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The Suite Life: Is Adobe Offering the Creative Equivalent of Microsoft Office?

(November 2003) posted on Thu Nov 06, 2003


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The traditional lines of responsibility in the graphic-production chain are dissolving amidst the turbulence of the swift adoption of multiple models of digital cameras, scanners, and digital printers. Graphic designers wielding digital cameras can now shoot and correct whatever photos they may need for their websites or print jobs. And digital photographers who perform CMYK color conversions for specific printing presses are essentially performing tasks that were once done by film separators. In-house marketing teams can use affordable short-run color printing devices to easily generate many of the projects they once sent out to commercial printing firms.

If cross-media publishing and converging capabilities are the waves of the future for all types of creative professionals and graphic-arts businesses, it's not hard to see that workflows could quickly get even more out of control than they already are.

Adobe's newest "solution" may ultimately turn out to be just that"?a solution. The Adobe? Creative Suite puts many of the software tools a creative pro or graphics-production firm might need into one, integrated but powerful package. The CreativeSuite combines full-version upgrades of Adobe Photosho? for photo editing, Illustrator? for line art, InDesign? for page layout, and GoLive? for website development. It also incorporates Acrobat? 6.0 Professional for PDF creation and introduces a new VersionCue? file-version manager for collaborative work groups.

Two editions are available: The Premium Edition ($1229) includes Acrobat and GoLive; the print-focused Standard Edition ($999) does not. Both packages include one serial number, one telephone-support number, and tips for working efficiently across the Creative Suite workflow.

Adobe's offering is bound to appeal to digital-publishing newcomers who would prefer not to hassle with a mishmash of often-incompatible programs from multiple vendors.

Perhaps some of you are old enough to recall when office-computing was in its infancy. If so, do you remember how aggravating it was when some of your co-workers created their documents in WordPerfect and others used Word, and when some used Lotus for their spreadsheets and some used Excel?

Regardless of our feelings toward Microsoft, the corporate world undoubtedly became much more productive when the Microsoft Office suite of word-processing/spreadsheet/presentation software emerged as the standard.

And regardless of how we view Adobe, in this new era of visually rich communications and do-it-yourself photo processing, Photoshop has become the image-editing tool for millions of print designers, Web designers, video editors, photographers, graphics producers, and imaging hobbyists. And, in offices around the world, PDF is used by millions of other creators of documents. Although Adobe InDesign still has a way to go in the page-layout arena, it wouldn't be wise to bet against them.

In this era of converging and overlapping responsibilities, Adobe clearly appears to be prepared to take things to the next level by answering this simple question: "Why can't all of our sofware just get along?" (Adobe Systems Inc.: www.adobe.com)

Improvements in Photoshop

It may not officially be called Photoshop 8, but the new Photoshop CS clearly has enough new functions to be considered a new version. Many of the new features do away with the need for many popular plug-ins. For example, with the enhanced File Browser you can easily sort, compare and flag images in an on-screen lightbox. You can also automatically process batches of images into PDF presentations, interactive Web photo galleries, or panoramic photos.

At Photoshop World, graphic designers applauded the ability to create and manipulate fully editable text on any path or inside any shape.

Photographers will like the fact that all of Photoshop's core features are now available for 16-bit images, including layers, filters, painting, text, and shapes. Starting the image-editing process with much more data is more likely to yield more visually pleasing final results. Photoshop CS also incorporates the functionality of the Camera Raw plug-in, making it possible for users of popular models of digital cameras to directly manipulate the freshly captured data.

For those who enlarge their images in Photoshop, Photoshop CS now offers a choice of five up-res methods, including bicubic sharpen and bicubic soften. These finer levels of image-scaling control can help achieve better-looking results depending on the nature and content of the image.

For anyone who still doubts that Adobe was thinking big when they dreamed up Creative Suite, consider this: In Photoshop CS, it's now possible to work with images of up to 300,000 x 300,000 pixels"?an exponential increase from the former 30,000 x 30,000 pixel limit.


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