Adobe Creative Suite CS3 Design Premium

Includes Adobe InDesign CS 3, Adobe Photoshop CS 3 Extended, Adobe Illustrator CS 3, Adobe Flash CS3 Professional, Adobe Dreamweaver CS3, Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional, Adobe Bridge CS3, Adobe Version Cue CS3, Adobe Stock Photos and Acrobat Connect.


$1,799; Educational price $599, upgrade $599-$1,599.

Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium is a whole new ball game. Actually, it’s one of several new ball games: creative professionals and serious home users have six different Creative Suite 3 collections to choose from.

The Adobe CS3 Design Premium collection ($1,799) is aimed at creating content for print, web and handheld devices, including motion and interactive content. It contains new CS3 versions of Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop Extended, Dreamweaver, Flash, Version Cue and Bridge, along with Acrobat 8 Professional, Adobe Device Central, Adobe Stock Photos and Acrobat Connect. For those who don’t need the web development tools, the CS3 Design Standard collection ($1,199) omits Dreamweaver and Flash.

Rounding out the roster of CS3 collections are Web Standard ($999) and Web Premium ($1,599) both with a core of former Macromedia applications (Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks and Contribute), Production Premium ($1,699), a successor to Adobe Production Studio, and Master Collection ($2,499), which encompasses the contents of all the sets. Adobe has a handy PDF chart that compares the contents of each version: Most of the applications can also be purchased individually.

All of the CS3 components have been optimized for both Intel and PowerPC Macs, resolving the slow performance problems that some users of CS2 applications encountered with Intel Macs. Most aspects of CS3 are fully compatible with Mac OS 10.5 Leopard; Adobe has announced that they will issue Leopard-compatibility updates for Acrobat 8 Professional and Adobe Reader 8 in January 2008.

The CS3 Design Premium collection ships in a space-saving box the size of a hardback book, with the applications DVD, a content DVD and a video workshop DVD of training tutorials from in a single DVD case. A 134 page printed Workflow Guide gives an excellent overview of features, what’s new, and how the applications interact with one another, share resources through the updated Adobe Bridge and track versions and changes through Version Cue.

Every application in the collection has been upgraded from Creative Suite 2, and a number of the upgrades affect multiple applications. For example, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and Flash have gained more consistent interfaces with a single-column toolbar on the left, control panels or palettes across the top and docking panels or palettes on the right of the central workspace. I especially like the new Icon Mode, which displays docking panels as tidy icons that can be easily expanded and collapsed. This is particularly handy on a laptop’s smaller screen.

Photoshop CS 3 Extended, the cornerstone application of the collection, features a number of new tools and capabilities. Most of these are also part of Photoshop CS3 Standard. The Quick Selection tool lets you quickly draw over the area that you want to select, then hone your selection by clicking on the new Refine Selection Edge button on the Control panel. The Multi-Layer Select function allows you to group together design elements that are on different layers and apply changes to them as a group.

Smart Filters, applied within a Smart Object on the Layers palette, give you free rein to apply, rearrange and mask filters non-destructively – that is, without altering the original.
Auto Align Layers is a particularly cool feature that lets you combine the best parts of images that are almost identical. Let’s say you’ve taken a series of group shots at a family get-together. Cousin Miriam’s eyes are closed in one photo. She looks fine in another shot but everyone else doesn’t look quite as good. What to do? Start by opening both images in Photoshop CS3 and paste one image into the other as a new layer. Then select Auto Align Layers from the Edit menu – Photoshop will automatically line up the common elements of the two layers. Now simply mask the areas on the top layer that you don’t want to reveal the preferred parts of the lower layer and voilà - everyone looks their best.
The “Extended” part of Photoshop CS3 Extended adds 3D texture editing and compositing, an Animation Palette for editing motion graphics, and a collection of analysis and measurement tools.

Illustrator CS 3’s most exciting new features is Live Color, a color management system that lets you quickly try out different color variations on any artwork. The Color Guide panel gives tools for finding tints, shades and color combinations that look good together.

A new Eraser Tool (finally!) lets you erase parts of vector artwork and automatically redraws the vectors when you’re done. Other new and improved features include the Live Paint Bucket for coloring drawings, the Live Trace button on the control panel for turning pixel artwork from Photoshop or other sources into line art, and improved path editing and anchor point selection tools. There’s also Isolation Mode, for editing tricky objects in a group without messing up the surrounding elements.

Illustrator and Flash are much more extensively integrated than before. Illustrator elements that will be made interactive in Flash can be defined as symbols (graphics) or static, dynamic or user-defined input text, then pasted into Flash with layers and settings intact.

InDesign CS 3 adds many enhancements to make a designer’s work easier. Multi-file Place, which lets you import several files in a single Place command, makes quick work of a process that used to be a lengthy and laborious process. The docked palettes in Icon Mode are a joy, unobtrusive and yet easy to access. Another real time saver is Quick Apply. Clicking on the lightning bolt icon at the top of a Styles palette (Character, Paragraph, Table, Cell, etc.) opens the new Quick Apply window. Start typing the style or command you’re looking for into the text box, then choose from the results that appear below to instantly apply the style or command to your selection.

