Adobe unveils Creative Suite 2

Adobe Systems Inc. on Monday announced Creative Suite 2 (CS2), the next generation of the San Jose, Calif.-based company's design environment. The suite includes new versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, GoLive and Version Cue, as well as the recently released Acrobat 7.0 Professional. CS2 will also see the introduction of Adobe Bridge, an enhanced and rewritten file browser and Adobe Stock Photos.

CS2 -- It's all about integration

With a focus on integration, Adobe has made many improvements to its suite of applications allowing them to interact in more advantageous ways for the user. Photoshop users that found File Browser to be a useful tool will notice that it is no longer in the application -- instead Adobe created a new application called Adobe Bridge, which is available across the suite of products.

"Creative pros are having to deliver in so many different ways these days, one tool can't do it all. Dropping the barriers between applications is really important," Caleb Belohlavek, group product manager for Creative Suite, told MacCentral.

Adobe Bridge acts as the hub for Creative Suite. Bridge is a visual file browser that lets users easily browse, organize and process design assets within the Creative Suite 2 components. With Bridge you can preview multi-page PDF files, drag and drop from floating Compact Mode windows, process images with built-in Camera Raw 3.0, edit and search for Adobe XMP metadata and track assets managed in Version Cue CS2.

Bridge includes four file views -- Thumbnail, Filmstrip, Detailed and Versions and Alternatives -- as well as links to recently opened files and folders, tips and tricks, saved file groups, an RSS reader and access to color management settings. In addition, Bridge shows three panes on the left-hand for navigation, an image preview and metadata.

Color management settings can be set globally within Bridge so the colors you see in one application will be the same across the suite. While a useful feature, Adobe said it is not meant to replace more extensive color management solutions.

"Color management has its complexities -- this is not the Holy Grail, but it will help users with issues they have had in the past," said Ginna Baldassarre, senior product manager for Creative Suite.

Saved file groups allow you to save all open documents across the CS2 suite of applications into one file group, making it easier to open everything again if you have to leave your computer for a while. Simply clicking on the file group will open all documents and applications.

Adobe Stock Photos

The last link available from Bridge is to a new service called Adobe Stock Photos, a service that simplifies the purchase and management of stock imagery. Adobe has partnered with Photodisc by Getty Images; Comstock Images by Jupitermedia; Digital Vision; imageshop royalty free by zefaimages; and amana to bring the service to customers.

"We have over 230,000 images all available from one interface and one account," said Belohlavek. "We think this is going to be a big win for us."

If you need an image for an InDesign project, you can switch to Bridge and search for the image using a category or keyword. Once you find the image you want, you can download low-resolution comps into your designs, all without leaving the CS2 environment.

All Adobe Stock Photos royalty-free images are covered under one Adobe license agreement, which takes the guesswork out of complying with licenses associated with the use of royalty-free stock images, according to Adobe.

Since Adobe tracks the photos you use in your documents there is no danger of using a stock a image without purchasing it first. If, for example, you downloaded a comp into InDesign, CS2 will warn you before sending it out that there is an image in the document that has not been purchased.

Photoshop -- The Vanishing Point

Adobe's flagship product, Photoshop, includes several useful enhancements, but it has also gained Vanishing Point, one of the coolest timesaving tools I have seen for some time. Vanishing Point allows users to clone, paint and transform image objects while retaining visual perspective.

"Vanishing Point also allows you to remove objects from images much easier than before with any of the tools in Photoshop," said Baldassarre.

As part of the Vanishing Point filter, Adobe also included a "Healing" function that can be turned on to smooth out any rough edges on the work you are doing.

Photoshop also includes an enhanced Spot Healing Brush, for handling common photographic problems such as blemishes, red-eye, noise, blurring and lens distortion.

Smart Objects allow users to scale and transform images and vector illustrations without losing image quality -- as well as create linked duplicates of embedded graphics -- so that a single edit updates across multiple iterations.

Now integrated with Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw 3.0 allows settings for multiple raw files to be simultaneously modified. In addition, batch processing of raw files to JPEG, TIFF, DNG or PSD formats can now be done in the background without launching the main Photoshop executable, according to Adobe. Integrated, non-destructive cropping and straightening controls allow raw files to be prepared for final output.

Illustrator ... Live

In addition to tighter integration with Photoshop, new file formats and an enhanced interface, Illustrator has gained two new tools: Live Trace and Live Paint.

