FreeHand Users: How Do You Like Illustrator CS3? 
I haven't updated the blog in a while, but with the announcement of CS4, I thought it would be interesting to hear FreeHand users experiences with CS3. Did you notice some features from FreeHand that were similar...did you get used to Illustrator easier than you thought you would?

Personally, I had a good experience with the transition, although there were features that I missed. One of the first projects I did in CS3 was a menu. It was front and back, so it was frustrating that there were no multiple pages. Another troubling thing was that Illustrator took forever to open in comparison to FreeHand. Once it was open it was fine, but it's best to take a break while the program takes it's time opening!

Some features that I love: the ease of opening PDF's. FreeHand lacked so much in this area. It's nice to see a program actually open a PDF and keep everything in tact.

Some things that took getting used to: paste inside versus creating a mask. Both programs do this well, just a different way of doing it. I'm used to Illustrator's way now, so it's not so bad.

The text on a path is great, with the exception of typing on the top and bottom of a circle. FreeHand did this so easily. I had to search for directions on how to do this in Illustrator...it takes a lot longer to do in Illustrator.

I am interested in learning what you liked about CS3. I'm also looking forward to the new release of Illustrator, hoping that some of our other features make it into the program.

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Interview with Adobe About FreeHand 
The following is an interview with the Senior Marketing Manager for Illustrator, Terry Hemphill. He is part of a team that is dedicated to creating the best vector tool possible. He discusses his thoughts on FreeHand and why FreeHand users would benefit from migrating to Illustrator.

Adobe is listening to FreeHand users but FH users should be using the forum to let Adobe know of what features they want. Who knows...you may see your favorite featires in the next version of Illustrator.

Here's the interview, enjoy!

1. Why do you think it took so long for Adobe to make an announcement about FreeHand?

Iíve really no insight into this. Since the decision wasnít mine, it not my place to comment.


2. What specific changes were made to Illustrator to accommodate FreeHand users?

First, to be clear, we couldnít add anything specific for FreeHand users from the time the acquisition was announced until it closed, due to FTC regulations. By the time the Illustrator team could work on anything ďspecific,Ē we were way into the development cycle for CS3. However, we did pull in the import filter improvements noted below. The other changes were part of CS3 based on FreeHand as a competitive product, prior to any announcement of the intent to acquire Macromedia. The team always looked at way to compete with FreeHand.

In CS3 the biggest changes/improvements for FH folks:

--FreeHand import filter to support 9, 10 and MX files, and provide better support of type, effects, gradients, etc., the graphic features that users want to maintain when bringing their files into Illustrator.

--Changes to basic drawing tools and controls, to make working with and editing paths easier and more intuitive

-- Eraser tool.


3. What are some reasons that FreeHand users should switch to Illustrator instead of looking elsewhere?

For me, the biggest are compatibility with new hardware and operating systems, Intel-based Macs, new OS versions from Apple and Microsoft. Next would be the integration with other professional design apps. For those who only use FreeHand and no other design apps, features like Live Trace, Live Paint and Live Color in Illustrator.

4. I like the fact that Phil Guindi (from the Illustrator team) is checking Jack Nack's blog at Adobe and responding to FreeHand users comments. To me, it shows that there are people at Adobe that are listening. Do you think that Adobe will continue to add FreeHand features into Illustrator?

As we discussed on the phone some time ago, we do listen to customers and we donít think that everything Illustrator does is the best; the team is always looking for ways to improve Illustrator. Weíve been working closely with customers who are transitioning from FreeHand and obviously listening to individual FreeHand users as well.

5. Is there ever a possibility that Illustrator will have multiple pages? Do you see how this can be very useful?

I can see how this can be useful, particularly if it means supporting multiple artboards of different sizes. It can make file organization much easier, e.g., identity design may include logo design, letterhead, etc.; all could be contained in a single file. I donít think it make sense to start putting page layout features into an illustration app, though. The two are very different -- Illustrator is much more free form, page layout is by necessity focused on structure. Again, this is my view as a long time designer. (As I noted earlier, I cannot comment on future development plans).

6. I don't know if you've been reading the comments on Jack's blog, but how do you respond to the comments like there should only one selection tool?

