Importing Freehand format (.fh)

Bug #171186 reported by Blaureiter on 2006-03-02
This bug affects 2 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone

Bug Description

I want to substitute Freehand -- that I love very much
-- for Inkscape, because is open source.

I just star working with Inkscape and I need to open
old Freehand files to make changes and re-use it.

So I propose you to ad the feature to open directly
Freehand files (or Illustrator files).

Thank you.

Horkana-users (horkana-users) wrote :

Is the format documented? If not then it is extremely
unlikely developers will be able to reverse engineer it (too
much time).

EPS is probably the best way to transfer drawings between
various programs.

Please also check and make sure there is not already any
duplicate requests for Freehand support.
There are definately already reports for Illustrator import,
as well as EPS and PDF support.

Bug Importer (bug-importer) wrote :

It is a perfectly valid request, and one that I would
certainly use for same reason as the OP. What is more, since
Freehand is almost certainly in a rather stable state at the
moment, the work to do this is most unlikely to every need

We should, though, not duplicate the efforts being put into
the Uber Converter.

So far as I am aware the latest Illustrator programs use PDF
and I suspect that this might be given priority

Horkana-users (horkana-users) wrote :

> It is a perfectly valid request,

No one ever said it wasn't.

Inkscape cannot possibly implement all valid requests there
just are not enough developers and users must understand
that things will only happen if there is a developer
interested in doing the work.

raising money to sponsor a developer might help make this

the lack of any documentation also makes it even harder to
implement a file format but if you can find documentation or
help to reverse engineer the format it would certainly help.

Horkana-users (horkana-users) wrote :

Wotsit doesn't have any info on Freehand files, it is
usually a pretty good source of information.

Horkana-users (horkana-users) wrote :

"Macromedia discontinued support for FreeHand Shockwave in
early 1998 in favor of the Flash format. "

this suggests that support for the latest versions the
Freehand file format might be possible if we were to get
flash import.

You will need to help out and get much more information than
this if you really want to help make this happen, without
help it will not happen.

John Cliff (johncliff) on 2007-12-07
Changed in inkscape:
importance: Low → Wishlist
status: New → Triaged
puster (v-launchpad-schudak-de) wrote :

I realize that a new converter is a heap of work and will likely not start soon unless somebody with the skills volunteers of another pays for it.

It still is something that should be put in the line for further consideration. Freehand is one of the old great programms of vector design, and since today both Freehand and Illustrator belong to the same company does not get any further development.

Many design companies will use their existing Freehand licenses for quite some time, and when they start to look for something else they will only consider software that is able to open all the old .fhX files. Since they HAVE to change some day, however, they might consider Inkscape if it offers FH-support. There is quite some potential in this converter.

This is now not a job of Inkscape, but job of UniConvertor, and, FYI, UC developers already did a preliminary investigation. The problem is that Freehand developers did a lot of changes between versions and created very complex file structures difficult for "classic" reverse engineering. Since they have more urgent things to do, please do not expect them to work on it in the forseeble future.

BTW, I have yet to see a design company that solely relies on Freehand :)

puster (v-launchpad-schudak-de) wrote :

Thanks for the feedback.

The great time for Freehand is certainly over, being in the earlie nineties when FH dominated the MAC-market and introduced layers to the design folks. That was around version 3-4. Still there are a lot of data out there in that format, some of them on my old comps. I will look into the work the UniConverters do :-)

Steven Hoober (shoobe01) wrote :

> BTW, I have yet to see a design company that solely relies on Freehand :)

There are still, a couple years on, several places I know (not to mention our little shop) that use Freehand as their primary vector tool. Used to be the only one, but for paranoia of it being not supported. It's used often with custom plugins, for things like cartographic work. which cannot be easily replaced therefore.

I sadly am not smart enough to help with this (wish I was), but wanted to say that if Inkscape worked well with Freehand files (even just 10 and 11 variants) and this was advertised, then a lot more folks would suddenly jump on the bandwagon and help out.

Steven Hoober (shoobe01) wrote :

Just a bit of semi-real data to add to this discussion, and maybe help with prioritizing.

Earlier today (24 aug 2009) I updated this set of templates I sometimes post online for people to borrow. This time we promoted it and got (for us) huge take. 5x normal traffic to the site. I posted both as PDFs and the original files in Freehand 11, since that is what I still work in, and labeled them as clearly as possible. (If you want to see them, go here:

Of the (several hundred) downloads so far today, almost 1/4 are of the Freehand file. There are, apparently, plenty of FH users still out there. Presumably, waiting for something really solid to replace it.

Alan Horkan (horkana) wrote :

If anyone was going to work on it they might consider using LibFreehand
which is part of librevenge
from the Document Liberation Project

P.S. the previous post linking to is long dead and although The Web Archive has a copy of the page mentioned it does not have copies of the templates that were offered for download.

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