Universal Type Server continues to be well received on the show floor at Macworld 2008. You don’t have to take our word for it, when you get a chance bop on over and read this early review of Type Server.
Our favorite quote in the article – “Blazingly fast… It was like going from dialup to broadband all over again.”
Continuing on with the photos from the show floor, here are a few of the more interesting things in the Expo Hall. The Extensis booth looks great, but you already knew that, of course.
NEC has this very cool, and HUGE curved monitor.
The always popular Google booth.
Here’s the difficult to photograph well Apple demonstration stage.
The Filemaker booth features perhaps the tallest podium known to man. I’d feel like everyone was looking up my nose if I were on that podium!
And the award for the strangest booth structure goes to Booq who has these faceless mannequins at their booth that left me with a somewhat creepy feeling.
You’ve just gotta love these little rubber USB flash drive penguins.
It’s the attack of the POD people!
No, wait, it’s the attack of the USB people.
And, of course the little USB people need their own little USB fridge, right?
And finally, a USB rocket launcher, cannon, kitty, chess game, and well, anything else you can dream up.
January 15th, 2008 by Jim Kidwell
Macworld Conference and Expo, SAN FRANCISCO, CA., January 15, 2008 — Extensis, a brand of Celartem Inc., today announced Universal Type Server, its next generation server-based font management solution for both Macintosh and Windows environments. Universal Type Server will benefit creative professionals, workgroups and IT administrators alike by offering three editions of the solution: Universal Type Server Lite, Professional and Corporate editions. Extensis will be showcasing Universal Type Server at its Macworld Expo booth #1020 this week.
Universal Type Server is Extensis’ next generation font server capable of handling all font-related issues that may arise while working in font-intensive workflows. Universal Type Server provides an easy-to-use and intuitive tool for creative users and a robust, scalable and flexible solution for IT administrators. Universal Type Server offers:
- Simple server and user administration via web-based applications
- Stable and fast Java-based server with a secure SQL backend
- Active directory integration
- Support for both Mac and Windows clients independently or simultaneously
- Support for mobile users: administrators can work from anywhere; users can go ‘offline’ and still access the fonts they need
- Font license tracking
- Fast type activation
- Fast, customizable previews driven by Apple’s Core animation technology
- Automated organization of font libraries via classification, foundry, file type, custom keywords, etc.
- Elegant, intuitive client interface
- Native support for Intel-based and PPC-based Macs
- Font Sense powered auto-activation plug-ins for Adobe InDesign and Illustrator CS3/CS2 and XTensions for QuarkXPress 6.5/7
“Universal Type Server is more than just a combination of our popular Suitcase and Font Reserve Server products.” said Martin Stein, Extensis Vice President of Products and Services. “It was built from the ground up, utilizing the most up-to-date technologies and open architecture platforms. We’ve combined the strengths of both existing products while adding reliability, stability, greater performance and improved scalability, as well as cool new features, all within a new and modern architecture. This is the most significant font management product ever developed by Extensis.”
Universal Type Server will support Extensis’ patented Font Sense technology offering users the ability to automatically activate the exact versions of fonts used in a document when that document is opened. Unlike basic auto-activation, Font Sense works seamlessly to allow for a deep level of font analysis instead of simply selecting and activating the first font with the same PostScript or font menu name. Font Sense avoids silent font substitution, incorrect glyphs, text re-flows, and layout issues, resulting in greater efficiency and automated workflows.
Universal Type Server Lite – Designed to be robust yet affordable, this edition allows customers to use up to 10 concurrent connections. The Lite edition is ideal for smaller creative workgroups or design firms that need to have access to and share fonts.
Universal Type Server Professional – Is the natural upgrade edition for existing Suitcase Server X1 and Font Reserve Server customers. The Professional edition allows up to 250 concurrent connections and is an ideal and affordable solution for mid-size organizations that do not require external databases.
Universal Type Server Corporate – Is ideal for large corporate workgroups. It allows for more than 250 concurrent connections and includes Active Directory and External Database (MS SQL 2005) functionality.
Pricing and Availability
Universal Type Server is currently beta testing and is expected to ship in Spring 2008. Universal Type Server and all clients will be available free-of-charge to existing customers under a current Annual Service Agreement (ASA). Pricing for all versions, including upgrades, will be announced prior to product availability.
Universal Type Server will be available in English, French and German.
For information on where to purchase the Universal Type Server family of products visit http://www.typeserver.com
Universal Type Server will support Mac OS X v10.4, 10.4 Server, 10.5 or 10.5 Server; G5 or faster processor; 1 GB RAM; 250 MB Hard Drive space + space for fonts; Safari 2.0 or Firefox 2.0 or higher; Adobe Flash Player 9 or higher; Adobe Reader 7.
