Adobe CS4 Web review: Adobe CS4 Web

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Setup and interface: 8.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Service and support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Adobe CS4 Web Premium includes a game-changing update to Flash; spruced-up shortcuts for dynamic designs in Dreamweaver and Fireworks; decent if unnecessary upgrades of Photoshop and Illustrator, Soundbooth and Acrobat 9, with improved integration among similar interfaces.

The Bad These heavy-duty applications take long to install, are hard to learn, and hog resources; personal tech support can exceed the price of some applications.

The Bottom Line Adobe CS4 Web Premium is a good deal for interactive designers who don't need tools for video editing and sophisticated print layouts.

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The Adobe Creative Suite 4 Web Premium package is built for Web-page designers, animators, and graphics pros. Its key components include the updated Dreamweaver and Fireworks for dynamic Web design, Photoshop and Illustrator for pixel and vector graphics, Flash for animation, and Soundbooth to tweak audio. Acrobat Professional 9, which now integrates Flash content, is also here.

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Web Premium costs $ 1,699 (or between $599 to $799 to upgrade). The charts below detail the contents of and pricing for this and other CS4 suites; please click on the images of individual applications to learn what's new inside each of them. If you can afford this package, then choose it over the $999 Web Standard collection that offers only Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Flash, excluding Photoshop and Illustrator. If you need more tools for print design beyond PDFs, then check out the Design Standard or Premium editions that include InDesign.

The release of Adobe Creative Suite 3 in 2007 was the first to incorporate former properties from Macromedia, such as Flash. With Creative Suite 4, Adobe has unified the interfaces of all the applications for a more seamless experience. Workspace adjustments to CS4 include panels that are more nimble than its predecessor's, and handy pull-down menus with preset styles that enable you to shift among workspace layouts quickly.

Setup and interface
The Web abounds with complaints about Adobe's installer and updater, and most are justified. Every Windows application installer suggests you close any running applications, but you can usually ignore it, and 99 percent of the time everything works out fine. Adobe forces you to close your browser and all Microsoft Office applications, because many of the programs in the suite--primarily Acrobat--spread octopus-like tentacles throughout your working environment. That's pretty appalling in and of itself, but in addition to wasting a large chunk of time installing, you can't do anything else but play Solitaire while it's happening. And as before with the updater, you'll get to relive this delightful close-your-apps-or-else experience on a regular basis. Plus, the installation "progress" bar bears no relation to reality whatsoever, with its two steps forward and one step back movement.

Unfortunately, it took us nearly 2 hours to install the Adobe Master Collection CS4 on Windows Vista and XP machines. (We didn't test CS4 thoroughly on a Mac.) That's still less time than with CS3, and installing the much smaller Web Premium will likely take less time. Adobe's custom installation still lets you pick and choose which components to embrace or reject, but there's no mechanism for migrating your settings and all your custom tools from CS3 and earlier.

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Where to Buy

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Web Standard

Part Number: 65009187 Released: Sep. 22, 2008
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Sep. 22, 2008
  • Category creativity application
  • Compatibility PC