I would love ot hear from others on why sometimes it's best to use FreeHand...a multi-purpose program that does more than draw!
A side note here: someone sent me an email about a week ago (Rocco?) with tips for FreeHand for a future article. If you could resend, that would be great as I lost the email you sent!
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Before reading them, just know we still don't have the answer about the maintenance program. But after talking with Adobe, I realized something...we shouldn't be comparing FreeHand to Illustrator, as if Adobe will drop Illustrator in favor of FreeHand. They want to hear why they should keep both programs going at the same time. Adobe does not want two separate programs that do essentially the same thing. FreeHand users have been comparing their product to Illustrator and explaining to Adobe why they think their product is superior. Adobe does not want to hear that FreeHand is the better program...they are going to stick with Illustrator; itís an important product to them. If there's hope in saving FreeHand, users will need to demonstrate to Adobe that FreeHand has enough features that are unique and that it's more than a drawing program. I think Adobe figures they already have a draw program and don't need two.
I think of FreeHand as a swiss army knife. It can do so much and I know many FreeHand users will agree. If we want a small page layout (such as a newsletter), we'll use FreeHand. If we need to do some Flash animation quickly, we'll use FreeHand. If we are working on a corporate logo, we'll use FreeHand to store the logo, along with a cover letter, envelope, etc., all in one file. Maybe we should let Adobe know that FreeHand is more than a draw program, but rather a GRAPHIC DESIGN TOOL. FreeHand doesn't need a bundle, but could remain a stand-alone, perfect for people who bring their work home, and yet powerful enough for work in the studio.
Share your ideas here for Adobe on why they should have both programs and why you think FreeHand should live on with Illustrator. This is what they want to know about.
This is off topic, but check out some fonts I am selling that I did in FreeHand. It could help pay for the hosting of my site!
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I started by asking their opinion about why Macromedia would abruptly stop development of FreeHand. Both Terry and Phil stressed that it is very costly to develop a program. Even though the teams seem small, it still costs a lot of money. If a program will be a big seller, then the software companies are more than happy to develop it. In the case of FreeHand, I was surprised to hear that it was not making much money. That is why MX had problems, apparently, Macromedia simply didn't put the resources into it because of the low return.
My next question was if Adobe recognized FreeHand as a separate program, unique from Illustrator. Adobe was not really concerned over competition before the merger as FreeHand users have been asking questions about migrating to Illustrator at various trade shows. FreeHand users at these shows wanted better quality output and increased PDF support, something Illustrator had. The migration guide, as many of you are aware, was in development long before the merger came about.
Terry and Phil described the FreeHand users as a passionate group of people that care about their work. They stressed that Adobe is fully aware of us and want to give us the best product out there, whether itís FreeHand or another program. They listen to what we FreeHand users say, and they do frequently check the petition page. There is a lot of research and study into virtually everything Adobe does, so they know what us FreeHand users want.
As far as the comparisons between InDesign and FreeHand, Terry commented that he feels Illustrator and InDesign have more similarities, with the color palette, the UI, etc. He was curious about why I thought FreeHand and InDesign were so much alike. I mentioned the Paste Inside feature and the multiple pages as the obvious similarities. Eventually Adobe would like to have all applications in the CS to work flawlessly together, so much so that a user would think Illustrator feels like InDesign or like Photoshop.
I don't think we'll be seeing the ability to substitute certain programs in CS for others, such as FreeHand instead of Illustrator, as some have speculated on the FreeHand forum. Again, they want all programs to work well together in CS. By substituting programs, the CS programs wonít run as well together unless they were all developed at the same time.
When I asked about the maintenance release, Terry and Phil could not answer the question, which I do understand. They do know that FreeHand and Illustrator need to work better together, and that there is a need for Illustrator to be able to open FreeHand files without problems. So while I didn't find out about the much talked about maintenance release, I do know that they are working on ways to have FreeHand users happy...it just may or may not include a maintenance release.
