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Review: Extensis Suitcase Fusion 6 brings 'Fontspiration' to designers

Jay J. Nelson | Nov. 12, 2014
The font management market has matured, which means that upgrades to the leading products introduce fewer font-related features. Instead, products such as Extensis Suitcase Fusion 6 (and its competitors Linotype FontExplorer Pro and Insider Software's FontAgent Pro) are adding new features to keep up with the changing landscape of operating systems, applications, and cloud-based services.

The font management market has matured, which means that upgrades to the leading products introduce fewer font-related features. Instead, products such as Extensis Suitcase Fusion 6 (and its competitors Linotype FontExplorer Pro and Insider Software's FontAgent Pro) are adding new features to keep up with the changing landscape of operating systems, applications, and cloud-based services.

Suitcase Fusion 6 continues that trend — its interface looks and feels similar to OS X Yosemite, with flatter-looking controls and fewer color gradients or textures. It also provides full resolution on Apple's new Retina displays.

Extensis also improved its stability, including a major update to Type Core, a background app that handles activation and deactivation of fonts regardless of whether the Suitcase app is running or not. Speed is also improved, especially when rendering font previews.

Font panels in Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator

The Extensis font panel, which is automatically added to Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator, has been rewritten in HTML5, making it far faster than its previous Flash-based incarnation. This panel allows you to explore and apply any of the fonts that Suitcase knows about, including your desktop fonts, Adobe's Typekit fonts, Google's free fonts, and Extensis's own WebINK web fonts. The font panels do have some limitations: the WebINK fonts are only available in Photoshop (most web designers use Photoshop to mock up webpage designs), and you still need to use Adobe's Typekit interface to explore Typekit fonts and activate them. But you can activate all other fonts from within the Extensis font panel, which makes is handy when making font choices on an active document.

Auto-activate exact fonts in documents

Besides auto-activating fonts used in a document when you open it in any app, Suitcase Fusion's FontSense technology embeds font identification information into documents saved in Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator CS5 and higher, and QuarkXPress 9 and 10. This lets Suitcase open the exact version of each font used in those documents, even if you have several versions available. In addition, the plug-ins that Suitcase adds to these applications also lets you create a new font Set from the fonts used in a document, or check those fonts for corruption.

Fontspiration!

Besides the flatter interface, the most noticeable change in Suitcase Fusion 6 is the new Fontspiration panel. It's filled with excellent examples of font art created by Extensis and other type experts. Hover over one to its designer and typefaces used, or click one to switch to your web browser and be see a full-size version on its Pinterest board.

Archive and restore your font vault

Because many designers work on multiple computers and need to have access to the same fonts and font environment in multiple locations, Suitcase Fusion 6 provides a two-location license and has a new Archive and Restore feature. This lets you package up your entire Font Vault and copy it to your Dropbox or Google Drive, and then restore it on another computer.

 

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