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SneakPeek Pro and SneakPeek Photo, Free Updates, Lion Compatible


SneakPeek Pro and SneakPeek Photo are Quick Look plugins for the Mac.

SneakPeek Pro allows you to preview graphic design files from within any application that supports Quick Look. That means you can preview the contents of an Illustrator file someone just emailed you without ever having to leave Mail. And Pro goes beyond just displaying previews. It also lets you know what fonts, images and swatches were used in many file types. SneakPeek Pro supports Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Adobe Swatch Exchange, EPS and Freehand MX files.

SneakPeek Photo is the Quick Look plugin for digital photography. Photo's previews don't just show you previews of image files. It digs deep to display the digital photograph's metadata, histogram, camera settings and more. No longer do you have to open a JPG for PSD file in a photog app to find out what f-stop you used on a particular shot. Just pop open a Quick Look preview window and the information is presented neatly along with the photo.

Lion Compatible
Our SneakPeek line for Mac has been updated for Lion. That means both SneakPeek Pro and SneakPeek Photo are working just fine under Mac OS X 10.7. But unlike Snow Leopard, Lion introduced some changes to Quick Look. We, in turn, updated our SneakPeeks.

Grey is the New Black
First off, we updated our skins to match the new Lion Quick Look. I actually like the way this worked out. The original Quick Look’s black always seemed a little harsh to me. In either case, whether your preview windows are black or grey, SneakPeeks know which outfit to wear.

Quit Mousing Around
Lion’s Quick Look no longer responds to mouse moves and hovers. That means you’ll need to do some clicking and dragging to recreate some of the old functions, like view metadata in Photo and using the updated Loupe in Pro. But rapid clicks can lead to accidentally “opening” the preview document, so hold down “Command” (⌘) to avoid that.

Free Update
Version 1.6 of SneakPeek Pro and 1.1 of SneakPeek Photo are free updates for current users. These versions are recommended for Mac users with Leopard, Snow Leopard and Lion.

For more information, to download a demo, or to purchase our SneakPeek line of Quick Look plugins, visit our website at code-line.com.

Art Directors Toolkit, Big Price Drop, Mac App Store

On January 6th, Apple made the Mac App Store (MAS) available. It's a lot like the iPhone's App Store (AS), but for the Mac. It has some neat features for most individuals. For one thing, its purchase, install and update process is about as simple as can be. And you don't have to worry about keeping track of serial numbers. It's all handled automatically.

But the Mac App Store does have some drawbacks. One significant problem is that there's no upgrade path. Upgrades allow users of software to purchase newer versions at a discounted price. Since the MAS doesn't support "upgrades", developers are forced to come up with ways to continue selling new versions without making current users feel cheated. It's not easy, and we've witnessed some pretty vocal users of both the MAS and AS share their feelings with developers.

Once License Fits All

Code Line is facing the same quandary with Art Directors Toolkit (ADT), but I think we have a fair solution: Offer full licenses for the upgrade price. So from this point forward, you can purchase a full license of Art Directors Toolkit 5 from Code Line, or from the Mac App Store, for the same price an upgrade used to cost.

And for the record, whether you buy from us or from MAS, they're the same version (Art Directors Toolkt 5). We'll be supporting both with maintenance updates concurrently. So current ADT5 users are covered.

I hope this sounds fair. Feel free to sound off in the comments.

Creative Suite 5 (CS5) and Code Line

Adobe announced Creative Suite 5 (CS5) last month and it's beginning to hit the streets. I've been using Adobe Illustrator since version 3. I've seen some exciting updates (drawing in preview mode in 5.0—yay!) and some pretty uneventful ones (I don't recall CS2 and CS3 being that different from a user's standpoint). But I think CS5 is a fantastic update and I'm really excited about it.

I won't get into all of the new things Creative Suite 5 has to offer. There are plenty of sites that do a great job of explaining that. I will say that Photoshop's
Content-Aware Fills and Illustrator's Variable-Width Strokes (Adobe calls them Beautiful Strokes) are both pretty huge upgrades.

Since CS5 is now shipping, I wanted to let everyone know what's going on with our products that work with Adobe's Creative Suite.

Art Files 1.4.1
  • Status: CS5 not supported, scanning can be unstable
  • Update: 2.0 will be a paid upgrade (est. $24.95/ea.)
  • Timeline: Mid to Late May 2010

SneakPeek Pro 1.3.1
  • Status: Does not support InDesign CS5 documents
  • Update: 1.4 will be a free update to all users, Will add support for multiple-page previews
  • Timeline: Mid May 2010

SneakPeek Photo 1.0.2
  • Status: CS5 Compatible

We're working very hard to beat those timelines to make CS5 support available as soon as possible. I'd be very interested in hearing when everyone expects to update to Creative Suite 5. Please leave your comments below.

Thanks very much for your support of our products!

- Matheau Dakoske

P.S. If you're interested in seeing some of Illustrator CS5s new features, check out
friday with Mordy's Illustrator CS5 Overview. This and his other videos aren't short (about 30 to 40 min. each), but they're so incredibly informative, I highly recommend checking them out.

SneakPeek Pro: Better InDesign Previews

We've gotten some emails asking about better previews from InDesign when using SneakPeek Pro. It turns out there is a simple way to get better previews, and here's how…

Go to InDesign's Preferences
(InDesign > Preferences > File Handling… ⌘K)

You can select between Small, Medium (Default), Large and Extra Large. We've found that going from a Medium preview for our sample 8-1/2" x 11" to Large only added about 59KB and from Large to Extra Large another 427KB. Your results may vary, but you may want to start off by storing the Large preview depending on your needs.

