Universal Type Server Review

Extensis has, over the years, made something of a specialism of asset-management software, both for single users and workgroups. The acquisition of Font Reserve from DiamondSoft in 2003 introduced a degree of duplication and, arguably, confusion into the Extensis product range. It was not surprising, then, that aspects of the single-user version of Font Reserve were incorporated into Suitcase Fusion for Mac and Windows, released in 2006. Two years on, Extensis has consolidated its client-server font management tools into a single product, Universal Type Server.

Available for both Mac OS X and Windows, Universal Type Server comes in two versions: Lite, for up to 10 connected users; and Professional, for unlimited users.

Extensis claims that Universal Type Server has been “rewritten from scratch”, and that is clear on first acquaintance. Installation of the server software is as simple as double-clicking on the installer package.

Once the server software has been installed, the administrator interface opens in the server’s default browser. Enter the serial number, and there’s no need to access the server directly again; all administration tasks can be performed from the client software, Universal Type Client. As might be expected, installation of that client software is also remarkably straightforward, something which we’re sure will earn Extensis the gratitude of many non IT-specialist administrators.

So far, so good. In order to get started, the administrator user needs to log in to Universal Type Client on one of the client machines, before going to Server➝Manage Users and Workgroups. From here, you can log in to the server using the browser window and the simple web interface will open. Also from here, the administrator can create users, roles that apply to those users, and workgroups to which the users belong.

Furthermore, Universal Type Server permits you to do this with an unparalleled level of independence. It allows any scale of enterprise to tailor the system to the needs of its users rather than, say, having to assign multiple pre-configured roles to multiple users, thereby creating confusion and conflict. System administrators in larger enterprises will, we’re sure, be pleased to note that Universal Type Server also allows the importing of users from both LDAP and Active Directory servers.

Common sense

Universal Type Server’s ability to handle multiple users and workgroups is impressive; but how does it fare when put to its main task of managing fonts?

In its accompanying literature Extensis expounds: “The three Cs of server-based font management – centralization, consistency, and compliance.” It’s here that we arrive at the core of the product. Any design team knows that achieving consistency without some form of centralisation of assets is well nigh impossible. And office managers will appreciate the ability to check licence compliance quickly when an audit approaches.

Extensis has migrated its own ‘Font Sense’ technology from Suitcase. This allocates a unique numerical identifier for each font, based its name, description, version number and other criteria so font substitution should no longer be a problem. Checking the contents of a hard disk to find out which font has been used should therefore become a thing of the past.

OUR VERDICT

We suspect that in the development of both Universal Type Server and Universal Type Client, the team from Extensis talked to a broad cross-section of its user base; even more miraculously, it appears to have listened. The result is a product that is powerful and scalable yet easy to use. A definite winner.

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