Universal Type Server will also support Windows 2000 Server, Server 2003, XP Professional; P4 or faster processor; 1GB of RAM; 250 MB of hard disk space + space for fonts; Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 2.0 or higher; Adobe Flash Player 9 or higher; Adobe Reader 7.
Universal Type Client for Macintosh will support Mac OS X v.10.4 or 10.5; 50 MB of hard disk space + space for fonts; 256 MB RAM; Safari 2.0 or Firefox 2.0 or higher; Adobe Reader 7.
Universal Type Client for Windows will support Windows XP Professional or Vista P4 or faster processor; 256 MB RAM 50 MB of hard disk space + space for fonts; Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 2.0 or higher; Adobe Reader 7; Microsoft .NET 2.0 for Windows XP installations.
December 14th, 2007 by Jim Kidwell
Macworld San Francisco 2008 is quickly approaching. As with many years past, Extensis will be there in full force. And this year, you won’t want to miss it. We’ll be demonstrating the powerful features of next-generation Type Server, the Leopard-ready Suitcase Fusion as well as our reliable asset manager, Extensis Portfolio.
Here’s all of the pertinent info:
What: Macworld 2008, the premier event for Mac aficionados.
When: January 15-18th
Where: Extensis Booth 1020, Moscone Center South Exhibit Hall, San Francisco, CA
Stay tuned to Manage This for your opportunity to score some free exhibit hall passes in the upcoming weeks. Of course, we’ll also have continued coverage of all things Macworld as we’re blogging from the show floor. There’s always something new and interesting going on to report.
Today we released a free update for the Suitcase Server X1 client that improves compatibility with the newest release of Mac OS X. This update is recommended for all Suitcase Server X1 client users, whether or not you are upgrading to Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) now or later.
This release includes the following improvements:
- Updates to ensure maximum compatibility with Mac OS X v10.5 (Leopard). To provide effective font activation, Suitcase X1 now automatically disables two Font Book 2.1 preferences, in Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). The preferences, “Automatic font activation” and “Alert me when system fonts change” can conflict with a professional font manager.
- The installer for this release includes plug-ins for Adobe Illustrator CS2, CS3, and Adobe InDesign CS2, CS3, as well as an XTension for QuarkXPress 7.
The client is available in English, French or German.
To download the new installer, please visit the Suitcase Server X1 page.
Let’s get right to it–Here’s the first peek at the end user interface for the new Type Server Client.
I do feel this doesn’t do it justice, after all, a font manager looks a lot like a font manager. It is what’s under the hood that makes the big difference.
For the end user, here’s the short list:
- Multi-face previews combined with QuickType. You can even set preview point size by line. Plus, previews are even better and faster than Suitcase Fusion.
- Smart sets: save your search criteria as a set and the smart set will automatically find the fonts for that set- dynamically- each time the set is selected.
- Search on multiple criteria. Can’t remember the name of that typeface? Then narrow-in by searching on what you know:
- OpenType + Humanist sans + Adobe = whoops, there it is.
- Granular font information. You can see file type, date added and by whom, version number, unique Font Sense ID, workgroup, classification, etc.
- Type Server auto-classifies your fonts when they are added- style, foundry, etc. And yes, you can also add your own custom keywords, as well.
- Highly accurate activation with unique Font Sense ID’s.
- Activate either the entire family or just individual faces.
- My favorite fine-tuning thingy: adjust preview size on the fly with the preview size slider (see bottom right of the screen shot above).
- Did I mention ‘faster’?
If you want to see the new Type Server in action, come check out our booth at Macworld Expo in January. We will be showing the new Type Server on the floor. If you don’t have tickets yet, stay tuned to Manage This. We’ll be giving away tickets to the exhibit floor as we get closer.
There is a lot more to show before then, however. Next up: we’ll talk about what’s under the hood for administrators- and a UI sneak peek for IT types is right around the corner.
As always, let me know if there is something you want to see.
(*This is Alpha, so I make no promises that things won’t change a bit between now and then. After all, this is software.)
In the last installment, Mike Bacus walked us through the iterative development process that his team has implemented for the new Type Server development. Today I chatted with our Product Manager, Davin Kluttz, about what a font manager should be.
Amanda: Who needs font management and what makes you the expert?
Davin: Well, I’ve been working with font managers for years- long before I started at Extensis. I’ve used them all. And I’ve been thinking about this a lot. You could say a font manager takes all the guesswork out of working with fonts and you can forget about it. But, many people who work with fonts don’t want to forget about them- or completely tune them out- they want their fonts to work with them, not against them.
If you just have a very basic need, like displaying fonts- well the OS (operating system) provides a base level of functionality here. But where this becomes an issue is for the people who have a lot of fonts, or who receive a lot of fonts from clients. So in this case, you need a professional font manager.
A: In your mind, what is the real job of a font manager?
