June 17, 2007

Multiple Personalities for Multiple Pages

OK, so we're all aware of the fact that Illustrator is a single-page per document application. While there are a handful of ways to "simulate" multiple pages, either via plugins or page tiling, or otherwise, the reality is that you're still looking at one page in your document.

I've been toying around with some workarounds in Illustrator myself and think I may have stumbled upon an interesting one for simulating multiple pages. In my opinion, it's the best "simulation" out there, but before I tell the world about it, I'm doing a bit of research on it. And so I'm soliciting your help.

I know what I use multiple pages for. I know what I'd like to use them for when using Illustrator. So it's easy for me to make my own case as to why AI should have multiple pages. But I'm wondering what all of YOU want out of multiple pages. Maybe you come from FreeHand and you've been using multiple pages for years. Maybe you've been using Illustrator for all these years and wished you'd had multiple pages to solve certain workflows or issues you've had. I'd love to hear how you are using those pages. Do you often use different pages sizes? Do you always use master page items? Do you use it so that you can store an entire corporate identity, such as business cards, letterhead, and envelopes, all in a single file? Do you storyboard ideas? Do you design entire brochures? What specific pages are most important to you? Leave your answers here in the comments section.

I know that it has been a while since my last video podcast (been busy updating videos, books, etc.), but I'm working on an in-depth episode that focuses specifically on multiple pages (with some rather interesting information I might add). Of course, all of this along with a technique that I've come up with that I think many of you might enjoy (I know, I can be a tease at times). But I'd like to use your feedback in the upcoming podcast, to make sure that I address all uses and all needs in this important request. At the very best, both the comments on this post and the upcoming video podcast will serve as a true petition to Adobe to ensure that we get REAL multiple pages added in CS4.

I look forward to hearing from all of you :)


Bobby H said...

I've never tried to "force" Illustrator to do multiple pages. Normally I'll create the art I need to create and take it over into another application that does support multiple pages, such as Adobe InDesign.

I work in the sign manufacturing industry and often have documents with different page sizes, usually set up in CorelDRAW. A design page might be 11" X 17" and followed with a couple of letter sized pages listing materials and other specifications. CorelDRAW is very common in the sign and billboard industries since it can support page sizes up to 100' X 100' -allowing a lot of things to be designed at full size. Photoshop is also handy in that giant sized designs can be created there as well.

I typically use InDesign for printed brochures and other stuff like that.

I wouldn't mind seeing Illustrator support multiple pages, but I would prefer the application to continue its new trend of beefing up the capability of its drawing tools to the point where any "organic" or technical project can be completed easily.

khiltd said...

I think it would be useful for identity projects where you have to give the client a letterhead design, an envelope design and a business card design with 10 different names, but I'd also need to be able to specify a separate ICC profile for each page which is something I have a feeling Adobe would not get right the first time around.

Rene said...

First I want to apologize if my language seems overly harsh. This is a pretty black and white topic for me and I don't mean to offend anyone.

As an experienced user of InDesign, Illustrator and CorelDRAW, I hope Adobe NEVER goes down that road. It might be nice in some situations, but my strong preference is to switch to InDesign for multi-page designs and keep Illustrator for what it does best (and have Adobe focused on improving those aspects).

While CorelDRAW does multiple pages, it's mostly a frustrating experience for all but the simplest documents (I can't compare with Freehand, which I have never used).

I'm not implying that Adobe would do a poorer jobs than Corel with multi-pages, but once you get that feature in an application you get all kinds of request for added complexity: master pages, auto-numbering, etc. Do we really want to bloat Illustrator with that? Where do you draw the line? These are more important questions to answer first.

While Illustrator has really improved it's handling of long chunks of text, for example, it's still easier to do in InDesign since it's interface is so well adapted to that purpose, especially if you enjoy fine typography (try quickly inserting a thin or hair space in AI).

If Illustrator was my only tool, I would probably ask for that feature as well, as learning new tools is always challenging and time-consuming. But it's a very slippery slope that sends AI in the wrong direction.

I guess you can count my vote as a no :)

Teri Pettit said...

Let me start by saying that I'm sure my own reason for using multiple pages in Illustrator (which I actually do a lot) is extremely uncommon, so in no way should it be considered a rationale for pushing Illustrator one way or another. But you asked, so I'll answer, for whatever it's worth.

One of the main kinds of Illustrator documents I make are demonstrations of creating graphic styles, brushes, patterns, blends or other highly structured content. Since I want people to be able to examine the structure of these elements in the Appearance palette, Layers palette, Brush options dialog, etc., and to experiment with how the styles or brushes look when applied to other objects of their choice or when the parameters are modified, it is important to me that an Illustrator document be the final delivery vehicle! The documents are not intended to ever be printed or delivered as PDF's, they are intended to be opened up inside Illustrator and used interactively. So all solutions involving InDesign, etc., are inapplicable. By definition, they need to be Illustrator files.

