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Font Outfitters

I choose my fonts the same way I choose my clothing. I like to experiment – spreading them all out and trying them on one at a time. Although the Macintosh is legendary for its typeface flexibility, maintaining a large wardrobe of fonts has never been straightforward. To make a font available, you must quit and restart your programs before you can use it. It’s like having to strip naked just to don a hat.

That’s why Symantec’s Suitcase and Alsoft’s MasterJuggler have long been essential components for anyone seeking sartorial freedom in dressing their words. For nearly four years, users suffered with Suitcase’s antiquated interface as the product moved from Fifth Generation Systems to Symantec with barely a glimmer of support or continued development. In the meantime, Alsoft seized the opportunity to put the shine on MasterJuggler 1.9, with its rock-solid Power Mac compatibility. Now, Suitcase 3.0 offers an entirely revamped interface, and Alsoft has made moderate improvements in MasterJuggler 2.0 Pro, which began shipping in early June.

Both programs are now Power Mac native stand-alone applications. Their goal is the same: to liberate your fonts from the confines of the System’s Fonts folder, thereby enabling you to organize fonts on any storage device. You load only the fonts you need when you need them, conserving system memory and (often) drastically decreasing program launch times.

Organizing Your Fonts — The first and most tedious step of font management with either program is organizing font suitcases on a server or local hard disk. You should remove all fonts from the System Folder’s Fonts folder except Chicago, Geneva, and Monaco. If you use Adobe SuperATM or Adobe Acrobat, you should also leave behind Adobe Sans MM, Adobe Serif MM, and Symbol. You can then organize your other fonts any way you please – by project, by client, alphabetically, or even by vendor. Postscript font files must be stored in the same folder as their companion suitcases. In my graphics department, we first organize font suitcases into folders named for classifications – Serif, Serif Display, Sans Serif, Script, and Dingbats. [In typographical terms, a dingbat is an ornamental or decorative symbol. -Geoff]

After setting up your font suitcases are set up, you use MasterJuggler or Suitcase to create sets that can be opened together. If you did a good job organizing your font suitcases, you can usually mirror that hierarchy in your sets. For instance, I store the font Times on my hard disk in a folder called Serif, and it is also a member of a MasterJuggler or Suitcase set called Serif.

Creating and managing these font sets is the core of how Suitcase and MasterJuggler differ. I’ll discuss each program individually.

A Brand New Suitcase 3.0 — In Symantec’s Suitcase 3.0 ($64.95, $34.95 upgrade), Symantec has kept the best aspects of the old program while totally revamping the interface. Suitcase 3.0 takes advantage of several Apple technologies including Apple Guide, AppleScript, and QuickDraw GX fonts.

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Creating font sets in Suitcase 3.0 that mirror the hierarchy of your font arrangement is easy – you simply drag individual font suitcases (or folders containing font suitcases) into the Sets window, and the program creates font sets with the same name as the folders. If drag & drop isn’t available (it requires System 7.5 or higher, or System 7.1.1 or 7.1.2 with the Macintosh Drag and Drop extension installed), you can also create sets with the Add button, and an Add All button can snag an entire folder of fonts at once, although you must create font sets one at a time.

Suitcase sets can contain individual fonts, font suitcases, or even another Suitcase set. I created sets for each folder of my font archive (e.g., Serif, Sans Serif, and so on) before creating additional sets for each client or job. For instance, I created a set for making maps that contains my entire Dingbats set as well as some sans serif fonts.

Suitcase provides two special font sets. First, it offers a permanent Startup Set that loads when you boot your Mac. Second, there are Application Sets, which load fonts whenever you launch a particular application. You can have as many Application Sets as you have applications; at home, I immediately created a MacInTax font set for those aggravating TaxType fonts which serve no other purpose, and you can do the same thing with most CD-ROM applications that come with custom fonts.

Suitcase’s Sets list looks like a Finder-style outline list, and it allows easy renaming, deletion, and sorting of font sets. You can easily view a set’s contents by expanding the triangle next to it. Another Suitcase window provides details about exactly which fonts are open, which fonts remain stored in the System Folder, and which fonts are temporarily open.

Suitcase 3.0 retains its ability to show fonts in their faces in all your applications’ Font menus, although other font utilities offer more flexibility. Suitcase 3.0 can still compress fonts to save storage space, but they will not be recognized by Suitcase 2.0, MasterJuggler, or the System Folder’s Fonts folder. Suitcase can also automatically resolve Font ID conflicts.

Suitcase has a font database file that can be moved to another Mac in order to share font sets with other users. However, in my testing, moving the font database file did not always prove to be a straightforward task. For instance, I found that referenced fonts in the sets must reside on a shared volume or Suitcase’s reference to the fonts’ locations will break. Suitcase can be scripted to automate the creation, deletion, and opening of fonts and font sets, but Suitcase is not a recordable or attachable application.

