Font-Management Software

Macs have come a long way over the years, but keeping track of your fonts can still be a challenge. Insider Software's FontAgent 8 and DiamondSoft's Font Reserve 2.5 both aim to simplify the way you use your fonts. They may sound like competitors, but the programs complement each other, making a strong argument for having two font utilities.

FontAgent 8, the simpler of the two programs, scans your hard disk or network, analyzing, repairing, and organizing all fonts into user-designated folders or suitcases. It will not activate your fonts for use in specific applications but provides a good starting point for other font managers that do provide activation, such as Font Reserve, Extensis Suitcase, and Adobe ATM Deluxe.

Font Filters   Font Reserve lets you sort and filter fonts using a variety of criteria.

FontAgent's main window consists of three large buttons, with clear explanations of their respective tasks. The first button, Set Optimization Options, tells the program to locate all fonts in the system. Once it finds them–which it does rather quickly–you can choose from several optimization options. In addition to removing duplicate or incomplete fonts, you can get rid of unneeded bitmapped versions of the typefaces. Removing all bitmaps larger than, say, 12 points, saves an astounding amount of hard-disk space: on our system, we reduced an unwieldy 350MB type library to 120MB. FontAgent also attempts to repair any corrupted fonts it locates.

The second button, Set Organization, lets you set options for collecting and sorting fonts. You can keep them in their existing suitcases; move them into new, lean, alphabetized suitcases; or move them into designated folders. You can also add extensions to each suitcase that identify its contents as a Type 1 or TrueType font. The process worked without a hitch, but we would feel safer if the program let you copy the fonts–keeping them in their original locations–in addition to moving them.

The third button, Problem Fonts, lets you direct any irreparable corrupted fonts into a separate folder. You can then delete the font or reinstall it from the original disk.

Once you've optimized your fonts, a font-organizing utility can keep track of them. Our personal favorite is Font Reserve; version 2.5 is an update to a nearly flawless font-management tool.

The first change you notice is not part of Font Reserve at all, but rather the addition of a free, bundled version of Action WYSIWYG, a $30 utility that reorganizes the Mac font menu into logical groups, much as Adobe Type Reunion does. The package also includes 40 Bitstream fonts.

The program itself scans your system for fonts and stores them in a database. You then run the Font Reserve Browser to view the fonts, using filters to sort and access the typefaces by a variety of parameters. For example, you can limit the display to ornamental faces by clicking on the Filter button and defining a search.

But the most useful feature is activation–just drag and drop fonts into sets you can then activate and deactivate as needed. Font Reserve 2.5 activates fonts even faster than before, and with less hassle than other utilities. The previous version could activate fonts in many applications merely by opening documents that contained those typefaces. The update adds a technology called Font Sense that stores the exact font specification within a QuarkXPress or Adobe Illustrator document, ensuring that the document will open with the same version of the font as before. DiamondSoft says it's working with other vendors to support Font Sense.

The update adds full compatibility with Mac OS 9; if you have your Macintosh set up for multiple users, each one can have a separate Font Reserve database. DiamondSoft has also enhanced Font Reserve's Specimen Book feature: sample fonts print faster than before, and the program doubles the number of specimen templates to 20.

At $120 for the CD-ROM version, Font Reserve is a little pricey. But you can purchase a download-only version for $90, and the bundled fonts and Action WYSIWYG utility certainly sweeten the pot. Upgrades from previous versions sell for $40–a good deal considering that Action WYSIWYG alone sells for $30.

Font Reserve is the smartest, most comprehensive font-management application on the market. This update adds only a few new functions, but the program still raises the bar on other font-management packages. FontAgent 8 is a great complement to Font Reserve or any of the other font-activation utilities. Although Font Reserve's filtering capabilities duplicate some of the font-organizing functions in FontAgent, the latter's ability to streamline font files and repair corrupted fonts makes it a worthy addition for any Macintosh user who handles type on a frequent basis.


4.5 mice
PROS: Easy interface; streamlines font files. CONS: No option for copying font files. COMPANY: Insider Software (800/700-6340, ). COMPANY'S ESTIMATED PRICE: $70; network edition, $160.


4.5 mice
PROS: Comprehensive font management; fast activation. CONS: None significant. COMPANY: DiamondSoft (415/381-3303, ). COMPANY'S ESTIMATED PRICE: $120; download-only version, $90.

April 2000 page: 48

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