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Exporting an .AI file not possible - best alternative?


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I've had to re-work some vector illustrations and the file format was .ai - as expected AffinityDesigner loaded it perfectly and I made the changes quickly.

 

I now however need to deliver the updated source file. I realise I can't export to .ai - so what's the best alternative?

 

I know I can export to PSD, PDF, SVG and EPS but I'm not really sure which one to use. Any suggestions?

 

Thank you in advance.

 

p.s - Absolutely LOVE AffinityDesigner. Still using the trial version but will be purchasing soon. I hope this community is as useful as the app itself. 

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Hi mattbwm,

Welcome to Affinity Forums :)

I advise you to pick PDF.  I believe it's the one that supports the highest number of features (although still not all - no gradient transparency /elliptical fiils / gradient fills with more than two colours). This should be improved as soon as we switch to our own PDF export code (rather than using Apple's one).

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Many clients need .ai, many apps import .ai

 

e.g. InDesign and C4D. Will there be a solution (e.g. at least for .ai version 8)?

 

As mentioned here, it's not possible for us to add the ability to export to AI format, sorry.

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I'm pretty sure the AI format is proprietary and there's no public documentation for it that we can use to write an exporter.  We can only import AI files because we can read the contained PDF stream within the file.

 

Unless Adobe decide to publish the specs for their file format then we're not going to be able to export to AI.

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Well, other apps support AI import and export. Serif could support it including version 8. If Serif does want to ignore other apps, some people will ignore Serif products and remain or go back to Adobe products. What about DXF then?

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Well, other apps support AI import and export. Serif could support it including version 8. If Serif does want to ignore other apps, some people will ignore Serif products and remain or go back to Adobe products.

 

We do support AI import (by treating it as PDF). That's what other apps do too.

 

Which other apps save or export to native AI? I just tried InDesign, and that one doesn't. Be reasonable. If Adobe can't support it in their own apps, what chance do we have?

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If Adobe can't support it in their own apps, what chance do we have?

 

Reverse engineering  ;)

 

But personally, I prefer that you use your development resources to add new features and improve existing ones  :)

OS X 10.12 - AP 1.6.6 - AD 1.6

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So, as I had assumed, it's not an intellectual property issue but an unknown file structure that would have to be reverse engineered?

 

I can see why users would see AI export as a very valuable asset for AD to have.  However, having myself reverse engineered file formats (that were far, far less complex than I imagine AI would be) I suspect that putting that effort into AD would mean substantially holding back the development of other functionality in both AD and AP (as they seem to be largely integrated code bases).

 

It's a developers call but I can certainly see why they have chosen not to support AI export.  Remember that every time the AI format is changed or augmented by Adobe Serif would have to make another reverse engineering effort that, if it failed, would render all previous efforts essentially worthless.

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Professionals still work with Adobe software. Why? One point is the workflow. We all have many .ai files. So it would be stupid to waste time with software that does not support .ai import. Serif does not want to support native .ai import or export including version 8. Other software import and export it. Since AD does not have real 3D capabilities, we are forced to do that work for example in C4D, which imports .ai and exports “rendered vector” .ai files for editing in vector software. Since Affinity does not have the capabilities of Adobe software professionals need, Affinity is not the first choice. It is easy to copy vectors in Illustrator and paste them into InDesign and make changes directly there without going back Illustrator. There are many reasons for AI. Other software does not ignore those reasons. Just have a look into Illustrator, C4D, After Effects, CorelDRAW, Paint Shop Pro, FreeHand ;-), ViaCAD, … http://partners.adobe.com/public/developer/en/illustrator/sdk/…


 


We want a software that knows what we need. We do not want to post again and again what professional software is able to do (because it was asked before what is needed) and what is still missing. 


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Oval,

 

Affinity Designer does support the importing of .ai files, just not exporting. I would recommend to have some patience, Designer is not even a year old and it has improved greatly and at a fast pace since it release last fall. Things like 3D capabilities shouldn't be expected in such a young program (especially one that isn't designed as a 3D program). Illustrator didn't have 3D capabilities until version 11 or 12, and that was many years. Building a great vector application takes time, it isn't going to happen over night. In my opinion Designer is shaping up to be a great vector program, sure it isn't perfect but I like the direction that it is headed and I have confidence that the things are not quite there yet will eventually get ironed out.

