Version Cue CS3

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Whether you’re in a workgroup or by yourself, Adobe wants you to use Version Cue, its server-based collaboration and version-management system. Version Cue is included in Adobe CS3’s Design Standard and Premium editions, Web Standard and Premium editions, and its Master Collection. Version Cue lets you save and manage versions of documents so you can easily see previous changes, and even revert to an earlier version.

Version Cue underwent significant changes in its CS2 incarnation to overcome an unintuitive design. The newest Version Cue looks and acts nearly the same as the CS2 version, so users may not notice several key enhancements under the hood.

When you save versions of your files, Version Cue now saves just the changes, not the entire file; this significantly reduces the amount of disk space you need to consume and the network bandwidth you need to use. (Backup software uses the same differential-file concept.) One thing that’s lost from this new approach is the ability to back up individual project version files via Version Cue’s preference pane in OS X’s System Preferences (you can still back up entire projects or just the latest version of a project via the Web-based administration console), but this technology trade-off was a good decision given the advantages of differential version files. While you can no longer export all the content and versions at once, a free Version Cue Access Utility allows IT people to set up automated scripts to batch export their content out of projects. This utility is especially useful to for team members who do not have Version Cue.

Enterprise workgroups will welcome the utility’s new support for LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) user permissions profiles and the ability to modify Version Cue’s interface and capabilities via Java programs. Both help adapt Version Cue to internal workgroup standards, which govern, for example, who can access or modify a particular file.

One change you may notice is that the Alternates feature—the ability to save alternate versions of a particular file—is gone. That’s good, because the feature was hard to understand, and you could easily accomplish the same goal by saving a file to a new name. That’s not to be confused with the utility’s versioning feature, which is intact.

Adobe also has transferred some of Version Cue’s functionality—such as restoring files— from the Tools menu (in the Open and Save dialogs) to Bridge’s Tools pull-down menu (on the Menu bar). That makes sense. You can also access those moved Version Cue commands by control clicking files from within CS3 applications’ Version Cue-enabled Open and Save dialogs. Some Mac users, and especially CS3 users who don't work primarily in Photoshop, may not think to use contextual menus this way, and some might get confused because the menu options change based on the selected item.

By focusing mostly on under-the-hood changes for Version Cue CS3, Adobe has done a good job of keeping the user experience essentially unchanged for most people. That lets you focus attention on using the new and enhanced functionality across the Creative Suite, not on relearning the interface. Users gain the benefits of smaller version-file sizes while larger organizations that have custom workflows will be able to integrate Version Cue more easily.

[ Former Macworld editor Galen Gruman has written and coauthored many books on InDesign, PageMaker, and QuarkXPress. ]

Version Cue CS3 lets you save files as versions, so you can revert to earlier incarnations of your work. These files are now much smaller than in the past.
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