Illustrator CS6 is now a 64-bit Cocoa app

You can now use all the RAM on your system–great if you’re working with big, complex files. Other highlights include:

Gaussian blur received special attention and has been specifically optimized in CS6. As a result, other effects with operations that depend on Gaussian blur have also been enhanced, so you’ll see performance improvements in both drop shadows and inner glows. […]

You’ll notice a nimble, lively touch when you work with multiple artboards and threaded text. Creative tools such as the Bristle Brush have been optimized for both speed and efficiency so you can work fluidly, even when you generate immensely complex designs composed of hundreds of overlapping transparent paths.

And it’s not just Adobe saying it. Here’s Jean-Claude Tremblay writing for

It feels as if Illustrator has been re-energized… Modifying these effects in Preview mode is almost in real time. This speed increase and better reliability might not be the sexiest features, but at the end of a day, I’ll be glad I can do more and faster.

The reworked UI also offers efficiency tweaks, including inline editing of layer names (yeah!) and keyboard navigation of font lists.

9 thoughts on “Illustrator CS6 is now a 64-bit Cocoa app

  1. John,
    So, is the use of the Mercury Engine not necessarily the same as being a 64-bit app? I saw Fireworks CS6 uses the Mercury Engine as well, but wasn’t sure if it was now 64-bit.
    [The whole “Mercury” thing is confusing. I haven’t seen references to it in conjunction with FW, and as far as I know FW isn’t a 64-bit app (though apparently it can use more RAM on 64-bit Windows systems). –J.]

  2. That’s really great, but when can we expect smart shapes and a rethinking of the slow path editing routines? It’s been 25 years…
    [Hey, what’s the rush?? No, I’m with you. I can’t speak for the Illustrator team, but I think that getting over the Cocoa hump was a *major* undertaking, and I’d imagine they’re dying to get back to customer-facing feature work (as we were post-PS CS5). –J.]

  3. Illustrator’s move to 64-bit architecture is the biggest news in professional cartography in many years.
    Our workflows routinely involve very large artboards full of complex data (much of it used for reference), sitting over massive base images produced in Photoshop.
    We often felt depressed to read users from other branches of design and communication questioning, doubting, often outright dismissing, the point of being able to access large amounts of memory in Illustrator.
    We tended to despair that Illustrator had been written so very well the first time, but also so tightly and so idiosyncratically, that Adobe would never see commercial sense in rewriting it from the ground up. Perhaps our best hope was that the best features of Illustrator might eventually find their way into Photoshop in some form.
    Well, in this release of the Creative Suite, the unthinkable has happened, hallelujah, and parts of that B plan have started to happen as well, in the form of proper text management and much improved vector drawing inside Photoshop.
    Having rewritten the heart of Illustrator (and this time, no doubt, made the code base much more manageable for later developers) will make it easier for Adobe to go on drawing out synergies between Illustrator and Photoshop (among other suite elements) in the future.
    We understand it will also make it more straightforward for third-party developers (such as Avenza Systems) to develop their specialist cartographic plug-ins for Adobe’s products.
    So we couldn’t be happier to welcome CS6. Thanks Adobe.

  4. Finally keyboard navigation of font list!!! That will likely save me a huge amount of time…. Nice one Adobe!

  5. Still six pen tools and type tools, still two selection tools, still a zillion palettes, still touch to select, still no relative deselection of objects. and that’s just to name a few.
    adding bells and whistles is all nice and dandy, but as long as adobe doesn’t address the serious usability issues that have plagued illustrator since birth, quite frankly any upgrade is pointless to me.

