A few weeks ago Adobe invited me to a very exclusive breakfast presentation at The Soho Hotel in London. Since, it started at 9.30a.m and I don’t get out of bed for less than ten billion, I stayed out and partied all night, which was hardly a sacrifice, but which did leave me feeling a little peckish.
No problem I thought, as my limo drew up at the doors of the Soho, I’ll have breakfast when I get inside. If only…no bagels, no smoked salmon, no cream cheese…not even any champagne. Fortunately the presentation was better than the breakfast…
If you haven’t guessed by now, I was there to see Adobe Creative Suite 2.0. At the time the final software was still being ‘tweaked’ (to use the technical term), so I had demonstrated to me a late beta version, which I was given to take away and play with (some food to take away would have been nice too…). Since then the software has been finalised and is officially announced today…and you read it here first! I don’t review beta software, so this is just a taster of what to expect from CS2. But rest assured, a full review will follow as soon as Adobe send me the final product (which will be shipping sometime this quarter).
In the meantime, on with the preview and check this out, there seems to have been a major change of philosophy between the original Creative Suite and the all new version. And no, I don’t mean that they’ve converted, but that whereas CS1 was little more than a bundle of different apps in a box, CS2 raises the bar by placing the emphasis on creating a ‘unified design environment’. Not only are there full new versions of Photoshop CS2, Illustrator CS2, In Design CS2 and GoLive CS2 but they are integrated together far more tightly than ever before, added to which, there are some handy suite wide tools that really do make the whole greater than the sum of the individual parts.
The first of these is ‘Bridge’, which is Adobe’s visual file browser that can be accessed from within or out side of Photoshop, Illustrator, In Design and GoLive. It provides a quick and easy way to search, filter, classify manage and visually preview files, metadata and keywords created in these (and other) apps. Built into Bridge is ‘Adobe Stock Photos’ which allows you to simultaneously search (via the net) several major stock photography libraries for royalty free images which can then be download straight into your documents as low-res comps (that preserve links to the original image for later purchase) or which can be download and purchased as single/multiple high res files from single/multiple sources, in one transaction. Bridge also allows colour synchronization between Photoshop, Illustrator and In Design (but not GoLive).
Next comes Version Cue CS2, which, according to Adobe, has been “enhanced and improved [since the original CS1 version] to be more intuitive, visual and robust”. It provides a way to manage and share both Adobe and non Adobe project files, access historical files and ‘alternates’ and to initiate PDF reviews and can be used in conjunction with Bridge. On the subject of PDFs, there is also a new global PDF export that allows consistent creation of Adobe PDFs from all of the suite’s component apps (which include Acrobat 7.0 Professional).
Photoshop probably offers the most new functionality. For starters, the entire program now works natively with 16 bit images (as opposed to the limited 16 bit functionality of the last version) and, in order to cater for Hollywood stylee FX wizards, there’s also limited support for 32 bit images including a ‘merge to HDR’ function that composites a number of pics of the same scene, made at different exposures, into one High Dynamic Range Image….which is certainly one way of addressing the fact that when it comes to latitude, most digital imaging chips suck.
There’s also the ability to simultaneously process multiple images…in Camera Raw, making it possible to significantly accelerate workflow by visually previewing and adjusting everything from an individual pic to an entire photo shoot in one go!
‘Smart objects’ give us the new Adobe mantra of “edit once, update many”…at least I assume it’s their new mantra as they kept repeating it during the presentation… Smart objects work like symbols in illustrator – edit one linked copy and all other linked copies update automatically. Because they are non-destructively, no matter how many times you scale, rotate and warp Smart Objects, they retain their full image quality instead of becoming pixelated. Also, Illustrator graphics placed in a Photoshop document remain ‘live’ and scalable and any edits made subsequently in Illustrator are automatically reflected in Photoshop.
New tools include optical lens correction which ‘eradicates’ barrel and pincushion distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting; ‘Image Warp’ which makes short work of wrapping images around 3D objects; a spot healing brush that works on both RGB and CMYK images (as does the new shadow/highlight adjustment tool); one click red-eye removal and a new animation palette for creating animated GIFs.
