CC Tweaks to Kill Kittens For: Illustrator

illustrator_2xThe “Tweaks” series is gleaned from an absurdly long document that I created in 2010 that summarized all of the bugs (BG) that I had found in Creative Suite 5, as well as a number of feature requests (FR) and user interface tweaks (UI) that seemed obvious and important. I had planned to send that document to Adobe or post it to the forums, but… I never did, and it has continued to grow ever since. It’s high time I did something with that information, so here goes:

1. Momentary Non-​​Snapping Behavior (FR)

killkittens_ai_momentary-no-snapI’m stunned that I have to ask for this. Photoshop has had it since the dawn of time, and I recently realized that InDesign has it as well. The “it” in question is the ability to use the Control key to momentarily suppress snapping when manipulating a selection of some kind. This is needed for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is so that you don’t have to stop what you’re doing, manually turn snapping off, then start again. Anyone who performs tedious design work of any kind will understand why this is a major efficiency-​​kill. This feature request dovetails nicely into what I would call a bug…

2. Retain Path Drawing Focus (BG)

killkittens_ai_retain-path-focusStrictly speaking, this may not technically be a bug, but it smells like one. Here’s the procedure:

  1. Start drawing a path.
  2. Midway through drawing, decide that you want to toggle the Smart Guides feature (on or off, doesn’t matter).
  3. Continue draw-​​… DAMMIT. I can’t continue drawing my path because AI has “forgotten” that I was doing that, it thinks I want to start a new path.

I call shenanigans! This is utterly illogical behavior. If I want to start a new path, I can very easily do so, but turning guides of any kind on or off should have nothing to do with that. Again, changing the state of the path to “done” is counter to efficient design. The path should stop being actively drawn when I specifically say so, not before.

3. Default to HSB, or Whatever Color Mode Toots Your Horn (FR)

killkittens_ai_default-to-hsbGeez, Adobe, how many people have to ask for this before you’ll do something about it? RGB is great (apparently, I wouldn’t know) for the video production crowd. I’ve been working in digital design since Netscape 1.0 and I’ve never fully understood it, partly because I’ve never had to — the HSB mode is my color picker/​refiner of choice, and I am clearly not alone. No one is suggesting that you ditch RGB altogether, just that you give us some kind of control over the color model that AI defaults to. I can’t tell you how sick I am of having to repeatedly set simple things the way I always use them.

4. Numerical Transformations Honor Reference Point (FR)

killkittens_ai_honor-ref-pointHere again, efficiency is sacrificed unnecessarily for simplicity. If I want my Enter-​​key-​​activated Scale/​Rotate/​Shear operation to be based on the center-​​most point of my selection, all I have to do is deselect/​reselect that selection (and if that’s what I wanted, I probably wouldn’t have reset the reference point in the first place). But if I’ve gone to the trouble of carefully selecting a new reference point and then hit Enter, it seems obvious that I want you to base that transformation on the new reference. But no, that point is immediately reset to center just a soon as the transform box pops up. Boo.

5. Add Anchorpoints to Just the Selected Segments of a Path (FR)

killkittens_ai_anchorpoints-to-segmentLet’s go ahead and beat the hell out of this dead horse: lack of efficiency due to over-​​simplicity. I have selected two segments of a complex path, then I choose Object:Path:Add Anchor Points. AI goes crazy with the new points, they bisect (permanently, if they’re placed on curves) every single path. (Sigh) Let’s repeat this one last time: IF I WANTED THAT BEHAVIOR, I COULD EASILY ACHIEVE IT. Stop forcing what I’m not asking for down my throat!

That’s it for my rant. How about yours? Are there any AI tweaks that you’d like to scream-​​… er, tell the Illustrator team to make? Let’s hear it in the comments below!

Or if you prefer to tell them directly, you can! »

by Whit

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