Ntiva Live: Apple for Business

Extensis Cloud-Based Digital Asset Management

Extensis Digital Asset Management - Episode Overview

In this episode, Ben is joined by Paul Newton, Channel Sales Manager at Extensis to discuss the Extensis Universal Type Server (UTS), Suitcase, and managing cloud-based digital assets for everyone from small businesses to enterprises!

Sign Up Today

Complete the form to register for the Ntiva Apple for Business Livestream series. You’ll get an email reminder before each livestream, plus an email with a link to the recording in case you miss any of the live events.

Episode Transcript

 

Extensis Cloud Based Digital Asset Management

Hi, everyone. Today is Tuesday, August 24th, live streaming from Chicago. I'm Ben Greiner, Director of Apple Technology at Ntiva, and with me today is Paul Newton. Paul is the channel and sales manager at Extensis.

Today we're going to be talking primarily about the Extensis Universal Type Server and fonts in general, but I also want to give Paul chance to talk about some of the other products Extensis has. Before we get into that, and I do want to get into talking about our long history together, Paul, and thank you for joining us.


Apple News - August 2021

I just want to touch on some recent Apple news. And Ross may or may not be joining us. If he does, I might hand it over to him, but it looks like he didn't make it. So I'm going to get right into Zoom. So Zoom, which is what we are using here today, beginning November 1st of this year, Zoom users will be required to update their Zoom software to ensure it is no more than nine months behind the current version.

That sounds like an easy task, nine months, but you would be surprised to learn maybe, maybe not, that a lot of people never update their software, and so sometimes they get behind.

So to accommodate this change, Ntiva will be activating silent, automated patching for Zoom, and we're going to start that on September 1st.

So if you're in our system, if you're a client of ours in our Apple management system, which all of our clients should be, although because of the acquisition of Forget Computers by Ntiva we're still working to get some of the legacy Ntiva clients enrolled in the new system. But there's nothing really for you to do. We're just sharing this information.

The Zoom app will automatically be updated. If somebody is in a meeting, it will only get updated when they're done with that meeting, and Zoom is closed.

So we've done lots of testing on this, but the goal really is to not interrupt anyone, and just allow everyone to have the most up-to-date and functioning Zoom for seamless meetings.

I see Ross is joining us. Hey, thanks for joining us. I just stole your thunder and talked about the Zoom update we're rolling out. So I don't know if there's anything else you want to add, but I've pretty much mentioned Zoom is requiring updates past nine months, we're going to help everyone out who's a client of ours enrolled in the system, and we're going to start auto patching Zoom to ensure that everything works.

I also want to mention, because email security, I mean the amount of phishing attempts that are going on out there is through the roof. I mean, I think it used to be I would talk about we'd see this once a week. I think we're seeing this on a daily basis. I'm personally getting phished either through my phone, or my email, or whatever.

So I want to remind everyone to be diligent, but also in our internal discussions, it was brought to my attention that Microsoft has a product called Defender for Office 365. If you're on a certain license of 365, you may already have this.

If you're on what a lot of us are on, sort of the business basic plan, it's an add on. And Microsoft Defender basically is a additional cloud-based email filtering service that helps protect your organization.

So I'm starting to have conversations with people about this, if you're not sure if you have it, you think you might need it, reach out to your account manager, ask them about it. But it's all about defense in depth. You've heard me talk about this before. You can't have just a seatbelt in your car protecting you. You need the airbags. You need the antilock brakes.

 

Extensis: Suitcase, Font Management, and Company History

Let's get right into it. As a reminder, Paul Newton from Extensis, Paul and I have known each other for many years. So I think we must've known each other for at least 16 years, because you've been in this business focused on creative professionals.

I've been doing this for over 20 years now, and we have a great relationship with Extensis because of the overlap in our clients, creative professionals, and more so around fonts, and fonts are still a thing, very popular today. And I thought we could talk first about the history a little bit of around Extensis, specifically around Suitcase.

Could you describe why fonts were called suitcases, or why your product was called Suitcase back in the day?

Paul Newton:

Yeah. So that's probably what we're most known for is the Suitcase product. It was back in the day I think you had to have a file that would display the font on your screen, and then a file that would help print it, and when you put those together, it would be what they called a Suitcase. So that's where the name Suitcase came from.