I also couldn't find out about the FreeHand team, if there is one or not. They informed me that the answer is rather complicated. But they do monitor the FreeHand forum. Even though they don't always answer, they are fully aware of the bugs. I don't think they know exactly what they will do with FreeHand yet, but I do know that Illustrator is their flagship program. Nothing is written in stone as far as what features go into Illustrator. They are more than willing to include some features of FreeHand, but it's more about whether there is a need for it. They know that FreeHand users like multiple pages, but they feel that Illustrator should focus more on the illustration side of things, than with page layout. They donít want to turn Illustrator into another page layout program. Not to say that it wonít happen, itís just not a priority for the program.
They explained that the Illustrator is a humble team, and they are proud of the product they are working on. My feeling is that this next release will attempt to please both FreeHand and Illustrator customers.
They do recognize that there are some of the better features in FreeHand that Illustrator doesnít have. They know about the Find and Replace, and they did acknowledge the superior Paste Inside feature of FreeHand, something I hope makes it to Illustrator CS3. Phil noted that FreeHand had an advantage for many years, in that it was always on Illustratorís heels. Everything Illustrator did, FreeHand had the opportunity to see and find ways to do things easier. They acknowledged that FreeHand in the past was easier to use, but they feel that started to change with the first CS release.
Are there features in Illustrator that FreeHand users have overlooked? The Live Paint feature, the Live Trace features stand out as Terryís favorite features, something which I found difficult to use. I have no idea why Live Trace was so hard for me, but I explained how easy it is to trace in FreeHand, just click and drag. After talking with Terry, Iíll have to look at those features of Illustrator again.
Are there features in FreeHand that Illustrator users have overlooked? Well, maybe not overlooked, but the most often requested features have been the Find and Replace, Paste Inside and Multiple Pages features.
Where does Adobe see drawing programs in the future? Vector tools will play a significant role in the work that web designers and graphic designers do. Vector tools will also be important for mobile devices. If anything, drawing programs will only increase in popularity.
I feel more confident with Adobe after the conversation. They realize that FreeHand users felt abandoned by Macromedia. Although the main question of the maintenance release remains unanswered, Adobe does know Illustratorís weaknesses and are acknowledging them.
However, if FreeHand users want to save their program, they are going to have to show Adobe that it's a different type of program, not a direct competition with Illustrator. They do know about all of our requests. I feel that many of the features we like in FreeHand will make it into Illustrator. This will be the first major upgrade of Illustrator since the merger, so we may find it works more like FreeHand!
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blog for Illustrator users which offers the latest news on Illustrator and vector programs in general. I thought Mordy could provide is some insight as to what we can expect regarding FreeHand.
1. When did you first use FreeHand?
It was version 3.1 I believe. I had started out on the Mac using Deneba
Canvas, but everywhere I went to get my file output, no service bureau in NY
supported those files. They demanded either Illustrator or FreeHand files. I
actually bought both Illustrator (3.2) and FreeHand at the time, but chose
to go with FreeHand because of the ability to work in preview mode
(something AI couldn't do at that time).
2. I know your an Illustrator user, so it would be interesting to hear
if there is something in FreeHand that you prefer?
Well, multiple pages for sure :) I can't say I prefer anything from
Freehand over AI these days however. I'm less into comparing features and
more into getting my work done faster. For the kinds of things I do on a
daily basis, AI does that for me.
3. I don't believe you worked for Macromedia (or did you?), but what do
you think was running through their heads when they stopped development
of FreeHand? Was it because of cost, or maybe they didn't want to
directly compete with Adobe?
No, I never did work for Macromedia. The only think I can imagine is that
Macromedia obviously saw their business growing on the internet side of
things. And they decided to follow that opportunity. I heard a rumor that
many of the engineers on the FreeHand team were moved to the Flash team.
From a business perspective, I can't say I disagree with that decision. I
mean, look at what Flash did for Macromedia.
I disagree with Macromedia's decision because Flash and FreeHand together could have been a powerful suite...if Macromedia invested in FreeHand more.
4. What do you think of the FreeHand community? Did you take a look at
the petition page for FreeHand lately? Are you surprised at the turnout?
