Launched in 1987, Suitcase has grown into a fully fledged, font-management system. While Suitcase 8 added many features and retained much of the previous user interface, Suitcase 9 now takes the package an important stage further – including Mac OS 9 compatibility.
Previous versions of Suitcase worked on a set basis – if you wanted to turn on a font, it had to be part of a set.
A fundamental difference in Suitcase 9 is the ability to make individual fonts active, leading to a complete change in the user interface. The main dialogue box now sports a toolbar – giving immediate access to the six most commonly used functions – windows for sets and individual fonts, and a separate panel for previews of selected fonts.
Adding fonts to Suitcase is a drag- &-drop affair – just grab a folder of fonts and drop it on to the fonts window. Each typeface is then listed individually with information on type, foundry and suitcase name. Adding fonts to a set is simple, and, once sets have been created, it’s possible to revert the dialogue box to a sets-only display – just as with previous incarnations of Suitcase.
Suitcase 9’s font preview is about as good as it can get. Typefaces and sets can be shown in one of four ways: Waterfall, with its cascade of selected letters; ABC123 as uppercase, lowercase and numerals; Paragraph through a custom text selection; or QuickType for text typed on-screen. You can print these fonts too.
Suitcase 9 comes complete with two additional applications. MenuFonts is a system extension that groups typefaces into families, and shows them in their true face within almost any program’s font menu. Usefully, this also shows whether a font is PostScript or TrueType. Suitcase 9 XT, a QuarkXPress 4 XTension, opens and closes fonts as XPress documents require them, and opens fonts required by EPS images. Also included is an online type-foundry search facility.
Suitcase 9 offers many commendable features, including the new user-interface, font previews and an enhanced XPress XTension. However, it has some serious failings.
For starters, it’s a painful memory hog, adding a whopping great 13MB to the Mac OS RAM requirements over a similar Adobe Type Manager Deluxe 4.6 set-up. Most of this appears to be taken up by the Suitcase 9 Font Engine system extension and places in question the 32MB minimum-RAM requirement. It’s nigh on impossible to run a Suitcase 9/QuarkXPress 4/Mac OS 9 combination on a machine with less than 128MB of RAM. There is also an unacceptably long delay on start-up on machines with numerous fonts.
Another serious problem is that fonts opened don’t automatically show up in launched applications, such as QuarkXPress and Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. In order to see new fonts, the applications have to be closed and relaunched. Extensis is aware of this and is currently working on a fix.
Users with loads of typefaces need a font-management system. But Suitcase 9’s enhancements are overshadowed by its problems, especially as Adobe Type Manager Deluxe 4.6 is cheaper.