When it comes to font management on the Mac, Suitcase has ruled the roost. But now there is a serious rival in the shape of the all-Cocoa FontAgent Pro from Insider Software. Version 3 is making a concerted bid for font management supremacy. Like Suitcase, it has all the features you'd expect from a font manager and then some, the long list including drag-and drop activation, cascading font sets and font sharing.
Unlike Suitcase, FontAgent Pro works by copying your fonts into a special location (even system fonts if you want it to), and during this process it checks for duplicates and corrupt fonts. The bad fonts are then weeded out. The end result is a clean set of fonts ordered by family and placed in alphabetical folders. As with Suitcase, fonts can be activated and deactivated at will. You can even manage multiple font libraries for different projects or on a client basis.
Also included with FontAgent Pro 3 is a series of Auto Activation plug-ins for Adobe's Creative Suite and QuarkXPress. These plug-ins check to see which fonts are used in a document before automatically activating the typeface required.
In practice, FontAgent Pro is slick and the user interface is professional and easy to understand. It lists fonts in families and shows them in WYSIWYG throughout. The Auto Activation takes place every time you launch a program that requires a specific font, but this can be overcome by making sure that Auto-Activated fonts are reactivated on startup.
If there's a criticism, perhaps it's that Insider Software could better explain FontAgent Pro's advantages. An in-depth manual with an explanation of font handling would be helpful. But this is a great program, and Suitcase should look to its laurels if it wants to stay in the lead. Mark Sparrow