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Learn About Macromedia FreeHand


Macromedia FreeHand is a computer application for modifying 2D and 3D vector graphics, oriented to the professional desktop publishing market. It is available in versions for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS.

It is very similar in scope, intended market, and functionality to Adobe Illustrator. It was created by Altsys and licensed to Aldus, which released versions 1 to 4. When Aldus merged with Adobe Systems, because of the overlapping of market with Illustrator, Adobe returned Freehand to Altsys soon after the merger (after some legal wrangling, and intervention by the FTC). Altsys was later bought by Macromedia, which released Freehand 5.0, 5.5 (Mac only), 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11/MX. In 2005 Adobe acquired Macromedia, thus returning the Freehand product to Adobe.

A flexible application, it is used for page layout (esp. since v4 which was based on Altsys Virtuoso for NeXTstep and had multi-page capabilities) as well as creating and editing vector graphics for print and the Web.

Its current version, Freehand 11, is marketed as Freehand MX, which shows its integration with the new Macromedia MX line of products, which also includes Macromedia Flash, Macromedia Dreamweaver and Macromedia Fireworks.

The future of Freehand is uncertain, due to Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia.

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