Fontcase Requests

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Requests for future updates: Auto-Activation of fonts (Adobe Collection), searching for duplicated font entries or similar fonts to reduce library would be great!
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  • happy

Posted 7 years ago

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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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This is definitely the top-most requested feature we got, also during the betatesting, and its on our list.
The curious thing is that Leopard is supposed to have auto-activation built in, but it seems to be broken. It seems like a perfect job for the operating system, so I hope Apple can fix this (I hope before Snow Leopard).
Probably not a good idea to wait for that though, so we'll have to write our own plugin I presume.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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We'll try to hook into Leopard's auto-activation features which you then still can turn on or off with this preference in Font Book
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doubleA

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When I asked for auto-activation, I meant auto-activation AND auto-deactivation. Sorry, I don't know how Leopard auto-activation works... Fontcase is definitely the best apps to handle fonts, good feeling, good interface, just can't wait this important feature!
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Leopard's auto-activation is supposed to deactivate a font when the application they were activated for quits. Ideally, Fontcase would only have to tell the OS where to look for fonts. Whether that will work is another issue we will look in to :-P
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Robert MacGregor

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We investigated auto-activation with Fontcase and Suitcase yesterday. The summary is the feature is broken in Leopard.

We noted that:
1) auto-activation can be controlled via the command-line util atsutil
2) setting auto-activate globally for all apps via atsutil has no effect
3) examining system defaults from the command-line shows:
defaults find com.apple.ATS
Found 2 keys in domain 'com.apple.ATS': {
ATSAutoActivation = ATSAutoActivationEnable;
ATSAutoActivationAppSpecific = {
"com.bohemiancoding.Fontcase" = ATSAutoActivationDisable;
};
}

The information is contradictory. Attempting to change 'com.apple.ATS' from defaults fails.

4) Suitcase will switch-off auto-activation when it starts. So any testing has to re-enable auto-act' before commencing.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Auto-activation works though for the iWork apps here in you set it through Font Book. the com.apple.ATS actually makes sense because Fontcase doesnt want the auto-activation in its own code because if Leopard would activate all fonts automatically as Fontcase tries to examine them Fontcase woudln't be able to tell if a font was activated or deactivated.
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doubleA

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Just to be sure, you really plan to release auto-activation feature? If yes, any idea on when? 1 month? 1 year?
Thank you very much
Regards
Alex Aubert | doubleA
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Yes we do. Can't give a timeframe though, we're working on it and its done when its done :-P
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Deb

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I definitely have this question and request as well. Been looking at Fontcase and Fontexplorer as alternatives to Suitcase (I currently use) and until auto-activation happens can't make the commitment.

That all said, nice product. Looks really sweet!
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Rob Hawkes

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I'd also love to see this feature in Fontcase. It's the only thing stopping me from using it as my default app for font management!
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psylentknight

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The duplicate font checking on import is one of the biggies that I miss coming from FEX to FontCase. I've already got 2744 variations in 603 families--and I have barely started importing, so I know there are going to be a lot of duplicates.

Until that's there, I still like FontCase quite a lot (it feels like a Mac app should!), but I'm tentative on commitment.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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So how do you envision it should work? Should fontcase in the import-report also have a group for duplicates and allow you on a per-font basis to decide to use the old or new file?
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Seán Sloane

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For this to be effective one has to be able to compare details of the font, i.e., version number, etc. Just a name display won't help at the moment of importing which one to keep and delete...
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psylentknight

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Seán is right about that; one must be able to see, for example, whether I'm overwriting my preexisting Cronos Pro version 1.008 with version 1.006 or I'm actually installing 1.009.

There are some trickier cases too, which would require fuzzy matching of the names, for instance: 'ITC American Typewriter Medium Condensed', 'ITC American Typewriter Std Condensed', and the system default 'American Typewriter Condensed'. While, in that example, you wouldn't necessarily want to require only one of them to be installed, you might want to point it out to the user that "the font you are importing is very similar to the already installed font(s)" listed and ask for confirmation to import. It's possible, if your heuristics are too loose, that the "your fonts are very similar" message would pop up for even things like 'Trade Gothic' and 'Franklin Gothic', so that's an issue to be addressed with that, should you consider that option.

