FontAgent Pro 1.3.1, by Insider Software
Posted: 11-Feb-2004

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Insider Software Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Todd Ferguson Class: UTILITY

Overview
FontAgent Pro (FAP) is a complete font manager that optimizes and organizes your font files, and lets you activate and deactivate fonts in both Mac OS X and Classic environments. This software provides font management in pre-press publishing environments using InDesign, Quark XPress, Illustrator, and Photoshop, and plug-ins are included for these apps. There is an export capability to print out font libraries to append to jobs going to print bureaus. Creative individuals could benefit from this software; especially, if you do your own greeting cards, brochures, etc.. You could easily keep track of your font sets for future recall. FAP runs native in Mac OS X and Mac OS 9, but this review addresses the Mac OS X environment only.

Price

$89.95 - Single User Download
$99.95 - Single User CD-ROM
$49.95 - Upgrade


Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.2 or higher
  • 7MB RAM
  • 5MB disk space

Panther Note: FontAgent Pro 1.3.1 is fully compatible with Mac OS 10.3.2 (Panther).

Reviewed on

Pismo G3 powerbook / 400Mhz
Mac OS X 10.2.8 (Jaguar)
768MB RAM

NOTE: FontAgent 8.7.1 is included in the FAP OS X download, and installs into Applications (OS 9); therefore, this software supports both OS 9 and OS X. OS 9 Classic users are probably familiar with Adobe ATM which doesn't use font libraries.

Installation & Setup
I downloaded FAP 1.3.1 from Insider's software website. I had some initial difficulty getting the proper registration key, but once it was emailed to me, I was able to unlock the application and begin using it. The current protection method locks the application to the computer, so if you wanted to install it on another computer, you would need to buy another copy of FAP, as each installation requires a registration key. If you needed to reinstall FAP, you would have to contact the company for a new code.

FAP 1.4 update was released on December 23, 2003. This update fixes a problem in Mac OS 10.3 Panther where multiple PostScript fonts from the same family are disabled at the same time. I did not update to version 1.4 since I am reviewing version 1.3.1 under Mac OS 10.2.8 (Jaguar).

I setup FAP to load during start up (which is recommended, especially if you chose to have FAP manage your System fonts). The FAP window consists of 3 empty adjustable panes; All Fonts Pane located left side, Sets Pane located top right, & Font Player Pane located bottom right. These panes have tabs, which are similar to Microsoft Internet Explorer's tabs. The panes are empty until you import your fonts.

FAP supports all the font formats supported by OS X, including Mac TrueType, Type 1 Postscript, Windows TrueType, OpenType fonts, and dfont. It does not support double-byte fonts (i.e. Asian character fonts).

In order for FontAgent Pro to manage your fonts, you must select a location for the folder. All fonts you import will go into this folder. Important: if you want other users on your computer to use your fonts, place the fonts folder in the /Users/Shared and don't move it or you'll have to create it again. Also make sure all applications are closed before optimizing or organizing fonts.

In Use
The instructions say to start by dragging your hard drive icon into the All Fonts Pane located on the left. I would recommend breaking up your fonts into libraries and not just dump them all as recommended, or it could slow the system down. FAP will verify all your fonts, checking them for corruption or damage, and it will remove them if it finds a problem. It will also look for orphaned and duplicate fonts.

If you use fonts from different clients, create multiple font libraries. This allows you to keep track of similar but different fonts and not cross-pollinate multiple font folders.

After dropping a folder onto the Libraries Pane, FPA imports the fonts into a new library, which you can rename. If you delete a library, you delete the fonts within it, which means that the fonts have to be re-installed if you need them later. If you quit FAP, all your fonts remain active as long as your computer is on or until you deactivate them via FAP.

Font Player
The Font Player allows you to preview your font selection in a customizable text string located in the lower right pane. You can record a font to a Set while it is being played. Font Player only allows you to view one font at a time, but you can select as many fonts as you like, and then save the Set of displayed fonts as a PDF document, which you can print.

Summary
FontAgent Pro is a native Cocoa application designed to manage your fonts. Fonts can be a constant source of corruption resulting in application crashes, font substitution, and unexpected output between screen & printer. FAP only activates the fonts required, thus preserving system resources. The interface is simple enough a novice can use. If you need help, you will find it in Secrets under the Tools menu.

I like the Font Player preview windowpane and the ability to print out my font book of projects. I would recommend this software to the regular computer user as a utility for house keeping against font corruption. Pre-press professionals would definitely appreciate the auto-activation feature which automatically loads the fonts when opening InDesign, XPress, Photoshop or Illustrator. I felt uncomfortable about handing over control of my System fonts to FAP, though the original system fonts are moved into a new folder for retrieval if necessary. I would like to see a multiple-font preview pane added for the future.

Pros

  • Friendly pane/tab interface
  • Auto-activation feature
  • FAP will optimize without importing fonts
  • User fonts load first
  • Displays font size, color, and type

Cons

  • Doesn't work with Asian characters
  • Lacks multiple-font preview pane
  • Annoying copy protection scheme


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice