With its Adobe Creative Suite 4, Adobe Systems offers significant enhancements over Creative Suite 3. The improvements to the graphics suite of tools include a redone interface, better component integration and upgraded 3-D tools. Adobe Creative Suite 4 completes the integration of the former Macromedia products with the Adobe Creative Suite. Adobe Creative Suite 4 also gives developers six versions to choose from.
Adobe Creative Suite 4 adds a revamped interface, improved component
integration and advanced 3-D tools to the dominant graphics suite. And while
some users will probably be able to get by just fine with the older versions,
serious Web and rich media developers will find Creative Suite 4 to be a very
If the main thrust of Creative Suite 3 was the integration of the former
Macromedia products into the Adobe suite, Creative Suite achieves their
complete assimilation. Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Contribute are now
completely Adobe applications, and this is a good thing as they now integrate
very well throughout almost all of the products in the Adobe suite.
And just what products make up the Adobe Creative Suite? Well, that depends
on which of the six versions of the suite one chooses, ranging from the
comparatively minimalist Design Standard version (which includes InDesign,
Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat) to the all-encompassing Master Collection. Any
of the versions would be a good value. Even the $2,499 Master Collection costs
less than half of what it would cost to buy all of the components individually.
Most of the other suite versions represent the cost of just two components
out eWEEK Labs' walk-through of Adobe Creative Suite 4.
I won't list all of the different permutations of Creative Suite 4 in this
review, but readers can go here
to see a
grid of all the different versions and their prices. Users of previous versions
will find that there are new components in several of the suite packages.
For purposes of this review, I went for the whole enchilada and installed
Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection, which includes InDesign, Photoshop,
Illustrator, Acrobat, Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Contribute, After Effects,
Premiere, Soundbooth, OnLocation, Encore and several suite integration
components, such as the Adobe Bridge.
Often with updates of this type, there are few compelling reasons for users
to upgrade. However, I was impressed after long use how many of the new
features and capabilities in Creative Suite
4 proved to be very useful. Probably the biggest negative is the
massive installation hassle and bloat of even the smaller suite packages. Plus,
the hardware requirements have gone up and systems that ran Creative Suite 3
with no problem may have a tougher time with Version 4.
I've been a regular user of Creative Suite 3 for the last couple of years,
and when I fired up Creative Suite 4, I was surprised by the major changes in
the interface. For the first few days, I relied heavily on menus as many of the
panels and tools I used had changed and new ones had been introduced. However,
once I became familiar with the new interface, I found it to be intuitive and
Integration across the many applications proved to be very good. In general,
wherever it made sense for applications to integrate, they did. Whether it was
saving components for use in Flash, exporting stylesheets for use in
Dreamweaver or saving content in PDF form, Creative Suite 4 made it easy to move
content around the different applications of the suite.
Rather than look at every application in the entire Adobe Creative Suite 4
Master Collection, I've decided to focus on the key features in applications
that are of most use within the enterprise, specifically Flash, Dreamweaver and
Photoshop. I reviewed