Best Software Upgrades for Designers – Suitcase Fusion v4

SF4-Box Shot SC

Best software upgrades for designers? Lets face it, 2012 wasn’t exactly a banner year in the premedia software multi-verse. Aside from the much anticipated launch of Adobe CS6 back in May 2012, most new software releases during the past year tended towards incremental improvement rather than life-altering new features. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – after all modest progression is better than entropy in the software world.

And at some point we’ve all been guilty of neglecting to keep our collection of aging software current, stoically holding the status quo. It’s easy for busy designers to miss incremental improvements in their favourite applications, especially given the evolutionary nature of the software industry. Consequently it’s good take a look at some of the latest iterations of the software stalwarts many of us use every day.

I’ve been using Suitcase in one form or another for years and have been vigilant with my upgrades. This short review of the latest release is an excerpt from The SCSI Awards, first published in Print Action magazine (February 2013).

Suitcase Fusion 4.0
Full version $99.95 USD
Upgrade $49.95
Free full function 30-day trial (download).

Extensis has been around for nearly 20 years and some version of Suitcase has resided on my design workstation for nearly as long. The current incarnation of this respected font manager was born of a synthesis of Diamondsoft’s Font Reserve and Extensis Suitcase back in 2006, validating the ‘Fusion’ suffix. Last reviewed in Print Action (July 2008), the 2012 incarnation of Suitcase Fusion has undergone substantive changes to reflect the new digital content landscape.

SF4-SS-WebINKWebFontsPerhaps most significant of these is support for web fonts in Fusion 4.0. When embedded within a web page or specified in a cascading style sheet, web fonts enable the display of fonts not present on the end-viewer’s computer. Fusion users can now access the entire Google web font collection through Suitcase, enabling greater typographic control of online content. Similarly, Suitcase Fusion connects to WebINK, Extensis’ commercial web font site with thousands of fonts from well-known foundries. Users can browse and utilize the entire WebINK collection free of charge while designing online assets, only paying the appropriate licensing when the site goes live. This added capability to work with web fonts ensures that cross-media designers will be able to better match their print and online work.

SF4-SS-PhotoshopPaletteAlso new in Fusion 4, Extensis Font Panels bring font browsing and management to Adobe Creative Suite applications including InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. Besides being able to search and preview typefaces without leaving the host application, users can also activate new fonts. Custom Font Digests enable users to build font collections containing fonts from any source including both local and web fonts that will work within any of Extensis Font Panel. When a designer builds a Font Digest in the Photoshop for example, it will be available in both the Illustrator and InDesign Font Panels.

The Suitcase Fusion 4.0 application features user interface improvements including the addition of new toolbar commands, custom preview colours and the ability to create font sets from selections within the Fusion interface. Additionally users can now specify particular fonts as “Favourites” for easier access. Similarly, users can create automatically updating Smart Sets of fonts determined by a variety of states and attributes, similar to the Apple iTunes Smart Playlist feature.

All in all, the newest version of Suitcase Fusion delivers an enhanced user experience, streamlined workflow for Creative Suite users in addition to full cross-media font management and production tools. For legacy license holders of previous versions of Suitcase migrating their design business into online content, the $50 upgrade provides substantial new features and capabilities for a relatively small investment.

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