchasing and licensing process, you need to understand if and how fonts can be moved around your office. How many users can install the fonts? Can they be transferred to a printer for output? Can they be installed on a web server? Etc.

Reduce the risk

Fonts purchased for use in the office should stay at the office. Your team may feel the need to explore new fonts while at home for business use. That being said, your team should always get appropriate licensing for corporate use before any new fonts are brought into your office.

4. Create Comps with Licensed Fonts

Approximately 32% of designers surveyed admitted to “locating” a copy of a font online for use in the comping process. It’s understandable that designers may not want to purchase a font before it is selected by a client for use.  Some type foundries are offering new options for users to test fonts in comps prior to purchase, but this varies by foundry and technology.

Reduce the risk

Setup a thorough examination process before new fonts are brought into your team’s workflow. You must understand what you can and can’t do, and protect yourself by limiting the exposure of fonts use pre-licensing for comps. A thorough font purchase process and implementation of a font server can help save your bacon.

5. Do not assume your team knows your licensing policies

57% of those surveyed said that their employer didn’t have a clear policy for licensing fonts and integrating them into the workflow. This can and has led to font copyright lawsuits because designers can make assumptions.

Reduce the risk

Once you’ve got licensing under control, you need to track your purchases. This is where an effective font management strategy that includes a font server can help keep your licensed terms paired with the fonts themselves.

So, when you develop your internal policies, be sure that everyone on the creative team understands them and that you train new team members quickly.

Careful planning and communication can help keep you and your team safe. It just requires some time that can greatly reduce your risk of a font copyright lawsuit.

Server-Based Font Management Best Practices Guide

 

Want to get more information on font management strategies that can help keep your team safe? Download our free Server-Based Font Management Best Practices Guide.

You’ll learn:

  • How to organize fonts for your team’s workflow
  • Create a font licensing strategy
  • Assess your font needs
  • Avoid costly font copyright issues, and more.

Download your best practices guide today and get on the road to font management success.

 


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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.

 


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TurboSync-160x160When we ask Universal Type Server users what the most important thing that a font server does for them, the top answer is most often “keeping all of our users in sync.” Ensuring that everyone has all of the right fonts when they need them is critical to keeping everyone on your team productive.

What TurboSync™ font synchronization does for Universal Type Server is make the transferral of fonts from server to client lightning fast. Our speed tests rate TurboSync up to 27 times faster than previous sync times.

This ensures that getting your clients up and running with new installs, rebuilds, or even just migrating to a new machine is as fast as possible.

For an example, let’s look at some of our testing data.

We configured a server using the internal PostgreSQL database, added 11,327 fonts to it, and connected 50 clients.

Pre-TurboSync the average time it took for all clients to download all of the fonts was about 88 minutes.

With TurboSync, the average was a blazingly fast 3.25 minutes for all 11,327 fonts to be downloaded to each client.

Our collective chins hit the floor when we calculated that the server was 27x faster than before.

My absolute description of TurboSync comes from CreativePro.com

“And now they have released an update with some key new features, including one that makes font distribution up to 27 times faster. That’s right, 27 times faster. That’s like flying from New York to London in 15 minutes. Or making a cup of tea in seven seconds. On your lunch break, you could fly to London, have a cup of tea, and fly back to your office and still have plenty of time to manage your fonts.”

Download a trial of Universal Type Server and test out the speed for yourself.


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Universal Type ServerUniversal Type Server update v4.1 is now available.

This is a free update to all Universal Type Server 4 customers.

This recommended update adds new features:

  • TurboSync™ font schronization up to 27 times faster than before
  • Extensis font panels in Adobe® InDesign®, Illustrator® & Photoshop®
  • Fontspiration™ panel keeps you abreast of new fonts, creative type use and inspiration
  • Double the QuickComp™ templates to create quick font use samples
  • “My Fonts” workgroup shows all fonts to which a user has access
  • Adobe Typekit desktop font support
  • And much more, including various bug fixes and improvements

To install the updates:

See these lists for compatibility information