And of course, it is seldom that one page, in terms of an easily viewable area, is sufficient to get the idea across. So a large number of my demo files use one of the two main multi-page workarounds, either tiling or layers. When I expect the user to sometimes want to view multiple pages side-by-side, I use tiling; when one page at a time is preferable I usually use layers, and include instructions to hide and show layers.

(To see examples of both kinds of documents, click on my name to go to my web site. "Fun with Transform Effects" is a good example of a tiled file, "Tartan Weaves using Opacity Masks" is a good example of a layered file.)

The main thing I don't like about the tiling workaround is that when you decide to grow your document, you have to scoot everything already on the artboard up and over to make room for more page tiles. The main things I don't like about the layers workaround are that it is inconvenient for the user to navigate, and should they wish to print the file, it is very inconvenient to print.

I do think that a multi-page very feature similar to Freehand's, which has one pasteboard divided up into "pages" of different sizes, would be useful for many users with more traditional workflows. It isn't really competing with page layout apps like InDesign, because there is very little support for laying out the internals of each "page" or controlling their flow. It is just an easier UI for navigating around to different areas of the artboard and making new ones without having to shift anything. (I've been quoting "page" because Freehand pages are more like independent "project pieces" than they are pages in the sense that a layout program uses the term.)

But I agree with Rene that going the route of master pages and a lot of other layout controls is getting into the realm of where the user should just use InDesign. They should be positioned differently enough from the get go that the slippery slope is not threatened.

And I think if you want different ICC profiles (like Khitld mentioned), you should just use separate documents. For most users, the main reason to put elements that will be printed on separate pages into the same file would be to share common resources and attributes such as pattern, style and swatch definitions and color settings, to save disk space and to ensure that they are all consistent. Allowing file attributes to vary from page to page is asking for trouble. That's what muliple files are for.

Jeremy said...

I use multiple pages in a number of ways in my workflow.
1) for web flowcharts to do the thinking behind the scenes before jumping into production
2) for designing web sites and multimedia (1 file for a whole site design).
3) For broadcast design (ie. supers)
4) corporate identities (logo, letterhead, letters)
5) modelsheets for comics and 3d characters. I typically can create one document per character or per comic title that includes the bio, pictures, model turnarounds for 3d modelling etc.

Multi-pages are a worflow dream because 1 file can contain so much information. Its a real pain in the but to manage 20 files at a time.

Hope this helps. Looking forward to the video.


Benjamin Jancewicz said...

I've been using workarounds for years. It always frustrated me that InDesign and Illustrator were so close and yet so far away from each other on this issue.

I'm a well versed designer; I can construct the same item easily in InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop for that matter. But, Illustrator's tools are much more intuitive for creating vector work.

I'm often forced to do a hybrid when I'm designing; doing the background for a layout in spreads on Illustrator, and then applying it as two placed objects in InDesign and then placing text over top. It's a pain in the neck to do, especially when you realize afterwards that you'd like to apply an effect to the text that is much easier to do in Illustrator.

My ideal would be if they were the SAME PROGRAM. I mean, why not? They're so close. Or, if I could at least quickly swap back and forth between Illustrator and InDesign like I do between Photoshop and ImageReady. Then the world would make sense to me.


Anonymous said...

I've been using AI for patent drawings for many years (14?)--I figured out how to make multiple pages back in version 4.1 for windows. You can imagine the logistics of having an individual ai file for each and every sheet of patent figures in any one case. But having as many as 6 sheets of figures in a single file makes keeping track so much easier. Reviewing a case by viewing multiple drawings on the screen saves time and of course money.


Agust said...

I must disagree with allot of above comments. And I think that we are forgetting that Illustrator took over the "complex" and mostly boring vector/print application QuarkXpress ("thank god").

The success of Illustrator is very obvious - "simplicity". Adobe are very careful with not repeating the story of Quark, I think. Therefore they started developing on-side apps. that help certain areas on this market, and try to combine them with application such as Adobe Bridge.

We also have to look at that Illustrator isnt only used for sheet designs (print, web etc.), therefore all extra functionalities like Bobby stated here above is something that Adobe should be very careful at. I for example use Illustrator mostly to copy paths over to Maya/Cinema4D or to create simple vector objects - It would be to complex and make no sense for me to choose how many pages I would like to include in my file when I create new files, or other technical aspects that are not concerning the self design job I need to get done. Illustrator is Vector application, not focused on specific area, that´s the beauty of it I think at least.