 

Of course Adobe's software works well with each other, if they didn't I would be surprised. You shouldn't expect Affinity's software to integrate with Adobe's software as well as Adobe's software integrates with Adobe's own software. I don't think that the Affinity team is trying to build software with the intention of offering seamless integration with all of Adobe's apps because that would be impossible for anyone other than Adobe. What Affinity is doing is offering seamless integration between their own programs, which makes sense. Affinity does offer us ways to work with and exchange files easily with Adobe and other companies' applications but there are limits. 

 

I would guess that the few companies that do offer the ability to export .ai files did one of two things. One, they reverse engineered it themselves or more likely, they pay a licencing fee to Adobe to use it. I would guess that any program that can open .ai files can also open PDF files and so what advantage does having the ability to export .ai files give that would offset the cost of offering it?

 

Hokusai

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Affinity Designer does NOT support the importing of native .ai files that have no PDF part.

Users think AD can but only recently after three steps they are informed about that lack when opening or even are not informed after trying to place files.

Other software does not ignore the needs of professionals.

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Oval,

 

Sorry to hear that you are frustrated but in your original post (post #14) you said ".ai" files and you never mentioned the ".ai files that have no PDF" part until post (#16) and that is why I said that Designer does import .ai files. If you have .ai files that you are having trouble opening in Designer, why not simply save them as PDF files, it might make it easier to open. Of course there are going to be some Illustrator files that you aren't going to be able to open in Designer but to me, that isn't unreasonable. I would never expect to have full compatibility with all of Illustrator's features unless I was using Illustrator. For me, Designer has been able to open all of my Illustrator files with no problem but I always check the "PDF compatibility" option when I save my .ai files. I can't tell if your "Other software does not ignore the needs of professionals" statement is serious or joking because if you truly think this then you obviously haven't used Adobe's software (not to mention other companies as well). The Affinity team does listen to user requests and their interaction with users is something that is unheard of with other companies. Of course in the end it is their prerogative whether to add certain features or not. As I said in my previous post "I would guess that any program that can open .ai files can also open PDF files and so what advantage does having the ability to export .ai files give that would offset the cost of offering it?".

 

Hokusai 

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No, Hokusai, you are wrong. I wrote “native” in my post #14.

You did not use Illustrator until version 8 and you do not have big libraries with ai files without PDF stream?! And you do not want to use AD to get vectors to C4D, because your guesswork does not work for that example. Great, than you are perhaps not in the situation to need Adobe Illustrator.

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Professionals still work with Adobe software. Why? One point is the workflow. We all have many .ai files. So it would be stupid to waste time with software that does not support .ai import

 

Oval,

 

Sorry you misread what I was referring to. I was referring to the part of your post #14 above. Your statement above (which is exactly as you posted) says that Designer doesn't support .ai import, when in fact it does. Maybe not a full importing of everything but it does support .ai importing. You are correct that later you mentioned the native part, and I'm sorry that I didn't catch that. 

 

I find it odd that you would say that I did not use Illustrator until version 8. Did I ever say that? No I didn't, you only assumed so. I have, in fact, been using Illustrator since 1990. When I was a university student I learned vector art using Illustrator 2 and then I used Illustrator 5.5 at my first graphics job after I graduated from university. I have used almost every version of Illustrator extensively since then. I remember how terrible Illustrator 6 was because the rulers were on the bottom and right side as opposed to being on the left and top, like most other programs (this was changed in Illustrator 7). I also used Freehand quite extensively as well. I didn't use CorelDRAW much, but I have used it (I always felt that while very powerful, the interface for CorelDRAW was a shining of example of how not to design a GUI, maybe it has improved). I do have many old Illustrator files but I have decided that I don't want to be tied to Adobe and their wretched subscription model and so I have made a conscious effort to deal with any problems that I might have in moving over to an Affinity workflow. Are there some problems? Sure there are some but that is to be expected when moving your work from one application to another. I think that many people here get so hung up on having complete 100% compatibility with Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop that their expectations are unrealistic. For now, I use both Affinity Designer and Adobe Illustrator but as Designer continues to improve, I find myself using Illustrator less and less. Once the Affinity team has added more print related features to Designer, I will only keep Illustrator (an older version not the subscription) for special cases when I have to use Illustrator. In the end if you decide to change your workflow, you will have to make some sacrifices at first but later things will smooth out and improve. This is true for almost anything. 

