September 27th, 2016 by Chris Meyer
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
September 14th, 2016 by Chris Meyer
In today’s digital world, there are many options for publishing content to your audiences. While print still remains the traditional method, the onslaught of digital devices such as computers, tablets and smart phones have become the new means for delivering our reading material. Publishers are challenged now more than ever not only to distribute across all of these new mediums but also to re-purpose their content to fit each format. In addition, as work forces are downsized and less people do the work, companies must find creative ways to automate their processes and meet aggressive publishing schedules.
To overcome these challenges, many publishers have turned to implementing some type of publishing platform to assist with automation and to establish a cohesive workflow. When considering workflow automation, publishers must identify repetitious tasks in their workflow, remove unnecessary human intervention and still maintain output quality.
Publishing Platform Considerations
While there are many publishing platforms available today, finding a single system to do it all is either impossible or expensive. Systems containing too many “features” tend to lack quality outside of the developer’s core competencies. Publishing platforms providing only asset management components like image and document controls are incomplete. None manage font assets. This has led many publishers to piece together multiple systems making their environments more modular and manageable. By including various plugin modules and other inter-system connectors they can tie all of the pieces together as needed.
An integral part of the publishing workflow is font processing for output delivery. Today’s publishing platforms do not handle critical font processing needs. Those platforms have substandard system-level font activation and force every available font to be loaded onto the publisher’s systems at once. Unfortunately, there is a high probability some fonts will conflict with others, be missing or slow the system down causing output jobs to fail and halting the entire publishing process. So it’s important that font processing is treated like any other critical step in the publishing workflow.
For this reason, Extensis is leading the way to make the font management process in publishing workflows seamless and efficient. Extensis has updated Universal Type Server with an add-on module, FontLink to handle font processing issues publishers face during the final stage of a file’s output. The FontLink Module parses each file and acquires the exact fonts used. The correct font must accompany a file in order for the output to render correctly. When fonts are substituted or missing, the file output process can’t be completed. Extensis solves this by using its patented Font Sense font identification technology. Publishers are guaranteed the correct fonts will accompany each output job so it renders flawlessly.
Extensis recently partnered with two of the world’s most experienced publishing platform providers to bring font management to the best end-to-end automated publishing platforms available. By connecting Universal Type Server’s FontLink Module to vjoon K4 and Typefi publishing platforms, publishers are now assured fonts used in every file are properly identified and made ready prior to output. Regardless of whether a file is being processed for print, web or digital output, the fonts are delivered on demand before the job gets to the output device making for zero conflicts – no missing fonts – no stopping the presses!
For more information about our managed font platform:
Stay tuned in the upcoming months while Extensis builds new integrations and welcomes new partners into our Industry Network. http://www.extensis.com/company/partner/our-industry-network/
If you are a Publishing Platform Provider or Publisher and would like to consider partnering with us please reach out and let us know. Contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
August 31st, 2016 by Extensis
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!
August 24th, 2016 by Extensis
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.
August 17th, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
Learn font distribution best practices so you don’t get caught in a font licensing conundrum
Think of font distribution as a process. Not only does it keep your fonts organized and efficiently distributed, it also helps you maintain the appropriate number of font licenses by helping track which fonts are authorized, purchased, shared (with appropriate team members), and reviewed.
A proper font distribution process helps in many areas:
- Time and money spent. Incorrect font usage can cause unnecessary misprints from text reflows and require reprints that waste time and money.
- Tracking issues. Without a proper font distribution process, your team has little (if any) insight into which fonts are being used. Some fonts may be underutilized which can result in purchasing more font licenses than needed. Proper tracking and reporting give you a meaningful way to make future font purchase decisions.
- Unhappy employees. Confusion and frustration reign when your design team can’t find the fonts they need when they need them. Life is easier when a process is in place that allows them to find what they are looking for.
- Legal concerns regarding font licensing. Without a controlled distribution and system of font access, unlicensed fonts can gain easy access into your organization or even worse, custom fonts could be released into the wild. All of which could potentially lead to a lawsuit.