InDesign and Illustrator is the "perfect" combination for print designs as I see it at least. Often many have problems in internal file structures and file naming. When you get your hands onto routines in that area your days are flawless when it comes to finding versions or opening specific pages.

Hope this is not to harsh comment, my English isn't the best therefore maybe something here doesn't come out the way I wanted it to, haha.


BeauW said...

I use multiple pages in Illustrator all the time. I hardly think of page tiling as a workaround. most often when spec sheets run to two pages- to keep them together, but also sometimes when I'm laying out a graphics heavy flyer. Four pages are common, but I've done 8 when the size of the flyer expanded mid job. Illustrator gets slow with an eight page flyer filled with graphics. Something to consider.

I don't know why you'd need multiple page sizes. You can't print them at the same time, and if you want to keep together some artwork (like in the example of identity work) just put it all in one file. You can (as I have done) draw as many boxes as you wish (one for each 'pagesize') and turn them into guides or put them on a template layer. Then when you are ready to set up the different impositions for your print work, all the various related projects can be found in the same document.

So I think I'm saying that in my experience, Illustrator already does multiple pages quite easily, and when you get beyond what it can do, you really should be using Indesign.

Anonymous said...

I would like multiple pages when I am designing for a screen printer. One page for the left chest design on the front of the shirt, one for the full back design, and one for the sleeve design. All in one file.

It also would be handy when brain storming a logo. I end up with several designs all over the place. It would be nice to have one concept per page all in one neat document file.

Ran said...

When i use freehand (i hate it but i still do sometimes), i find multipages usefull when :
1. after making a design, i decide i want to try something else, so i make a copy, make changes, and then have the chance to see side by side all the design options i did (of coures it happes to be more then 2 lot of times).
2. when i have to have few different sizes of the project (different billboard sizes I.e)
3. making a multipage PDF of a story board

Eric Peacock said...

I've occasionally used page tiling to deal with multiple pages for a series of design concepts. That works well for anything that tiles on same page sizes.

When thinking about what multiple pages would offer I've really come to desire Layer Comps in Illustrator - it's a feature that Photoshop really benefits from and all the Adobe apps except for maybe Flash would be great with it.

I use Layer Comps in Photoshop to make digital paintings, working from one file until I reach a point where the ideas are ready to be batched out to their own files for finishing up. It's also great for quick layouts for clients. It really is a good feature.

With Layer Comps AI would at least offer a way to have multiple rounds in one file which seems to be one of the things people would want. However there is no "print all layer comps" command/script in Photoshop (that I've seen yet), if that were added it would basically round out that feature.

Where I work we do large format designs for retail merchandising and we do most all our pieces in Illustrator. The multi-page thing issue has come up a few times, but I'm not sure it's a completely valid need for us.

I personally like to use InDesign to link to a series of individual Illustrator files for printing a single proof sheet but also maintaining each piece in an organized way. We need to stay modular as we mix and match things for different locations. It wouldn't work well if everything in a program was consolidated in one big honking Illustrator file.

Also having multiple pages in one file would probably encourage some of the designers to put everything in one file more often, even it the art is large and complex. This is inefficient for workflow with the added time opening and saving huge files, and it tends to make things overly complicated. Plus I know that messy files are more likely to crash AI.

Basically multi-pages is a feature that I fear getting abused, much like the flattening issues that have been around since AI 9 surfaced. It takes some folks a while to realize what the right tool for the job really should be.

InDesign has text styles and is built around using multiple pages more than Illustrator would be even if they added the pages to it, so I'd still need ID for a lot of complex booklets, etc. I can also see designers getting lazy and starting to lay out text-heavy documents in Illustrator when ID would be more efficient.

I realize that the feature wouldn't go unused and would be useful for some things such as folks are writing here - but I do agree that ID is more efficient at doing anything with more than one page.

Jeremy said...

If you ask me Illustrator is anything but simple to use as agust implies. Maybe for what he does (export vectors for 3d paths) but honestly Illustrator is way overkill for that simple task. Inkscape a free program and pretty much any simple vector illustration app can do your 3d task with ease. Illustrators gradients are a cumbersom horrid system as are the application and editing of colour. Clipping paths are a horrid beast compared to the paste inside method of Freehand and that is only 2 examples. So I am sorry but Illustrator is hardly simple to use. But I am flying off topic here.

Use them or not its your choice. But you can't deny that multipages are usefull. There are more than enough uses from users here to warrent their use.

