Extensis Suitcase Fusion

Powerful font management for Mac

Suitcase FusionExtensis Suitcase Fusion (version 12.0.1) is the long-awaited combination of Suitcase and Font Reserve. At almost three years in the making, we wondered if this product was ever going to see the light of day. Former Suitcase users will feel much more at home with the interface than Font Reserve users; however, Reserve users will quickly become familiar with the easy-to-use interface.

The major differences for Suitcase X1 users will be the concept of a Font Vault, or a single repository for fonts, and an improvement on the ability to view fonts by classifications and styles—both picked up from Font Reserve. Of course, there are other useful features added to the program as we’ll discuss.

The Font Vault is a single file, which can be huge depending on the number of fonts loaded (mine was more than a gigabyte in size). The advantage of this system is that it’s difficult (if not impossible) for duplicate fonts to sneak into the Vault. The disadvantage is that the single file is only usable by Suitcase Fusion; if that file ever goes bad, so go your fonts (not counting the backup you made of your fonts, right?). Also, any past organization to your font collection is lost; however, the default setting is to copy the fonts, leaving the originals in place. (With any program that relocates fonts during installation, you should always make a backup on CD or DVD before installation.) Luckily, you can bypass the Vault if you desire, which means that you’ll work the way Suitcase always has—with the fonts in the location from where they were loaded. The trick is to check the Preferences before loading the fonts.

Some of the more interesting features in Suitcase Fusion (some old, some improved, some new) are: nested font sets, the Attributes pane, per-face activation, drag-and-drop export of fonts, Application sets (fonts that load when a particular application is launched), corrupt font scanning/repairing, and detailed info on fonts. Space prohibits detailed analysis of each feature but a couple of my favorite features are nested sets and the Attributes pane.
Nested sets can help organize fonts for ease of activation. Now you can have unlimited nested sets. The Attributes pane, which can show fonts by classification, is a great idea and one of my favorite Font Reserve features. When fonts are loaded, Suitcase Fusion classifies as many fonts as possible. This is handy when looking at various script fonts or symbol fonts. Another option is to look at the fonts by style; for example, all black condensed fonts. Of course, not all fonts may be classified properly (or at all) depending on the font, so font classification can be re-assigned.

The first release had a few important bugs, such as problems creating PDFs from Adobe programs; however, the 12.0.1 update came out a few weeks later, (hopefully) fixing most of the egregious bugs. During testing of the 12.0.1 version, I had no problem with the program in the major Adobe programs and QuarkXPress.

Currently, the program is available only for Macintosh and, while it runs on the Intel Macs, it’s not a universal install. Also, the Fusion product doesn’t sync with either of Extensis’s older font servers, nor is Classic mode (OS 9) supported. Not supporting Classic mode makes sense with new Macs going to the Intel chip but, if you search online, you can find a workaround that allows Suitcase Fusion to work in Classic mode.—David Creamer

PRICE $99.95 (Upgrade $49.95)
FROM Extensis, Inc.
PHONE 800-796-9798

HOT Ease of use; nested sets; Attributes panel
NOT Mac only; no server product (yet)
RATING 4.5 stars