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Install a free iTunes-like font management app Apps
Linotype is giving away a font management application called FontExplorer X, and it's completely free -- no nag screens, limited features, etc.

It's got a very iTunes-like interface, and seemingly can do all that Suitcase does, as well as clean font caches, provide detailed font info, etc. The only catch is that you also get a Store icon where you end up at Linotype's online font store, which also looks somewhat like the iTunes Music Store.

[robg adds: I tested FontExplorer X this morning, and it seems to work well, though there's a fairly scary disclaimer up front -- this is a Final Candidate release, and you may lose your data, don't use on a production machine, etc. After making sure my backups were current :), I proceeded to use it anyway, without any apparent ill effects. However, I'm not a heavy font user, so I can't comment as to whether this app completely covers Suitcase's functionality.]
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InDesign Wonkiness
Authored by: pxlated on Sep 22, '05 10:26:09AM

In InDesign, it finds a missing font and applies it but then it keeps reverting to the non-found font indication then back to found. Just keeps cycling through that rotation.
Other than that, I like it.



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So Far...
Authored by: dslipp on Sep 22, '05 10:52:23AM

I'm just installing/setting it up now. I've got over 8,000 fonts in my collection that I've been managing with FontAgent Pro, and it has taken over twenty minutes to import them so far. One warning - quit any other applications when you're doing your first import, otherwise they'll crash. (At least all of my open apps did...)

---
Dave



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...So Good
Authored by: dslipp on Sep 22, '05 11:04:34AM

It finished importing everything after 26 minutes. It seemed to hang for a few minutes while installing the plug-ins, then snapped to life.

First impression - it is certainly faster than FMP. A very iTunes-like interface, right down to the store section. I'm guessing that Linotype wants to be ITMS of fonts.

Gotta play in some apps.

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Dave



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...Except...
Authored by: dslipp on Sep 22, '05 11:42:46AM

I just encountered the same thing in InDesign. It tries and fails to activate missing fonts, then recycles. Each cycle takes two minutes to time out so it's a real pain. I found that quitting FEX in mid-cycle breaks the cycle and allows you to escape.

For a pre-release, it shows promise, but I've got to agree with Jonathon - it isn't quite ready for production use.

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Dave



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InDesign Wonkiness
Authored by: arloguthrie on Sep 22, '05 10:54:19AM

I had the same trouble with InDesign. I hope they're working on that. At the very least, I'm able to activate fonts without having to restart InDesign or (when factors beyond my control force me to use it) Quark, and I don't have to install bloated crapware like Suitcase. I've been using this software for about two weeks, and I'm hooked on it. (No, I don't work for Linotype.)



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Install a free iTunes-like font management app
Authored by: jwoolson on Sep 22, '05 11:00:48AM

I used LinoType's FontExplorer X RC1 for a few days, trying to use like Suitcase. I cannot recommend FEX for any purposes OTHER than viewing fonts. Specifically, do NOT turn on the management features. While the final shipping version may have a lot of the bugs worked out, this is not ready for general use. The InDesign CS/CS2 and QuarkXPress 6.5 plug-ins consistently failed to function, crashing both the layout apps and the font manager. If you only want to view some arbitrary type set in *all* your fonts at once, it does seem to do that well enough.

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Jonathan Woolson
www.thinkplaydesign.com



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Works great in a design/production setting
Authored by: bradyj on Sep 22, '05 12:39:14PM

We've been discussing and testing this already:
http://www.jasonsantamaria.com/archive/2005/09/13/fontexplorer_x.php

I don't see how everyone is complaining -- I've been using this for over a week now, as well as all my designers. We've been using it from high print to web production (no quark, only CS2) -- it's been great so far, I've had only one issue which required me to do a fresh copying of fonts on one computer and that's it.

All in all, even in beta, this is light years ahead of Suitcase.

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Brady J. Frey
www.dotfive.com



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Works great in a design/production setting
Authored by: DavidRavenMoon on Sep 22, '05 01:10:20PM

"All in all, even in beta, this is light years ahead of Suitcase."

I wish this were true, but alas, it is not. As much as I am starting to dislike Suitcase, especially in Tiger, the big problem with Linotype FontExplorer X is that is wants to either copy or move the fonts you are trying to manage. This is an issue unless you are only using your own local font library.

We are a commercial printer, and mostly receive files from the outside. It's always imperative that you use only the customer's fonts that were included with the job, unless they are missing/corrupt. Even for common fonts like Helvetica, you should use the fonts supplied with the job, or you risk rewrapping of text, etc.

The way we work, and no doubt many other shops, is to copy the customer's files to a file server. We then work entirely off the server, and at no time do we copy any of the files or fonts to our local hard drive. One reason for this is we use the Rampage RIP workflow, which only works with files on the server.

