CricketDraw, FreeHand, and other old graphics apps

CricketDraw and FreeHand can do this so no worries!

CricketDraw and FreeHand can do this so no worries!

I suspect that we need to worry, since most likely all these apps embed ghostscript code to perform the translation. So, the moment ghostscript drops ps support, so will also these apps…

I assume that’s a joke, right? I think those programs disappeared about a century ago…

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I highly doubt GhostScript will ever drop PS support, since that is the entire reason for the package’s existence.


I’m not familiar with Cricket Draw, but I did try using Freehand when I bought a Macromedia package because I needed DreamWeaver. I found Freehand not to even be near the ballpark with Adobe illustrator. And it didn’t play nice with what was then the industry standard for print page layout, Quark Xpress.

IMHO, Adobe bought Macromedia when WWW developed enough to support sophisticated graphics and layouts. Adobe also developed InDesign, which quickly put the kabosh on Quark. They also put the pedal to the metal in Dreamweaver development, and they always had a big lead on development for Photoshop as well as Illustrator, etc.

In 2007, there was an antitrust lawsuit against re: Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia:

“Adobe Systems bought Macromedia to remove its competitor FreeHand from the professional graphic illustration market, and to force users to switch to Adobe’s more expensive, and inferior, Illustrator software, graphic designers say in a federal antitrust class action.

The class claims Adobe “has engaged in unlawful, willful acquisition and maintenance of monopoly power in the market for professional vector graphic illustration software.”

Adobe won very quickly.

No idea how you got that impression, though they were very different programs and people accustomed to illustrator’s convoluted methods of working sometimes found FreeHand’s simplicity frustrating. But then I learned FH first and curse Illustrator’s backwards way of doing things all the time.

I still miss FreeHand every day. If it existed today without a change, it would still be more powerful than Illustrator and much easier to use. There are still many things it could do that illustrator (or any other program) still can’t. (For instance, you could create multiple pages inside a single file and each page could be a different size and orientation. It also let you create unbelievably huge files, like billboard size, and you could zoom to 256,000% so that a period filled your entire screen.)

I have no understanding how Adobe was allowed to kill off FreeHand. They must have paid off a judge.

BTW, back in the 90s I used Quark and FreeHand with no troubles whatsoever. Whatever issues were on Quark’s side, not FH’s.

I worked for a company that produced billboards of all shapes and sizes, as well as major league stadium signage and video, transit signage, packaging of all types and sizes, vehicle and building wraps and outdoor and indoor signage of all sizes, shapes and varieties. Also point of sale and outdoor graphics of all sizes for major retailers as well as signage for quite a few transit systems, including airports. They had over 300 employees + freelancers, and the production and art people used Illustrator and other Adobe stuff.

Oh, the irony! That’s the first time I’ve seen anybody mention Dreamweaver in many, many years… and I happen to be reading your comment while wearing my “Macromedia Dreamweaver” t-shirt for the first time in years! (They gave them out at one of those old computer tradeshows, probably MacWorld in Boston.) For no particular reason, I still have the old software-slipcase box on my shelf (remember those fancy boxes with printed manuals inside?) I used to do cartoon animations in Dreamweaver… although to be honest I never did really figure out the difference/relationship between Dreamweaver’s native file format, and the Flash format… one of them (or maybe both?) were called Shockwave Flash (.swf).

One of these days I’m going to try to convert my old cartoon animations (if the CD they’re stored on still works) to some modern format I can put up on the web… although I have no clue how to do that (or even if it’s possible).

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One possibility is the Ruffle project. It’s a Flash Player emulator written in Rust and compiled to WebAssembly. It can be used to port your Flash-based animations to something modern web browsers can view.

I haven’t personally used it, but I did notice that the HomestarRuner web site has used it to convert the massive Flash-based site into something usable with modern browsers. Given how well it works for their site, I would like to believe it is living up to its promises and is probably worth at least looking into.

Actually CricketDraw was the first app to work with PostScript features in a GUI.
I think PageMaker was the first app to accept EPS, but at the time no app could produce EPS files. I figured out that by changing the header of a PostScript file, an EPS file could be created that PageMaker recognised albeit w/o the preview. But the inserted file could be manipulated - reduced, enlarged, etc. Back in '86 or '87, Adobe was selling a diskette of PostScript templates for about $10. That’s what I used in PageMaker.

IIRC, it was John Warnock of who developed pdf when he worked at IBM. Kind of like Steve Jobs when he saw the Mouse at Xerox, Warnock walked away with pdf when he left IBM to start Adobe. Nobody at Xerox company thought there was any value in it.

I went to a dinner hosted by Warnock in Amsterdam in the Fall '94 where he discussed his vision for PDF. But it’s time for PDF to die and be replaced by offline HTML. If you request a download your twitter history, twitter will send you the report as offline HTML.

HTML won’t work effectively with print or broadcast media. And I did see Warnock speak a few times at Seybold conferences in San Francisco in the 80s and 90s.

True, but I wonder if some other, more powerful SGML-based language (in effect, a “smarter sister language” to HTML with a different DTD i.e. document type declaration) might exist, or be invented, that might serve that purpose. Something like the old, failed attempt to replace HTML with XML (temporarily, XHTML) for the web, but for other media?

Speaking of the devil…I just stumbled upon this:

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player112x33 651x10

Not quite. Warnock worked at Xerox PARC, and was involved in developing Xerox’s printer language, InterPress. When Xerox proved unwilling to commercialize it, he left to found Adobe in 1982, using much of that technical know-how to invent PostScript, which first shipped in 1985 in the Apple LaserWriter.

He later invented PDF as the product of ongoing research, which was first outlined in 1991.

I don’t think he worked for IBM.

Source: John Warnock - Wikipedia


You’re right about Xerox, but he did work at IBM before Xerox: