November 8, 2005

Adobe Illustrator Rounding

Abobe Illustrator Rounding

Ok, this one goes out to all the Adobe Illustrator users out there. I upgraded to Adobe CS2 a few months back and have been on the whole very pleased. I love Adobe’s products, and they do oh so very much oh so well… but man, I should start a weekly feature on details they could improve upon. Lately I have noticed something disturbing in Illustrator. Let’s say I make a shape that is 2.875″ x 1.75″ at the coordinates x = 0″ and y = 9.25″. Well, that’s fine, Illustrator will do just that. But if I select the shape and pull up my Transform palette, Illustrator tells me the shape is 3″ x 2″ at x = 0″ and y = 9″. As you can see, that just isn’t right.

The shape is still exactly as I wanted, but the Transform palette tells me otherwise. Do you see how much of a pain that is? I have no way of knowing what the actual values or positions of my shapes are after I create them. Now, I didn’t ask Illustrator to round my shape’s values up or down. I asked for precise measurements. In the example above I am dealing with inches, it’s even more frustrating with pixels. Seriously, in the case of pixels, I only want whole values. I don’t need a fraction of a pixel, you should never even give me that option!

I have scoured the preferences to see what could be causing this behavior and I have looked in the deep catacombs of hidden palette options, all to no avail. So I ask any of you Illustrator users for help, have you ever seen this tomfoolery?


The Illustrator CS2 12.0.1 Update fixes the problem. *phew*

Commentary (30):

1. Ryan S. says… nov 8, 2005 | 6:15 pm

Geez, I really want to help, but I have the same issues with CS2 as you do.

I work with whole pixels anyways, I have never had AI CS2 round a dimension up or down FOR me. However, if I enter 50.5 px AI CS2 does round it up for me but just like you, I never work with pixel fractions anyways. You’re right, a user with a document with it’s units set to pixels should never have been given the option to enter a pixel fraction.

The one exception, as you noted, is displaying rounded corners in that aliasing takes over and inevitably displays pixel fractions. Besides text, this is the only scenario I can see that would be OK to me.


2. Brady J. Frey says… nov 8, 2005 | 6:18 pm

I don’t see that ANYWHERE in our CS2’s, and I can’t repeat it at all! Might be time to trash your illustrator preferences ala:
user>library>preferences>com.adobe.illustrator.plist and anything else in there via adobe illustrator cs2. I’ll keep an eye out if I see anything, it’s rather interesting.

3. Mike Rundle says… nov 8, 2005 | 6:25 pm

Dude I have the same problem. I always have to type ”.00” at the end of values just to make sure they’re exactly on the button because Illustrator rounds everything. So damn annoying.

4. Jason Santa Maria says… nov 8, 2005 | 6:35 pm

Right, it’s easy enough when doing web work to just make sure your stuff is always on whole pixels, but with print work (or whenever I’m using other increments of measure beyond pixels) I sorta need to be able to go in-between whole values. argh!

5. Mark says… nov 8, 2005 | 7:08 pm

I’m with Brady on this. I cannot for the life of me replicate your error. My transform window shows me exactly the values I put there - no rounding at all.

6. Jason Santa Maria says… nov 8, 2005 | 7:29 pm

Well, for what it’s worth, I have Illustrator CS1 at home (CS2 at the office), and it works exactly as it should, no rounding.

7. Dustin Wilson says… nov 8, 2005 | 10:21 pm

I’ve heard of this problem before, and have only heard it from Macintosh users of the program. I use both the Windows and Mac versions but have never ran into it myself, and I work with the program on a daily basis sometimes for several hours at a time. I’ve heard that upgrading to the newest update (which says nothing about this problem in its changelog) eradicates that annoying bug from mysteriously appearing, but not sure of it myself. That’s at least what someone else told me worked for him. Might be worth a shot, Jason. Good luck.

8. jodyFerry says… nov 8, 2005 | 10:36 pm

Have you installed the 12.0.1 update? I don’t know if it fixes this prob, but it fixes some other minor issues.

9. Jacob Reiff says… nov 9, 2005 | 2:25 am

I have definitely run into that problem with AICS - the transform palette just seems buggy. I’ve resorted to using the ruler in xscope to double check the measurements when I’m distrusting of AI. It’s not exact for print, but at least helps put my mind at ease.

Brady> I’ve tried trashing pref’s and it doesn’t seem to help. Time to go check for new updates…

10. Veerle Pieters says… nov 9, 2005 | 2:28 am

I have the exact same error if I use inches, not when I use mm (which I always use, since we don’t use inches here in Belgium). However, I do not have the problem with pixels, AI gives me no pixel fractions.

I discovered a rather strange clue: If I turn off “Scale & Stroke” effects in the Transform palette menu, things are fine again and I get the precise measurements. Strange thing is, if I turn this option back on, things remain OK, it seems to be disappeared … I’m clueless :-S Well, not sure if I helped you but who knows AI acts the same for you.

11. Johan says… nov 9, 2005 | 4:50 am
I’m with Brady on this. I cannot for the life of me replicate your error. My transform window shows me exactly the values I put there - no rounding at all.
The problem with this is that the transform window shows an exact value even though it’s rounded. If you’d like a graphic to be exactly at x: 100px you have to select the text and write 100px and hit enter in order for the graphic to ‘loose’ the rounding. This is extremely frustrating if you have a lot shapes on the canvas.

This kind of problem is sort of typical of Illustrator: lots of features, but without a clear strategy for usability. I hope the merger of Macromedia and Adobe will improve the situation.

