Extensis Suitcase Fusion 5 review - Take control of your font collection

Bring your fonts under control quickly and easily

The Quickmatch feature now shows the original font permanently at the top of the list. 

Extensis Suitcase Fusion is a venerable but enduringly useful font management program for Macintosh and Windows users. The original Suitcase has been around since the dawn of desktop design, letting you organise what may be hundreds or thousand of fonts on your system into switchable groups for different uses. The Fusion bit refers to its maintenance and repair functions.

The new version 5 has been revamped with plug-ins for the latest Adobe Creative Cloud applications and also gets a new QuickComp feature that lets you experiment with fonts within representative web or print templates.

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Support for Mac OS X Mountain Lion and and Windows 8 have been added with more feature parity between them. The standard license now covers up to two computers. If you already use an earlier version, your existing libraries and sets are retained.

There’s now a revised user interface with an extended Toolbar that gives access to frequently used features and a dedicated button for the WebINK online font service. The Info pane has been enlarged and moved to the right side of the main window.

QuickComp lets you judge the visual effect and balance of fonts in a series of representative templates. 

Brand new is QuickComp, which lets you preview fonts within representative templates for print or web documents. You can click on different elements such as headlines, intros, body text and captions, and then select and preview your choice of font from a scrolling preview list. The resulting font list with previews and specifications can be exported as a PDF file.

Extensis has already created a library of QuickComp templates, but says it will add more as part of free updates, based on user feedback.

Read our review of Photoshop CC

As with Suitcase Fusion 4, v.5 will connect to and show fonts from online services, specifically WebINK (owned by Extensis) and the free Google Web Fonts. Adobe is promoting its own Typekit service within Creative Cloud, but this may never be supported by Suitcase Fusion because it’s a commercial rival to WebINK.

Suitcase Fusion installs plug-in font control menus in Adobe’s main design applications: InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop in versions from CS3 to CC – as well as QuarkXPress, you can check the versions of CS supported oin Extensis's compatibility page here. These present a menu where you can choose from the font sets that you want to use and activate – with a direct link to web services fonts in Photoshop only (which makes sense as you’re not going to mockup websites in InDesign or Illustrator unless you were crazy). There is also auto-activation, so if you open a document that contains fonts that are currently deactivated on your system, they become live.

Plug-ins for Adobe Creative Cloud applications include a menu within Photoshop for choosing fonts from local and web libraries. 

This review was written before QuarkXPress X shipped, we'll confirm that the two work seamlessly together. 

The QuickMatch – added in Suitcase Fusion 4 – automatically finds a list of fonts with similar characteristics to your current choice, which can be handy for finding a neatly pairing ampersand or number glyph from another font if the originals in your chosen face are too weird. In Suitcase Fusion 5, its performance is improved in most searches. The target font is no longer included in the results list, so it will not scroll out of view.

Read our review of InDesign CC

The latest upgrade doesn’t give you as many new features as last year’s v.4, but as designers adopt Creative Cloud, then Suitcase Fusion users will inevitably need the new plug-ins. The really new feature, QuickComp, is attractive and works well if you’re doing initial concept work. And the upgrade price isn’t bad: about £42.

OUR VERDICT

The latest upgrade doesn’t give you as many new features as last year’s v.4, but as designers adopt Creative Cloud, then Suitcase Fusion users will inevitably need the new plug-ins. The really new feature, QuickComp, is attractive and works well if you’re doing initial concept work. And the upgrade price isn’t bad: about £42.

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