Through the years, we've developed it, we kind of brought some other technology into it, and the name currently a Suitcase Fusion, and we have a team product called Suitcase TeamSync as well. So for teams that are managing fonts that way, it's a great tool as well. But then for more enterprise level, for people that need to manage fonts, and work groups, or teams of people, we offer Universal Type Server, which is what we work with mostly with Ntiva on. And I think we'll go a little more into that in a bit.

Ben Greiner:

You can see, I pulled up the Extensis page here, and I see you guys have a font area where you talk about Suitcase Fusion, which is really more the personal font management tool. Right?

Paul Newton:

Yep.

Ben Greiner:

And then the Suitcase TeamSync, which is kind of for small teams, would you say 10 or fewer size, or is there no limit today?

Paul Newton:

There's no limit. It's probably for smaller teams that are looking to manage their fonts through our cloud, but it's basically using the Suitcase Fusion interface, and syncing all of them together so that they get the fonts from our cloud. And then Universal Type Server is really a much more, I would say, enterprise level where you can actually take the fonts... Well, I guess that actually brings up another topic, why worry about fonts to begin with?

Because it's just a font. So what? But fonts are really a piece of software that someone has created. These organizations called foundries have developers that create fonts. And each one has an end user license agreement associated with it.

So it can be really confusing to know how you can use a specific font, like how many people did you buy it for to use it? Is it for web use? Is it for print use? All of these different factors. And so what Universal Type Server does is allows an IT department or any kind of online admin to basically go in and apply all the information about the font licensing that the company owns.

So you can actually take the receipt for the purchase of the fonts and the end user license agreement of each font, and upload it into the admin interface, so you have a record of everything that you own. Creatives love to hoard fonts.

So they bring in fonts from home, they download them off the internet. They took them from their last company, and they bring it into a workflow, and your company is at risk, because they're being brought in. And if they're prints that are used in a way that you don't own them, or used in a way that the end user license agreement doesn't allow, it's putting the company at risk for a lawsuit actually.

Ben Greiner:

Yeah. That definitely happens. I mean, there are companies, like you mentioned font foundries, if they see a font used in an ad, whether it's digital or print, they will investigate if that font is licensed. And we've seen that where people have been called out for not properly licensing the font for that usage. Extensis Universal Type Server does help with that.

I want to go back a little bit, because you mentioned something that I think a lot of the people I talk with struggle, or they're not aware of, and that is fonts are applications. They're mini applications, and if you bought one in 1984, it may not work the way it used to in today's digital environment. And PostScript was the long standing standard for many years, PostScript fonts, and today, OpenType fonts are the standard, unless I'm already behind, and there's a new standard, but is OpenType-

Paul Newton:

No, that's correct. Yeah.

Ben Greiner:

Okay. And I still see designers clinging to these PostScript fonts as if there's something sacred and special about them, and really they should be replaced with OpenType fonts today.

So many people expect fonts to continue working indefinitely, whether they bought them or not, that's a different issue, but really fonts have been updated over the years and improved over the years. And if I had a font library that was full of PostScript fonts, I might consider getting rid of that, and replacing it with entirely OpenType, keeping the PostScript around only for archival purposes. But even then, if I had to recreate a job, I would want to replace those fonts.

 

What Does Universal Type Server Mean?

But the other thing you mentioned, it is something that I see people trip on is when we say, "Universal Type Server," what does that really mean? Because sometimes I talk to people, and they're like, "Well, why don't we just put the fonts on a file server? Why can't we just do that?" And it's not the same. Right? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Paul Newton:

Yeah. You bet. Well, so you can put a font in a server, and say they're in a certain folder, and tell people to go get them if they need them, but that isn't going to keep your fonts super organized at all. What we do, and if you were on initial install of Universal Type Server, you actually take all the fonts, collect all the fonts you own as a company, you ingest them into Universal Type Server, and as they come in they're scanned for duplicates, or any kind of ones that are... What is the word?

Ben Greiner:

Corrupt?

Paul Newton:

Corrupt. Sorry about that. And as they're brought in, and then they're brought into what we call a font vault, and they're tagged with a special what we call font sense ID. So it takes all these different criteria from the font, and applies this font sense ID.

