Adobe promised with their move to Creative Cloud subscriptions that they’d be updating their apps quicker and adding more value with services. The quicker updates have already been coming, with new editing features coming to Premiere Pro only a month after the new CC version had been released, but the services part hadn’t come along quite as quickly. We’ve been waiting for the originally promised file and Typekit font sync ever since the new Creative Cloud’s release. Just when it seemed that it’d never come, though, Adobe finally opened early access to syncing that’s been rolling out this week.
Apparently good things still come to those who wait, because Creative Cloud file and font syncing works very nicely. Here’s what you can expect when your Creative Cloud — or standalone Typekit Portfolio — plan gets desktop sync enabled.
The Revamped Creative Cloud App
If you’ve kept your Creative Cloud sync app up-to-date so far, you actually won’t need to install any new updates to enable file and font sync. Instead, when it’s enabled on your account, you’ll see the Font and File tabs now offer to let you start syncing. You’ll then get a new Creative Cloud folder in your user directory that’ll have any files you’ve previously uploaded to Creative Cloud online, but for fonts, you’ll still have to go online and find what you want — it won’t automatically sync the Typekit fonts you’ve been using on your websites.
The Creative Cloud app itself stays the same, mostly: it’ll now show how much of your storage you’re using on the files tab, and the fonts you have synced in the fonts tab. You can’t drag-and-drop files to the Creative Cloud icon to share them, or anything else special. It’s still just the hub for all things Adobe on your Mac.
So let’s look at what both file and font syncing bring to the Creative Cloud equation.
Sync 20Gb of Files — Any Files
File sync isn’t 100% new to Creative Cloud; the original Creative Cloud that was sold alongside CS6 last year included file syncing, with 2Gb free for anyone. There was a desktop app that, essentially, kept your files synced with the cloud storage service, and little more. That app was killed when the new Creative Cloud app was released in June, and we were left without file syncing at all in the interim. Now, though, file syncing is working great again, and it’s better than before.
With a paid Creative Cloud account, you get 20Gb of online file storage included with your subscription — and if you don’t have a paid Creative Cloud account, you can signup for a free account for 2Gb of file storage. You’ll then be able to upload files from CreativeCloud.com, and, once your account gets sync enabled, you’ll have a Creative Cloud folder in your user directory on your Mac where you can save files to have them synced to the cloud. It works much the same as Dropbox, and is nearly as fast at syncing. And, surprisingly, you can upload almost any type of file to Creative Cloud. I tried adding PDFs, Pages and Word documents, zip files, videos, and of course PSDs, and all of them uploaded fine. That makes it a great place to backup documents and files online if you’re already paying for a subscription.
There’s not tons you can do with files in Creative Cloud directly from your Mac, though there is an option to see file and its activity online, or to send a link to it. Each of those options will simply open the file’s online view in your browser, where you can choose to make your file “public” so you can share a link to it with others (it’s still only public to those who have your link, though, similar to sharing a file directly from Dropbox or with apps like Droplr or CloudApp). Or, you can view older versions of your file and revert to them online — file formats that Adobe apps recognize will show a full preview of each version of the file, while other file formats (say Pages or Word documents) will still show older versions but won’t have a preview of the file. Then, again with Adobe files, you’ll be able to dig deeper into the file online by paging through PDFs or turning on or off layers in PSD files or generating a Kuler color palate from almost any creative file.
It’s really a great cloud sync option for creative files, and definitely not a bad option to use for other files if you’re already paying for Creative Cloud. It doesn’t make Creative Cloud’s price worthwhile on its own — after all, Dropbox costs $10/month for 100Gb of storage — but it’s at least a nice thing to have along with your Adobe apps.
Typekit Font Sync
The really new addition to the equation is Typekit font sync, which today brings your choose of 205 fonts to your Mac, gratis, with your Creative Cloud subscription. Or, if you have a standalone Typekit Portfolio or higher account, you can download the Creative Cloud app and signup for the aforementioned 2Gb free account, and then get font sync as well. Synced fonts are the real deal — you’ll get every weight of the fonts you choose, ready to use in any app for any project you want.
To get the fonts you want, you’ll first need to head to Typekit.com and find the fonts you want from the ones that are licensed for desktop use. There’s a lot of nice stuff, from a number of FontFont’s typefaces and most of Adobe’s own catalogue of fonts (which, incidentally, you likely already have many of the latter installed with your Adobe apps). Once you find what you want, click the Use Fonts button on that typeface’s page in Typekit, and select to have it synced to your desktop. That’s it.
Seconds later, the Creative Cloud app will let you know that your fonts have been synced, and you can start using them in any app. Or, you can go find more fonts to add to your local collection, and download them as well. Right now, Typekit has no limits on how many fonts you can sync locally, though it says it will add some limits eventually, similar to the way it limits how many pageviews you can get on your account for web fonts.
Fonts synced from Typekit through Creative Cloud work perfectly in every app we tried, including built-in apps like TextEdit and 3rd party apps of all types, from Microsoft Word to text editors like Ulysses III. As long as the Creative Cloud app is running in the background, you’ll be able to use the fonts in any native app even if you’re offline. And you’re even licensed to use the fonts in any of your work, including embedding them in PDFs, ePub eBooks, and other digital documents or design works.
The only thing you’re not allowed to do is keep the fonts on your computer if your Creative Cloud or Typekit subscription expires, or share the fonts (aside from embedding them in documents) with others. And it’s not so easy to find the actual fonts themselves on your computer, at any rate. The fonts won’t show up in your Font Book app and likely won’t make an appearance in other font management apps, even though they’ll show up as fonts available for editing in any other apps. If you really want to dig, you’ll find the XML files listing the Typekit fonts synced to your computer in a hidden livetype folder in your Creative Cloud sync folder, and will also find the actual font data files hidden in another livetype folder in your Adobe Application Support folder — which is where the Creative Cloud app is locally serving your font data for your applications to use.
Essentially, Adobe is still sending you the real OTF fonts that you’re syncing from Typekit, but hiding them on your computer and making them accessible to your apps through the Creative Cloud app. It’s perfectly understandable why they’d obscure it to a degree since you’re “renting” the fonts, and since it works seamlessly in apps, there’s nothing to really complain about. It’s just not quite as obstructed as you might have imagined it’d be — and it’s actually bringing you the real fonts, not “hacking” web fonts to appear in your web apps and streaming them from the cloud live when you’re using them, as I thought it might be when I at first only found the XML files in the Creative Cloud sync folder.
Oh, and one more thing: you won’t be syncing your own fonts through the Typekit font sync. You could sync them through your Creative Cloud folder, perhaps, but that wouldn’t keep them working across all of your computers. It’s too bad there’s no simple solution for that yet — one could hope that Adobe could add that to Creative Cloud font sync in the future, though.
It’s great to finally have the promised file sync and font sync in Creative Cloud — and if you don’t have it yet, be sure to signup for early access and you should get it very soon. And, perhaps, it’s better to have it come late but work great out of the box, rather than having a buggy release a couple months ago. It doesn’t necessarily make Creative Cloud a more attractive offering on its own, but everything together does work out to quite a nice set of creative tools.
For Adobe, though, this is still only the start. File and font sync were promised with CC’s release, and we’re all looking to see what they bring next. Better subscription options, perhaps with a subset of their apps for a cheaper monthly price? All-new features in their main apps far sooner than traditional upgrades would have brought them? The ball’s in Adobe’s court, still, and we’re all waiting to see how they deliver on the promise that the move to subscriptions is going to be better for us all. File and font sync are a great step — and yes, they’re a very logical way to make a subscription offering make sense — but we’re still waiting for more.