Adobe unveils Creative Suite

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Adobe Systems Inc. on Monday announced the Adobe Creative Suite (CS), which includes updates to the company's professional Web, publishing and creative applications. The Creative Suite, which includes Adobe Photoshop CS with Adobe ImageReady CS, Adobe Illustrator CS, Adobe InDesign CS, Adobe GoLive CS and Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Professional, includes many new features to all of the applications and tighter integration between the products.

MacCentral spent some time at Adobe's San Jose headquarters recently to discuss the new products and the changes customers could expect to see when they were released.

Adobe says their new suite will give their users a level of productivity that they could not have achieved with previous versions of the applications. This is due, in part, to features added in individual applications, Version Cue (a new file manager) and a new level of integration between each of the programs included in the Creative Suite.

Version Cue

Adobe describes Version Cue as the "glue that holds the components of the Adobe Creative Suite together." Version Cue keeps track of changes and iterations of files, making it easier to find what you need whether you work solo or as part of a team. Version Cue is built-in to the Creative Suite environment, so you never have to leave the Adobe applications to access a file or to search on file information version comments, date, author or keyword.

Version Cue enhances the Open/Save dialog boxes found in Mac OS X allowing users to view a network workspace or local files with preview thumbnails. Version Cue saves all files in a single workspace and makes them available to everyone in a workgroup or team. When you access a file, a working copy is stored on your hard drive until you save a version back to the workspace. If someone else opens the file you’re using, Version Cue displays an "in use" message noting the person that is currently using the file and guides users to minimize editing conflicts and to preserve all versions of the file, helping groups ensure that everyone uses the correct versions of files. Permissions can also be set to provide restrictions if needed.

Adobe Photoshop CS

Photoshop CS, perhaps one of the creative industry's most important applications, has been updated with features for the general Photoshop and ImageReady user, but this release also has features that appeal to different segments of the creative markets. Specifically, Photoshop and ImageReady include new features or enhancements for photographers, graphic designers and Web professionals.

Photoshop CS contains many productivity enhancements such as an improved File Browser; the ability to create, edit and save keyboard shortcuts for menu items, tools and palette commands; search, edit and customize file metadata; track you edits with the History Log, which automatically tracks your editing steps and the time spent on each file for billing purposes; enhanced scripting using custom or new built-in scripts; improved color management; and more.

Photoshop allows photographers to control raw camera data with a new Camera Raw plug-in, which is incorporated directly into Photoshop CS. The Camera Raw plug-in features new color calibration controls, batch processing through the files browser and support for more digital cameras.

Photoshop CS sports a new feature called Shadow/Highlight Adjustment. Have you ever taken a picture that was overexposed or underexposed? Of course, Photoshop offers users ways to correct the image, but it is often time consuming even for the most skilled Photoshop user, especially if there are multiple images in different lighting situations that must be adjusted.

Shadow/Highlight Adjustment fixes the exposure problems while maintaining midtones. The tool features a default setting for a quick and easy fix and advanced settings for professionals that want a bit more control over their work.

Photoshop CS also allows 16-bit editing (all core Photoshop features are now available to 16-bit images including layers, filters, painting, text and shapes); match colors across layers and images; view histograms anytime; create lens blur effects; photomerge for automatic panoramas; and more.

Photoshop allows users to work with images up to 300,000 by 300,000 pixels, with up to 56 channels per file, giving graphic designers a huge workspace. You can now also work with nested layer sets, allowing users to organize images with up to five layers of nested layer sets -- these nested layers are preserved when exported to Illustrator CS.

Adobe also included some new features and enhancements for the Web professional. Many Web designers prefer to use Photoshop for their images, but Macromedia's Flash for different aspects of designing their Web sites. Photoshop CS users can now export directly to Flash with preserved vectors and dynamic text including embedded fonts. You can export each layer to its own Flash file, allowing each file to be opened in Flash as its own symbol, on its own layer.

Other enhancements targeted to the Web designer in Photoshop CS include a more flexible interface; variables for dynamic content; export layers to files; and better HTML output.

The Adobe Creative Suite is considered by Adobe to cater to the professional level designers, therefore Adobe Photoshop Elements will not be updated at this time. Considered a consumer level application, Elements will remain at its current version of 2.0 and will not adopt the CS moniker.

Adobe Illustrator CS

Not to be outdone, Adobe's Illustrator team worked with its customers to add many new features in the latest version of Illustrator. In addition to new effects, Illustrator features new type capabilities, better PDF support, tighter integration with Photoshop, improved performance and expanded print capabilities.

Previous users of Adobe Dimensions will recognize Illustrator's new 3D Effect -- in fact, Illustrator CS adds most of the functionality found in Adobe Dimensions. Although Dimensions is still available from Adobe, the company said they have no plans to update the product.

The 3D Effect is implemented as a "live effect," so changes you make to the original object apply to the 3D shape. Using the 3D Effect, you can transform type and other shapes you draw into 3D objects, and then rotate them and customize their lighting. The effect window provides a preview option that lets you immediately see any changes you make to an object.

Illustrator CS has also added the Scribble Effect, which is not new to some Adobe users, but this is the first time it makes it way to Illustrator users. The Scribble Effect basically takes a formal piece of artwork and gives it a more casual look and feel.

