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Update: watch the webcast recording on our website.

——-

Join Extensis font expert Jim Kidwell today at 11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern as he walks through the nuts and bolts of effective font management with Suitcase Fusion.

Register to learn about:
– the basics of single user font management with Suitcase Fusion
– how to get started with Suitcase Fusion
– how to use font management to improve speed and creativity

At the end of the presentation, Jim will be available for a live Q&A. Feel free to register even if you can’t make it to the live event – we’ll email a recording of the webcast to everyone who registers.

Register For This Webcast Now

Hope you can join us!


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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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Small caps are capital letterforms that are shorter than full-sized caps. They are usually the height of the lowercase or slightly taller when part of a text font, and can be even taller – sometimes slightly shorter than the full caps – when designed for a display design. Small caps have many uses.

They can be used for titles, subtitles and title pages in publishing, headlines and subheads, text lead-ins, page headings and footers, column headings, as well as a substitute for full-sized caps in acronyms and abbreviations.

The small caps in these three fonts are all different heights in relation to the x-height of each typeface.

The small caps in these three fonts are all different heights in relation to the x-height of each typeface.

 

. Small caps have many uses. This setting uses them for the headline, byline, and the lead-in to the text. Tangent, the typeface used, has true-drawn small caps for all the weights, including the obliques, which was used for the byline.

Small caps have many uses. This setting uses them for the headline, byline, and the lead-in to the text. Tangent, the typeface used, has true-drawn small caps for all the weights, including the obliques, which was used for the byline.

The most important thing to know about small caps is to only use the true-drawn variety as opposed to the fake, computer-generated ones.

True-drawn small caps are designed by the type designer to match the weight, width and spacing of the lowercase (or caps if designed for an all-cap typestyle). The fake, computer-generated ones look too light, too tight, and in some cases, too narrow.

For these reasons, they are considered a “type crime” by type-sensitive designers. Unfortunately, the use of these “fakers” is an all too common occurrence. Here is how this amateurish and unprofessional typographic practice can be avoided: if one knows ahead of time that small caps would be a useful feature in any particular job, only use font(s) that contain the true-drawn variety.

True-drawn small caps (upper) vary greatly from the fake, computer-generated ones (lower). The fakers are always too light, and often too narrow as well as too tightly spaced.

True-drawn small caps (upper) vary greatly from the fake, computer-generated ones (lower). The fakers are always too light, and often too narrow as well as too tightly spaced.

 

If small caps are such a useful typographic tool, why don’t more fonts have them?

Prior to the OpenType font format that can accommodate thousands of characters, the older Type1 and TrueType formats could only accommodate 256 characters, and therefore did not have room to include small caps – even if they were originally designed and available in older font technology such as phototypesetting and hot metal.

In order to work around this limitation, typeface designers and foundries wanting to include small caps had to put them in a second font – either an additional font designated with a SC in the name, or an Expert Set. This made it more expensive for the foundry, and more time-consuming and tedious for the type user, who had to access them from a separate font for each and every usage.

But with OpenType’s expanded character capacity, there is more than enough room for small caps, as well as many other characters desirable to graphic designers.

 

Identifying and Setting True-drawn Small Caps

So how does one know if a font has true drawn small caps? And if it does, how does one access them?

When using Adobe InDesign, the industry standard for page layout and typesetting, the user interface can be a bit confusing. One can always view the Glyphs panel to see if the font contains small caps, but there is a better way that combines identifying the availability of small caps and applying them.

Here are the steps:

– First, select the font in question in the font dropdown menu in the Character panel or Control panel.

– Next, open the OpenType panel. If the All Small Caps option is not bracketed, there are true-drawn small caps in that particular font. If it is bracketed, that font does not contain them. (Note that some typeface families have small caps for just some of the versions.)

Once you determine that a font does have small caps, you can apply them in one of two ways:

– If you want to convert both caps and lowercase to small caps, select the All Small Caps option in the OpenType panel.

– If you want to convert just the lowercase so that you have a blended cap/small cap setting, select the Small Caps option in the Character panel.