 

So you have to ask yourself, "Do I want to continue to use Adobe's products or do I want to move in a new direction?". Which company's vision for their software more closely matches what you would like to see and have in regards to a vector application? For me, Affinity's ideas are fresh and they offer a new and better way to work with vectors and any tool that makes things easier and more accurate is a plus in my book. If you want to have the exact same features and functionality as well as full compatibility with Illustrator then maybe you should continue to pay Adobe to rent their software. I personally think that Affinity's vision for a great vector application is much better than Adobe's. Adobe is a prime example of what happens when companies get to big and have no competition. They get greedy, stale and lack innovation. 

 

Hokusai

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Other software does not ignore the needs of professionals.

 

Oval, can I ask you something ?

 

If working with Illustrator files is so important for you, why don't you stay with Adobe products ?

 

If your expectation from another software from a different company is to continue to work without any change, I think you're missing a point.

In an ideal world, Affinity product shouldn't become 100% compatible with Adobe file format but Affinity file format should become a new standard for professionals, with Adobe ones.

 

We can clearly read your frustration with those problems but Serif has some terrific products, but different ones. Even if Adobe is a reference (being around for 25 years helps a bit) I'm not expecting AD or AP to be a perfect clone of their products, which means working differently, different logic in the tools and... different format files to work with.

 

Just my 2 cents.

OS X 10.12 - AP 1.6.6 - AD 1.6

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@Oval

We've said this before - clearly.  If you require 100% Adobe compatibility - you need Adobe products.  We are not writing a cheap replacement for Adobe for you, and no other third party company is either.  If you want the best support for the publicly accessible formats, then we are striving to make Affinity that product.  We are also fundamentally different to Adobe's products in certain areas for very good reasons, and where these differences mean no one-to-one mapping we try to offer conversion, but with the caveat that there is no reliable round-trip import-export of such features (hence why some features get rasterised).

 

As far as any other company having knowledge of Adobe's proprietary formats - there are none.  Adobe only publishes a subset of the PSD specification, and even that is riddled with inaccuracies and omissions.  You may be referring to the availability of documented legacy Adobe formats - but they lack many of the current features.

 

And, as far as reverse engineering a proprietary binary format goes - that is a mammoth task (not to mention a violation of certain laws).  It's not realistically ever going to happen.

 

Also, AI version 8 is not native - it is legacy.  It is not a good choice for a current exchange format.

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Hi yakk, it is not important to work with native Illustrator files, but it is for many professionals that have many native Illustrator files (without a PDF stream). Which defines the market. Affinity cannot read native Illustrator files, it needs PDF input. Hokusai seems to have no important old native files for AD. And he has no need to import vectors from AD into other software that only provides native import. AD cannot export and import native Illustrator files. That is the reason why AD will not be an Illustrator killer (many postings expect that) until it has most of the needed Illustrator tools. And that seems to be a long way until Adobe products are not needed.

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@ Ben. Nobody needs 100% Adobe compatibility. We need a complete product that will survive. If you have a better solution for Illustrator and C4D, tell us, please. AD does not work. If you have a good solution for importing many native Illustrator files without PDF stream into AD, tell us, please.

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Illustrator version 8 files look to be EPS with a few magic comments. If you rename them to .eps, we can open them as EPS. We'll change Affinity apps to do that internally in a future update.

 

Although we could export an EPS file, give it a .ai extension, and then claim we exported Illustrator, I don't think that would be either honest or useful.

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Try changing the .ai file extension to .eps and open it in Affinity. Does that work? AI files prior to version 9 are actually PostScript-based (as far as I'm aware) so a fair few of them would open just fine, I'm guessing?...

 

As far as I'm aware, the deal with .ai files is:

Prior to version 9 = PostScript stream + native blob. Illustrator reads the native blob if present, everyone else reads PostScript stream

Post version 9 = PDF stream + native blob. Illustrator reads native blob, everyone else (including Adobe's other software) reads the PDF stream

 

The applications that you think write proper Illustrator version 8 files?... Are they also writing the Illustrator native blobs into these files - because my initial guess would be that they just write EPS files with a header claiming to be a certain version of AI and then give them the .ai extension. If that's all you want, then yes we can enable that because it's nothing but smoke and mirrors...

 

So do you think that adding AI version 8 support for import and export would make Illustrator-entrenched workflows transition over to Affinity?

 

I don't.

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