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Arrowheads…Adobe Just Doesn't Get It.

Jun 12, 2010 12:08 PM

CS5—about 20 years late to the game—finally gets around to making provision for user-defined arrowheads. But it does so in Illustrator's typical everything-is-a-clumsy-nonsensical-workaround fashion. Absolutey infuriating!

 

It's bad enough that in order to define a new Arrowhead one has to perform this rigamarole:

 

1. Open the ordinary AI file named Arrowheads buried in Illustrator's installed location.

2. Create a new Symbol (or edit an existing one).

3. Save the Arrowheads file.

4. Quit Illustrator.

5. Relaunch Illustrator.

 

After all that, your new or modified Arrowhead is finally available for selection in your drawing file.

 

According to the instructions in the Arrowheads file:

 

A horizontal stroked line in the back of the design is used to indicate the placement of the arrowhead and the default scale relative to the stroke weight.

 

But look at this comparison between the placement of the stroked path in the Arrowhead definition and the result of applying it to a path:

 

 

Trying to create a simple Arrowhead consisting of an ellipse at the end of the stroke, the top image below is what I have to do in order to get the result shown at the bottom:

 

 

 

So you have to repeat all that nonsense above just to tweak the position of the end of that stroke. WIth each trial-and-error tweak, you have quit and restart Illustrator in order for the Arrowhead definition to update. That absurd non-interface for this "feature" is bad enough. Adding fury to absurdity, though, one can't make a lick of sense out of the criteria by which to accurately predict the resulting placement of the Arrowhead art.

 

Even if all of that nonsense worked right, Adobe still just doesn't get it. What part of this is hard to understand? Users need to be able to easily specify a piece of artwork for use as a line ending. We need to be able to position that ending relative to the end of the path. In short, we need to be able to do in Illustrator what your competion has been able to provide for literal decades. This is not rocket science. With all of Illustrator's Brushes and Symbols and live Effects, Adobe can't work out a straightforward solution and decent interface for this simple, basic need?

 

For example: One typically wants an arrowpoint to end at the endpoint of the path to which it is applied. But one typically wants a ball-end to be centered on the endpoint. In this sloppy, convoluted, workaround treatment you still can't do that. Everything is now inboard of the path to which the Arrowhead is applied, and it seems you can't do anything about it.

 

Compare that to the ability to position the endTiles of a Pattern Brush relative to the end of a path. Can we please have a trace of consistency, compatibility between features, and elegance in this hideous program, Adobe?

 

This is "industry leading" functionality? This is worthy of the year-over-year decades-late grossly overpriced updates to this archaic, backward program?

 

No, this feature is substandard garbage. Rubish. Trash. And it took Illustrator 25 years to get this far!

 

JET

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 12, 2010 1:55 PM   in reply to JETalmage

    Souinds like it would be easier to just create new artwork and, if you wanted to, save it as a brush.  Easier, quicker, and less frustrating.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 13, 2010 4:49 AM   in reply to JETalmage

    No, this feature is substandard garbage. Rubish. Trash.

     

    Agreed!

     

    Mylenium

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 13, 2010 10:49 AM   in reply to Mylenium

    Mylenium wrote:

     

    No, this feature is substandard garbage. Rubish. Trash.

     

    Agreed!

     

    Mylenium

    Agreed as well this feature  is only a promise and a promise is something less than nothing.

     

    I was looking for an arrow head designer or a least a way to select my arrowhead design and drop into a library.

     

    If the can do it this crazy work around there is no reason it cannot be coded for  simple drag and drop.

     

    I also agree about the brushes there has to be more control how they are applied to path.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 14, 2010 11:16 AM   in reply to JETalmage

    By the way the old arrowhead  method is still available in CS5. By loading a graphic style created in an earlier version, "add arrowheads" is available in the appearance pallet in CS5. In case someone is interested.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 12, 2010 6:33 PM   in reply to JETalmage

    just wanted to chime in and share my frustration with the arrowhead interface in illustrator CS5. I completely agree that the method to customize arrowheads is completely cumbersome....but what is worse is that the new interface to add them from the strokes pallete is VERY limited. i do a lot of concept architectural diagramming and have found that it is almost impossible to make elegant arrows!

