Fontcase: Elegant Font Management

Whilst OS X ships with a huge array of stunning software, one area lacking is that of font management. The basic tool shipping with Leopard is Font Book, a very straight forward and simple app with few advanced features. A few tools have appeared to fill this gap in the market, notably FontExplorer X and Suitcase Fusion. Another competitor emerging in recent months has been Fontcase, developed by Bohemian Coding.

Fontcase aims to replicate the ease of use found in an application such as iPhoto, applying it to the task of managing your font collection. The interface is uncluttered and intuitive, sharing many innovative user interface design features found in Apple software. A few feature-highlights include versatile metadata support, the ability to share fonts on your local network and fantastic ways to preview all your fonts.

This review will provide an overview of what Fontcase has to offer, along with why it may be worth giving a try over your existing font management app. It isn’t yet perfect, but breathes fresh air into this area of software.

Interface & Features

If you’re familiar with the iLife suite, you should feel right at home in Fontcase. The main display features attractive depictions of every font in your collection. Moving your mouse over a font will show all the available variations within it (Bold, Italic, Condensed etc).

The main Fontcase interface

The main Fontcase interface

A slider controls preview size, allowing you to see a close-up of particular fonts easily. The left column shows the different views available; Collections, Smart, Tags, and Designers. In addition, you are able to define a number of sentences to use when previewing the appearance of a font.

Fontcase places a great deal of emphasis on metadata. For every font and weight, you can set tags, genres, assign designers, foundries and much more. These are not simply pieces of text, but actually show up in the source list, right under your smart collections. It makes smart folders infinitely useful, as you’re able to organize fonts in any way you choose – by tag, source, copyright/license, rating, price.

Activation is handled by clicking a ‘Tick’ icon in the upper left of the window, with the option of activating a single font or the whole collection currently being viewed.

Previewing Fonts

Whilst the general overview of all installed fonts is useful, selecting several followed by the ‘Compare’ icon leads to a useful comparison window:

Comparing several fonts at a time

Comparing several fonts at a time

Three options are available for comparing:

  1. Characters – View all the individual characters of a typeface side by side with the others. Great for comparing particular elements rather than the overall look and feel.
  2. Header Text – This shows a pre-defined sentence (as shown above), scalable by window width or a precise font size.
  3. Body Text – This section displays several columns, each with a different font on display. Automatic text is generated through Lorem Ipsum (or your choice of similar systems). Alignment can be altered to sample different forms of justification.

This is great when you can’t quite decide which font to use for a particular task, and far quicker than manually comparing a selection in another application.

Sharing

When working with clients or in teams, it can be especially useful to share and exchange fonts with other people. Instead of maintaining a dedicated font server or manually sending the fonts to other colleagues, Fontcase is able to maintain a central sharing system. Just like in iTunes, you can share your Library with other people, with the added benefit of allowing other people to download fonts from your vault. Obviously this requires you all to be on the same local network.

The sharing window is similar to iTunes

The sharing window is similar to iTunes

Limitations

Whilst the interface and functionality is great, there are a few issues with Fontcase which I hope will be rectified in future releases. The main problem is a lack of automatic activation. If your system opens a file which is installed but deactivated, it isn’t able to request that the font be activated for use. This functionality is provided by competing software such as Font Explorer X, which allows you to choose which applications are able to request the automatic activation of a particular font.

Another slight concern is the inability to activate fonts for all users of your system. I found that there are a few minor bugs in the application, occasionally finding myself stuck in a certain view with no way of moving to another area (short of quitting the app).

Conclusion

Personally, I made the switch to Fontcase a few weeks ago and haven’t found the activation issues to be a huge problem. I love the interface, and it makes sending font examples to clients a very straight forward process. Do you feel that it represents a worthwhile purchase, or are you happy with the functionality offered by Font Book?

Fontcase requires Mac OS X 10.5, and is currently priced at €35 (around $45). A fully functioning demo is available to give you a chance to try the app.


  • http://www.remyoverkempe.com/ Remy Overkempe

    I like it! I like it!

  • Mani

    It’s an amazing app and beautifully designed! Buy it!

  • http://onecrimsonsplash.com James Finley

    I love the inclusion of Klingon and Quenya in the Greeking menu. This is a fantastic app!

  • http://www.deezignink.com Chris

    I use Suitcase Fusion 2, why would i want to use this instead? Can we get a pro’s and con’s or a comparison or something? Suitcase Fusion 2 cost me about 100 bucks, but i’m open to buying this if it’s better, i just want the best software.

