New Font Features in Leopard

Typographi has a post on Grading the New Font “Features” in OS X Leopard. There is some good information on font improvements that I haven’t heard about elsewhere. The feature to print out Font Book pages sounds nice.

The feature that really got me excited1 though was this:

Automatically activate fonts as you need them. When an application requests an installed font that’s currently disabled, Leopard activates that font and keeps it active until the requesting application quits.

If this feature actually works and works well with lots of fonts, it’s easily got to be one of the killer features of Leopard. Seamless font auto-activation built into the os is worth the price of admission alone. How many other font management applications cost money and don’t really work (other than of course FontExplorer X, which is free)?

I’m not holding my breath though.

  1. By excited I mean pessimistically hopeful.

Using FontExplorer X With Networked Home Directories

FontExplorer X has some really funky behavior when it comes to users with networked home directories. Normally, the application files for FontExplorer are stored in ~/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/. Everything works fine and dandy…until a user with a networked home directory tries to open in.

When a user with a networked home folder tries to open the FontExplorer X, the file ~/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/FontDatabase.db is made into an alias. Note that this is a rather important file. It appears to store the references to all of your fonts (not the fonts themselves, just the references). The alias points to a newly created FontDatabase.db file in /Users/Shared/Linotype/FontExplorer X/_/, where is the username of the current user and is the user id of the current user.

The end result of this behavior, is that FontExplorer behaves as if it’s the first time FontExplorer X has been opened, every time someone uses it. Of course, in a lab type environment this behavior is completely unacceptable.

Below are login/logout scripts that I wrote to circumvent this behavior. You can download the scripts and a readme.txt file here:

Update: I should point out here that this particular script has only been tested on OS X 10.4 (Tiger). It will work on 10.3, but the way that you set up the login hook is slightly different than what I describe below. I’m also using FEX 1.2.2 for this script and it should be noted that the way FEX stores it’s database changed slightly in this version. Previous versions of FEX should work with this script using only a small tweaking. As I have not gotten my hands on a Leopard yet, I have no idea if this will work with them. (added 11/8/2007)

Update #2: This script is still working like a charm using OS X 10.5.4 and FEX 1.2.3. (added 8/12/2008)

Update #3: This script still works using OS X 10.6 and FEX 1.2.3. (added 2/7/2011)

The Setup

  1. Start by setting up FEX on a test computer. Set all the preferences as you want them and make sure the fonts are imported into appropriate sets.
  2. Font Library: Make a copy of your entire font library and note the location it’s stored in. I use /Users/Shared/Font Explorer X/ so that everybody has access to it.
  3. FEX plist: make a copy of the FEX plist file located in /Users//Library/Preferences/com.linotype.FontExploereX.plist
  4. Application Support Files: Make a copy of the Linotype application support folder located in /Users//Library/Application Support/
  5. A copy of each of these must reside on the client computer (the one your running the login script on).

* Make sure that the entire font library is in the same location on the client computer as it was in the test machine (/Users/Shared/ in my case). * Copy the FEX plist and Linotype folder to a privileged location on the client computer. It doesn’t matter where they are, we just don’t want normal users to be able to modify them. I use an admin’s document folder.’ 6. Change the $backupprefs and $backupdb variables in login.sh to the correct locations. They should be lines 11 and 14.

Installation

  1. Copy login.sh and logout.shto client computers. Make sure that you limit access to the files. They will be run as root, so these permissions will work:
     sudo chown root:admin <pathToFile>/login.sh <pathToFile>/logout.sh sudo chmod 750 <pathToFile>/login.sh <pathToFile>/logout.sh 
  2. Add the login and logout hooks. Run these two commands in the terminal of the client computer:
     sudo defaults write com.apple.loginwindow LoginHook <pathToFile>/login.sh sudo defaults write com.apple.loginwindow LogoutHook <pathToFile>/logout.sh 
    Note: This works on 10.4. The syntax for 10.3 might be slightly different
  3. To test to make sure the hooks got set up correctly, run this command and ensure that the directories are correct:
    sudo defaults read com.apple.loginwindow

Adding to Existing Login and Logout Hooks

If you already have login and logout scripts running, simply append the contents of these scripts to your existing ones. Everything should still work fine.

