This week, someone psoted a question to the Illustrator Listserv with a question about how to determine the area of a shape in Illustrator. Which this might seem simple for a perfect rectangle or a circle, it's not as simple for any other shape.
Teri posted a response on how you can use a "secret" palette in Illustrator which engineers have added to Illustrator to better allow them to analyze files when they go bad. Below are Teri's instructions for using this palette to determine the area of any selected path, with a word of advice not to leave the secret palette open while actually working in Illustrator...
In CS or CS2:
Bring the path (or a copy of it) to the top of the document and select it.
In Windows, press Ctrl-Shift-Alt-F12. On Mac, press Cmd-Shift-Option-F12. This will open the secret "debugging palette".
Find the section of that palette called "object tree" where it shows something looking like this:
layerGrp "Layer 1"
The word path should be bold and underlined. Click on it.
Look in the section just above called "object". It will show a whole bunch of data describing the object you clicked on. One of the lines will look like this:
length 581.345 area 26875.246
The length is in points and the area is in square points. To convert to inches, divide the length by 72 or the area by 5184. To convert to centimeters, divide the length by 28.3465 or the area by 803.531.
(The length is also available on the Document Info palette in CS2, but the area isn't.)
Do not leave the debugging palette open as you work. It is not a product feature and does not get notified when objects are deleted. So it can cause crashes if it tries to display information about objects that no longer exist.