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Thread: [WIN] Looking for a font manager to rule them all

  1. #1
    Banned sbvrt is on a distinguished road
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    Question [WIN] Looking for a font manager to rule them all

    I know there are some threads going on on that question, but I figured it's best to open a new one as I am looking for some very specific features and will be giving feedback on a few apps I tried.

    What I tried
    Having spent the better part of the last weeks to finally get a good structure and system into my font collections, what I still lack is a good manager for Windows. One that will really ease browsing through all of them and sorting them into arbitrary categories & lists. So far I found and tested 3 that are very promising, and have a better interface and performance than all the "old & known ones" imho, but still, they lack features that I'd like to see in them...

    FontExpert 2014
    + Very nice interface and handling, lots of options to configure the preview of the fonts and the display of a folders content.
    + All-in-one view of the font information (preview + metadata in a list) or tile-view, lets you really use the screen space well
    + The "Create Library" feature lets you auto-collect fonts from any folders, and merge (copy or move) them into a new folder structure that can be 3 levels deep and sort the fonts by alphabetical order, family, style, and other options.
    - The same feature won't let you choose the foundry/creator as an option for the folder structure to create, rendering it somehow useless for anybody who likes to keep fonts organised by foundry.
    - Any group or folder view will only let you preview fonts in that very same folder

    Extensis Suitcase 4
    + Good interface and set/group organisation. Smart Sets seem to be a handy feature, though I haven't used it that thourghly to really wrap my head around it
    + Split view with font previews in one panel, and a listing by font family in another panel (the collection by family gives you details and metadata about each font in the family)
    + Adobe Plugins to automatically temporarly activate fonts needed for a file
    + QuickMatch feature lets you select all similar fonts to the one you selected, either by classification or by visual appearance (with astonishing accuracy), and lets you even set a threshold to decide *how* similar the fonts you look for have to be.
    - Somewhat slow preview rendering
    - Also, the preview only shows fonts in the very same folder, and otherwise displays the folders contained (like in normal windows explorer). This is the big issue for me

    Nexus Font
    + Hey, it's free!
    + Most straightforward and easy to use program of them all. Lets you organize your fonts into groups (sub-folders) and sets (arbitrary collections)
    + Great usability, simple interface, good previews
    + View cannot be cutomized a lot like in FontExpert
    +/- Preview rendering when scrolling the list is great, but selecting a collection or set can result in some waiting time as the previews seem to be pre-generated each time (don't make groups with 1000s of fonts, trust me)
    - Adding fonts can be somehow slow (see above)
    - Groups can only go one folder level deep, only scan for fonts one folder level deep (drag and drop your parent "fonts" folder onto a new set? Here, have a lot of empty groups)
    - Switches for bold/italic don't actually filter the fonts for bold or italic variants, but applies faux bold and faux italic styles to the previews (WTF?)

    What I need
    So far, I have a few features I like here, and a few features that all of the programs lack. As I need a font manager mostly for having a good overview of the collection and quickly find and decide about different fonts, I am looking for a program that can do 3 things:
    • Add folders to a collection and scan deeper than just one level (drag "foundry-X" folder to the new collection, have all fonts added)
    • Preview all the fonts in a folder and it's child folders, not just what is in the very same folder (I don't need a f*n font manager for that, that works just fine with windows itself)
    • An option to show fonts by family, but still have preview of the font. So far the best I could find was Extensis Suitcase, but still, there is only a folder-like structure of families and no preview in that view. Yet a family with 18+ fonts quickly clutters the list and makes it hard to browse different families quickly with good visual feedback.

    If anyone knows a program that could cover these 3 points, that would be awesome. Every program I tried so far had either big limitations in features & usability, or made it necessary to create collections and sets by hand instead of beeing able to just "see all fonts in folder X".

