Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Extensis’ Web Font Plug-In

Posted on 13 September 2011 10 comments

Article illustration for Extensis’ Web Font Plug-In

A few months ago I wrote about using web fonts in desktop design apps and one of the proposals I put forward was a Photoshop / Fireworks plug-in that would allow the designer to select typefaces from a web font delivery service. Last night, I got an email from Extensis to inform me that they have done just that: today sees the official release of their Web Font Plug-In beta, which ties into their WebINK service.

I still stand by my original conclusion that a software plug-in is essentially a hack and that we’d be better served by a new, proper web design application, but I think it’s admirable that Extensis have made an attempt at solving the problem. Hack though it may be, a plug-in does at least fit into our current (albeit flawed) design workflow.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to try it out, as the plug-in requires the installation of their font management app Suitcase Fusion and I have no desire to move from FontExplorer, even if it’s just temporary. The potential headache for activated and de-activated font conflicts and unwanted file reorganisation caused by multiple font management apps is just too much hassle. I’m retracting this statement after reading comments below from Brian, Scott, Thomas, and Jim — it doesn’t sound like there would be many headaches after all. Sadly I still haven’t had time to try it out yet, but I’d love to hear from anyone who has!

10 comments

  1. Kumo

    Kumo

    13 September 2011 @ 09:26AM #

    I might be wrong but I think I read somewhere that the plugin will still continue to work after the 30 trial of Suitcase Fusion. After all, they want to promote their webfonts service with this plugin, not Suitcase.

    This said, I haven’t tried it yet even if I’m currently using Suitcase Fusion…

  2. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    13 September 2011 @ 12:58PM #

    It will still work, but as far as I know you still need to have the software installed, which (probably) means it then has some degree of control over your font organisation, or at least would upon initial installation. I’m making some assumptions here, but it still makes me uncomfortable.

  3. Brian Warren

    Brian Warren

    13 September 2011 @ 01:03PM #

    I installed it and so far it hasn’t conflicted with my use of fontcase. It hasn’t tried to arbitrarily control my font organization or anything along those lines. Granted, my use has been limited so far, but I’ll continue to give it a shot until it gives me a reason not to!

  4. Scott Boms

    Scott Boms

    13 September 2011 @ 01:59PM #

    As Brian mentioned, it does seem to play nice with other installed font managers. I’m split between Fontcase and FontExplorer between my two Macs and it’s not been an issue with either.

    The way the software was explained to us last week, Suitcase is needed only because there’s a small daemon process that handles the connection in the background to WebINK. Personally, I’d like to see them split that out to remove the need for the Suitcase install itself, but I think that’s unlikely. It’s a trojan horse for them to build a larger install base, just like web fonts have been a trojan horse in some respects to get web designers to potentially purchase more type.

    The only issue I’ve noticed so far is some sort of conflict if you already have a desktop font activated that matches one of their web fonts. Or at least I think that’s what the issue is…

  5. Thomas Phinney

    Thomas Phinney

    13 September 2011 @ 05:32PM #

    Suitcase Fusion will ask on install if you want to use its “vault” (let it organize your font files on disk) or keep fonts where they are. Pick the latter option and installing it does not mess with your physical font files organization in the least.

    I’ve used both approaches, depending on the situation and the machine.

  6. Jim Kidwell

    Jim Kidwell

    13 September 2011 @ 05:01PM #

    @elliot You can install more than one font manager on a system, just as long as you aren’t trying to manage the same fonts with them at the same time. I have multiple products installed on my machine, and as long as you aren’t using two at the same time, you should be OK

    Also, you would be wise to de-activate duplicate font auto-activation plug-ins installed into other applications. In Suitcase Fusion on a Mac, you do that from the Suitcase Fusion 3 > Manage Plug-ins menu, or from the Tools > Manage Plug-ins menu on Windows.

    Please feel free to email me with any other questions jkidwell at extensis.com.

  7. Jim Kidwell

    Jim Kidwell

    13 September 2011 @ 04:41PM #

    @kumo Yes, it will continue to work after the 30-day trial of Suitcase Fusion 3.

    @scott The activation of WebINK fonts in the Photoshop panel shouldn’t cause conflicts. Can you report what you are seeing to our team? If there are any issues we’d like to work them out quickly. http://getsatisfaction.com/webink/products/webink_web_font_plug_in

  8. Laura King

    Laura King

    17 September 2011 @ 12:12PM #

    Hi Elliot

    I am not going to even attempt to make a valid comment on the above as i dont understand it. What I wanted to ask was more personal. You seem to be very creative in all areas like writing, speaking, art, music and web design but from reading this also seem to have a low boredom threshold. I was curious as to how you did at school? My son is very similar although he is only 8 – he is into computers, art, music (composing his own raps etc) but his teachers call him stupid. I have been down the adhd/aspergers route but no joy. I think he is bored at school rather than stupid …….

  9. Adam Wilson

    Adam Wilson

    18 September 2011 @ 08:53PM #

    Wow, this has been a long time coming. Looking forward to trying this out. I switched from Extensis Suitcase Fusion to Font Explorer and never really want to look back. Hopefully I can set this up with minimal impact too.

    On a completely different note, @Laura King. What the hell does “I have been down the adhd/aspergers route but no joy” mean? I don’t think there’s any ‘joy’ found in either condition. Perhaps you’re just stupid?

  10. Hunter

    Hunter

    20 September 2011 @ 12:48AM #

    This could work out to be quite useful. There is nothing worse than having a mockup created, and then finding that you are unable to match it up to a relevent font when converting it into html.

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