The Extensis Community Blog
It wasn’t just any typical sunny Friday at Extensis.
The end of the week always elicits some excitement around here, but something seemed different. There was a sense of anticipation in the air. Maybe it was the new Belizean restaurant located steps away along the Portland State University park blocks that everyone has been raving about? Or, perhaps it was the fresh batch of donuts and bagels that arrive every Friday. Maybe the competitive game of darts happening in the common area?
All of a sudden at two in the afternoon, everyone was gone. Vanished!
Where is everyone? The Extensis crew couldn’t take it any longer. Looking out their windows down onto Naito Parkway they could see swarms of people flocking to Tom McCall park. So, they took an early reprieve to escape to 29th annual Oregon Brewers Festival – the largest craft brew festival in North America!
It’s no secret. We like to have a good time.
Especially during summer months when the city of Portland comes to life. Again just a suggestion…And this year was no different…Brew Fest is a staple of Extensis culture. It wouldn’t be the last week of July if we weren’t handing out mugs and tokens and taking off early to make sure we are able to taste unique brews such as pFriem’s Mango Sour and New Holland – Dragons Milk Reserver’s Mexican Spice Cake (it really does taste like cake!). From sours to IPAs, team Extensis along with almost 80,000 other patrons and 2,000 volunteers were able to taste and enjoy over 80 craft brews at the festival.
With a healthy heaping of enjoyable food to choose from, a superb local music line-up, and refreshing misters to help relieve the pain of standing in long lines during 90 degree heat, this five day extravaganza is well worth it.
The next brew festival will take place July 26th – 30th, 2017 and we will definitely be there!
Here, at Extensis, we develop font management and digital asset management software and we have a blast doing it. To learn more about what we do and our company culture, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Interested in joining our team? Check out our careers page.
The next installment in our Font Founders series is Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813), an Italian type designer who is responsible for many of the typefaces we still use today. You may not think often about Bodoni, but he was looking ahead to you. As he said:
No other art is more justified than typography in looking ahead to future centuries; for the creations of typography benefit coming generations as much as present ones.
Tags: font founders
August 26th, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
Using fonts in video compositions with Adobe After Effects can be a real PITA. It’s often difficult to locate where fonts are missing, and often leads to choosing pre-rendered video rather than messing with live fonts in video.
Suitcase Fusion 7 makes it a bit easier to work with live fonts by providing a font auto-activation plug-in for Adobe After Effects. When you open a composition, the plug-in automatically locates and activates required fonts. Check it out in this video.
Ready to check it out with your copy of After Effects?
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.
David Berlow entered the type industry in 1978. As a co-founder (with Roger Black) of The Font Bureau, David has developed more than 300 new and revised type designs for The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and many companies. He is a member of the Type Directors Club, and of the Association Typographique International. We’re so glad he agreed to participate in an especially short but sweet installment of our mini-interview series, 4 Questions 4.
1. How did you get into the business of type design?
I graduated college as a commercial artist in 1977 with a bachelor of science in art from a school that only taught fine arts. I moved to NYC and looked for a job in advertising and magazines. That lifestyle didn’t seem to fit, but when offered a job “drawing letters” at the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, that fit.
2. What fonts or type design trends are you loving these days?
All, and none. I’m not a picker. As a tool maker, I love what I’m making for others to use, and when I let it go, I love the next one. Loving the ones in the field (fonts), or what people do with them, (design trends), are for others to hash out while I look for the next ones.
3. Which of your designs are you most proud of, and why?
All… and none, following the last answer.
4. Describe your dream project.
Pride comes to my work when a user employs one of my fonts in the recommended range of sizes for that font, with other styles of that and other font families properly used for other sizes, weights, and widths, to form good typography. When the font is both apt for the purpose and adeptly used in reading, navigation or identity, I swell, quietly.
August 19th, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
Suitcase Fusion can manage your fonts without always running because of a handy little application called the Type Core. This app runs in the background all the time and ensures that fonts are activated when required by your professional design applications.
Want to learn more about the Type Core? We’ve made it easy. Sit back and watch this short video.
Want to test how Suitcase Fusion will work on your system? It’s easy with a free trial.
Typographic terminology is sometimes very specific, and the nuances can be confusing. Understanding the distinctions will enable you to communicate more clearly, typographically speaking, and help you to make the best use of your fonts and software.
Character vs. glyph: A character is the symbol representing an individual letter, numeral, punctuation, sign, symbol, accent, or other elements in a typeface. A glyph is the actual representation of that character.
Several glyphs may represent one character, such as the lowercase a being represented by the default lowercase a, swash version, small cap, and superior a.
Typeface vs. font: A typeface is all the letters, numbers, punctuation, and other signs and symbols of a language system designed in a particular style.
A font (in today’s digital world) is a complete character set of a particular weight and style of a typeface in digital form. It is the delivery mechanism of a typeface, and is considered software.
Each font consists of one digital outline for every glyph, which then can be scaled to any size. In the days of metal type, a font was one version of a typestyle in one particular size. A typeface would then consist of many fonts, one for each size: thus Caslon Regular 10 point was one font, while every other size was considered a different font.
Italic vs. oblique: Italics are a slanted typestyle most commonly designed as a companion to a roman, or upright version.
It is usually a unique and separate design, and is often somewhat calligraphic in nature. Oblique refers to a slanted version of its upright companion with few or no design changes other than the angle. (A proper oblique is designed by the typeface designer, and not slanted by a computer command.)
Although these two terms have slightly different meanings, not all typefaces apply the technically correct term. For instance, in the many versions and rereleases of Helvetica, one can see both italic and oblique used for the name of the same design.
Slash vs. fraction bar: The slash (aka forward slash) is a diagonal line going from upper right to lower left, occasionally extending slightly below the baseline.
