Iconfactory talks, Illustrator listens

In case you don’t know ’em, the guys at Iconfactory have been making some top-notch pixel art for more than 10 years. (I seem to remember using their stuff back in the System 7 days to get that ultra-mod “Copland” look.) Anyway, they’ve been migrating from FreeHand to Illustrator & posted their Top 5 Adobe Illustrator CS Pet Peeves, plus the provocatively titled follow-on “Et tu, Adobe?”. It’s all good feedback, if a little frustrating (only because we’re always needling one another about these things already).
So, a bit of good news: Illustrator PM Phil Guindi dropped these guys a note to let them know of some welcome changes coming down the pike, prompting Gedeon Maheux to write, “Phil, all we can say is…wow! We had our finger’s crossed that someone at Adobe would see our post so your email has made our day, and probably our year. :-)” Nice! It sounds like we’ve kicked off what should be a very fruitful dialog with these talented artists.
The other key point here, I think, is that what Gedeon & co. want isn’t more features per se; it’s functionality that simply works better. This is true across the board: no one says, “Oh, Photoshop? Yeah, I’d buy that, but there just isn’t enough stuff in there…” Rather, people mainly want things to work more smoothly, to just flow. I’m happy to report that the Illustrator team has a whole bunch of spit & polish tasks on their list, and I’m keeping a list of “Brain-dead things we fixed in Photoshop CS3”–now somewhere around 20 items. And that’s the goal: saving the world, one non-slapped forehead at a time. 😉

0 thoughts on “Iconfactory talks, Illustrator listens

  1. Pardon my gentle skepticism, but I’m not going to schedule the celebration just yet.
    I’ve been a power user of both Freehand and Illustrator for over ten years. Many of the differences between the two, both in terms of workflow issues and feature sets, can be categorized as “not better or worse, just different”.
    But regarding Illustrator, there are plenty of differences (some of which were verbalized by Maheux; there are more) which are just plain indefensible, have profound effects on workflow, and have been complained about in the Adobe forums for years. I can think of several possible reasons why the decision-makers on the Illustrator team have stayed the course; I haven’t yet seen or heard a single reason which is defensible.
    Currently, I use Freehand whenever I can, and Illustrator whenever I have to, which works out to roughly 70/30 in favor of Freehand. Because Freehand is going away, I have of course resigned myself to eventually using Illustrator 100% of the time. But just typing those words makes me grit my teeth. If CS3 doesn’t introduce some fairly striking changes, I will hang on to my PPC G5 so I can extend Freehand’s life as long as possible.
    I am an enthusiastic user of Photoshop & InDesign, and a grudging user of Illustrator. I’d like to believe that IconFactory’s feedback will make a difference, but given that (a) years of Average Joe users’ feedback on some key “features” has been fruitless, and (b) it is only now that someone at Adobe has allegedly discovered that workflow issues trump feature set issues . . . well, I’ll believe it when I see it.
    Mr. Nack, you can believe this: I will be ever so glad to have my skepticism proven to be unfounded.

  2. Any chance you’d want to post your list of things fixed?
    [Well, to be honest, I shouldn’t say the phrase “CS3,” or even acknowledge that we’re working on a future version of Photoshop. I’m already going beyond what’s typically kosher, but I thought it was important to illustrate the point. Unfortunately I don’t think I should provide any more detail at the moment, especially given that plans are always subject to change. –J.]

  3. Pointing out the deficiencies in Illustrator is like shooting at the broadside of a barn from 2ft. away. These guys are completely right about making what’s there work right instead of adding new “features”. That can be said for Adobe’s whole line of products.
    Every time I use Cinema 4D’s “outline path” (interactively creates a duplicate offset path) or “chamfer” function to round only the selected points of a path, I think about Illustrator and shake my head. A 3D app has better spline tools than one of the oldest drawing programs, in it’s 12th release – but then again, Maxon must be capable of miracles as they were able to compile universal binary versions of their apps in a mere two weeks.
    [Or maybe they were already using Xcode, meaning that it didn’t have any problems with their project. Not everyone gets the same hand of cards. Meanwhile, Microsoft says their Mactel-native version of Office will take another year to deliver. –J.]

  4. Why is it so hard to get into Adobe beta programs? Have you been burned by bad testers not helping to test the product properly? I would like to be a tester, I have signed up, but have gotten no response, I think I could give some good feedback if given the chance. If I am not up to snuff, just e-mail me saying “I am a lousy tester so we have to remove you. And your work in photoshop is horrible, thank you good bye”.
    Is that so hard? Thanks
    [Well, we have been burned (ever hear of ThinkSecret?), but part of the equation is that we just don’t have the resources to sustain a beta program of any great size. Anyway, I didn’t receive your application. Where did you send it? Drop me a line and we can chat. –Thanks, J.]

  5. “Well, to be honest, I shouldn’t say the phrase “CS3,” or even acknowledge that we’re working on a future version of Photoshop. I’m already going beyond what’s typically kosher, but I thought it was important to illustrate the point. ”
    This was already dropped at PSW Las Vegas this year officially so I think you’re safe… Of course, you should probably already know this. I’m probably one of the several hundred people you met there and I’m assuming you were there for the keynote. 🙂

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