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Universal Type Server server-based font management softwareIf you’re a current user of Font Reserve Server or Suitcase Server, and are looking to upgrade to Universal Type Server, we’ve just made the migration process a bit easier. Yesterday we released new tools that migrate data from your old Font Reserve Server or Suitcase Server installation and migrate that data into Universal Type Server.

There are considerable differences between the old and new font management products, and I recommend that you examine your needs carefully before migrating your data. To understand the differences between the old and new font managers, it is highly recommended that you read the upgrade documents before migrating or configuring your new system.

The following are the download links for the Migration Tools, as well as the supporting documentation.

Suitcase Server migration info

Font Reserve Server migration info

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Universal Type Server font management from ExtensisHere at Extensis we’re pretty excited with the release of Universal Type Server. This brand new server-based font management is fast, flexible, powerful and very user friendly. I love to demo the product — since we use modern architecture and the latest technology out there (like Adobe Flex), it shows off really nicely.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been giving many presentations to press, existing customers and potential buyers. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

  1. Is Universal Type Server cross-platform?
    Yes, both our server and client software will run in a Windows or Macintosh environment (Windows client coming in Summer ’08).
  2. How will you handle font corruption and repair?
    Type Server comes with pre-built functionality to prevent font corruption and perform font repair. No rogue or orphaned fonts will be added to the server.
  3. What are your system requirements?
    System requirements and other important information are specified in the Technical Info tab of the Type Server Professional and Type Server Lite pages.
  4. I’m a current customer, do you have upgrade options?
    Yes, current Font Reserve Server and Suitcase X1 Server under annual service agreements (ASA) will obtain the product at no extra charge. If you’re not under ASA, or have our standalone products (Suitcase Fusion and Suitcase for Windows), you are eligible for special pricing. Please contact your sales manager to help you with your specific needs.
  5. Can Universal Type Server help me with font license compliance?
    Type Server comes with several options to help you be compliant with end user license agreements of the foundries. A user with permissions can enter license information such as vendor, cost, PO#, number of licenses, purchase date and any additional data you may want to track. That information can later be applied to selected fonts meeting that criteria. Smart sets (like Playlists on iTunes) can be saved to track fonts under that category. With the flexible user settings of Universal Type Server, an administrator can also allow/restrain users from adding/deleting fonts to the server, giving administrators more control over which fonts enter the corporate workflow. And lastly, your environment can be organized in different workgroups (mini-databases of fonts and users) to only give the right fonts to the right people.

If you haven’t seen Universal Type Server in action, we’re holding live demos every other week, where you can have an opportunity to ask your own questions. You can sign up for these or view the on-demand recorded demo at our webcast series page.

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When talking about our new Type Server, we get this question a lot: “What’s under the hood?”

Where do I start? As Mac OS X is to the world of operating systems, the new Type Server is shaping up to be the same for the font management world – a powerful product that is easy to use with a beautiful interface.

In general, the driving rule that every team member has followed during development is very simple, “Be a great IT citizen.” This means that all of the choices that we made along the way, from server traffic to ease of installation and setup all followed this rule.

In addition, the Type Server is being built from the ground-up using industry-proven technologies. This allows us to focus on what we know best: the business of managing fonts.

The server is a J2EE environment utilizing embedded SQL. But if you’re not a whiz, don’t let that scare you off. You don’t need a PhD in IT to install and use the Type Server. The installers are logical and easy to use, even if you don’t have an in-house administrator. With this in mind, here are the facts:

  • Modern server architecture: Open source foundation, JAVA-driven application server, web service enabled
  • Web-based administration (see screen shot below)
  • An Adobe FLEX application for user-management
  • SOAP-based communication (http/xml) between the client and server
  • Optional SQL database embedded on the server
  • Optional external databases: MSSQL, etc.
  • ACL-based permission
  • Active Directory integration
  • Enabled with server-based command line tools model.

Type Server Administration - Users page

If you’re intrigued, please be sure to visit us at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco in January. We will be showing off the new Type Server in the Extensis booth. Until then, stay tuned to Manage This for more info.

As always, if there is something you want to hear about, please drop me a line.

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Suitcase Server X1Today 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.

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Let’s get right to it–Here’s the first peek at the end user interface for the new Type Server Client.

Client - medium

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.)

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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?

dkluttz.jpgDavin: 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.)

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This last Thursday-Saturday (25th-27th October) Richard Bamford and I were in attendance at MacLive Expo in London. As a partner on the Computers Unlimited stand, our UK distributor, there was plenty of opportunity to show off the MacUser award nominated Portfolio Server 8.5, along with our two Font Server products Font Reserve Server and Suitcase Server. Shame we didn’t win the award but when you’re up against Adobe InDesign CS3 and Quark Publishing System then you know you’re in good company! You can see who won at

Each day involves talking with both existing customers, partners, dealers, but also new prospective customers. Whilst we had many questions about FontSense, Suitcase Fusion and the new Portfolio 8.5 features, the most common question we faced this year was about our new Type Server development. The previous posts on this very blog proved quite useful to help explain about what’s happening!

There was also a great deal of interest in the fact that our ICS team has expanded to provide Professional Services in the UK also. Which all means one thing…busy times ahead for a Sales Engineer like me!

Richard Bamford at the MacLive Expo in London 2007

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Mac OS X (10.5) Leopard releaseGot any evening plans tonight? Well, if you haven’t heard, there’s this new little operating system release from Apple that happens tonight at 6:00. If you’re feeling extra nerd-arific, you might want to checkout some of the Mac OS X Leopard release parties tonight.

If you are interested in upgrading, it’s important to check out whether all of your applications are compatible with the operating system. To help you do so, we’ve created a page that has all of details about the current and future compatibility of Extensis software.

Please check our Leopard compatibility page for the most up-to-date information.

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Despite the occasional reference to Adobe Photoshop, it’s not often that you see design software in television or movies. References to font management are even more rare. I don’t think that I could name many at all – until today that is.

It was recently brought to our attention that Suitcase made a brief guest appearance in the UK reality television series The Restaurant. It’s basically a series where people compete to create the best restaurant possible – from the food all the way down to the menu design. It’s during one of the design scenes where you get a quick glimpse of Suitcase.

What’s that? It’s a Suitcase sighting!

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itunes-offer-3.pngTreat yourself to some back-to-school (or bummed-that-summer-is-over) tunes. We have a great offer going on the Extensis site. For every $49 you spend, you will receive a $10 iTunes certificate. Offer good thru next Friday on Suitcase Fusion, Portfolio, and others. So stock up and whistle while you work.

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