    All in all I just need a font manager that lets me drag in folders of fonts that are X levels deep, that will import the structure yet already show all the fonts contained in the uppermost parent folder, and that will let me narrow down my search without cluttering the viewport with all the font files of each family
    Last edited by sbvrt; 12-10-2013 at 12:45 PM.

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  3. #2
    Banned sabotage420 is just really nice sabotage420 is just really nice sabotage420 is just really nice sabotage420 is just really nice
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    i personally manage my fonts using typograf...

    i know its old, but I enjoy it. also like how i can load and unload font sets i have created from my taskbar. makes it easy to just load say tattoo scripts, brush, handwriting, all scripts or logo fonts etc then unload them all when done. might want to give it a try. pretty cheap to purchase too and imo worth the money.

    i also use amp font viewer sometimes to quicker just view a font.

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    Banned sabotage420 is just really nice sabotage420 is just really nice sabotage420 is just really nice sabotage420 is just really nice
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    FontExplorer X Pro 2.0 for Windows is good too, but more expensive

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    Banned peterpan2013 is on a distinguished road
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    Cool post. Didn´t know these softwares. Pc don´t stay slow running these?

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  9. #5
    Banned sbvrt is on a distinguished road
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterpan2013 View Post
    Cool post. Didn´t know these softwares. Pc don´t stay slow running these?
    No, performance is good - except with Nexus Font maybe, scrolling through a large list of fonts can get quite laggy it seems...

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  11. #6
    Banned Tarmac is on a distinguished road
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    I believe there is NO font manager at this time that rule them all. They all work sort of well… but as stated in another thread i think Suitcase is the one in the lead position.

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  13. #7
    Banned Tarmac is on a distinguished road
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    Sorry! I missed the "WIN" in your title.

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  15. #8
    Banned sbvrt is on a distinguished road
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarmac View Post
    Sorry! I missed the "WIN" in your title.
    No worries, Suitcase is available for Windows too.
    I am thinking if version 5 might have got better than 4?

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  17. #9
    Banned sbvrt is on a distinguished road
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    Following up

    After beeing HUGELY annoyed by Nexus Fonts horrendously slow performance, freezing my entire Quad-Core-16-gig-RAM beast of a laptop when I try to scroll through a longer list of fonts, I decided to give FontExpert a second chance and a closer look.

    And I realized the reason I didnt like it at first is that I was a bit overwhelmed with how to use it right and didnt look closely enough how it is supposed to work. Now that I got the hang of it, I love it!
    • Once you realize you can just set your already neatly sorted font folder to be the base folder of the groups via the program options, it will display your whole folder structure as "groups" inside the program
    • It will, as I wanted, show all the font files within a folder in the preview panel, regardless of how deep they are nested inside the group you are looking at.
    • Theres a little button on top that lets you filter for font files only, otherwise it will display any files inside the folders.
    • The font previews are BLAZING FAST. No comparison to the awefully slow Nexus Font or the buggy Windows version of suitcase. Or, to put it straight: The only folder that FontExpert took a little more than a few seconds to cache and display was the freakin entire Linotype Gold Collection, and after letting it work for 5-10sec max, scrolling through the huge list wasn't even buggy.
    • The Explorer-details-view like layout makes it really easy to see properties of the font file as well as the preview in a row - making it needless to group them by family, as the rows let you see many fonts at once without cluttering the view
    • The preview panel lets you try out the font directly on the bottom of the screen, in lots of different ways, customize the view, see the whole character set, kerning pairs, all you could want.
    • Further organisation and categorization of the font can be done via tags and the worklist - although a drag and drop interface with sets would have been cool here, but you get around that
    • Dragging fonts around and sorting them in other places, or dragging fonts into the program in the groups view actually physically move them on your hard drive, which takes you the work of organizing them twice.

    In short, for now: FontExpert 2014 it is!

    Definite recommendation for anyone who is looking for a nice font manager for windows. If no one knows a "can do it all" program, consider my search over!
    Last edited by sbvrt; 12-11-2013 at 11:10 AM.

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