  6. John,
    So AI is now 64-bit, but:
    – save/open dialogs aren’t ‘multi-threaded’ like PS is (ie. you can’t work on a second file while the first file is being opened/saved)
    [64-bit & Cocoa represent major, major engineering investments, but I’ve said from day 1 that they aren’t magic, and they certainly aren’t panaceas. You might note that Photoshop undertook Cocoa/64 in CS5, and that delayed the multithreading of save until CS6. –J.]
    – layer names are now editable right in the panel (which is silly because you use the same number of keystrokes and clicks as you did before…you just look at the panel instead of a dialog box)
    [“Silly” seems strong. When I first joined the Photoshop team, we were demoing PS7. The biggest applause came for the Healing Brush. The second biggest? Inline layer renaming. People *love* that kind of spit and polish. –J.]
    , but you STILL. CAN’T. COLLAPSE. ALL. LAYERS. WITH. **ONE** KEYSTROKE (like you can in PS CS6)…
    – the new UI? So what if it’s been rewritten if it’s HUGE!? I use two monitors, with all my panels on the right monitor…but now the panels are so big, my window arrangement doesn’t fit. Look at how much bigger the align and layer panels are than their CS5 counterparts. Lots of WASTED space. The layer name gets cut off 1/2 inch before the right side of the panel!! #fixitplease
    – A cartographer above says CS6 will be great for our huge files. But the big thing about maps is all that type. And CS6 does NOT have an updated type engine. So this Mercury engine does NOT help us with that.
    [No one change delivers every possible improvement. –J.]
    So John, please enlighten us how ‘just’ rewriting AI to be 64-bit will help us. So, just because AI can use more memory doesn’t mean the code is actually set up to do just that. Right? Does it just help with filters applied, or does it mean application-wide improvement. I ask because I’ve got some files that still bring CS6 to a crawl, with quad cores and 12 GB of RAM. I’m looking for the same speed improvements in AI that I see in PS and I don’t see it.
    [I’m sorry to hear that. I’d have to defer to the AI team to provide more detail, but I know that the major architectural investments they made in CS6 are designed to set the stage for many future improvements–not to deliver all of those improvements at once. –J.]
    Most of us end-users don’t care about the new “customer-facing” features. We want long-standing work flow speed bumps fixed. Can we expect to have a mid-release update to address these issues?
    [Again I’d have to defer to the AI folks to speak about any future plans. –J.]
    .another cartographer (who has a 29,000 text object map that is still really slow in AI CS6…) #disappointed
    ps. Now that Adobe has finally killed off Freehand with the dropping of FH file import support, can we expect real features that FH still has to be included in AI: Find/Replace panel, real select behind tool, object inspector that shows objects scale/rotation in relation to original size, etc etc…

  7. Thanks for the responses…
    ” [No one change delivers every possible improvement. –J.] ”
    A) Adobe marketing *does*, in fact, ensure that there is a “change” in each release. Those ‘changes’ are called “new features” that are touted with much ado, like a dark UI & pattern maker. But improvements can also come in the form of bug fix releases, which Adobe hasn’t done, at least for AI, in some time, if ever.
    B) Illustrator is on it’s what 16th iteration? Regarding collapsing layers, Win95 had that [counting on fingers..] 17 years ago. It’s not a new idea. But from what I hear, Adobe AI mgmt doesn’t believe anybody actually uses layers, let alone the 200+ that cartographers use, so it’s not even on their radar, despite the noise we make.
    C) I, and many other long time users, aren’t asking for ‘new’ improvements, but we are asking for fixes for long term issues. End-users are paying big chunks of money each year for “updates” that don’t UP-date existing functions. Analogy: “Hey look at my shiny new spoiler on the back of my new car! … Just never mind the brakes don’t really work very well, because the design is 10 years old.”
    D) Moreover, please (Adobe) don’t insult our intelligence or professionalism by touting some new feature (64-bit UI) when said new feature is in some respects a step back. That is, specifically, if it is Adobe’s goal to have the iconic panel UI/UX so that the UI is ‘out of the way’ so we can concentrate on our work, then why have the UI increase in size, so it’s *more* in our way? It’s not an improvement if it adds yet another hurdle for us end-users to deal with every single day.
    E) Finally, you say that this just lays the ground work. Think about all those people plopping down their credit cards to get this new release, only to find the same ol’ issues haven’t been addressed. People are paying money, year after year. That money is supposed to DO something, GO somewhere.
    With respect, John, what is “silly” is implementing one feature (layer naming) and not implementing the other (layer collapsing) when both are in the “suite-mate” product.
    Now, you might think I’m being harsh. I’m mere one of many frustrated AI users who keep being tripped up in our daily workflows by bugs, errors, inconsistencies and other problems…without any response from Adobe. For the amount of money I’ve spent on Adobe products just in the past few years, is it unreasonable to expect a few mid-product-cycle bug fixes?
    But anyway, thanks for the responses. Sorry to drop this on you. Not intended personally, of course.

  8. “Hey look at my shiny new spoiler on the back of my new car! … Just never mind the brakes don’t really work very well, because the design is 10 years old.”…Brilliant Analogy!
    You don’t have to be a cartographer to appreciate one click layer collapsing.
    PLEASE, Adobe, “fix the brakes”!

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