In May of 2007 Adobe finally admitted what we’ve known for a while — FreeHand is dead. Adobe will no longer update or patch FreeHand for new operating systems or hardware (such as Intel Macs). Adobe has created several migration guides to help long-time FreeHand users move over to Adobe Illustrator instead.

But here’s the problem: If you’ve spent the last ten years designing and working in FreeHand, then Illustrator may be the wrong place for you to switch to. Many die-hard FreeHand users will be far better served switching to Adobe InDesign instead. Yet as far as we’ve found, no one has created a good resource to help designers migrate from Freehand to InDesign.

A Tribute to Aldus FreeHand. (1988 – 2007)

Design Tools Monthly has created a timeline of FreeHand’s features over the years. It starts back in 1988 when FreeHand was the first to introduce such novel innovations as editable blends, and the ability to place TIFF files in an illustration program:

Design Tools Monthly: FreeHand Firsts

The timeline continues on through the years to the last entry which reads “2007 — End of life.”

Resources: Migrating from FreeHand to Adobe Illustrator CS3.

Moving on, Adobe has produced several helpful documents on its website for people ready to make the jump away from FreeHand. These three PDFs from Adobe explain much of what you need to now when migrating from FreeHand to Illustrator CS2 or CS3:

FreeHand to Illustrator Migration Guide.

Migrating from FreeHand to Illustrator: A Technical Resource.

FreeHand to Illustrator Migration FAQ.

In addition to these free PDF’s, instructor Mordy Golding has produced an excellent series of video tutorials for migrating from FreeHand to either Illustrator CS2 or CS3. These videos are both available at

Migrating from FreeHand to Illustrator CS3

Migrating from FreeHand to Illustrator CS2

The problem with all these resources of course (as far as we’re concerned) is that Adobe Illustrator may be the wrong place for many FreeHand-based designers to end up.

Calling Seattle-area FreeHand Users.

One Seattle designer wrote us this week:

“I’ve been using Freehand for nearly 20 years. In the last 10 years, it’s become my main program for both page layout and vector art. It has been great to have a program do both so well.

So now I’m grieving for my dying program and wondering where I go from here. I have done some work over the years in Illustrator and don’t really care much for its interface. I have never used InDesign but I’m told it is better to work in than Illustrator.

Are there any classes that will help me make this strange and challenging transition? I’m very concerned about many years of archives that I need to access.

Thanks for your listening ear… (I’m pretty freaked out by all this).”

We know there is a need for a better FreeHand migration class. Most of the other classes we’ve seen for struggling FreeHand users are really just training sessions for Adobe Illustrator with a few extra screenshots thrown in.

So we’re putting out the word. If you’d like to see a course that helps FreeHand users update their workflow to take advantage of the best in both Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, drop us an email. We need 5 more people in the Seattle area to make this a go. You can email our electronic production trainer Jason Hoppe directly with questions and suggestions.

Source: Seattle was the founding home of Aldus Corporation (the original publisher of FreeHand), and thus has more die-hard FreeHand designers than other parts of the world. This tip includes information compiled in the latest issue of Design Tools Monthly.