19 November 2008

Adobe CS4 Premium Design Suite




The good:

Much better integration between the softwares, some really useful features. All the Macromedia products (Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireowrks) have had long overdue overhauls. Flash is finally back in the hands of animators and not developers again. There are very interesting layout plans, pretty much consistent throught the suite now. Making it much easier to go from one to another without too much learning curve. The roundtrip editing in Dreamweaver from Photoshop is a long desired feature, saving lots of time. Installing the suite also seems to have solved many of the problems encounterd from the disastrous CS3 suite update which had a terrible bug in the install program, causing a really annoying crashing of Indesign.

The bad:

Some new features are a bit overplayed in the publicity as to thier usefullness in real life.The intelligent scaling for example, is great, but only works as advertised on projects that are very simular to the photos used to advertise it. If you really want to get the most of this feature you need to take the photos with the idea of using it in mind for the best results. For some reason Fireworks still uses the old Macromedia keyboard shortcuts (importing, for example). How hard it is to change that to the same shortcuts, Indesign and Photoshop use? It seems a no brainer.

The ugly:

As a company that uses many printers for many different clients, Behemoth like everyone else must deal with the extreme reluctance of print houses to update to the latest (or even the 3rd latest) versions of software. Adobe must also be well aware of this and still since Indesign CS2 have limited backwards compatibility. There is nothing more annoying than trying to remember what client's printer uses what version and having to keep several incarnations of the same software on your hard drive.. I must use 3 versions of Indesign now.. simply because there is no « save for : Indesign CS,CS2, CS3 ». This is simply mean spirited to users and makes print houses even less likely to update. Pagemaker and even earlier version of Indesign had a reasonable depth to the backwards compatibility. Not having this feature makes the nicely done but not so improved Indesign CS4 practically useless unless designing in house projects for your in house printers. I aslo managed to crash Fireworks by simply importing a really not all that complex Illustrator file. It's clear not that much attention is given to Fireworks developement beyond a nicer interface even though it complements Dreamweaver really well... I don't know why these features haven't been folded into Photoshop (even in an « extended » version like the 3D stuff is) if they really don't want to give Fireworks it's due.

Overall:

A decent update, though the price is foolishly high. I had wanted to get the Mastersuite collection, but there was no upgrade path for long time users who bought many things long before the suites came into being. We are left to buy each piece apart from the others at a much higher price... or buy a suite from scratch at a much higher price. I was looking forward to using Premiere with my copy of After Effects for all in house video work, but not at the ridiculous prices offered. Adobe is not alone in this, though Apple made a huge effort to make sure I had what I needed when they went the "suite" route. They even sent me a full version of the First Final Cut Pro Suite and not an upgrade version so I would not have more updating issues. Adobe needs to be willing to do the same if they want us all come on board. I won't be rushing to update any other Adobe products anytime soon. Not with this uncertain job market!
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