Adobe Creative Suite 5 extends its graphic reach

CS5 offers a plethora of new features. We look at what's new in its five major applications.

Twenty years ago, Adobe Systems Inc. introduced a little program called Photoshop -- and launched desktop graphics as we know it.

On April 12, Adobe introduced Adobe Creative Suite 5, which includes newly revamped versions of 14 of Adobe's products -- a collection that spans video, audio, graphics, print and dynamic Web content. The changes vary across products: Some (such as Photoshop) have relatively minor changes and feature additions; others (like Premiere Pro) have been rewritten under the hood to increase performance.

Photoshop has been part of Creative Suite since 2003, along with Premiere, Illustrator, Flash Professional, InDesign, Soundbooth and a bevy of other major and minor Adobe apps. Creative Suite 5 comes in several different editions with different mixes of products in each.

* Design Premium ($1,899) focuses on print and Web media, and omits the video and audio tools.

* Design Standard ($1,299) is the same as Design Premium but omits Flash and Dreamweaver, and uses Photoshop CS5 instead of Photoshop CS5 Extended (which contains more tools for doing 3-D graphics directly in Photoshop).

* Web Premium ($1,799) is similar to Design Premium, but it leaves out the InDesign publishing app.

* Production Premium ($1,699) focuses on video and audio, with Flash and Photoshop on top for good measure.

* Master Collection ($2,599) contains everything: 15 applications plus three support apps (Bridge, Device Central and Dynamic Link) and integration with several of Adobe's online services (Story, CS Review, BrowserLab, Acrobat.com and SiteCatalyst NetAverages).

One thing that Adobe has been pushing for, based on my conversations with Adobe's product evangelists, is for content creators to see all the Creative Suite products as different facets of their entire workflow. The cynic in me says this is so Adobe can sell that many more licenses for the full suite instead of just the individual products. But in many ways, Adobe is inching toward making each piece of the suite part of a true whole, instead of just different apps corralled together under a common banner.

In this article, I've looked at the five major components of Creative Suite 5 -- Dreamweaver, Flash, Illustrator, Photoshop and Premiere Pro -- from the point of view of what's new and whether those features justify an upgrade.

Dreamweaver

If you're looking for an answer to the ongoing question of whether Dreamweaver is a Web programmer's tool or a Web designer's tool, Adobe's answer is a firm: "Both." In the past few years, there have emerged many more people who wear both Web design and Web programming hats -- blog theme designers, for instance. Dreamweaver CS5 aims to satisfy those programming for the Web from the inside out, and those designing for it from the outside in.

The program's layout hasn't drastically changed since CS4, so Adobe has preserved things like the pregenerated panel layouts for different types of users or tasks: Designer, App Developer, Coder, Minimal and the "classic" Dreamweaver layout. Where there are changes, they're for the sake of making things more immediately useful. The "New Website" dialog, for instance, makes it much simpler to create a new site without having to answer a whole bevy of questions upfront (such as "What's the site's FTP address?") that might be known only to the site's admins, not its designers.

Because Dreamweaver is used by both coders and designers, many new features are aimed at programmers and app developers. This doesn't just mean page templates and syntax highlighting for JavaScript, C#, Visual Basic and PHP, although all that is in there. It also means that if you use the popular open-source Subversion software as your version-control system, for instance, Dreamweaver can use Subversion to check pages in and out and will alert you to any compatibility issues between editions of Subversion.

One function that shows how the program has been written for both programmers and designers is the ability to store and publish files in four different locations for each site: a local folder, a repository, a staging server and a live server. A designer can stage his changes locally or on a staging server without touching live code. That said, I've never been fond of Dreamweaver's local/remote file explorer, which even after all these revisions seems really clumsy, but I suspect that's more my own pickiness than anything else.

By far the most powerful new features in Dreamweaver are contextual ones -- things that make it easier to change the design of something while it's live and in place. If you're designing a WordPress blog, for instance, you can plug directly into the blog and edit its design interactively, instead of going through that whole rigmarole of "mess with stylesheet/edit templates/upload everything/dump cache/preview in browser" most of us are familiar with by now. Minor gripe: the JavaScript engine doesn't support breakpoints or single-stepping through code, just enable/disable.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags adobephotoshopadobe illustrator

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Serdar Yegulalp

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?