Every graphics professional in the world knows the name Adobe, and every year they eagerly await the release of new upgrades to the Adobe line of software. This year is no exception with the release of Adobe Creative Suite 2 (I reviewed the Premium edition). This new suite of upgrades includes full versions of Adobe Photoshop CS2, Illustrator CS2, InDesign CS2, GoLive CS2, and Acrobat Professional 7. Also included are the new Adobe Bridge and Version Cue CS2.
The most prevalent theme to this new suite is integration and project management. It all starts with the new Adobe Bridge application. Adobe Bridge is now the central location for all your projects. You can browse, organize, and view all your project files as well as all your assets. In addition, you can easily drag and drop assets into project files. Adobe Bridge replaces the Photoshop file browser and is now integrated with InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and GoLive. Bridge allows you to automate labor-intensive tasks with batch processing via scripts and you can set and synchronize color settings for all CS2 components. This means no more having to deal with different color palettes in each application for a single project. Bridge also give you easy access to the new Adobe Version Cue CS2.
Version Cue provides the ability to create managed projects that include different versions of your project files. Different versions, however, are not different files. They are historical snapshots or versions of the same file, which makes dealing with all the different iterations of a design very easy. Version Cue provides an automated naming system and is fully integrated with Adobe Bridge. To quote from the included Design Guide, “Once you create a project and add files to it, all you need remember to do is use the Save a Version command, along with a few descriptive words as a version comment, each time you want to record a version of your design. After you create several versions of a file, you can use Adobe Bridge to view thumbnails of all versions along with comments and dates for each, and you can then access, manage, or delete the versions as required.”
Of course, there have been plenty of updates to all of the main applications of the suite as well. Photoshop CS2 provides new Vanishing Point, Multiple Layer Select, Smart Objects, and Custom Menu and Workspace features. My favorite is the new Smart Objects feature, which allows you to freely scale raster and vector objects without any loss of quality. The feature is also an extreme time saver because any edits to a single Smart Object are reflected automatically in any of its linked instances. Actually, I think something like this should have been added a long time ago, but I’m just glad its here now. Illustrator CS2 provides new Live Trace, Live Paint, and Custom Control Palette features. The Live Trace feature is absolutely wonderful, allowing you to automatically turn bitmap images into detailed vector graphics. This feature can provide some very creative starts to your design process.
When it comes to layout and publishing, Adobe has added a number of new features to InDesign and Acrobat. InDesign CS2 provides Object Styles, Layer Visibility options, and Snippets (reusable portions of text and graphics that can be easily grouped and then dragged and dropped into any page or even shared with other users). Acrobat 7 Professional provides new Commenting, PDF Correction Tools, and Enhanced Output Preview features. And for your Web publishing needs GoLive sports quite a few new enhancements. For those interested in developing for mobile platforms, GoLive provides Visual CSS Authoring for mobile devices, Native Support for XHTML, and Visual MMS Authoring. For other users there is Native PSD, AI, and PDF file support using Smart Objects. There is also support for Rich Standards-based Web design and development as well as Visual CSS authoring and editing.
The round out the package, Adobe provides comprehensive online help as well as a very nice Design Guide that discusses the processes involved in designing a CD cover, and magazine, a Website, as well as porting the designs to mobile devices and preparing files for print. In addition, a CD-ROM with 60 minutes of video tutorials is included, plus you can get an additional 60 minutes of tutorials upon registration. Once again, Adobe has shown that they can make a great suite of products even better. Everyone who already owns a previous version of this suite will want to upgrade. New users who need all their graphics, web, media organization, and print applications in one integrated suite should look no further. Small business users may find the price a bit high, but make no mistake… this is a professional package. It is not meant for individual consumers or those looking to just create a few flyers or small newspaper advertisements.