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.

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Wait, there's more

There's more to Creative Suite than just these five applications, of course. Here's a quick rundown of everything else you'll find in the various Creative Suite bundles, each of which has been upgraded since the last edition:

  • After Effects complements Premiere Pro, adding the creation of visual effects such as rotoscoping and title sequences.
  • Acrobat (and its online service, Acrobat.com) should be familiar to most people: It's Adobe's application for producing .PDF documents.
  • InDesign would nominally be called Adobe's desktop publishing app, but it has also been devised to create documents in any number of Adobe's formats, such as Flash and Acrobat, and so now includes features like embedding video.
  • Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder are new tools for creating Flash content. Builder is for people developing cross-platform apps (e.g., AIR), and Catalyst is for those who want to develop in Flash with minimal use of programming.
  • Fireworks is something of a scaled-down halfway-house between Photoshop and Illustrator, a mixed vector/raster drawing tool for creating graphics for the Web. New features include better handling of vector images and gradients, integration with Adobe Device Central for better development of graphics for mobile devices, and the redesigned font/typeface engine also seen in Flash and Illustrator.
  • Contribute allows collaborative authorship of Web content, either from Dreamweaver or through an online editor. New features include native XML editing (no need to launch an external editor), cross-browser preview and support for Subversion code control.
  • Soundbooth is Adobe's audio editing suite, akin to ProTools.
  • OnLocation performs video capture and footage logging as a complement to Premiere.

Conclusions

So, is CS5 worth it as a whole? For CS3 users, yes. You'll gain a whole panoply of features. You will need to adapt to some minor new UI changes -- mostly how tool panels and the workspace are styled and presented, although they remain functionally identical for the most part.

For CS4 folks, your money and mileage will vary. If you normally use only one application that is part of CS4, keep in mind that not every application in the CS5 suite is worth an upgrade. (Note: You can get upgrade prices if you own one of the applications and want to move up to the suite, but if you own the suite, you won't get upgrade pricing on single applications.)

However, if you use the suite rather than just one or two programs alone, the majority of the apps are worth the upgrade. The programs are available individually for free 30-day trials, so if you're more than one revision behind, they're absolutely worth a look.

Serdar Yegulalp has been writing about computers and information technology for over 15 years for a variety of publications, including InformationWeek and Windows Magazine.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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