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Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium

Includes Photoshop CS 2, Illustrator CS 2, InDesign CS 2, GoLive CS 2, Acrobat 7.0 Professional, Adobe Bridge, Version Cue CS 2 and Adobe Stock Photos.
Adobe http://www.adobe.com
$1,199; Educational price $399

Juicy new features in all its component applications make Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium an alluring (if expensive) purchase for anyone who designs for print, the web or the latest hot market, mobile publishing.

But Creative Suite 2 is more than the sum of its impressive parts. CS 2’s common interface of palettes, tools and menus make for a more intuitive work environment – a big improvement over hopping between dissimilar applications. With the new Adobe Bridge visual file browser serving as a hub, finding and managing files and images and sharing them between applications is significantly easier than before. Best of all, CS 2 makes re-purposing your designs to different formats and performing global changes to those designs as straightforward as possible. If you produce a newsletter (print or PDF) and maintain a website for your organization, Adobe Creative Suite 2 is just what the doctor ordered.

The suite’s flagship application, Photoshop CS 2, has gained several new image editing features. The most impressive is Vanishing Point, which lets you paint, clone or paste image elements that automatically match the perspective of the surrounding area. By mapping a grid on the perspective you want to match, then drawing or editing on that grid, can make a building taller, extend the line of a wall or use the Clone tool to remove distracting elements, all while maintaining perfect perspective.

Photoshop CS 2 also adds Image Warp, which lets you wrap an image around a shape, one click Red Eye correction and a Spot Healing brush, the latter borrowed from Photoshop Elements 3. The new Smart Objects command (chosen in the Paste dialog box) lets you resize, rotate and warp raster and vector graphics without losing detail.

Illustrator CS 2’s most exciting new feature is Live Trace, which automatically traces a pixel-based scanned image and turns it into a vector-based, editable Live Trace object. The object remains linked to the pixel-based image, so if changes are made to the original, the Live Trace object “knows” and can be updated. Live Trace fulfills the promise of Streamline, Adobe’s discontinued raster to vector application, and should be a huge boon for artists who sketch by hand and then scan in their work. It also makes it easy to tap the vast resource of free public domain artwork.

Other additions to Illustrator CS 2 include custom workspaces, an enhanced Control Palette, and new Live Paint tools for working with paths to adjust colored areas of artwork dynamically. Having trouble visualizing what Live Paint does? Go to Adobe’s Creative Suite 2 New Features web page for QuickTime videos of this and other new CS 2 enhancements: http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/newfeatures.html#nf2

In InDesign CS 2, the suite’s page layout application, you can now designate a collection of attributes – text formatting, background, drop shadow – and save them as an Object Style that can be applied to any text or graphics frame in your document. Object Styles can be loaded from other documents, sparing you from the task of recreating a style’s characteristics. Objects can be exported as Snippets and dragged into a new layout, retaining their formatting and positioning on a page. Objects can also be anchored to text, so graphics and pull quotes stay with the appropriate text when changes are made.

InDesign CS 2 also lets you display a Photoshop file’s layers and layer comps, so you can toggle among versions of a design saved in different layers of a single Photoshop file. Other welcome features include an improved Story Editor, better support for Microsoft Word and RTF, and backwards compatibility with InDesign CS.

GoLive CS 2’s improvements are mostly under the hood. The web design application gains improvements for creating and editing CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) web pages, adds support for creating content for mobile devices, and offers better live rendering for previewing pages. The enhanced InDesign Package for GoLive feature lets you drag and drop elements from InDesign to GoLive, as well as flow content into CSS templates.

Acrobat Professional 7 features better performance and better attachment handling. Acrobat 7 Professional-created PDF documents can now have comments added by anyone with the free Adobe Acrobat 7 viewer allowing documents to circulated for review without requiring each team member to own the professional version of Acrobat.

Version Cue 2 handles sharing and tracking file versions in a collaborative work environment. It works with all the CS 2 applications, making sure that the most recent version of a file is available and preventing one team member from accidentally overwriting another’s work.

Clicking on the seashell icon in the Control Palette of any Creative Suite 2 application takes you to Adobe Bridge, the nerve center of CS 2. Based on the File Browser first introduced in Photoshop 7, Adobe Bridge is a smart visual file browser which displays images and their metadata, allows you search by keywords, ratings, labels and a number of other criteria, and lets you add frequently used files and folders to a Favorites pane. The Bridge Center tracks recent folders, recent files and saved file groups and includes RSS feeds and tips and tricks if you’re connected to the internet. Stock photo users in particular will rejoice at the convenient Adobe Bridge-based service for finding, managing and buying stock photos, Adobe Stock Photos.

How do you come to grips with Creative Suite 2’s massive feature set? In addition to the tutorials and extensive Help offerings in each application, the boxed software comes with a 108 page printed Design Guide, two discs of Resources and Extras, and a bonus training CD from Total Training.

The Design Guide gives a handy overview of new features, as well as sample projects which demonstrate how the components of the suite work together. Additional resources for learning are listed on the Guide's inside cover and also can be found at www.adobecsguide.com The excellent Total Training Video Workshop CD offers more than an hour of video instruction and includes bonus lessons that can be unlocked when Creative Suite 2 is registered with Adobe. Two Resources and Extras discs include full manuals in PDF format, along with fonts, clip art, stock photos, color swatches scripting guides and sample scripts.

If you’re currently using the first version of Creative Suite, Creative Suite 2 Premium is a worthy upgrade. If you're using two or more of the suite's applications in their previous, individual versions, moving to Creative Suite 2 will gain you the significant advantages of program integration and Adobe Bridge. (You can purchase an upgrade to Creative Suite 2 Premium from any previous licensed version of Photoshop as long as it's on the same platform). And if you need CS 2’s powerful features and are eligible for academic pricing, the $399 academic cost (more than 60% off) makes the purchase almost a no-brainer. Those whose needs don't include web or PDF design should consider Creative Suite 2 Standard, which omits GoLive and Acrobat and is available for $899.

A free 30 day Creative Suite 2 evaluation DVD can be requested at http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/cs2eval.html. Note that the DVD does not contain the Macintosh version of Acrobat 7.0 Professional.

For anyone who works with images or design in print or on the web, Adobe Creative Suite 2 is as good as it gets. Most highly recommended.

– Elsa Travisano

Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium requires PowerPC G4 or G5 processor, OS X 10.2.8 through 10.4 (10.3.4 through 10.4 recommended; G5 requires v.10.3 or later), Java Runtime Environment 1.4, 384MB of RAM required to run any one creative application with Adobe Bridge and Version Cue Workspace, additional RAM required to run multiple applications simultaneously (512MB to 1GB recommended), 4GB of available hard-disk space to install all applications (installation of common files requires at least 1GB on primary hard disk), 1,024x768 monitor resolution with 16-bit video card (24-bit screen display recommended), CD-ROM drive.
For Adobe PostScript printers: PostScript Level 2 or PostScript 3. Internet or phone connection required for product activation.
QuickTime 6.5 required for multimedia features.Broadband Internet connection required for Adobe Stock Photos and additional services.

Copyright ©2005 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the September 2005 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.