My response is: how would you think that Illustrator users would react to having a single tool, after years of working with two? Changes to essential tools cannot be based only on the needs of a small segment of users, but on what is best for all users. Having said that, I do feel that the Illustrator team will be closely investigating how to combine the best of both products, and drawing and selection tools are the heart of any vector illustration software.

7. Would you have handled the situation of FreeHand's demise differently? Would you have made an announcement right away? Would you have tried to rescue FreeHand instead?

In a perfect world, yes, I would have preferred that a clear statement was made up front. Iíve meet and have had lengthy conversations with many FreeHand users, distraught over the thought of losing their favorite software, but most simply wanted two things: first, to be heard; second, a direct answer. The one thing that the Illustrator team now can do is listen to the needs of the FreeHand users.

Most users are adult enough to realize that itís only software, and that yes, they can adopt to new tools. They have been doing so for years as products evolve and come and go. Personally, Iíve used many different vector drawing tools in my years in graphics productionófrom dedicated systems like Genigraphics, Dicomed, Autographix, SlideTek and Management Graphics, to software packages including FreeHand, Illustrator and CorelDRAW. And Iíd have to say that no software package today gives me the power that the proprietary systems with specialized graphics processors did. But I also donít have to sit all day in a room chilled to accommodate DEC Alpha mini-computers, using VMS command line entries, creating and editing files that are restricted to a single proprietary format, either.

Sorry, I guess I really dated myself there...my point is that there are a number of vocal users who will wring their hands over any changes to any software or system, and imagine conspiracies where none really exist. Most of us adapt and move on.

And no, I wouldnít have ďrescuedĒ FreeHand. From a business perspective, it isnít practical.



8. Do you agree with others when they say that FreeHand would be dead regardless of the merger between Macromedia and Adobe?

Macromedia had essentially stopped development of FH long before the announcement of a potential merger with Adobe, with no significant updates for nearly four years. Illustrator has the lionís share of the worldwide markets and is constantly being updated for hardware/operating system compatibility and for integration with other apps.
Dead? Possibly not. Moribund? Yes.


9. Something that has confused me...I often read that FreeHand was losing sales. When a software is packaged with others in a suite, how can a company tell that one of it's software is losing money? FreeHand was part of the studio. Are sales from the studio factored in when Macromedia figured that FreeHand was not making money?

I canít really say how Macromedia determined sales, but most companies closely watch product sales and conduct research to determine market share, for any product, software, hardware, consumer or professional. Also, FreeHand software is sold individually as well as in Suites, which also provides additional data.

10. Do you think the transition to Adobe's vector software would have been easier had Adobe created a new vector program from scratch?

What if Adobe created a new vector program based on an entirely new way of drawing? I wonder what the reaction from FreeHand users would be in that case? Transition is change; change can either be embraced or rejected.

11. Adobe waited for a long period to let us know what was happening to FreeHand. Did they ever plan on developing FreeHand and changed their mind or was FreeHand already dead in Adobe's eyes but they just didn't say anything?

Canít comment. In truth, Iíve no insight into this.

12. Were there features in any version of FreeHand that just blew you away?

Well, back in FH 8 (I think) were the Freeform tools, which I really liked. Also, the Lens Fill was really cool. As someone who likes help with perspective drawing, the perspective grid was appealing as well.

13. What comments did you agree with that FreeHand users have been saying?

I think the rest of these questions answer that ó yes, I would have preferred an earlier and more direct statement. There are areas where FreeHand excels and the Illustrator should, will and already has been looking at ways to adapt and incorporate these features.

14. What improvements are needed in Illustrator to make it even better?

Again, these are personal ramblings, and not a representation of whatís needed for all users. Please donít think I control what goes into new releases. Personally, Iím always looking for more streamlined, intuitive ways to work, so here goes:

Keep tweaking the core tools, as was done with Illustrator CS2 and CS3. Sometimes, it really is the little things that makes the most difference in day-to-day work (Iím thinking the path enhancements, Crop and Eraser tools.).
Improve gradients. Working with them is not intuitive. I love gradient mesh, but it could be more fluid as well.
Opacity masks, again, make them more intuitive.
Revisit 3d effects for ease of use and performance.
Keep improving runtime performance.