     

    i imagine that  they changed the interface so that we don't have to go through the previous idiotic process of "stylize" ... but now the stroke of the arrowhead is fixed to its scale. we can't adjust the scale of the arrowhead keep its stroke relative to the stroke of the line it is placed upon. (see example below)

     

    that's just pathetic !!! adobe has reduced illustrator's arrowhead capabilities to those of indesign !!

     

    makes me regret having upgraded from CS3.....does anyone know if there is a plugin that could complement (or even supplant) illustrator's arrowheads ?

     

    thanks.v.

     

     

     

     

     

    arrowheads sample.jpg

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 12, 2010 7:21 PM   in reply to esk_vic

    Excellent point definitely should be a feature

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 13, 2010 3:29 AM   in reply to esk_vic

    Well, in fact you could achieve the desired result with you own arrowhead.

     

    The standard arrowheads are converted to outlines. If you design your own and don't convert to outlines, then it will scale as you want it to.

     

    This is all the same arrowhead

     

    http://vektorgarten.de/img/tut/pfeilspitzen-groessen.png

     

    arrowhead-design in outline view:

     

    http://vektorgarten.de/img/tut/pfeilspitze-custom.png

     

    standard arrowhead for comparison:

     

    http://vektorgarten.de/img/tut/pfeilspitze-standard.png

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2010 6:09 PM   in reply to JETalmage

    JET, I understand your frustration over the implementation of custom arrowheads in Ai. Yes it’s true that this functionality is hidden and awkward, and it’s also true we, the Illustrator team could have spent more time and resources making it simpler and more accessible. We would have liked to do so. However, the reality is that we are always working with a limited number of resources and have a long list features to implement. When it came to Arrowheads the most important feature was to make them fit within the length of the path. That was a long time user request and one that will have the broadest impact for a majority of our users. We also wanted to eliminate the old Arrowhead effect that put the feature in a modal dialog, and move it to the Stroke panel where it would be easier to find and more accessible to use.

     

    Since the new arrowheads are based on a symbol library we had a choice of exposing this in a very limited way, or hiding it completely. We did not have the time or resources in this release to design and build a UI for creating custom arrowheads. We made the decision to expose this in a limited way, feeling that advanced users could access and create their own arrowheads, while keeping it hidden enough so that novice users wouldn’t inadvertently get themselves into trouble by damaging the source file.

     

    Regarding the placement of the stroke. I’ve taken a look at the arrowheads in the arrowhead file, and created quite a few new ones to better understand what is happening. It looks like there is a placement issue with specific shapes. The asterisks arrowhead you show is one of them. The placement of the stroke shifts slightly. The custom arrowhead you created with the ellipse is another example. I was able to recreate this problem as well by making a similar shape. The interesting thing is, when I create an ellipse with a non-varied stroke, either keeping the stroke as a stroke, or expanding it to a filled shape, the shift doesn’t occur. It also doesn’t occur on the standard triangular arrowhead shapes and straight lines I’ve tried it with. Fortunately, these are the more standard shapes used for arrowheads.

     

    I’m not sure why this is occurring with the more organic shapes. The developer who worked on this feature is currently on sabbatical, but I’ll talk to her about it when she get’s back and update this thread.

     

     

     

     

     

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 18, 2010 3:28 AM   in reply to Brenda.Sutherland

    Brenda,

     

    It is very nice to hear from the Adobe team; I am sure everyone here appreciates it.

     

    I believe all of you are normally too busy to visit. We enjoyed it very much when Teri had the time to post regularly, between new versions.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 18, 2010 11:29 AM   in reply to Jacob Bugge

    Thanks Jacob,

    Just to let you know, we (the team) do watch this forum, but aren't able to respond as much as we'd like. We really appreciate all the wonderful and helpful responses provided by peers such as yourself. You all Rock!

