Illustrator 2020 Save as SVG Default Decimal Places

New Here ,
Dec 09, 2020

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Hoping someone has run into this before and figured out a workaround — I'm almost ready to install an older version of Illustrator just to avoid these thorns in my workflow.

 

I've noticed (after totally destroying a couple of designs) that Illustrator 2020's SVG saving behavior does not respect prior settings upon first launch. Specifically, the SVG "Decimal Places" setting. In prior versions, as far back as I can recall, once the precision was set to, for example, 5 decimal places, that value was used by default, and it only required fixing if you had to save with a different value for one particular file.

 

The new behavior in Illustrator 2020 seems to be that it resets to a value of 1 each time the app is launched. If I open an existing SVG file that I created in Illustrator, I cannot just use the normal Save function, otherwise every element's decimal precision drops down to 1.

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Once I change it, the new value remains for subsequent saves, as long as I don't quit Illustrator. Next time I reboot or relaunch Illustrator, the first save of an SVG file will be with 1-decimal precision again.

 

Actually, come to think of it, there are many settings that are no longer "sticky" — when using the Path Simplify tool, prior versions would retain whatever settings were last used within the current session (I only ever use it to convert to straight lines, so it's particularly frustrating to now have to click the checkbox every single time. So, maybe this is all intentional... really hoping not, though.

 

Is there some default setting I can change that will make this stick? Maybe a plist setting or something in a dictionary file I can edit? So far, I haven't been able to find anyone online mentioning this behavior, but I'm guessing most people don't edit native SVGs. Luckily I'm pretty good with version control, but it's still really unsettling, kinda like using a loose razorblade to break down cardboard boxes. Both run the risk of inadvertently reducing the length of digits. 😉 

 

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1 Correct Answer

Adobe Community Professional , Dec 29, 2020
Monika Gause Adobe Community Professional , Dec 29, 2020
"Rhetorical question: what SVG features is Illustrator unable to support?"   Actually: quite a lot of them. Especially considering styling and markup. Once an experienced developer has carefully edited an SVG file, you don't want to import it in Illustrator, because you will completely nuke the web developer's work to the point where the SVG is completely worthless and needs to be rebuilt.   And also the question for native files is: which Illustrator features is SVG unable to support? And again...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 10, 2020

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The preferences file should be reset on every update, so no, you can't make this sticky.

But then: SVG should never be your work file. It's not meant for that in Illustrator. There is only one application that has SVG as its native file format, and that is Inkscape. For every other application, SVG is not suitable for roundtripping.

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tony m7i AUTHOR
New Here ,
Dec 17, 2020

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Monika,

 

Thanks for the reply. Not sure I agree, unless what you're describing is specific to Illustrator CC 2020. The general rule is that, if you can save a file after opening it (not "save as"), the application natively supports that format. Sure, .ai files have more features and capabilities than a simple SVG format, but if you're editing SVG files, you're already working within the confines of what's possible in SVG format. Every now and then, it'll warn that transforms are expanded, which is kind of expected in those situations anyway. Plus, once I work around the horribly destructive "who needs more than one decimal place" bug, everything behaves as expected, so I kinda suspect something else may be the culprit here.

 

If that is the case though, they really need to remove those other file formats from the Save dialog — after all, historically that is the differentiation between "save" and "export". Having said that, I've edited SVG and PDF files natively in Illustrator for nearly three decades (crap, I feel old) without running into any real issues. If this was literally any other application, I would totally buy that explanation and chalk it up to mindless developers not paying attention. But, the Adobe suite has been a rock solid powerhouse that I've used regularly since the 1990s (I switched from Photostyler to Photoshop when version 3 introduced the concept of layers, and never looked back), so I have to believe Adobe would, at a minimum, display a message along the lines of "Warning: saving with current settings will result in lower precision". I mean, incompetence knows no bounds, so it's definitely *possible* that Adobe's development team made a bunch of really dumb decisions, but that just seems really out of character, based on my past experience.

 

I would definitely consider using Inkscape, except for, ya know, all the features it doesn't have. 🙂 I think it would take at least 4 or 5 bad Illustrator releases in a row before I started exploring alternatives, and even then, Illustrator CC 2019 still runs fine. Maybe I still have a copy of CorelDRAW on floppies somewhere... 🙂

 

I'll go ahead and open a support ticket with Adobe, and update this thread with whatever I find out, hopefully anyone else who runs into this issue will be able to find this thread. I'm thinking/hoping maybe it's a bug, seeing as how I couldn't find any references to this behavior otherwise. Surely I'm not the only one who uses Illustrator to work with non-AI sources.

 

For what it's worth, my preferences file isn't reset on every update, but on each launch of the application. Assuming, that is, that the preferences file keeps track of things like if you used horizontal or vertical flip last, what settings you used in a Save dialog, etc -- my generic settings like units/rulers, workspace layout, scratch disk are all preserved, so I had assumed they just stopped keeping track of these other settings. Maybe I've got a corrupt config file somewhere or something. (Fingers crossed.)

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tony m7i AUTHOR
New Here ,
Dec 17, 2020

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Heh, I just re-read my post, and realized I totally misspoke. I should've said I've been using Illustrator since the 90s, and have been editing SVG files natively for years. Clearly I would not be a good copyeditor. Pretty sure I didn't edit SVG files in Illustrator until around 2015, though, it has worked just fine until this recent update.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 17, 2020

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"Thanks for the reply. Not sure I agree, unless what you're describing is specific to Illustrator CC 2020. The general rule is that, if you can save a file after opening it (not "save as"), the application natively supports that format."

