Oh My God! They Killed FreeHand!

Answered by Jay Nelson, Editor and Publisher, Design Tools Monthly

Many years ago, our studio standardized on Macromedia FreeHand for its robust feature set and efficient interface. But Adobe acquired Macromedia and has now announced that no further development will take place. What should we do? We want to upgrade to Intel-based Macs and Windows Vista, but FreeHand will never be upgraded to run natively on those platforms.

It's a sad, sad day indeed. For most of its life, FreeHand had a superior feature set and more efficient interface than Adobe Illustrator. Unfortunately, when Macromedia acquired FreeHand from Altsys (who were the original developers), they stopped developing it as a world-class tool for print. Meanwhile, Illustrator continued to evolve and took over the market. Then Adobe took over Macromedia.

But don't panic yet: Apple has done a phenomenal job of maintaining compatibility with Mac OS X applications that were not updated to run natively on Intel processors. Your copy of FreeHand will run perfectly well in the "Rosetta" environment on Intel-based Macs. In fact, you shouldn't even notice a difference in using it. (Note for Windows users: FreeHand should run OK in Windows Vistaâ„¢, but is not guaranteed to do so.)

But you need to prepare yourself for the future. At some point, you'll need to switch to Illustrator. Why not to Canvas or CorelDRAW, you ask? Because those two applications are no longer being developed for Mac OS X.

Adobe has made the migration process easier by including in Illustrator CS3 the ability to directly open FreeHand 9, 10 and MX documents. In addition, Adobe has a helpful 44-page "FreeHand to Illustrator Migration Guide" on its website. Adobe is also offering a special upgrade to Illustrator CS3 for FreeHand users, at just $199.

Obviously, your FreeHand users will need to learn to use Illustrator. For that, I recommend watching "Migrating from FreeHand to Illustrator CS3", by Mordy Golding. This five-hour self-paced video training focuses on real-world differences and how to adjust for them. It's only available online at www.Lynda.com, starting at $25/month.

For an ongoing reference guide, I have two recommendations "Adobe Illustrator: Visual QuickStart Guide", by Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas. Because it simplifies tasks to a one- or two-page series of steps and screen shots, this book is perfect for those "how do I do that again?" moments. But to fully understand any of Illustrator's features, "Real World Adobe Illustrator", by Mordy Golding, sets the standard. Both are available from Peachpit Press.

Peachpit Press:

Migration Guide:

This question was answered by Jay Nelson, Publisher & Editor, Design Tools Monthly. We love DTM's tips and advice and think you will, too. For a free sample PRINTED issue, contact Design Tools Monthly at 303-543-8400, e-mail info@design-tools.com, or go to their website: www.design-tools.com.

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