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FreeHand conversion app

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FreeHand conversion app

Postby FFH Mark » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:09 pm

Over the weekend I saw this on Twitter:

Image


The last version of Illustrator to have FreeHand conversion was CS5 and that is a real problem for us with CS6 (or if any of you have the AI-Cloud.) If you are like me, I use FreeHand daily alongside Adobe apps and I need file compatibility so I'll support Von Glitschka's move to create an independent conversion app.

I hope to find out more on this.


https://twitter.com/FreeFreeHand
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Re: FreeHand conversion app

Postby [Jongware] » Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:57 am

Yup, that coder would be me. Making good progress, but a bit slow (I'm only doing this in my spare time).

Please note that Von is extremely realistic in what would be supported in a converter -- see his diagram at the bottom of http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1181535?tstart=0

It's simply not possible to convert many of FH's features to native EPS -- blends, lens, sketch, blur, shadow. In addition, the text part of the file format is such a mess that it might very well not be worth the effort.
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Re: FreeHand conversion app

Postby FFH Mark » Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:03 pm

[Jongware] wrote:Yup, that coder would be me. Making good progress, but a bit slow (I'm only doing this in my spare time).

Please note that Von is extremely realistic in what would be supported in a converter -- see his diagram at the bottom of http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1181535?tstart=0

It's simply not possible to convert many of FH's features to native EPS -- blends, lens, sketch, blur, shadow. In addition, the text part of the file format is such a mess that it might very well not be worth the effort.


Hey Jongware, thanks for taking this on! I do understand how the FreeHand code is complex as I've talked with FHMX coders. Since I first spotted Von's tweet, I was alerted to the discussion you and Plug-and-Pray have had on the Illustrator forums: http://forums.adobe.com/message/5419718. Very interesting.

Von is pretty specific in his needs because his art is basically illustration whereas many of us use text in logos, technical art, maps, brochures, etc. I sure wouldn't want to dampen your efforts toward only the artwork conversion but the Text aspect is important for us as designers, cartographers, instructors, etc.

Keep us all posted on your progress in this forum. We are all FreeHand users with big backlogs of files. And thanks again for your efforts.

—Mark
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Re: FreeHand conversion app

Postby [Jongware] » Thu Jun 27, 2013 8:18 pm

> Von is pretty specific in his needs because his art is basically illustration ..

Indeed. It's also the reason I am pretty confident I can pull that part off.

There are other problems with text, apart from being a mess. My target output is EPS, and that is not a text-friendly format, to say the least. It does not support text formatting, kerning, line spacing -- not even paragraphs, only continuous streams of text.

The best way to deal with this would be converting the file to a format that does support these things natively. Something like Illustrator's internal format (... then again, the general vibe on this forum seems to be anti-Illy).

Anyone got a better suggestion? (Please keep in mind that I won't want to examine yet another weird file format just to write to. So please, don't ask for a conversion to native Quark XPress or InDesign.)

A third option, besides Dumbed-Down EPS, or someone elses native format, is to convert to a private format in a reasonably easy to parse way: as an annotated XML file, for example. That way it can be an intermediary for others to read.

As for progress: in the Adobe forums I mentioned that I was looking in applying color to the line art. That works since yesterday evening :) I can now convert plain colored artwork to EPS and place the result immediately into InDesign. I'll be looking next to adding a few other color attributes.
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Re: FreeHand conversion app

Postby FFH Mark » Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:15 pm

FFH Mark wrote:The best way to deal with this would be converting the file to a format that does support these things natively. Something like Illustrator's internal format (... then again, the general vibe on this forum seems to be anti-Illy).

Anyone got a better suggestion? (Please keep in mind that I won't want to examine yet another weird file format just to write to. So please, don't ask for a conversion to native Quark XPress or InDesign.)


True, there are plenty of FreeHand users here who will never go Illustrator however that doesn't mean they wouldn't use that file format towards another app of their choice. AI has become enough of a standard for other vector apps to open, I think. EPS... yeah, that gets mixed results with text.

