As good as Adobe products are there has always been a thriving market in plugins that extend the functionality of the basic product. Typically a plugin will either add a function the software doesn’t have or optimize and improve an existing function.
Where Illustrator is concerned some the best plugins currently available come from Astute Graphics. These guys are taking Illustrator functions and supercharging them!
Vectorscribe adds several useful tools to increase productivity. The Smart Remove Brush Tool quickly removes excess points from complex paths whilst retaining the original shape – if you’ve used Adobe’s Live Trace tool or the Expand Appearance function you’ll know how useful this can be. The Path Extend Tool is truly awesome – this tool allows you to extend a path based on where the curve is heading by simply dragging a handle to extend the path. Think of it like Predictive Text for vectors.
Phantasm is also worth a look – this adds Photoshop-style colour adjustment to Illustrator.
Their plugins are reasonably priced at £49 and they also sell bundles. There are plenty of demo videos on the website to check out.
If you spend a lot of time working in Illustrator some of these could be a real time saver.