Other InDesign improvements include Object and Table Styles, which let you apply and edit complex styles for graphics, frames and tables, as well as improved transparency settings and Object Effects, which make it easier to apply effects like drop shadows, bevels and embosses. Layouts can now be exported as XHTML for use on the web, and interactive features like sounds, links, buttons and movies can be added to a document for creating an interactive PDF.

Acrobat Professional 8 offers a completely new user interface, along with the very useful ability to create a PDF Package of multiple PDF files. Creating interactive forms for distribution through the web and email is one of Acrobat Pro 8’s real strengths. The application now recognizes fill-in form fields in PDF documents automatically, highlights them, and gives the option of making these fields interactive. The software also allows you to create interactive forms for Acrobat Reader, which makes it possible for anyone with Adobe’s free PDF reading software to fill in a form electronically. PDF creation from within Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop has also been improved and made more uniform, and security enhancements include the ability to permanently remove sensitive information.

Flash CS3 Professional and Dreamweaver CS3, both originally Macromedia products, are the applications that distinguish the CS3 Design Professional suite from the Design Standard collection.
Flash CS3 Professional is used for creating animated and interactive content. Its extensively redesigned interface incorporates Adobe-style drawing tools along with tools for publishing files to Flash Lite, the version of the Flash Player for mobile devices. Flash CS3 Pro imports Photoshop and Illustrator files for editing now integrates with Adobe Bridge and Version Cue. features the new ActionScript 3.0 language and incorporates enhanced coding and video tools and advanced exporting to QuickTime.

Dreamweaver CS3, the Macromedia replacement for Adobe’s GoLive, features WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Design, Code and Split modes, improved integration with Flash, Photoshop and Adobe Fireworks, and integration with Adobe Bridge. Users who are transitioning from GoLive will appreciate the redesigned and simplified New Document dialog box, which offers a wide selection of templates and pre-created samples along with template previews and readily accessible pop-up menus for Preference settings. Choices include many fixed, elastic and liquid Cascading Style Sheet layouts, and the CSS code includes in-line comments, viewable in Code Mode, so you can learn as you go.

Dreamweaver CS3 uses the Spry framework for Ajax, a JavaScript/HTML library that lets you build pages that load faster and are more efficient. Spry Effects lets you add visual transitions like shrink, fade or highlight that work without causing an entire web page to reload. Once you pull everything together, the new Browser Compatibility Check examines your site and reports on CSS problems with different browsers and operating systems, all without launching the browsers.

Device Control Central CS3 is a new application that can be launched from various CS3 applications and is used for previewing and testing content to see how it behaves on mobile devices. If you need to create a file for a particular device, choose it from the list of device profiles and specify which application you want to work in. Device Central will open a new document in Flash, Photoshop or Illustrator, customized for that device. New device profiles can be downloaded by choosing Update Device Profiles in the Choose Devices menu. Downloads require a free Adobe user account.

Wrapping up the CS3 Design Premium collection are Adobe Bridge CS3, Adobe Version Cue CS3 and Adobe Stock Photos.
Adobe Bridge CS3 is a smart visual file manager that serves as the hub for the CS3 Design Premium applications. It keeps track of multiple types of media including Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, QuickTime, SWFs and more, displays images and their metadata in resizable panes, allows you search and filter by keywords, ratings, labels and several other criteria, and to add frequently used files and folders to a Favorites pane. The Favorites pane also has links to Adobe Version Cue CS3 (tracking of document versions, updates and reviews for individual users and workgroups), Adobe Stock Photos, a web-based service for previewing and purchasing stock photography from multiple vendors, a searchable Adobe Photographers Directory, and a free trial of Adobe Connect, an internet meeting service.

Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium is an extraordinarily powerful and capable collection that bundles together the industry-standard applications for print, web and interactive design. However, at $1,799 it is not a purchase to be made lightly.

Users who are eligible for a $599 upgrade (check upgrade requirements at and education customers have the easiest choice. Designers who need to stay up-to-date with the industry and who will use three or more of the core applications should also seriously consider the purchase, especially if they are using Intel Macs. Users who need only one or two applications from the suite would be better served buying those applications individually. Be sure to check the minimum system requirements before making a purchase, and be prepared to add memory to your Mac for optimal performance.

Not sure if you’re ready to take the plunge? A fully functioning 30-day Creative Suite 3 Design Premium or Design Standard evaluation DVD can be ordered for $9.95 at Individual trial versions of InDesign CS3, Illustrator CS3 and Photoshop CS3 and other CS3 components can be downloaded, and trial versions of Creative Suite 3 Production Premium, Web Premium, Web Standard and Master Collection are also available.

Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium is most highly recommended.

– Elsa Travisano

Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium requires a PowerPC G4, G5 or multicore Intel processor, OS X 10.4.8 to 10.5 (Leopard), 1 GB of RAM, 6.3GB of available hard-disk space (additional free space required during installation), 1,024x768 monitor resolution with 16-bit video card, and a DVD-ROM drive.
An internet or phone connection is required for product activation, and broadband Internet connection is required for Adobe Stock Photos and other services. QuickTime 7.1.2 software is required for multimedia features, Java Runtime Environment 1.5 is required for Adobe Version Cue CS3 Server, and some 3D features in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended require an OpenGL 1.4 capable graphics card with at least 64MB of VRAM.

Copyright ©2007 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the December 2007 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.