15. Any other comments to FreeHand users ready to make the switch to Illustrator?

Give illustrator CS3 a try. Download the trial and play around. Check out some of the really fun features in Illustrator ó Live Trace, live Paint, Live Color. There are a lot of resources to help you explore the new features (check out the CS3 Video Workshop in the Illustrator Design Center). There are also a lot of free resources to help you make the transition from FreeHand, so check them out as well (www.adobe.com/products/illustrator/switch). Weíll be adding and updating those resources over the next months as well.

The Illustrator team does want to hear from users, so use the forums to let us know what you want.


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Mordy's Interview 
Mordy Golding is highly respected in the FreeHand and Illustrator community. He is the author of Real World Illustrator CS2 and he was once the product manager at Adobe for Illustrator. He also worked on the videos from the Migrating from FreeHand to Illustrator series. You can check out his blog for tips on using Illustrator, a tool that, like it or not, FreeHand users will most likely need to learn.

Here's the interview about FreeHand's demise andd migrating to Illustrator.

1. Why do you think it took so long for Adobe to make an announcement about FreeHand?

I honestly have no idea. But if I had to offer any kind of guess, I'd imagine that it had nothing at all to do with the Illustrator team itself. Most likely, it was a decision that was made by Adobe corporate. But again, I have no insight into why it took them this long to make any kind of announcement. Maybe they felt the added functionality in CS3 was an important step in helping FH users make the switch, and they didn't want to have people making that move until CS3 was available. In either case, I personally would have liked to have seen an announcement made much earlier.

2. What specific changes were made to Illustrator to accommodate FreeHand users?

From what I personally can tell, the following features are new to Illustrator CS3 and would appeal to FreeHand users:

- Ability to open native FreeHand MX, 10, and 9 files using a new import capability and dialog box.
- New mask buttons in Control panel to create and edit masks more easily
- New preferences panel dedicated to selection tool behavior and bezier handle appearance
- Align functions work on individual anchor points
- Easier symbol creation and editing (similar to both FreeHand and Flash as well)
- Ability to automatically name all unused colors in a document and add them as defined swatches

I may be missing others, but these immediately come to mind.


3. What are some reasons that FreeHand users should switch to Illustrator instead of looking elsewhere?

I actually wrote up a short list of 5 features that Illustrator has that FreeHand users will find extremely valuable. They are: superior support for PDF; support for XMP metadata; support for OpenType fonts and functionality; Superior integration with Photoshop; and the Save for Web feature. In Illustrator CS3, Live Color and all of the enhancements listed above in the previous question show an obvious commitment from Adobe about the continued development and desire to make Illustrator better, meaning more and more FreeHand stuff will find its way to Illustrator.

Finally, the biggest reason is, where else are you going to go? If you think choosing a small illustration product (or even a large one like CorelDraw or example) is going to solve all of your problems, you'd be wrong. There's a reason why Illustrator is the industry standard. If you give it some time, you'll get a hang of it -- and all of the knowledge you've acquired over the years with FH will help you adapt. Odds are you'll end up ore frustrated with an alternative.


4. I like the fact that Phil Guindi (from the Illustrator team) is checking Jack Nack's blog at Adobe and responding to FreeHand users comments. To me, it shows that there are people at Adobe that are listening. Do you think that Adobe will continue to add FreeHand features into Illustrator?

People like to believe things. EVERYONE at Adobe is always actively listening. I mean, that's Phil's job after all. A Product Manager's main job is to visit customers, read forums, and study how people use the product. If you think that Phil Guindi or others at Adobe just dream up their own ideas for each new version of a program, you'd be very wrong. So I for one, am happy to see Phil doing his job. To me it shows a commitment that Adobe will continue to invest in Illustrator and try to do their best to improve it -- even with a lack of a true competitor.

5. Is there ever a possibility that Illustrator will have multiple pages? Do you see how this can be very useful?

Anyone can see that it would be useful to have Multiple pages in AI. Is it possible that a future version of AI will have multiple pages? Sure. But there are always many reasons to take into account for how features are added, and how much work it might be to do so. Adobe is well aware of the whole multiple page thing -- so trust, it's something they seriously evaluate each cycle.

6. I don't know if you've been reading the comments on Jack's blog, but how do you respond to the comments like there should only one selection tool? I agree with others that FreeHand made it quick to modify paths with keyboard keys...I have to get used to switching tools instead! Any chance that Illustrator will become more like FreeHand in this respect?

