Extensis Suitcase Fusion 3 review
Price: $100 (£62); upgrade $49.95 (£31)
Pros: Uncluttered interface, finds similar fonts; integrates with web fonts
Cons: Can’t print font specimen books, web fonts limited to Extensis’ WebINK catalog
Font management is complex even at the best of times. Fortunately products such as Suitcase Fusion capably weed out problem fonts and duplicates, organise your fonts and auto-activate fonts when you open a document that uses them. Like other pro font managers, Suitcase Fusion lets you create font sets for various purposes, manage system fonts, explore technical font details, and so on.
So, what’s left for Extensis to add to the latest version of its font manager? Catching up with the competition, Suitcase Fusion 3 can create application sets that load specified fonts when a particular application is launched. It also lets you quickly export a PNG file with background transparency that shows you what sample text will look like in any font – useful for experimenting and for sending to clients. You can also clear font caches to resolve display glitches, and auto-activate fonts in Photoshop CS4 and CS5 documents.
Two new features are unique. QuickMatch lets you find typefaces that resemble a selected font – hugely helpful for people new to fonts, as well as for deadline-driven designers who have more fonts than they can remember.
I found QuickMatch accurate enough to be useful, as well as joyfully addictive. It works by comparing the glyphs in the selected font with those in a user-specified font library, which can mean local fonts or Extensis’ online WebINK library – and that is the other unique new feature.
The QuickMatch feature makes it easy to find similar-looking fonts.
Several companies, Extensis among them, are hoping to ‘rent’ fonts to web pages, and Extensis’s WebINK collection includes more than 2,000 fonts for use on any web page. Licensed from designers worldwide, the fonts are streamed from the company’s servers whenever someone loads a web page that requests them. In return, Extensis gets a monthly fee from the page’s publisher, the rate depending on the number of visits to the page or its parent website, and on the base price of the fonts used.
By opening a huge new world of fonts to web designers, this kind of web-based font rental could become a gold mine, and Extensis has brilliantly integrated it into Fusion 3. For example, you can preview what any CSS-based web page would look like in any WebINK font just by typing the URL into Suitcase Fusion. Once you’ve chosen your WebINK fonts, Fusion 3 gives you a snippet of code to drop into your CSS definitions. When you tell Extensis to activate those fonts, your credit card starts getting charged.
WebINK integration lets you preview new fonts in any Web page—local or on the Internet.
Even if you aren’t keen on WebINK, the great new Photoshop auto-activation plug-in and QuickMatch may well tip the scales in favour of upgrading to Suitcase Fusion 3.