 

I disagree. A native file is a file that keeps all live content (live objects such as blends, live effects, brushes, you name it). SVG does not do that.

Illustrator has a very special way of making SVG a native file format. It does this by embedding a fully editable version of the file contents into the SVG as an AI file. So there's an SVG with a private data fork that contains all of the objects. So it's actually 2 files in one.

That option is turned off by default in Illustrator though. So when you are saving an SVG and don't take care, all your live effects and brushes and stuff will be expanded. Which is clearly not what "native" is all about.

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tony m7i AUTHOR
New Here ,
Dec 22, 2020

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I think this may just be a difference of definitions -- the way I think of it is like asking an astronaut to pilot a twin-propeller airplane. It's a little overkill, and the astronaut can definitely do more than is being asked, but at the end of the day, astronauts can fly planes, and they probably do it very well. I think of Illustrator's native SVG editing as utilizing a subset of the overall featureset. Sure, you can do way more with a native .ai format, which 99% of people will want to do, but if one finds the need to edit SVG files, and understands what the file format is capable of, then Illustrator handles those subset of features very well. And, let's face it, Illustrator's core functionality and all those nuanced details we take for granted like zoom, rulers, guides, snap-to, tracing, etc really do wipe the floor with Inkscape (at least, last time I tried it out). Even with one hand tied behind it's back, Illustrator is still the best vector graphics editor out there.

 

Good news, though -- my original issue appears to have been resolved! After uninstall/reinstall, the issue persisted, so I moved my "Adobe Illustrator Prefs" file out of the way and tried again. The erroneous behavior remained, so I put my preferences file back in place. I then had a couple of OS updates to install, and rebooted after those were installed, and now, Illustrator is back to behavior normally. Upon first opening the app, I can create a new document, and save as SVG format, and the Decimal Places value is set to 5 (which is what I set it to during the last test). I've quit and relaunched, tested opening existing files and saving with Save As, everything is now behaving as it should... with my original preferences file still in place.

 

The only thing I can figure is that there was some other file related to the main preferences file that, uh, *something* happened to, whenever I moved the preferences file out of place. This is wildly speculative, since I don't know anything about the Illustrator internals here, but whatever the case, it now retains my SVG settings, which I suppose is all that really matters in the end. Kinda frustrating I wasn't able to pin down an exact cause, though.

 

Unfortunately, this didn't also fix the "Simplify Path" dialog behavior -- in previous versions of Illustrator, if I checked the box for "Convert to Straight Lines", it would remember that setting throughout the session, but in Illustrator CC 2020, the box is unchecked every time. I'm guessing this was an intentional change in the behavior... but I can live with that one, I suppose.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 23, 2020

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"I think this may just be a difference of definitions"

 

No, it's not.

Native files keep all live elements. And if a file format doesn't do that, then it's not native. And this is quite relevant and not just an astronaut overkilled kind of thing.

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tony m7i AUTHOR
New Here ,
Dec 23, 2020

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I appreciate that your interpretation of whether an application is able to natively support a file format is different than mine, however I still believe you're wrong here. I'll throw one more analogy out there, and consider this dead horse thorougyly beaten. I think there's enough detail here for anyone reading this in the future to understand what we're saying; even if we can't seem to agree, they'll be able to read this thread and hopefully get a sense of what's what.

 

Rhetorical question: what SVG features is Illustrator unable to support? (None; in my experience, I've never seen Illustrator save, for instance, an ellipse as a path, a rectangle as a polygon, etc -- every SVG element is mapped to the corresponding Illustrator object type, and vice versa. The SVG format has no concept of things like brushes, so from the perspective of editing SVG, those features are irrelevant.)

 

Maybe it'll be clearer if I use a different app as an example. Apple ships a text editor with their operating system, which is able to edit both plain-text and rich-text formatted files. It can open an existing file of both types, edit and save, or create new and save. Using your argument above, it seems as though you would say that TextEdit is not capable of natively supporting plain-text files, since plain-text format does not include font/style information. I would argue that both file types are natively supported in TextEdit, since the limitations exist in the file format and not the editor itself. My point is that, an editor may have features that aren't able to be stored in a particular file format, but as long as all of the file format's capabilities are supported by the editor, it's able to natively edit files in that format. Like a matroska doll, Illustrator has a superset of capabilities which encompass the SVG file format's capabilities, and conversely, the SVG file format supports a subset of Illustrator's larger set of capabilities.

 

Since I've been able to fix my original issue, I'll let you have the last word here.

 

tl;dr - SVG file format is not suitable for saving Illustrator documents, but Illustrator is very suitable for editing SVG documents. (A full-grown chicken may contain an egg, but an egg may not contain a full-grown chicken.)

 

Happy Holidays!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2020

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"Rhetorical question: what SVG features is Illustrator unable to support?"

 

Actually: quite a lot of them. Especially considering styling and markup. Once an experienced developer has carefully edited an SVG file, you don't want to import it in Illustrator, because you will completely nuke the web developer's work to the point where the SVG is completely worthless and needs to be rebuilt.

 

And also the question for native files is: which Illustrator features is SVG unable to support? And again: the list is very long.

 

No, SVG is not a native file format of Illustrator. Not too long ago Illustrator was famous for not being able to correctly import the SVG files that it created.

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