Suitcase 10

When you consider that Suitcase originally appeared 14 years ago – courtesy of Fifth Generation Systems – as a very basic System 6 font/desk accessory launcher, it’s come a long way. In the hands of Extensis, a slew of features have been added, culminating in the latest incarnation: Suitcase 10. A number of new features have been added to this full-point upgrade, a key one of which is auto-activation. A special XTension for QuarkXPress (included since Suitcase 8) opens all fonts within Suitcase’s typeface database that are relevant to a particular document, and even ensures that fonts for placed EPS files are available for printing. These then stay open and are closed when QuarkXPress quits or can be made to close per document. Using Apple’s FontSync technology (part of Mac OS 9 and later), which uniquely identifies all typefaces, Suitcase 10 opens all necessary fonts for a document within a number of applications, including FreeHand, Microsoft Office 98 and 2001, and CorelDraw 8. While Adobe products are not included within the list, there should be a free plug-in available by the time you read this that offers the same facility for Illustrator. This cannot appear too soon; Suitcase’s inability to open fonts used within an Illustrator document has made many users switch to the prime opposition, Adobe Type Manager Deluxe. While you can always create an Application Set for unsupported applications – which ensures that a base set of fonts open when that program is launched – it’s not a very useful solution. There’s no news of such a plug-in for InDesign or Photoshop. Following on from this, fonts can be activated on demand. Holding down the  key while drag-&-dropping fonts to Suitcase 10 opens them on a temporary basis but ensures they are closed restart. This is particularly useful for contract publishers and repro houses with a number of clients, because they need to ensure that only the client’s fonts are active when handling their jobs. One of the most important changes in Suitcase 9 was that of working with sets. Version 10 builds on this by providing a Control Strip module from which Suitcase can be opened (useful if the keyboard shortcut clashes with an application’s command set) or any set within Suitcase. Collector’s item
Another new facility is that of Collect for Output. QuarkXPress uses such a feature to gather the current document and all graphics into a single folder; Suitcase uses the similarly-named feature to collect a set of fonts by selecting them in Suitcase’s panel. It’s a useful function, given the cost of a full-blown preflighter. And, while you have to make sure that all fonts are selected, Suitcase removes the headache from working out which printer fonts match up with the screen-font suitcases. Suitcase offers two further new features, both aimed at making font-problems easier to handle. Any font-activation conflicts are shown by the font-suitcase name, as opposed to the typeface name, and corrupted fonts are tracked back to their suitcases, making it simpler to delete and replace them. A nice addition to the package is Lemke Software’s FontBook 3.3.2, which allows you to view and print many sample pages for all your fonts. It includes a number of predefined layout pages, and can help to construct a decent reference type-book.

OUR VERDICT

Many of the gripes with the original release of Suitcase 9 have gone – indeed, most of them disappeared with the 9.01 maintenance version and have remained fixed. The memory usage is no longer bloated, and the likes of QuarkXPress and Illustrator recognize newly opened fonts without having to quit and restart. Font management tends to fall into the hands of one of two products: Suitcase and ATM Deluxe. There’s a core of basic facilities that both offer, including drag-&-drop and font problem warnings. To group fonts into families, Suitcase offers its MenuFonts Control Panel, while ATM Deluxe has Type Reunion. A possible clash has been reported between MenuFonts and Virex 6.1, the result of which is a long delay when trying to change the printer description or page size in XPress 4.1.1’s Print dialog. Disabling the Control Panel solves the problem, but it doesn’t appear to affect everyone – so there may be other contributory factors. If you already own Suitcase, it’s definitely worth upgrading to version 10. ATM Deluxe owners will probably stick rather than twist – but they’ll have to switch when they make the inevitable move to Mac OS X, as Adobe is not going to develop ATM for X. A Carbonized version of Suitcase 10 (free to registered users) is due in early November. If planning to switch to OS X soon, ATM Deluxe users would be wise to get used to Suitcase – to save themselves having to learn a new operating system and a new font-management system at the same time.

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