Suitcase Fusion 7 review: Font manager now has cloud access and Adobe After Effects 2015 plug-in
Price: Around £83, upgrade around £42
Suitcase Fusion 7 is a powerhouse of a font manager, with features that extend a million pixels wide and at least several picas deep. Version 7 adds support for the newest Mac and Windows operating systems, automatic cloud-based backup and syncing, and a new plug-in for Adobe After Effects. However, these new features just add icing to the cake that was Suitcase Fusion 6.
The Suitcase Fusion 7 interface is only slightly different from the previous version. Smart Sets have been renamed Smart Searches and appear in their own section in the left panel. The Fontspiration panel on the right remains an inspiring, scrolling gallery of exceptional font art created by Extensis and others. Hover over one to see its designer and typefaces, or click to see a full-size version at the Pinterest website.
Because many designers work on multiple computers and need to have access to the same fonts and font environment in multiple locations, Suitcase Fusion 7 includes a two-location license. To simplify using the same font library on two computers, version 7 adds the TypeSync feature. When enabled, TypeSync backs up all your fonts and Suitcase setup to a server hosted by Extensis and updates your backup every 15 minutes. You can then access your library from any computer running Suitcase Fusion 7; just log into Extensis’ server from the second computer for immediate access to your fonts and Suitcase setup. (If you need to quickly bolt from your current location after making changes in Suitcase, you can also manually force an update.)
Both the initial backup and subsequent updates occur quickly, because if the Extensis server already has a copy of your font, it simply notes that you own a copy and doesn’t upload yours. (It’s interesting to note that because of TypeSync, Extensis will soon maintain the largest font collection in the known universe.)
The new TypeSync feature doesn’t replace the Archive and Restore feature introduced in version 6, which lets you copy your entire Font Vault to your Dropbox or Google Drive, and then restore it on another computer. This frozen archive of your Suitcase setup is mostly useful for migrating from one computer to another.
To facilitate accessing your fonts from any computer, Suitcase Fusion 7 no longer uses serial numbers for registration. Instead, you install Suitcase, create an account at Extensis.com, and then log in to use it on your current computer.
Auto-activate fonts in Adobe After Effects
Suitcase Fusion automatically activates fonts used in documents as you open them in any app, but it also provides special plug-ins for critical apps used by creative professionals. Many fonts are updated over time and it’s essential in a professional workflow to use the exact version of a font when editing or printing an existing document. Suitcase Fusion’s plug-ins embed detailed font identification information into each document so that Suitcase knows exactly which version of a font to activate when you reopen that document.
Version 7 adds a completely new plug-in for Adobe After Effects CC 2015, which is being used by more and more designers to create animated text. With this plug-in, you no longer need to remember which fonts were used in each composition, a giant benefit since After Effects on its own doesn’t help you determine which fonts are missing. Another benefit is that when you close the composition, the plug-in deactivates the fonts it auto-activated.
As with earlier versions, Suitcase Fusion 7 includes auto-activation plug-ins for recent Adobe and Quark products, specifically: Photoshop, InDesign, InCopy and Illustrator (versions CS6 and higher), and QuarkXPress 10 and 2015. (Support for QuarkXPress 2016 is imminent.)
Along with the release of Suitcase Fusion 7, Extensis also introduced a new product named Suitcase TeamSync, which gives members of a creative team access to a shared font library from anywhere with Internet access. (Internet access is only necessary to update a team member’s font library; fonts are downloaded to the user’s computer for offline use.)
This subscription-based service includes a copy of Suitcase Fusion 7 for each team member, which is automatically updated whenever Extensis releases a new version of Suitcase. Your team’s TeamSync administrator uses a web browser to add or remove team members as needed and control permissions for each user: for example, whether they can add, remove or collect fonts for output.
Extensis claims that TeamSync is suitable for any size team, from two to infinity. However, it isn’t intended to replace their Universal Type Server, which has significantly greater features and a higher price. Universal Type Server also requires you to have an on-site server, while TeamSync stores your fonts on Extensis’ servers and delivers them to you over the Internet.
TeamSync costs $96 per user per year, with a two license minimum. A user (for example, a freelancer) can be a member of multiple TeamSync teams. Because the library for each team appears as a separate library in Suitcase Fusion 7, the user may switch freely among them to work on projects for different teams.
Suitcase Fusion 7 is an important upgrade if you use two computers and need the same fonts on both, or if you use Adobe After Effects to create animated type effects. In addition, Extensis’ new Suitcase TeamSync is an affordable alternative for teams who want to share the same font library but can’t justify the cost or maintenance of Extensis’ Universal Type Server product.