Exporting a FreeHand file to PDF yields better results when importing into CS6. Maybe there is something in that?

Need to hear feedback from others on this forum.
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Re: FreeHand conversion app

Postby nuno_tuna » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:51 am

Hi guys!

My "two cents" on the matter.
I work on Apple machines since '90 and I've been importing and exporting files in almost every software available.
Every once and a while the import/export methods change so we - mostly graphic professionals that depend on workflow but have to bare with these software inter-communication policies - have to adapt a search for solutions, sometimes outside the software apps.
I work with Freehand since version 3. I always felt Illustrator was an Adobe's show-off app that always had too many functions for a vector app.
Nevertheless I recon usefulness in (as we like to call it) Adobe Irritator several of its simpler functions like the "Live Trace" and the "Outline Stroke" which I use a lot.
So. Freehand has been my vector weapon of choice all these years but I couldn't put Illustrator aside so I started using the Export>adobe Illustrator 7.x, from Freehand to Illustrator, and the "save as>Adobe Illustrator (ai)>Illustrator 8", from Illustrator back to Freehand. I had no problems in most of the files except when they included "paste inside" pics, Photoshop paths on TIFs and vector gradients.

"Macintosh EPS" exported files assure the gradient part and keep the vector properties if you need to reopen it on Freehand. Colours might turn out slightly faded if you open it on Photoshop but you'll recover true colours if you use the "Curves" pop-up menu.

I don't have much use for Jongware's converter app for now but I think it's an excellent complementary tool.

Sorry about the "testament". I hope my testimony will serve anyone in need.

Cheers
Tuna
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Re: FreeHand conversion app

Postby FFH Mark » Sat Aug 03, 2013 6:29 pm

nuno_tuna wrote:So. Freehand has been my vector weapon of choice all these years but I couldn't put Illustrator aside so I started using the Export>adobe Illustrator 7.x, from Freehand to Illustrator, and the "save as>Adobe Illustrator (ai)>Illustrator 8", from Illustrator back to Freehand. I had no problems in most of the files except when they included "paste inside" pics, Photoshop paths on TIFs and vector gradients.

"Macintosh EPS" exported files assure the gradient part and keep the vector properties if you need to reopen it on Freehand. Colours might turn out slightly faded if you open it on Photoshop but you'll recover true colours if you use the "Curves" pop-up menu.


I did some experimenting after reading your comments. Since I do more design than illustration, how text is rendered in Illustrator is a concern; although I agree with your results using non-textual art from FreeHand. When I export using Macintosh EPS and then open in AI-CS6, all my text has been converted to paths. A no-go for me.

I made the screenshots (below) of trying various outputs. The first image is as I built it in FreeHand with text and basic graphics. Next image is saving from FreeHand to AI7 format; it keeps the text editable but as you can see, is a mess. In fact, opening the FreeHand file directly into CS4 (which had its own converter plugin) looked almost identical. Still was a textual mess.

The best results was creating a FreeHand PDF. When I opened it in AI-CS6 the text was editable and the colors seem accurate. This is a simple graphic but maps and text-heavy files need some editing. This is the best method I know so far barring a new conversion app in this thread. How do others deal with this exchange of files?

FWIW, I still use FreeHand for 80% of my needs and split the rest between Illustrator and InDesign. Adobe will be bringing in more FreeHand features (as part of FFH's agreement) so this is important to have accurate file compatibility.

—Mark
Attachments
1-FreeHand_test.jpg
FreeHand file
1-FreeHand_test.jpg (41.91 KiB) Viewed 10231 times
2-FH>AI7>AICS6.jpg
FreeHand export to AI7. Open in CS6
2-FH>AI7>AICS6.jpg (35.64 KiB) Viewed 10231 times
3-PDF>AICS6.jpg
FreeHand export as PDF. Open in CS6
3-PDF>AICS6.jpg (53.7 KiB) Viewed 10231 times
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