Convert Illustrator Point/Path Text to Area Text

Justin | design,extensions,Illustrator | Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Point text in Illustrator is a text field that is generated by a click of the text tool. Area text is generated by dragging a rectangle with the text tool. You can scale a area text to make room for more text or to control where the lines end. When you try to scale point text, however, the text itself grows or shrinks to fill the rectangular area. If you inherit a file with lots of point text, it can be difficult to edit.

This script will convert point text and text on a path into area text. You select multiple text fields and the script will convert them all. It does not take into account stories (linked text fields), so use with caution in those cases.


(Compatibility: Illustrator CS & up)
Convert to Text Area.js
[right-click (ctrl-click on Mac) and choose Save Link As…]

Installation Instructions

Place the Convert to Text Area.js file into the Scripts directory within your Illustrator application directory:

Windows > C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator {version}\Presets\Scripts
Mac OS X > Applications/Adobe Illustrator {version}/Presets/Scripts

Note: In CS4, the directory path will include a region directory (e.g., Adobe Illustrator CS4/Presets/en_US/Scripts).


Select text field(s), choose File > Scripts > Convert to Text Area.

Looking for the reverse?

Don’t worry we won’t leave you hanging. Download the file below. Installation and usage are similar to above.

Convert to Point Text.js
[right-click (ctrl-click on Mac) and choose Save Link As…]

Another Utility Script

If you want to select only text frames, to scale them or otherwise you can use the script below. If you already have a selection, it deselects anything that is not text (i.e. it selects within your selection), otherwise will search the entire document.

Select Text Only.js
[right-click (ctrl-click on Mac) and choose Save Link As…]

New Extension: Send Colors from InDesign and Illustrator to Flash

Justin | Animate/Flash,design,ExtendScript,extensions,Illustrator,InDesign,tips | Friday, December 5th, 2008

Following the merge text extensions for Flash, Illustrator, and InDesign, Keith Gilbert wrote me wondering about getting swatch information from InDesign to Flash via XFL or by way of importing an Adobe Swatch Exchange (ASE) file into the Flash swatches panel. There are several stumbling blocks in the way of such an extension. First, finding a way for extendscript or JSFL to read the contents of an ASE file (which is not open source and not plaintext) proves to be quite difficult. Second, JSFL (the Flash scripting language) doesn’t have any access (currently) to the swatches panel.

BREAKING NEWS (12/6/08): I noticed that the new Kuler extension for Flash CS4 has an “add to swatches” button, and it actually adds swatches to the swatches panel. After some decompiling and a lot of detective work, I found an undocumented JSFL call that was added to CS4. The feature is undocumented for a reason: it sends encoded XML data, and if the data is faulty, it crashes Flash. I have a few test cases working and I’m confident that I can add it to this extension, so the swatches will go right in the Flash swatches panel, rather than onto the stage, though it will only work in CS4. Be on the lookout for an update in the next few days.

UPDATE (12/7/08): Updated to version 1.1.0. If you have Flash CS4, the swatches will now go right into your Flash Swatches panel. Hooray!

There does seem to be a lot usefulness to such an extension, since XFL creates a new workflow between InDesign and Flash, and the Illustrator importer for Flash is fantastic, but neither one loads any of the swatches from the original document. I’ve certainly spent my fair share of time opening up the swatch properties, making sure the swatch is RGB or hex and copying all three fields one at a time.

So, I decided to plow ahead and see what I could come up with. The results are below. This extension takes the swatches from your current InDesign or Illustrator document and sends them to a new layer on the Flash stage. You can then use the eyedropper to pick up the colors, or you can add them to your swatches panel individually (similar to this demo of the Kuler panel).
UPDATE (12/7/08): If you have Flash CS4, you can skip the step above. Version 1.1.0 of this extension will send the Illustrator or InDesign swatches right to your swatches panel in Flash.

This extension will transfer spot and process colors of all varieties (RGB, CMYK, LAB, HSB). Rather than converting the CMYK with my own function, I used the applications themselves to convert the colors to RGB for Flash, so the transfer fidelity is quite good. It will ignore gradients, tints, patterns and fancy stuff like that. If you want to get your gradients into Flash see the bonus tip below.

InDesign to Flash CS4

Or, here’s what InDesign to Flash CS3 would look like.

Illustrator to Flash CS4

Or, here’s what Illustrator to Flash CS3 would look like.

Downloads and more below the fold. (more…)

Announcing Merge Text Extension for Adobe Illustrator

Justin | design,ExtendScript,extensions,Illustrator | Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Following the release of my Combine Textfields extension for Flash, I’ve put together a similar extension for Adobe Illustrator. This extension installs a script that will merge text (including text on a path) into one text object, while retaining the style attributes of the individual pieces, including character styles as well as paragraph styles (if the separator includes a return character).

Anyone who’s tried to edit text from a PDF opened in Illustrator knows how frustrating it can be to make simple text edits when the text is broken up. This extension reduces that headache.

Special thanks to David Van Brink for posting the Omino Dialog Maker. His time-saving code was used to produce the dialog box in this extension.

Download Options

Installation Instructions

JSX or JS file:

  1. Place the MergeText_AI.jsx (or MergeText_AI_CS.js) into the Scripts directory within your Illustrator application directory:

Windows > C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator {version}\Presets\en_US\Scripts
Mac OS X > Applications/Adobe Illustrator {version}/Presets/Scripts

Note: In CS4, the directory path will include a region directory (e.g. Adobe Illustrator CS4/Presets/en_US/Scripts).

MXP file or ZXP file (CS4 or newer):

  1. Double-click on the mxp file to install using Adobe Extension Manager.

Note: Adobe has abandoned Adobe Extension Manager as of CC 2015, even though it’s still installed. You can use the JSX file in that case (installation instructions above).


In Adobe Illustrator, select the text the you want to merge together and go to File > Scripts > MergeText_AI. If you’re using Illustrator CS3 or CS4, you will be prompted with a dialog box where you can choose your sorting orientation and a custom separator. If you’re using a version earlier than CS3, you will not be prompted with a dialog; the script will run using the default settings sorting topmost, then leftmost, with a separator of “[><]”. You can then run a Find and Replace and replace the separator with the characters of your choice.


Justin | design,links | Thursday, November 13th, 2008

I’ve long thought that PNG has been an underused format, especially among designers who should know better. This illustration explains the strengths of the PNG format quite well.

The one thing that it doesn’t mention is that PNG is the only common (web) image format that supports 8-bit transparency. GIF only supports 1-bit transparency (transparent or opaque). So if you want a non-rectangular shape with a transparent background or a nice smooth drop shadow around the edges, PNG is the format for the job.

Flash Player Gets Color Management

Justin | Animate/Flash,design | Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Looks like there’s now a way to avoid that pesky color shift when bringing artwork into Flash. John Nack has the details.

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