    Brenda

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 18, 2010 12:51 PM   in reply to Brenda.Sutherland

    Brenda,

     

    Thank you for that; at least I am very pleased to know that you are here, with us.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 19, 2010 10:11 AM   in reply to JETalmage

    JET, please understand that this forum is not read by "Adobe", it is read by human beings who use Illustrator and human beings who build and test Illustrator. While the people who build and test Illustrator certainly seek constructive criticism, we are proud of our work and we do have feelings.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 19, 2010 12:42 PM   in reply to davidmacy

    In James' defense, he usually is spot on and presents his arguments well. I don't think he means to insult anyone personally, but he has a point: Adobe has abandoned their customers on some level, leaving them out there to rot or swing over to competitors. Now I understand that you as the AI team are just a tiny cog in the whole mechanism and as it would seem one that is overall considered rather unimportant by others above you in the hierarchy, but can we not simply for perspective agree on that Adobe has made considerable mistakes with several of their flagship products in recent years (without putting blame on current or past PMs persoanlly)? Not just AI, but also Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Premiere Pro, After Effects... I think I understand some aspects of software development quite well (generically and specific to how Adobe ticks), so I also understand the constant struggles, but on some days I just can't help that Adobe is always opting for option B, when option A would have been much more user-friendly. There seems a natural talent for the wrong choice, if I may put it that way... And yeah, no offense, James even has a point on that other thing: Compared to many of us, most Adobe employees live in an ivory tower with nice insurance plans, salaries many times higher than ours and any number of benefits... I wish i could take half year sabaticals and be sure my company still exists when I come back, when currently I do not even know whether I will get any kind of salary or payment this month...

     

    Mylenium

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 19, 2010 12:56 PM   in reply to Mylenium

    In a perfect world we'd have all the time and resources to implement every feature for every user out there, and to do it perfectly. The reality is, we are a business, we have a limited number of people working on the project, and we have a schedule to keep. This means we have to make hard choices about what goes in and what doesn't for each release. We're never going to please everyone.

     

    Back to the original issue behind this thread, is the Arrowhead feature everything it possibly could be? No, it's not. I've acknowledged that and have been honest about why. I stand behind the decision we made to go forward with implementing this feature in it's current state in order to expose more functionality to those who could use it. The alternative was to strip the feature down or not implement it at all. That was my decision and I don't regret it.

     

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 19, 2010 12:58 PM   in reply to Mylenium

    I think my point is to treat everyone with respect, dignity and most importantly compassion; and know that the people in Adobe that you are communicating with in this forum are the ones who care the most about Illustrator and really do want to do what is good for our customers. I can also certainly say that I do feel privileged working for Adobe, but not just because of salary, benefits and stability. I feel privileged, honored and truly humbled to be working on a product with the importance and stature of Illustrator and to be serving the amazing customers that we do. Every decision we make about the product has some impact on customers and we always try to make the best decisions we can and deliver the best product we can.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 19, 2010 6:12 PM   in reply to JETalmage

    I must concur with JET about the arrowhead issue.

     

    I love Illustrator and am sorry that Adobe does not allocate enough resources to the Illustrator team.  As a user, I expect that when a new feature is added to any Adobe program, it is well designed, well implemented, and functions as anticipated. However, it seems that the arrowhead feature included in the released product, is still in 'beta.'

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 19, 2010 6:26 PM   in reply to jay fresno

    This feature was really about making arrowheads accessible through the Stroke Panel and making it easy for users to use the built-in arrowheads and have them hit the end of the path. User definable arrowheads was not the goal of this feature. Would you have preferred if we did not provide any method at all for user definable arrowheads, or would you have preferred if we made no change at all to arrowheads and kept them as they were in CS4 and earlier?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 19, 2010 7:05 PM   in reply to davidmacy

    I agree with David and Brenda on this even though I sometimes make a noise to gain attention even if I get scolded for it.

     

    But they have a point and I think that Monika has a much better approach by looking at the options and finding that which is overlooked.

     

    I think if you look at what see suggested to overcome a problem that no one seem to address is insightful and provocative n a higher level and shows a path to improving the feature without breaking it apart.

     

    It is a brilliant solution and shows the way to an option not implemented in this feature but could be had.

     

    I think this is a better approach to criticizing a feature.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 20, 2010 12:09 AM   in reply to davidmacy

    This feature was really about making arrowheads accessible through the Stroke Panel and making it easy for users to use the built-in arrowheads and have them hit the end of the path. User definable arrowheads was not the goal of this feature. Would you have preferred if we did not provide any method at all for user definable arrowheads, or would you have preferred if we made no change at all to arrowheads and kept them as they were in CS4 and earlier?