Overall, I have always liked the way that FEX has detected importation of duplicates. I hate to say, "Model it after your competitor," because (among other things) that asks you to give up your creativity and innovation to merely copy what I've been using for years. However, this is one area where FEX does excel and proves to be a model for other font management software. They way they do it, though, appears to require more metadata than you're keeping on your fonts--metadata that should be available, but isn't visible in the Information panel, at least, including the automatically filled-in 'Vendor' (i.e., Foundry).

Implementing dupe detection with your metadata schema as it is now might be a very difficult task.
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Seán Sloane

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Speaking of copying competitors... FontSense which was developed by the Font Reserve people which was purchased by Extensis and now "incorporated" in to the latest version of Suitcase... It allowed "duplicates" as such and tracked the differences between two faces with an identical name... In many instances is necessary.

Take in to account many variants with minor differences but still differences. Maybe the designer didn't change the name of the font and so therefore is the same but different. If you've got an ad in one and a different ad in another, you need to be able to use the different corresponding fonts. This also links to auto activation.
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Robert MacGregor

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An alternative to comparing font names is comparing the font files using openssl and a message digest:

openssl sha1 /System/Library/Fonts/Monaco.dfont
SHA1(/System/Library/Fonts/Monaco.dfont)= 6ec37d4856dda438e628aa836a712e135836f930

If the message-digests are equal the fonts are the same.
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psylentknight

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Using a message digest such as SHA1 or MD5 will tell you whether two files are exactly the same file, but it doesn't provide for any determination of the difference between the two. Suppose, hypothetically, you have two font files that are the same font, Cronos Pro Regular.otf, only one is version 1.006 and the other is 1.007, and the only difference between the two files is the hinting of the lowercase 'X' glyph, using the message digest would only tell you they are not the same file. It doesn't tell you the files are "99.xx percent similar", and to the eyes of the message digest, that 99.xx percent similar file would be just as unrelated as a file from a completely different family. The message digest provides absolute equality, but beyond that, it's useless for the question we're considering.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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About the message digest, indeed it only works for absolute equality, which is not really the most important issue here.
However I think we can have a good heuristic if we just compare the postscript-name of the fonts and see if they are similar. If those are roughly the same, Fontcase will mark them as 'duplicate' in the import screen and then the user will be able to decide for every individual duplicate what to do.
And we'll display all the metadata we have available for both the new and the existing font
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Luke Dorny

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I'm anxious to see how this works, Pieter.
As I've mentioned before, the initial steps in setting up and importing fonts seems to me the most important part of using a font manager (installing/importing/checking dupes/replacing bad fonts/font version control/setting up font activation options).
Extra efforts made into the installation and setup processes will go a long way with satisfying my need to know that things work and everything is setup properly. We've all spent a LOT of time over the years tinkering, creating, upgrading, and buying fonts. They're precious.
Thanks for making such a killer app.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Laurent just made a brilliant mockup for doing these duplicates which is a bit different from what we discussed, but I think it will work wonderful.
About to implement that now
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kmartiin

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is it implemented now?
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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It is not implemented yet. It turned out to be more complex than I anticipated and I put it away for now. There are more pressing things at the moment
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kmartiin

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okay.
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Sphynx

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We are currently considering buying Fontcase as well.
But Autoactivation is definitely a must-have. Any idea roughly) when it will be implemented?
Thanks,
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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At the moment we are working on auto-activation. We have it sort-of working for Photoshop and Illustrator, but InDesign seems to be a bigger problem. For what applications do you need auto activation?
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Sphynx

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Well yeah - CS4
Indesign mainly - Photoshop is nice, Illustrator is good but Indesign would be the most important.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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I was afraid you might say that, lol. InDesign is a really bad Mac OS citizen and does not do what it should do when there are fonts missing. I'll have to find another solution though. You will understand it's therefore difficult give a timeframe
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Sphynx

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Hehe, yeah it's the nature of Indesign, that one uses fonts mostly with this program. ;-)
Otoh, the other two big ones (Suitcase and FX) managed to get it working, so I hope you get it sorted as well...
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Sphynx

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Hehe, I just checked the thread 30 mins ago, after last time being over a month, to see if there are any new replies or updates to this issue.

Pieter, this is really a showstopper for many of us. I can't really afford to manually search, select and activate each font when opening a new Indesign document.

