Panther Warning: Avoid Font Book at All Costs

In my real life, I play someone who needs to be able to activate fonts on the fly, i.e. someone in a design capacity. I prefer to use an application to activate fonts, regardless of which computing platform I’m using.

For years, I’ve used Suitcase, Font Juggler and the best of the lot, Adobe Type Manager Deluxe (ATM). I still wax nostalgic for the way that ATM Deluxe auto-activated fonts. If I had neglected to activate a font, I didn’t really have to worry, as ATM would catch it. It made font management easy. It took the voodoo out of font management.

Along came Apple’s OS X. Apple, the former king of ease of use, decided to repeatedly kick both itself and it’s users squarely in the crotch (repeatedly) by having not one place for fonts to reside, but about 70 (at last count). This made font management software critical for designers. No longer could we slack on a freelance system and just drag a few fonts or folders to the System Folder. We had to watch our shit.

When Suitcase became available for OS X, everybody started cheering and things looked just swell. It supported (sort of) auto-activation, but because Adobe hates everybody except Microsoft, they forced the use of auto-activation plug-ins for their applications. Plus, the Suitcase interface left room for improvement. Because OS X has about 700 fonts activated at start up, seeing what fonts you have activated was a little weird. I’m sure readers of Slashdot or Ars Technica are ready to shoot me, but I’m going somewhere. Just bear with me, people.

Apple, obviously sensing Adobe’s shift in love (we can only blame Final Cut Pro), decided that with it’s latest system update, 10.3 nee, Panther, that it was time to once again show people how it’s done with a tantalizing font manager called Font Book. It’s Free! It has a metallic interface!

The problem is that it’s clearly meant for no one to actually use.

I added a few hundred fonts to it. It was very fast. I started to move towards my Suitcase CD to fling it into the air like I just graduated from college. Then, my machine, a dual G5 (work is nice) slowed to a crawl. I stopped my move towards the Suitcase CD. Upon further notice, I now had something like 1,900 fonts open and trying to close them all took about 45 minutes. Font Book started to respond, but then would randomly jump. Font names wouldn’t correspond with the preview. I screamed and fled.

I tried to reset everything back to normal, but when I installed Suitcase, I found that Font Book had done something with my fonts. They were gone from their original folders. Fortunately, I had a back up of my fonts and was able to overwrite the shell of a font folder.

I’m forced to ask what millions of Windows users have asked everyday, what in the name of God is Apple smoking releasing such a pile of useless crap?