Artboard in Action
Artboard in Action. This ugly image demonstrates that Artboard supports complex compound shapes (the word “Artboard” is a unioned spline), booleans, and translucent objects.


I’ve moved this caution to the top of this mini-review lest it be seen as an endorsement of ArtBoard. Since first using ArtBoard I’ve encountered a series of bugs that render it close to unusable and which have yet to be fixed. I’ve since switched to iDraw (which is not without issues, but a fine and usable piece of software) which I still plan to review.

The good news is that ArtBoard seems to be under active development (unlike several other Illustrator-wannabes which border on abandonware). But, right now, I’m finding ArtBoard to be very buggy (as several have noted this in App Store reviews as well, so it’s not just me). I’ll amend this post with further information as it becomes available. I can report that the developer is responsive to posts in the forums, but also somewhat in denial. My experience is leading me to look for more alternatives… next up iDraw.

As you know, I’ve been on a multi-year quest to find alternatives to Adobe software. Every time Adobe does something that makes me love them again (e.g. CS5) they follow it with stuff that drives me nuts (CS5.5, and then CS6’s upgrade pricing).

My latest misadventure involved trying to get Adobe Director 11 to work on my new Mac Pro (it claimed my license was in use because I’d moved a hard disk from one Mac Pro to another, the former no longer in my possession). In a nutshell, in the process of getting the problem “fixed” by Adobe tech support, I not only didn’t get Director 11 working, but my old copy of Adobe CS3 stopped working too. Awesome.

Be that as it may, to my mind there are several compelling Adobe products each of which needs replacement if one is to live without Adobe.

  • Acrobat — Preview.
  • Photoshop — Acorn / Pixelmator / Photoline for casual use; for professional use, Photoshop is mandatory.
  • Premiere Pro — FCPX.
  • After Effects — Motion perhaps, but you may need After Effects.
  • InDesign — Pages for casual use only.
  • Fireworks — does anyone still need it? or similar for UI elements in an HTML5 world.

And that leaves:

  • Illustrator —

In my experience, Inkscape is free and highly functional, but requires X11 and (last I checked) wouldn’t work properly in Mountain Lion; Intaglio is pretty nice but over-priced for what it does; Lineform, ZeusDraw, VectorForm, etc. etc. are all pretty much broken.

Complex compound splines
Artboard does a good job with complex compound splines

So, I was on the verge of buying Intaglio (trying to remember the url of the developer’s site) when I came across a reference to ArtBoard ($30 in the App Store). It looks to me like ArtBoard represents base functionality for a more special purpose cartography program the developer also sells — in any event, I hope that the economics are such that ArtBoard continues to be well-supported because, as of right now, Artboard kicks the asses of every other pretender out there, and in many respects Illustrator itself. Bravo.