Adobe Creative Suite 3 preview

ImageHere comes Creative Suite 3! Adobe has been working on CS3 for the past 18 months, ever since Apple stunned the computing community by announcing that Macintosh computers would switch to Intel chips. Additionally, Adobe acquired its competitor Macromedia in 2005, which left many wondering what would happen to products like FreeHand and Flash. Well, when Adobe releases CS3, all will be revealed.

First, a bit of history: years before Photoshop debuted, Adobe Illustrator competed with Aldus FreeHand. Aldus were the makers of PageMaker, which, along with Apple’s LaserWriter and Adobe’s PostScript, spawned the desktop publishing revolution. Adobe acquired Aldus in 1994, but FreeHand unfortunately went back to its creators, Altsys. Macromedia acquired Altsys and developed FreeHand up to its eleventh version, FreeHand MX.

On the web development side, Adobe developed scalable vector graphics (SVG)—a similar technology to Macromedia’s Flash. Flash is likely installed on 90% of all Internet browsers, and Flash video is rapidly transforming the Internet with sites like Youtube.com and other video sharing web sites. Macromedia’s Dreamweaver is a leader in web page development rivaled by Adobe’s GoLive.

Adobe’s upcoming release of Creative Suite 3 will merge the abovementioned products (and there are a lot of them!) into a series of packages. A few months ago, after rewriting their flagship applications to run in native format on Apple’s Intel Macintosh computers, Adobe took the first step in their CS3 release by unveiling Photoshop CS3 in a public Beta. With this version they also introduced new interface. The application logo is a simple white “Ps” on a blue background. Similarly, Bridge is a “Br” on a brownish background. All Creative Suite logos will be simplified and colour–coded based on their function.

The packaging has also been revamped to and grouped into suites. There will be three suites in five configurations: Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Web Standard, Production Premium, and a Master Collection which combines all thirteen programs together. The Design Suite combines InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat Pro. The premium version adds Flash CS3, Dreamweaver, and Photoshop Extended. The Web Standard—aimed at web developers—will be made up of Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Contribute. The Web Premium will add Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, and Acrobat Professional.

Production Premium is best suited to video and film producers and includes Premier Pro (re–introduced at Macworld San Francisco), After Effects, Flash, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Soundbooth (a new sound editing program), Encore (Intel only—for DVD authoring), and OnLocation (formerly DV Rack). The Master Collection combines all of the above and will take approximately 50 gigabytes to install. Adobe GoLive will continue to be developed but as a separate product—much the same way that PageMaker was after InDesign’s introduction.
There are simply too many features of the new products to exhaustively list them here, but I will highlight many of the most useful upgrades.

Photoshop comes in four separate offerings, with the standard version as seen in the Photoshop CS3 beta, Photoshop Lightroom (currently shipping as the final version of Adobe Lightroom), Photoshop Extended (with features for digital imaging and specific tools for architecture, engineering, medicine, and science) and Photoshop Elements (a consumer–level product). The public beta release shows the new interface with streamlined tools and floating pallets—which makes for a more intuitive transition between products and easier cross–product support.
A new feature in Photoshop is “workspaces” which optimize the pallets and tools to workflow specific configurations. Choose a “Web Design” workspace and the menus become colorized to assist the user. The magic wand is replaced by a much more sophisticated “Quick Select” tool, which lets users paint selections. The Extended version supports 3D objects—allowing the imported object to be manipulated and maintain its 3D metrics as it is scaled, rotated, and colored.

Illustrator includes a new tool called “LiveColor” which aids designers (and non–designers) by simplifying color harmonies. Colors are grouped so that as a color is modified it applies across the artwork. If the set is changed, then the entire group of colors changes universally. Live Trace quickly converts photographs into illustrative color renderings with the use of an intelligent paint bucket. Flash will of course be able to support native Photoshop files. Flash’s Actionscript will resemble XML, which should make it easier to work with.

Adobe will be developing an upgrade strategy and the following are our best price guesses (all figures in US Dollars): Master Suite $2499, Design Premium $1799, Design Standard (the equivalent of CS2 Premium) $1199, Web Premium $1599, Web Standard $999, and Production Premium $1699. And don’t forget to budget for an Apple Macintosh Pro to take full advantage of the speed gain with the new Suite. Happy designing!     

Timothy Mitra assists companies in mastering information technology in prepress, print, and web design.
Do you have a question you would like answered by the IT guy? Please contact him at E: tim@it-guy.com T: 416.278.8609

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