D: It is not just about organization. You can be a meticulously organized person with your fonts in nested folders, etc. But font management is really about having a system that works for you. I think the real job is to put you back in the driver’s seat. Enables you to get as much detail as you want and still allows you to dial it up to a high level of automation.
An example: When you add a font to a database-driven font manager, the database records all the useful information about that font. In this process it can tell if you already have a copy of this version, or if the font is corrupt. Over time this reduces your clutter. Plus it reduces your mental clutter because you don’t have to worry about organization.
A: Then what should users expect of a professional font manager?
D: It should have a database, which enables searching by many criteria, including foundry, file type, classification, etc. It should also put fonts in intelligent groupings (Old Style, OpenType, Adobe, …) This lets you scout through your library quickly both visually as well as through a search field. If you can’t find what you need quickly, what good is it?
Each font should have a unique ID. The only way you can guarantee that you are getting the exact font used in the document is for it to have it’s own identity. A font manager should never just pick the first font in your list with the name ‘Helvetica’. Or worse yet, give you the list of all the ‘helvetica’ on your system and ask you to choose. If I didn’t create it, how the heck should I know? “Just because you walk into a crowded room and yell “Jimmy” does not mean you get the right guy.” That sums it up.*
A font manager should auto-activate fonts called from your parent applications, like Adobe CS3. If the font manager gives your fonts unique ID’s, then you know you’re set.
I don’t think font management is about having all your daily favorites ‘on’ at all times. That’s a given. People who work with fonts already do that. It is about the rest of your library. It is about having creative options at your fingertips without the clutter of the fonts you don’t like, don’t want, don’t need or can’t print! Its about speeding up the viewing and choosing. Who wants to spend a whole day scrolling from Zapf dingbats all the way to Arial? I don’t know about you, but I’ve got better ways to spend my time.
One final thing your font manager should do: Clean up after itself! A lot of people don’t think about this, but it should close what it opens to get it out of your way. This lowers the risk of your system ‘misbehaving’. In other words: if you put your toys back when you’re done, you won’t be tripping over them.
In the upcoming “We hear you!” installment we’ll have a sneak peek at the new UI. It’s beautiful, so don’t miss it.
(*Full disclosure: I stole this quote from our Technical Support Lead, Kelly Guimont.)
October 23rd, 2007 by Jim Kidwell
So, perhaps you’re interested in implementing a digital asset management system for your office. You know that you’d like to use a digital asset manager, like Extensis Portfolio, but aren’t sure how you’d like to implement the system. Will you utilize a third-party SQL database? How will you keyword and organize your files? Will you need an external website to access your files?
What you may know is that we at Extensis offer Integration and Consulting Services (ICS) to help you get up and running with a system that will work for you. We’ll help you answer all of those niggling questions, be they big or small, and then get you up and running. It’s in our mutual interest that you love your font management and digital asset management systems.
We provide professional services in both the US and UK. For complete details, please take a minute to check our services page, or call one of our corporate sales representatives at 1-800.796.9798 in the US, or +44 (0) 1604 654 270 in the UK.
So, what’s going to be the hottest technologies for the upcoming year? It’s of course impossible for anyone to tell you with complete certainty, but the prognosticators over at Gartner have released their list of Top Strategic Technologies for 2008.
One item to note is the inclusion of Metadata Management in Gartner’s list:
Metadata Management. Through 2010, organizations implementing both customer data integration and product integration and product information management will link these master data management initiatives as part of an overall enterprise information management (EIM) strategy. Metadata management is a critical part of a company’s information infrastructure. It enables optimization, abstraction and semantic reconciliation of metadata to support reuse, consistency, integrity and shareability. Metadata management also extends into SOA projects with service registries and application development repositories. Metadata also plays a role in operations management with CMDB initiatives.
This incredibly dense block of text basically says that it’s important for you to use metadata to the best of your ability. Metadata is basically the little bits of identifying information contained within your files. For digital images this includes the F-stop, shutter speed, time of image capture, use of the flash, etc.
To take best advantage of this information contained in your files, use a technology that accesses and makes that information easy to see, like Extensis Portfolio. You can locate, track and update your files based upon this metadata. For example, locate all of the files taken on a specific date and time, then update and embed descriptions and keywords that match the specific project’s details.
October 16th, 2007 by Amanda Paull
In the last installment of our ongoing series of discussions about the development of our new server based font management product, the design team talked about developing the interface artwork for the new type server. In this installment, I sat down with our VP of Engineering, Mike Bacus, to talk about the development process behind the new type server.
We recently embraced a new development process here at Extensis. What was the catalyst for this?
We adopted iterative development a few years back so we’ve been doing it for sometime. We don’t always follow it; it’s more of something that we strive to do on every release. Process discussions are generally boring and soulless; however several years ago we had a large project get seriously off track, our engineering team was in a dark place as a consequence, and we lost good people as a result. The negative pleasure of this experience served as the catalyst for change, we have done a lot of soul searching about the processes we use to create products and iterative was selected as a good fit for us.
