I can't figure this out. In FH I could have an auto expanding text box whose attributes included say: black text on a white ground which would expand as one types, for the life of me I can not seem to achieve this seemingly simple procedure in Illustrator, what am I missing?
Using the Group Select tool (White arrow with + sign), carefully click exactly on the box edge, and you can add a fill/stroke to it. Look into learning to use the Appearance palette to control fills and strokes once you start getting more advanced, with multiple strokes, fills, and effects aplied to them.
Illustrator's textFrame objects are far inferior to FreeHand's. Instead of the horizontal and/or vertical auto-fit controls in FreeHand, Illustrator's interface provides two cumbersome kinds of textFrames: so-called AreaType and PointType.
An AreaType object (usually created by clickDragging with the Text tool) cannot be set to auto-fit, neither horizontally nor vertically. A PointType object (usually created by just clicking with the Text tool) has no containing path and does not wrap. So it is effectively like a text object in FreeHand set to auto-expand in both directions. Its auto-fit behavior cannot be changed either.
There is an awkward (frankly, downright bizarre) workaround suitable in some instances: You can add an extra fill or an extra stroke to the text object in the Appearance Palette, position it below the Characters listing, and then apply the Convert To Shape Effect to the added fill. The dialog for the Effect has options for "absolute" or "relative" dimensions of the "fake" shape. So this Effect-ed fill or stroke thereby appears like a frame around the text that resizes as the text is edited (if the Effect is set to Relative size).
Welcome to the awkward interface and archaic features of Illustrator. You'll find many things that are straightforward and taken-for-granted in FreeHand that have to be accomplished by tedious and unintuitive workarounds in Illustrator.
Thanks Bert & James
Bert, thanks for explaining how to at least get a colored background in to a text frame (that was driving me spare), but it only seems to work with area type which means manually resizing each frame to fit it's respective text.
and James, thank you for that extraodinary work around which does give me the functionality I require (allbeit, using a technique no self-respecting illustrator could have ever been expected to know or deduce).
There is another way actually might not suite your way of doing things, Simply draw a rectangle fill it with a color and then place it behind the text frame.
you can then turn that into a symbol now any of the other methods can be turned into a symbol but the other methods would lend themselves less to being made into a symbol as you loose some control over them.
The thing about this is that it gives you lots of control as to position in relationship to the text.
but then you have 2 objects and all the selection woes that that entails, especially when both objects are of a similar size and directly on top of one another (twice the amount of work). Also, there is no easy way to have exact margins aound similar sized text blocks if just resizing by 'eye'.
Yes but when you make it a symbol those woes sort of go away and it is
one object a symbol.
And as far as time is concerned it is not any more tie then to go the
appearance panel and add a color
and then fill it. It has advantages and disadvantages. It depends on
one how your ming works and what you are doing.
If you link the text boxes you still have to add the fill to each box
as a path and you have to thread them and so on
I have to say that there is little control over this but doing it the
more primitive way as i suggest could be of use at time and turn
that into a symbol and grouping the text and rectangle you add many
instances and break the links. it depends it all needs to be updated
with more options
it is not ideal as it stands.
You can add an extra fill or an extra stroke to the text object in the Appearance Palette, position it below the Characters listing, and then apply the Convert To Shape Effect to the added fill.
When using this method, before converting type to outlines, you must remember to Expand Appearance. If you forget that step, the Effect will apply to the group of letter outlines only, changing the shape of the surrounding rectangle.
I'm thinking it would be preferable for the Create Outlines command to either automatically Expand Appearance, or to give a warning dialog.
The beauty of James's work around is that the text remains live and editable. You are really only converting the added fill to a 'shape' which if you choose 'relative' in the 'convert to shape' options, will expand & contract with the addition or subtraction of text. No 'convert to outlines' required!
If you never have a need to create outlines, then I'm sure you're safe.
If, for example, you handed off a diagram labeled in this way to someone else, that person might create outlines without noticing the change in shape. I suppose I worry excessively about things that might go wrong, but probably never will.
Quite right to be cautious, Judy. In this game so many things can go wrong! But, in my case, 'live' files never leave my computer, it's pretty much either .eps or .pdf from me. Other's milage may vary.
To some users this is becasue Illustrators ways are archaic…they might have a point in some cases but if one has followed the forum for as long I have one would recall that improvements to the the type input mechanism was not something that too many ILlustrator users ever approved of and the main reason was that they though of Illustrator as an art creation tool and not a layout program. For instance any form of multiple page or multiple artboard feature was fought against vigorously, even though it seems to be a popular feature now.
Improvement to the text engine was even less enthusiastic and Adobe was just listening to the users and not spending as much time on the developement of the Type engine.
You might not see this a logical or even believe it is possible but that was the case and might still be and the onl waay to change it is to make it known that you want the type engine upgraded and tell the team why. Here are the two criterias that will convince them if presented well.
1.How will this feature save you time
2.How will this improve your work flow with (Application's name)
If you give a strang straight forward agrument, by argument I mean a strong rational explaination, you have a strong chance of gaining acceptance.
One approach I know will not work and that is to argue that you could do it in FreeHand, that is not a compelling reason or even a reason.
I have tried myself to to sumit this feature request several times in the past but you see they will not change the type engine for one user I submitted this proposal even before I have ever heard the complaint by former FreeHand users, so I think it is a good feature as it is useful as long as it can be done without causing issues.
And if non of the users who come to this forum do not make this a feature request quite frankly I agree with Adobe if they do not care enough to take a few minutes to make such a feature request than they really don't need it.
It is a good feture.
There is one thing that always helps the team it seems if you can describe how you might think that several of the existing features in Illustrator can be combined to create such a feature that is helpful.
And what is important about that aspect of your feature request is you don't have to be right just as long as it gets the team to think that hey this might be possible.
I have seen users come to the forum with such an approach and be successful, or at least those features have been implemented after the user made the feature request.
Here try it.