Adobe included 200 professionally designed, royalty-free templates, professional swatch and symbols libraries and more than 100 free OpenType fonts with Illustrator CS to make getting started with a project easier for users.

Adobe will introduce a redesigned type engine with Illustrator CS, inspired by innovations made with Adobe InDesign. Character and paragraph styles, support for the advanced layout features built into OpenType fonts, automatic ligatures, optical kerning and a whole new text composition engine are a few of the changes users will see with Illustrator CS.

Adobe included advanced support for PDF in Illustrator CS, including compatibility with Acrobat 6.0 and the Adobe PDF 1.5 format. This support will allow users to utilize the same compression options available in Adobe Acrobat, include printer's marks and bleeds in Adobe PDF files for proofing and more.

Tighter integration between Photoshop CS and Illustrator CS means users can now move layered files between the two applications and have the text remain editable, multiple spot channels can be imported and 16-bit color data can be converted to 8-bit on import.

Photoshop isn't the only application that Adobe focused on for better integration -- Illustrator CS also includes a "Save For Microsoft Office command," to save your graphics for PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and other Office files.

Adobe said that one of their top priorities was to improve the print experience for its users, making print jobs more reliable. Illustrator CS will include a streamlined interface and "next-generation support for fast and reliable printing, so you can easily produce consistent results every time you print."

Improved print support allows users to specify print-related options, from custom page sizes and printer’s marks to color management output profiles and transparency flattener presets, in a new Print dialog box, which consolidates functionality from the Page Setup and Separations Setup dialog boxes in earlier versions. You can also see a thumbnail view of your artwork in a new Print Preview pane and print oversized artwork on standard paper sizes with the new Fit to Page option.

Other changes in Illustrator CS allow users to save files as templates, which contain everything in the original file, including layers, styles and libraries; transparency flattener presets that ensure consistency when printing or exporting; support for SVG primitives; and richer scripting support that includes the ability to write scripts that control any aspect of printing.

Adobe GoLive CS

With the release of Adobe GoLive CS and the inclusion of the application in the CS bundle, Adobe makes a strong case for Web designers to take another look at the product. Tighter integration with other Adobe products and feature enhancements to GoLive make it an attractive package for Web designers.

GoLive CS continues to makes use of Smart Objects, giving users the ability to place native Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat files directly in the layout and site-management windows, automatically creating a compressed version of the file for use on the Web. GoLive also tracks changes made to the original file and updates the optimized version automatically.

Integration between InDesign and GoLive gives designers the ability to bring print pages to the Web more easily with a "Package for GoLive" feature in InDesign. This feature transfers all of a publication’s design and textual elements to GoLive, allowing you to convert image assets to Smart Objects and map textual tags to CSS styles.

For the new Web designer, or a pro user that wants to add pre-packaged elements to a Web page, Adobe will include 80 page layouts for e-commerce, commercial and Section 508-compliant Web sites. (Section 508 is legislation that requires Federal agencies' information technology to be accessible to disabled persons.) You can also one of the dozens of pre-made CSS styles, JavaScript functions and PHP applications included with GoLive CS.

With GoLive CS, you can now create parent-child relationships between palettes and organize them according to how you work. You can also save space by placing your palettes on either side of your workspace.

With the proliferation of CSS in Web sites, Adobe has built a new CSS editor in GoLive CS, which allows you to design your own styles using a visual interface. When you select a text block in Layout Mode, you can preview internal and external CSS styles in a pop-up window, and then apply them.

Other enhancements to GoLive CS include Quality, security, and accessibility testing with WebXACT; Code completion; Visual JavaScript authoring; Source Code Smart Selection; Team collaboration; XHTML support; MMS Support; and QuickTime interactive authoring.

Adobe InDesign CS

Adobe InDesign CS, the company's page-layout application designed to take on market leader Quark, has received "hundreds" of new features, according to Adobe. Enhancements to InDesign include a Story Editor, Workspace management, integration with Acrobat and Photoshop and more.

The Separations Preview palette enables print professionals -- as well as designers and production artists -- to preview and evaluate spot and process color separations onscreen, helping to eliminate mistakes before they show up on film or in press. The Separations Preview palette displays spot and process plates using either the default ink characteristics or the custom ones specified with the Ink Manager. Overprinting information, ink aliasing and other output settings are also included in separations preview.

The Story Editor introduces word processing-like functionality to InDesign, making it faster to edit and copyfit text in layout. The Story Editor provides an interactive view of the text in your InDesign CS layout, so any changes you enter in Story Editor appear in the layout as you type, making copyfitting text more efficient.

The Story Editor is also customizable, allowing the user to change font, font size, font color, line spacing and background color. The Story Editor comes with several built-in themes to mimic the look of ink on paper, amber monochrome, classic system or terminal.

In streamlining the workspace, Adobe added features to InDesign that can now be found across the CS product line including collapsible palettes. Collapsible palettes allow you to hide your palettes along the side of your window, freeing up workspace in the application. InDesign also has customizable, named workspaces, which can save palette positions and a Control palette that you can use to Format text and edit objects.

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