Adobe releases beta of Adobe Studio

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Today Adobe is releasing a beta version of Adobe Studio, a design network where the creative community can connect and collaborate on the Web.

Based on market research, Adobe identified two main areas of need for creative professionals, Mel Badgett, director of product marketing for Adobe Studio, told MacCentral. One was an online community area where creative professionals could connect. The other was a cost-effective way for them to leverage the unique capabilities of the Internet to collaborate. The result: the free (up to a point, anyway) Adobe Studio.

"It's a free community area that offers design-related content intended to inspire, instruct and foster interaction among creative professionals and their peers," Badgett said. "It's targeted to Web, print and digital video professionals, and we think that any creative professional will find value in the free content and networking opportunities available on Adobe Studio."

It will offer creative professionals a set of resources for learning new techniques, accessing design information, exploring partner services, exhibiting work and sharing opinions with peers and industry experts. The design-related content is free. It includes:

  • Galleries: Adobe Studio's visual galleries explore the work of leading designers, filmmakers and photographers from around the world.
  • Features: Adobe Studio profiles the people and technologies that "push the limits of digital design."
  • Tutorials: Adobe Studio offers an archive of instructional content -- including step-by-step and video tutorials -- for Web, print, digital video and digital imaging professionals.
  • Center Stage: Creative professionals can submit their work for critique by award-winning designers or join in the discussion of others' work.
  • Adobe Xchange: Users can browse and swap a collection of design and production tools, including actions, templates, stock art and plug-ins.
  • ePortfolios: Creative types can showcase their work and market their services in a setting that offers direct links to their own Web site. Potential clients can search through ePortfolios to find writers, multimedia directors, Web designers, graphic artists, photographers and other creative talent.
  • Resources: Adobe Studio can help match people with available jobs. It can help them find print and publishing resources online. And it can act as a hub of info for things such as tracking down stock photography on the Internet.
  • Adobe Studio also ties in with Adobe DesignTeam, an extra service that's designed to offer a flexible online collaboration environment, Badgett said. Users of this subscription-based service can collaborate and communicate on projects with team members, clients and third party service providers.

    "Communicating and collaborating on projects with colleagues and clients can pose a challenge, especially if they live and work in different places," Badgett said. "But creative professionals need to take advantage of the collaborative nature of the Web to stay competitive. However, there's often a lack of time or resources to invest in complex Web-based project management systems. Adobe DesignTeam addresses the needs of these creative professionals by providing scalable subscription-based services that make it possible to collaborate online without the need for substantial up-front IT investments or ongoing maintenance."

    Adobe DesignTeam is comprised of three modules: Projects, Review and Deliver. "Projects" helps users get organized with version control and file sharing tools. In the project space, users can share files and control versions of files. Teams of people, typically three or more, come into the project environment and can work, one at a time, on a file.

    "Only those with authorized access can work on a file; a password is required," Badgett said. "When developing the project management features, we found that creative professionals, for the most part, aren't really structured and, in fact, don't want a lot of structure. So we implemented DesignTeam in a way that its capabilities are not in the way of doing work."

    "Review" enables users to host secure, collaborative online review sessions. It automates the review of Web or print files and materials. Among the many Review features is the ability to convert a document into PDF format.

    "If you do so, the comments are aggregated into one simply form, comments are edited directly into the materials, and the materials are delivered with full fidelity," Badgett said.

    "Deliver" lets users securely and reliably distribute files to clients and colleagues, he added. This feature was designed to address increasing concern over how confidential information can be accessed.

    Monthly subscription prices are based on the size of the project team and the amount of disk space used. Users can choose a level of service that seems right for them, then upgrade if they need to. Pricing starts at a monthly subscription rate of US$39.95 per invited workgroup member, with discounts offered for team subscriptions. This gets you 100MB of space to use. You can buy additional space for $12.50 per 100MB. Regardless of the subscription level chosen, users may invite any number of clients and other contributors to participate in online reviews of project files.

    Alas, subscriptions to Adobe DesignTeam are currently available only to customers in the United States and Canada. Users outside North America can participate in projects if they are invited by a subscriber, but only subscribers can initiate projects. However, anyone, anywhere can use Adobe Studio. And Adobe says it will check out the demand for and feasibility of offering the DesignTeam services to regions other than the U.S. and Canada.

    "Users of Adobe DesignTeam can spend more time on creative work and less time on mundane administrative tasks," Badgett said. "Adobe DesignTeam provides a professional environment to invite and interact with clients. And because it's a hosted online service, there's no infrastructure to set up, maintain or support."

    To keep user data protected and private, security features have been built into Adobe Studio and Adobe DesignTeam, Badgett said. Files and data are protected by 56 or 128-bit SSL encryption while being sent over the Internet. Every Adobe DesignTeam subscriber has a unique ID and password with an authenticated e-mail address, so unauthorized users cannot access data, files, reviews or deliveries, Badgett said.

    The Adobe data center facility is protected round the clock by physical security and video surveillance, he added. All servers are locked in security cages. And backup generator power is used to ensure that all security systems will keep running during local power outages.

    Adobe Studio and DesignTeam are part of Adobe's networking publishing initiative, which has the goals of "making visually rich, personalized content reliably available anytime, anywhere, on any device." Badgett said Studio and DesignTeam are two of the first specific examples of what networking publishing can accomplish.

    "Customers think the idea of networking publishing sounds good, but they want to know what it means, specifically," Badgett said. "Now they can see. From a user perspective, network publishing is a nice concept and we, as a company, need to drive specifics. This is a start and we'll be doing more over time. On the other hand, our partners are excited about this next phase of product creation management and delivery. And they, too, have things in the works that are very exciting."

    Adobe Studio and DesignTeam will be integrated with Adobe's line of other products (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, etc.). Badgett said that it would help complement these products and tie them together. However, applications from other companies, such as Quark and FreeHand, can also be used with the new Adobe initiatives.

    Since Studio and DesignTeam are Web based, they're platform independent. For Mac users, Adobe recommends using Mac OS 9.x or greater, Internet Explorer 5.x or higher, or Netscape 4.7.5 or better.

    The Adobe Studio public beta is available today. DesignTeam subscriptions will begin in mid-October, though a 30-day free trial period will be available through the Adobe online store.

    This story, "Adobe releases beta of Adobe Studio" was originally published by PCWorld.

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