Photoshop 7.0 (with ImageReady) review:

Photoshop 7.0 (with ImageReady)

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Familiar Adobe interface; integration with Photoshop 7.0 provides access to powerful image-editing tools; optimizes files for the Web very well.

The Bad Slightly clunky interface; some advanced effects, such as animation, are confusing to set up; doesn't create true vector objects.

The Bottom Line For an all-Adobe shop that doesn't need a vector graphics app, ImageReady can't be beat. But flexible designers should consider more powerful Macromedia Fireworks first.

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8.0 Overall

Although Photoshop and ImageReady are two discrete programs, they ship together on one CD. Photoshop, the image editor, and ImageReady, the Web graphics creator, are thoroughly integrated, so you can take advantage of Photoshop's advanced image editing from within ImageReady. Despite those advantages, when it comes to producing Web-based, static graphics, we prefer Fireworks' cleaner interface and seamless support for both vector and graphic objects. Unless you need easy access to Photoshop's powerful image-editing tools, we give Fireworks a slight Web graphics edge. Although Photoshop and ImageReady are two discrete programs, they ship together on one CD. Photoshop, the image editor, and ImageReady, the Web graphics creator, are thoroughly integrated, so you can take advantage of Photoshop's advanced image editing from within ImageReady. Despite those advantages, when it comes to producing Web-based, static graphics, we prefer Fireworks' cleaner interface and seamless support for both vector and graphic objects. Unless you need easy access to Photoshop's powerful image-editing tools, we give Fireworks a slight Web graphics edge.

Déjà interface
Since Photoshop and ImageReady ship on the same CD, you install both apps simultaneously. After setup, you can launch ImageReady on its own, or if you're working in Photoshop, simply select File > Jump To > ImageReady 7.0. Easy as pie.

Adobe acolytes won't experience much of a learning curve, since ImageReady's interface resembles Photoshop's--toolbars on the left, palettes on the right, and work space in the middle. In addition, you'll find an Animation, Image Map, and Slice palette at the bottom of ImageReady's screen and a Rollovers palette on the left. Like Fireworks, ImageReady's work-space window sports four tabs--Original, Optimized, 2-Up, and 4-Up--to preview your document in different file formats and compression rates.

Once you've created the graphics, ImageReady lets you add Web-savvy functionality--slices, image maps, rollovers, and simple animation--via a triple-tabbed Animation/Image Map/Slice palette set. These three features let you turn images into simple GIF or QuickTime animations, divide images into irregularly shaped segments (each of which links to its own URL), and cut your document into smaller segments, respectively. To help you organize these effects, version 7.0 sports a new Rollovers palette that displays all the rollovers, image maps, animation sequences, and slices you have added to your document.

Better at bitmaps
Unlike Fireworks, which is equally at home with both vector and bitmapped graphics, Photoshop/ImageReady favors the bitmap. Sadly, ImageReady offers few shape options--a rectangle, a rounded rectangle, and an ellipse--so if you want to construct dynamic, interactive buttons, you must first create them with either an external illustration program, such as Adobe Illustrator, or Photoshop's polygon or custom shape tool. Fireworks, meanwhile, gracefully creates and handles all types of object creation.

Sloppy layers
To add effects to your graphics, apply ImageReady's Layer Styles, such as drop shadow or bevel, with the palette tool of the same name. But since ImageReady objects aren't true vector objects, every edit you make spawns a different layer, and you must create separate layers for each effect. For example, to assemble a toolbar with several different style buttons, each button must live on a different layer.

Support days are numbered
What's our biggest beef with ImageReady? The program makes its advanced features unnecessarily confusing. For example, to animate a blue ball on one layer and a green ball on another, you must juggle a bewildering array of layers, slices, frames, states, and objects. Plus, we found no way to turn images into pop-up menus. Fireworks' elegant implementation and work flow are much easier to learn and use.

Photoshop's tech support offers first-time purchasers 90 days of free phone support. Product upgraders get only 30 days. After those periods expire, you can opt for a fee-per-incident cost of $25 or sign up for a yearly plan for $149. Adobe produces beautiful, comprehensive manuals, and the online help is outstanding. The free Adobe user-to-user forums are a rich source of information, as well.

Photoshop rocks, but its ImageReady sister doesn't yet compare to Fireworks. However, if you don't mind working a little harder, this pair of programs has a lot to offer to Adobe-based designers.

Take me back to the roundup!

You can create simple animation in a few seconds by having ImageReady automatically transition between two frames.

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