Adobe Illustrator CS5 Another Home Run

It’s hard to believe Adobe can keep squeezing more goodness out of such a mature product. Favorite features in previous Illustrator releases were trace, art boards (I love art boards), smart guides and save for web and devices. This release they’ve improved art boards, overhauled arrowheads, and added various stroke features.

CS4’s smart guides feature works suprisingly well, helping you align objects to each other without using a snap-to grid. It makes it easy to align and size objects when makig drawings such as flow charts. For CS5 they’ve finally given arrowheads an overhaul. They did such a good job that it was almost worth the decade long wait. With the new precise arrowheads you can now add arrowheads from the stroke panel, and align them so the tip is at the end of the line.

Another stroke improvement includes the ability to align dashed lines so that the dashes align with corners. Quite a bit more interesting is the ability to take a stroke line and vary it’s width at any anchor point. They’ve also added 9-slice scaling (from Flash).

Art boards allow you to have individual page drawings all on one canvas, and allows you to easily resize the art boards. For CS5 you can name your art boards, reorder them and shrink them to fit the drawings they contain. Small touches that complete the feature. Added goodness is that Microsoft Word and PowerPoint on Mac support directly opening Illustrator files and selecting an art board to import as an image. I’ll put multiple diagrams in one Illustrator file, each on it’s own art board, then import them into Word this way. A very effective workflow. Word and PowerPoint fully maintain the vector art loveliness.

AIR-based help is now integrated and works quite well across all CS5 products. I very much appreciate this offline help system, though I don’t apreciate that almost every time I seek help I am prompted to update my help. Adobe has gone through many girations with their help systems, from PDF to HTML and everything in between. I feel that this is the best that help has ever been for Adobe products.

Comments