26 Replies Latest reply on Jul 7, 2014 1:32 PM by plug_and_pray

    FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required

    plug_and_pray Level 1

      [Copied from Illustrator Feature Requests]

       

      Hello

       

      I am working on a FreeHand import plugin for CS6, but am having trouble finding freehand files to test it with. If anyone can give me any links to files on the web or send me some files, that would be great.

       

      Also would people be prepared to pay for a FreeHand plugin for CS6? If not there is not much point continuing with development.

       

      Thank you.

        • 2. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
          Head Level 1

          Possibly, if it worked properly, though I  have sufficient hardware investment to enable me to continue to run FreeHand until the lights go out. And in the absence of any form of Illustrator compatibility, that will do just fine for me.

           

          But have you managed to find sufficient data on the FreeHand file format to enable you to even make a start on this? 

           

          Such information seems not only  impossible to find, but from what I have read is notoriously convoluted and likely to be almost impossible to parse unless you have access to a vast amount of background information that doesn't seem to exist in the public domain.

           

          I'd be very interested to know if you have all this information to hand.  But if you do, then go for it; such a plug-in would doubtless prove  to be a useful addition to many illustrators' arsenal of tools.

          • 3. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
            joemuller

            I would not pay for a plugin for Illustrator, this should be something that Adobe should have in Illustrator for free.  I have stopped using Illustrator years ago and will never go back.  I have a copy of CS5 and use it to take in illustrator files convert them to version 9 and then export them into Freehand.  Adobe down through the years has killed and taken over many company's to stop competition and to get parts of programs that they need. They brought Aldus and killed Pagemaker and made InDesign. They bought  Macromedia took Flash and got there only competition to Illustrator for free (Freehand).   Adobe is the only game in town if you want graphics software they have a monopoly

            on pricing and as of late forcing you to upgrade when they tell you to or pay full price for the  next upgrade.  I'm sorry about the rant, the plugin would help alot of artists who have been forced into a bad situation by Adobe

            cope with older files.

            • 4. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
              Keith thirgood Level 1

              I would pay a small amount for it. I rarely use Illustrator, as it is a bloated, confusing, counter-intuitive program. A real time sink to do the simplest tasks. However, I have to occassionally give over a file to someone who only uses Illustrator and who needs to encorporate my file into their work. It would be helpful if I could do the importing and fix any issues that came up before giving over the file.

              • 5. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                FH Addict Level 1

                I would pay few euros, but this should also work for the last Illustrator CC ;-)

                • 6. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                  cyclopsdx Level 1

                  Same feedback as Head - I'm running an independent Snow Leopard system with FH and have no intention of upgrading the machine. It's there purely to create projects in FH. Our other machines are being kept on CS5/5.5 for the time being, so I'll back-save as and when I need to. I agree that Adobe should still offer the option to open FH in CS6 themselves. Unfortunately, they don't, so what you're proposing doing is an admirable thing and thanks for the consideration. I'm not happy with the whole cloud-based option on CS6 onwards anyway so will be holding on to the bitter end until I absolutely have to upgrade.

                  • 7. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                    david_imanaka Level 1

                    Unfortunately, you may have think of this "plug-in" instead as an independent middleware interpreter application that is neither an "illustrator or freehand" plug-in. Yes, it's going to cost some money for users, but you're trying to earn a living as the rest of us. You should stand on your own merits and be rewarded accordingly and not the consequences of Adobe or others to suppress this conversion need.

                     

                    I think the development curve on this effort is exceedingly high since little or nothing exists in the public domain and what I understand are patent issues in the underlying code that can cause a domino of conflict frustration by digging up the "old bones".

                     

                    I believe Adobe may have looked at some point to its feasibility and with the diminishing freehand users over time and the development costs (ROI) probably concluded that it was not a wise business decision (whatever that might have been). As hardware obsoletes and freehand suspended in time, despite all of the efforts and frustration, the future is quite clear.

                     

                    So, I wish you well and would BUY such an application if true and recognize the cost may be high whether plug-in or middleware knowing that the "pool" of users will diminish over time.

                     

                    I do use a dedicated computer just for freehand MX and have been frustrated like the rest of the freehand world.

                    • 8. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                      Frank Born

                      For a import plugin with the same quality as Adobe's in CS5 I'd gladly shell out $50,- per seat, 6 licenses.

                      For an import plugin, "Save as Freehand MX" feature, clipboard functionality with Freehand and Illustrator-to-Freehand GUI modifier plugin I'd be more than happy to pay $300,- per seat.

