12 Replies Latest reply on Mar 16, 2009 8:36 PM by bunner bob

    Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me understand

    bunner bob
      I'm just learning Fireworks as a possible replacement to my current Photoshop CS4->ImageReady CS2 web graphics workflow.

      My co-designer typically designs websites in Illustrator, then gives me the files to build from. She's not much of a detail person and it's typically my job to fine-align everything before building. I was curious how strokes would move from AI to FW, that being a typical issue going from AI to PS (strokes look great in AI, but come into PS not aligned to the pixel, making them antialiased).

      Opening an AI file in FW, I saw that the strokes appeared to retain the same alignment set in AI (even being aligned to the sub pixel when so set in AI - though FW only displays numerically to the whole pixel). When I cursored to each number in the Properties and hit enter to "re-set" that number, the object shifted so its edges were right on. But of course with a single pixel stroke, that put the stroke into 2 different pixels, for a soft antialiased look. Further exploration revealed the option to set the stroke to outside or inside (as in AI), which cleared up the softening.

      Great, I thought. So why not just set that in the first place in AI and then import. Well, that didn't work. Instead, the fill and stroke came in as two separate objects, grouped. The stroke was a compound shape with a hole through it. And apparently no ability to get it locked to the pixel.

      So as a result it looks like our workflow must be:

      1. Designer designs, and agrees not to use any stroke alignments other than "center". Gives me the AI.

      2. I open in FW and "re-set" the coordinates and width/height of each object to ensure they are on the pixel grid.

      3. I go to each object and set the stroke to Inside or Outside so it too is on the pixel grid. Or set the stroke to Pencil Hard.

      Is that pretty much how it goes? Seems a bummer that FW won't honor AI's stroke position settings, especially since it has similar settings. On the other hand, at least I can GET the pixels crisp, which was always a real mystery going from AI to PS.

      It'd be cool if there was an option to "jog" everything to the pixel grid on import. Even if it chose the wrong pixel some of the time I think it'd speed up the process a bit.

      - Bob

      - Bob
        • 1. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me understand
          Level 7
          Hi Bob,

          The usual scenario is FW>DW - no need for Illustrator - why two graphics
          programs?

          --
          Aloha,

          Jerry
          http://MauiWebDesigns.com



          • 2. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me understand
            bunner bob Level 1
            Sorry - perhaps I wasn't clear. My designer works in Illustrator. I was asking specifically about workflow from Illustrator to Fireworks. Also, I don't use Dreamweaver - I code in BBEdit. Not that it's relevant to this particular issue...
            • 3. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me understand
              pixlor Level 4
              quote:

              Originally posted by: Newsgroup User
              Hi Bob,

              The usual scenario is FW>DW - no need for Illustrator - why two graphics
              programs?

              --
              Aloha,

              Jerry
              http://MauiWebDesigns.com




              Jerry: Because the drawing tools in Fireworks are rudimentary. Fireworks is neither as powerful nor as easy to use as a dedicated vector drawing program.

              Bob: Have you thought about rendering a bitmap file from Illustrator and then slicing it in Fireworks? If you have the pixel precision you want in illustrator, and you don't save in any manner that's lossy, you have nothing to lose. If you need to have editable text, use two exports, one for aligning fresh text entered in FW (then hide or delete that object).


              • 4. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me understand
                bunner bob Level 1
                Exporting bitmap formats from Illustrator does not seem to guarantee pixel-precise shape edges and stroke placement. It's common for strokes to get exported as antialiased lines, not crisp single-pixel lines.

                Plus, the whole point of using Fireworks (or one of the main points) is that it's possible to continue editing vector content while prepping for web export.
                • 5. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me understand
                  pixlor Level 4
                  quote:

                  Originally posted by: bunner bob
                  Exporting bitmap formats from Illustrator does not seem to guarantee pixel-precise shape edges and stroke placement. It's common for strokes to get exported as antialiased lines, not crisp single-pixel lines.

                  Plus, the whole point of using Fireworks (or one of the main points) is that it's possible to continue editing vector content while prepping for web export.


                  You want to continue editing the shapes, then. What about turning off the strokes before saving from AI? Then turning them on in FW?

