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Freehand into Flash is no more

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#1
Envirographics

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Hi,
I am creating maps in Freehand 9, using existing Freehand maps from a vast database of such, and importing them into Flash8. Now having upgraded to the latest Flash, that being CS5, I am unable to do this, because Adobe have pulled the plug on Freehand file support in Flash !

My options:-
1) downgrade to CS4
or
2) anything you guys suggest.

EPS by the way is of no use as the paste inside export box I use to take just the part of my map I am needing into Flash is unsupported, the file opens in Flash with all the roads outside of that box still visible. It does however keep cmyk colours looking as they did in freehand. It also sees the vector lines still follow their true path. Freehand native files also did this in the maps I have created for real, but a test I did saw them change route ! Jury is out on that !

Illustrator from what I read has all sorts of issues, are you finding it for use simply to get Freehand into Flash perfectly ok ? I wouldnt want to be using it to create and modify maps with though, I read that Freehand users revert to Freehand for faster logical tools. lack of support for linked images kills Illy for me.

Is anyone going Freehand into Flash, lets not forget that Macromedia created both, so Adobe have separated the brothers.

For dealing with Adobe, one course of action is FreeFreehand.org

Envirographics

#2
Envirographics

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Hi,
We have a vast database of Freehand maps and continue to use this program to create maps. However with Adobe now dropping sale of Freehand, and dropping support for it in FlashCS5, one may need to see if there is a better option that will open the existing files without problems and allow total functionality with Flash and work with ESRI. Something that isnt going to take time to learn, is intuitive, has speed of drawing as fast as Freehand and allow even more creativity ?

What programs are Freehand users using for map creation ?

Other Freehand users dislike Illustrator for the less than logical tools, the slower methods, the large file sizes it generates and so on. As much as even consider it, thinking its moved on to be as good as Freehand since Adobe acquired Macromedia, it looks as if its still Freehand. I read of cartographers going back to Freehand to get the job done, Illy makes you want to fist the wall, and one guy did. Illy doesnt support linked images, well thats Illy down the pan for me, probably explains the massive file sizes. Our Freehand map files feature linked in raster maps over which they are created.

I need to take the vector map into Flash, so it must ideally allow such to happen in Flash CS5, without road ends becoming rounded, messing up road junctions etc. It must also allow a crop frame (clipping path box I use in Freehand) to remove roads outside of the area concerned for import to Flash, and register to 0,0 of all the exports made from various layers of the map.

So what are you Freehand users using ?

Envirographics

#3
Hans van der Maarel

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Welcome to Cartotalk. I've merged your 2 topics into one as they kinda cover the same subject.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#4
Charles Syrett

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Greetings from a fellow diehard FreeHand user!

First, Flash: I've never used Flash myself (tried it 10 years ago, and it was even clumsier than Illustrator), but I've been told recently that it no longer converts lines to round ends. I haven't personally verified this, though.

I have Illustrator CS4, and it opens FreeHand files, and does a reasonable job doing it. So maybe you can try opening your FreeHand files in AI CS4 and then exporting to Flash.

Relative to what FreeHand cartos are doing now: There aren't many of us left now; most cartos now were trained in Arc and Illy, and are blissfully unaware of the better tools out there. I'm just in watch and wait mode. Some FreeHand/Illy users have developed scripts and plug-ins to help correct some of Illy's dreadful deficiencies and make it almost functional, but the fundamental glaring problems still seem to be there.

I'm not sure what you mean by Illy not supporting linked images, though. I export Freehand files to Illy with linked files all the time, and they always show up.

I think the Free FreeHand folks are a little unrealistic, hoping that Adobe will revive or release Freehand. My hopes are that, over time, Illy will acquire more of the features, or just be rewritten altogether into something better (the way Apple replaced its old OS with OS10).

I (and some others) meanwhile continue to use FreeHand (with old MAPublisher 5) because of its streamlined tools and common sense utility, and export to Illy to deliver final files when necessary.