12. Jason Santa Maria says… nov 9, 2005 | 8:39 am

The Illustrator CS2 12.0.1 Update fixed the problem! (even if it still gives you the option for fractions of pixels)

I overlooked it because AI has always had this functionality before now and I could find any mention of it in the update change log.

13. Jon says… nov 9, 2005 | 11:34 am

Has anyone noticed how bulky CS2 is? I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and it just seems like it’s using much more power than CS1. I use the CS every day, but Adobe is turning into the Microsoft of graphics software, especially with the purchase of Macromedia. When InDesign came out I was overjoyed to ditch Quark, (and still am), but the improvements in functionality in CS2 came at the cost of massive installs and slower performance. Adobe needs to trim down and put the Creative Suite on a diet…

14. D. Schafer says… nov 11, 2005 | 10:14 am

I have similar problems with Photoshop and Flash. Mostly working with pixels. I find the transform palletes in both apps will let you set something to be 200px by 150px at (60,100), but if you go to select it again it’s shifted by a pixel (or half pixel in Flash’s case) and the size is slightly off.
I recently tried designing a website with mockups that were 144ppi, and this problem gave me a lot of headaches when my graphics would have blurry edges after scaling the image down to 50%.

15. Jason Santa Maria says… nov 11, 2005 | 10:19 am

As crazy as Illustrator and Photoshop can be with their respective Transform palettes, they can’t hold a candle to the frustration that Flash’s provokes. You can resize a shape to inputted whole pixels in Flash via the Transform palette, click off of it to go do something else, then come back and click on it again only to discover Flash has changed your values to some arbitrary pixel values with decimal places. At least PS and AI are consistent in the way they screw up, Flash just seems to pull the stuff out of its ass.

16. Nick Whitmoyer says… nov 13, 2005 | 3:12 pm

Well this discussion proves that there is hope. I’ve been using Illustrator CS for some time and experienced a lot of quirky things.

I look forward to upgrading to CS2 but I’m willing to bet that my marshmallow (a.k.a. 500mhz G3 iBook) won’t handle this latest and greatest version.

17. Jessica says… nov 14, 2005 | 1:25 am

I to was please after updating Adobe but also relized alot could be added to it. Oh well have to wait to the next update but still a great product.

18. Ryan S. says… nov 14, 2005 | 3:41 pm

I updated AICS2 to 12.0.01 and that seemed to address the pixel rounding issue …

Jason, I totally agree with you about Flash’s pixel playing problems. It sucks … bad. This is especially true when working with pixel fonts. Why the f&%* would I enter 100.73px for a position (or height!).

Now I realize this is a Illustrator thread, so I’ll end by agreeing with Jon about how bulky CS2 is (and how long it takes to open the programs). Plus, over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that when working in Photoshop AND Illustrator together, one of them crashes when I move between to 2 apps. Not desireable when you drop that kind of coin on legal software.

I hate to agree with Jessica, but I guess we’ll have to see what the Adobe/MM merger will bring.


19. some guy says… nov 17, 2005 | 5:22 pm

abandon ship - Adobe software is crap.

(sorry, Jason, slow day at the office. see you Saturday, bro.)

20. Mike says… nov 17, 2005 | 9:04 pm

My works just as it should I wonder if you got a bad copy or I got a newer version. I am sorry to hear your having trouble with it. I cant wait to another one comes out though I agree with Jessica on waiting till the next update.

21. Ashley Bowers says… nov 23, 2005 | 4:24 am

I agree with the guys that Adobe blows. All there software is overpriced and overrated.

22. Petr says… dec 15, 2005 | 9:30 pm

A like Adobe’s software, but there are bugs like in other sw.
My main problem with adobe sw in the past was fonts support and their localization to another codepage than english.

23. Michael says… jan 10, 2006 | 9:20 am

I’ve had a similar experience with CS1. It seems when I am creating a shape that has a stroke, the width of the stroke is added to the dimension of the shape (i.e.: if my shape is 4” x 5” and my stroke is 1pt, the transform box will say my shape is 4.125” x 5.125”…or similar to that).

Not sure how to remedy that, but it definently is a pain.

24. Jonathan says… may 9, 2006 | 7:30 am

I have the pixel rounding up problem on my windows pc. I downloaded and installed the 12.0.1 but I’m still getting the problem. I’m a tad frustrated by this.

25. Harold Covey says… jun 9, 2006 | 10:07 am

I also had the problem on my windows box, even with the 12.0.1 update installed. Deleted a couple prefs files which did the trick: AIPrefs and AIWSPrefs.

26. Harold Covey says… jun 9, 2006 | 10:38 am

Scratch that — spoke too soon. It appears that when using pixels as the default unit of measurement, the transform palette will only display whole numbers. R-click on the ruler and select “points” to get the true placement if it’s off the whole pixel. Points=pixels, right?

27. PonyBoy says… jun 12, 2006 | 1:48 am

Harold… that works - but what a bummer… kinda of a hack.

28. David Joyce says… jul 12, 2006 | 10:11 am

Might not be the place to ask this but does anyone know of a way to alter the default character style so that overprintprint black is on. At the moment you can only alter it once a document is open and for some reason overprint black is switched off as a default.
Thanks in advance.

29. mark says… jul 30, 2006 | 2:11 am

stumbled upon this blog via google because i was having the same problem. i managed to fix it and hopefully this fix will work for you as well: all i did was reload my custom workspace (from the menu bar, try Window > Workspace > [Default] if you’re not using custom ones).

30. jash says… aug 22, 2006 | 10:25 am

had the same problem on pc. i just restarted illustrator and rounding was turned off.