                       

                      You're up to that, save the world?

                       

                      ;-)  Frank

                      • 9. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                        plug_and_pray Level 1

                        Thank you for your replies. I realise there is a fair bit of animosity towards Adobe from FreeHand users, and if you don't want anything to do with CS6 that's fine. From previous threads it seemed there was a market for an import plugin for CS6, so I started working on it. Based on the replies in this thread I intend to continue development.

                         

                        My intention is to produce an import plugin for CS6 that has the same functionality as the CS5 plugin. I would probably sell this for $30-$40. Unfortunately I have a mortgage to pay and family to support, so I can't give it away free.

                         

                        I will keep you informed of my progress.

                        • 10. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                          FH Addict Level 1

                          Curious to see the result ;-) good luck!

                          Price is ok with me.

                          • 11. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                            cyclopsdx Level 1

                            Good luck. I'd most likely appreciate having an import plugin so that I can still work in FH and open in CS6 so, yes, I'd pay as and when I have to upgrade to CS6.

                            Let me know if you do need files to test. I should be able to find some that I can send you if you contact me directly.

                            • 12. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                              Head Level 1

                              If you can pull this off at least as good as Adobe did in CS5 (maybe even better ), there is no way you should give it away for free.

                               

                              I'd say 30 - 40 dollars is perfectly reasonable.

                              • 13. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                JETalmage Level 6

                                I have a large set of legacy FreeHand files. FreeHand still runs on my Windows machines just fine. When necessary, I convert them to Illustrator by either exporting them from FreeHand as .AI, or I open them with a pre-CS6 version of Illustrator.

                                 

                                If I were dedicating time to developing any plug-in for Illustrator, I'd bear in mind that Adobe is alienating a large part of its most experienced customer base by going to a subscription-only business model. I won't be renting software from Adobe. So my use of Illustrator will continue only so long as CS6 still runs. I'll be dramatically reducing my use of Illustrator altogether in the meanwhile--a process started immediately upon the annoucement.

                                 

                                JET

                                • 14. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                  julesinchaos Level 1

                                  Hi plug_and_pray, been thinking about this and if it worked as well as an upgrade I'd be up for it, presuming Freehand users would maybe get a discount ;-) anything to prolong file useage and compatibility with others has to be a good thing, good luck :-) I wouldn't invest in CS upgrades though as what I've got works sufficently well for what I need.....

                                   

                                  PS if you would like any Freehand files to test I've thousands lol!!

                                  • 15. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                    TheGraphicist Level 1

                                    I'd buy a Freehand to CS6 importer if it worked as well as the CS5 importer, and I think $30-40 is fair.

                                     

                                    Frank's intriguing idea of a CS6 to Freehand exporter is also relevant to me, and I'd also pay $300 a seat for that. Assumedly once you crack Freehand's labyrinthine code for exporting, you might know enough to make the importer.

                                     

                                    I look forward to hearing of your progress!

                                    • 16. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                      plug_and_pray Level 1

                                      I have sent private messages to those offering test files.

                                       

                                      I have been working on this plugin for a few months and have almost got to the point where I can start testing it. It has been a fairly slow and painful process. I ran into a problem a couple of weeks ago which I have yet to solve. I was considering giving up, which is why I decided to post here to see how much interest there was.

                                      • 17. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                        [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

                                        plug_and_pray wrote:


                                        I have been working on this plugin for a few months and have almost got to the point where I can start testing it. It has been a fairly slow and painful process. I ran into a problem a couple of weeks ago which I have yet to solve. I was considering giving up, which is why I decided to post here to see how much interest there was.

                                         

                                        Hmm-mmm ...

                                         

                                        I'm working on a similar project after reading Vonster's post: http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1181535?tstart=0

                                         

                                        Only have been on it for a week or two, and prospects are looking good. However, since I don't want to be tied to Adobe, I'm not writing a plug-in (which, most likely, won't work in next versions of Illy anyway). I'm leaning towards converting FH to EPS -- a generic file format that most serious software can read.

                                         

                                        By now I can read all of my (dozen) test files without errors. Only thing left is figuring out what to translate to EPS.

                                         

                                        I might as well add that I'm not in to earning money over the backs of people screwed by Adobe -- I'm thinking, a tool like this should be free. (And it should be supplied by Adobe, by the way -- after all, they are the owner of the file format and responsible for REMOVING THE IMPORT from Illy CS6.)

                                        • 18. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                          cyclopsdx Level 1

                                          Thanks. I'll try and find a good range of files for you to play with.

