Recently I was passenger on a long road trip and spent 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, and 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. So it makes me happy to hear that "Stagestack" will be Freehand-like but also include other features that were not part of Freehand.
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, Windows users can still run Freehand problem free)
- Xara style object drawing, selection and handling support
- Freehand style colour swatch support, text handling
- Opening/loading of Freehand, Xara (file format is documented), 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
Read more about Xara here: http://www.xara.com/uk/products/designer/whatsnew/
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 Stagestack compares to Freehand and Xara. Will this document be made public?
I look forward to your thoughts.