A Magic Wand for Selecting Text in Adobe Illustrator (KELSO)

Warning, contains spoilers for my NACIS Practicle Cartography Day presentation in Missoula, Montana. Countdown: less than 10 days!

I have been developing a plugin / script for Adobe Illustrator to make it easier to select type in Illustrator by  attributes like font family, style, size, and fill color. I hope to release this as a commercial plugin for designers and cartographers first quarter 2009. If you would like to beta test this plugin for me, please send me an email at nathaniel@kelsocartography.com.

What is this tool and why would you use it?

  1. A magic wand for clicking on text and selecting like-styled text
  2. A non-modal eye dropper tool for copying font attributes and pasting them onto other text objects without directly eye dropping (like Freehand’s copy and past attributes).
  3. Menu items for Select > Type > Same font, same style, same size, same font color, overprinting, etc
  4. A pro version of the Find Fonts dialog already in Illustrator that does find / replacing in locked and hidden layers, or only in the active layer, sublayer, or window view.

Developing the plugin has taken a lot longer than I expected to implement all the basic and advanced features but I am now 90% complete with the script version, which is over 8,000 lines of code or a 300 page book! Once I return from vacation in October, I will start working on the plugin version which will entail completely translating the script from JavaScript into C in XCode on the Mac and Visual Studio on the PC.

Turning the script into a plugin will bring several benefits:

  • Speed: much faster execution
  • Work with 1,000s of type objects / characters, not 100s
  • Menu items that can be assigned keyboard shortcuts
  • Can be recorded with Actions for automating routine tasks
  • New tool: magic wand for text and non-modal eyedropper for text font appearances

Example uses:

  • Selection:
    • Find all other type objects with same font – View video
    • Find all other type objects with same type size – View video
    • Find all other type objects with same character fill color
  • Applying / creating character styles:
    • Cartographer: ArcMap text imported to Illustrator >> have plugin apply matching style or create new styles that match each of the implicate styles
    • Designer: Quickly comp out a design and select all matching text with certain font attributes with the new Text magic wand tool and make them styles. Great for deadline projects.
  • Find and Replace fonts on hidden and locked layers

Demonstration videos:

Selecting by Font Color – Basic
Including exactly the same color, pattern, swatch, same color mode, by character and by object.
View video – 7.8 megs

Selecting by Font Color – Advanced
Including selecting type object NOT a color and overprints, replacing with knockout.
View video – 17.2 megs

Changing Alignment and Registration of Type
Includes limiting to just point, area, or line type objects
View video – 11.0 megs

Why Change the Registration for Point Type?
To scale type size when it is registered to a townspot or other graphic element.
View video – 1.1 meg

Finding Scope
Limit your selection to active layer, sublayer, current view, selection, artboard/page, and document.
View video – 20 megs

Finding by Text Content
Find all type that has the “River” or “Road” or “Street” in it and then change those text range’s attributes. Options include Is, Starts, Ends, and more.
View video – 13.5 megs

Replacing by Text Contents
With exact phrase or add to the end or beginning of the matched text.
View video – 9.3 megs

Simplified Interface
This dialog is similar to what’d you see for the planned “magic wand” for type tool settings. Thanks to Tom for this suggestion!
View video
– 7.6 megs

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3 Responses to “A Magic Wand for Selecting Text in Adobe Illustrator (KELSO)”

  1. eli says:

    yay! you have no idea how excited I am for this tool – once I upgrade illustrator. What CS versions will it be compatible with?

    PS. your find and replace symbol script has been a godsend these past few months.

  2. Nathaniel says:

    Eli–I am planning on CS3 and CS4 compatibility. I am hoping for CS2 compatibility, as well. But getting the plugin to work on both Mac and PC is a higher priority for my first release. Thanks for your interest! Please sign up with my Script Announcements list here (http://kelsocartography.com/scripts/) to be alerted when a final version is released.

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