Top 10 Things To Look for in a Server-Based Font Manager - Extensis.com

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Top 10 Things To Look for in a Server-Based Font Manager

Monday January 26th, 2009 by Cindy Valladares

Anybody who works in a font-intensive workflow knows how time-consuming font problems can be.  Whether you’re in a design, print or publishing environment, you may face many challenges with managing fonts in your workgroups. These challenges are unique to a workgroup environment and cannot be addressed by stand-alone, desktop font management solutions.   Here are the ten most important items that server-based font management solution should provide:

Live Collaborative System – A true client/server font manager allows users to benefit from working in a shared environment.  It maintains a “central base” from which to store, organize, control and share fonts for a virtually unlimited number of users.  For example, if a user applies metadata to a font (such as classification or foundry), the changes are made directly on the server data, which allows other users to automatically benefit from the changes.  If users are allowed to make changes, but those changes are not shared with others and rather kept on client machines independent of the server, then it’s pretty much acting as a stand-alone system “glued” to a server software.

Font License Compliance Mechanism – Surprise, surprise!  Fonts are intellectual property and protected by copyright laws.  A good font management system offers organizations complete control over who has access to fonts. Choose a solution that allows you to control how fonts are delivered to (and removed from) user machines.  The more fonts that exist on client machines, the more font licenses your organization needs to buy – these difficult economic times call for better budgetary planning and limiting our liability.

Flexibility and Control When Managing Users – A good server-based font management system gives you the flexibility to adapt to your organizational needs.  You must be able to choose who gets what, when and how based on each user’s individual needs.  A good font management solution allows you to:

  • Allow you to manage your users and integrate with other systems
  • Organize your users in groups
  • Create roles for the most common types of job functions
  • Choose how often client synchronizes with each user
  • Provide granular permissions for maximum flexibility.
  • Allow administrators to have the flexibility to perform their duties from anywhere with a web-based interface for managing users, fonts and server maintenance.

Productive and Uninterrupted Work Environment – A good font manager not only is a power house for the IT administrator, but also provides an intuitive interface so that users use it with ease.  Users see the right fonts for their projects, and have them when they need them.  Users are not interrupted with server-related messages and errors – updates occur in the background, silently, so as not to disturb the user in any way.

Ability to Back Up Your Data – A good system allows you to automatically create back-ups of your fonts and font metadata.  Administrators must be able to schedule how often data is backed up, in order to minimize downtime and in case of disaster recovery, get back up and running quickly.

Efficiency – A good font management system updates fonts in an incremental way, replicating only what has changed.  There is no need to re-distribute all fonts to all users when only one new font has been added.  Work smarter and faster!

Real Mobility – Server data must follow the user from machine to machine.  If users log in from another machine, their same environment (fonts, sets, groups, metadata) should be available to them.  This is how a true client-server solution behaves, avoiding the need to recreate and redistribute your fonts just because you’re using a different machine than your own.

Easy Deployment and Serialization – A good font manager provides client and server software that is easy to install. Integrated installers with all components (including plug-ins) must be part of the package installer.  It does not require you to serialize the clients separately – who would want to visit each client machine?  Administrators must be able to enter a single serialization number that controls the server functionality plus the number of user seats in one single location.

Protection for Adding and Collecting Fonts – Organizations are liable for fonts that exist on users machines.  A good font management system provides administrators the ability to choose who is allowed to introduce fonts into a workflow, and when.  It also has some safeguards in place to prevent users from “borrowing” fonts.  Although some users need the ability to collect fonts for output for production reasons, other users do not need this ability.  It also has a mechanism that prevents corrupt or rogue fonts from entering your workflow.  A good system checks fonts before adding them to the workgroup, and helps repair fonts if necessary.

Professional Font Auto-Activation – Users need to be equipped with professional auto-activation plug-ins for the most current and popular creative applications.  These plug-ins must correctly identify and activate the right font when it is needed for a document, and keep users from spending valuable time searching for missing fonts.