Art Directors Toolkit full review

Code Line has been producing neat practical applications for almost half of its 13 years in the graphic-design business. Recognising that many Mac users are creative types, its tools are often bundled with new Apple Macs. Art Directors Toolkit (ADT), its best-known design application, has now reached version 5 with some useful additions. Tools include rulers, colour swatches and colour sampling, font checking, the ability to calculate numerical variations and now preview spreads. Designed to counter-balance time spent seeking productivity tools, several utilities can be accessed via one application and one interface.

That interface has been slightly tweaked with this upgrade, making it clearer and cleaner, with the addition of a new Launcher. Accessed by the Global Results window docked at the top of the screen, or by a slide draw on the main interface, the Launcher provides access to favoured applications. Rather than delving into your Mac’s dock, you can customise settings to include only those applications and files you’re likely to use in your creative workflow. The Launcher can be customized further to create a group for a particular project, adding groups of applications and files at will. As a bonus, you can access files stored on an external hard drive swiftly and with ease.

ADT 5’s strengths lie in doing simple calculations well. Want to work out any size and resolution in pixels, inches, millimetres, centimetres, picas or points? ADT 5 can do it painlessly for you. A cool ruler lets you measure anything onscreen, including web graphics and banners. You can sample colour from any part of the screen with the built-in Sampler and try to match it. ‘Industry Standard’ colour libraries have been updated with options for Pantone coated and uncoated, web-safe colours and HTML colours. Colours deemed not web safe are identified and alternatives suggested. Colour palettes can be saved and loaded for later use. A practical font utility allows you to preview fonts that may be used in a layout as well as pinpoint proper point size.

New to version 5 is a simple layout spread utility that intends to help you visualise your printer spreads. This offers Grid mode and Spreads mode that help plan and streamline layouts. ADT 5 can copy the layout in PDF format for pasting into applications that support PDF copy and paste calculating bleed and crossovers. ADT 5 has been rebuilt with support for Universal Binary, which in simple terms means it will run smoothly on new Intel-based Macs. A new Tiger Dashboard widget gives limited access to some ADT number functions, but its more of a novelty than necessity. Code Line has also introduced a user forum for technical support, feedback and ‘wish list’ requests for future upgrades.

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