Read on to learn font distribution basics and best practices to help alleviate these potential problems.
Five Font Distribution Best Practices
1. Decide how you want to organize your font collection
We recommend organizing your teams by workgroups. Workgroups are groups of fonts and users. Basically, you give a specific number of users access to specific fonts. Below are three common methods to choose from.
User Type: user types may vary, but we commonly hear about editorial, design, and production user types. These different groups have different needs and will use fonts for different reasons so it makes sense for some organizations to divide their font teams by user type.
Client: Every client is unique and so are the fonts they are using. For example, Times New Roman was built specifically for the Times of London. Companies want a specific brand identity and they can do this by creating and commissioning their own typeface, or selecting groups of fonts that most effectively represent their brand.
Project: Just like each client is unique, so is each project. However, since projects don’t have to be client specific, sometimes grouping by project makes more sense.
2. Set up compliance using permissions
One of the easiest ways to be compliant and avoid piracy issues is to set up user permissions. Instead of a whole department or company having access to certain fonts, only people who need rights to particular fonts have permission to use them. Permissions ensure your company is following branding guidelines and avoiding even inadvertent piracy because users can only use approved and/or purchased fonts that they have access to.
3. Choose roles
Who is going to be choosing, purchasing, and uploading fonts into your system? Is it your Lead Graphic Designer? Is it someone in your IT department? Having a key person who is in charge of this process helps you avoid a guessing game that can lead to problems.
4. Keep record of your font licenses and track usage
When you’re managing the distribution of your fonts, you can gain a level of control over font compliance. You have direct access into who has access to your fonts, and how many users are activating them. This helps ensure you have the right number of licenses for your actual usage and lets you make improved future font purchasing decisions – remember when we discussed saving time and money? This is your ticket to doing just that. Keeping track of all this can be a huge challenge, but font management software can help you.
5. Pick the right enterprise font management software:
Having reliable, robust font management software to save time, money, and maintain license compliance is key to making font distribution possible and successful. Look for a solution that has a dashboard allowing you to easily compare fonts side by side. Check for the ability to search for a font by specific type and set up user permissions by workgroups. Make sure reports are available so you are able to see if more font licenses need to be purchased or scaled back for future use.
What does your font distribution process look like? Let us know in the comments section.
Extensis and Typefi team up on end-to-end font management solution for automated publishing workflows
August 2nd, 2016 by Chris Meyer
Today we’re pleased to announce that we’ve teamed up with Typefi, a leading provider of single-source automated software for print, online and mobile publishing to streamline font management in automated publishing.
We will be integrating Universal Type Server’s FontLink module with Typefi’s end-to-end publishing platform, to increase efficiencies for customers and eliminate font issues that can derail the automated process in publishing workflows.
One of the key challenges in the automated publishing process arises at the preproduction stage. This is where publishers want to publish their final content without errors regardless if it is for digital or print. It’s at this point things can go sideways because the fonts are not available in the system. Currently, customers need to load up every font they may ever need to ensure the output looks as desired. Doing this can overload the machine and the process fail when duplicate fonts are found.
Typefi and Extensis share the mission of making creative and publishing workflow seamless and efficient, so we’ve partnered to remove the font challenges while automating the workflow from beginning to end.
How you ask? By injecting FontLink at the backend of the production assembly line, customers will have an on-demand system to get the fonts required for each document during output processing. FontLink in conjunction with Universal Type Server ensures there are no missing, incorrect or substituted fonts, and will only deliver exact matches for each document along that production path.
Whether the output is a PDF, or an InDesign document, whether it be print or EPub the final piece of output contains all of the fonts used without variations or substitutions.
Extensis is really excited to partner with Typefi to bring this end-to-end integrated solution to the marketplace.
To learn more about Typefi, click here.
And you can find more information about Universal Type Server and FontLink here.
