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  Illustrator 7
Illustrator has long been the "Industry Standard for the Mac platform, but seemed to lack (or have a reputation for lacking) on the PC platform. Although Adobe has been regularly tweaking Illustrator for the Macintosh, the company has sadly overlooked the Windows version until now.
The newest edition from Adobe changes all of that. Illustrator for the PC comes of age!

I have seen many times before where companies have produced great looking packages which become the "standards" in certain areas but can not follow up in future versions to remain the 'Standard'. Adobe Illustrator now seven versions is seemed to be falling into that category. But, just hold on a minute!

After more than five years without a major new release, you might have assumed that Adobe Illustrator-a popular Macintosh illustration program being phased out of the Windows marketplace and been long forgotten, with newer releases, such as Corel draw and Macromedia Freehand. But Illustrator has risen again to match the level of excellence found in Adobe's other graphics programs. Illustrator is back!

Illustrator 7.0 is a definite step up from previous versions of Illustrator and has many new features. Along with the usual superb flexibility with handling multiple file formats and integration with other adobe & external packages, there have been changes made to the engine to improve performance and also changes to the user interface. Also, as with most software these days, token web integration is now present to some extent.

The installation process was quick and simple by default with an advanced version for those with a little more experience. Very little hard drive spaced was used in only 25 meg. That in it's own right is quite an accomplishment these days.

The user interface for illustrator is very good.Although not really all that 'unique', illustrator's was very well designed, consistent with other Adobe products, and with everything you need being roughly where you would expect it. The on screen menus and tool bars are also very comprehensive and friendly.

Adobe has made significant improvements to Illustrator's interface, which now resemble those in Adobe's Photoshop. The changes go beyond enhancing the look of the program. Both Photoshop and Illustrator now use the same hotkey combinations for comparable functions (such as zooming), similar tabbed palettes and parallels in pull-down menus that group similar functions under like headings.

Tabbed palettes are an especially welcome improvement. They greatly enhance productivity by making attributes for text and objects accessible, and by allowing users to structure palettes to suit their individual work habits. While these developments aren't unique to Illustrator, Adobe has done an excellent job of implementing them.

The only menu which would have been nice to have seen was a "web" related one. But I would imagine as the web becomes more of a 'standard', so will web tools in graphic applications.

Otherwise, there are absolutely hundreds of features and tools within this package. From highly professional typographical features, all the way to a menu allowing the utilisation of Photoshop effects, everything you could need is here. The ability to design using layers, frames and vector based graphics means that the package is highly scalable and adaptable.

Colour and print management features are also very much a part of illustrator. With most colour matching systems available (full charts provided in illustrator format for pantone, focoltone, discolor, trumatch, toyo, system and web) The ability is also there to pick colours manually using RGB, CMYK or spot. Swatches also exist for gradients, patterns and tints.

For print purposes the facility exists to control trapping, separations, output style, postscript settings and much more.

Illustrator has some very nice effects available for text. Text can be manipulated, used as paths, masks areas or be made to follow paths, inner areas and much more. This is essential to create professional looking productions and designs. Combining this with excellent tools for the creation of various polygons, lines and paths, the possibilities are endless. There are also a number of interesting filters and plugins available within illustrator to help create unique effects. These include arrowheads, crop mark generator, drop shadow, calligraphy and many more! Even your Photoshop plug-ins are welcome in Illustrator.

Cost Value: Perhaps because of it's 5 year absence from any major improvements, the price seems rather low for such a valuable graphic tool.
Could this be Adobe's way of saying. "Illustrator is back! Now we want you back!"

Manual: The manual is very well put together and well organized.
But as in most high end applications, the manual only touches bases with the basic features. There is only so much that can be covered without producing volumes of manuals.

Luckily there are several excellent books on the market.

Overall Comments: Overall I can safely say that Illustrator is an excellent design tool which no professional should be without. A perfect compliment to Photoshop and Pagemaker.
Welcome back Illustrator!

Review ID Number: 339
  Product Details
Review Date: 2001-04-20
Reviewer: Brad Lawryk
Rating: 10 out of 10
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