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making Xara & Illustrator play nice

PostPosted: Aug 10, 2009 2:04 pm
by Jeff Bartlett
I have zero interest in a fight about which program is better, so if that's why you are reading this, stop reading.

Recently, I've been frustrated by the fact that some projects require I submit files in Illustrator and some require Xara. I have previously drawn all of my maps with Illustrator CS3, and would like to continue doing so, but need to be able to deliver functional .XAR files as well. I have Xara Xtreme Pro 5.

I've tried opening my AI files in Xara, which usually imports them just fine; it expands the pattern brushes in the process (no big deal) and apparently converts my pattern swatches (for lithology) to a white bitmap object, which is annoying but probably workaround-able. However, when I open the file in Xara in order to save as an .XAR, the layer architecture has been completely removed; it gives me a layer titled "text extracted from PDF" and one titled "imported from PDF" in which it has lumped all of the separate non-text layers from my original AI file into a single layer.

Is there a file format that works functionally in both programs? Is there an export format from one to the other where I won't lose anything?

There seem to be too many egos and/or old habits at play for the caving community as a whole to ever adopt a standard, but I'm not interested in having to learn multiple cave survey programs and multiple illustration programs in order to be a productive cartographer. I don't want to stop working with either group, and (frankly) I'm getting tired to listening to diatribes from the group who didn't win the "which standard will Jeff adopt?" contest.

Re: making Xara & Illustrator play nice

PostPosted: Aug 10, 2009 2:20 pm
by Scott McCrea
This maybe too obvious, but... did you try EPS?

Re: making Xara & Illustrator play nice

PostPosted: Aug 10, 2009 2:41 pm
by Jeff Bartlett
Scott McCrea wrote:This maybe too obvious, but... did you try EPS?

I did, but it was with Xara X1, not Xara Xtreme Pro 5; will try tonight. The older version of Xara (the one several caving groups are using around here) wasn't able to open an EPS file from Illustrator at all.

I did notice, however, that Xara Xtreme Pro 5 lists two kinds of EPS files: "Artworks EPS" and "Xara X EPS," both of which have the .EPS extension.

Re: making Xara & Illustrator play nice

PostPosted: Aug 10, 2009 3:30 pm
by Aaron Addison
EPS doesn't support layers (at least not the way you are wanting).

What's most important? Layers? Geometry? other stuff? Gotta decide what is most important, because nothing converted will be perfect. Being able to round-trip between graphics programs like AI and Xara is unheard of at the moment.

PDF - Probably workable with testing. Maybe it is the way you are creating your PDF in CS3?, if you back up a couple of PDF versions, compatibility is better?

DXF - Will almost certainly keep your layers. Downside is some geometry types may not be supported.

AI - According to Xara's site, they can read AI files directly?

Main issue at hand is that there is simply no business reason for Adobe to support Xara special file considerations nor vice versa. Your ultimate solution may be in a 3rd software program to use as "middleware", or just adopt to local customs for the project you are working on....

Re: making Xara & Illustrator play nice

PostPosted: Aug 10, 2009 8:50 pm
by Jeff Bartlett
Good advice. I think I have it: if I save the Illustrator file as legacy Ai10 -- PDF content must be checked -- all visible top-level layers appear in the Xara file after a slow conversion process. So it looks like, as long as everything is unlocked and visible, this will work. The layers aren't named properly and only the top-level layers are there, but this works for what I need.