Well, maybe saving the world is a little bit of an overstatement, but saving your work is arguably the most important thing you can do in Illustrator. And you may feel as if you have saved the world when your client mentions — 40 hours into the job — that she needs the graphics to work in AutoCAD, and you say, “Sure, no problem!” instead of breaking down in tears. Or when your graphics look every bit as good on the Web as they do in print. Or when your computer crashes and you laugh it off because you didn’t lose any work. The key to all these heroic scenarios is Illustrator’s massive Save features, all found under the File menu: Save, Save As, Save a Copy, Save for Web, and Export.
Choosing the Save command writes the document that you’re working on to the hard drive, which is the fastest way to save a file.
Saving a file in Illustrator creates a file that not only Illustrator can read, but that file is also a bona fide PDF file as well, so anyone with Acrobat or the Adobe Reader can read and print the file.
If you open an Illustrator file from an older version of Illustrator and hit the Save button in Illustrator CS, the file saves as an Illustrator CS file. To save the file to be compatible with a previous version of Illustrator, you need to use the Export command.
Use the Save As command to save the open document to a different location from where it was originally, or to save an SVG, EPS, or PDF version of the file. Using the Save As command also saves new documents that haven’t been saved before. When you create artwork for print, Save As is the command to use 90 percent of the time; it allows you to save in the EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) format. The EPS format is supported by many other non-Adobe applications for both the PC and the Mac. When you save a file in this format, you’re assured almost universal compatibility in the world of print.
You also have the option of saving your file as a PDF (Portable Document Format). PDF is great for exchanging files for review and approval processes because it only requires that the recipient have Adobe Reader (a free download from Adobe, www.adobe.com) installed. The recipients don’t need Illustrator or any graphics program. They don’t even need to have any fonts you may have used in the file. If you save your file as a PDF, select the Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities option in the Adobe PDF Format Options dialog box. Then you can later open the file as an Illustrator file with access to edit the elements, fonts, colors, patterns, and type blocks.
The only difference between an Illustrator file saved as a PDF file (with Illustrator editing capabilities on) and one saved as a native Illustrator file is the extension following the filename, and the appearance of the icon in Windows or the Finder. PDF creates .pdf files, while native Illustrator creates .ai files. Both can be read in either Illustrator or Adobe Reader/Acrobat.
For more information on the Save As command and file formats, see Chapter 17.
The Save a Copy command has all the features of the Save As command but adds a twist: You can also use it to save all the information in your current document as a different file on your hard drive — at a different location and sporting a different file format — without changing anything in the current file. You can save multiple versions of the same file (say, one for printing and one for the Web). Moreover, if you need to restore the file to the way it was the last time it was saved using Save or Save As, you have a handy way to do so: the File→Revert command. Revert breezes right past the Save a Copy command, allowing you to make a completely different series of changes.
The Save for Web command, as you probably guessed, enables you to save Illustrator graphics for display on the Web. Even better, you can use this ?command to save your files in any of the most commonly used Web graphics file formats: JPEG, GIF, PNG, Flash (SWF), or SVG. Best of all, the Save for Web dialog box provides a preview of what the file will look like after you save it, as well as what the file size and download time will be, so that you can manage the delicate balance between graphic quality and short download time. You can find a whole lot more information on the Save for Web command in Chapter 16.
The Export command could be called “Save for Everything Else.” Use it to save Illustrator files in an astonishing variety of formats — from the commonplace (Photoshop) to the obscure (Pixar). Use the Export command when you need to save a graphic in a specific format that you can’t find under the Save As or Save for Web command. Here’s where to find every other file format you can use when you save an Illustrator file.
To save artwork so that you can open it in a previous version of Illustrator, choose the Legacy Illustrator (.ai) option in the Save as Type drop-down menu in the Export dialog box.
The most commonly used formats found here are Legacy Illustrator (.ai), Flash (a format for displaying vector graphics on the Web), SVG, and Adobe Photoshop. Legacy Illustrator (.ai) allows users of older, lesser versions of Illustrator to open files you created and edited in Illustrator CS. Flash (SWF) files can be opened and edited in Flash-savvy applications, such as Macromedia Flash. The Photoshop format re-creates your Illustrator file as a Photoshop file, maintaining the features of the original file (such as Layers and Transparency) as closely as possible. Chapters 16 and 17 provide further information on using Illustrator with these formats.
Illustrator CS now has the ability to save in a format optimized for Microsoft Office applications. Choose File→Save for Microsoft Office and a file is created that’s guaranteed to work well in all your Office applications.