Then what happens is you can go in and apply all the licensing information to each font or group of fonts. And so if you have 10 people that have access to it, say you have 15 people in your work group, but only 10 can have access to that font at a time, you can actually set alerts to let you know that you've exceeded the licensing, that type of thing.

So the other thing that's cool about it from a creative side of it is that the creatives are using it because it's allowing them to preview fonts, if they're fonts they might want to have. You can actually turn on and off all of... So if you have 10,000 fonts, you don't want them all running at the same time, obviously, because it's going to slow your machine down.

You can actually temporarily disable fonts, so that they're not running in the background, and turn them on when you need to. And the cool part is if you have creatives working with Adobe Creative Cloud, someone is working on InDesign document, and they send that document over to a teammate, if you didn't have Universal Type Server, they might not have the same font that the person that created the document has.

So when they go to open it, you're going to see either potentially a substituted font or a missing font, and then you're stuck. It kind of slows the workflow down. So what this does is Universal Type Server tags each font with a special ID. And so it travels with it in the document. So when they open it, you're always having the same font.

Why You Need Universal Type Server

Ben Greiner:

I think it's worth stopping right there, and just focusing on that for a minute, because so many people have what they think are the same font, because it has the same name, but it's actually a different cut or variation of the font. Maybe it's even an old PostScript versus a new OpenType, although they changed the names to try to avoid that. Apple has not been a friend to us in some cases with operating systems that use fonts embedded with the exact same names as fonts that everyone was using.

Helvetica comes to mind as one of those fonts that they just cause massive problems with, because they named the font exactly the same name as say a Helvetica PostScript, which was technically a different cut of the font.

And so to your point, Paul, we've got two designers without a font, without Universal Type Server. They think they're using the same font, but they're not, and they're passing things back and forth, and it's not until it's too late, it goes to press, and now you see that terrible line break, because the kerning was completely different.

So that's a huge problem. And I know we do a lot more digital work today than than ever, and so maybe those who don't do print think this is not a problem, but if you're doing print, it's a serious problem. And the OpenType fonts are meant for both print and web, so that's another advantage to consider OpenType. And even on the web, I would think you'd want to make sure you're using the same version when building and passing things around, so they don't get shifted in even the slightest way.

You mentioned activating fonts, and I want to touch on the fact that even though machines today are super powerful, and they are a lot easier to work with than back in the day when I was a designer in the nineties, it's still beneficial to not have thousands of fonts activated, because every time one opens an application, it has to read in all those fonts that are active.

If you have a nice clean library of even 100 fonts, that's going to open much faster than if you have a library of 1000 active fonts. And when I say active, it means it's either loaded into the Mac OS operating system through something like Font Book, or it's activated through something like Extensis, Universal Type Server, or Suitcase Fusion.

One other thing I have noticed, Chris asked me to mention this, and Chris Youngsted is our local fond guru. He said, "One of the biggest problems that we're seeing on our support desk today is people are trying to use too many font management solutions at the same time on the same computer."

For example, Font Book, Monotype has something, we know Extensis, even Adobe Fonts has a solution, and a lot of these solutions conflict, and fight over each other, and cause confusion to the computer and to the person sitting in front of it. I would say in our history, and doing the due diligence of trying to find the best solution for our clients, Universal Type Server is still the one solution that does everything we need it to do.

And when we use Universal Type Server, we try to lock everything else out, and not let it get in the way of that font management. And the other thing we're trying to do with that font management is, historically, we would run this on an internal server, then those start going away, and we kept Mac minis around just to run Universal Type Server. And now today, because I think it's safe to say, Ross, Apple doesn't really have a server anymore. Right? Can I say that?

Ross:

Technically it's there, but the amount of management capabilities and the power of server data has really fundamentally changed over the last couple years. So we've generally been trying to spin those down and opt instead for cloud solutions.

Ben Greiner:

Yeah. I think it's safe to say Apple is not focused on building a server. If they came out with a server tomorrow, I would be very disappointed in them, because I think they are there embracing the cloud, and there's no reason why anyone needs to run. I won't say no reason.

