If you need Suitcase, the chances are that you already use it. If you are involved in any kind of desktop publishing, particularly in the production side of it, you probably can’t live without it. So now that Mac OS 8.6 is here, the previous version is no longer compatible. Fortunately, Extensis has taken over Suitcase from Symantec – and the leap to version 8 is in honour of its OS 8.6 compatibility. It has had a radical facelift but much of the changes are less obvious.
Suitcase remained practically unchanged for many years, and Extensis has big plans for it. This version, however, concentrated on the two vital rocks of stability and compatibility. Stability seems to be 100 per cent, as I haven’t had a single crash – attributable to Suitcase – since its installation. It also proved itself compatible, surviving a fraught upgrade to Mac OS 8.6 without griping.
It is not all under the hood – there are more tangible benefits. The new interface is more intuitive than before. Suitcase is also a lot more pro-active, helping you before you even realize that you need help. For example, part of the installation includes a QuarkXTension that pre-empts your need for fonts as you open a document. Rather than the tiring "These fonts were missing" message, Suitcase rushes in looks for the missing fonts in closed suitcases, and automatically loads them. If this was the only thing it did, it would certainly justify the price for me – always falling foul of missing fonts.
When you close that document, Suitcase 8 politely closes them for you. The way fonts appear in menus has also been improved – beyond WYSIWYG. Now fonts held are neatly in families in hierarchic menus. This feature is available with other products, but it is nice to have a new stable version. Adding new fonts is much more straightforward than before. Older versions required you to first load the font into Suitcase and then load it again to get it into the document. Now a single click (or drag) should take care of everything.
his is the first attempt to get Suitcase up to speed, and Extensis has done a good job. I look forward to seeing how else they can improve Suitcase. If you have an opinion, now would be a good time to let Extensis know. Until then, you’d be well advised to upgrade to Suitcase 8 to assure a simple, safe upgrade to Mac OS 8.6.