Previously at Extensis, software development had been done using a ‘waterfall method’ where the scope of the entire project was assessed up-front and estimates were made and a delivery date was predicted.
What exactly IS iterative development?
It’s not what Chuck Norris used to hone his fighting technique. There are several flavors: iterative development, agile development, extreme programming, etc. There are many proponents of these development methodologies. It is made up of a series of short development cycles; at the end of each cycle you have a certain set of features which are fully-functional and bug-free. Agile has a higher emphasis on verbal communication. You have a discussion about a feature, go off and build it, test it fully, and move on. The philosophy is that you build functionality in the order of priority, so the most important features are implemented first and by actively managing defect correction as part of each iterative cycle you are ready to ship the product in a very short period of time after you finish your last iteration of construction & testing.
For our new type client we experimented with a few process twists; all source code added to the project was reviewed by a fellow engineer, every feature has unit tests that execute on our build system post compile several times a day, and most functionality is exercised by our test automation group (written during iteration construction) before handing a build off to QA. This allowed us to quickly build up a suite of regression tests over so that we can quickly pinpoint problematic changes introduced to the project and fix those issues quickly. With these recent changes to our evolving process we have achieved more than an order of magnitude lower number of defects per thousand lines of code, the engineers are more productive and the amount of time to regress all features in the product has been significantly shortened so we can move through development cycles faster.
So, the process cares about where you will end up- but it is designed to tackle what is right in front of you today. We used iterative development when designing our Web site several years back, but that is a very different project. How is this process translated to a bigger project like software?
I think Agile/Iterative Development got its start in the Web domain where projects are smaller in scope and feature focused to maximize content change to make web sites more interesting – fast turnaround was a must; high usability was a must (generally no manuals or help accompany web sites); but over time it has been adopted by software companies. Because iterative development philosophy is basically “use what works, pitch what doesn’t”, this makes it very easy to adapt to different products and company cultures. In most cases this model seems to work best for version releases or incremental development. In our case, we have also adapted it for new product development of our Type Server, which many people did not think was doable. I attribute this to the domain knowledge of our Engineers, which is very high, and has always been a real strength for the company
Then what is the payoff here- for the company and for customers?
Productivity, morale, quality are all better. I have rationalized the changes somewhat, it’s not that iterative is better or waterfall is worse. You can have very well run waterfall projects and terrible iterative projects. For us, the process of going to iterative development gave us a framework and a methodology to address a lot of issues that were plaguing us; and lets face it all of these issues are people problems not process problems. The iterative methodology was like truth serum, you still need to act on what you uncover.
That sort of shift sounds like it could be unnerving for a tenured Engineer.
The downside is that it is a paradigm shift, numerous process changes increase chaos – this does ultimately settle down; but we have also experienced a decrease in predictability. We can easily absorb requirements changes mid project and even add or subtract resources to control the pace of the project – but you have to have enough discipline to not fall victim to feature creep. Additions to the project should be balanced by subtractions of scope in other areas or the addition of resources. Engineers that have worked as solo contributors for most of their career may find iterative development awkward initially, so there is an adjustment period. However, now it feels very natural and we all are as always very determined to make this work. It took a long time to achieve process transparency.
The other thing I should mention is our adherence to small teams. I think this has helped quite a bit also; we keep the span of control low so the number of communication channels is minimized. For Mystique, the code name for our new type client server project, we have a server team, a client team, a UI team, and a plug-in team. All teams are limited to no more than 4-6 people and teams work independently and adhere to interface contracts between them for integration.
What’s your final assessment?
In short: “agile” works for us. I’ve always felt that “Waterfall” gave an unhealthy illusion of predictability and disincentivized collaboration between marketing and engineering. There are probably a lot of development shops that could benefit from being more agile; our organization is dynamic, things change constantly. Agile gives us a lot; we get better team interaction and tighter design/implementation/testing loops. I very much believe in it, the focus for all involved is on doing the best job you can on the current feature – schedule and delivery dates (although omnipresent) are de-emphasized. I believe agile/iterative or a variant of that development methodology is how products will be built in the future. It fits the way we work here; we have a lot of cross functional collaboration now that we didn’t have before. Overall, I think it has allowed us to dial-up the craftsmanship and quality on the new Type Server, which is great for our own morale and will be great for our customers.
October 15th, 2007 by Jim Kidwell
We’re happy to report that Portfolio Server 8.5 has been nominated for a MacUser Award in the Print Publishing Software of the Year category.
It’s a great honor to be nominated with so many other high quality publishing products, and a testament to the value that the editors at MacUser place on a high quality asset management system in a publishing workflow.
Awards are presented on Thursday October 25th, so stay tuned for details!