Adobe Creative Suite 5 expands and 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.

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