Last Monday, Adobe published full details of Illustrator CS6 via their Inside Adobe Illustrator blog, thereby removing the veil of secrecy surrounding their hard work over the past two y
ears. Previous previews demonstrated CS6′s new pattern tool and gradients on a stroke. But in our opinion, it is the less glamorous underlying work which should capture user’s attention.
For some years, the ability to load computers with 8Gb of RAM or more was within reach for many — both technically and financially. But Illustrator stubbornly remained capable of only accessing 2 or 3Gb of that. Why? Because 25+ years ago (when Illustrator first saw light), a 64 bit machine was not exactly on the horizon. Time has moved on and it was getting more important that Adobe did likewise with its most established design package.
Now Illustrator will finally be 64-bit capable on both Mac OS and Windows. We’re not going to go into details of this, as ex-Illustrator product manager Mordy Golding has already done an excellent job of that in his Real World Illustrator blog post. Suffice it to say, this huge undertaking has ensured Illustrator has a long future ahead of it.
It’s gone all dark
Ah… the new user interface. When Brenda Sutherland (the current Illustrator product manager) previewed CS6, the most immediate and noticeable change was the user interface. It looked very dark compared to the existing light grey color. Icons has also changed and panels had subtly altered too.
This is all down to the new “pro-look” UI style that the likes of Adobe and Apple started using in Lightroom and video-based software products. Photoshop has it too now, so that is obviously the future direction to be adhered too. But fear not the dark side — you can easily push a slider and get the sun shining on your display again…
However, to the world of plugin development, the new UI is much more than light and dark and any shade of grey in the middle. It represents a sea-change in how plugins operate within Illustrator. Without going into the technicalities — you shouldn’t have to care, it has resulted in the need to completely recreate all the user-interfaces within our plugins. Not only to follow the new light/dark options (that’s minor!) but everything else as well. For both Windows and Mac OS individually.
This isn’t a rant on our part. We know the challenges and we’re naturally busy at work on the updates. But it does translate to the single largest update ever required since our first plugin release in 2006.
One of the key aspects that we are at pains of ensuring is our consistent approach to our UI’s. All our products have always looked and felt to be an integral part of the Illustrator workflow, which has in part ensured the gushing, kind feedback we regularly receive (thank you!). But ensuring this level of polish to the UI isn’t an overnight task when you start from scratch again. Rest assured, we’ll do our best to get it right!
OK – when will CS6 plugins be out?
Yes, the previous paragraph was written to prepare you for the fact that DrawScribe, VectorScribe and Phantasm CS will not be available the first day Adobe makes Illustrator CS6 available. To cut to the chase, we are only stating “summer 2012″ at the moment. After all, collectively our plugins have 100′s of dialog boxes (some very sophisticated) that require converting.
But there’s definitely light on the horizon. You may have noticed that SubScribe was not included in the previous list. That is because the Mac OS version is already fully functioning in CS6…
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the header image for this article also shows SubScribe operating in Illustrator CS6 (drawing a curvature circle in one of the great new Illustrator example pieces by Sabine Reinhart).
Bar some new icons to better blend into CS6, the Mac version of SubScribe may well be available sooner than the other plugins. This may seem crazy as SubScribe is our free thank-you-to-our-customers plugin. But internally, SubScribe also has the very important role of being the development mule for CS6 conversion work.
When will I be able to buy a CS6 plugin upgrade?
Firstly, anybody why buys our plugins today, will get a license key which may be used with CS6 versions of the plugins when made available. More details of recent customer orders also gaining access to CS6 license keys may be found here…
We currently plan to only sell upgrades when the final upgraded versions are available. But we are still deciding on certain details, including whether we should make (quite stable) public betas available beforehand so that early adopters of CS6 can transition as quickly as possible. Keep an eye on our blog posts for updates!