Symantec has released a patch to Suitcase 3.0.1 which fixes several bugs. Note that the patch comes in three different versions: 68K, Power Mac, and Universal (Fat). If you installed Suitcase 3.0 using the Easy Install option, you must use the Universal patch.

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A Somewhat New MasterJuggler Pro 2.0 — The new MasterJuggler Pro. 2.0 ($49.95, $29.95 upgrade) is not a radical revision, but it eliminates many annoyances from version 1.9. Its new features include automatic font corruption detection and automatic reloading of temporary fonts (see below) after a system crash.

Creating MasterJuggler sets that mirror your font’s folder organization is a tricky exercise that must be performed one folder at a time. The operation involves dragging each folder – Serif, for instance – onto the MasterJuggler application while pressing the Option key. (My timing was off once, and I had to close a mess of individual font suitcases one at a time). If you have organized your fonts into ten folders, you must drag & drop ten times. It would be easier to create sets individually from within the MasterJuggler program, but even there you must wearily add font suitcases one at a time because the program fails to offer an Add All button. At least closing fonts has been made easier: you simply drag fonts or font suitcases onto the MasterJuggler Drop Closer application.

Unlike Suitcase, MasterJuggler sets have never been stored in a central list within the program. Instead, each MasterJuggler set is an individual file that can be located anywhere on your hard disk or network. Whether this as an advantage or disadvantage strikes me as a matter of personal preference. Set files can make it easy to share font sets with other MasterJuggler users (such as a pre-press service bureau). The sets are independent files, and you can rename, move, and delete a MasterJuggler set like any Macintosh file.

And that’s also the downside. You can’t rename or delete a set without tracking down the set’s file on your hard disk. I decided to keep all of my MasterJuggler sets together in one folder because even viewing a set’s contents requires you to track down its location. MasterJuggler’s directory pop-up menu does list the last ten folders from which you have opened files with MasterJuggler, but it’s still not as straightforward as always having your sets staring at you from within a master list.

MasterJuggler’s interface, comprised of two scrolling lists and ten buttons, is starkly reminiscent of System 6. The upper list, Available Files, is used to navigate to a font set or individual font. Once found, you can view the font set, edit it, or open it. Once you open a set from the upper list, it appears in the bottom list, Open Files. The font will now load at startup – unless you remember to press Command as you click the Open button.

The Open Files window allows little flexibility. Individual fonts and font sets are mixed with minimal organization. Icons identify each item as either a font or font set (and as temporary or permanent), but you cannot sort within the window or edit an open font set.

MasterJuggler 2.0 addresses two common annoyances with 1.9. The first involves MasterJuggler’s insistence on adding all font sets as permanent. Unless you press Command as you add a font, that font will be with you every time you boot your Mac. In version 2.0, a preference setting can reverse that behavior. Second, with 1.9, I often spent ten minutes or more opening fonts as temporary only to be stung by a crash at some later time. Now MasterJuggler intelligently reloads any temporary sets after a crash.

MasterJuggler shares many of Suitcase’s advanced features – and occasionally surpasses them. It performs font compression (not compatible with Suitcase), and on-the-fly font conflict resolution. Font Guardian, a new addition, can scan a folder full of fonts and list problem areas such as corrupted fonts and missing PostScript files. Also unique to MasterJuggler is the ability to collect font files in a folder for output at a service bureau. It’s a great idea, but it needs more intelligence: you must use an Open dialog to locate every font or font set one at a time before clicking the Gather button.

Wrap-up — My preference for Suitcase 3.0 over MasterJuggler 2.0 is mostly based on my personal perspective of how each font manager adapted itself to my work habits. Some users may prefer MasterJuggler’s Finder-based font set management, but I feel Suitcase’s interface and ease-of-setup stand head and shoulders above MasterJuggler’s. New users will find Suitcase more intuitive, but users who have already invested time in creating custom MasterJuggler sets will ease their daily lives by upgrading to MasterJuggler 2.0. Personally, I’m through struggling with MasterJuggler’s interface, and I’m planning to use only Suitcase 3.0.

Suitcase’s supremacy is not firm. Adobe may shake things up with Adobe Type Manager 4.0, which looks strikingly similar to Suitcase 3.0 in form and function. Symantec will have to show continued commitment to honing Suitcase if they wish to compete with ATM, a third-party utility that in many ways has become an essential part of the Mac OS.

Alsoft — 800/257-6381 — 713/353-4090 — 713/353-9868 (fax)

<[email protected]>

Symantec — 800/441-7234 — 541/334-6054 — 541/334-7400 (fax)

+31 71 535-3294 (Europe)

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