New filters include ‘Smart Sharpen’ which offers correction of motion, lens and Gaussian blur above and beyond anything that the standard Unsharp Mask can achieve; ‘Reduce Noise’, which lets you do just that on a per channel basis; and ‘Vanishing Point’, which allows you to clone areas of your image then move them around…in perspective (and which has to be seen to be believed)!
Apparently Apple’s new Core Image technology came along too late for this version of Photoshop to take advantage of it, but at least it can now address 3.5GB of memory, instead of the previous restriction of 2GB.
The two big new features in Illustrator are ‘Live Trace’ and ‘Live Paint’. Live Trace lets you convert bitmaps such as JPEGs into scalable vector artwork with editable paths and anchor points. Included are 13 tracing options optimized for different types of raster art including comic art, hand drawn sketches, photographs, technical drawings, black and white logos and type…or you can create your own. Colours in the traced artwork can be based on those in the original artwork (by default) or specified by using a library swatch, making Live Trace far more versatile than the tracing tool in Macromedia’s Flash.
And talking of Flash, Live paint brings Flash like simplicity to paint fills, allowing you to paint artwork quickly and intuitively based upon how it appears on the screen (rather than how it was constructed and layered). It works by introducing two new illustrator objects ‘regions’ and edges’, which are like Illustrator fills and strokes, except that they exist on a single layer, meaning that where shapes intersect, new paintable regions are automatically created, giving WYSIWIG colourability.
There are two new type styles – underline and strikethrough, extended support for using spot colours with greyscale images/drop shadows, support for the latest Wacom graphics tablets such as the Intuos3 (a review of which is coming soon) and expanded support for SVGs and of course the ubiquitous SWF files (which are almost as ubiquitous as me).
InDesign’s new features are all about style. You can now reuse formatting that you have applied to any object simply by naming it, whereupon it becomes an ‘Object Style’ that can be applied to any other object. If you subsequently make changes to your object style, any of its ‘children’ are automatically updated. You can also selectively import paragraph, character and object styles from other documents. The ‘Apply Next Style’ option allows you to apply a cascading succession of styles to text, so that, for example, a headline style could specify a byline for its next style, which could in turn specify a body text style, which could then specify ‘same style’ for its next style et voila…just add words for an instant publication.
Still on the style front, the Microsoft Word/RTF import filter has been significantly enhanced so that you can now control exactly how much formatting to strip out or preserve and your import settings can be saved as word import presets. There’s also support for footnotes both natively and as imports from MS Word and RTF files and once placed, footnotes will dynamically resize if you change column dimensions.
You can save any object that’s on a page as an ‘InDesign Snippet’ by simply dragging and dropping it in Bridge or the library palette (amongst other places). When you do, it will show up as a thumbnail in Bridge. When you subsequently drag it back into a new document, it will open in exactly the same position on the new page as it was on the original.
Other major new functions include control for the visibility of layers in imported Photoshop and PDF documents (and Photoshop layer comps); noise and spread controls for drop shadows; and the ‘Transform Again’ tool, which allows you to apply the transformation(s) that you have just made to one object, to one or more other objects.
There’s also enhanced XML support and enhanced dictionary/spell checking functionality that offers automatic word correction and 8 new foreign language dictionaries.
Last but definitely not least is Adobe’s web authoring app GoLive, which has spent the last few years living in the shadow of the mighty Macromedia Dreamweaver. While it still lacks the built in visual coding of Dreamweaver, it seems to have pole vaulted over the big D in one key respect… its handling of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). In addition to an improved CSS editor, you can now visually design your CSS using a variety of pre-built drag and drop CSS block objects, which is major! There’s also extensive standards compliant support for mobile devices, with live small screen rendering driven by the Opera engine. Unlike Macromedia, Adobe have noticed that everyone and his dog now has a blog, so they’ve included support for Six Apart Typepad/Movable Type authoring for mobile blogging. Give us built in support/template creation for the other half a dozen major pieces of blogging software and we’ll all be happy!
Adobe Creative Suite 2.0 will be available in two versions, the premium Edition which includes everything mentioned here and a standard edition without Acrobat or GoLive. Stay tuned for a full review soon!
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