Suitcase Fusion 4

8/16/2012 3:20:58 PM

Font junkies get their fix

Extensis Suitcase is one of the grand old utilities of the Mac software world, with over two decades of service managing fonts. The latest version, Suitcase Fusion 4, brings some refinements to the process, adds extra support for Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop, and introduces a trick that makes it instantly top-of-the-list stuff for any creative Macuser with a pile of fonts to manage.

Description: Floating point

Floating point The floating preview text can now have a colour so you can see how it will look in your layout without actually activating the font

First, the regular enhancements, Since Suitcase Fusion 2, the software has had a useful ‘floating preview’ feature for some time now, where a sample of text in a selected font can be shown in an otherwise fully transparent window. Drag it over whatever design layout document is showing in the background to get the perfect idea of how it will look without having to activate the font, go to the layout software and set it up there. Now the preview text can be given a custom colour. Simple? Yes, but definitely useful.

When it comes to picking fonts, we all have our own favourites. Suitcase knows this and lets you mark individual fonts or whole font families as favourites. Font lists can be sorted by favourite, grouping your preferred faces together for quick access. Creating font sets for projects is easier than before: now you can simply select some fonts from your collection and create a new set that includes those. This is in addition to the existing method of creating a new empty font set and adding typefaces to it separately.

Oodles of fonts Version 4 supports Google Web Fonts, as well as WebINK font libraries

If you use recent versions of InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop, the installation also gives you a new Extensis font panel that lists your font libraries and font collections. This gives quick access to your Suitcase-managed typeface libraries from a floating palette directly within your graphics and layout software: click a font in the list and it’s activated (if necessary) and applied to any selected text immediately. This feature wasn’t compatible with CS6 at the time of our tests, but Extensis says it should be a matter of weeks for an update that deals with this. We were told that support for other software was under consideration.

Finally, the piece de resistance of this new release: support for both WebINK and Google font libraries. Set these up and you have immediate online access to a large collection of fonts. WebINK fonts are meant for creating web mockups and for use in websites as custom web fonts, so the WeblN Klibrary of faces can only be used in Photoshop. (You can convert type to vector shapes in Photoshop and export those into Illustrator, but this steps beyond what’s allowed by the basic WebINK font licence.)

The Google Font library isn’t as large as the WebINK library - 871 families versus over 4,500 - but it has no technical usage restrictions; these fonts are available in any app. Suitcase caches both libraries locally as you work, so you don’t need to be online every time you want to use one of these fonts.

Suitcase Fusion 4’s support for WebINK and Google fonts means that, for the first time, installing a font manager gives you more fonts than you had before, and using them is as easy as working with your own type collection. Even if you’re not a complete junkie, this is more than enough justification for buying the software. And if, like us, you’re a hopeless typophile, the other features -including Glyph View, auto-activation, Smart Sets, Font Sense, and searching by classification, foundry, family and more - will also keep you very happy indeed.


Price $196.5 inc VAT


Needs OS X 10.5 * 256MB RAM Pro Access to web font libraries

* Elegant font management *Floating preview panels * Reliable auto-activation

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