So as you can see we cannot use any font manager that copies/moves fonts.

I downloaded this hoping it would be an alternative to Suitcase, but it's about as useful in this situation as Apple's Font Book, which is to say, not at all. With all of its bugs, Suitcase can open remote fonts without copying/moving the font files. :(

---
G5/2.7GHz x 2, 1.5 GB, Mac OS X 10.4.2
www.david-schwab.com
www.imanicoppolamusic.com



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Works great in a design/production setting
Authored by: krisbrowne42 on Sep 22, '05 01:18:30PM

Not true... You can go into the preferences and uncheck "Manage Font Files" under the Advanced tab, and it will load the fonts without copying or moving them. We are a commercial shop as well and this has worked well so far.

We're currently using FontAgent Pro WGE for our production machines, but when the final of this comes out, I might ditch it altogether, as the interface of FontExplorer seems more stable than FAP...


---
The package said \"Windows 95 or better. Pentium or better\"... So I got a Mac with OS X.



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Works great in a design/production setting
Authored by: DavidRavenMoon on Sep 22, '05 01:23:28PM

If that's the case, then I will give it a try. When I first launched it it gave the choices to not manage fonts, move fonts, and copy fonts.

Not very intuitive! I *do* want to manage the fonts, but I don't want to move/copy them!

As long as it can activate the fonts without copying them, it looks like a great product!

---
G5/2.7GHz x 2, 1.5 GB, Mac OS X 10.4.2
www.david-schwab.com
www.imanicoppolamusic.com



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Install a free iTunes-like font management app
Authored by: gaoshan on Sep 22, '05 12:45:00PM

What are font management apps like this for? I really have no idea but it seems like heavy type users love things like this (or Suitcase).

What do they do and how do you use them?



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Install a free iTunes-like font management app
Authored by: DavidRavenMoon on Sep 22, '05 01:20:17PM

"What do they do and how do you use them?"

People use them in different ways, depending on the situation. Originally the problem was you could only have so many fonts open at once, and the more fonts you had open, the more memory, etc. they used. Back in the day you had to install a font into the Mac's fonts folder and restart. This way you turn on only the fonts you need.

The other reason is some people like to use the auto-activation feature, so if you open a document, and it uses a font not active, the font manager will activate that font. This is generally a bad idea if you work in a pre-press situation, and we leave that feature disabled. We need absolute control over which font is active or not.

In the workflow I outlined above, we use a font manager to make a font set, with the job number/name, and add fonts from that job on a server, and then turn font sets on and off as we work on different jobs. This way we can manage many duplicate fonts easily.

We also use the font manager to disable most of the fonts that come with OS X, so we can avoid font conflicts, such as having both the PostScript and dfont version of Helvetica open at the same time, for example.


---
G5/2.7GHz x 2, 1.5 GB, Mac OS X 10.4.2
www.david-schwab.com
www.imanicoppolamusic.com



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Install a free iTunes-like font management app
Authored by: pub3abn on Sep 22, '05 03:04:33PM

If you are a general user, you probably won't get much benefit from this. To be honest, even as a graphic designer I've gotten along quite well -- despite a library of thousands of fonts -- with just Apple's Font Book. I pretty much work with a basic subset of fonts, and then activate and deactivate special fonts (mostly display or decorative faces) as needed. Home users might appreciate the ability to preview fonts, catch conflicts, and maybe even gain a better understanding of where your fonts are and what all you have. But unless you are regularly adding new fonts or working with type, you might not need or benefit from a font manager.

For people who juggle lots of fonts, and are very particular about what fonts are active (and which versions, technologies, etc.), a font manager is very useful.



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Install a free iTunes-like font management app
Authored by: mm2270 on Sep 22, '05 01:22:56PM

I'm glad see competition in this market, considering how abysmal font management was for so long on OS X. I use FontAgent Pro, and like it, mostly. I only wish it didn't require copying/moving fonts around to manage them. However, it does a good job overall of cleaning up your font libraries and gives you a good interface to activate/deactivate, preview and manage them from. The interface for Font Explorer X is pretty nice too. In fact, a little nicer than FontAgent Pro's IMHO. Unfortunately, as mentioned in other comments here, it also requires fonts to be copied or moved a set location, so it's no better in that respect.

