I just picked up a great new plugin for Illustrator, Zoom to Selection (Mac only) from the Adobe Illustrator plugin coder known cryptically as Worker 72a. Zoom to Selection does exactly as it’s name implies – allows one to zoom (maginify) in and out of an Illustrator document using the currently selected object as the centering point of the zoom.
No doubt many InDesign users are familiar with this – it’s been a feature since at least CS1 – and find it disconcerting after working in InDesign for some time to go back to Illustrator and not have the same functionality. It’s a Creative Suite, right? (Mordy Golding over at the great Real World Illustrator blog has some insight into how Illustrator features are included in new versions, and discusses why certain features are not implemented across the applications).
Anyways, it hardly matters, because for a measly five bucks (seven bucks for the CS3 version), you can have this functionality for Illustrator! It works as you’d expect: select an object, then use the new keyboard shortcuts Command (Apple key)-Option and either the minus or plus keys to zoom out and in using the selected object as the centering point for the zoom. And an added bonus is the Apple-Option-Zero key shortcut, which zooms the selected object to fit the screen, similar to how the Apple-Zero zoom will zoom to the artboard dimensions. Awesome!
Not only does it work perfectly, but I like how Worker 72a chose the similar keyboard commands, modified with the option key, to map these new features. Zero learning curve. Well, I take that back – there is one learning curve: remembering that you now have this functionality! I catch myself still using muscle memory combo of the standard zoom keyboard shortcuts and a carpal tunnel-rific thumb tap on the spacebar, then dragging to center as I zoom. Even explaining how to do it the standard way is a pain in the mouse.
This is a must-have plugin for Illustrator, and a CS3 version is ready to go for all you lucky son-of-a-guns with your hands already on the new stuff. There are lots of other great plugins available as well, for all sorts of general and specific functions (although the availability varies from version to version). But for $5 and some serious time-saving, productivity-enhancing awesomeness, Zoom to Selection is a must-have.