There's probably a reason people need to run an Apple server, but a lot of the technologies that were in Apple's server have moved to the cloud, or moved to the desktop, including things like caching, software applications, and things like that.

Anyway, I'm getting distracted. Let's get back to fonts. So what we're doing today is... So we moved from hosting UTS in-house, and now we want to get it off these old Mac minis, into the cloud. So we worked with Extensis and built a cloud hosted solution for Universal Type Server. Now, that being said, if you do have your own infrastructure, and you're competent in managing that infrastructure, whether it's in-house or in the cloud, you can run Universal Type Server on a windows machine.

And when we put it in the cloud, I can't remember the exact hosting provider that we use, but we use a VM running windows, and we spin up Universal Type Server, and then we build it, and then we import the fonts, and then we point the client applications to that server. And, Paul, could you talk a little bit about that conversation, how Universal Type Client talks to Universal Type Server. It's not just going to a file server and grabbing the fonts, right?

Paul Newton:

Right. No, it's connecting into the server and allowing.... So basically, the admin sets which fonts they want the users to have certain access to. So you can actually restrict font usage to certain groups of people, or have it open to everyone. That's the great part about it is it's so flexible that way. And we're very excited to have Ntiva as our go-to Universal Type Server hosted partner.

So for people who don't want to have it on-premise and want to run it in the cloud, you guys are offering a special package for people to do that. So very excited about that, so thank you for that as well.

Ben Greiner:

Yeah. I mean, thanks for working with us on that. I think I was beating you up for years asking for a cloud hosted solution. And then one day I think you were like, "Well, why don't we just..." I said, "We need to do this," and you said you could help. So we put something together, and like I said, you don't have to go through us.

If you have your own infrastructure you want to support it on, Extensis makes it very clear what it will run on, but Extensis does not offer their own hosted solution for UTS. I know you have that other solution that's cloud-based, but there are some limitations to that today. Suitcase TeamSync, right?

Paul Newton:

Yeah. Right. Yeah. TeamSync, that's a great solution for smaller work groups, and as great as it is, and I love it, I mean, and that's kind of the way a lot of people are going with the cloud. It doesn't have all of the font compliance components that Universal Type Server does. So you're still kind of hoping people aren't bringing fonts into the workflow that aren't your company's.

But with Universal Type Server, you have all those extra safety precautions, and not allowing people to bring in fonts that aren't licensed. You can even run reports with Universal Type Server on which fonts are being used the most, which ones aren't being used, how often are you exceeding the limits on your licensing? So lots of large printing houses, creative organizations use it. Yeah.

Ben Greiner:

Well, not to pick on freelancers, but historically, I've seen too many situations where a freelancer will get called into a job. And of course the freelancer has their own collection of fonts, and so they'll use something from their collection, and it'll find its way into an environment where it's never authorized or allowed, or just causes massive confusion, because suddenly the team doesn't have the same font that this freelancer brought in. And that's what I like about Universal Type Server. If things get out of control, it's like, "Well, there's one source of truth, and that is Universal Type Server."

And that's where everyone points to, that's where they get the fonts. If a font does somehow get into the system, and it needs to be eradicated, we go and clean it up centrally. And that, like I said, is the source of source of truth. So there's some workflow involved in all this, and it's very powerful. And a lot of people maybe don't quite understand it until they start using it, but if you're having any font issues, or you manage a team that uses fonts, I highly recommend it.

And if you want to host it in the cloud, reach out to us, or if you want to host it on your own environment, reach out to us. We can help you get started. Let's see. So we do have six more minutes. I try to keep this to half an hour, and I'm looking at my notes to see if there's anything I missed. Paul, do you want to take a few minutes and just talk about some of the other Extensis products that you guys offer? Because I know they're all creative focused.

Paul Newton:

Yeah. You bet. So now you've heard all about the font side of our solutions. We also offer digital asset management solutions. So basically, managing assets in a work group of people. Imagine someone puts a photo shoot on their desktop, and someone puts other things on a server in a folder structure, and it's impossible to find anything.

So we have Portfolio is what has been around the longest, it's what we're known really well-known for in the space, and it helps work groups of people manage assets, and it has another feature to it called Net Publish that allows you to take your catalogs and publish them externally with micro websites. You can have as many micro websites as you want, and as many people as you want accessing those as well, so it's unlimited.