The only real reason why Adobe maintains 2 apps for illustration and layout is so they can make people pay for 2 apps. Its insane if you ask me. A program like Freehand is...rather was a perfect blend of illustration and short numberd multi-paged documents. Would I want to layout a full book in Freehand? Probably not. But personally I have never needed book features. Freehand was great to create newsletters, identity packages, web designs, animations, etc.

In the end, if Illustrator ever does get multipages then its the choice of the user to use them or not. But I wouldn't discount them simply because you may not want to use them.


the lower depths said...

i have been using Illustrator for years as a multiple page program and it's startlingly simple. once i was underwhelmed by InDesign and confused by what seemed to me to be Illustrator with style sheets and multiple pages added on, i resolved to see if there were anyway i could get Illustrator to behave in similar fashion.

i am in advertising and hold a sr. position so it was important for me to make sure my workflow was geared to the tasks at hand, namely conceptual exploration for print and TV and identity.

i've actually found Illustrator to be far simpler with it's cleaner palette interface and, being an avid user since version 2, there were very few secrets for me to discover. it was all a matter of bending it to my desired outcome rather than simply being happy with what was offered as an illustration and design tool (Illustrator) and a page layout tool (InDesign). i saw no reason why one program couldn't do both.

the only function i find really missing is the ability to print each layer with a simple command rather than going back to toggle layers off and on to print. or to make a pdf of all the layers at once in order. other than that, i'd be happy to share what i've found and how it's been working out for well over 5 - 6 years.

Teri Pettit said...

I agree that a few very small additions could greatly improve the workflow of the two current approaches to simulating multiple same-sized pages.

For the Layers approach:
1. As mentioned by Lower Depths, when printing or saving to PDF, an option to output all printable top-level layers one at a time as separate pages (even if not visible, since when using layers to implement pages, one usually has only a single top-level layer visible at a time.)
2. A Show Next Layer/Show Prev Layer pair of buttons or menu commands with shortcuts.
3. A variation of the New Layer command that would hide any currently visible top-level layers, and make another new visible top-level layer (even if the current drawing layer was a sublayer.)

For the Tiled Artboard approach:
1. A pair of commands that would grow the artboard by a page width or a page height (as defined by the Print media), and pin all the current art to its position with respect to the top left corner of the artboard (instead of maintaining its placement relative to the center of the artboard, as it does now.) That way the art would not shift around on the page tiles.
2. A way to use the arrow keys and/or the page up/page down keys to scroll the view by increments of the page tile size.
3. A more discoverable one-step UI for setting up tiled views (currently you have to both go to the Setup panel of the Print dialog and pick Tile Full Pages, which is not an obvious place to look if you are not intending to print yet, and also go to the View menu and turn on Show Tiling.)
4. An easy way to shift the ruler origin in increments of the page tile size (without shifting pattern tiling origins.)

The above changes would still not facilitate multiple pages of different sizes or rotations, like Freehand can do, but they would be small and easy to program, and wouldn't add a bunch of overhead to the application.

Anonymous said...

As a FreeHand user, I know the importance of multiple pages. Once you get used to them, you don't want to go back to not having them. If Illustrator added the similar feature, it wouldn't hurt InDesign sales and would keep FreeHand customers from complaining. Illustrator users would love this feature!

Richard Hubbard said...

BeauW said...
I use multiple pages in Illustrator all the time. I hardly think of page tiling as a workaround. most often when spec sheets run to two pages- to keep them together, but also sometimes when I'm laying out a graphics heavy flyer.

But Illustrator can do multiple pages in a much more elegant fashion than it does. You may think it's accepotable to have tiling, but multiple pages are easier to understand and a more straight forward approach. This feature is important not only to FreeHand users but to the many Illustrator users that requested it as well.

I believe that many of the complaints FreeHand users have stated will be added to Illustrator and will make Illustrator the best drawing tool available.

Stephen said...

I use Freehand for a wide range of graphic design projects. We design food packaging for a number of clients and find the ability to have for example 5 different products from the same range, all with different cutting forms, in the same document very useful.

Also I like being able to just duplicate a page and make an alternative version whilst keeping the original beside. The independent guides for each page are also great - it's easy to accurately set up a complete range.

I would love the ability to use multiple pages of multiple sizes in Illustrator.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mordy.

I'd like to be able to develop a double-sided flyer or leaflet in Illustrator, then quickly & easily output as a print-ready two page PDF with crop marks. I place my Illustrator artwork into InDesign files to achieve this at the moment.

Desperate for multipages said...

