Pros and cons to .AI vs. .EPS file formats in 2017?

I’ve heard “EPS is a dying format” so many times my brain completes the sentence every time I hear “EPS”…yet whenever I research the issue, I can only find posts about why it’s a dying format in 2012, 2008, 2002, etc. (And yet it seems to have not died yet, imagine that.) I am not using software from 5 years ago and the quirks and limitations of Illustrator CS2 or whatever are irrelevant to me.

As a marketing designer, I often have to deal a lot with sponsor logos that go onto printed collateral. I repeat myself ad nauseam about what kind of file format I want them in, and the short answer I tell people is “EPS with all text converted to outlines.” (It never seems to be designers giving specs directly to other designers, but designers giving specs to marketers who are giving specs to other marketers who are MAYBE giving the specs to their designers, and trying to get the message distorted as little as possible in transit while also trying to make it comprehensible to the lowest common denominator.)

I specify EPS because 1. it seems to be the answer most likely to get me an actual vector file with nothing extraneous in it, and 2. when placing an EPS into InDesign, InDesign places the object with the bounds conformed to the edges of the artwork, not the edges of the canvas. As far as I can tell, this has to do with the default settings for saving EPS and AI files and nothing to do with how I’m placing it, but it’s important to me for managing spacing and alignment.

So what I’m wondering is if EPS really is inferior to AI for reasons I haven’t noticed yet that are still relevant in 2017 and there’s some good reason why I shouldn’t be asking for EPS, or if all this “EPS is a dying format” dogma is something that was more pertinent in previous versions of the Adobe software?

P.S. I refuse to ask for a PDF, as getting an actual vector in one seems to be a complete coin toss, and trying to explain to marketers how a PDF can be either a vector OR a raster image (“What’s a raster image??”) is a complete nightmare.


Realize that “EPS is dead” comment customarily comes from people in the industry 5 – 10 years or more. There was a time when EPS was king and everything as an EPS was better – even straight raster images, due to color profile embedding and clipping paths. That hasn’t been true since the 90s or 2000s however.

Note that EPS is just a “wrapper” and can absolutely contain raster images. Requesting and EPS does not mean there is no raster data in the file.

EPS may not be quite dead….. But it is kind of a “zombie” format with very specific uses today. Realize today, the EPS format offers nothing really unique in itself, except how the “wrapper” is written (i.e. compatibility). There’s nothing one can do inside an EPS that can’t be done in a PDF for example. So the EPS format generally comes down to a preference more than anything.

As you’ve discovered… transferability, inter-application exchanges, and legacy software are really the only reasons vector EPS is still a viable choice at times. And straight raster EPS files are pointless in today’s world and truly are dead as a format.

  • Some applications (Inkscape, Sketch, etc) can’t write .ai files. Its a proprietary format. But they can write EPS files. So you aren’t restricted to only using Adobe product by using EPS files.

  • The converse is also true.. not every application out there can utilize PDF or .ai files. Embroidery machines and other industry-specific software has never been concerned with anything beyond EPS. And I don’t know about more recent versions of QuarkXPress, but last I looked it wanted EPS files as well, not allowing import of .ai files.

  • EPS files kill alpha transparency for the most part. If there’s a concern that subtle transparency is used in a design, requesting an EPS file generally will take care of that. There’s no “blending modes” in an EPS and alpha transparency is flattened to 1 bit – either “on” or “off”. This in itself can show the inexperienced a great deal about how files need to appear for reproduction.

With all this posted, for offices working among themselves, sharing files in their own building, among their own workers, and either sending PDFX-1a files to press or creating screen images, EPS really is a dead format. It is only when unknown workers will be touching files that EPS even enters the mind. There’s zero reason to send an EPS file to an Illustrator user if you know the version to save to. There’s no reason to send an EPS when a PDF is more staple, contains transparency, type hinting, live text, etc. unless someone states they need or require an EPS.

The only reason to use an EPS today is if a file is leaving your office and an EPS has been requested, or if you simply don’t know what someone will send you so requesting and EPS circumvents some common issues with other formats.

Source : Link , Question Author : kduz , Answer Author : Scott

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