The Good Adobe CS4 Design Premium bundles a great Flash update, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat 9, at a relative discount; features improved integration among similar interfaces.
The Bad Updates to Photoshop and InDesign don't justify the upgrade for most users; excludes audio editing; heavy-duty applications take long to install, are hard to learn, and hog resources; costly personal tech support.
The Bottom Line Adobe CS4 Design Premium contains nearly every tool for editing digital images and layouts for print and the Web, as well as for crafting interactive animation and desktop apps. If you don't need video editing, pick this over the Master Collection and save $700.
Adobe CS4 Design
The $1,799 Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium package (between $599 to $799 to upgrade) is built for print and Web page designers, animators, and graphics pros. Key components include the updated InDesign for print, Dreamweaver and Fireworks for dynamic Web design, Flash for animation, plus Photoshop and Illustrator for pixel and vector graphics. Acrobat Professional 9, which now integrates Flash content, is also here. This is a terrific toolbox for those who don't need video tools enabled by Premiere, AfferEffects, and Soundbooth in the $2,500 Master Collection. 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.
With Creative Suite 4, Adobe has unified the interfaces of all the applications for a more seamless experience. Work-space 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 work space layouts quickly. A corporate ad department, for instance, could use this software to create a campaign that repurposes the same images and layouts for formats as varied as magazines, posters, t-shirts, Web sites, online games, desktop apps, and mobile devices.
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 octopuslike 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.
Google formally abandons its Nik photo-editing tools
The tech giant officially says it has no plans to update the popular collection of filters and editing tools.
Cloud-computing plan could help Adobe Lightroom photographers
A job posting from the company indicates that the popular photo-editing software could be poised to fully embrace the cloud and let you work anywhere.
Adobe Lightroom embraces Canon's hot new camera -- part way
It's a struggle to work with every new camera, each with its own raw photo format, but Adobe's got core support for Canon's hot new 5D Mark IV.
What the Fuchsia? Google's trying out a mysterious new operating system
The software is designed for "modern phones and modern personal computers," which suggests Google intends to compete against Microsoft's Windows and possibly its own Android.
Google to push Flash closer to extinction with new version of Chrome
Chrome 55, due out in December, will replace the once-popular plug-in with HTML5, Google says.
A-doh!-be: How Homer chatted live with 'Simpsons' fans thanks to Adobe software
Adobe Character Animator created a live episode of the Simpsons with the animated characters improvising in real-time.
Latest update signals that Adobe hasn't yet burned its Bridge CC
After a prolonged silence on Creative Cloud's digital asset-management tool, Adobe's finally started the process of rebuilding Bridge.
Adobe updates Lightroom software to quell customer anger
The newest version of the photo-editing and cataloging software restores the earlier process for importing photos. Also: support for new cameras and the iPhone 6S.
Adobe to undo Lightroom change after customer wrath
It's rare for major software companies to perform such abrupt U-turns, but Adobe decided to heed the advice of customers who didn't like a significant new alteration.
With Project Comet, Adobe adapts its tools to the era of phones and tablets
The software industry powerhouse previews a new tool to ensure it has a place with the designers and developers who build software that's not just for PCs.
Adobe's Morph Cut is like autotune for videos
A new feature in Adobe's video-editing software Premiere Pro helps to smooth out jumps and cuts in talking-head style interviews. Here's how it works and how you can put words in someone's mouth.
Faster computers, coming soon, as graphics chip answers the call to action
New tech used by Apple and Microsoft promises to uncork bottlenecks. That's great for computer users who want new features, but brings new complications for those who build our software.