Design insights & tutorials.

Art Files: Illustrator’s Missing ‘Collect for Output’

Plenty of designers out there do their design work not in InDesign, but in Illustrator. If you’re among those, you’ve no doubt been confounded by the lack of a “collect for output” feature in Illustrator. Enter Art Files from Code Line Software.

And be sure to read on for a special discount offer on Art Files for our Go Media ‘Zine readers.

Get it together

Art Files is a standalone program for Mac OS X that gives Illustrator users a “collect for output” or “package” feature, just like in InDesign.

Perhaps because Art Files was created for such a specific purpose, it’s dead simple to use and to figure out what it does. If you need software like Art Files, it does exactly what you want it to do.

After launching Art Files, you’ll be presented with a new document window. Here you drag the .ai files you want to process and Art Files goes to work immediately. All linked images and any fonts used in the .ai document are presented in an easy-to-read folder/subfolder structure. Color-coded symbols inform you of any errors.

Art Files will even scan for fonts in the placed EPS documents within your file. How cool is that?

What it does

Art Files is designed so that each document scanned can be saved as an .artfiles document, allowing you to run the scan again in the future without needing to go back an locate the original files. Very handy.

Another great feature is the slide-out Info panel, which gives you a visual preview of the placed files, as well as Finder file paths to the file, and buttons to open the placed file in the Finder or open them directly in Illustrator. Again, very handy.

When it comes to collecting your files, again Art Files is on top of things. You have the option to save the resulting Collection with a Notes file, very similar to InDesign’s “instructions.txt” file. The Notes text file can contain custom notes (and you can set up a default notes section in the preferences as well), contact info and a log of the collection process.

Again, as expected when you click “Collect”, you are prompted to choose a location for the Collection folder. Once Art Files is done collecting you files you have a nicely packaged Collection folder with subfolders containing your linked files and any fonts used in the document.

The right tool for the job

As with the rest of Code Line’s graphics software tools for Mac, Art files fills a niche and does it just as you’d want and expect it to. If you need a “collect for output” or “packaging” feature for your Adobe Illustrator files, look no further.

Code Line Software has generously created a special offer just for the ‘Zine readers — use this link to get Art Files for 10% off the full $49.95 license. Offer is good until the end of February 2010. And this offer is good for any Code Line bundle that contains Art Files, including multi-user licenses.

Code Line also has a video overviewing the features of Art Files:

About the Author, George Coghill

George Coghill isa freelance humorous illustrator/cartoonist specializing in mascot cartoon character design & cartoon logos. His cartooning & illustration work can be seen at CoghillCartooning.com and at his cartooning and illustration blog. Be sure to follow me on Twitter here!
Discover More by George Coghill

Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Simon H.

    A nice tool! Too bad it's for mac only.

  • http://twitter.com/codelinesoft Code Line Software

    I'll take that as a feature request, Simon. Thanks!

  • Jubilee

    Outrageously lame of Adobe not to include “Collect for Output” in Illustrator… this cheap trick/omission is evidently designed to make people buy their bloated InDesign… Macromedia Freehand had the Collect for Output feature many years ago (along with multiple pages and page sizes in one document.) You'd think Adobe would wise up and add “Collect for Output” to AI, especially since they bought FreeHand and are strangling it with no updates. I'm still using FH 10 everywhere I can still get away with it. Saves hours of work each day over AI…

  • Brian

    You should request this feature with Adobe. Knowing them, they will have a highly buggy and half-a$$ed implementation no later than CS10, then get your hopes up that it will be fixed in CS11 but not come through, then finally get a ridiculously bloated, but somewhat working version by CS12 (you know, just to milk those 2 extra upgrade fees out of you).

  • A Name

    CS5 coming out soon. As cool as this is, I'd rather wait and see instead of pay $50 … oops, I mean $45, forgot that discount!

  • jimavery

    I have used this program since it first came out and it has been a very handy tool to have. I love it and would recommend it.!!!

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    Not sure that Adobe's intention was to force people to buy InDesign by omitting this feature. They're two different programs that share a few similar features.

  • Simon H.

    Well, there are still “a few” of us designers working in a windows environment :-)

  • MarenKellyDesign

    Forgive me for asking a possibly stupid question, but if you remember to outline all fonts and embed all links, doesn't that render something like this kinda pointless? Don't get me wrong, it's great that it can find everything for me and package, I was just wondering about this today actually, but I never really found outlining and embedding to be a major hassle- other than making the files larger…thoughts?

  • bcarel

    Collect for output is still there, its a script located in one of the layers of folders directory. Search for CollectForOutput and you will find it. I simply saved the script as an application and placed it in my dock. Anytime I need to collect for output I just click it and select the save point…it does the work for me. It doesn't collect fonts, though that should never be a big issue with gathering the correct fonts. I usually save an Outlined File along with the original anyhow.

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    I agree with Geoff. I don't consider Illustrator to be a layout/design program, even though some use it that way.

    Art Files adds the functionality some may want/need if they use Illustrator to do layout.

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    Great to hear!

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    Great tip! Although Art Files will pull the fonts for you, and also will hunt down fonts within placed EPS files.

  • bcarel

    Absolutely cool I won't argue there. CollectForOutput script is free though and comes with everyones copies of Illustrator.

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    I agree, having the free built-in option is good to know, thanks for sharing.

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    how about windows version.. since this tutorial for mac version. thanks anyway

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  • Nick Pepperman

    Is it free? I would really like to do this. This looks really awesome!

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    Hi it's really looks cool tool. I would love to use it. Thanks for sharing it dude.
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  • http://www.freshinsite.com/ webdesignanddevelopmentcompany

    One of the features I really like is the slide-out Info panel, which gives you a visual preview of the placed files, as well as Finder file paths to the file, and buttons to open the placed file in the Finder or open them directly in Illustrator. This is great!

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  • nice

    A nice tool! Too bad it

  • nice

    A nice tool! Too bad it

  • Matt

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  • Ford Parts

    Another great feature is the slide-out Info panel, which gives you a visual preview of the placed files, as well as Finder file paths to the file, and buttons to open the placed file in the Finder or open them directly in Illustrator.

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    Yes I think it is free, and I agree that this tutorial is really cool because it provides easy illustrations.

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    missing about the output?

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    Do you know if this is available for the PC? I would hate to buy a mac just so I can use this great software

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  • DesignBuddy

    MarenKellyDesign: A while back I read in the Adobe forums that outlining fonts is best to be avoided whenever possible due to the fact that when a font is outlined, it is slightly changed. To test this, I zoomed in to maximum zoom allowance and did notice a change in the serif font that I had outlined. Now I always try to avoid outlining my type, but instead first try sending a pdf with embedded fonts.

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  • http://www.klavisnurs.com Klavis

    I agree with Geoff. I don’t consider Illustrator to be a layout/design program, even though some use it that way.

    Art Files adds the functionality some may want/need if they use Illustrator to do layout.