The Small Cap option in InDesign’s Character panel will change any selected lowercase text to small caps. The All Small Caps option in the OpenType panel will convert both caps and lowercase to small caps.

The Small Cap option in InDesign’s Character panel will change any selected lowercase text to small caps. The All Small Caps option in the OpenType panel will convert both caps and lowercase to small caps.

 

Note that if a font does not have true-drawn small caps, InDesign will create the fake version by reducing the full caps to the default 70% of the cap height.

If you want to eliminate the possibility of fake small caps from ever appearing in your work, you can change the default Small Cap Size from 70% to 100% via Preferences > Advanced Type > Character Settings.

This will not affect true-drawn small caps from appearing when available in a font.

If you want to avoid fake small caps from appearing in any of your work, change the Small Cap setting in Preferences from 70% to 100%, and make this your default.

If you want to avoid fake small caps from appearing in any of your work, change the Small Cap setting in Preferences from 70% to 100%, and make this your default.


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Figures (aka numbers or numerals) are a common element in text of all kinds. They appear anywhere from dates, measurements and quantities to addresses, phone numbers, and a lot more.

When typesetting numerals, it’s important to understand the different styles available in some fonts, and when to use which. Prior to current font formats, there was only ‘room’ for one style of numeral in a font, but due to OpenType’s capacity to include thousands of characters, many fonts now contain four figure styles.

A.Figures

 

Lining vs. Oldstyle Figures

The four kinds of figures consist of two design styles and two spacing styles: Lining and oldstyle are the design styles, while tabular and proportional relate to the spacing.

Lining figures, also called aligning or cap figures, are of uniform height and align on the baseline and the cap height (thus the term aligning). These are a good choice when you want the numerals to really stand out.

Oldstyle figures, on the other hand, are numerals that approximate the shape and form of lowercase letters in that they have an x-height, as well as ascenders and descenders in a set pattern. These figures can be quite beautiful, and look best in running text where you don’t necessarily want the figures to stand out from the surrounding text. They can be very elegant, and occasionally have slight design variations from the companion lining figures.

B.Figures

 

C. Figures

Lining figures in running text will stand out as if they were all caps (left). If you want a more fluid texture with no extra emphasis on the numerals, use proportional oldstyle figures (right).

 

Tabular vs. Proportional Spacing

Tabular figures all have the same total width, which consists of the actual glyph plus the spaces added to the right and left, called sidebearings in the type design world. Tabular spacing is necessary to align vertical columns of numbers, such as those found in tables, thus the turn tabular. They’re also used for prices, invoices, financial charts, and any instance where figures have to align vertically.

Proportional figures, on the other hand, are those that are individually spaced so that they blend in with the overall color, texture, and spacing of the upper and lowercase characters. Have you ever seen a numeral ‘1’ in running text with disproportionate large spaces around it? That is a tabular figure, which unfortunately is often used when proportionally spaced figures are the preferred figure style. This is a common occurrence because many type users are not aware of the available figure styles in a font, and thus ‘settle’ for a font’s default figures, which is frequently tabular lining figures.

 

D. Figures

Tabular figures all have the same total width, while proportional figures have spacing that varies depending on the width of the character.

 

E. Figures

When setting columns of numerals, use tabular figures so that each column aligns.

 

How to access figure styles

The task of determining which figure styles are available in any given font is an important first step in selecting an appropriate font for projects that includes figures. (I will discuss the process in Adobe InDesign, so if you are using other design software, it will most likely be a something similar.)

The first step is to activate the font, making sure it is an OpenType font. This is indicated in the font menu with a black and turquoise ‘O’ symbol. Next, open the OpenType panel located off of the Character panel. You will notice, five figure settings on the very bottom of that panel:

Tabular Lining

Proportional Oldstyle

Proportional Lining

Tabular Oldstyle

Default Figure Style

If a font contains any of the top four styles, they will be unbracketed. Any figure style that is bracketed is not available in that particular font, even if it is OpenType. The problem with this method is that it is not always 100% reliable: some OpenType fonts have both lining and oldstyle figures, but do not have them in both tabular and proportional spacing, yet they might still all be unbracketed.