I think the FreeHand community is a dedicated group of individuals who care
about the work they do and who are passionate about the products they use to
do it. I check the petition page every couple of weeks. I'm not surprised at
all by the turnout. I would expect those who are passionate about tools to
stand behind and support them.
5. Do you still feel that FreeHand should be open source, and if so,
While I'm familiar with the Illustrator codebase, I have no familiarity with
the FreeHand codebase. So I can't talk to how feasible this may or may not
be. But keep in mind that Freehand is no spring chicken. We're talking about
a huge application that has some very old code in it as well. I can't see
how any kind of open source project would result in anything other than
utter chaos and a bug-ridden app. You'd be better off just starting from
scratch. Besides, Adobe wouldn't ever want to release or give up the
FreeHand is no spring chicken...but neither is Illustrator. Both apps have their code updated to OS X, so I think their age is irrelevant.
6. I know on Adobe's forum, you indicated that you learned something
new about FreeHand...that it has the ability to select objects that
were pasted inside using the option key. Were there any other features
that you discovered in regards to FreeHand's features? Do you think
FreeHand's paste inside is superior to Illustrator's masking
I don't think that I use FreeHand enough these days to really discover those
wonderful nuggets of information. But I always love to learn new ways to be
efficient. As for whether Paste Inside is more superior than Masking, well I
did an entire post on that. But it really isn't a direct comparison, because
I feel that while FH's implementation is easier to apply at first, I feel
that AI's implementation is for powerful from an editing perspective -- at
the end. So like anything else in life, each way has its merits.
7. How do you feel when Illustrator users look down on FreeHand? I know
FreeHand users at times put down Illustrator as well. would you agree
that both programs have a lot to offer? Also, do you think there is a
place for both programs with Adobe?
It's silly to look down at anything. I mean, come on -- this isn't a
competition where someone has to win and someone has to lose. Both are
quality apps that have great offerings. I don't make fun of another artist
who uses a different kind of brush than I do. And someone who does really
doesn't appreciate what us artists go through. We just want to use the tool
that we're most comfortable with, and that will get the job done. Is there a
place for both apps at Adobe? Only Adobe can answer that question. They've
managed to keep PageMaker and InDesign alive -- but then again, they pretty
much killed FrameMaker. The reason why was because even in its late age,
PageMaker was incredibly successful. I can't say the same about FreeHand, so
I would highly doubt Adobe would keep FreeHand around. You have to realize
how much work is necessary to keep an application afloat at Adobe. Look at
LiveMotion -- which was a VERY popular app that had a great following. It
had great potential -- yet Adobe seemingly inexplicably killed it. Put
yourself in Adobe's shoes and look far down the line. Maybe 3 or 4 versions
in the future. Would you be upset if Adobe released a cool new feature for
AI, but didn't include it in Freehand? Say for example, a far better
improved PDF export module. Well, Adobe would have to then duplicate that
same feature and maintain it in two apps. And as FreeHand gets older, will
they have to continue to update and rewrite the code so that it works with
newer hardware? And wouldn't you expect that printing with transparency from
Freehand should live up to the same standards as that found in AI? Don't get
me wrong -- I love FH as an app, but in the world, it has 14% market share
compared to 68% for Illustrator. So if you were Adobe, what would you
LiveMotion is not an old app...people haven't been relying on it as long as they have with FreeHand. The fan base of LiveMotion will support Flash. The trouble with FreeHand is that Adobe thinks of it as just a competitor to Illustrator. What about all the other things that FreeHand does. Couldn't Adobe invest money into a graphic design powerhouse for those who don't want CS? It could be a great alternative to people who bring their work home.
Also, who says that FreeHand would have to have every single new feature that Illustrator would have? FreeHand users have said many times that all they care about is that FreeHand will be maintained and work on future systems. They don't seem to care as much about the bells and whistles. All we want is better PDF support and OpenType support, and maybe a Mactel version of FreeHand.
8. Have you heard any new developments in regards to the much talked
about FreeHand maintenance release? Should FreeHand users be worried if
Adobe doesn't meet the deadline of releasing it this fall? I'm sure
deadlines get pushed around, but do you think the release is really
coming or is it just talk right now?