April 3rd, 2014 by Jim Kidwell
Last year I spent a little time in Europe to speak at a couple of conferences, and visit many Extensis customers across the continent.
We are proud to help many organizations prevent font problems, and are especially delighted that Unesco has selected Universal Type Server to manage fonts for their publishing efforts.
Publishing in multiple languages simultaneously has many challenges, and we wanted to be sure that font management wasn’t one of them.
Unesco benefits from their use of Universal Type Server in that:
- 3000 fonts are accessible to team members from server
- 70% reduction of the time taken setting up print jobs
- 80% reduction of IT related problems
- 100% reduction font compliance issues
Read all about their successes with en Extensis font server in our Unesco Case Study.
The Extensis headquarters are firmly rooted in the land of microbrews and skinny jeans here on the left-coast in Portland, Oregon. In our Portland and LA offices you’ll find two creative workflow experts helping companies maintain license compliance and improve their workflows using Extensis font and digital asset management solutions:
Kari Friedewald, Regional Business Manager, Extensis Portland Office
- Favorite color: Orange
- Latest book: Accidents in North American Mountaineering
- Ideal vacation spot: A long and remote climbing trip.
- During my commute: Listening to NPR
Max, Systems Engineer, Extensis LA Office
- Favorite color: Red
- Latest book: The 900 Days: The Siege Of Leningrad
- Ideal vacation spot: Must have a good mix of relaxing beaches and great ATV (four wheeler) courses.
- During the commute: Electronic and Alternative music
Both enjoy long walks on the beach and ensuring that font and digital asset management projects are successfully completed on time and under budget. To learn more about what Kari and Max can do for you, please check out our Professional Services page.
The Extensis headquarters are firmly rooted in the land of fixed-gear bicycles and hipster mustaches here in Portland, Oregon. So what do you do if you’re struggling with fonts and digital assets halfway across the country in the midwest? Not to worry, we have you covered with our Chicago offices that serve the central region of the United States and Canada.
In our Chicago offices you’ll find two creative workflow experts helping companies maintain license compliance and improve their workflows using Extensis font and digital asset management solutions:
Regional Business Manager
- Favorite color: Green
- Latest book: Confessor and Good is Not Enough
- Ideal vacation spot: Hawaii – beaches, ocean fun, food, sun.
- During my commute: Lately I’ve been going through Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International and Grimnoir Chronicles series.
- Favorite color: Orange
- Latest book: OS X Server Essentials
- Ideal vacation spot: A sandy beach with sun.
- During the commute: The Dan Patrick Show.
Both enjoy long walks on the beach and ensuring that font and digital asset management projects are successfully completed on time and under budget.
To learn more about what Michael and Matthew can do for you, please check out our Professional Services page.
February 14th, 2013 by Jim Kidwell
The Extensis headquarters are firmly rooted in the land of microbrews and skinny jeans here in Portland, Oregon. So what do you do if you’re struggling with fonts and digital assets across the country on or near the east coast? Not to worry, we have you covered with our NYC offices that serve the eastern region of the United States and Canada.
In our NYC office you’ll find three creative workflow experts helping companies maintain license compliance and improve their workflows using Extensis font and digital asset management solutions:
Jeremy Godfrey, Regional Business Manager
- Favorite color: Blue
- Latest book: Maui Revealed
- Ideal vacation spot: Maui or St. Croix… depends on if I’m departing from PDX or NYC.
- During my commute: I read the NY Post.
James Grace, Senior Systems Engineer
- Favorite color:Neon Orange
- Latest book: Travels
- Ideal vacation spot: The Beach in Cancun, Mexico
- During the commute: I listen to PopTron : SomaFM
Chris Chen, Systems Engineer
- Favorite color: Black
- Latest book: Start with Why
- Ideal vacation spot: Maldives
- During the commute: Flo Rida, David Guetta, Rihanna
All three enjoy long walks on the beach and ensuring that font and digital asset management projects are successfully completed on time and under budget.
To learn more about what Jeremy, James, and Chris can do for you, please check out our Professional Services page.