     

    Na, sorry, David. All you did is add another redundant feature to something that essentially never worked in a user friendly manner - pattern/ art brushes. It's really a case of "A chimp can code a procedural arrowhead and arrowtail using a few geometric primitives in Flash but Adobe can't". Well, whatever... Hopeless case, I guess.

     

    Mylenium

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 20, 2010 9:24 AM   in reply to Mylenium

    OK, I won't be replying to this post anymore.

     

    JET and Mylenium, I'm sure you are both very good people, it is clear that you are passionate. I hope to have a chance to meet each of you and perhaps share a meal together. It would be a great chance to have a better understanding of each other's perspective. Of course I would also love to meet Wade, Monika and everyone else who has contributed to this post as well. If any of you are in the San Francisco or San Jose area at any time, please let me know.

     

    cheers,
    David

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 20, 2010 9:55 AM   in reply to davidmacy

    You'd have to come over to Germany for that and even then I'd be more interested in a "serious" developer meeting rather than idle chat. And of course you could always hire me (or JET) under a consultancy contract or whateverto tell you these things in elaborate detail.... . But since that's probably never gonna happen, I guess we'll have to settle on "be seeing you around on some other secret Adobe places", though one shouldn't  expect too much. I'm long past the point of requesting features that take 3 cycles to implement or never... So long.

     

    Mylenium

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 20, 2010 6:14 PM   in reply to davidmacy
    I hope to have a chance to meet each of you and perhaps share a meal together.

     

    Would Adobe be picking up the tab?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 15, 2010 4:35 PM   in reply to JETalmage

    Some historical notes on the subject of this thread:

     

    I use arrowheads all the time in technical drawing.

     

    I got used to intelligent arrowheads with Aldus Intellidraw, whose version 2 for PC and Mac came out in 1992. With a single click you would get your choice of well-designed arrowhead at the tip of a stroke, and the head of the arrow was flush with the tip or could protrude, as you wished.

     

    Adobe acquired Aldus and buried the program. No one knows what became of the code. You can still find with a Google search pleas to Adobe to make Intellidraw open source. That didn't happen; I suppose everyone's hopes were pinned on Illustrator.

     

    I had to wait 18 years, until CS5 was released in 2010, to get somewhat similar but what turned out sadly to be inferior functionality: for instance, CS5's arrowheads don't conform to perspective distortion (see my other post on feature requests), while Intellidraw's did---yes, it had free and perspective distort modes in 1992!

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 15, 2010 8:48 PM   in reply to davidmacy

    David,

     

    I have been reading this thread, and feel compelled to chime in on your reply (I know that you won't be replying to the thread any longer, but I do hope that you continue to read it).

     

    Adobe sells a product at a hefty price in a market where it may well hold a near-monopoly. Customers support everyone who works at Adobe, and underwrite the privileges and perquisites that come with that employment.

     

    Suppose that your car has a defective design of the parking brake, or of the rearview mirror. You use it every day, and with time you either adapt to it, or more likely you mutter, grumble, and think uncharitable thoughts of the company that produced such a lousy design. What were they thinking of, when common sense would have told them that that's not what the driver wants, and when earlier models or the competition had already done it right? So you come across a consumer forum, and you post on it how badly that company has designed that car, that by now they should have known better, that (given the choice) you would not buy that model again, and so on. You would rail against the company because you rightly expected more of it. In some ways you might even feel a little cheated.

     

    Or repeat this scenario, except with the architect or contractor who gave you a leaking roof after he built your home for you.

     

    In both cases the auto engineer or the builder or architect might protest that he/she was working under pressure of completion deadlines and wished that he were not short-handed. But likely they won't do that, because in a market economy the protestation would carry no water. If it frustrates the user, they have to grin and accept it, and make it a point to fix it as soon as possible. Otherwise the matter will continue to reflect poorly on the individual, their team, and their organization.

     

    So I am afraid that hurt feelings do not have much of a role here. In the marketplace the customer is right (unless he is wrong!), and that is all there is to it.

     

    I'll meet up with you in San Jose over a meal when I visit next, if you like.

     
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