                                          • 19. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                            julesinchaos Level 1

                                            Have sent you some too... good luck, it's great to hear what's going on and lets not forget Paintstack too :-D

                                            • 20. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                              plug_and_pray Level 1

                                              [Jongware] wrote:

                                               

                                              plug_and_pray wrote:


                                              I have been working on this plugin for a few months and have almost got to the point where I can start testing it. It has been a fairly slow and painful process. I ran into a problem a couple of weeks ago which I have yet to solve. I was considering giving up, which is why I decided to post here to see how much interest there was.

                                               

                                              Hmm-mmm ...

                                               

                                              I'm working on a similar project after reading Vonster's post: http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1181535?tstart=0

                                               

                                              Only have been on it for a week or two, and prospects are looking good. However, since I don't want to be tied to Adobe, I'm not writing a plug-in (which, most likely, won't work in next versions of Illy anyway). I'm leaning towards converting FH to EPS -- a generic file format that most serious software can read.

                                               

                                              By now I can read all of my (dozen) test files without errors. Only thing left is figuring out what to translate to EPS.

                                               

                                              I might as well add that I'm not in to earning money over the backs of people screwed by Adobe -- I'm thinking, a tool like this should be free.

                                               

                                              Sounds like your tool will be available before my plugin. You're lucky to be in a position where you can work for nothing. Do you think you can get your tool to work for all freehand files?

                                              • 21. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                                [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

                                                plug_and_pray wrote:

                                                 


                                                Sounds like your tool will be available before my plugin. You're lucky to be in a position where you can work for nothing.

                                                 

                                                It's not my daytime job, it's just hobbying. (Downside is, that's what you get: a 'hobby' product -- not a full-fledged, all-purpose, bug free, interactive multi-language multiplatform auto-updating piece of software. ... Not unlike Adobe's offerings, come to think of it.)

                                                 

                                                Do you think you can get your tool to work for all freehand files?

                                                 

                                                Not a chance.

                                                 

                                                1. "all" freehand files? Nope. There are vast differences in the data format from the eleven (11!) versions. I don't even have test files of each of those. Even Adobe, when they still included "FreeHand Import", only allowed FH7-FH11 importing -- and they own the actual programming code.

                                                 

                                                2. "work" ... well, define what it would take to make it "work". Even converting plain text to something looking a bit like the original is going to be a horror story (from memory, there are five or six different object types you'd have to grok in excruciating detail). There are dozens of weird filters as well -- how would you convert Black-and-White Lens, or that thingy where you get a copy of what's "under" it somewhere else? CS4 makes an incredible mess of Extrusions -- at least they tried. There are loads and loads of functions that simply do not exist in Illustrator. To convert a simple rotated ellipse, which is a rotated, translated and transformed circle in FH, you have to do the matrix calculations yourself and translate into Illy's native bézier curves. You can convert bitmap fills to EPS bitmap patterns, but Illy users won't appreciate that because then they cannot edit these same fills!

                                                 

                                                3. I'm working on files without actually knowing what they are supposed to look like. I don't have FH, all I have is Illy CS4 -- so anything I'm looking at has already gone through some pre-processing.

                                                 

                                                What Vonster suggested in his question to Adobe is a feasible workflow: get the plain vector artwork into Illy, without any text, filters, lenses, and whatnots. But of course he's only looking at this from his own perspective (his work consists mostly of plain vector artwork). Something like a 12 page newsletter, loaded with text and imported images, is just not going to translate in any useful way.

                                                 

                                                Don't get me wrong, there certainly are huge advantages in your plug-in approach. For one, there is "the idiot factor" -- after installing, one can simply use the "File -> Open" command. Another big plus is that you can directly work with Illy's native objects -- you can create swatches, guides, artboards, patterns, symbols, and brushes (although Adobe didn't actually do that in CS4 -- why not?), and so you don't have to work at a level as low as I am facing.

                                                • 22. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                                  plug_and_pray Level 1

                                                  [Jongware] wrote:

                                                   

                                                  you don't have to work at a level as low as I am facing.

                                                   

                                                  I wouldn't be so sure about that...

                                                   

                                                  [Jongware] wrote:

                                                   

                                                  Do you think you can get your tool to work for all freehand files?

                                                   

                                                  Not a chance.

                                                   

                                                  What I really meant is would it work for the files supported by the CS5 import plugin. I was led to believe by other posts that the FreeHand format was almost impossible to parse as it was a closed format and not in the public domain.

