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TypeDNA to pick up where other font management software leaves off

Robert Palmer

TypeDNA is previewing its advanced font management software at Macworld booth 4037, and gave TUAW a sneak peek.

TypeDNA (also the name of the product) is cross-platform, standalone font management software that also includes some advanced features to help you select fonts based on similarity and type features. Along with standard activation and grouping features, TypeDNA includes Font Harmony and Similar Fonts tools to help you select aesthetically-compatible fonts for your projects.

TypeDNA will begin a public beta program soon, with an eye to releasing the software in March. If you want to sign up for TypeDNA's public beta, you can.

Font Harmony indexes fonts on your local computer, and also references TypeDNA's online repository of fonts to find matches and harmonies for your selections. You can limit searches to fonts you own, and also buy fonts online directly from the software. TypeDNA hopes to have fonts from a variety of foundries available by the time software is available for purchase.

The Similar Fonts feature, as you might expect, shows you similar fonts based on your selection. As with Font Harmony, you can limit the search to fonts on your computer, or expand it to include fonts available for sale online.

Perhaps most interestingly, TypeDNA also includes OCR-based font recognition. If you have a bitmap image of an unidentified font, TypeDNA will query its online font catalog and display possible matches. TypeDNA's Darren Glenister demonstrated the feature with an image of an Adobe logo sign. The font recognition tool split the type in the logo into its component letterforms, and then made best guesses as to the typeface. Meta came up in the list first, which wasn't quite right, but Myriad Condensed was next. For alpha software, the demo -- and the speed in which it completed -- was still impressive.

Plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Microsoft Office are available, nicely integrating TypeDNA's features into third-party software. The software easily can find and replace fonts -- a feature already available in some software. TypeDNA's implementation is vast improvement to Office's lackluster font tools.

Performance was teh snappy -- very zippy with hundreds of fonts loaded. Since the tool doesn't load the fonts into a menu (and instead uses a scrolling list), Glenister said that the tool could be used with even hundreds of thousands of fonts simultaneously, and performance would still be good.

A version for workgroups that manages font resources (and licensing) among networked computers is on the way, too.

They haven't yet decided on pricing, but said it would be competitive to other font management applications.

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