While Illustrator does indeed have two selection tools, just about all functions can allow to quickly switch between them with the use of a modifier key. And again, the AI team at Adobe will always evaluate features that FreeHand has and incorporate them into future versions of Illustrator.

7. If you were at Adobe, how would you have handled the situation of FreeHand's demise? Would you have made an announcement right away? Would you have tried to rescue FreeHand instead?

I've spoken about these kinds of things at my blog before. Again, I do think that Adobe's reluctance to make any announcement earlier was a decision made by Adobe corporate and not the Illustrator team itself. That being said, it's possible that if I would have been on the team, I'd have had no choice in that regard. As for trying to rescue FreeHand, again, that's a decision that's made by corporate. At Adobe, you have a job and you do it to the best of your ability. Adobe does that will all of its programs. "Rescuing" FreeHand just doesn't make any kind of sense from a financial standpoint (I've spoken about that on my blog as well). I fully support integrating FH features into AI, and had I still been on the AI team, I would push for as much of that as possible. In that regards, users get the great stuff that AI has AND the great stuff that FH has. If Adobe would have continued to develop FH, users would point to AI over the years and say "hey, AI has better PDF support and we want that in FH too" Same for XMP, CSS, OpenType, Photoshop integration, gradient mesh, etc. You'd end up with duplication, loss of money, and more. Also, it would be a marketing nightmare considering all of the Suites that Illustrator is currently in.

8. Do you agree with others when they say that FreeHand would be dead regardless of the merger between Macromedia and Adobe?

Absolutely. The only way FH would have lived on without the merger is if Macromedia would have sold it. And even then, if you consider the intellectual property owned within FH (patents, etc), it would be silly to do so.

9. Something that has confused me...I often read that FreeHand was losing sales. When a software is packaged with others in a suite, how can a company tell that one of it's software is losing money? FreeHand was part of the studio. Are sales from the studio factored in when Macromedia figured that FreeHand was not making money?

Every company measures statistics in different ways. And also, such data is often skewed. For example, when figuring market share, numbers that are published are of new seats sold. Seats that are part of a suite are counted as well. But companies also measure data of how many people buy software but don't install it or don't use it. For example, in the early years, Adobe InDesign was gaining "seats" compared to Quark, but Adobe also knew that many people were buying the suite just for Illustrator and Photoshop, and only a few users were actually using InDesign -- they still used Quark. Likewise, Macromedia may have found that users were buying a suite that contained FreeHand but that users weren't using it. Who knows -- maybe Macromedia thought that Flash would replace FreeHand. Just a thought.

10. Do you think the transition to Adobe's vector software would have been easier had Adobe created a new vector program from scratch?

I've definitely answered this before on my blog. Creating a full-featured software application is no simple task. And it's one that takes much time and much money. And besides, any such endeavor would have definitely introduced all new ways of doing things, and that certainly wouldn't have made a transition any easier -- in fact, it would have made it more difficult for users (having to learn an entire new product). Granted, it might introduce a better product, but I highly doubt the cost would come anywhere close to justifying the means. If you want a much better answer to this question, you should do some research on how Adobe developed LiveMotion, how Adobe developed InDesign, and how Adobe developed Lightroom. All are wonderful examples (some successful, some not) of how much effort it takes to create a new program from scratch. Better, these stories tell the true tales of how long it takes and how much money it takes to do this. Can users wait 5 years for a 1.0 product and can Adobe afford to fund such a project for that long? Highly doubtful.

11. Adobe waited for a long period to let us know what was happening to FreeHand. Did they ever plan on developing FreeHand and changed their mind or was FreeHand already dead in Adobe's eyes but they just didn't say anything?

I have no idea. As I mentioned earlier, I personally support moving FH features into AI, so you know what I think about that...

12. Were there features in FreeHand that you thought were great that Illustrator didn''t have? Was there a feature from any version of FreeHand that you were excited about and couldn't wait to try?

I always thought of FreeHand as more of a drawing tool. My background is heavy in art production -- and I always considered Illustrator as a stronger alternative in that regard. So I never really looked at new features in FH with excitement with the lone possible exception of graphic search and replace. Then again, I don't really get enjoyment out of a specific feature -- but I do get enjoyment when figuring out new ways to build files and when figuring out ways to save lots of time.