Live Trace converts scans of hand-drawn sketches, digital photos and bitmap images into fully editable and scaleable Illustrator artwork. Live Trace includes 13 sets of tracing options optimized for different types of raster art, such as color and grayscale images, hand-drawn sketches, detailed illustrations, comic art, inked drawings, technical drawings, black-and-white-logos and type.

Live Paint enables users to color artwork without having to create and layer objects to carry color. To paint a piece of artwork, you just need to convert it to Live Paint objects and then use Live Paint to color whatever you want.

Live Paint uses two new object definitions -- regions and edges. Regions and edges are like Illustrator fills and strokes, except that they exist in a single-layer world: where two edges intersect, additional edges are created; where two regions overlap, a third region is created. As a result, what looks like a paintable edge or region is a paintable edge or region -- what you see on screen is what you get when you apply color.

Illustrator also provides tighter integration with Photoshop CS2 through expanded support for Photoshop layer compositions and direct access to Filters and Effects. Illustrator enables you to open a Photoshop file containing layer comps, then preview and select which comps to import. You can choose which layer comps are visible whether the Photoshop file is opened, linked or embedded.

GoLive goes Mobile

Like the other Creative Suite applications, Adobe GoLive features tighter integration with the other components in CS2. Adobe is also expanding their Web authoring tool in a couple of directions.

"There are three things the the GoLive team were really striving for: Mobile, integration and improving visual CSS," said Baldassarre.

As the mobile market continues to grow worldwide, Adobe believes they are in a unique position to deliver content for those devices. GoLive's mobile authoring tools are based on open standards to support mobile layout (CSS, XHTML), multimedia and interactivity (SVG, SVG-T), and video (3GPP, MPEG-4) for mobile devices.

"There are over 550 million phones and wireless devices out there right now -- that number is expected to grow to 2 billion by 2008," said Belohlavek. "People are expecting to have rich experience on their mobile devices and it's a natural extension for Adobe to help create content for these devices."

GoLive also includes device emulation for previewing content for Sony Ericsson and Nokia devices -- it is extensible to support other manufacturer handsets, as well.

With Visual CSS Authoring, Golive enables users to drag and drop prebuilt, extensible CSS block objects onto Web pages to build liquid CSS designs. In addition, the new Layer and Grid Text Box tools enable designers to place and size CSS-based layers and text boxes, while the enhanced Layout Grid, Layout Text Box, and Layer objects all produce CSS by default.

Other CSS enhancements include an improved CSS Editor, which now enables you to view the source code and check syntax as you edit CSS style sheets; automatic conversion of HTML styles to CSS styles; a default CSS stylesheet to apply to all new files created; and easier CSS site management with new support for tracking and modifying CSS usage globally through the Site Management window and the In & Out Links palette.

InDesign -- just a snippet

Adobe InDesign has been battling with Quark XPress for five years for the lucrative design and layout communities' heart and wallets. To date it's been a feature for feature battle between the two applications, but Adobe's Belohlavek says that will evolve into how the applications integrate into broader solutions.

Adobe says designers can create more consistent designs by saving graphic, text, and frame-level attributes as Object Styles, which are easy to apply and globally update. Exporting objects with the new InDesign snippets features enables users to share or repurpose live InDesign content and layouts from part of a page.

To create a snippet, you need to select the InDesign items you want to re-use and then export them or drag and drop them into the Adobe Bridge, onto your desktop, into the Library palette or into an email message to send to someone. InDesign will then create a snippet file with a thumbnail preview. When you drag or place it back into a document, the original objects you selected reappear in the same relative position on the page.

Availability and Pricing

Creative Suite will be available in two versions -- Standard and Premium. The Standard version includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Adobe Bridge, Adobe Stock Photos and Version Cue. The Premium Edition includes the same applications, but also includes GoLive and Acrobat 7.0 Professional.

Adobe Creative Suite 2 requires Mac OS X version 10.2.8 through 10.3.8 and Java Runtime Environment 1.4.1. CS2 will begin shipping in May to customers in the United States and Canada; international versions are expected to begin shipping in late May and early June.

Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium Edition will cost US$1,199; Creative Suite 2 Standard Edition will cost $899. Upgrade pricing will be available for customers of Adobe Creative Suite and Adobe Photoshop.

This story, "Adobe unveils Creative Suite 2" was originally published by PCWorld.

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