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Adobe unwraps Creative Suite 3

This is the first release of the digital design software since Adobe bought Macromedia.

Now's the time for early adopters who can afford Adobe Creative Suite 3 to break out their credit cards. The professional interactive design software is officially for sale online. If you can't plunk down upwards of $1,000 for a suite (more in Europe--or buy a plane ticket from there to the States if you want to spend less), then check out some freebie Web-based and downloadable alternatives.

Flash sports a new interface.
Flash and other CS3 apps sport new interfaces. Elsa Wenzel/CNET

Thanks to Adobe's work to incorporate its staple software with its Macromedia acquisitions from 2005, integration throughout the applications is the biggest news to report with this upgrade. There aren't as many showy new features, such as there were with the introduction of green screen video editing with Flash 8. However, the capability to drag and drop images, with layers and color settings intact, from Photoshop and Illustrator into the various Web, interactive, and print design tools is a big, time-saving deal. As far as highly specialized software goes, there isn't much competition for Adobe's comprehensive lineup--although Microsoft is gunning for its Expression suite to make a big splash this spring.

We've been playing with the buggy beta editions of the CS3 Web and Design packages for a few weeks. Now that the gold code is in our hands, we'll keep updating our CS3 coverage with rated reviews and screenshots. More news will come as the Production Premium and Master Collection suites come this summer.