For this reason, the very best way to determine the available figure styles is to typeset the figures in each available style, and then check them carefully to determining if they are what they are supposed to be.

At the bottom of the list you will see Default Figure Style, which usually has a check mark unless it has been changed. The default style in most fonts is Tabular Lining. Therefore, unless you change the default or manually change the figure style in any given document, this is what you will get. This is unfortunate because Tabular Lining Figures are only appropriate for vertical lists of numerals, which is a small percentage of typeset numbers. So be sure to explore the available figures in any font you are considering, and check that it has the one(s) you need.

 

F. Figures

Figures styles in Adobe InDesign are found at the bottom of the OpenType panel. If any are bracketed, they are not available in that font.

If you frequently use a figure style other than the typical Proportional Lining default, consider changing the default to the style you most frequently use (which in my case is Proportional Oldstyle).

In order to change this or any other default in most Adobe applications, open the app but with no documents open; then change the setting as desired, and quit the app. This will change the default for any new documents, but will not change anything in existing documents, which you would have to change manually.

 

*  *  *  *  *

Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer, writer and educator specializing in all aspects of visual communication, from the aesthetic to the technical. Her book, Type Rules! The designer’s guide to professional typography, 4th edition, has received numerous accolades from the type and design community. She conducts her widely acclaimed Gourmet Typography Workshops internationally. Sign up for her free enewsletter, All Things Typographic, at www.thetypestudio.com.


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In most disciplines, you need to know the rules before you break them. Typography is no different. There are rules, and following them correctly results in a clean, professional appearance. Breaking them deliberately and correctly can also have nice results, making your type unique and maybe even out-of-the-box brilliant.

To help designers and developers put their best foot forward, we’re happy to present “Tips for Better Typography,” where we’ll cover some basic rules of typography and related tips to help you set type in a way that’s professional and beautiful. Below, we’ll cover some tips and guidelines around line measure, line-height, kerning and special characters.

Line Measure

The width of a body of type, or line length, is also known as the measure. In content-heavy design especially, you don’t want to make your lines of copy too long; it can cause eye fatigue and make the reader lose interest. A good rule of thumb is to limit lines of copy to around 65 characters per line, including space and punctuation. Another good rule of thumb is to increase your leading in proportion to the measure.

webink-measure-typetips

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Welcome to Creative Fuel, our series dedicated to jumpstart your creative process with helpful tips and tools from industry experts. This month we’re offering up some valuable advice on the art of writing.

Creative Fuel: Copy is King

“I believe large numbers of people have at least some talent as writers and storytellers, and that those talents can be strengthened and sharpened.” ~Stephen King

Continue Reading »


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We had an amazing time at the Technology for Marketing & Advertising event in London a couple of weeks ago. It was our third year attending and we were happy to meet many of you who are as mad about fonts and DAM as we are!

Davin Kluttz, our Senior Product Manager came all the way from Extensis HQ in the US to present two amazingly well received seminars (seriously, they were queuing out the door!) for us.

The first one was “Classy, Clowny or Crude? How your site’s typography affects your brand”, which illustrates how web typography affects your website, and how you can select and implement web typography that is just right for the job. So many people these days think it’s OK to use Comic Sans on their websites. This may come as a shock, but it just doesn’t cut the mustard! Davin illustrated this by showing how some iconic brands would look if their logos were in this font (Chanel, Coca-Cola, Star Wars) which got several laughs from the crowd. To drive the point home, he also showed us several examples of “classy”, “clowny” and “crude” web typography, which gave the audience a feel for the direction in which they should be taking their sites.

