Is Anyone Using FontAgent Pro 3?

capthaddock's picture

I've decided I need to weed out some bad fonts and keep things organized, so I was comparing Mac font management software and decided that FontAgent Pro seems like the best one for my needs.

Version 3 is out now and I can't find many reviews. Is anyone here using it? Is it fast, and does it stay out of the way?

Also, a question about uninstallation: can it simply be dragged to the trash without screwing up your fonts, or does the practice of using special font directories make it more complicated?

Forrest L Norvell's picture

I'm using FAP 3, and if you liked previous versions, you'll probably like this version, which isn't very different. It seems like they wanted to split it into a simple edition for individual users, and create an enterprise product for design shops, with the extra price they can charge for that being the clear motivation.

I prefer FontReserve's options for previewing fonts to FAP's relatively paltry options. Also, FAP's preview panes support neither TrueType GX or OpenType's features (I think it's still a Carbon app at core, which would explain this), so if the font you're looking at has all kinds of fancy-pants features, you're not going to see them there.

Also, despite Insider's claims, it is occasionally possible to corrupt the FontAgent database. I have a problem where fonts have started becoming unpreviewable, which causes them to be culled when they're "audited" (a new feature in FAP 3). My solution was to start over again, and I haven't seen the problem since.

Those are my only quibbles, and after dealing with FontReserve, they seem very minor in comparison. I used to love FontReserve, but these days it feels so ungainly, and it's crash-prone, in comparison to FAP, which is stable as a rock.

FAP will manage your system fonts for you, and put them in its own special folders, but once you turn off system font management, it puts them all back where they belong. And there's nothing too extraordinary about the organization of the master repository it uses, so deinstalling the program is a matter of turning off the system font management and dragging the program (and its support files in your Library) into the trash. Just make sure you copy fonts rather than move them into the library.

Forrest L Norvell's picture

This is probably the best overview I've seen of FAP, and isn't really changed much by the advent of FAP 3:

http://homepage.mac.com/macdrben/blogwavestudio/LH20041002162415/LHA20041025214739/index.html

capthaddock's picture

Thanks for the input, Stephen and Forrest. I've never bothered with anything like FAP before, and since all the reviews I've found were for version 2.1, I wanted to hear about the new version from actual users.

"FAP will manage your system fonts for you, and put them in its own special folders, but once you turn off system font management, it puts them all back where they belong."

I see

Forrest L Norvell's picture

The demo is fully functional, as I found out when I installed the new version before Insider had the upgrade page up on their site. 0-day font

capthaddock's picture

Hm, I'm trying the demo, and so far, it's not doing what I expected.

When I tried importing, it didn't just import the fonts from my system font directories. It also imported all the other font collections I have on-disk. I ended up with over a thousand fonts I didn't want installed, all lumped together with the ones I did want. The program was so slow as to be unusable; and then it locked up and had to be force-quit.

Since I had merely copied my fonts when importing them, I decided to move my inactive fonts to another volume, delete the Fontagent font directory, and re-import. Now half my applications have crashed, FontAgent still thinks all those non-existant fonts are still installed, and I'm not sure what to do.

Forrest L Norvell's picture

Almost everybody seems to have that problem with FontAgent the first time they use it, which is part of the reason why I included that link to the FontGeek article up above. The first time you run FontAgent, it tries to initialize itself by scanning all the fonts on your disk. If you have it set to "activate fonts upon import", then yeah, having 1,000 fonts suddenly active is going to cause problems.

If you truly want to start over, try deleting the FontAgent Pro directory in your Library and then firing it up again. I don't know if there's any way to keep it from scanning your disk when it goes to initialize its database, but if you turn off "activate fonts after import", you shouldn't end up with too many problems. I've imported upwards of 16,000 fonts into FontAgent (to test it), and that makes the browser very slow to start up, but as long as only a small subset of those fonts are active at any given time, the rest of the system's performance was unaffected.

IMPORTANT: if you do decide to do this, make sure that you've disabled "manage system fonts" before you trash the Library folder, and then reactivate it after you've reinitialized FontAgent by running the browser and importing some fonts. I don't know if it keeps track of that state in its database, but better safe than sorry! Good luck!

capthaddock's picture

"If you truly want to start over, try deleting the FontAgent Pro directory in your Library and then firing it up again."

I've tried that ... it opened and still showed all the fonts as active. I tried deleting all the files and it's been hanging with the spinning beach-ball for about 15 minutes. I'm about to force-quit again, uninstall, and call it a night.

capthaddock's picture

Ok, I posted too fast and didn't read the "Library" part. Deleting that seems to have done the trick. I had read the link you posted above, but it still wasn't clear to me that FontAgent would scour my entire hard disk looking for fonts.

I hope it performs okay with limited sets active. It's certainly awful with a thousand fonts active.

Thanks for the help and patience, by the way. :-)

Forrest L Norvell's picture

You'll need to fire up the Activity Monitor and force-quit the FontAgent Activator to get it to truly shut down. Sorry, I should have mentioned that. I think you can turn off the "automatically activate fonts" preference in the FontAgent browser to turn it off, too. If you have a lot of fonts, that process sure likes to suck up the RAM...

I'm sorry you're having such a tough time with it. I had some problems with database corruption early on, but aside from that, and the browser being a little slow, FontAgent has been a very straightforward program to use. If you can get the whole thing working, I think you'll like it. It's miles

capthaddock's picture

Well, all my previously installed fonts (including the basics like Helvetica) disappeared after trying the import process again with a clean slate. Maybe there are some hidden import options I'm missing. I've just uninstalled it for now, I might give it another shot some other time. I'm still convinced from its feature-set that it's better than its competitors, but font management needs to be easier than this!

Forrest L Norvell's picture

I'm still convinced from its feature-set that it's better than its competitors, but font management needs to be easier than this!

I don't think there's a person alive who would disagree with you.

Stephen Coles's picture

I'm using FAP 3 and it's as fast and stable as the previous versions.

Because I am such a fan of FAP I've never uninstalled, so I can't
answer that one.

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