How to Script in Adobe Illustrator (Adobe)

[Editor's note: I get asked frequently how to get into automating Illustrator via scripting. My favorite language is JavaScript (it's cross platform) but there is also AppleScript (Mac) and Visual Basic (PC). A listing of all my scripts is here, including my recent script for creating calendars. Adobe does a good job of getting you started with several introductory and intermediate manuals. Plus they even offer a free toolkit application for writing the JavaScripts. The new scripting guides for CS4 are up on Adobe's site, including how to use Flash panel inside Illustrator to make more interesting graphical user interfaces (or hit testing). There's new information on using TabStops in there over CS3 and documentation on how to script the new Artboards feature. Give it a try!]

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A script is a series of commands that tells Illustrator to perform one or more tasks. Adobe Illustrator CS4 supports scripts written in AppleScript, JavaScript or VBScript. Sample scripts are included in the Adobe Illustrator CS4 installer and get installed with the product. The latest available scripting documentation is provided below:


Adobe Illustrator CS3 FlashPanel Sample

The FlashPanel sample for Adobe Illustrator CS3 shows how to script Illustrator from Flash using ScriptUI’s FlashPlayer control. The sample illustrates how rich user interfaces created by Flash authoring tools such as Adobe Flex Builder 2 can interact with Illustrator’s scripting object model.

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3 Responses to “How to Script in Adobe Illustrator (Adobe)”

  1. Tom Auer says:

    I think it’s ridiculous that Adobe doesn’t use ActionScript for scripting in Illustrator. For me, having really gotten comfortable with AS3, it would make it so much easier to produce print-resolution graphics automatically from existing code. Data-driven graphics could be produced so much quicker and more efficiently, especially for someone who works frequently in a programming frame of mind for graphic design of data. This is especially true for geographic data which can be quickly parsed, symbolized, and drawn with Flash.

  2. nathaniel says:

    I’m with you, I wish the support was there out of the box.

    I would also point out that Adobe already does allow scripting via an extension of JavaScript called ExtendScript. What makes it ExtendScript? Adobe Illustrator specific keywords. If you know ActionScript 3, you’ll be comfortable in ExtendScript logic, keywords, and grammer with almost no uptake. You’ll still have to learn the Illustrator specific keywords. Let’s hope that the new Adobe CS5 effort is focused on harmonizing those keywords, but don’t hold your breath.

    Alternatively, you can program in AS3 via the new CS3+ support for SWF files inside of Illustrator. See the FlashPanel example this blog post for more information: and this Adobe tutorial: and John’s post here: Not as deep an integration as you might like… but you can still parse thru objects using ExtendScript and decide what to do with them via ActionScript 3, and then effect that change back to the ExtendScript. Might be better to just bight the bullet.

  3. Brochures says:

    Thanks for sharing these excellent resources. These are really useful. Keep up the good work!