Adobe to take wraps off Creative Suite 3

Company looks to cement its leadership among creative professionals with an upgrade that integrates Web design with multimedia editing. Images: Inside Creative Suite 3

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
4 min read
Adobe Systems on Tuesday launched Creative Suite 3, a showcase for the company's merger with rival Macromedia that is designed to smoothly combine Web design with content creation.

Creative Suite 3, which focuses on print designers, multimedia editors and Web designers, was two years in development. CS3 comes in six editions, though customers can also individually purchase updated applications, such as Photoshop, Illustrator or Flash.

The estimated price for Creative Suite 3 Design Standard is $1,199 and for the Design Premium version, $1,799. The Web-oriented editions cost $999 for Web Standard and $1,599 for Web Premium.

The CS3 Production Premium is $1,699. And the Master Collection, the most comprehensive package, is $2,499.

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The Design and Web editions will begin shipping in April, while the Production Premium and Master Collection editions will ship this summer, said John Loiacono, senior vice president of Adobe's Creative Solutions Business Unit.

Integration among different products was done with specific tasks, or workflows, in mind, Loiacono said.

To ease collaboration between photographers and Web designers, for example, people will be able to view and modify images from Dreamweaver, Adobe's Web development tool. By contrast, people now send images back and forth and make changes in the Photoshop image-editing program.

Or, rather than having to render a modified video clip a second time in After Effects, video editors can make changes to the clip directly in Premiere Pro, explained Loiacono.

"The difference between previous things we've done with Creative Suite and CS3 is the enhancements around the user interface and unification--a whole host of things to make it look and function more cohesively," he said.

The updated suite will also include new tools for audio editing and mobile content creation.

Soundbooth, an audio editing program aimed primarily at video editors, will replace Audition in the suite. And Adobe Device Central will let designers view how content, such as videos or illustrations, will display on a variety of mobile devices.

Applications in CS3 have been optimized for Mac OS X on Intel-based Macintosh computers and work with PowerPC-based Macs as well. The applications also run on Windows Vista and Windows XP.

On a related note, Loiacono said that he is not aware of any substantial problems with running Creative Suite 2 on Windows Vista but that the company is not officially recommending that usage because it has not done a full barrage of tests.

"The only way we can feel comfortable (recommending Creative Suite 2 for Vista) is to do full testing," he said.

Company executives contend that Creative Suite 3 is the most significant product launch in the company's history.

With CS3, the company is expanding its Photoshop franchise by introducing both new high-end and entry-level packages. Photoshop CS3 Extended, which includes additional features aimed at video production tasks, 3D texture-map editing, and scientific image analysis.

Later this year, Adobe plans to introduce an online version of Photoshop, an ad-supported online service to broaden the company's reach into the consumer market.

Loiacono said that more than 50 percent of the company's revenue comes from the Creative Solutions Business Unit and that the upgrade will have a big effect financially.

On Sunday, Amazon Canada stole some of Adobe's thunder when it accidentally published product details, including prices and release dates.

Features touted
Company executives showed off the latest features at an Adobe-hosted event in New York with customers and partners.

Before demonstrations, Adobe President and Chief Operating Officer Shantanu Narayen said the company's overarching strategy is to allow creative professionals to use the same content, such as photos or illustrations, in a variety of "channels," including print, video, Web and wireless devices.

He said Adobe expects there will be a growing number of "hybrid" applications that "combine the power of the desktop with the interactivity of the Internet."

Narayen added that Adobe has begun to experiment with these types of hybrid applications itself with Adobe Remix, an online video-editing product. Previously, company executives said Adobe will offer a Photoshop-branded online photo editing tool.

With the Creative Suite 3 release, the company is introducing online services to work in conjunction with desktop applications. One feature, called Kuler, allows Illustrator users to look for or share "swatches" of color combinations with other people online.

In another example, Adobe has launched a site called CSS Advisor, designed to help Dreamweaver Web developers search for common problems rendering Web pages on different browsers.

Loiacono said Adobe intends to increasingly use Apollo, its software for writing Web-based applications on desktop computers, in its own products.

For example, Adobe has written a version of Kuler to run on Apollo. And the company will release an Apollo-based client that will allow content creators to add digital rights management restrictions, Loiacono said.

Executives also showed off some of some of the digital manipulation features with a new high-end product called Photoshop CS3 Extended, which Loiacono said will help Adobe sell Photoshop to a new set of industries, including architecture, engineering and medical businesses.

Another "eye candy" feature added in the production version of CS3 is called Puppet, which allows video editors to add human motions to a still image in order to quickly create "character animations."

Company executives showed off how the enhanced integration between products can make collaboration between people easier. For example, video editors in After Effects can repurpose Web graphics by importing Flash animations, or they can import Photoshop files to make 3D images and animations.

Similarly, with Premiere Pro, files can be recorded on DVD, broadcast over the Web as Flash, or, through Device Central, displayed on a mobile handset.

Despite the excitement of Adobe employees, a technical glitch forced Loiacono to delay the presentation for about 20 minutes midway through the event.

"Welcome back to the Creative Suite 3 launch," Loiacono said. He blamed the audiovisual hardware problem on a cell phone, rather than software.