Ben Greiner:

And then you have something new, right? Let me see.

Paul Newton:

Yeah. So Portfolio is an on-premise solution, so you can host it in cloud. We have a new thing called Extensis Connect, and what it does is I wouldn't say it's as granular or in-depth as Portfolio can get, but we're calling it kind of a collaborative workspace where people with teams of people can actually create simple libraries and share these assets between each other. So it's kind of in this...

We just released this newest piece to it that's really cool where you can actually share a set of assets with someone external to the Connect product. So you just send them a link, and they can just go and access the assets right away. And we're finding that especially with the pandemic and everything, it's a great way for people to use the cloud to have it instead of using their internal servers.

Ben Greiner:

Yeah. I was going to see. I have an account, and I do have some images here. I should have preloaded the login, but here we go. So if I go to the assets, I've got some folders here, and I actually brought these in directly from Box. So it was very cool.

I went to upload, and you can choose your local drive. You can choose Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box. I chose box, and then I navigated, authenticated, navigated, selected some images, it brought it in here, and now I have the ability to view them, tag them, download them, convert them I think from different file sizes. I'm not really good at this yet, because I'm still learning it, but it's pretty simple, and it looks like it's really powerful.

Paul Newton:

It is. It's very straight forward. People ask me for demos of it all the time, and I'm like, "Really, it's pretty straightforward. Walk through it." I mean, on the left, you have those folders on the left. It's so easy just to create a folder and add assets to it. Yeah. There's that little plus in the box. If you can just click that.

Ben Greiner:

Yep. Add another folder.

Paul Newton:

Create a new folder. Simple. And then I don't know if you wanted to click on an asset in one of the other folders. I think if you go up to share in the upper right that's where once you linked up your... Yeah. You share that link. And then if you selected all of these assets, they would all be gathered in that link, and then you could just share it with someone. They don't even have to have a connect account. They just log in and get the asset.

Ben Greiner:

Yeah. I think for anyone who wants to get started with digital asset management, that seems like a really great place to start, because it's super easy. It's cloud hosted, and then you just get a quick visual. Yeah. Check it out. I want to wrap up by visiting our support site, which remains support.forgetcomputers.com, because it's going to be awhile before we can move that domain. But if we go to Ntiva, we have some new articles here. I just want to call out a few of them. And let's see, where are they? Okay. Here's one, Picking the Best Mac for a College Bound Student.

I know it might be a little late for this article since I think kids are already going back to school. I know I've got one son who's already there, and another that's going back next week. And this talks about getting a new Mac, and I did get... And, Ross, I'm glad you're here. We can talk about this briefly. I was able to get a new M1 for my son going back to school, took advantage of the Apple education pricing, also free Air Pods for the student, which was cool. And a trade-in. He had an old I think 2014. So this is six to seven year old technology.

And I still through the trade-in program got somewhere between $200 and $250 off the price of that machine, plus 0% APR, if you want to take advantage of that. So great deals from Apple right now. And the M1, we've talked about this before, it's the future. We're all going to be using M1s soon. I had no problems buying a base M1 one for a college student. I still hesitate recommending an M1 for someone in the business world, at least without testing. Ross, you agree with that? Anything you'd add to that?

Ross:

I think that any organization should get their hands on at least one M series device. We'll see how Apple changes their nomenclature, and how things are going to work going forward, but by getting a single device at least into testing, if not into production sooner rather than later, it'll put organizations in a good place to confirm that their workflows, their applications, especially if you work in the creative industry, you need to make sure that your Adobe software is working well.

You got to make sure your font management software is working well too. But by getting that modern hardware in, and tested, and vetted, and ready to go, you're going to be in a much better place if an emergency comes up, an employee really needs a new machine right away. Having the peace of mind of knowing that your tech stack works on the M platform is going to be really important.

Ben Greiner:

Yeah. I think the reason you want to test it is as much as I know a lot of people more and more who are using M1s and love it, we have run into a few people who use very specific applications that for whatever reason, it's not a good experience today on the M1, and they've actually returned those Macs and gotten Intels.

