I'm passenger on a long road trip and I've been spending my time reading large portions of the manuals for both Freehand MX and Xara Designer Pro X.
Xara (originally released in 1991, a few years after Aldus Freehand, as ArtWorks on the Acorn Archimedes computer) is the app I switched to when it was no longer feasible for me to use Freehand. It's a Windows app, abd whilst I'd love a native Mac OS X version, it works well in VMware Fusion.
Reading both manuals has proved a point I have long suspected. Freehand isn't the best at everything. In a lot of use cases Xara trumps it, but of course not all. Freehand still has better colour swatch handling, arguably better text handling and more.
This realisation has changed my expectations of what I'd like to see in any serious new contender:
- Native Mac OS X support (not a cross platform port)
- Xara style object drawing, selection and handling support
- Freehand style colour swatch support, text handling
- Open Freehand, Xara, EPS file formats
I recommend anybody who is interested read the Drawing, Selecting and Handling sections of the Xara manual. http://downloads.xara.com/support/version7/dp7/dp7.pdf
The manuals for Freehand and Xara could be considered Technical Specification documents for these apps. I'd be interested to read the Technical Specs for Expressive/StageStack to see how what the developers are building shapes up to Freehand and Xara. Will this document be made public?