Will this ever be fixed? Soon maybe? (Unfortunately the introduction price is gone already)
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Unfortunately there seems to be no solution for InDesign. Whatever I do, I cannot get it to work.

I'm thinking about a workaround though, let me explain:
Using Applescript, Fontcase can discover the fonts in current document and thus activate those that are missing. However this process will have to be manually invokeed by the user in Fontcase since Fontcase doesn't know when an InDesign document is opened or when there are fonts missing.
After that InDesign will immediately pick up the missing fonts without relaunch, but it's not exactly auto-activation.
i'm still undecided as how to integrate this in the UI.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Writing an InDesign plugin is beyond me I'm afraid. Unless you know someone that might be able to do that job?
As for watching the filesystem, as far as I know, you can only watch for changes (aka; a file is written), not when a file opened. Even if so, I don't know it's a good idea to monitor the entire filesystem.
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Lucas

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I've also been waiting for auto-activation before trying FontCase, though to be honest, I only use InDesign on an occasional basis. If it already works in most everything else, maybe I should give FontCase a try as it currently stands? Other than auto-activation, the app looks wonderful—congratulations!

More to the topic at hand: Do I hear you saying, Pieter, that you really just need this hypothetical InDesign plugin to kick off a predefined external script every time a document is opened? I've never actually used C++, but that doesn't sound like it should be too horrible to code... I'll look at InDesign's SDK documentation this afternoon to see if my assumptions are correct.
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Lucas

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To answer my own question: it appears the answer is no. I've gotten InDesign (CS3) to automatically fire an AppleScript that can then figure out what needs to happen, but because Fontcase apparently has no AppleScript dictionary, I don't see a way for the script to actually activate those fonts.

I also looked into writing a Fontcase plugin to receive the activation requests, but I don't see how to create one that takes programmatic input (though I'm not really familiar with Cocoa... my last significant development project for the desktop was a cross-platform Java app written a year or two ago.

Feature request: ability to activate fonts via AppleScript and/or shell script. :)
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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That sounds like it could be interesting. Using Applescript, Fontcase can figure out the current InDesign document examine its fonts and activate them. How do you get this applescript to fire, and does it really do this every time you open a document? If so, getting InDesign auto-activation to work becomes suddenly a lot easier. :-D
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Lucas

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Downloading Adobe's SDK also got me some incredibly thorough documentation about scripting InDesign, which showed me that it's possible to attach a script callback to a number of internal events... including "open document" and "close document". The AppleScript gets executed directly by InDesign. My biggest remaining stumbling block was figuring out how to programmatically tell FontCase to activate the necessary fonts. (Well, I'm sure UI scripting could have worked, but... eww.)

I'll send you an e-mail with the full details and we'll see if we can't figure out a working solution.
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Sphynx

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Well the questions is - how do other font managers like e.g. Suitcase do that?
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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First, those managers work in a completely different way. They have a daemon running in the background to respond to font request. Plus, they have plugins for the CS apps that somehow respond to font requests.

I'm unfortunately not able to produce all those plugins. It's just me here working on Fontcase - among other things. I simply can't do it myself. I've tried to hire other people for this particular job, but haven't managed to attract someone.
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Robert MacGregor

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Observing how other font managers function can be instructive but framing the question of how Fontcase should operate in terms of other products can be limiting.

In regards to finding others who can help perhaps appealing to Fontcase's Users would be helpful, or, asking an open-source project to take-on the task.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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I was merely answering the question posed by Sphynx and explained why the same path has some difficulties
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Sphynx

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We switched to 10.6 these days and as it looks, we need to switch to another fontmanager, since the freeware fontexplorer 1.2.3 doesn't work correctly any more. I'd love to buy fontcase, however if the Indesign auto-activation issue won't be solved, I guess we will take Suitcase
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Atonality

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Linotypes FEX is now working on Snow Leo since yesterday, I want my money back for Fontcase and will go back to Linotype. It is a shame to ask for money fo such a piece of software. Fontcase really sucks.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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I'm sorry to hear you are dissatisfied with Fontcase. What is the specific problem you are having?
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Sphynx

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But only the 2.X.X version, right? The freeware 1.2.3 won't afaik.