I recently chatted with Chad Slater, our Vice President of Research and Development, about our new font management solution Connect Fonts Powered By Suitcase™. This desktop and cloud-based font manager is available to all Suitcase Fusion and Universal Type Server users and allows you to manage your fonts on any device—no internal server or VPN required—while single sign-on (SSO) and multifactor authentication capabilities bolster security and save time.
We dove into the benefits of this new approach to font management. Enjoy!
So excited to talk about Connect Fonts with you, Chad! What led to the creation of Connect Fonts, and to Extensis Connect offering support for font management?
Chad Slater: That's a good question. So, we recognize that font and digital asset management go hand in hand because fonts are assets, too. You need an efficient way to store, access, and organize their fonts, just like the rest of your digital assets. Fonts need to be searchable and accessible in a way that’s predictable and secure to all members of your creative team, whether you're working together in an office, working at home, or spread across the world.
Connect Fonts is designed from the ground up to enable creative professionals to find and use the perfect font for their work every time, so there’s no more juggling unpredictable font substitutions or grappling with missing fonts. Our goal is to make those challenges a thing of the past with Connect Fonts.
We don't often think of fonts as digital assets in the same way we might think of a brand logo as being a digital asset or a video file being a digital asset. Why should fonts be treated with the same attention to detail as those other assets?
Chad: Fonts share many characteristics with traditional digital assets — including versioning, rich metadata, and the ability to visually preview. Accidentally using the wrong font in production work can be a critical mistake for many creative professionals. The operating systems for macOS and Windows can be very unforgiving with their crude font substitution behavior. In many cases, it's difficult to really know if the correct font is being used in production consistently across all teams, especially when the teams are working on multiple assets.
Our plugins work in conjunction with fonts and technology to enable our customers’ fonts to be available and activated every time they open their documents.
Now with Connect fonts, we enable distributed teams to have access to the fonts from wherever they're working across the world. It’s pushing the envelope on how creatives can interact with their font library. So even if you're not, let's say, at your desktop working in InDesign on a project right at that moment, you can still go ahead and work with your font libraries no matter where you are— and play with previewing different combinations of fonts.
One thing that I really love is the new font pairing recommendations. Can you explain how this works and how it benefits creatives?
Chad: I'm really excited about the font pairing technology, too. Our pairing suggestions engine is powered by analyzing millions of individual font usage patterns from thousands of creative professionals around the world. It’s designed specifically to save our customers time finding complementary fonts, making it so you're only one click away from finding the perfect body copy font to go along with your headline font or vice versa.
We've made that as simple to use as possible, it's very powerful. One click — and you’ve found the perfect font to go with the other font that you're working with in your project.
Sounds like a huge time saver for creatives; not having to rifle through dozens or potentially hundreds of fonts to try to see what works for a project.
Chad: That’s the goal. We've made it as simple as possible, and it's very powerful. One click — and you’ve found the perfect font to go with the other font that you're working with in your project.
Intuitive search is another feature we're excited about. We've always had robust search in our font solutions. How is intuitive search in Connect Fonts different?
Chad: We're changing the font selection game in Connect Fonts with our patented Font Sense technology. Our engineering team has developed a search engine that enables creative professionals to find fonts using natural language descriptions of the font. These natural language descriptions are powered by Font Sense smart tags and tagging technology that's designed specifically for typography. So, with Connect Fonts search, creative professionals can now search for fonts using descriptions that describe a visual style or classification, meaning you can use whatever word comes to mind to find your fonts.
I think the real benefit lies in how this power is available immediately. Font Sense smart tags are automatically added to fonts as soon as the fonts are uploaded to Connect Fonts. So you don’t need to add a single tag to your fonts. You don't have to teach the search engine about the fonts. You can search for a font by characteristics and quickly find what you need.
Traditionally, people have been obliged to have pre-existing knowledge of exactly what those fonts are, whether that's by a name or by foundry. But once you get into having thousands of fonts, it's really hard to remember details like that, right?
Chad: You're exactly right. And fonts aren't named with styles, typically, in their postscript names. So, when you're searching, traditionally, our customers have to go in and actually teach the search engine in a lot of other applications. What are these fonts? What are their styles? What are their classifications? People would need to tag all their fonts to make the search functionality become powerful, because you're right — you can't possibly know the names of all your fonts and what the styles are, when you've got a thousand, ten thousand, or fifteen thousand fonts in your collection. It's just not feasible.
With Connect Fonts, we've made that really simple. We do the tagging for you, and then you're able to immediately start searching for them with intuitive search.
I know that when I am not caffeinated, I have a hard time finding the word I need, much less remembering a font name!
And in addition to intuitive search, Connect Fonts also lets its users sync changes to their Suitcase Fusion account remotely. For example, they could be on a different device and still be able to make changes to that main font manager that they use on their regular machine. How does this work?
Chad: That's right. Where and how you work is up to you. You can't control where you experience creative inspiration. So, Connect Fonts is available anywhere you need it to be. Connect Fonts syncs all your fonts through your Suitcase Fusion client, so you can manage your fonts from any web browser. So, whether you find your inspiration after hours or at peak business hours during the day, Connect Fonts makes your fonts available on your desktop or your web browser anytime, from anywhere in the world. It syncs across Suitcase Fusion the way you would expect it to, so your libraries are available anywhere you need them to be.
Lastly, can you give us any sneak peeks of what we can expect next from Connect?
Chad: Our biggest focus is on saving our customers’ time and enabling them to produce their best work as quickly as possible. One of the immediate challenges we see our customers facing is Adobe ending support for PostScript Type 1 fonts in Creative Cloud applications in January 2023.
Customers who have hundreds or in some cases thousands of PostScript fonts and assets using those fonts will need to replace those fonts in production — quickly and reliably. We're looking at ways to streamline and even automate that workflow because we know that process will be time-consuming and tedious for creative professionals.
Imagine having to go through, say, hundreds of digital asset files and replacing instances of PostScript fonts with suitable replacements in all of those text layers. We can help with that process and we will.
That’s the big one, but we’re working on many other initiatives that are sure to excite our customers in the weeks and months to come.