Here are a few samples to show what we found:

256 Pixel Preview
Medium (Default)
512 Pixel Preview

1,024 Pixel Preview
Extra Large

On a standard US Letter document, Medium previews began to Greek text below 24 point. On both the Large and Extra Large previews, text was still legible at 12 point. Further testing showed the Large preview would Greek text at 10 point and the Extra Large preview didn't start 'til 4 point text. That said, the Large preview should suffice for most.

That's all there is to it. This, of course, won't affect your previously saved documents. But moving forward, this should give you a better experience working with InDesign.

Oh… Just one more thing. In case you've forgotten what Quick Look looks like without SneakPeek Pro, here it is:

Archiving Illustrator Documents with Art Files

Art Files for Mac 10.4 or later

I love talking to fellow designers about the tools they use. I especially love talking to Illustrator users. One thing I often ask is, "What do you use to collect your Illustrator files for output?" I'm beginning to think I'm asking the wrong question.

I first fell in love with Illustrator at version 3. It's been a mainstay on my computer throughout the years and it's the first place I go when I'm inspired. I look back fondly at the days of only drawing in "Artwork" mode, junking up my art board with the "Blend" tool and relying on 8-bit pixel previews of placed images. Many tedious parts of Illustrator have been improved over the years. Many, that is, with one glaring exception… Collect for Output.

It's always been a problem for me getting Illustrator documents over to printers or colleagues in a usable format. Transferring the Illustrator document is simple enough. But what about all of the fonts and placed images used? You can always perform the tedious task of seeking out the image files, figuring out where fonts live on the hard drive, copying them one by one and hoping you've got what you need. It's time-consuming at best, and very often error-prone.

I'd been intrigued by the need for file collection. The solutions out there were too expensive and too complex for my needs. As a designer and a developer, I decided to take action. For the next 6 months, I'd eat, breath and sleep the Illustrator file format. I wanted to create a stand-alone application that is simple to use, can collect multiple documents at once, is powerful enough for large art departments and is affordable enough for independent designers. Independents like the package designer that sat at my desk when I wasn't coding. On August 12, 2003, I released Art Files.

Art Files makes collecting documents a breeze. Just drag and drop your Illustrator files on the application and watch it analyze your documents in seconds. Click another button and your documents, images and fonts are packaged into a single folder that is ready to transfer and store wherever you like.

But what about the question at hand, collecting for output. The two most common responses I get from fellow designers that don't deal much with file collection are, "We use PDF's to send our documents to the printer" and "We just embed any images we use and create outlines for the fonts". While both of these techniques do provide a simple way to hand over artwork for output, they do little to allow for editing. This means the printer may not be able to make last minute changes for you, such as correcting typos or adjusting colors. You may be stuck having to resubmit artwork.

Another important function of file collection that's often overlooked is archiving. Just recently I was updating the UI for an application we're working on. (It's a sibling of SneakPeek Pro we're hoping to release soon.) But when I went to open the Illustrator document, it told me that I didn't have "Myriad Pro Black Italic" loaded on my system. Where is that font? I obviously had it some time last year. I've had similar problems trying to open layouts I've worked on in the past—Could not find the linked file "LogoShadow.psd". Ummm. Uh-oh.

It made me realize, some artists may already have a decent workflow for passing off artwork to printers. But many, if they're like me, haven't worked out a great archiving routine yet. Art Files makes it simple to archive Illustrator documents and their environments needed for opening and editing in the future. It's not just about collecting anymore, it's also about archiving.

So allow me to ask the question again, "What do you use to collect your Illustrator files for archiving?"

Making the Switch to Goe with Art Directors Toolkit 5

At the end of 2007 Pantone, Inc. announced the PANTONE® Goe™ System. It's basically an alternative to their PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM®. It has more colors (2,058 vs. 1,124), its books are better organized, it requires printers to inventory fewer mixing base inks and it has other benefits.

I have no doubt that Goe will keep gaining in popularity. It's always been surprising to me how the PMS books, with over 1,100 swatches to choose from, often fails to give the exact color I'm looking for. That's why the Goe system, with its larger library, is a welcome sight for me.

But what about transitioning to a new color system? Do I have to pick a whole new set of favorite swatches? Well the answer is, yes, but there's help. We're all familiar with PMS 186 (Red), right? (Sorry cool cats. I'm a 485 man myself. I know, it's in the "brown" section.) Let's explore finding a good match to 186 in Goe.

So how do you go about finding a good equivalent to PANTONE 186 C using PANTONE Goe coated? You can start by sifting through the two color books, matching swatches side-by-side, and remembering the "hits" you've found. That's certainly effective, but sure can be time-consuming. Especially if you're going from Goe to PMS. Instead, why not pop open Art Directors Toolkit 5 and let it preform some subtle magic for you. (Watch video below)

So according to Art Directors Toolkit 5 (version 5.2), the closest match to PANTONE 186 C using Goe is PANTONE 26-3-1 C. And it gives a whole list of possible contenders as well. You'll of course want to pop open your books and confirm the results yourself, but this is sure to save some time and headache by offering a great launching pad to find the colors you're looking for.

The PANTONE Goe system isn't preloaded in all of your favorite graphics applications yet. It is in QuarkXpress 8 and Art Directors Toolkit 5. But you won't find it preloaded in Adobe's Creative Suite (as of CS4). That includes Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. If you are looking to integrate a Goe color, Art Directors Toolkit can help you with that too, but we'll save that for another post.

- Matheau Dakoske