It is easily found on the keyboard, and is frequently used in numerical dates as in 1/25/58, as a substitute for a conjunction such as in East/West and Y/N, math and ratios, and URLs.
The fraction bar is also a diagonal line, but it is on a more extreme angle, and extends from the cap height to the baseline, and not above or below as do some slashes. It is designed specifically for diagonal fractions, and thus its width and weight is sensitive to each typeface design.
Diagonal vs. nut fractions: Diagonal fractions are those where the numerator and denominator are separated by a diagonal stroke (usually a fraction bar), while nut fractions, also called stacked or vertical fractions, are those where the top and bottom numerals are separated by a horizontal line.
Diagonal fractions are used for proportions, ratios and percentages, while nut fractions are frequently used in – but not limited to – math and scientific formulas.
Kerning vs. tracking: Kerning in the digital world is the addition or reduction of space between a pair of characters to improve the overall balance and consistency of the spacing.
Tracking, on the other hand, is the digital term for the addition or reduction of spacing between a range of characters.
This can be used to improve the overall spacing of a font at a particular size, or to create the appearance of a more open, letterspaced look, usually reserved for a brief, all cap setting.
Widow vs. orphan: A widow is a word, hyphenated word, or several short words that appear at the end of a paragraph.
They are considered undesirable in fine typography as they create a visual hole, whether they appear in-between two paragraphs, or on the bottom of a column of type.
An orphan, on the other hand, is similar, in that it too is a word, hyphenated word, or several short words, but appearing at the top of a column.
Orphans also create a visual hole in a line of type, resulting in a disturbance of the alignment and symmetry at the top of one or more columns. Both should be checked for towards the end of a project, and fixed if possible, either by altering the line breaks or column width, or by editing the copy to either eliminate the short line, or lengthen it.
Monospaced vs. proportional spacing: A monospaced font is one in which each character has the same total width (the width of the glyph plus the space added to the right and left) as in typewriter type as well as tabular ﬁgures.
The width and design of some glyphs are occasionally altered to create a better fit within the fixed width of the font.
Proportional spacing is the spacing used in most typefaces where each character has a unique width in proportion to the shape of each glyph.
Copyeditor vs. proofreader: A copy editor checks the text for accuracy, clarity, usage, consistency of style, as well as house style, if a requirement. This is most often done at the beginning of the design and typesetting process.
A proofreader is generally the last person to check the text before (and sometimes after) it goes into final production, whether it be print or digital media.
It usually consists of checking for spelling, grammar and tense, syntax, punctuation, extra spaces, and sometimes font size, styling, and other characteristics.
Roger Black has been described as a titan in the design industry. Since 1972, he has been the chief art director or design consultant for publications all over the world, among them: Rolling Stone, New York, The New York Times, Newsweek, Esquire, The Los Angeles Times, MSNBC.com, Bloomberg.com, The Washington Post, Semana (Colombia), Panorama (Italy), The Straits Times (Singapore), Kompas (Indonesia), The Nation (Bangkok) Tages Anzeiger (Switzerland), Placar (Brazil), Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), and Scientific American. He’s been involved in many startups, some of which—like Outside, Fast Company, and Out—are continuing success stories. Currently, Roger is a director at Type Network a new firm that exclusively offers the typefaces of leading digital type foundries, including Font Bureau, which Roger co-founded in 1989. A co-organizer of the Typographics conference, this year Roger is starting a new magazine about type, by the same name: Typographics. Thanks to Roger for being a part of our mini-interview series, 4 Questions 4!
1. How did you originally get interested in typography and design?
My dad, J. J. Black, was an architect. He taught me simple lettering when I was learning to read and write. He pointed out the simple proportions of Latin capitals, and explained the “two-story” lower-case a and g of the Renaissance. While grounded in history, my father was always an individualist, and he said that good designers should have their own styles.
2. What typography trends are you loving most these days?
The new interest in wood type is wonderful. I got excited by it when I was a teenager, and I love the combination of the big bold grots and fanciful barbed slabs with old-style metal type. That contrast was the spark of my own design style. Second, I am delighted that the digital tools have made it possible for individual designers to support their own foundries. We are just at the start of an amazing explosion of great type design. Luckily for us, there is exponential growth in the market for type.
3. Which of your projects are you most proud of, thus far in your career, and why?
Well, I’m still happy about the work I did at Rolling Stone 40 years ago. It made my reputation as a publication designer, and I learned a lot in four short years. My work is traditional in the sense that I try to exploit classical forms (including letterforms) in a new context. Much of my approach, however, is experimental, though it may not look that way. At Rolling Stone we had the luxury of failing. There were many pages that were complete disasters. But there are others that hold up, after all this time, and I’m sure we would never have reached those heights if we were afraid to try.
Sometimes I show people an old design and ask them what year they think it was done. I love it that they usually guess a date that’s decades later.
4. Describe your dream project.
It’s always the current project!
Right now I am helping to rethink the entire editorial, business, and design strategy of an established English-language news publication in Southeast Asia. I get to think as big as I can, and then assemble a team to push ideas into reality, both in digital form and in print. The publisher is based in one of the most exciting cities in the world, filled with beautiful people and fantastic food. This is of course a challenging time in the news business, and the work is not easy. But we’ll test, place some new designs in front of readers, and build on what works best. I think design is the main problem with reading on the web, and I bet we can offer some solutions. What could be better?
Of course when this is done, I get to move on to the next dream project.
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.
August 12th, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
Have a ton of fonts? Of course you do. For those of us who love fonts, collecting them is often a hobby that we are unable to give up (nor should we).
Suitcase Fusion makes it easy to locate fonts in your collection. Check it out in this video.
It’s easy to load your font collection into Suitcase Fusion. Try it yourself for free.