FreeHands Fate Remains Unknown

Macromedia's omission of the popular illustration tool from latest Studio release continues trend and stirs fears that Adobe merger will spell the app's doom.

Macromedia Inc.s release of Studio 8 has some FreeHand users feeling as though the applications days are numbered, as the company did not include the illustration tool in the suite.

Ian Kelleigh, founder and author of, said his feelings are mixed on the issue of Freehand and its future outlook. In April, following the announcement of Adobe Systems Inc.s intent to acquire Macromedia, Kelleigh made predictions for FreeHand on his Web site including that "Macromedia might sell off the product or phase it out slowly or pull some of the most useful features and integrate them into Illustrator."

In an e-mail interview on Tuesday, Kelleigh commented on the release of Studio 8 and the omission of FreeHand, and noted user frustrations with Macromedias support of the product.

"Seeing as how Ive been a FreeHand user since its early days, it would make me sad to see it disappear completely," he wrote. "Though, in its latest upgrades, it has sometimes felt like Macromedia ignored the pleas of its users as to what should and shouldnt be added, and the end results were often bloated pieces of software that oftentimes broke their regular routines and made people digress to using older versions.

"Many FreeHand users were just getting frustrated that not enough attention was being put to more creative and production time saving features (scripting interfaces?) where it looked like Macromedias other applications were getting all the goodies."

Kelleigh continued, "Also to note, there were people complaining when it was included with Studio MX 2004 and how it was made to look like some kind of Flash helper instead of the powerful illustration program that it is. Its ironic that now people are complaining that it would be left out of the Studio suite. But I guess thats just natural paranoia since the user base hasnt seen or heard from Macromedia on any new developments on FreeHand in nearly two years."

Jim Guerard, vice president of product management for the tools business at Macromedia, when asked if the future looks bright for FreeHand, said, "Depends on the context youre saying it in. Certainly if youre asking what might happen after the Adobe acquisition, its impossible for me to speculate on what may or may not happen."

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