Extensis Suitcase Fusion 2 review

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

  • Price When Reviewed: 61 . 35

  • Pros: Excellent font management tools that help you find what you need.

  • Cons: No support for older versions of Mac OS X, InDesign, Illustrator or QuarkXPress.

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Suitcase Fusion, a professional font-management utility designed for individual users, has seen a giant upgrade with the release of version 2. The Mac-only program has been entirely rewritten using code borrowed from Extensis' Universal Type Server (read our review). The result is increased speed and responsiveness -- especially for adding and auto-activating fonts -- and several clever new features that encourage typographical experimentation.

You can preview any selection of fonts, whether active or not, in several different sample layouts, or by typing in a line of your own text. Then you can drag type samples off of the Suitcase window and float them over your page layouts to see how they would look. These previews can be used with any document or application, and if you change the characters, fonts, or sizes in the Suitcase window, the floating previews update as well. When you find one combination you like, you can activate that font directly from its floating preview. This is an entirely new way to interact with fonts.

Also new is the Glyph View palette (below). While QuarkXPress and Adobe's Creative Suite design applications have Glyphs palettes, and Mac OS X has a Character palette, they can show only active fonts. Suitcase Fusion 2's Glyph View palette lets you explore both active and inactive fonts. When you find a glyph you want, double-click it to see a larger version, then select a different font to see the same glyph in the new font. It's a helpful way to compare similar fonts, or find just the right ampersand or other special character, in any language.

Fusion 2's new interface is similar to that of iTunes or iPhoto, and now it includes Smart Sets that automatically update as you add new fonts to your library. For example, you could define a Smart Set to include all fonts from one particular foundry, or fonts that are tagged with a particular client's name, or any other combination of attributes. When new fonts with these attributes are added to the library, they also appear in the Smart Set.

Printing has been enhanced, with a new ability to print your own line of text in any combination of fonts. And, in response to user requests, Suitcase Fusion now uses a background application to handle font activation, so you can quit Fusion whenever you're not actively managing or previewing your fonts.

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