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Exploring the panel system

From: Illustrator CS6 New Features

Video: Exploring the panel system

The final UI enhancement that was made to Illustrator CS6 applies to the Panel system. Previously, the panel systems in Adobe Illustrator lacked the ability to do things like in-line text editing or keyboard navigation. Well, in CS6, that's all been corrected. As a part of their modernization efforts for this release, Adobe has ported all of the panels in Illustrator over to a completely new system which allows for better navigation, and ease of use when you're doing things like renaming layers, actions, or even variables. Let's take a look at the Layers panel as an example.

Exploring the panel system

The final UI enhancement that was made to Illustrator CS6 applies to the Panel system. Previously, the panel systems in Adobe Illustrator lacked the ability to do things like in-line text editing or keyboard navigation. Well, in CS6, that's all been corrected. As a part of their modernization efforts for this release, Adobe has ported all of the panels in Illustrator over to a completely new system which allows for better navigation, and ease of use when you're doing things like renaming layers, actions, or even variables. Let's take a look at the Layers panel as an example.

So I have got the Layers panel undocked and out here on my Document window. As you'll notice, I have a lot of artwork inside of this document and none of it is really named in the Layers panel. I have things like Paths, and Groups and stuff like that, but none of it is easily identifiable. In previous versions of Illustrator, if I wanted to make a change to the name of a Path or a Group, I would have to double-click the name, a modal box would open, I would change the name, commit to that change, and then it would finally change in the Layers panel. That could be a huge headache, and it actually cost me valuable time when working on projects.

But now with this new panel system, I have the ability to locate the object I need, double-click it, rename it, hit Enter, and I am good. So for instance, if I wanted to find this hat right here, I look over in the Layers panel, here it is, and I can double-click where it says Group, rename it Hat, hit Enter, and I'm done. If I want to find this paintbrush, I can locate the Paintbrush, double-click it, call it Paintbrush, Enter, and I am done! It's so much easier now to make changes in the Layers panel now that in-line editing is part of this system. I love it! The Type panel is another great example of what they've done in this Panel system.

Previously, what I would have to do to make changes inside the Type panel is click, make my change, click, make my change, click, make my change. That was so annoying because I'm what you call a keyboard cowboy. I live and die by keyboard shortcuts, and using my Tab key and all the good stuff, and I recommend that you do the same because that's a great way to get faster. And now in CS6, you actually have the ability to navigate these panels using nothing more than the Tab key, your number pad and the arrows. So much better. So let's select this text object right here, and watch how quickly I can actually go through this panel and make changes.

Let's say I want to change the font, I will change that really quick with my arrow key, and I can also change the font-weight if needed. But watch this, I can just Tab down, change the size of the font. I can change the Leading. I can go down and change the tracking between the letters. I can go down and I can change the vertical scale, the width of the characters. I can change absolutely everything in here simply by navigating around with my keyboard. You haven't seen me move my mouse one single time, and that is so much easier for me, and it's going to make me a whole lot faster when I'm working on text objects or anything else, because all I have to do is tab around, punch in some numbers, hit Enter and I'm good to go.

In addition to the functional enhancements of the panels in Illustrator CS6, all of the panels are now supporting new icons as well. There aren't any major changes to the icons that you're used to, but these do fit the new UI style much better than the old ones. So you'll notice things like the Paintbrush tool, the Pencil tool and all of the tools over here in the Tools panel are sporting this new light gray, kind of simplified look. Not so much that you can't tell what they are, it still looks like a Paintbrush and a Pencil, but they're much nicer and easier to see in my opinion. As with any new software release, you should take some time to get familiar with all of the new interface features, and become accustomed to them, so you can easily make the transition from one version to another in your daily workflow.

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Illustrator CS6 New Features

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Justin Seeley
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