Review: Suitcase Fusion 4

Suitcase Fusion 4 adds several features that make the life of a layout designer, or any designer working with fonts, a lot easier. There are the font panels that allow you to directly access local as well as WebINK font libraries from within Adobe IndDesign, Photoshop, or Illustrator CS5/5.1. There’s an integration not only with Extensis’ own WebINK but also with Google Web Fonts. And there’s a plethora of improvements to the interface.

IT Enquirer rating

9.5/10
URL: extensis.com

Pros
  • CS5/5.1 panels
  • Google Web Fonts
  • colour preview features
  • Font Doctor 8.3.1
  • set creation
Cons
  • font panels require CS5 or later
Price (approx.): €107.00

Extensis’ Suitcase Fusion 3 was the only font manager that did not conflict with any of the software on my system (and as a reviewer I’m always running some unstable applications, or simply too many). Suitcase Fusion 4 keeps up this tradition well. But it does more. The Font Panel capabilities and the new Adobe InCopy plug-in are great additions for designers working with Adobe’s CS5 and later creative apps, but to me this venerable font manager shines for other reasons.

The first is the integration with WebINK and Google Web Fonts. WebINK is Extensis’ own paying web font service. It’s very complete with many foundries participating in this still new way of distributing fonts. Extensis — just like Linotype — has a vested interest not to integrate its font manager with any other service; certainly not with a free one like Google’s. And yet, they do just that. It’s laudable, in my opinion, especially so as the integration works within Suitcase Fusion as well in Font Panels in CS5 apps.

It does work different from WebINK in that the collections you create in the Google Web Fonts library aren’t reflected in Suitcase Fusion 4, but if I’m not mistaken, the collections you create on the Google Web Fonts web page don’t “stick”, so there isn’t anything Suitcase Fusion can do with that. You can, however, create sets from Google Web Fonts!

One of the interesting new features in Suitcase Fusion 4 is that you can now change text as well as background colour. This works in the font window, in floating font preview panels, and in font preview PNGs. What is so good about it is that it will show you instantly how well a font looks with different colour combinations, without ever having to launch a creative app. It’s also a method to test printed samples for good reading contrast. This works with local fonts as well as with WebINBK and Google fonts, so you can test to see how well a font looks in a browser too.

Suitcase Fusion 4 further allows you to mark fonts as favourites (star rating). Also new is the ability to hide the preview or the font list panel. Creating font sets has become easier too; there’s a context menu item that lets you create sets from selected fonts. Finally, font names that look like they’ve been invented by little green martians is a thing of the past; Suitcase Fusion 4 only shows readable names in menus.

Font Doctor

Traditionally, Suitcase Fusion comes with a copy of Font Doctor, and this release was no exception. Font Doctor 8.3.1 has a better interface, and I have the impression its algorithms to detect bad fonts, have been improved as well. The app will now look for compatible fonts — fonts that are incompatible with your OS can be removed. Much to my surprise, I had some 1100 fonts from years back that Font Doctor listed as incompatible with Mac OS X “Lion”.

Font Doctor will also clean your font caches, move fonts inside a suitcase, and more.

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