Dealing with lots of fonts is no small task. This is especially true in ad agency, design firm and pre-press environments. Not only does everyone need to have the same fonts, but companies tend to want to make sure all the fonts are of high-quality, and legally owned. This is where font server management applications come into play. Where desktop font managers control fonts on an individual user’s machine, a server-based font manager handles it for many users over the network. Extensis Universal Type Server (UTS) is just the tool for the job. UTS picks-up where Suitcase Fusion leaves off, by managing large collections of fonts from a server, and quickly deploying them to users as needed. The server portion of UTS acts as a traffic cop for your fonts and users. Because UTS is Web-based, you can manage your fonts directly from the server, or over the network through a Web browser. Administrators can set up font databases and users called workgroups, assign user permissions, add keywords, specify license info, add and delete fonts. All aspects of font management for all the users can be handled on the server end, saving valuable time by not having to go to each client machine to in order to troubleshoot. The beauty of UTS is the ability to have complete control over who gets to use which fonts. Users can be added to specific workgroups containing specific fonts. If you work on a specific client, you really only want access to the fonts the client allows you to use in their creative work. Instead of scrolling through thousands of fonts, only the fonts you need are made available to you. UTS client software looks and feels pretty much like Suitcase Fusion in almost every way. The only real difference is that it connects to the server to get the fonts. Users can still create font sets, activate and deactivate fonts, preview fonts, search and add keywords, etc. But because the fonts reside on the server, there’s no fussing with where fonts reside on your machine, no dealing with missing or corrupt fonts, and no substitution or conflict issues to deal with. With the client software, users can create font sets and smart sets, but you can’t share them with other users. How much control you have over the fonts listed in the client software depends on the workgroup you belong to, and the permissions granted to you by the server administrator. Collecting fonts for output works just the same as Suitcase Fusion as well, regardless of where the actual font resides (server or desktop). The UTS client software ships with plug-ins for Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator and Quark XPress. I’ve been using UTS since its release and found it to work perfectly with all three applications. In fact, not only do you not even have to have the client software running to work with active fonts (a “core” background process handles that for you), but application launching (both the font manager, and your design apps) launch much faster than they did with Suitcase Server and the X11 client software. As a side note, let me just say that I also experienced a LOT less crashing, slow document opening and closing, and general funkiness when we stopped using desktop font managers and started using UTS. Your mileage may vary. One downside I ran across was that occasionally, my fonts failed to display in InDesign – even though they were activated in UTS and the client software was running at the time. Simply re-activating the font in the client software manually fixed it right up. I suspect that this was more a problem due to the fact that during those infrequent times when I had problems, I was running nearly a dozen applications at once with only 2.5 GB of RAM. The only other con I saw with UTS was that unlike Suitcase Fusion, I could not manage OSX system fonts. DOH! Universal Type Server Lite (10 client connections) lists for $1,395, obviously this is not for the one or two-man operation. But it fits perfectly into a small design firm of 6 or 7 designers, with a little room to grow. Universal Typer Server Professional retails for $1,808, plus $163 per client access license – which you can purchase an unlimited amount of. The professional version also includes a one year Annual Service Agreement, which includes priority tech support and free upgrades for the life of the agreement. Demo versions of both server products are available at the Extensis Web site.
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