I personally have heard no such rumors of a maintenance release of any kind.
Adobe's very secretive about their future palns. As usual, we'll have to wait and see what happens with FreeHand.
9. When the rumors started in early June that FreeHand wouldn't be
developed, Adobe immediately said that it was untrue. What were your
thoughts on that?
My thoughts were that at the time, Adobe really just hadn't thought out how
they wanted to proceed. I also have no evidence that any kind of decision
has or has not been made.
10. We all have marketing ideas and dreams of how our favorite programs
should fit in with Adobe. My idea is to have a drawing suite of
programs, Illustrator, FreeHand and Flash. If FreeHand is to be
developed along with Illustrator, how do you think the should promote
and sell it?
Read my answer to question 7. Developing FH along with AI just doesn't make
any business sense.
It doesn't make business sense as Mordy and many FreeHand users have been talking about FreeHand as a competitor to Illustrator. FreeHand is more than that to me...I use it for illustration, Flash and smaller page layouts.
11. Are there features in Illustrator that you think FreeHand users
I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If a user is seriously looking at
a product to use so that they can earn a living, then I would think they
would evaluate it in the best light. I think FH users are painfully aware of
many of the features that AI has that FH does not. But research also shows
that only a small percentage of people actually choose a product because of
a specific feature.
12. Are there features in FreeHand that you think Illustrator users
My answer is similar to that of the previous question. Illustrator users are
also painfully aware of features that FH has that are elegant. I do believe
that Adobe has done a much better job marketing Illustrator over the years,
so yes, it's certainly possible -- and probable -- that there are more
Illustrator users who are unaware of FH's capabilities than there are FH
users who are unaware of AI's capabilities.
13. How do you see Adobe in the future...do you think they will be
bigger than Microsoft?
Being I'm a stockholder, I certainly hope so :) But you're talking about
many years down the line of course. Adobe is a 2 billion dollar company and
Microsoft is a 40 billion dollar company. So for now, Adobe is David and
Microsoft is Goliath. A lot can change moving forward, but you never know.
14. I know this is probably unrelated, but which do you prefer,
InDesign or QuarkXPress?
InDesign. You couldn't pay me enough to use Quark anymore.
15. What do you think can be improved in FreeHand?
I don't use FH enough these days to really answer this question. I'm sure
that you or other FH users are very aware of what can be improved. And
providing that feedback to Adobe can only prove to be useful.
16. What can be improved in Illustrator?
Where do I begin? For one, AI could be A LOT faster. And drawing needs to be
simplified. The truth is, there's a laundry list of enhancements that
17. Is there any features you feel are missing from FreeHand?
How is this different from question 15? I still think that FH needs much
better PDF support. The absence of OpenType support and better pixel/bitmap
support is also a disappointing.
18. What do you see for drawing programs in the future? Do you think
they will still be an important tool for designers and illustrators?
Based on the work that I see on sites like iStockPhoto these days,
illustration is a powerful art form that will be around for a very long
time. And if that's the case, drawing programs will be around as well. I
have no worries.
19. What current projects are you working on?
Well, I just published by first video podcast (Pen: The Vector Podcast) and
I'm working on revisions to my two main books that I've authored. Of course,
I'm also working on some video based training. Above that, I'm continuing my
freelance design work and consulting. I firmly believe that one can't teach
others if he doesn't practice himself.
20. If you were to say to Adobe a reason why FreeHand should be saved,
what would you say to them?
The reason would have to be a strong business case that would not only
guarantee a large amount of money (and remember, what you consider a large
amount may not be large to Adobe), but that would also give Adobe a distinct
advantage or a strategic market position. But since I can't imagine any way
of supporting those statements, I'm afraid I couldn't come up with anything
at all to say.
I really appreciate your taking the time for the interview...
...You'll find that Adobe does a tremendous amount of research and that everything they do is incredibly thought out. That doesn't mean they succeed in everything they do, but no matter what decision Adobe does make, I can assure you that it was thought through and through, and that they have sufficient data to support their decisions. That's the way things work over there.
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