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You may be collaborating with people who are using older versions of Illustrator, so you need to know how safe is it to save back to earlier versions. This has been created in CS6. So if I choose File > Save As and I'll just put this on my desktop. When I click Save, I'm given the option to choose a version. Multiple artboards came in at CS4. So if you saved for a version earlier than CS4, you are not going to have multiple artboards anymore. Transparency came in at Illustrator 9, so if you saved at Illustrator 8, you'll lose transparency.
All of your objects will still be there but they'll be opaque or all your little shadows will be embedded images. Keep in mind that when you go back in the past, you are going to lose some editability. It's best if you keep files in their native habitat. If you're using CS6, it's the best of all worlds if you collaborate with people who are also using CS6. There's not a huge danger in going back to CS5, but there are some things that CS5 doesn't do that CS6 does, like gradients on strokes. So those are probably going to be converted into objects that you can't easily edit.
What if somebody says well, I have CS3 and I'm not going to upgrade, I need for you to send me the file. Well, this file relies on having multiple artboards. So let's see what falls apart when we back save it. So I'm going to choose Illustrator 3. By the way, you always want to have PDF Compatible File checked; that makes it behave right when you place it into InDesign. And when I click OK, on the way I notice this little yellow triangle of terror that mentions basically what I've just been telling you, Saving to a legacy format may cause some changes. And sometimes you'll see reflow in your text and so forth, but let's see what happens.
When I click OK, it gave me another warning. I click OK. And now if I close this and I open up the file that I saved on my desktop, I want to see if there is anything wrong with it. I've lost my artboards. And it's sort of funny which artboard it picks to maintain, because in the olden days, artboards were defined sort of differently in Illustrator. Now they're more like individual pieces of paper. In versions prior to CS4, they were just kind of arbitrary. But notice that Illustrator is polite enough to leave guidelines, so that we least know where the original artboards were. This will work okay.
At least everything is in position. But the user is going to have to do some juggling around to replicate, what I had created with multiple artboards. So if I open this backup in CS6, and that's what I just did, notice that it does not bring my artboards back. So they are lost forever when you go back in the past. If you find that you have to share with somebody that uses an older version, just be mindful of the things that fall off. Be mindful of the things that were introduced in later versions. If you can live without using them, then you have a safer trip back. But one thing to always keep an eye on is text, the farther back you go, the text composition engine changes, you may see some reflow, you may see some text converted to little bitty clumps of point text.
And in some dire cases you may see text converted to outlines. If you have to do this, at least be aware of what the repercussions are and be prepared for it.
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