Another beta-like problem is with the Perspective tool, which simply doesn't work. It behaves just like the regular Pointer tool. That is, if you click and drag with it on an object, the object will move, but it will not change perspective. There's also a problem with support for Wacom tablets. Sometimes pressure sensitivity works fine, other times it's iffy. I might be applying all the pressure in the world, and Freehand doesn't acknowledge this until some arbitrary point in my stroke. Then with the Smudge tool, the problem is even more pronounced. It's pressure-sensitive only one way--downward. In other words, it's sensitive to decreasing pressure, but not increasing pressure, so the tip just keeps getting smaller as the tool is applied. Finally, there seem to be some odd problems with performance and memory. The Smudge tool, for instance, can only be applied twice before I get a message telling me that the process would create too many paths, which is strange because I checked and found that I could manually copy and paste far more paths than a shadow would create, and with no problems whatsoever. Over the course of my testing, I've also received several 'not enough memory' alerts, though I don't seem to be doing anything particularly memory-intensive, and, anyway, I have a gig of RAM dedicated to nothing but my system and Freehand. Even so, I'll receive a 'not enough memory' alert, then accomplish the same task successfully by changing the order in which I make my adjustments. In other words, this is either a false alert, or there's something that needs fixing in the code becaue I do indeed have enough memory for the task, regardless of what Freehand is telling me. There are performance oddities as well. For example, I can create complex extruded objects, which draw fairly quickly. But when I try to move them with the Pointer tool, I get the spinning lollipop, and it takes forever to the object to move. If I change the position of the extruded object numerically in the Object palette, there's no trouble. And I suppose that sums up my disappointments with this release of Freehand: inconsistencies in behavior and performance that should have been fixed before the program made its way to market. Now, granted, some of these problems might be Mac OS X-specific, but this is not the first native Mac OS X release of Freehand. This is the second full-version release for Mac OS X, and these problems need to go away via a free update in the very near future. For the last few years, vector illustration programs have been expanding inward rather than outward. Updates--even full version updates--have been focused on interface and workflow more than new features. It's like that with all mature applications. Nevertheless, Macromedia has found ways to expand the exceedingly mature Freehand significantly, not just with spurious new effects, but with truly powerful new features and tools that add to the program's capabilities without detracting from features that had already been present. If you're used to working with other vector illustration tools, Freehand MX will be a breeze to transition to. If you're used to previous releases of Freehand, you will definitely be pleased by the workflow changes that have gone into Freehand MX. As I say, I've used Adobe Illustrator a lot more than I've used Freehand in the past. But Freehand MX will change this for me. It can do things that Illustrator can't, and it offers improvements to the interface and workflow that make it possible for me to move back and forth between the two with very little mental adjustment. Plus, it's far more interoperable--especially with Adobe Photoshop 7--than previous releases. Nevertheless, there are some flaws with this program, discussed above. There are some remedial problems--like the Perspective tool issue--that can probably be solved by Macromedia's engineers in about a minute and some that might not be easily fixed, such as performance issues with complex extrusions. Regardless of the magnitude of these flaws, they need to be cleaned up right away. There's no reason these should have made it through the beta stage of this release. Still, to date, this is my favorite release of Freehand, and it will absolutely be making its way into my daily production. And the price is certainly right. Even before Macromedia cleans up the problems with this release, I give it a Strong Buy recommendation. Should the issues discussed above be resolved to my satisfaction, it's even possible that Freehand will replace Illustrator as my vector illustration tool of choice and may even become my official pick with a Must Buy recommendation in the vector illustration category. Hopefully the answer to this will be forthcoming soon. Macromedia Freehand MX is available now for $399 for the full version with upgrades starting at $99. It supports Mac OS 9, Mac OS X and Windows. For more information, visit Source. Looking for vector maps of Germany (Deutschland Vektorkarten) for Adobe Illustrator?."