What's Coming in Adobe's Creative Suite 5

When Adobe released its Creativity Suite 4, it was designed to make it easier to design websites that combine different types of media. With the recent launch of Adobe’s Creativity Suite 5, the aim is to improve creative editorial workflows and analytics; while offering some cool new design, video and photography tools.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Flash vs. HTML5

Right before Adobe released CS5, Apple upstaged them by announcing that it changed the licensing language for its iPhone SDK (Software Development Kit) in such a way that developers may not submit programs to Apple that use cross-platform compilers. Adobe CS5 includes one of those compilers. Ouch!

CS5 offers introduces the Flash Catalyst, a design tool that enables designers to rapidly create expressive interfaces and interactive content without writing code.

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You can use the new Flash Catalyst to create prototypes and user interfaces from images, using transitions and Flash components. (photo courtesy Zdnet.co.uk)

Yet, CS5 also includes a very viable improvement that aims to make it easy to import Flash animations into HTML5 Canvas code.

The canvas element, as you may recall, is part of HTML5 and allows for dynamic, scriptable rendering of 2D shapes and bitmap images. As well, once IE9 is released, it will be accessible from all major browsers.

Once there is browser support for HTML 5, it means that anyone can view a Flash creation without having to download the Flash plugin. This is a huge for devices, like the iPhone and iPad that can’t accept the plugin. Though they don’t support flash, they will still be able to run the animations built on it.

Photography

A feature that has a lot of people talking is Photoshop’s new Content Aware Fill Brush, which gives users the ability to remove an object or a person from an image and automatically fill in the background behind them. No more magic wand and awkward cloning!

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Content Aware Fill Brush can remove an object or a person from an image and automatically fill in the background behind them. (photo courtesy Zdnet.co.uk)

Other improvements include Photoshop's Merge to High Dynamic Range (HDR) tool, which helps create HDR images, giving photographers the ability to record a greater range of tonal detail than a given camera could capture in a single photo. The new HDR tool now has 14 HDR presets, which can save considerable effort when hand-toning an image.

Other additions include:

  • MiniBridge: Bridge can now be embedded in a palette within Photoshop (known as Mini Bridge). Users can navigate through images using the familiar Bridge interface without needing to leave Photoshop.
  • Puppet Warp tools: Users can make path-like selections and bend, warp, shorten, lengthen and twist an object.
  • Lens Correction tool: Fixes distortion and other lens artifacts using profiles tailored to correct specific camera lenses (the lens type is determined by embedded EXIF data, so Photoshop can determine that automatically).
  • Camera Raw 6: Photoshop's Camera Raw plug-in, now in version 6, supports more than 275 camera models. The new version of the plug-in allows for better quality sharpening and noise removal, and lets users edit TIFF and JPEG files in addition to images shot in the RAW format.

Indeed, most if not all of these features save designers and photographers lots of time. Actions that may have taken hours to perfect can be done in just minutes, not only enhancing the outcome, but improving creative workflows.

64 Bit

CS5 is now 64-bit native. Finally. The program's new native 64-bit support (now based on Apple's 64-bit Cocoa framework) allows users to work with large files (over 4GB) without slowing down.

32-bit versions of operating systems can only recognize 4GB of RAM at most. On a 32-bit system, once all your startup programs load, users quickly found that there was little left over to run memory-intensive applications. However, with its upgrade, Adobe requires that users have a 64-bit OS to run them.

The 64-bit Photoshop, Premiere Pro requires that you allocate RAM manually--up to a maximum of 128GB.

Web Design

Using Adobe CS for web design has become a lot more streamlined in CS5.

Adobe Flash Professional CS5 lets users link textboxes together and text will flow from one box to another, while in Adobe Dreamweaver CS5, users no longer have to leave the application to view their site through a third party tool. CS5 introduces Browser Lab, a new tool that lets you see what your pages look like right inside DreamWeaver.

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Figure 3. Dreamweaver CS5 can reassemble content management system-powered sites, so you can use it to develop and test Wordpress themes. (photo courtesy Zdnet.co.uk)

Here are five things that will change the way you work in CS5:

  • Flash Catalyst: Intended to let designers take their creations to the next level themselves, it breaks down animation and automation tools to their basic elements in ways that don't require coding or scripting knowledge.
  • Development tools for dynamic sites: Dreamweaver CS5 gives users tools to design templates and see what the layout will look like in a final design. The built-in WebKit engine renders your page as it would in WordPress (or whatever PHP-based system you’re using).
  • Inspection tools: Dreamweaver CS5 lets users make adjustments to the CSS or the DOM of whatever page you’re working on and see them rendered in real time. The inspector shows you how your code will change as you interact with dynamic elements on a page, and it will show you how various changes you make to stylesheets show up on the rendered page.
  • The Packager for the iPhone: Flash Professional CS5 introduces the ability to convert files to native iPhone applications.
  • ActionScript 3-based Code Snippets: Users can manage a tasks, such as timeline navigation, animation, audio and video.

Overall, Adobe’s CS5 250 new features fill gaps and provide solutions to improve workflow and usability.

As with earlier versions, CS5 provides several different versions. For the print media designer, there's Adobe CS5 Design Premium; or web designers, there’s Adobe CS5 Web Premium; for the video pros there’s Adobe CS5 Production Premium; and finally there’s the Adobe CS5 Master Collection to fit all your needs and more. Pricing starts at US$ 1699 and upgrades start at US$ 599. Slated to ship in May, you can learn more via cs5.org.