Adobe's Creative Suite CS2 Hits the Shelves

By Scott Koegler | Posted June 14, 2005

Adobe's Creative Suite CS2 adds significant new features to each of its individual applications and also integrates several new functions that are likely to make life easier for professionals using Adobe's products.

The Creative Suite CS2 software is available in a Premium Edition and a Standard Edition, both of which include Photoshop CS2, InDesign CS2, and Illustrator CS2. The Professional Edition adds Adobe Acrobat 7 Professional and GoLive CS2. In addition to these upgraded applications, both packages include Version Cue CS2 to coordinate and synchronize projects being worked on by multiple people; Adobe Bridge, an enhanced file browser; and Adobe Stock Photos service, a service that provides searchable access to royalty free images.

Each of the upgraded packages includes a wide variety of feature enhancements and additions. But because these are already such feature-rich programs, it's likely that all but the most obvious changes will be lost on uninitiated Adobe users. That's not to say the enhancements aren't welcome or useful additions, but it's the Bridge and Stock Photos that are likely to be seen as significant advances by both experienced enthusiasts and new users.

Adobe Bridge CS2
Adobe Bridge CS2 is an image browser on steroids. We launched the Bridge and were greeted by a thumbnail page of the images in the My Pictures folder of My Computer. That isn't so unusual, but as we looked more closely we noticed that not only were my JPG and TIF files shown, but all our native Adobe files were visible as well — a handy trick that isn't available from within most file or image browsers. Bridge will display thumbnails for any of Adobe's files that include embedded thumbnails. In short, that means you can more easily identify your PDF, Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign files without having to first open them.

Bridge also does what its name implies — that is, it acts as a bridge between the various Adobe applications. We opened InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator and were able to browse the Bridge for images and files and then drag our selections to the InDesign document. Bridge maintains your files' metadata and automatically populates a variety of statistical fields to identify usage and placement information. Placement information is useful when using content from one object in another object, meaning, for example, that an image can be automatically placed in the same position in the destination document that it occupied in the original. The same is true for text.

Bridge allows you to add keywords and similarly categorize your files, making it fast and simple to search on both existing metadata (date, camera used, shutter speed, etc.) as well as your own references (pool party, dogs, wedding).

Adobe Stock Photos CS is accessed through Bridge and adds the ability to search and select from more than 230,000 images. We searched for a "blue house" and were presented with 375 images that were predominately blue in color. Being able to search on color is a nice feature, but we had to rely on our own eyes to find ones with houses. Other searches were more successful. A search for 'scowl' found nearly 400 images of unhappy people. You can also browse by category or photographer, and download un-watermarked comps for free. This makes it simple to use the photo for placement and preview before committing to purchase the images.

InDesign CS2
Among InDesign CS2's new or improved features is a more elegant import of Microsoft Word and RTF files. With a great deal of text starting life in Word documents, importing them in previous versions of InDesign meant spending considerable time adjusting formats that weren't properly translated. InDesign not only handles format conversions but also includes several enhancements to its Styles function that make formatting both new and imported text simpler. We were able to import both Word and PDF files, and the imported text looked just as it did in the original files.

A new Snippets function lets you select portions of InDesign documents and save them for use either in other documents or other sections of the same document. Snippets are stored and managed in Bridge.

Photoshop CS2

Adobe's Bridge is especially important to Photoshop CS2 when used as its file browser. It's a natural act to select images from Bridge and either drag them to Photoshop or simply double-click to open the image(s) in Photoshop. Among Photoshop's more significant new features is its Vanishing Point tool that lets you define perspectives, like the sides of a building. We marked the wall of a picture of a house with the vanishing point function and then selected a door on another wall. As we dragged the door from near to far and back it changed size according to its location on the wall. (Now if only we could move the real door just as easily.)

The Image Warp feature may not be as important to everyday photography, but if you've ever tried to simulate wrapping an image around a tube you can appreciate the difficulty of the task. We selected a landscape image and were able to wrap it around a soda can with just a few mouse clicks by dragging the image's corners.

Illustrator CS2
Adobe Illustrator is an indispensable tool for many graphic designers, and nearly unfathomable to neophytes. To provide a starting point, Adobe has included a set of predesigned templates for Illustrator (as well as for Photoshop and InDesign). These help new users tremendously, and can even be good starters for seasoned users.

One of the difficulties for new users getting familiar with Illustrator is its plethora of tool palettes. Illustrator CS2 includes a new context-sensitive Control palette that lets you access the most common functions from a single location. We found it much easier to find the exact tool we wanted using the Control palette than looking at each of the previous version's separate palettes that always seemed to be covering exactly the portion of the image we needed to work on.

Previous versions of Illustrator often created vector images that were not overly friendly with bitmap images, and converting bitmap images from Photoshop to vector images that can be scaled and manipulated easily in Illustrator has typically been a tedious task at best. Illustrator CS2's Live Trace makes conversion simple, if not automatic. We used Live Trace to convert a scanned line drawing to a vector image. The process wasn't a one-click process, and it did leave us with a few minutes of manual editing. Even so, the tool was much more successful than other methods we've tried and certainly better than having to redraw the image manually.

GoLive CS2
Adobe GoLive CS2 is Adobe's Web design package. It has been updated to include support for a growing number of Web technologies and viewing methods. Web designers building Web sites to be viewed on the small screens of PDAs and phones can take advantage of the SVG Tiny format with live previews rendered in simulated views of a variety of phone displays.

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) technology has been available as a Web design methodology for some years. Updating CSS-based sites is simplified because one change in the base CSS design can update the entire site. However, creating complex CSS sites has been difficult, even for seasoned professional designers. GoLive CS2's Visual CSS authoring provides a set of pre-built elements that can be dragged and dropped into GoLive CS2's CSS design pages and modified from there to meet the specific needs of the Web site.

We created a 3-column blog page using the available tools in less than 10 minutes. What makes this unusual is the middle column is expandable while the right and left columns remain fixed in width, a trick that we didn't have the technical skills to pull off without this kind of help.

Version Cue CS2
Version Cue CS2 is specifically meant to coordinate multiple users working on the same document. It functions similarly to version control systems employed by teams of programmers, where files are checked in and out of a central library. This function will be significant to professional work groups, but lost on solitary workers. However, it's another foot in the door of the large publishing empires that have relied on the (until now) singular publishing workflow environment of QuarkXPress.

Acrobat 7.0 Professional is included in the package as well. You can See our in-depth review of its updated functions at http://www.winplanet.com/article/2788-.htm.

Pricing
Adobe Creative Suite CS2 Premium Edition sells for $1,199 and the Standard Edition is available for $899. Upgrades start at $349 for Standard and $549 for the Premium edition. Adobe's packaged solutions like Creative Suite can be money-saving opportunities for buyers of multiple Adobe applications, as Photoshop by itself sells for $599 and InDesign sells for $699 individually.

One potential downside is that even experienced users are unlikely to use or even notice many of the new features and enhancements in this collection of top shelf software. Professionals accustomed to using certain features should spend some time with the documentation and examples to introduce themselves to the changes and new capabilities. Overall, Creative Suite CS2 sets a new benchmark in graphics design and image editing software suites in its breadth, depth, and simplification of its tools.

Pros: A power user's dream suite of design tools; well-integrated set of applications, with several complementary, useful tools like the Adobe Bridge; templates and context-sensitive assistance for help new users get acclimated to the powerful features and capabilities of the various apps

Cons: Price ($900-$1300) relegates it to professional use for the most part, power-packed with so many features that the learning curve for some of the CS2 apps can be relatively steep

Adapted from winplanet.com.

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