OpenType support in Adobe Illustrator

Bald Condensed's picture

Now that InDesign 2 and Photoshop 7 support OpenType, does anybody around here have a clue when we can expect OpenType support in Illustrator? Couldn't find anything on their website.

I'm considering upgrading my license for Mrs Eaves to the OpenType version and purchasing a license to Neutraface. As I'm doing almost all my single page work in Illustrator, this is important information to me.

John Hudson's picture

Illustrator first needs to be updated to handle Unicode text input and processing, once that is in place (or at the same time) Adobe will doubtless start adding OpenType Layout support. Rewriting core text handling for an application is a major job, which can easily take more than one typical rev cycle. I know Adobe won't make any public statements about this, but my guess is that they are actively working on updating the text engine for Illustrator. I'm hoping that we'll see the results in the next release.

cattie's picture

I heard that new version will use OpenType support from Photoshop and will be fully Unicode savvy (I hope). New version is planned for this winter.

piccic's picture

Since we're on the matter.
In the US Illustrator is big, but in Europe FreeHand is big, too.
As far as you know, are there any serious indication on Macromedia discontinuing FreeHand?
I've always used both programs (I started with FreeHand 2 and Illustrator 88), and although they may seem similar, you can't even imagine to do with Illustrator what you do with FreeHand, and vice-versa.

Besides, many Illustrator 10 features stinks and there are many bugs, while FreeHand (well, FreeHand 10 stinks as well) has now a "copy special" feature very useful for type designers.
I used Illustrator to copy directly my outlines in FontStudio, but now you can do it directly from FreeHand 10, which supports a copy format like the one of Illustrator 8 and 9.

Typographically FreeHand is so superior to Illustrator that I would die if they decide to discontinue it. I need to hurry to upgrade my home copy to version 10.

jfp's picture

In France,

joevdb's picture

Freehand MX (11) was released last week, but does not support Opentype. It won't even do font grouping.

While I love it dearly, I'm glad I don't use it much for typographic work.

You can download a trial version at

Joe VanDerBos

piccic's picture

> [Ciao Jon, welcome! This is very stupid of Macromedia. Before InDesign, and even after it, FreeHand was the only program handling complex graphic design and excellent typographic layout capabilities at the same time. No Opentype support is a really stupid move. But I'm just glad they haven't discontinued it for now. Before InDesign there was no program allowing you to force punctuation out of justified text, for better alignment, or to adjust so finely tracking and other type issues. I have been a PageMaker user since version 3 (back in 1988) and I welcomed InDesign as a fantastic step forward. But if you do things like packaging, where the complex handling of graphics is often paired with the need of great typographic control, FreeHand is invaluable.]

hdschellnack's picture

Argh, I've been hoping the Macromedia folks got OpenType included with the MX version of Freehand. I wish they'd just sell Freehand to some smaller comapny that doesn't view it as a kind of Flash-plug-in and started to really work with the potential of FH in a good way. If Adobe adds multi-pages-of-various-size-in-one-document, OpenType and a bit more speed to Illustrator, that'll be it for me and I'll switch, I do most of my work in InDesign these days anyway... (oh well, at least the upgrade from FH 10 to 11 isn't too expensive :-))

piccic's picture

> [I've tried a bit the demo version of Freehand MX (v11) and I must say it's excellent, apart from the Opentype lack. You work at lightspeed and the revamped interface is incredibly functional. The visualization is perfectly antialiased like in Illustrator now, no more lousy Flash-like visualization like FreeHand 10 offered.]

hdschellnack's picture

I'll get FHMX anyway, if only to get rid of the awful bugs the 10 version has under XP (vanishing tools and all that)... I still like FH for some work, but find myself more and more switching to ID, as the typographic engine and the way the images etc are handled are just superb (and plugs like Smart Style simply save LOTS of time). There's no tool even close to InDesign right now, and my wish list for ID is quite short indeed these days.

piccic's picture

> [From what John Hudson has told me, InDesign ME (Middle East) is even better than the international Adobe version. It's been developed by a third-party software firm for offering support for indic scripts and it's probably the state of the art of layout programs today. I wonder if as an InDesign registered user I could get an upgrade. I'm on a Mac, anyway. I don't know if InDesign ME exists for both platforms... FreeHand will always be in my heart, anyway. I recalled when I started using FreeHand 2.0.2 in awe. At the time, PageMaker 3.0 didn't allowed color separations, rotations, and it allowed only point size increments of 1: 11 pts or 12 pts, etc... Anyway, just as a reminder: FreeHand offered color separations from within the program since 1988/89 while for Illustrator people had to wait until release 5 or 6 if I recall correctly. And version 6 still didn't allowed the import of tiff files. Illustrator is good for Illustrations. FreeHand might go away, but it's been a landmark for designers and typographers as well...]

cattie's picture

InDesign CE and ME is done by WinSoft, a French company. It makes some curious situations like when there was a FIFA Wordl Cup, near nobody works :-) and we wait for InDesign CE two months more. But in my opinion, only CE or ME versions of InDesign may be called full versions :-). In English version of ID there is a lot of restrictions, which is corrected in CE version. btw: or But unfortunately the upgrade from English to CE or ME is nearly imposible...

piccic's picture

> [>But unfortunately the upgrade from English to CE or ME is nearly impossible. > Why Pavel? I would love to have somewhat the possibility of purchasing an ME upgrade. Although it exists only for windows, right?]

danger's picture

Just saw a working beta of Illustrator 11 and it has a pallet for OpenType features. Didn't get the chance to try it out, but it was there on the screen.

cattie's picture

Fresh information from Adobe. Upgrade from InDesign IE to InDesign ME is available. If you want to buy a copy, you may contact this guy and he will help you find your local shop: Michal Metlicka East European Regional Manager Adobe Systems Europe - CEEA/ME mobile:+420 602 627 966 fax: +420 2 2252 0437

lettertiep's picture

More info on the forthcoming Illustrator (codename Pangaea) on the ThinkSecret site. Nothing about OpenType tough...

but it's coming in june already!

anonymous's picture

At the risk of souding like a salesman, they way we are handling the issue with illustrator is that we bundle the "Neutraface Standard" fonts with the "Neutraface Expert" collection. So if you wanted to specify, for example, small cap tabular figures in NeutraText Bold in Illustrator, you'd have to use the "Standard" fonts (which, incidently, also ship in .otf format only). If you wanted to do the same in InDesign, it's as simple as invoking a few features with the NeutraText Expert counterpart. Both collections (Standard and Expert) will coexist peacefully in the type menu. Drawback is that you have a boatload of fonts added to your menu...the full Neutraface Standard collection is 85 fonts (OpenType programming in the Expert collection trims it down to 29).

At this point, we are telling people who have no intention of using InDesign that they should not bother spending the extra 50 bones for the Expert collection at this point. We also tell them that we'll "upgrade" them to the Expert collection for the $50 difference if they change their mind down the road.

Not having OT support in AI is a bummer, but I'm sure Adobe will have it in subsequent versions, especially since all of their new collections since 1999 ship in OpenType only format.

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