Adobe unveils CS4 suite

Adobe on Tuesday will unveil Creative Suite 4 (CS4), the latest update to the its suite of high-end applications for print, Web, and video professionals. Available in October, the suite consists of 13 products like Photoshop and Illustrator, 14 integrated technologies like Bridge and Version Cue, and seven services like Acrobat.com.

One of the biggest changes users will notice right away is the new tabbed interface for applications in CS4. Adobe has given all of its applications the ability to use tabs, so you can have multiple tabs open at the same time, but still be in one window.

Files and objects can be shared across tabs by clicking and dragging them and holding them on a new tab. Of course, if you prefer the multiple window interface of the old Adobe products, you can still use that too.

Major standalone products released as part of CS4 include Photoshop, Photoshop Extended, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, After Effects, and Adobe Premiere.

Adobe's new tabbed interface is found throughout CS4.
Adobe's new tabbed interface is found throughout CS4.

If there is a consistent theme in Creative Suite 4, it’s integration. Adobe integrated its Flash multimedia application across the CS4 applications. The company also focused on integrating common functions in other apps, too, as part of an effort to make pro users more efficient.

“One of the things we are really committed to is helping customers express their ideas,” Chad Siegel, group product manager for Adobe Creative Solutions, said. “We aren’t just about providing the tools, we are about making a platform to help them express themselves in engaging ways.”

Trying to come up with solutions to challenges for one product the size of Photoshop is a daunting task for any company, but coming up with solutions for eight or 10 products can seem almost impossible.

Siegel said Adobe spent a lot of time with its customers, watching what they were doing on a daily basis. Isolating the workflow issues of a variety of pro users helped the company narrow the focus of where CS4 needed to go.

According to Siegel, Adobe focused on four key challenges across the suite of applications—effective collaboration between designers, developers, specialists within workflows, creative pros and clients; support for mobile devices and new media; the embrace of new media; and tracking, managing, automating and deriving value from assets.

To allow collaboration Adobe now offers a set of online services on Acrobat.com to allow designers and clients to create and share documents. Groups can also use Adobe ConnectNow to meet live over the Web and share a computer screen. This gives designers the opportunity to get immediate feedback and make any necessary changes to a design without sending documents to clients and waiting for them to be returned.

Focusing on the mobile platform, applications across the suite are now more tightly integrated with Adobe Flash, which allows designers to use the SWF format for mobile devices.

Being able to use new media was a major factor for many companies that Adobe spoke with since the last Creative Suite release. When building the new video tools, for example, Adobe had to consider that while broadcast revenue is an understandable business model, businesses are looking beyond that now. To help them, Adobe worked to help them understand their assets and how they could be used.

CS4 includes an expanded version of Dynamic Link in the Production Premium suite that enables users to move content between After Effects CS4, Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, Soundbooth, and Encore, so updates can be seen instantly without rendering.

Other new tools like Photoshop’s Content-Aware Scaling automatically recomposes an image as it is resized, preserving vital areas as it adapts to new dimensions.

Adobe made some big changes with sharing and collaboration in CS4. Adobe ConnectNow, can be accessed from InDesign CS4, Illustrator CS4, Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop Extended CS4, Flash CS4 Professional, Dreamweaver CS4, Fireworks CS4, and Acrobat 9 Pro, allowing real-time collaboration with two colleagues or clients.

Adobe Kuler, a Web-hosted application for generating color themes, is now accessible from within InDesign CS4, Illustrator CS4, Photoshop CS4, Photoshop Extended CS4, Flash CS4 and Fireworks CS4, and can be shared by designers. Kuler is available for owners of the individual applications or the suites.

Adobe Creative Suite 4 will be available in October. Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium will cost $1799 and includes InDesign, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Flash Professional and Fireworks; Adobe Creative Suite 4 Web Premium will be $1699 and includes Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Fireworks, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Soundbooth, Acrobat and Contribute; and Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium is $1699 and includes After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Flash Professional, Soundbooth, OnLocation and Encore.

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection costs $2499 and includes InDesign, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Fireworks, Contribute, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Soundbooth, OnLocation and Encore.

Adobe will offer tiered upgrade pricing from previous versions depending on the applications you own. Details of the upgrades are available from Adobe’s Web site.

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