Keep Your Fonts Together With Fontcase

fontcase

Bohemian Coding have announced the public release of their font management application Fontcase, providing an elegant and powerful workflow to help you organize the fonts you have installed on your system.

Aiming to act as iPhoto for your typography, Fontcase has been designed with applications like iTunes and iPhoto in mind; the interface is very intuitive and uncluttered. It behaves just as you’d expect a Mac application should, with great use of subtle animation and a solid feature set. I’ll be offering a brief overview of Fontcase, along with explaining how it can help you manage your font collection.

The Current Situation

The default application which ships with OS X to manage your font library is Font Book, a fairly basic app with limited functionality. A few other tools are available, such as Font Agent Pro, FontExplorer X and Suitcase Fusion, but none really stand out as an excellent choice. There has long been a lack of a great font management app for the Mac.

A few of the features which Fontbook cites as pushing it ahead of the competition are:

  • Collects all fonts in its own vault and carry it between Macs
  • Beautiful streamlined interface
  • Activating and Deactivating fonts or entire collections
  • Metadata support
  • Multiple preview options
  • Sharing between macs
  • Print previews of your fonts
  • Dragging sample texts and glyphs as pdf

Fontbook’s Interface

The interface does indeed have echoes of iPhoto, with similar sorting and resizing functionality. Icons across the top of the app allow you to activate and deactivate fonts, browse by preview or list, show a sample sentence, or view in depth information about a particular font.

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One real advantage over Font Book is the number of options for previewing fonts. You can do so with any sample text you want and you can view individual glyphs as waterfall text or as body text. If you want to go in to more detail, there’s a special Compare-mode which was designed to compare a small set of fonts and allow you to choose the right font from them.

The sidebar allows you to organize fonts by collections, smart tags and designers, and everything in the interface can be dragged; fonts to a tag in the sidebar or a designer from the source list to a foundry. But don’t be deceived by the simple interface. While it may look simplistic, there are quite a few advanced features built in.

Organizing and Tagging

Fontcase focuses on metadata and for every font and weight you can add a wide variety of different pieces of information. You can set tags, genres, assign designers and foundries and much more.

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They are not just pieces of supplementary text, but actually show up in the source list, right under your smart collections. This integration between tagging a font and having a visual link to that tag in the sidebar is a welcome interface addition — it removes the need to search for fonts you’ve tagged with a certain keyword.

Smart collections are also available, allowing you to view activated and deactivated fonts, your ‘top rated’ fonts and those allocated to the OS X system. You can make your own smart collections based upon any of the meta data attached to a font.

Comparing Fonts

It’s often difficult to decide between a couple of different fonts for a particular task. Rather than needing to mock up a document with each different font side-by-side, selecting several and clicking the ‘Compare’ icon will generate a side by side comparison of each.

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This can be done in three different ways:

  1. Characters: For those needing intricate perspective, you can view each character side by side
  2. Header Text: View each font displaying a particular sentence or defined phrase
  3. Body Text: Fontcase will automatically generate Lorem Ipsum style text to give you a view of what a paragraph would look like

Sharing Fonts

Bohemian Coding understands the importance of being able to easily share and access fonts, making it easy to achieve through Fontcase. There’s no need to maintain a dedicated font server or pass files person-to-person via email; you can let the application do the work. Just like in iTunes, you can share your Library with other people, but in Fontcase other people can also download fonts from your vault. You not only share fonts but also the associated metadata, to anyone else connected to your network.

I can imagine this will be incredibly useful in workplaces where design and typography are important, and can see the app being a hit in graphic and web design studios.

Requirements and Pricing

Fontcase requires Mac OS X 10.5 or higher with hardware that is fully compatible with Leopard. It is available as a full-featured demo download and a single user license is $55. Bohemian Coding is currently offering a discount is available for the first two weeks at $45.

It’s difficult to pick any fault with Fontcase at this stage, and it seems like a reliable, well rounded application. I wouldn’t consider myself a typography expert, however, and I’d be interested to hear your comments if you work with many fonts on a daily basis.

What are your thoughts on the app? I’ve been using Font Book for the past few years, but welcome the chance to use a fresh new application for managing my font collection.

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