Beyond this, in my initial tests, FontExplorer X fails the auto activation tests badly. I tested activating 2 fonts, using them in a Photoshop PSD file, saving and closing said file, then deactivating them in FontExplorer and trying to reopen the PSD file. It correctly warned me that fonts needed to be activated, but I got stuck in an endless loop wher I was unable to click on any buttons (greyed out) not unlike comments from others using InDesign here. I had no choice but to force quit the app and Photoshop as well to get out of it. So, it needs work, unless you don't ask it to auto-activate fonts. But having auto-activation is like the holy grail for font management. I haven't found anything yet that is as seamless as ATM Deluxe was back in the day. FontAgent Pro running under Tiger is very close, but not quite there just yet. And this app has serious potential. They just need to work out the bugs. I'll be keeping my eye on this.



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Install a free iTunes-like font management app
Authored by: pub3abn on Sep 22, '05 02:50:49PM

"Unfortunately, as mentioned in other comments here, it also requires fonts to be copied or moved a set location, so it's no better in that respect."

Other comments here seem to indicate that is not the case.



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Install a free iTunes-like font management app
Authored by: mm2270 on Sep 22, '05 10:23:26PM

Yes, thank you. I read those comments after I posted my comment. Unfortunately, when I turned off the management feature, then auto-activation didn't work, as in it didn't even attempt to open the fonts. At least before it tried and got stuck. This led me to believe I turned off all font management. I still contend the app needs work, and apparently Linotype feels the same, otherwise this would be a final 1.0 release.

As I said before though, I'm glad to see competition in this market. It was looking pretty grim for font management on OS X for a while there, with only apps like Suitcase and the now nearly defunct Font Reserve. For now, I'll stick with FontAgent Pro, but I have an eye on this little app.



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FEX app does not have to move/copy fonts into it's directory
Authored by: kuupoika on Sep 22, '05 09:59:34PM

<b>Linotype FontExplorer does not have to move or copy the fonts...<b>

under the Advanced preferences tab simply turn off "Manage fonts" and it will allow you to keep your fonts anywhere... just like iTunes...

I have been running it since it appeared on MacUpdate a week or so ago and have it managing just over 7000 fonts with no problems... other than the cycling thru the dialogs when asking to activate a font that is not activated but is in the collection... not sure what is going on there... but if autoactivation is not a real big issue... all it does is slow the workflow down a tad having to manually activate a font... and surely this will be fixed in the final full release... overall a great smoothly functioning app...

I have used MasterJuggler and Suitcase... with Suitcase being the doggiest font app around... my wife has to use it daily and hates it... and always has hated it...

cheers



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font management tools in OS X
Authored by: jwoolson on Sep 22, '05 04:36:29PM
The short history of font management utilities for Mac OS X has shown that no vendor has yet to recapture the features and ease-of-use of ATM Pro 4.6 in Mac OS 9. That was the last time I can recall using a font tool that *just worked* without too much fiddling, auto-activating fonts correctly, identifying corrupted fonts accurately, and politely wiping and removing its muddy boots before traipsing across my kitchen floor. OS X's .dfonts, OpenType, old PS Type1 suitcases, TrueType, Classic System Folder fonts, and a lack of Multiple Master fonts have all created an enormous muddle, making font management much, much harder than it was under OS 9. In my experience to date, no developer has solved those complexities and sated the demand for a fully-functional font manager. I want to use and love FontExplorer X, but it didn't work for me. Failed miserably, really. I am not inexperienced with font management tools and have used various font managers for about a decade or so in professional publishing environments. If you get FontExplorer X to work for you, you have my joy and admiration for your success, but based on my experience, which resulted in my returning to manual installation of fonts into the User and Classic(for QuarkXPress 4) font folders. In my experience, FontExplorer X is NOT YET that long-awaited solution for easy (free!) font management, but given the complexity of the task, I expect to continue waiting for that holy grail for a while longer. Extensis, I'm lookin' at you.

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Jonathan Woolson
www.thinkplaydesign.com


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It works for me, but, there's one strange behaviour
Authored by: b00le on Oct 06, '05 08:29:22AM
...I don't much like: from time to time, when you open an application, it says the app needs a certain font, and offers to help you go and buy it. At first I thought managing fonts (I have hundreds) had switched off some that really were needed, but then I realised that these were almost invariably fonts that had never been installed on my system, and that were certainly not needed by the apps in question. Why would the Wacom tablet application want a font called MyKindaTown, for example? I thought it might be some kind of sales gimmick from Linotype - but they don't sell a font with that name, indeed a font with that name does not seem to exist at all. So I don't know what's going on. You can ignore all such requests, but still... For the rest, I've had no problems with InDesign. I wish it would flag duplicates, though. Not bad for free.

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Install a free iTunes-like font management app
Authored by: morespace54 on Oct 06, '05 10:44:09AM

IMO, Suitcase isn't quite ready for production uses neither...
So this application seems very promising.



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