Unfortunately I don't see Adobe implementing this feature anytime soon due to InDesign. I believe this is a major Illustrator flaw. Multi-page is great feature that I've been using in CorelDRAW for years. It allows me to prototype several versions of my artwork on separate pages for comparison and ease of use. I can simply email a single file, I don't have to explain end-user how to work with layers, and I don't have to use InDesign in case I need to create a simple two page flayer or similar. This is not something that will drive me away from InDesign, it simply means that I do everything in vector program anyway, importing all artwork into InDesign just to be able to make use of multiple pages is just annoying. Noone who does page layout for living will use vector based program for their work. Typesetting alone is annoying to do properly to use anything else besides InDesign (or page layout software in general). If competition can do this and has been able to do this for years (way before InDesign was on the market), I don't see why this would harm any InDesign in the first place. Let's see Illustrator as a vector graphics tool in the first place, as most people who use vector programs don't do page layout (that I know of), rather than jumping the gun and comparing it to InDesign. Noone's asking for master pages or stuff here..not even auto numbering. It's not hard to add numbers manually. It's not like you're going to do a book so adding a few numbers manually to your pages will kill you. It's not even necessary in the first place. Just add simple option to create multiple pages in a single document and simplify/beef up some tools and that's it. Noone's asking raster editing of Photoshop or typesetting of InDesign...just take the best competition already has for ages and implement it the same way...if they end up being even better...perfect. If not, it doesn't matter.

James E. Talmage said...

Okay, Mordy. I'll bite.

My guess is you're planning to suggest a workaround using the existing Crop Area command, possibly a large pasteboard-size Artboard, saved Views, and probably an Action or two to semi-automate release / recreate the several Crop Areas.

This, and the relatively minor tweaks Teri mentioned all suffer from the same problem: They are just more workarounds for something that ought to be a properly built-in feature.

Way back 'round version 3, FH's pasteboard / page interface was pretty much just like AIs: A single page (Artboard) located at the lower-left (AI's is centered) of the large but limited size PasteBoard (almost identical in size).

Why would it be such a big deal to do that with AI? Can anyone explain in what it is about AI's programming that makes that more difficult to accomplish in AI than it was so long ago in FH?

I have over a decade's worth of project archives which employ this hugely advantageous versatility.

This is just like all the other things which appeared in FH before in AI: AI users (even those who today bemoan it as the coming of the appocalypse) will quickly come to consider it indespensive--if it ever happens, and if it is done right.


sakthi said...

I never used multi-pages in Illustrator,it may be because I'm not interested nor needed.It would be irritating to keep on change the page size,when you're not seeing anything clearly while using multi-pages.
Green Flag

Joe said...

the way that adobe seems to be going is that you are actually buying the Creative Suite, and everything in there is a module. their formerly stand alone apps are now just part of a greater suite.

you go and get the suite that does the thing you need, design/web/motion, and then use the sub apps to actually do the work. in the design suite, you lay things out in inDesign, use illustrator for vector stuff, photoshop for raster, and acrobat for output.

when you think about it this way, with very specialized sub apps supporting a more general output, the lack of pages in illustrator makes more sense.

as for multiple size pages, multiple docs... setting up a book in indesign basically makes your print design work like dreamweaver, in a way. you have a book (site), with multiple documents. open the document you need to edit. publish parts or the whole out to pdf. depending on your output settings, you can still output vector, and it is still editable. this also allows you to use the book as a CMS/CVS system.

long story short, don't try to use a rake to do a shovel's job. there may be specialized times when you want to, but in general, they are work arounds.

Ivan said...

For me is very simple I just use Adobe Illustrator to create my corporate image, Bussiness Cards, Brochures, Letter Heads, well you know the usual stuff so it would be great if a could have multiple pages to work on a single file.

Theresa said...

I make maps of different scales for the same document. Multiple pages are ideal-they're containers for a single project. One project, one .fh file, many maps. Makes life good.
Would like to do that w/.ai files.

garth said...

I'm painfully moving over to Illustrator and here's my take so far, and I'm really trying to be unbiased.

Here's what you get when using the Illustrator/InDesign method:

- 5 logos- 5 separate Illustrator files, and 1 InDesign file = 6 files (and the Illustrator files are *bloated too)

Now, using Freehand:

- 5 logos- 1 Freehand file

What's nice about options is that those who don't like the feature can leave it alone, and those who do are blissful.

* File with a single lined circle, no fill: Freehand- 140 kb, Illustrator- 1012 kb

donny said...

dont dream illustrator users. its the greatest thing you can have. muliple pages. the reason that illu dont has it that they want to sell you 2 programms instead of 1.

the reason i am still with freehand and just use illu for some filters or tools is that i has not multiple pages...

you wish, but adobe is giving you just whats good for adobe business plan and not that whats good for you as a illustraor user. thats the truth..

stay with freehand..