Illustrator's New Text Engine
A text engine is the software that controls how type is composed onscreen and for print. Almost 20 years old, Illustrator boasts a new type engine as of Illustrator CS the very same engine used in Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, and Adobe After Effects and modeled after, but different from, the powerful engine of InDesign.
Starting over from scratch with a text engine was the only solution for Illustrator's product managers and engineers. As computer applications go, Illustrator is pretty old; it was first released as Illustrator 1.1 in 1987. Its type engine was originally designed for simple (one-line) point type for illustrations, and over the years, more and more functions were piled onto it. By Illustrator 10, the text engine had been in use for over 10 years, and it was showing its age. Compared to those in InDesign which was designed from the ground up to produce beautiful type the type controls in Illustrator were lagging badly. They were too fragile to fix; doing so would cause text to reflow upon opening a file.
First the Good News
There's good news and bad news regarding Illustrator's new text engine. Let's start with the good news. The new text engine in Illustrator CS meant that a major advance could be made in Illustrator's type capabilities. Some of these we described earlier in this chapter:
All of these features continue to work in Illustrator CS2, and they've been improved. Rather than focusing on adding new type features, the engineers this time improved text-engine performance and fixed bugs. The addition of underline and strikethrough type styles is the only new features added in Illustrator CS2.
The bottom line is that the text engine is much improved in Illustrator CS2. It's also much easier to move between Adobe applications because there is much more consistency in how type is handled between the CS2 applications.
Now the Bad: Legacy Type Issues
The bad news is that you may experience some pain if you're upgrading from an earlier version of Illustrator. Opening a file from a previous version that contains text prompts you to convert the type because the new text engine will handle it differently, and the text may reflow. Saving backwards from Illustrator CS or CS2 to a previous version brings up similar issues. These "pain points" are an inevitable part of the process of getting these new features and type stability.
Maintaining Position When Opening a Legacy File
In Illustrator terminology, type produced in an earlier version is called legacy type. By default, when you open a legacy file, Illustrator CS2 maintains the position of all type in the document until you approve the change. For example, when you open up a previous Illustrator file with type, you'll see the dialog box shown in Figure 6-20. There are three choices: OK (the default) delays updating the text. (However, as you'll see shortly, this option also offers the most control over your text.) Update changes all the type using the new text engine; in many cases, type will reflow. Cancel, as you might guess, cancels the process of opening the file.
Figure 6-20. Opening a file from an earlier version of Illustrator gives you three choices for handling legacy text. Choosing to update text may cause the type to reflow.
Most of the changes will happen if you're opening a file created in Illustrator 10 or earlier. If you're in Illustrator CS2 and you open an Illustrator CS file, you may see the dialog box, but it's much less likely. Any time a bug is fixed, there is the potential for reflow, but, in any case, you'll have the control over when an update takes place.
When to Update a Legacy File
When to update a legacy file depends on your workflow. Consider two workflows: First, if you or your workgroup wants to use the new type features of Illustrator CS2, you'll definitely need to update the text, but you don't have to update all the text in the document in one fell swoop. It's better to update the text one frame at a time. If you choose not to update the type when opening the file, you can update later when working in the document. Legacy text appears with an X across it when it's selected with the Selection or Direct Selection tool. Double-clicking this frame of legacy text displays another alert (Figure 6-21), warning that you're about to update the text frame, and the type may reflow. Click the Update button to updates the text, but be aware that it may not be obvious where changes have occurred. Click the Copy Text Object option to see a before-and-after comparison of the type objects. The original type is put on a separate locked layer and set to an opacity of 40%. It's like a template layer that shows the effect of any reflow. This is our favorite option when working with text that we inherit from outside clients. It gives us a good idea of what changes have happened to the text.
Figure 6-21. If you double-click a text frame with legacy text in Illustrator CS2, you see an alert that text may reflow.
However, Steve has a lot of experience working with print service providers. They may need to open up a customer's legacy file in Illustrator CS2 in order to print the document. In that case, they should never choose to update text. Never, never, ever! As long as the text has not been updated, it can be previewed and printed, and it will appear and print exactly as it did in the earlier version of Illustrator.
Saving to Legacy Formats
You may encounter similar pain if you need to share your Illustrator CS2 files with someone using Illustrator 10 or earlier. You have to choose how changes in text formatting (which may be inevitable) are going to be handled. You make this choice in a strange place: the Type panel in File > Document Setup (Figure 6-22). Here you can choose between Preserve Text Editability and Preserve Text Appearance. Text Editability breaks type into "chunks," with words broken into individual letters, much like what you see when opening a PDF file in Illustrator. Text Appearance turns type into outlines, which cannot be edited.
Figure 6-22. Before saving in a legacy format, choose how type will be preserved with the option in the Document Setup dialog box.
In Illustrator CS2, you save legacy formats by choosing File > Save As and selecting either Illustrator or Illustrator EPS format. (Note that this is different than Illustrator CS, which required that you choose File > Export.) In the Illustrator Options or EPS Options dialog box, select the version of Illustrator to which you'd like to save.
Tip: Recombining Type Chunks
You can recombine text that has been broken into "chunks." Select all of the pieces of type you want to combine with the Selection tool, and copy them to the Clipboard. Then select the Type tool and drag out a text frame. With that tool still selected, choose Edit > Paste. The pasted fragments will be recombined in the new text frame. You may need to check word spaces where the chunks have been combined.