FontExplorer X and Quark 6.5

In my last post on FontExplorer, Transitioning to FontExplorer X, I alluded to some problems I was having with it and Quark 6.5. I’d like to expound upon that a little bit.

In order to get on the same page, I want to define some standard font management terminology first. I am talking about using OS X in this post, but many of the more general concepts probably apply to font management on Windows machines as well.

System Font Folders:
OS X comes with three default font folders, each serving a different purpose:
Contains all fonts necessary for the operating system to run. Font stored here are accessible to all users on the system.
Contains most fonts necessary for standard applications to run. Font stored here are accessible to all users on the system.
Contains fonts only accessible to a single user.
Font Database:
This is the folder that your font management application stores your fonts in. This folder can be called any number of things, stored in any number of file formats, and in any number of locations. It all depends on the particular font management application and your setup. The important thing to remember is that this folder is distinct from all of the system font folders.
Auto-Activation of Fonts:
This happens when you open a document or application and your font management software intercepts a call for a font that is not currently activated. The font management software then activates the font for you. This can be done either through intercepting a system-wide call for a font or via a plugin.
Manual Activation of Fonts:
This is when you use your font management software to activate one or more fonts. After manually activating a font, it will be available to all applications on the system until the font is deactivated.
Auto-Activation Plug-In
A Plug-In that auto-activates fonts that are requested by an application. These plugins are written for a specific application (usually ones like Quark and InDesign).

Currently I am using FontExplorer 1.1.2 and Quark 6.5.2. I have also tested these problems using Quark 6, Quark 6.1, and Quark 6.5 and gotten the same results.

In the first versions of FontExplorer there seemed to be some sporadic problems with the auto-activation plugin for Quark 6.5. Sometimes it would work fine, but other times the font either wouldn’t activate at all, or only parts of the typeface would activate. Often times there were problems with the italic versions of typefaces. For whatever reason I also seemed to have a particularly difficult time with Univers 39. Since I’ve installed FontExplorer 1.1 (and up), which includes version 1.24 of the Quark 6.5 plugin, things seemed to be going very well with auto-activation. In fact, I haven’t noticed any problems with auto-activation in Quark 6.5 using FontExplorer X 1.1 and up.

The real problems between FontExplorer and Quark seem to happen when fonts are manually activated. A normal workflow for creating a Quark document should go something like this:

  1. Open Font Management application
  2. Activate desired fonts
  3. Open Quark
  4. Create a new document

All of the fonts that you activated should be available in Quark’s font menu at this point. In an ideal world, you should also be able to activate and use additional fonts without having to quit Quark. Clearly though, this is not an ideal world.

Unfortunately, in this case, after following the steps listed above, many1 of the fonts simply do not show up in the Quark font menu. There is no logical reason for this that I can figure out. The problem is reproducible. I’ve isolated two fonts that always have this problem: Duc De Berry LT Std and Serlio LT Std (both OpenType). Also, no amount of quitting Quark, deactivating and then reactivating the fonts or cleaning the font caches will work. The fonts simply will not show up in Quark.

Curiously, if you take one of these problematic fonts and copy it to any of the system font folders (may require a restart), the font appears in Quark without a problem. Great, but this doesn’t help us, since we’re circumventing the whole ‘font management’ thing entirely by doing this. Remember, the whole reason why we’re using font management software is because we have lots of fonts, too many to leave activated all of the time.

I struggled with this problem for quite some time looking for possible solutions or workarounds. I even tried pulling out my hair, but that didn’t seem to work either. Searching for the problem yielded only a couple of results. Over on the FontExplorer discussion board, there were a couple of posts with similar problems (no solutions):

On Creative Guy, there are some interesting tips for fonts in Quark. They sounded promising, but didn’t fix this particular problem:

Finally I found this post on Jason Santa Maria. The post itself isn’t that interesting, the comments are where it gets good.

Jerald says: First off… I totally dig FEX. Here is my problem. Quark 6.5 will not recognize loaded fonts more than half the time unless I log out and log back in.
Tim Diacon says: Quark is the bane of my life! FEX works perfectly with everything except Quark which will not activate fonts which are active in other programs! I’ve tried the Jaws solution posted earlier but still not working – anyone worked out a solution?

Hey look, a suggested solution:

Jerald says: Follow up to my experiences with auto activation in Quark. Removing the items in the JAWS folder as described in my previous post resulted in less than stellar results.

The following seem to work:

  1. Log out and log back in. This is cumbersome but works 100% of the time. Quark will pick up the newly activated fonts. Make sure you have FEX set to keep the fonts activated after restart/logout.
  2. Quit FEX and Quark. Relaunch FEX first and Quark second. This is more convenient than number one but will only work 90% of the time. Still a bummer I have to do this.
  3. Switch to InDesign. This option offers the benefit of not having to deal with Quark in the first place.

Okay, cool, at least we’re starting to get somewhere now. I tried Jerald’s suggestion and it did work. But logging out and then back in again just to get a font to work? There has got to be something better.

Using Jerald’s fix as a starting point, I began playing around with things (again). I eventually discovered the following process which gets those pesky fonts to show up in the Quark font menu.

  1. Open FontExplorer X
  2. From the Menu Bar, choose FontExplorer X > Preferences
  3. Click on the Advanced icon
  4. Make sure that “Deactivate all fonts which have been activated during the active session on quit” is not checked.
    A screenshot of the Advanced pane of the FontExplorer X preferences.
  5. Activate all desired fonts
  6. Quit FontExplorer (FontExplorer X > Quit FontExplorer X or Apple + Q)
  7. Open FontExplorer X
  8. Open Quark

After following these steps, the temperamental fonts should appear in the Quark font menu. Obviously, this is still a hack. It would be great if these things just worked. This hack however is relatively painless. I released this fix into the wild (read: design students in the labs) and have gotten positive results so far.

One last note: This whole problem appears to be fixed in Quark 7. Unfortunately I (and presumably many others) can’t just wave a magic wand and have Quark 7 installed on all of the computers. Also, we are talking about Quark. Isn’t there some adage about that: for every bug fixed, five more are born.

  1. I’m working with approximately 2,500 fonts here, so I didn’t actually count how many are having this problem. It’s not all of them, but it’s definitely more than a couple of them. We will just leave it at many.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


1. zoe

ah… so this was the sighing and maniacal typing in the office today. I guess the bright side is Quark 7 should arrive just in time for you to leave for jury duty!