After a painfully slow start, and confident predictions by the know-it-alls that the machine would never garner the critical mass of users to justify software developers writing applications for it, Apple’s Macintosh is flying high as a flag on the fourth of July, and blue-chip software developers are taking the machine very seriously indeed. A deal of the excitement is being generated by the prospect of the Open Mac expected later this year, which will not only use a 32-bit 68020 to supercharge the performance, but will invite the world and his wife to introduce add-ons for the machine. And one of the Mac’s fans from way back, Postscript developer Adobe Systems, is ready with what sounds a very hot new product. Adobe has announced a powerful art production tool, the Adobe Illustrator – for producing high quality line drawings and illustrations on the Mac. The package is claimed to combine the control and fine detail of drawing by hand with the speed and mathematical precision of the computer. The Adobe Illustrator is based on Postscript and uses precise curves and lines to describe drawings. The user can create new illustrations or trace existing artwork, add captions, then modify the artwork to his or her heart’s content, claims Adobe. The final product should be professional quality line drawing and illustrations that can be used on their own or placed in other documents and printed on any Postscript-equipped printer such as the Apple LaserWriter, or typesetter like the Linotronic 300. The start-point can be almost anything – scanned images from a photo, logotype, blueprint, rough sketch, a piece of art from a scrap file or a MacPaint image. Instead of building the drawing with dots, the Adobe Illustrator uses a unique and powerful pen tool that enables the user to trace shapes easily and then fill in all or part of the image, adjust lines to any weight and add captions. The drawing, or any object in the drawing including text, can be rotated to any angle, scaled, skewed and manipulated to create special effects. The company claims that it is easy to move or change objects, zoom in on details or preview the drawing to check on progress before printing. Because the Adobe Illustrator enables precise control of lines and curves, it is claimed to make professional quality, computer-assisted illustrations practical for the first time. Adobe also says that drawings, technical illustrations, maps, designs, logos, type and more can be produced three to four times faster than by using traditional methods; once illustrations are complete, they can be changed or merged with other illustrations later. Adobe Systems will be selling the Adobe Illustrator for $495, and first deliveries are set to be made in March.