So I cannot guarantee that everything you do is going to work perfectly on an M1, but you can certainly give it a try. For my college student son, he needed Office, that works on the M1. He needed web apps, of course those work. Paul, I know I was just on one of your websites. I don't know if all your products are M1, maybe you know, but I know you've got quite a few that are M1 universal apps.

Paul Newton:

Yeah. I think Suitcase Fusion is right now, and I think we're working on Universal Type Server right now.

Ben Greiner:

Okay. The instant on of this M1 machine is incredible. The power brick, can you see that? It's so small. It's like a little iPad power brick. It's amazing. And of course, the battery life and everything. So, yes. That's one of the things I want to talk about.

I'm looking around my camera, which is blocking my clicker. The other thing is... Let's see. Where is it? ransom? I know there was something about ransom. Here it is. Ransomware is on the Rise. I just mentioned this at the beginning. I think everyone knows this, but here's an article we posted about how to protect your Macs.

And this is a team effort. Ross, and the team, and I do everything we can, but we cannot do it alone. Read up on how to protect yourself, and if you're unsure about any of this stuff, reach out to us, so we can help. Password managers are a big part of that. I can't stress this enough. There's so much that we need to remain diligent about today. And then the last one... Let's see. I had one more note. Oh, it was related to passwords. Well, it's right here. They're all right here for me, 1, 2, 3, How to Take the Annoyance Out of Your Key Passwords and Passcodes.

Once again, everyone's workflow is different. I don't know any of my passcodes. I rely entirely on one password. Of course, I have to know one password to get into there. And to be honest, I have to know my Mac password to get into that. Okay, I know two passwords. I don't know the rest. I don't know my bank passwords.

That Extensis password I just entered, Paul, I have no idea what that is. It's a randomly generated string of characters, and every password I use is unique. So read through this, protect yourself, because I just hate to see people fall prey to these phishing scams when there are things you could do to protect yourself.

Ben Greiner:

And I think, Ross, I don't know about you, but I think once a week, for the past month, I've gotten an email saying, "Ha, ha, ha. I've encrypted your computer or your iPhone," or, "I've stolen images." I think that was a story. "I've stolen naughty images of you I'm going to post on the dark web if you don't pay me in Bitcoin."

Okay. I don't have images, so I know this is total BS, but I'm sure this works for enough people that they're making money off of it. So just because someone says they're doing something doesn't mean it's true, but you want to do everything you can to protect yourself. Anything you guys would add to that? Don't store naughty photos of yourself on your computer.

Ross:

Yeah. Just always password managers are great. They're powerful things. I know some people who will actually take their medical and financial passwords, they'll just keep those pen and paper, and just get those totally offline, because like any other system, as soon as it touches the internet, there's a possibility that something could happen there. And so it's often recommended to keep those local, safe, multiple copies in a safe deposit box, and on-premise in their home or where you work, whatever.

Use of password managers, multi-factor authentication, the basics that we always talk about and often take for granted. Anything you can do to make your account not the easiest one to target. Right? You don't need to be a marathon runner. You just need to be faster than the person next to you who's also running away from the bear. So anything you can do to just get that target off of your assets is going to be a good thing.

Ben Greiner:

Well, Paul, thank you for joining us.

Paul Newton:

Thank you very much.

Ben Greiner:

I know we talk and work together often, and I just wanted to share a little bit of your story with everyone, so that maybe if there are people out there who want to do a better job of managing their fonts or their digital assets, they'll reach out to you, or they'll reach out to us. We can help them get started. Ross, thank you. Paul, thank you.

Have a great week, everyone. We'll see you in two weeks, and I don't think I have anything scheduled, but I'll get something. I'll get something scheduled in two weeks. Have a great Labor Day in the meantime.

About the Ntiva Apple for Business Livestream

Ntiva’s Ben Greiner hosts the Ntiva Apple for Business livestream every other Tuesday from 12:00 to 12:30pm CT. These live events, presented by the Ntiva team of Apple experts, are sharply focused, easily digestible, and cover topics including the latest Apple/macOS/iOS technology updates, cybersecurity, data privacy, MDM and BYOD policies, and more! We take questions from the audience and share what's working—and not working—for us and others in the industry.

VIEW MORE LIVESTREAMS