When I reviewed Suitcase Fusion 4 in May of last year there was plenty of new features that made for a sexy upgrade. With Suitcase Fusion 5, Extensis has chosen to focus on improving existing tools and stability, rather than adding to an already stellar feature set.
Existing users will find Fusion 5 quite comfortable. New users should read my previous review for a complete breakdown of all the features and know that Fusion 5 is a solid upgrade.
The biggest selling point of Fusion 5 is full compatibility with Adobe Creative Cloud as well as Creative Suite 6. This is a big selling point, more for Adobe than Extensis, if you ask me. Life is generally ok with an older version of Creative Suite, but if your Font Management app isn’t compatible with your design app of choice, life is miserable.
The new font panels offered by Fusion 5 allow Creative Cloud and Creative Suite users to preview and activate fonts right from within your favorite app, no need to switch between Fusion and InDesign just to activate new fonts. And if you’re like me and use a desktop and laptop, Fusion 5 will allow you to run it on multiple Macs, just like Adobe CC.
For web designers, integration with WebINK and its 6,500+ fonts is just a click away. Using fonts in your web designs couldn’t be much easier, because you can preview your existing web page with any font right from within Fusion 5.
The new QuickComp feature allows you to preview font combinations right inside Fusion 5 using pre-made templates, avoiding the hassle of switching between different documents and applications.
QuickMatch, for me, is still the killer feature. It allows you to select a font, and quickly view similar fonts in your collection, or in the WebINK or Google Web Fonts collection.
Fusion 5 allows you to check for font corruption and clear font caches, so there’s no need for other utilities, which I find to be a nifty bonus. I have enough apps installed on my Mac, and don’t need more for such a simple task.
I’ve been using Suitcase Fusion 5 with Creative Suite 6 for about a month now and found it to be superb. I can’t say I was surprised, as Suitcase has always been excellent. For designers with even a moderately-sized font collection, Suitcase Fusion 5 will increase productivity and allow for more creative font exploration.
I do have one complaint about Fusion 5. While the interface mostly looks the same, Extensis chose to update the graphical buttons. As a designer, it bugs the heck out of me. As you can see in the screenshot above, Fusion 4 on the left had a softer 3D look to the buttons. On the right, Fusion 5 keeps the same basic design, but the colors and shadows are really harsh and the edges more chiseled. Worse yet, the remaining buttons don’t share the same design. They’re flat. The whole interface looks like it was designed by multiple artists. Fusion 5 looks very “utilitarian”, and could definitely use a visual makeover.
That being said, Suitcase Fusion is designed for you to spend as little time in it as possible so you can focus on design. So the interface inconsistencies are fairly minor complaints. I do like the new space helmet icon, though!
I sound like a broken record every time I review Suitcase Fusion, so I won’t stop now. I highly recommend Fusion 5 to compliment your design toolbox.
Suitcase Fusion 5 is available for $99.95 for the full version; and from $49.95 for upgrades from previous versions—and runs on Mac OS X 10.6.8 and up. A 30-day trial version is also available for download.