13. What comments did you agree with that FreeHand users have been saying?

I agree with all comments that FreeHand users make. These are all personal issues and everyone has the right to voice an opinion. Some people like oranges and some like apples. Is one right or better than the other? The only think I don't agree with are comments or statements that are made solely based on hearsay or disparaging comments that people make without trying something. For example, people make a huge fuss over the fact that AI has two selection tools. Sure, FH has just one. But in AI, holding the command key makes one of those tools act like both. But many FH users don't try that and just quickly jump to conclusions. I think it's less about trying to figure out which is better or worse and more about learning that it's possible for something to be done in a different way. When you take that approach, it's easier to learn AI, and more importantly, it's easier to give feedback to the AI team which is constructive.

14. What improvements are needed in Illustrator to make it even better?

That's an open question. The Illustrator User to User forum has 44 active topics covering features that people would like to see added to future versions of Illustrator. I've been using After Effects a lot these days and see some totally cool stuff there that would be very welcome inside of Illustrator. The good news here is that there's plenty to be done, and Adobe has continually stated that they are committed to make Illustrator better. That's good news to my ears.

15. Any other comments to FreeHand users ready to make the switch to Illustrator?

Well, I've said it many times before, but it's worth repeating. If you're serious about making the switch to Illustrator, don't assume that you can just switch and use Illustrator as if it were FreeHand. I used to give the same speech to those making the move from Quark to InDesign. Don't use InDesign like it's Quark -- it's a whole new mentality of how to build documents. Same with AI and FH. Don't try to force Illustrator to create multiple page layouts. It just doesn't do that. Don't lament over how FH has a single object panel where all attributes are modified. Learn how AI's Appearance panel and Control panel work together. Don't focus on what is better. Instead, focus on how to get your work done. If it takes a few extra steps here or there, I guarantee that for some other features or functions, you'll find those can get done in fewer steps in Illustrator. In reality, once you give it a real chance, you'll find that there's some method to the madness and you'll start to enjoy using Illustrator.

The real advice I give to my own clients is this: do a real job in Illustrator. Make believe FH isn't even on your computer anymore (going back and forth only makes the transition harder). Yes, getting this job done will take 5 times as long. But the next will take 4 times as long, etc. But learning using a real job will make it click and more importantly, will make it stick.

Use some of the valuable resources that Adobe has made available. Watch a video or buy a book. Keep a book handy for references or for when you get stuck. Visit the Adobe User to User forum to post questions or to ask advice from other users. And of course, you can always email me at my blog and I'll try to do my best to help as well. The bottom line is that if you're really serious about making the switch, and you really want to learn to use Illustrator, the support in the community is there.


Thanks for your time. I really appreciate it!

My pleasure! I hope this is helpful to FreeHand users.

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Understanding FreeHand MX 
Someone mentioned, what was the point of the open arrow tool in MX. I don't understand why it's there either. MX could be a great version, but to work comfortably, some users need to set it up in a certain way. For example, I like to use FreeHand with FH9 keyboard shortcuts as MX changed many commands. I don't like the way the palettes are grouped together, so I make sure that the palettes work as close to FH9 as possible.

One nice feature of MX is the ability to add or remove additional strokes or effects to an object. This really is a nice touch and it's a shame that it gets forgotten about amid all the complaints about MX.

I personally like MX, although nothing beat FH9. I think Adobe could work on MX, if they fixed some of the problems people encountered with it. What do you like about MX and what should be improved?

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FreeHand & InDesign..They Work Together!† 
I know some people think that FreeHand MX and InDesign don't work well together. That's not the case with me. I have completed numerous projects with both programs together. It's too bad that FreeHand is not a part of CS as I think it would work well with all the other programs in it.

I often drag and drop graphics from FreeHand with ease onto InDesign. They work better together than FreeHand works with Quark, in my opinion. I'm sure that Ilustrator works with InDesign, but they were designed to work together in the first place. It's amazing how well FreeHand responds considering it hasn't been updated in three years.

Does anyone else use FreeHand and InDesign together? Did you have an easier time learning InDesign because of your knowledge in FreeHand? Do you think that FreeHand and InDesign have some similar features?

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