  • http://www.thegraphicmac.com/fontcase-elegant-font-management Jim

    A reader of my site recently wrote a review of FontCase here:
    http://www.thegraphicmac.com/fontcase-elegant-font-management

    He was fairly impressed with the app, being a Font ExplorerX user. In my opinion, it’s a nice “bridge” application between Apple’s Font Book and a pro-level font manager like Suitcase Fusion 2.

    I still prefer Suitcase Fusion 2 the best, and nothing in this app other than the sharing feature comes close to the more mature and powerful Fusion, FAP or FEX.

  • http://twitter.com/Wittevrongel Kwitt

    I like Fontcase; it’s visually much better then Suitcase Fusion. Only the lack of auto-activation holds me back from switching. Though, Pieter said on his blog it’s on the top of their priority-list, so it should be comming sometime :)

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    I am the reviewer Jim mentioned, and in addition to the auto-activation, my other hesitation with Fontcase was that I found the most commonly (for me) used smart folder criteria I use in FEX to be missing.

    The good news: the guys at Bohemian said all my gripes will be addressed in the near future. I’ll probably pick up a license once/if that comes to fruition.

    Based on the 1.0 release, Fontcase should have a bright future.

  • http://www.ademaweb.nl Jeroen

    wow big tnx! didn’t hear from this software before

  • http://www.suberapps.com Ben

    I’ve picked up my copy, must have if you’re a designer. Nuff said.

  • Nathan

    $50 is too expensive for what you get in my opinion.

    • http://www.jashsayani.com/ Jash Sayani

      Exactly. Only good for Font designers or other designers who can shell out so much for a font manager….

  • http://teampvel.com Dave Rupert

    thanks for the review. i’m in the market for a font organizer. i had such high hopes for Font Dock in Tiger, but obviously that didn’t hold up. i might have to try it out.

    there’s also this really lightweight app called FontDoc that is great for comparison only http://www.integrity.com/homes/tomandkaren/FontDoc/

  • http://michaelcarnell.palmettobug.com Michael

    What about FontExplorer from LinoType?? http://www.linotype.com/2631/freedownloadmac.html

  • http://www.massimomarolda.com Massimo Marolda

    we need font management for win :(

  • http://www.wangapoa.com Sebastian

    Haha, thats funny I just bought it the day before yesterday and now comes out the review by you guys. Thanks for the review…

  • http://www.constantinpotorac.com Constantin Potorac

    Using it…. loving it

  • http://leo.utskot.org Leo Utskot

    It seems a bit slow with only 1600 fonts imported. Did anyone else have a problem getting it to import from FontExplorer X? It analysed them all and then said it was importing, but at the very end it just stops responding.

  • Edwin

    I prefer FontDoc, it’s freeware, light and simple. http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/24912

  • Chris

    I love the app but won’t switch until auto-activate is in. I rely on that way too heavily. I also had several major crashes, one of which took down my system. Can’t wait till they get to a 1.1 that I can get on board with.

  • http://www.subooa.com Matt

    I was using suitcase fusion and needed a change. This is a beautiful app, modern and powerful. One of the few purchases im happy with.

    Only thing and i think everyone is in the same boat is the lack of auto-activation. I think with this feature i could possibly set a benchmark for font management.

  • http://s3.amazonaws.com/twitter_production/profile_images/71824170/%ED%9B%97_normal.gif gomgom

    마이크로소프트에서도 이런 프로그램 내 놓으면 정말 좋겠구만

  • http://spigotdesign.com/ Spigot

    No auto activation? Forget it. I’ll stick with FEX.

  • http://www.RedefineGod.com Sidian M.S. Jones

    Someone seriously needs to develop something like this for Photoshop brushes. Also a viewer for EPS files, seriously!!

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  • http://www.suture.net Ricky

    Can it handle a large number of Fonts?

  • http://www.ignaciogiri.com Ignacio

    I’m testing it with 20.000 fonts. Kinda bit slow, but it’s works.

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  • http://www.martinvaresio.com.ar Orfebre Martin

    I think with this feature i could possibly set a benchmark for font management.!!!

  • luke

    I really love the format of this application and would love to make the switch permanently but i’m having some problems with it communicating with Illustrator CS4. It also crashes frequently during font activation.

    Such a great program otherwise. would love to jump on board but these are huge issues if you are a professional designer.

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