Login.sh

 #!/bin/sh ### Modify these ### # change to location where you put FEX plist file backupprefs="/Users/admin/Documents/com.linotype.FontExplorerX.plist" # change to location where you put Linotype file backupdb="/Users/admin/Documents/Linotype" ### Start of Script ### # Get the shortname of user who just logged in username=$1 # create hidden file containing username for the logout script echo $username > /Users/.username # get the user id of user who just logged in userid=`su - $username -c "/usr/bin/id -u"` # set a variable for the FontExplorer folder in the format of _ userfolder=${username}_${userid} # get the path to the networked home directory of user userhome=`su - $username -c "/usr/bin/id -P | cut -f9 -d:"` # Make the prefs directory in /Users/Shared/ for networked users mkdir -p "/Users/Shared/Linotype/FontExplorer X/$userfolder/" # On the rare occassion that the logout script fails to copy the FontDatabase.db file back to user's folder, # this will copy in a default backup copy of the FontDatabase.db file if [ ! -e "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/FontDatabase.db" ]; then cp -R $backupdb "$userhome/Library/Application Support/" chown -R $username:$username "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/" fi # Copy the real FontDatabase.db file from user's home to the /Users/Shared location cp "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/FontDatabase.db" "/Users/Shared/Linotype/FontExplorer X/$userfolder/" # Set the ownership and permissions on the /Users/Shared/Linotype/ directory chown -R $username:$username /Users/Shared/Linotype/ chmod -R 700 /Users/Shared/Linotype/ # Copy correct user preferences (users can't break them) # Don't need to do this step, but helpful in making sure correct prefs are always set cp $backupprefs "$userhome/Library/Preferences/com.linotype.FontExplorerX.plist" chown $username:$username "$userhome/Library/Preferences/com.linotype.FontExplorerX.plist" chmod 700 "$userhome/Library/Preferences/com.linotype.FontExplorerX.plist" 

Logout

 #!/bin/sh # Get username of current user username=`cat /Users/.username` ### Start of Script ### # get the user id of current user userid=`su - $username -c "/usr/bin/id -u"` # set a variable for the FontExplorer folder in the format of _ userfolder=${username}_${userid} # get the path to the networked home directory of user userhome=`su - $username -c "/usr/bin/id -P | cut -f9 -d:"` # Remove the sym link version of FontDatabase.db in user's home rm "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/FontDatabase.db" # Copy version of FontDatabase.db from /Users/Shared/ back to user's home cp "/Users/Shared/Linotype/FontExplorer X/$userfolder/FontDatabase.db" "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/FontDatabase.db" # Make sure ownership is correct chown -R $username:$username "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/" # Remove all of the user's Linotype directories from the /Users/Shared/ directory rm -R /Users/Shared/Linotype 

Cheers.

Managing fonts with FontExplorer X

Somehow I completely missed this article when it came out. It has lots of good general tips about OS X font management and Font Explorer X.

Typography Course Syllabus

I stumbled across this blog the other day which includes an entire course syllabus for a Typography class at Marietta College (GRPH 210). I found the site quite interesting because there is actually a lot of really good info about Typography on the site:

I’m also quite pleased to discover that they are using Linotype’s FontExplorer X for font management in their labs as well. I don’t think that the typography professor in my department has forgiven me yet for pulling the plug on FontReserve and replacing it with FEX. Sigh.

I think that overall the site is a nice example of what can be done with a “departmental blog”. I’ve been working on something similar for my own job.

Quota Monitor Menu

The Situation: You have a Mac OS X Server with network home directories and disk quotas enabled.

Yep, we use network home directories with OS X Server in our Mac Lab. The disk quotas in Tiger work great, except for when…

The Problem: The Mac OS Finder on client machines does not have very good support for warning users they are approaching their file quota limit. They end up all of sudden unable to save files with little or no explanation as to why.

Yeah, that. The dock reverts to the default Apple dock. iMovie keeps telling you there’s not enough space to save anything (even to an empty partition). InDesign spits out all sorts of weird error messages when you open it. And oh yeah, because of a certain login hook we run, FontExplorer X loses our entire Font Folio type library (not FontExplorer’s fault).

Meanwhile, our poor data heavy students have no idea what’s going on.

The Solution: QuotaMonitorMenu places the user’s home folder quota status right in the menu bar. It will also pop up warnings at regular intervals. All warnings and text are customizable.

QuotaMonitorMenu Screenshot

Yes, a very handy little utility indeed.

Via AFP548.



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