The Bell Tolls for FreeHand


Adobe has finally broken its silence and spoken the words we knew were coming: FreeHand is dead.
Not as dead as, for example, ImageReady, which has disappeared. You can still buy FreeHand MX, the version Macromedia released in 2003. Of course, a lot has happened in Softwaredom since then. FreeHand MX wasn’t built to run its best on Intel Macs or Windows Vista. Suite-mates Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Flash have moved on. If you care about those kinds of things, you’re SOL.
Here’s the bad news, straight from the horse’s mouth (also known as the "Macromedia Freehand to Adobe Illustrator CS3 Migration" FAQ):
"Adobe does not plan to develop and deliver any new feature-based releases of FreeHand. Adobe will, however, continue to sell FreeHand MX, and will offer technical and customer support according to our support policies… At this time, Adobe has no plans to provide maintenance releases, patches or updates for FreeHand MX… Adobe has no plans to deliver Universal versions of FreeHand that natively support Intel-based Mac computers… Adobe has no plans to deliver a FreeHand MX release that supports Windows Vista."
Adobe then offers the bitter solace of an upgrade path to Illustrator CS3 ($199 if you have a registered copy of any version of FreeHand) and "a number of enhancements for FreeHand users" in Illustrator CS3.
And that’s it. Those are all the bones Adobe will toss your way. If you decide after you’ve chewed on them that you want to buy Illustrator, the tutorials at may help you adjust to the new environment.
To speak your mind on this news, click the Comments button. You must be a registered member to comment, but registration is free.

  • anonymous says:

    Until Adobe recognizes the shortcomings of Illustrator in the type tools and page layout, I will continue to use Freehand to develop logos and to work with outlined text and graphics. Illustrator for all its power is still not intuitive and the pathfinder tools leave alot to be desired.

  • anonymous says:

    Freehand is friendly to use and has superior tools for creating images

  • rschoone says:

    While Illustrator is a superior drawing program, Freehand offered much greater ease of use. Just trying to select points in Illustrator can be a wrestling match. Freehand was alway quick and straight forward, though I found it’s .eps files quirky at times. Adobe can learn from Freehand and I hope they do.

  • anonymous says:

    Illustrator is a great program — I hold no ill feelings towards it. But when compared to the usability and the quickness of FreeHand? I have always preferred FreeHand for web graphics and print. I must admit disappointment in their decision.

  • anonymous says:

    The government should never have allowed Adobe to purchase the Macromedia products because anti-monopoly regulations. FreeHand is intuitive, elegantly written and far easier to use than Illustrator. I will continue using FreeHand all day every day.

  • anonymous says:

    …I’ve been using Freehand since the 80’s!!…Most user friendly software out there when it comes to designing Vector art!!…I agree with one of the other comments posted in the fact that in Illustrator; one can sometimes wrestle just to select points to open or close an object…perhaps they will re-think and resurrect this wonderful program after seeing the light!!

  • stonejohnson says:

    I am a die-hard FreeHand user and will continue to use it as long as I’m able to use a computer. I have taken Illustrator classes, done tutorials, and the interface is not as intuitive as FreeHand. I knew this was coming, but Adobe should realize the user base of FreeHand is using it for a reason. It’s a better illustration program. I just hope that they take the best features of FH and integrate it into their inferior product.

  • anonymous says:

    I’m a diehard FreeHand user, too (and QuarkXPress), and I really am mistrustful of the way certain companies are monopolizing the software industry. Competition brings out the best in everybody. What motivation is there for a sole provider to get better?

  • WEG Thomas says:

    I have been a Freehand user since its inception. Over the years I have used the various iterations of Illustrator and have found them significantly more difficult and confusing than Freehand. And so I have continued to make Freehand my vector program of choice.

    I can understand Adobe’s dropping of Freehand from a business perspective…I don’t like it, but I understand. But I really resent the $200 fee for upgrade paths. That’s just flat out bullying.

    WEG Thomas

  • anonymous says:

    I consider Illustrator the best of the two programs.

  • anonymous says:

    Freehand has been my software rock since the 80s as well. I think it is rocket fast and accurate when compare to any other vector program I have used. Illustrator has some features that aren’t found any where else, but it seem bulky and muscle bound compared to the ease of using Freehand. I hope other creative software developers are watching what is happening here and pick up the torch with something new to fill in the void that Freehand will leave. I think it takes at least three times longer to build simple or complex vector illustration using any other package. The diehard users know exactly what I’m talking about. Thanks to Adobe for the best pixel editor in the business. Illustrator has a long way to go to come close speed and production power of Freehand.

  • anonymous says:

    We knew this was coming…
    Even still, I resent being forced into adopting another program that (in my opinion) is less intuitive, more complicated, and lacks features that I use daily with Freehand. I like and use many Adobe products, but eliminating competitors breeds complacency and reduces the drive for innovation.
    Goodbye Freehand. I’ve enjoyed using this excellent program since the Aldus days, and I’ll use it until it no longer works. At least Quark still has a horse in the race…

  • anonymous says:

    Freehand was basic and simple, but it did everything if you knew how to use it and it worked very well without being a memory hog. Best of all it never got in the way of my creativity like Illustrator with all the bells and whistles which wouldn’t do what I wanted only what it thought I wanted. I will continue to use it as long as I possibly can.

  • anonymous says:

    I use FreeHand AND Illustrator to get my creating done. I love FreeHand’s abilities for being able to select through a stack of items and then still be able to modify that item without resecting the top item in the stack. The type controls are much better in FreeHand, and FreeHand’s pen tool and selection ability are just plain better than Illustrator’s. Aligning things is easier in FreeHand too. Oh, and let’s not forget multiple pages in one document. Having said that, Illustrator makes much better use of pallets and being able to see the size of my entire selection is very important to me.

    I’m sure going to miss getting an updated FreeHand, having used it since version 3.1, but I’ll keep on using MX until whatever operating system in the future won’t let me run it, at least until Illustrator works the way I do.

  • anonymous says:

    It’s a shame because there is nothing really bad to be said about Freehand, it’s an excellent piece of software.

  • anonymous says:

    I loved Freehand for a lot of years but was forced to migrate to Illustrator when they bundled it in a publishing pack and my boss saw no reason to buy freehand when the other app was available.

    I can’t work up a lot of energy to fight for this app when Adobe still refuses to consider FrameMaker for the mac, which is essential to documentation departments.

    Clearly they will decide which apps to support with minimal consideration for loyal, but small groups of customers.

    Back to Frame running in Parallels, which does actually run very well, so I wll stop whining…:).

  • anonymous says:

    I, too, am profoundly disappointed with Adobe’s decision. When they bought Macromedia I had the opportunity to speak with an Adobe rep at a trade show and he assured me FreeHand wasn’t going away. That was almost 2 years ago. My how things change.

    I wish they’d sell it off to a company who would develop it, it’s such an awesome program. Illustrator has some strengths, but FreeHand is still my preferred app for illustration work. I fear that Adobe is becoming the MicroSoft of the Mac world. Sigh.

  • Anonymous says:

    Updated information for all Adobe Freehand MX users as of Fall 2009 !

  • Freehand Dan says:

    I’m with you Beth – here is what I would like to see happen. I have noticed that Adobe Illustrator often requires more mouse actions to accomplish the same things that Freehand my only require one mouse action – especially when selecting, creating and using the color swatches. So I wish someone would go after Adobe for creating more carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • >