Illustrator CS4: Faster launches, new scripts, & more

As I’ve noted a few times, I really like the way the Illustrator team focused on the fundamentals in CS4. Among these, they’ve made some great headway in bringing down the application’s launch time. Brenda Sutherland from Illustrator QE passed along a few benchmarks:


Win XP CS3 CS4
Cold Launch on Benchmark Machine* 21.7s 12.8s
Cold Launch on User Machine** 36.4s 19.5s
iMac (Leopard)    
Cold Launch 25.5s 16.4s


* Benchmark machine is the optimized setup machine for taking consistent launch performance numbers. It has no virus scanner and a totally defragmented hard disk.

** User machine is the one similar to user environment, having a virus scanner, fragmented hard disk with a few common applications installed.

My own unscientific tests (using Watch It on a 2.33GHz MacBook Pro) produce similar findings, knocking about 35% off the cold launch time & cutting the time for a warm launch roughly in half relative to CS3. Thanks, guys!

In other AI-related news:

10 thoughts on “Illustrator CS4: Faster launches, new scripts, & more

  1. Off topic but still interesting.
    With Adobe trying to “bridge” 2D and 3D in Photoshop Extended, maybe they should take a few pages from Pixologic’s book, and introduce “The Pixol” into the mix.
    Yes The Pixol, or the concept of it under another name, pixol are 2.5D “pixels” with material, depth, and lighting data,more easily witnessed than explained with text.
    Ppl can ‘sculpt on a 2.5D canvas and use several tranforms and brushes and alphas on the pixol if you want to see what its all about go check out an application called ZBrush, which uses pixols in 2.5D and 3D.
    I mean it wold be cool and could serve as an “inhouse” 2.5D/ 3D generator within Photoshop Extended, I’m bringing this up in here on your page because I know you are at the foreforont of anything Adobe.whether its relevant to you is….your decision
    Thank you

  2. If I’m allowed to brag a little here: on my self-built Vista x64 system ID CS4 cold-launches in 3-4 secs and warm-launches in 2-3 secs. So there’s no Mac-envy here! πŸ™‚ What’s my secret? An OCZ 60Gb SSD drive for OS and apps. If speed is your thing, run to get one of these — all the CS4 apps run wonderfully off an SSD. And this OZD drive isn’t even the fastest out there, as both Intel and Mtron make faster ones, but they’re a bit too pricey for my wallet right now.

  3. Oh man, i cannot resist to mock you.
    Good thing you tested in on Win XP, you know, the operating system which in its 64bit variant (the one that enables you to have more than 3 gigs of RAM) does not support OpenGL in Photoshop! =)
    Test it on Vista, because as much as i hate it, is better platform for running CS4 than XP.
    [I’m sure they did (and do) test it, but they didn’t happen to supply me with those numbers. I agree that if you want to run a 64-bit Windows OS, you’d do far better to go right to Vista and never look back. –J.]

  4. I noticed the faster launching too. Illustrator used to launch so slowly on my old PowerBook that I actually loathed to quit the app knowing that it would take, seriously, anywhere from 30 seconds to a full minute to load if I needed it again. At first I assumed the speed improvement in CS4 was due simply to having upgraded to a new machine β€” a 24″ iMac β€” except that then I observed that on my friend’s 8-core Mac Pro, Illustrator CS3 is much slower than CS4 is on my 2-core 24″ iMac!
    So again, good job, people. Seriously. I’ve been so consistently negative in the past that I’m amazed to find myself truly impressed by this release.
    [Heh heh. I’ll get out my ice skates for use on the roof of Hell. πŸ˜‰ –J.]
    And here’s something you’ll like. I had to open up a FreeHand file the other day. FreeHand on this iMac now loads a lot slower than does the new Illustrator (the opposite used to be true), so the first thing I did when FreeHand was up and running was I saved out some key files to PDF so that I wouldn’t have to launch FreeHand again. And I’ve been a decades-long FreeHand fan and one of those people who was really disappointed when Adobe announced that FreeHand would be retired. Nostalgically, I still hate the decision since there are still behaviors in FreeHand that I miss, but as I mentioned before Illustrator is for me, for the first time in a long time, fun to use again.
    Not to leave Photoshop out, the only reason I haven’t felt compelled to mention it is because in the past I’ve had less to complain about, aside from it needing broader 16- and 32-bit color support (which is still true). But it has a nicer feel now, if that makes sense. That old I’m a carbon app trait β€” difficult to quantify other than to say it just felt wrong in a lot of vague ways β€” is considerably diminished, even though I suspect that technically CS4 still as carbon as it was in the past.
    [It’s still Carbon, though we’ve been working diligently on the Cocoa transition for some time. –J.]
    People like to mock the notion of look & feel but to me it has always had a large affect on my ability to enjoy using a piece of software, which is to say that apps which were off in some way on OS X are always very noticeable to me and make me somehow less confident when I’m using them β€” kind of like walking across an old bridge with uncertain structural integrity.
    Anyway, yes β€” Illustrator is faster and works better now, and I’m stoked about it.

  5. It would be nice to also see CS2 numbers… I noticed a significant performance when I ditched CS2 for CS3. CS4 is fast, sure, but does it completely reclaim the territory lost when upgrading to CS3?
    Thanks, love the blog!

  6. CS4 does seem snappier than cs3, but one small thing does worry me. The app still cannot preview its own files via the open /save dialogs, only via Bridge. Nor can the OSX finder preview them. If they are based on Pdf format, surely this cant be too hard to rectify. It really is a serious annoyance when working with lots of similarly named files..
    [Try SneakPeek Pro for $15. –J.]

  7. Hey Matt (and John),
    Sneak Peek Pro is the bomb. I have had it since soon after I upgraded to 10.5. I am so used to it’s functionality that I forgot I had it!

  8. unfortunately cs4 has a major bug – the freehand mx import feature:
    when importing freehand files, you can choose “normal” or convert text to pathes (vectors).
    when doing so, illustrator claims that the text will be correct then (no change of the freehand layout).
    that’s wrong!
    our freehand layout containing
    zapf dingbats
    futura t cyrillic
    futura t ce
    contains many errors and is completely unusable after importing with the “convert to pathes” function.
    what are you planning to do with this?
    we’re getting really tired of paying for updates that still don’t repair major bugs..

  9. Chris:
    Adobe has a very awful tool for import FreeHand files.
    They bought the Application, but they do not know to use the technology inside FreeHand.
    And there are zillions of FreeHand files all over the world.
    Think for one momente that some company buys Photoshop and that new app can not open Phososhop files.
    This is a complete chaos. Thanks for all, Adobe.

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