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

Hi,
We have a vast database of Freehand maps and continue to use this program to create maps. However with Adobe now dropping sale of Freehand, and dropping support for it in FlashCS5, one may need to see if there is a better option that will open the existing files without problems and allow total functionality with Flash and work with ESRI. Something that isnt going to take time to learn, is intuitive, has speed of drawing as fast as Freehand and allow even more creativity ?

What programs are Freehand users using for map creation ?

Other Freehand users dislike Illustrator for the less than logical tools, the slower methods, the large file sizes it generates and so on. As much as even consider it, thinking its moved on to be as good as Freehand since Adobe acquired Macromedia, it looks as if its still Freehand. I read of cartographers going back to Freehand to get the job done, Illy makes you want to fist the wall, and one guy did. Illy doesnt support linked images, well thats Illy down the pan for me, probably explains the massive file sizes. Our Freehand map files feature linked in raster maps over which they are created.

I need to take the vector map into Flash, so it must ideally allow such to happen in Flash CS5, without road ends becoming rounded, messing up road junctions etc. It must also allow a crop frame (clipping path box I use in Freehand) to remove roads outside of the area concerned for import to Flash, and register to 0,0 of all the exports made from various layers of the map.

So what are you Freehand users using ?

Envirographics



#5
James Hines

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Bring in the Freehand file into Illustrator CS5 then update it & export it as a Flash CS5 file. Illy CS5 does support Freehand.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#6
jblairpdx

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Sorry, but I have to give credit where credit's due: Macromedia did not create FreeHand or Flash. FreeHand was an AltSys creation (licensed to Aldus), who Macromedia bought. Flash was created by FutureWave (as FutureSplash), then bought by MM.

Funnily enough, when Aldus merged with Adobe in 1994, the FreeHand issue nearly derailed the entire thing. Apparently, pressure from Altsys and the FTC got Adobe to sell the rights to FH to Macromedia. The big question then, is where was the regulatory pressure in 2005?

#7
oldtoby

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well this Freehand user doesn't use Flash either. I start with ArcGIS AML scripts to export type thenI create Freehand EPS files, import into Indesign and then generate PDFs from there to send to press. Maplex and MapPublisher give very unsatisfactory results for text at the scales and font size we use. Like Charles I'm waiting till Illustrator handles stuff (especially text blocks) better, until then i'll be riding Freehand.

#8
David Medeiros

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So I keep hearing about how much better Free Hand is than Illy, usually in some relatively emotional language, yet I don't ever see any concrete examples given of the main differences and often Free Hand advocates seem to be misinformed of what Illy can and can't do (eg, the post here stating Illy does not do linked images when it it has for a long time).

So... Free Hand guru's... could you please give me some specific examples of what I'm missing? I'm not being flippant, I'm genuinely curious. For my part I might be blissfully unaware of what a pain Illy is, but I love it, especially combined with MAPub. My perspective coming from the old ArcInfo, the new ArcGIS, GeoMeida and older Illy versions (8 & 9) is that CS4 pretty much kicks a@#! :D

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#9
Maeric

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So... Free Hand guru's... could you please give me some specific examples of what I'm missing? I'm not being flippant, I'm genuinely curious. For my part I might be blissfully unaware of what a pain Illy is, but I love it, especially combined with MAPub. My perspective coming from the old ArcInfo, the new ArcGIS, GeoMeida and older Illy versions (8 & 9) is that CS4 pretty much kicks a@#! :D


I know the impulse is to challenge one application over the other so I would hesitate with saying FreeHand is any "better" than Illustrator or visaversa. Since you are used to AI, it wouldn't make any sense to switch as your key commands and work patterns are probably very efficient and AICS4 and CS5 is loaded with new features (mostly all taken from FreeHand.) Its the tragedy of FreeHand's removal by Adobe that’s the problem which Envirographics posted; there is no longer another pro-vector application besides Illustrator and Adobe is now shutting the door on Flash's FreeHand import.

