Graphic designers and prepress professionals who switch to OS X will have one less font-management tool in their arsenals to organize hundreds of fonts. Adobe confirmed to Macworld that it has no plans to create an OS X-compatible version of its popular Adobe Type Manager (ATM) Deluxe tool.
Macworld U.K. first reported Adobe’s decision to not port ATM Deluxe over to OS X. Instead, Adobe has recommended that ATM Deluxe users adopt other companies’ font-management products as alternatives.
OS X offers a number of state-of-the-art features to Mac users such as preemptive multitasking and protected memory. However, to take advantage of those features, developers have to rewrite their software specifically to run natively in OS X.
Such an update “would be a lot of development work,” said Harold Grey, group product manager for Adobe’s publishing platform. “ATM Deluxe intercepts system calls and uses certain backdoor calls, and a lot of that access went away in X. So we decided to do a ‘wait and see’ — would our customers feel comfortable with the rudimentary font management built into OS X?”
If ATM Deluxe ever makes it to OS X, it may have to evolve considerably first. Grey implied that Adobe isn’t interested in putting more resources into what he calls a “personal font manager.” Instead, Adobe recommends that people looking for advanced font management in OS X turn to DiamondSoft’s Font Reserve or Extensis’s Suitcase, both of which come in versions designed for workgroups. In fact, Adobe’s type page has linked to DiamondSoft’s Font Reserve Server for the last few months.
(And while ATM Deluxe may not be updated for OS X, the same can’t be said for ATM Light, a free font-smoothing utility. Adobe expects to make release a version that’s compatible with the Classic layer of OS X by this fall.)
Is Built-in Font Management Enough?
OS X comes with some font-management features. But users who manage hundreds of fonts may find those tools wanting. While Grey calls OS X’s font management “rudimentary,” DiamondSoft President Brian Berson goes so far as to argue that the new OS has “no font management at all.”
Berson defines “management” as the ability to activate and deactivate fonts on the fly — a process that is at the core of ATM Deluxe, Font Reserve, and Suitcase. While OS X’s Font Panel gives you font collections (which are called “sets” in other font-management programs), Berson points out that these collections are limited to active fonts. The only way to activate OS X fonts is to put them in a system folder — which is hardly practical for publishers and their massive font libraries.
Suitcase Product Manager Jon Maroney agrees that OS X’s font management is lacking. “There are four different font folders, which complicates things,” he says. More significantly, “X’s font panel works only on Cocoa applications,” Maroney adds. And he believes that it will be two or three years before Cocoa versions of publishing applications become common.
For designers and prepress professionals who need to organize hundreds, even thousands, of typefaces, the Font Panel may fall short, but help isn’t that far off. The current Font Reserve works in Classic; an OS X-native version will be available later this year. Extensis will ship a Carbonized version of Suitcase sometime between October and the end of this year.