Monday, April 18, 2005
I Really Don’t Mind, Just Don’t Kill Freehand
By the time you read this, the news that Adobe is buying out Macromedia is ancient history. To that end, let me give a little bit of a history lesson.
Freehand, Macromedia’s illustration application, was originally developed by a company called Altsys. Altsys was made up of a team of excellent programmers but was weak on technical support and marketing capability. Thus, they partnered with Aldus to pair Freehand with Pagemaker. But then, Adobe bought Aldus. Since Altsys had a no-competition clause with Aldus, and the Adobe acquisition of Aldus would have violated that clause, Altsys terminated the agreement with Aldus/Adobe and, instead, joined forces with Macromedia. This time, however, it wasn’t just a collaboration. Macromedia actually acquired Altsys, so Freehand then belonged to Macromedia.
So, Adobe is once again purchasing the company that was distributing Freehand. The first time, Freehand survived because Altsys took Freehand back. This time, I’m sorely afraid Adobe will pick over a few of the features they’d like to incorporate into Illustrator, then cast Freehand into software hell. I truly hope not—I much prefer Freehand to Illustrator. I recognize that Illustrator is a powerful tool and that it can do some things Freehand can’t do, but I often don’t get Illustrator. Just as it is with Quark XPress, certain functions require steps that just don’t make a lot of sense to me, and I end up asking no one in particular, “why can’t I do this the way Freehand does it?” This same question is why I toughed it out with Pagemaker for so many years before finally converting to InDesign. I’ve never once used Quark XPress for anything significant.
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