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Adobe Illustrator 9.0: Win98/NT4/2K review:

Adobe Illustrator 9.0: Win98/NT4/2K

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The Good Includes many of Photoshop's must-have Web features; strong integration with Photoshop; makes it easy to prepare vector files for Flash animation.

The Bad Redundant menu organization; doesn't allow underlined text.

The Bottom Line An excellent tool for Web graphic designers who have to deal with many different file formats.

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CNET Editors' Rating

9.0 Overall

In both the beta and this final release, we noticed Illustrator 9.0's subtle rebranding of the signature Venus logo. The version 8.0 logo spoke to the print designer, with its manuscript lettering hiding behind the soft lines and chalk textures of Venus's illustrated face. Illustrator 9.0, with http:// and Web navigation icons placed over an even-skinned and vectorized Venus, announces itself as a Web designer's tool. While the interface remains familiar, the new features tighten the gap between Illustrator and Photoshop, make it easier to prepare graphics for Flash delivery, and offer extensive export capabilities.

In both the beta and this final release, we noticed Illustrator 9.0's subtle rebranding of the signature Venus logo. The version 8.0 logo spoke to the print designer, with its manuscript lettering hiding behind the soft lines and chalk textures of Venus's illustrated face. Illustrator 9.0, with http:// and Web navigation icons placed over an even-skinned and vectorized Venus, announces itself as a Web designer's tool. While the interface remains familiar, the new features tighten the gap between Illustrator and Photoshop, make it easier to prepare graphics for Flash delivery, and offer extensive export capabilities.

Illustrator 9.0 has everything a new release should: a familiar interface that won't disorient current users, coupled with a host of necessary new features that address the changing needs of the industry. Illustrator 9.0 is available for $399. Illustrator users can upgrade their software for $149, and if you're already using another Adobe graphics product or you're willing to switch from a competitor's product, Illustrator 9.0 can be yours for $249.

Web Creation Tools
Illustrator 9.0 comes with better image mapping capabilities, and like Photoshop, Illustrator now offers nondestructive drop shadows, feathering, and inner and outer glows for easier button creation. These Effect menu features allow you to build your buttons as live shapes. If you edit the text on a button, the button automatically resizes to match the length of the new text.

Pixels and Previews
Anyone who has used Illustrator to mock up a Web page has had to blindly estimate the conversion between pixels and points, picas, or inches. (How many Web designers even know what a pica is?) But in version 9.0 you can select pixels as a unit of measure. Choose the Pixel Preview command from the View menu and you can see how your vector artwork will render as rasterized artwork. You can even create and edit artwork in the Pixel Preview mode. Catching up to industry standards, Illustrator 9.0 also offers file optimization previews to help you find the perfect balance between image quality and file weight.

New Layers Palette
The new Layers palette makes managing objects easier than ever. Nest layers within layers for more logical file maintenance, or display all the child objects (such as text, graphics, and paths) of individual layers.

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