                  • 6. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me understand
                    bunner bob Level 1
                    That seems like more work than simply making sure the strokes are set to the default centered on the edge of the object in Illustrator, then editing as necessary in FW. At least that way you see what they are supposed to be, and only have to make some changes.

                    I can't wait for CS6 or 7, when Adobe _really_ integrates these programs. Sure the interfaces look more similar now than last version, but there are still a lot of rough edges and major inconsistencies between programs, plus import/export issues like the one discussed here.

                    Personally I'd love a single program that combined all of Photoshop, Fireworks and Illustrator. As it is each program seems to have a limited subset of the capabilities of the others, and passing files among them is far from fluid. In a way, even though it feels the least mature of the three, Fireworks shows the most promise as it dares to integrate pixels, vectors and web exporting in a single workspace.
                    • 7. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me understand
                      pixlor Level 4
                      I agree that better interfacing between the programs would be great.

                      I think that the three programs ought to continue to be separate, however. They have different purposes and different intended output destinations. Illustrator is not concerned with pixel aliasing since most work from Illustrator is not intended for the Web. Photoshop, too, has uses that are not Web-related. Fireworks, as a Web-focused application does not need many of the capabilities found in the print arena (Pantone color specification, for example).

                      I would rather have three programs that focus on their primary functions, with good toolsets and interoperability than one huge bloated program. The bloated program would have many problems:
                      - It probably wouldn't run on on any but the most advanced systems
                      - Every user would be burdened with unnecessary features (just different features for different users)
                      - Be very buggy (just changing the text engine in Fireworks CS4 to the Photoshop engine has caused terrible problems, just read some of the other threads)

                      • 8. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me   understand
                        Level 7
                        pixlor wrote:
                        > I agree that better interfacing between the programs would be great.
                        >
                        > I think that the three programs ought to continue to be separate, however.
                        > They have different purposes and different intended output destinations.
                        > Illustrator is not concerned with pixel aliasing since most work from
                        > Illustrator is not intended for the Web. Photoshop, too, has uses that
                        > are not Web-related. Fireworks, as a Web-focused application does not need many
                        > of the capabilities found in the print arena (Pantone color specification, for
                        > example).
                        >
                        > I would rather have three programs that focus on their primary functions, with
                        > good toolsets and interoperability than one huge bloated program. The bloated
                        > program would have many problems:
                        > - It probably wouldn't run on on any but the most advanced systems
                        > - Every user would be burdened with unnecessary features (just different
                        > features for different users)
                        > - Be very buggy (just changing the text engine in Fireworks CS4 to the
                        > Photoshop engine has caused terrible problems, just read some of the other
                        > threads)
                        >
                        >
                        >

                        I agree with Lorraine on this one, FWIT.

                        --
                        Jim Babbage - .:Community MX:. & .:Adobe Community Expert:.
                        http://www.communityMX.com/
                        ---
                        .:Adobe Community Expert for Fireworks:.
                        http://www.adobe.com/communities/experts/members/206.html
                        ---
                        • 9. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me understand
                          bunner bob Level 1
                          You wouldn't have to add THAT much to Photoshop to give it much more vector power. And you wouldn't have to add much to its slicing capability to give it much better web functionality.

                          Bloat can be done badly or done well. Compared to past versions, all three apps could be considered bloated, but all run just fine on my MacBook Pro, and all ran just fine on my dual-core G5 (well, CS3 did anyway - haven't tried 4).

                          Leveraging on the existing Workspace functionality, you could create spaces for working on documents for print or for the web. Either space could include both pixel and vector capabilities. Document format could be something like FW PNG or PSD, with "space" for all the different kinds of info.

                          And I would make the additions to Photoshop. It seems to have the smoothest, best-responding UI of the bunch.

                          Of course I'm just dreaming - but I remember when there were no vectors in Photoshop. Or layers for that matter.
                          • 10. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me understand
                            pixlor Level 4
                            quote:

                            Originally posted by: bunner bob
                            You wouldn't have to add THAT much to Photoshop to give it much more vector power. And you wouldn't have to add much to its slicing capability to give it much better web functionality.

                            Photo/pixel editing is a completely different mindset from vector drawing. The whole approach to a work is different. Creating a work for print is a completely different approach to creating a work (site) for the Web. A good program interface is tailored to the main users of the program. A one-size-fits-all UI, just like one-size-fits-all clothing, fits no one.

