Adobe's Creative Suite addresses changes in design workflow

Adobe has released version 5 of its Creative Suite

With the release version 5 of its Creative Suite, a package of multimedia content creation tools, Adobe has made much hay with the latest gains in hardware, as well as addressed the changing nature of digital content design.

"The needs of designers are constantly changing, the technology is constantly changing, the places they need to put their designs are constantly changing," said Bryan O'Neil Hughes, Adobe product manager. "We spent a lot of time doing research, not only in giving them new features, but in understanding their workflows."

Creative Suite is Adobe's comprehensive package of applications for creating both online and offline content. It includes software for photo and video editing, illustration, page layout and design, and the creation of animated snippets for the Web.

The package includes a new program, called Flash Catalyst, that allows Web designers to build interactive Flash-based interfaces without the need for writing code.

More than 250 new features have been added across all the applications. Each application is sold separately or as part of a CS bundle. There are different CS bundles for Web, Production, and Design, or a package of all the software can be purchased as a Master Collection.

The Master collection includes Photoshop CS5, Illustrator CS5, InDesign CS5, Flash Catalyst CS5, Flash CS5 Professional, Dreamweaver CS5, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and After Effects CS5.

The new version of Adobe Photoshop, Adobe's photo editing software, is the first to be native 64-bit for both the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows platforms. This ability to address more memory should allow for a 10 percent to 12 percent speedup in operations, O'Neil Hughes said. A new engine for rendering images in the RAW image format can better reduce the amount of noise, or unwanted speckles of color, in photos. New de-ghosting and lens correction features have been added as well.

Through a feature called Puppet Warp, Image objects can be changed in shape. Puppet Warp could be used for "picking up the corner of someone's mouth, moving the eye or pulling someone's eye in a little bit," O'Neil Hughes said.

Perhaps most notable in Photoshop is a feature called Content Aware Fill, in which the software can extend out the edges of a picture based on the patterns near the edges. If the edges of the pictures contain, say, sky or grass, Photoshop can extend that same pattern out to a new border. This can be handy for creating panoramas, where the edges of the multiple photos do not line up.

Adobe's video editing software, Premiere Pro and After Effects, both run natively on 64-bit addressing as well, which should help in the speed of handling high-definition videos, said Karl Soule, Adobe technical evangelist for video.

Premiere Pro also has a new playback engine, called the Mercury Playback Engine, that can spread workloads evenly out among multiple processor cores, as well as take advantage of the latest graphical-processing-unit accelerators.

Other apps have new features as well, and many address the changing ways in which content is created and distributed in an organization.

The new version of the print design tool, InDesign, includes the ability to do animations. It allows designers to add interactive elements to their pages, which then can be used online. "Fundamentally, this is all about giving [print] designers the tools to be successful" in interactive design, said Chris Kitchener, Adobe senior product manager for InDesign.

Flash itself will have improved text handling abilities for InDesign files, such as the ability to render multiple columns of text. "This will really be good for maintaining that workflow when coming from print to interactive," said Scott Fegette, Adobe product manager for the Web products. Flash Professional offers a packager tool that allows Adobe Air-based applications to run on specific smartphones and handheld devices (though its use for the iPhone remains in question, as Apple has indicated that it is blocking cross-platform apps due to performance issues).

The new version of Adobe Illustrator can also be used to build out the interface designs for Flash-based rich Internet applications (RIA). The new application Flash Catalyst allows designers to add controls to interface designs. Illustrator also offers a perspective grid, a grid that appears on screen that can help illustrators get the three dimensions correct for an object, such as a building.

Dreamweaver will feature improved support for a number of emerging open-source Web content management applications, including WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

The list price for the software, which will be released within 30 days, will be US$2,599 for Master Collection CS5, $1,899 for CS5 Design Premium edition, $1,799 for CS5 Web Premium edition, $1,699 for CS5 Production Premium edition and $1,299 for CS5 Design standard edition.

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