A little over a month ago I upgraded to Adobe’s new suite of products, Creative
Suite 4 Master Collection. I wanted to wait until I got to use it awhile before providing my two cents.
The reason I went with Master Collection is that it is the only way to get all the apps I needed, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash, Illustrator and Photoshop, without purchasing at least one of the products separately for an exorbitant price.
Anyway, priced at $2499 (much less and quite reasonable for upgrades), considering all you get in the box, it is a good deal. Here is what is included in Master Collection:
Plus a bunch of other utilities and somewhat useful stuff.
Installing the collection requires a commitment in itself, a several-hour process. One of the things that always irks me about installing new Adobe software is that you are never allowed to keep the setting and preference changes you made in previous versions. Instead of actually upgrading your existing version, a whole new set of apps is installed.
Ok. I understand that this is done for document compatiblity reasons, in case for some reason or another existing documents are not compatible with the new apps. But how difficult would it be to have the installation program look at your current apps and carry your preferences over to the new software?
Overall, the new interface is prettier and friendlier (I skipped CS3, so CS4 seems pretty different.). However, I hate it when things get moved around or changed for no apparent reason. For example, in Photoshop, I am used to right-clicking to get to Image Size. This is very handy when resizing a lot of images for a Website. Now the only way to get to Image Size is from the Image menu. There are a lot of little nuances like this that are not only annoying but also slow you down. For those of us who keep our heads buried in our work, performing routine tasks over and over without thinking about them, these changes cause us to retrain ourselves. A real drag.
(Microsoft is, of course, the worst when it comes making interfaces so different that it causes you to relearn the software. Office 2007 for Windows and 2008 for Mac are almost unworkable.)
At least a bunch of new features takes some of the sting out of the installation and interface change woes. Listing them all here would make this post long and dull, so I will go over a few that I find particually helpful. (You can get a description of all the new features in each application on Adobe’s Website, at www.adobe.com, and there is a good review of Master Collection on surfbits.com at http://www.surfbits.com/?p=1877.)
Perhaps Dreamweavers most usable new feature is InContext, which allows you define regions on a page that can be edited from within a Web browser. A description of InContext is posted at http://commtechwatch.com/?p=187. So I won’t recreate it here. However, I do find it interesting that the phrase “Free Preview” has been added to the InContext description on Adobe’s Website (wasn’t there a month ago), which suggests that this “feature” will soon become a service you have to pay for.
Another pretty useful feature in Dreamweaver is Live View, which allows you to see what your page looks like without switching to a browser.
InDesign has a lot of new stuff. Here is a review from Communications Technology Watch, http://commtechwatch.com/?p=121
Photoshop has several highend enhancements, such as 3D painting and scaling and Content Aware Scaling. However, if you are like me and use photoshop primarily for correcting and scaling images for print media and Websites, you won’t get much use out of these. I’m more disappointed in the ways the interface has been changed, causing me to adapt the way I work, than I am impressed with the new stuff. But I am sure some folks will get great use from them.
After all is said and done, the upgrade was worth it. I’ll get over the small disappointments. I left out a lot of great new features that will, undoubtedly, allow me to wow my clients and prospective clients–once I learn how to use them.
Bill Harrel – www.williamharrel.com