                                                   

                                                  So how can I write a FreeHand plugin for CS6? I may as well come clean and admit I know virtually nothing about the FreeHand file format. I do however know a lot about Illustrator plugins. What I am actually working on is a way of running plugins from previous versions in CS6. I thought that a FreeHand import plugin would be a good first application. If I can get it to work, you would install it on a machine that had both CS5 (or possibly CS4) and CS6. The first time you run CS6 after installing the plugin it would copy over the CS5 plugin to the CS6 installation and you could then uninstall CS5. In the unlikely event that Adobe allowed me to bundle the CS5 plugin in my installer, there would be no need to have the older version at all.

                                                  • 23. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                                    [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

                                                    (Argh! Switched to FF, IE-whatever-latest doesn't like Jive *at all*!)

                                                     

                                                     

                                                    plug_and_pray wrote:


                                                    [Jongware] wrote:

                                                     

                                                    Do you think you can get your tool to work for all freehand files?

                                                     

                                                    Not a chance.

                                                     

                                                    What I really meant is would it work for the files supported by the CS5 import plugin. I was led to believe by other posts that the FreeHand format was almost impossible to parse as it was a closed format and not in the public domain.

                                                     

                                                    That is correct. ("Impossible", well, no. More precisely "sure, it was rather a challenge", or "fun as long as it lasted, now get back to work". Also a good bit of "Your 1980 Code Style is Shining Through, Welcome to the 21st Century".)

                                                     

                                                    Technically, the FreeHand file format is a "proprietary file format owned by Adobe" BUT I have no qualms on writing code to read & convert it, as Adobe discontinued the FreeHand software brand in 2007 and clearly and unequivocally declared it a dead end:

                                                     

                                                    Adobe does not plan to develop and deliver any new feature-based releases of FreeHand, or to deliver patches or updates for new operating systems or hardware.

                                                    (http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2007/05/freehand_no_longer_updated_moving_to_illus.html)

                                                     

                                                    (On a related -- ironical -- note, their "justification" FAQ PDF suggested moving to AI is made less painful since this can "import FreeHand files from all versions from FreeHand 7 to FreeHand MX." I guess they had a similar company line for entirely removing this feature from CS6 -- and onwards? anyone care to check CC?)

                                                     

                                                    That said, I know virtually nothing about Illustrator plugins Technically, there should not be any sound reason not to include the FH plugin in CS6. After all, it's not as like asked to incorporate FH's features into native-CS6 objects which weren't available in CS5. The main link between a plugin and the master program is a small (ish?) set of basic communication routines, and so it should technically be possible to translate only these from CS5 to CS6. At this point I am only guessing -- wildly.

                                                     

                                                    Is it forbidden to include the CS5 plugin in your package? I don't bother much with legalities (see above ) but I'm pretty sure this most certainly is. But there are always ways around it. You could provide just the interface, with instructions on how to add the CS5 plugin from "somewhere else" (just like the old Make Your Atari ST A Macintosh package -- it came with an empty electronic board, which was labelled with positions to put original Mac chips in).

                                                    • 24. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                                      plug_and_pray Level 1

                                                      [Jongware] wrote:

                                                       

                                                      That said, I know virtually nothing about Illustrator plugins Technically, there should not be any sound reason not to include the FH plugin in CS6. After all, it's not as like asked to incorporate FH's features into native-CS6 objects which weren't available in CS5. The main link between a plugin and the master program is a small (ish?) set of basic communication routines, and so it should technically be possible to translate only these from CS5 to CS6. At this point I am only guessing -- wildly.

                                                       

                                                      Yes, the only excuse I think they could have is there is some reason why they can't build a 64 bit version and they didn't want to release just a 32 bit version. Using my interface the 32 bit CS5 plugin should be able to run under 64 bit CS6.

                                                      • 25. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                                        [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

                                                        Sounds perfectly doable! (To a layman such as me.)

                                                         

                                                        This is how far I am, currently, in parsing & converting. This is one of the sample images from MX, converted to EPS. The red numbers indicate 'object numbers'. Next up is how to apply the correct color to each of the paths.

                                                         

                                                        Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 12.36.53 AM.png

                                                        • 26. Re: FreeHand import plugin for CS6: Test files required
                                                          plug_and_pray Level 1

                                                          Hello

                                                           

                                                          The FreeHand Interface Plugin is now available:

                                                           

                                                          Tensai AI Plugins

                                                           

                                                          It works with CS6, CC and 2014. You do need access to a FreeHand Import plugin from CS3-CS5. We are trying to get Adobe to make the CS5 plugin available as a free download.