Remember that FreeHand is a 20+ year old veteran with an installed base that is confronted with compliance to AI or nothing. In a single buyout, Adobe has effectively removed any serious competition in the map and design professions; AI has market share and standard. The question to ask is if you like this business mentality rather than to simply compare features? Believe me, I'm not being flippant either or avoiding your honest question David, simply looking at this from the position of "choice" in the profession and why this is an emotional topic for many.

#10
Derek Tonn

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David,

I'm more a fan of Corel Draw (in vector) than Freehand. That said, I think most people's general beef with Illustrator (compared to Freehand or Corel Draw) is that, as a software tool, it's not as intuitive to use. A good analogy might be a universal remote for your television. There are wonderful universal remotes out there which will do everything from program your Tivo and manage your home theater audio to make you coffee and do your laundry! :) However, they also require a user's manual that is dozens of pages thick...and for people who just want to watch a little TV or their favorite DVD, it can be a frustrating experience.

Adobe Illustrator is the universal remote in that analogy. It can/will do just about anything and everything one could want it to when drawing in vector. However, it seemingly requires a steeper learning curve, more clicks, or more keyboard shortcuts in order to do the same job.

I can produce projects in about 15% less time in Corel Draw than I can producing those same vector designs in AI. I think many Freehand users cite a similar complaint related to AI as well. It's not that Illustrator isn't a very powerful and robust program! It's just that Adobe needs to streamline a lot of its processes/procedures and put some of its software apps on a diet. Like Microsoft, Adobe's gotten "too big to fail" (a la the bank bail-out analogy here in the United States). However, just because they are the biggest does not mean they are the best...by any stretch of the imagination. In Adobe's case, it just means that like Apple/Microsoft, they've dug their claws into classrooms, computer labs and faculty offices...to the point where that next generation of teachers and designers don't teach using much of any other comparable software tools anymore.
Derek Tonn
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#11
David Medeiros

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That analogy always gets me because I'm comparing Illy to the GIS production software and find it WAY more intuitive than those. I'll have to sit down with Free Hand to know the difference I guess (which looks unlikely at this point). What I wonder about is, is this a case of what you trained on first or are there really noticeable differences in the UI that make it easier. Maybe some of both. Hopefully Adobe will hear the complaints from the Free Hand users and make some adjustments to Illy where it will make a difference. The funny thing is, I bet all the hardcore Illy guys who have never used FH complain about those changes because now they can't find such and such a tool etc. :D

When I was in the GIS certificate cartography course last year I found it incomprehensible when students who were given a choice to make a map in Illy or make a map in Arc chose Arc (or GeoMedia!) over Illustrator. I pleaded with them to no avail, I probably felt the same way Free Hand user do with me ;)

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#12
Derek Tonn

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Absolutely, David. If you plunked me down in front of a random computer and gave me a mapping task to do, then gave me the choice between Illustrator and GIS apps? Unless you're talking about a project with thousands of streets and text labels that needed to be delivered "tomorrow," I'd be drawing in Illustrator unless a gun was held to my head. Something about data-driven paths and points versus creating an art/design piece "by hand" just doesn't feel right to me...but that's because of my own training/upbringing and bias. It's more about how the overall design looks and people making sense of it vs. having every intersection or waterway to within 0.000034 cm of actual. ;)

As to Corel/Freehand vs. AI, I'm sure what people were trained on is a BIG part of it. However, our shop had the rather unique opportunity to have one of our hand-rendered (designs done at the drafting table, not on computer) designers get back into computer-aided map design work after a several year layoff. He worked on Aldus/Adobe and Corel "back in the day," but hadn't touched either program in 6-7+ years. He asked me "should I draw in Illustrator, or should I draw in Corel?"

I told him to draw on what he felt most comfortable with, and that we could easily work out any conversions to .ai at the end of the process. He couldn't decide what he wanted to use, so I said "why don't you try a small "test" project and see how it goes?" So he drew a very short-and-sweet design using both tools...and the design created in Corel went 15-20% faster for him. Same end result! Just much less time to produce the end product in Corel.

