The Breakroom

“Et tu, Adobe?”

August 31, 2006

By Webmaster

Our recent post, ‘Top 5 Adobe Illustrator Pet Peeves’, struck a chord so loud it broke the glass we were drinking from! Illustrator users everywhere came out in force with their thoughts and suggestions. Most feedback fell along lines of “I agree 100%” or the ever-popular “Deal with it people!” Some however, wrote with very helpful (sometimes sad and funny) tips and tricks that we’d like to share with you today. So without further ado, we present what we’ve learned from people with bigger Illustrator brains than us!

5) Inflexible Radial Fills – Short of using gradient meshes to achieve the look you need, most people suggested starting with a circle and applying a radial fill. Next, deform the circle to an ellipse to get that “oh so elusive” shape for the fill. This works great when you need to fill an ellipse, but what about other geometric or hand-drawn shapes? Gradient Meshes are complicated and overkill for this type of application, but it seems they are all we have for now.

4) Finicky Printing – Of the 5 problem areas we outlined, this one engendered the best responses. Our favorites included “Save the file as a PDF and print it from Acrobat instead!” and “Convert all text to outlines”. Needless to say that if we have to use a second application to print our Illustrator document, something is rotten in Denmark. Converting fonts to non-editable outlines does solve some of these problems, but it defeats the purpose of using fonts in the first place. At any rate its clear that Illustrator just can’t handle certain older Open Type fonts. Time to upgrade our copy of Frutiger from 1998. :-)

3) Forgetful Clipping Masks – The problem of losing style settings when converting to clipping masks is one that no one could offer a work-around for. It seems that there just is no easy way to get the program to remember a shape’s settings when converting to a mask. Here’s hoping Adobe is listening and makes us eat our words when CS3 is released.

2) Lazy Multiple-Window Support – Quick and dirty solutions to the problem of Illustrator not remembering the proper view, came in the form of always remembering to make your last view active before saving and using Command-Y to clear screen rendering artifacts. Hardly elegant solutions to be sure. One user wrote us an action to help us set up our workspaces and we are eager to give it a test run. Thanks George!

1) Selecting Stuff – Solutions to our maniacal dance with the dual selection tools ran the gamut. Many people wrote to say that after many “years” of wrestling with the program, they finally got used to it. Others suggested clever tricks such as using the ‘Lock All Deselected’ command (Command+Option+2) to avoid selecting incorrect shapes and paths. Knowing your keyboard shortcuts for switching tools is always helpful as well and seems to be a necessity for the constant need to go from Pen to Direct Select tool and back again.

Other users’ pet peeves included:

  • Align Points – The ability to align points in addition to shapes.
  • Performance Issues – Increasing use of raster effects and larger pixel dimensions means Illustrator is starting to crawl. Judging from all the mail we received, an Intel version would make a whole lot of people happy.
  • Improved Save for Web – Illustrator lags behind Photoshop with its ‘Save for Web’ panel which could stand more finely tuned controls.
  • No Dock Menu Support – Illustrator doesn’t support navigation of open files via the Dock Menu. Why? Your guess is as good as ours.

And the solution to these problems? One user wrote in to suggest: “Complain bitterly on the Adobe Illustrator Support Forums.” We like to think that a carrot gets better results than a stick, but we also know that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so some gentle urging may be just what the doctor ordered. Whoa, that’s one too many cliches even for us! We hope you enjoyed our side trip into Adobe land, thanks to all who wrote in, now back to making icons!