The end is nigh for FreeHand MX, the venerable vector-based illustration app that became an Adobe property when Adobe acquired Macromedia in 2005. Adobe is telling FreeHand MX users that their upgrade path is to use the recently-released Illustrator CS3 instead.

FreeHand, originally created by Altsys and licensed to Aldus, was one of the first major illustration software packages for the Macintosh. Complemented by Aldus' page layout software PageMaker, the software is credited by many as helping to popularize the Macintosh as the premiere platform for desktop publishing. Aldus eventually would be acquired by Adobe, and rights to FreeHand eventually bounced back to Macromedia, which acquired Altsys in 1995.

Adobe product manager John Nack delivered the news on his own blog.

"After a long and storied career, Adobe (neé Altsys, Aldus, and Macromedia) FreeHand has reached the end of its development road. The application has not been revised since Macromedia released MX nearly four years ago, after which the company removed FreeHand from the Studio product line," wrote Nack.

Adobe won't developer or deliver any new features for FreeHand, nor will it deliver patches or updates for new operating systems or hardware, wrote Nack, which dashes the hopes of ardent FreeHand enthusiasts that they might one day see a version that runs natively on Intel-based Macs. Adobe will continue to sell FreeHand MX and will offer support, he added.

To help ease the transition, Adobe has created a FAQ and is offering a special upgrade path to Illustrator CS3, for US$199. Nack also offered links to other materials to help FreeHand customers along the way.