Adobe Illustrator Feature Requests: Round 1

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A while back I ran a post encouraging Adobe software users to use the feature request/bug report feedback form on Adobe’s website. This time around I want to start an semi-regular feature asking our loyal readers and visitors to take action on some specific feature requests.

As Illustrator is the program I work primarily in, it always seems to have the biggest list of feature requests for me. Go figure. Seems a lot of other vector-based illustrators feel the same way, and a lot of them were former FreeHand users jarred by the switch to Illustrator.

After some extended conversations via Twitter, IM and email with fellow cartoonist and illustrator Garth Bruner, he’s put together a list of the feature requests he’s submitted to Adobe (I wish I had saved all of mine!) and graciously  shared them with me to post here. In his own words:

Here’s my list of Feature Requests I sent to Adobe via their Feature Request Form. Most of these are to increase my efficiency with Illustrator. I really want to love Illustrator and learn as many shortcuts and tricks so that Illustrator can get out of the way, and just let me create.

Anyway, if there are ways to accomplish the things I’ve listed here, I would love to be told I’m wrong ;)

The following are Garth’s wishlist, and I am publishing them here with the added request that if you find any of these to be something you’d also like to see implemented in Illustrator, that you use the Adobe Feedback Form and requests these as well. The more voices, the better.

Also, I have annotated some of these with potential workarounds for any FreeHand users who aren’t aware how to perform a certain task within Illustrator.

Objects and Selections

Enhanced Selection tool behavior and access: I want to be able to rotate, scale, and skew an item by dragging various points/areas on the bounding box. When using the Pen tool, using Command to toggle to the Selection tool works great; please add the ability to use Command+Control to toggle to the Direct Selection tool, eliminating the need to select that tool in the Tool panel improving drawing efficiency.

* In Illustrator CS4 at least, while the Pen tool is selected, one can access the most recently used Selection tool (Selection, Direct Selection and Group Selection tools) by holding down the Command key. If one chooses the Direction Selection tool before switching to the Pen tool, one can temporarily access the Direction Selection tool via the Command key and the Group Selection tool by holding down the Command+Option modifier keys. The Group Selection tool is not the same as the Selection tool, but in many instances it can suffice.

I propose that permanent modifier keys are added to all the Selection tools: Command key for the Direct Selection tool, Command+Option for the Group Selection Tool and Command+Option+Shift for the Selection tool.

Sub-select by Command-clicking through a stack of items. Adobe has already implemented this in InDesign; if one has the Selection tool active, holding the Command key and clicking repeatedly will select each object successively below one another. This is super handy and I would love to see this implemented in Illustrator.

Visual group/path differentiation: As Illustrator currently functions, one cannot visually differentiate between a group or a path on the artboard. It would be wonderful if when an item is grouped, that just the bounding box shows with no highlighted outlines.

* I would like to see this implemented as an option in the Preferences.

Text feature requests

- A visual preview of what fonts look like from the Control Bar, just like it does in the Menu Bar > Type > Font.

- The ability to increase/decrease the kearning/leading of a paragraph by dragging the side points on a text box using a combination of key commands/click and drags.

* This can be done with keyboard shortcuts: select a text box, then use the Option key plus the right & left arrow keys to change kerning; Option plus the up/down arrows will increase/decrease leading.

- The ability to select a block of text by selecting the text itself rather than the invisible surrounding text box. This is especially irritating when there are overlapping text boxes.

Miscellaneous

Select paths by the Appearance: Illustrator needs the ability to select a path by clicking on the appearance of a path (thick line edge) rather than just on the path itself. When you have 2 paths, one with a thin line and a duplicate directly underneath with a thicker path, you should be able to select the thicker path by clicking on the outer edges of the path.

Easier blend tweaking: Need the ability to modify a blend in the contextual control bar when a blend is selected. For example, the ability to change the steps in a blend there rather than have to go to Object > Blend > Blend options… every time you want to make a change.

* Agreed, editing a Blend is a big pain in the neck as it works currently.

Copy/Paste Attributes: The ability with a key command to copy attributes from one item to another: Text, color, gradients, transparencies, effects. It is currently cumbersome to have to click on the eyedropper tool every time I want to do this, and I do it often. I know I can hit the “i” key, but not when text is selected. I’d also love the ability to copy effects at all, as you can in Photoshop (Copy/Paste Layer Style).

* A potential workaround for this is to use Graphic Styles, which can be dragged to any object.

Eyedropper Gradient Bug: When using the eye dropper tool to copy a gradient from one object to another, the gradient is copied, but not the gradient angle and placement. This could save so much time if it had the option to do so.

Align to Point: The ability to align a whole object to another object’s selected point. If this is currently possible, I don’t know how.

* The methods I am aware of to align objects are as follows (and these are under CS4): using the Align panel to align objects, select all the objects you want to align, then click on the object you want to use as the “master” object to align the others to. Aligning to point: choose the Selection tool, then click and drag on an object’s anchor point and drag to the object you want to snap to; when your cursor is over a point on the second object, releasing will snap both objects on those anchor points.

In closing

So what’s next? A few things. I want to hear back from our readers on any other Illustrator feature requests they have. Leave yours in the comments below and we’ll round up the most-wanted and run a followup post for those features in the near future.

Next, any of the above features you’d like to see in the next version of Illustrator, please copy/paste the text for the relevant feature(s) above, and submit to Adobe via their official feedback form. Yes, you’ll have to submit each individually. It will probably take about 15 minutes of your time, but if any of these features are important to you in the least, it will be worth the time spent.

The one thing Adobe has repeatedly let us know about the feedback form is that the more users requesting a feature, the more likely it is to get added to Illustrator. Sure, it’s great to complain on a blog and gripe via Twitter, but let’s take action here and put the excellent community of Go Media readers — and every other artist/designer you know — to work. We can make a change with our feature requests, but you gotta submit.

As I said, this is just the first in a series of a call-to-arms to our readers to have the software we use every day built the way we want it. I’ll be running another feature request post for Illustrator in the future, but I also want o do this for Photoshop and InDesign as well. If you have any feature requests for those applications, sound off in the comments below.

Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.