                            quote:

                            Originally posted by: bunner bob
                            Bloat can be done badly or done well. Compared to past versions, all three apps could be considered bloated, but all run just fine on my MacBook Pro, and all ran just fine on my dual-core G5 (well, CS3 did anyway - haven't tried 4).

                            No. No no no no no. Bloat is bad. Can you run all three apps on your MacBook Pro and open, say, a 40Mb or 80Mb or even larger file? That size is not common for Web designers, but it is common for photo collages and illustrations.

                            quote:

                            Leveraging on the existing Workspace functionality, you could create spaces for working on documents for print or for the web. Either space could include both pixel and vector capabilities. Document format could be something like FW PNG or PSD, with "space" for all the different kinds of info.

                            So you want to bloat the file headers, too, including spaces for unnecessary information, producing another round of incompatible file types? Oh my!

                            quote:

                            And I would make the additions to Photoshop. It seems to have the smoothest, best-responding UI of the bunch.

                            On my system, where I have my mouse set to left-handed, there's a bug where I cannot move the images around on the workspace. It's only in Photoshop. It is, therefore, my least-liked UI of the bunch.

                            quote:

                            Of course I'm just dreaming - but I remember when there were no vectors in Photoshop. Or layers for that matter.

                            Well...you keep on dreaming.

                            But take a class or two in writing code. Give that a shot before you think that a Photoshop/Fireworks/Illustrator mega program is desirable or even a manageable project.
                            • 11. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me   understand
                              pixlor Level 4
                              quote:

                              Originally posted by: Newsgroup User
                              pixlor wrote:
                              > I agree that better interfacing between the programs would be great.
                              >
                              > I think that the three programs ought to continue to be separate, however.
                              > ...
                              >

                              I agree with Lorraine on this one, FWIT.

                              --
                              Jim Babbage - .:Community MX:. & .:Adobe Community Expert:.
                              http://www.communityMX.com/
                              ---
                              .:Adobe Community Expert for Fireworks:.
                              http://www.adobe.com/communities/experts/members/206.html
                              ---



                              Thanks, Jim!
                              • 12. Re: Importing AI files - stroke behavior - help me understand
                                bunner bob Level 1
                                Pixels vs. vectors is not the same as print vs. web. Many/most print jobs use pixels and vectors. Designing in AI means going back and forth between PS and AI. Compare that to FW when working for the web - both vector and pixels in the same box. PS is great for web or print. AI isn't great for web per se, but working in vectors can be a lot faster when designing websites, and AI has a lot of power that FW doesn't in that regard. To sum up - there's lots of overlap, lots of gray area as far as which program(s) are best for what tasks. All of them have shortcomings in all areas. Each of them is particularly strong in certain areas.

                                A UI is not clothing. And in my scenario it would NOT be one-size-fits-all. It would be configurable for different tasks - just as many of the CS components are now.

                                quote:

                                Can you run all three apps on your MacBook Pro and open, say, a 40Mb or 80Mb or even larger file?


                                Um, yes. Commonly. Do it all the time.

                                quote:

                                So you want to bloat the file headers, too, including spaces for unnecessary information, producing another round of incompatible file types? Oh my!


                                I'm sure it would be a mildly painful process - just as it is now when someone upgrades to CS4 and starts churning out files that I (still running CS3) couldn't read. And I'm sure we'd all get over it and wonder how we ever got by without (layers in Photoshop, multiple pages in Illustrator, I could write a book).

                                Sorry to hear about your Photoshop issue - that would be a bummer! I could go into my rant about how developers are always piling on new features instead of fixing old bugs - but...well, I'll just say that a friend of mine who works in Adobe CS developments says if they did nothing but fix bugs it'd take something like 10 years.

                                Oh, and it's been a while since I've taken a class in coding, but I spend probably 3/4 of my days writing object-oriented PHP, Ajax or Actionscript 3. I'm sure a merge of the three apps would be an incredible undertaking. Heck, I'd be happy just to see them REALLY unify the UIs, so it doesn't feel like a Macromedia app and two Adobe cousins who don't see each other very often.

                                I'm probably in something of the minority, as someone who designs for print and web, does production for print and web, and is a photographer (who prints and puts stuff on the web). Oh, and codes. Geez, I need a vacation....