The second one was entitled “What does this DAM thing do?”  Ever find yourself pulling your hair out trying to locate an image in a sea of thousands? Don’t you think it would be nice to preview a video on your iPad without a special plug-in? Or even just have access to all your digital content on the go, so you are able to act fast if a client unexpectedly throws a “let’s see it now” lasso around your neck? Well Extensis has a solution for all of these problems  and it was all nicely wrapped up in this presentation, which not only explained what an “asset” is, but also demonstrated how to leverage digital asset management solutions to find, locate, archive and access files, regardless of location.

If you couldn’t make it to the show, couldn’t get in to the theatre or would simply like to see what we had to say on web typography and digital asset management, we have very kindly provided the slides from both presentations below!

Enjoy! If you have any feedback, please let us know – we’d love to hear from you.


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So, you have a massive pile of disorganized fonts. Some of them are collected with InDesign files, others haphazardly thrown into a network folder, and more in the various font folders on your mac.

We recently talked about Data Deduplication on the blog, so you’ve probably decided to get your rear in gear and organize all of your fonts using a font management system (you have, haven’t you?).

By adding all of your fonts to the font manager, only a single copy of each font is kept, making it much easier to find the fonts that you’re looking for.

Yet, when you look back into Suitcase Fusion, you see that there are 5 different copies of Helvetica. Why would this happen? “I’ve gotta call support,” you think to yourself.

Wait! Put down the phone! There’s an important thing to understand about how Suitcase Fusion and Universal Type Server looks at fonts. When each font is added, it is scanned. This scan allows the software to determine if the font is corrupt, as well as measures a number of unique identifying characteristics of the font.

It’s the identifying characteristics of each font that are compiled together to create what’s known as a Font Sense ID. So, as long as two fonts have different Font Sense IDs, both will be kept in the font vault, this is even if the two fonts have the same PostScript name.

This is actually a benefit to your design and layout work. That this situation as an example. You use a font that has slightly modified kerning tables in it to layout a very long document – for instance, a book or annual report. The original font was modified without your knowledge, but your layout looks good so you don’t care. Now what happens the next time you open, modify or print the document if the original, unmodified font is used? The entire layout will change, potentially causing drastic repercussions. Text could flow off the page, the document could be inadvertently printed without the missing text. And what would happen if you bought a book and the final paragraph wasn’t included. Not a good scenario.

When using the font auto-activation plug-ins, Font Sense IDs are read and embedded into documents. So you can be sure that the next time you open up your document, the exact, precise font is used.

So, when you’re using Suitcase Fusion or the Universal Type Client, if you see what looks like multiple copies of a font in your font list, look for the Font Sense IDs. If they’re different, one of the many font metrics that are measured is unique for that font. So put down that phone and get back to it, we’ve got you covered.


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The Suitcase Fusion Core is the background application that keeps your fonts active, communicates with the auto-activation plug-ins and more.

In Suitcase Fusion 2 and earlier versions, the preferences for the Core were contained within the Mac OS X system preferences or the Windows Control Panel.

With the release of Suitcase Fusion 3, these Core preferences were moved into the Suitcase Fusion application preferences.

To open the core preferences, launch Suitcase Fusion 3 and choose:

  • Suitcase Fusion 3 > Preferences (Mac OS X)
  • Tools > Preferences (Windows)
Then click on the FMCore tab to view the Core preferences where you can stop the core, or move the font vault to a new location.

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Today we published a script that generates a report of the font metadata in your Suitcase Fusion 3 database, and places it in a CSV file.

The script was developed to help organizations assess all of the fonts in use on their workflow, when they may have one or more copies of Suitcase Fusion 3 running in their workgroup. This can be especially handy if you are looking to become more aware of your organization’s font compliance.

This script has been used to assess fonts in workflows to ensure that all of the proper fonts were appropriately licensed when moving to a server-based font solution, such as Universal Type Server.

The CSV file that is generated by the script can be opened by any common spreadsheet applications, including Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice.org, etc. and then used for font file analysis.

Download the script, including full instructions for use here.

NOTE: This script was developed for use with Suitcase Fusion 3 on Mac OS X only. The script was developed purely as a convenience to our users, and its use is not supported by our technical support team. Even so, we hope that you’ll find it useful.


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