Art Directors Toolkit application: My thoughts…

Art Directors Toolkit, for those who aren’t aware of it, is a little application that is part of the bundled software that ships with every Mac. At least I think it ships with every Mac computer; it’s been on every Mac I’ve ever purchased or worked on.

ArtDirectors Toolkit 4 - screen grab
ArtDirectors Toolkit 4 - screen grab

This is a snapshot of what it looks like.

Of all the agencies I’ve worked for and all the Art Directors that I know and work with, I’ve never known one of them to actually use this application. Most of the features this app has can be found within the primary applications we all use, like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, so why would anyone open up yet another application on top of the usual suspects that are eating up everyone’s RAM all day long? Additionally, the typical Art Director doesn’t spend much time exploring the folders on their machines just to see what’s in there, or curiously opening up programs to see what they are and what they do. So ADT is just another free, bundled application installed on Macs everywhere just taking up space.

I’m curious. I explore every folder on my machine. I open and run every application because I have to know what it is! Maybe it does something really cool and useful. Why would they install a bunch of totally useless apps on every Mac shipped?

Art Directors Toolkit is one of those apps that I found while exploring one day several years ago. I opened it, played with it, and found that it had some interesting features, but they weren’t enough to make it one of the apps that I use every day and can’t live without so it was closed and never seen again… until the next major upgrade. I’ve repeated this process through several generations of Mac computers and operating systems, until about a month ago. I was going through my Applications folder cleaning it out, backing up all of my older versions of applications to disk and tossing the useless stuff. Then I came across ADT4 again. I opened it, played with it for a few minutes and like every other time was about to quit, but found something that made me think. The Ruler. I’ve played with it before, but this time I just happened to be working on my website and needed to know how much space I had in a column between two Divs, and I thought about the Ruler. Perfect! The Ruler feature is pretty cool for several reasons: it’s “L” shaped, so it measures X and Y coordinates, but also calculates the angle between the two. You can set it units to any measurement; inches, centimeters, pixels, etc., and you can change it’s orientation so that the corner of X and Y is Upper Left or Right, or in the Lower Left or Right corner. You simply drag the ends of the ruler out to get the measurement, which works great when working on a website as it allows you to accurately measure any area on a page. It floats above all other applications so the Ruler is always visible, but you can change it’s appearance as well making it as noticable or as unobtrusive as you wish, and you can even change the opacity so that you can see what you’re working on right through it. Pretty cool!

ADT has a few other features that come in handy on occassion also. It will figure out proportions, scaling percentages and unit conversions. You can store color swatches, mix and blend colors and work with all the color modes to get accurate numbers, which is another great feature for website work. If you need to sample a color from one application and use it in another, ADT makes it easy to do so across apps. ADT also has it’s own little Application Launcher and Folder Drawer where you can store your favorite programs or directories and access them with a click all from within ADT. That is a feature of the newest version 5, however.

It was working on a website that got me reaquainted with Art Directors Toolkit and for that it proved to be very useful. Their version checker told me that there was a newer version available so I downloaded and installed it. Even better! This new version is V5 and has the launcher feature as well as some color swatch features that version 4, which ships with all Macs, doesn’t have. I was very happy with the latest release and I found myself using it every day. Things were great.

Then I booted up my machine one day last week and went to Launch ADT 5 while working on another website only to get a message telling me the demo expired and I needed to purchase a license. Bummed out, disappointed and broke, I was forced to go back to working with ADT4, the one that came with my MacPro. I wasn’t as happy, I was missing some features that I had gotten used to, not to mention all the color swatch groups that I had saved which I now had no access to, and every time I launched ADT4 it opens with it’s default settings, unlike V5 which saves your prefs and settings. I checked on the price of the update and it’s $40 that I don’t have, so resigned myself to working with the old version.

Contact Tech Support Page
Contact Tech Support Page

A couple days went by and I had finally come to terms with it, when upon launching the old free version 4 I got the message telling me my frickin’ demo had expired and I need to purchase a license!! Moving way beyond disappointment into the violent rage I experience every time I get ripped off and scammed, I contacted them to find out what to do about getting the old version working again or if there was an upgrade price to get the new one. A few days went by and no response. I read through their license agreement to make sure I wasn’t missing something again, and found that to get the old version working, I have two choices: I need to either reinstall my original operating system, which is Tiger – several OS versions back – and of course I’m running the latest Leopard so that’s not an option at all – OR – the preferred solution is to contact them and register my software, then they would supposedly send a license to me for the old version. So I contacted them again and tried to request a license. Their site reroutes you to the page where you purchase the new upgrade and asks for the damn license of your existing version, which I don’t have and can’t get because now I’m in an endless loop!!!!!!

So in the end I’ve concluded that if money wasn’t an issue, I would have purchased the upgrade. However, that was before my experience with their website and lack of customer support. Now I’m so pissed off that I seriously doubt I’ll ever use their software again. They will have to respond eventually and be really nice to me before I’ll even consider it, but based on my experience with contacting them and their Customer Support and Technical Support, I don’t think it’s anything I’ll have to deal with for a long, long time.

If anyone is curious or wish to help me extract Customer Support from these folks, the name of the company is Code Line Communications, and this is a link to their site: Art Directors Toolkit 5.

Go ahead, see for yourself. Send them an email and see how long it takes to get a response! Here’s their email address: Customer Support. I’m willing to bet we’ll have Bin Laden as our President before these folks take an interest in their customers.
Good Luck!

So you say (Your 2¢)