Now could that be an outlier? Absolutely. However, I've had the same experiences (about 10-15% faster in Corel) over the years...so it is consistent with my first-hand observations.
Derek Tonn
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mapformation, LLC

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#13
Envirographics

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Hi,
I had posted somewhere but it seems to have vanished, asking if these two videos were true.





With mention here in three instances of Illy being slower by 15% or more, thats 7hrs to do 6hrs work in Corel and I presume Freehand, as all I ever read is Illy is slower than Freehand and clunky, these would seem to support the case, though I wanted an Illy user to say if there were ways of doing these quicker than the video maker had done them. Would the paste inside be feasible in the way Freehands was. Perhaps even make a video to show us how its done and time it.

I cannot entertain any prog that sees me spending a further hour at work than was needed before. Has Illy an issue with paste insides, where is the video true etc.

Envirographics

#14
David Medeiros

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The first vid rings true with me, I've had some issues understanding how to use clipping/opacity masks in the past. The grouping thing seems silly, I have never forgotten if I grouped something or not and selecting it will tell you an an instant. No idea on the 2nd one. I think you have to take those vids with a grain of salt, they have an obvious bias towards FH and if you watch closely the FH side mouse pointer is moving quite a bit faster in some places than the Illy pointer.

Here's a slightly less biased video of the exact same test as first vid: http://www.adobe.com...asteinside.html

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#15
Charles Syrett

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I've seen those videos before, and they don't really focus on the kind of issues I bump into, and which relate to the kind of mapmaking I do. Here are a few of the frustrations I've had, just off the top:

1. Joining lines. I do this all the time in FH, especially after importing from GIS. Select two or more lines, Apple-J. Bang, done. I still haven't figured out how to do this fundamental, basic operation in Illy.

2. Drop a point into an existing line. In FH, select the line, use the pen tool to add the point. Bang, done. I still haven't figured out how to do this fundamental, basic operation in Illy.

3. Graphic Find and Replace. I know there are various plug-ins out there that enable you to do something like these operations in Illy, but the interface is far clunkier. This GFR function is a basic part of my workflow.

4. Count all objects. Now, this is just hearsay, but a colleague told me that in Illy you can't just select all objects and see a display of how many there are. I do this all the time in FH.

5. The biggie -- Graphic Styles. A few years back, Illy finally introduced Graphic Styles, but only for linework. Styling text is in two other palettes -- extremely clunky. Freehand has all the graphic styles -- linework and text -- in one intuitive palette.

And many, many more.

Yes, Illy's draw tools are better than Arc's. Arc is a GIS program, not a draw program. No one expects it to have professional drawing tools, any more than they expect Illy to have GIS tools.

I've also heard about Corel being easier and faster than Illy. Both Corel and Freehand were developed after Illustrator, and included considerable improvements, and Illy so far hasn't been able to catch up.

That being said, it's questionable whether there's much point debating (on a theoretical level) which of these is "better". After all, Freehand hasn't even been developed for 8 years now. If it had been, perhaps it would include the nicer features that Illy has:

1. Sub layers.

2. Better font list. (FreeHand's is awful.)

3. Better colour management.

4. Better anti-alias display.

5. Up-to-date MAPublisher support.

I don't really like laying "blame" for any of this. Adobe is just looking out for its own interests; that's what businesses do. Fact is, more people prefer Illustrator over Freehand or Corel. Illustrator will continue to be the industry standard, just as Arc is in GIS, AutoCAD is in CAD, Windows is in OSes, and Word is in word processing.

If your cartographic workflow is more dependent on MAPublisher than on drawing, Illy is probably the way to go. It's just not that important to have efficient drawing and selecting tools. But if your work requires a lot of compilation/drawing from non-GIS sources, then Illy's tools are simply not up to professional requirements.

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com




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