Adobe CS5 Feature Roundup

Adobe this morning announced their Creative Suite 5 software, with hundreds of new features and updates, ranging from full 64bit support for Mac users to better stroke control in Illustrator. We’re rounding up the new features and assessing the main apps to help you figure out if this is a must-have upgrade, or a snooze-inducing point-oh release.

Photohop CS5

Photoshop is the app that started it all, and while Adobe has grown and evolved, Photoshop is still very much a flagship product. Content-Aware Fill is the big one – if real world usage even comes close to Adobe’s promotional videos it’s going to be a huge boost for anyone who spends time manipulating imagery. 3D takes another step further in Photoshop with 3D extrusion and appropriate controls for any layer.

Photoshop’s painting tools also get a refresh. You can now create real world brushes that respond accordingly, along with realistic colour mixing that mimics real-world painting techniques.

Puppet Warp is a technology that allows you to add dots or hinges to your images and then warp the subject accordingly. Moving the arms and legs of a character is normally the domain of animation apps, but it’s now possible within Photoshop too.

HDR imaging is included too, with automated tools for controlling tone and exposure.

See the full range of features and additions at Adobe’s Photoshop CS5 page.

Illustrator CS5

Hot on Photoshop’s heels as the most widely known and used Adobe app is Illustrator. One hot new feature is Perspective Drawing. Using the standard tools in Illustrator, you can now enter Perspective mode and draw in perspective. Moving and editing the item results in changes to the items perspective without the user having to manually adjust it.

Strokes get a boost in Illustrator CS5. You can now create variable width strokes and control the position of dashed and dotted strokes, aligning to corners or other areas.

One huge addition for me is the new ability for Illustrator to create pixel perfect web files. New documents have an additional option to align to a pixel grid, which you can view in and witness before exporting.

The new Shape Builder tool gives you greater control over creating and merging shapes and objects, and new Resolution-Independent tools allow you to maintain blurs and drop shadows across a range of varying media of different sizes.

See more about the new features on Adobe’s Illustrator CS5 page.

Flash CS5 and Flash Catalyst CS5

Flash has always been a landmark product for Adobe. With a massive installed base of users and a rich set of tools to get designers and developers working together on projects of large and small scope, Flash was never going to simply vanish overnight simply because Apple decided it wasn’t a fan.

New to the suite is Flash Catalyst, designed to speed up the process of converting existing Photoshop, Illustrator and Fireworks files to native Flash animated documents. SPeaking from experience, anything that speeds up interaction between the CS apps is a step in the right direction.

In Flash CS5, the text engine receives an overhaul, bringing it almost par with print typography. You can now flow text from one text box to another, for example.

Other improvements include an updated Actionscript editor, more automated animation tools, on-stage video preview and scrubbing, and XML-based Flash documents.

See the full range of features and additions at Adobe’s Flash CS5 page.

Dreamweaver CS5

Adobe’s WYSIWYG HTML editor has come a long way since it changed hands during the Adobe/Macromedia acquisition. I taught myself HTML using Dreamweaver 4, but one of the big problems with the Dreamweaver franchise is that it is extremely easy to outgrow.

Dreamweaver has always struggled with dynamic files, such as those used in CMS applications – how can Dreamweaver show you a WYSIWYG preview of a file that is essentially just calling a bunch of other files? Dreamweaver CS5 aims to resolve this, by automatically fetching the other files required to show you the full page.

One feature I’m looking forward to playing with is actually a new feature of the online tools in Adobe’s BrowserLab. You can now view your site design in BrowserLab and change browsers on the fly, allowing you to see your design across browsers and platforms. That’s a feature I’d definitely pay money for.

Generally Dreamweaver is competing with a number of other extremely specific, powerful tools, such as the dedicated text editor TextMate and CSS inspector CSS Edit, so they have their work cut out for them here.

See more about the new features on Adobe’s Dreamweaver CS5 page.

Fireworks CS5

Existing somewhere in the very small gap between Photoshop and Illustrator, Firworks is the middle child that has always had more of a cult following than a dedicated audience. Many users preferred this product to Adobe’s offerings back when Macromedia’s Freehand was going head to head with Adobe’s Illustrator, before the merger.

There doesn’t actually appear to be much that’s new or interesting here, but that’s from someone who used Photoshop and Illustrator over Fireworks as a standalone app.

There’s some dedicated PNG optimization, and improvements to integration with the other CS apps. Exporting to Dreamweaver seems a little easier with standards-compliant CSS support. Mac users will see a boost from Fireworks CS5 becoming 64bit, but I’m flummoxed for any other useful or interesting changes.

View the new stuff on Adobe’s Fireworks CS5 page.

InDesign CS5

As a refugee from the print industry when Quark was the dominant force, I’ve always followed the progress of InDesign closely.

One interesting new feature is the ability to export directly to the EPUB format. Users can now take their document and format quickly and easily for use on Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle and a number of other soon-to-be-obsolete dedicated readers.

Paragraph control becomes a little easier with automated controls for columns. One big boost will come from the ability to create pages of varying sizes – previously the page sizes was set for the document as a whole.

All changes and updates are documented on Adobe’s InDesign CS5 page.

Adobe Acrobat

Acrobat is a publishing stalwart in both the print and digital fields, but has always felt like it’s been driven in the wrong direction – does anyone use acrobat.com, and is anyone happy with Acrobat Reader as an app for simply opening PDF files?

Acrobat remains at version 9, the standalone app that is still included with the Creative Suite. The only real changes I ever want to see in Acrobat is less bloat, and fewer attempts by Adobe to monetize any possible use of the PDF format.

Premiere CS5

A big player in the movie editing and effect industry, Premiere 5 sees some updates that will save time and increase performance.

More support for native formats means more convenience for those using industry standard equipment. A more open approach to workflow means users can open Premiere files in Final Cut and Avid.

Throw in improved speed and performance, especially for Mac users getting 64bit support, and Premiere CS5 will be a welcome addition.

Read more on Adobe’s Premiere CS5 page.

Some other changes have been made to tools shared by all apps in the Suite. Adobe Bridge, an add-on I’ve always hated with a vengeance is now smaller, more flexible and is built into the apps in the form of a Mini Bridge panel. I’m curious to see how it performs, and if it’s something I can finally end my hatred of.

Greater integration between apps as a whole, better use of XML and more focus on cross platform capability are all possible reasons to give CS5 a try.

One thing that hasn’t changed is pricing: The Master Suite is $2599, and the Design Standard Suite is still the cheapest set at $1299.

Written by Toby Leftly

Toby is a Mac nerd, a hardware nerd and a web nerd, rolled into one. You can find him at accentmedia.ca or on Twitter.
SEE MORE ARTICLES BY "Toby Leftly"

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