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Adobe draws better for Web

A new version of Adobe Illustrator will make it easier for graphic designers to publish their work on the Web.

Adobe Systems (ADBE) will release a new version of Illustrator by the end of May that will make it easier for graphic designers to publish their work on the Web.

Due for simultaneous release on both Macintosh and Windows, Illustrator 7.0 will for the first time support both the RGB color palette, the preferred color mode for Web design. Files from previous versions of Illustrator had to be transferred from CMYK to RGB, and on-screen color fidelity wasn't guaranteed.

Illustrator 7.0 will also integrate user interface elements similar to Adobe Photoshop and PageMaker. Palettes, menus, and key commands will work similarly in all three programs. Illustrator palettes can be customized and shared among Illustrator documents but cannot be exported to other Adobe products.

Another new feature is the ability to drag and drop colors from palette to palette and from palette to object. The program also allows Web designers to assign image maps to distinct elements within an image.

Other new features include:

  • support of most formats supported by Photoshop, such as CorelDraw files.
  • front-end image caching, which provides near-instant zoom views at different resolution. The program caches different resolution when the file is first opened.
  • ability to type vertically.
  • adjustable font design. The font of selected text can be manipulated by serif and weight.

    Despite 7.0 being the first upgrade on the Windows side since 1992, Illustrator's market share has increased to 5 percent, according to Adobe product manager Shankar Iyer. Illustrator commands 60 percent of the Macintosh illustration market, Iyer said.

    Adobe will continue to shoot for the Windows illustration app market, which is growing 24 percent a year, compared to the Mac market's single-digit growth, Iyer said. The company's business is now roughly split in half between Mac and Windows users.

    The new version will ship for Mac, Windows 95 and NT with a common code base. Due by the end of May, both platforms will cost $595, $99 for upgrades. Adobe will offer a $249 upgrade to users of competitive products such as CorelDraw or Macromedia FreeHand.

    Adobe will ship Japanese, French, and German versions of Illustrator 7.0 within two weeks of the English version. Shipping separately for $199 each are two companion graphics products: Streamline 4.0, which converts pixel images to vector images, and Dimensions 3.0, a 3D image tool.