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Issue 5.6


Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium

Issue: 5.6 (September/October 2007)
Author: Brad Rhine
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 6,218
Starting Page Number: 8
Article Number: 5602
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As much as we love to code, many of us have to wear multiple hats as developers. After the application is written, we still need good looking icons, an eye catching website, and a seemingly endless stream of other non-programming odds and ends. Fortunately, there are plenty of good tools available to help with such tasks.

One tool that's long been part of many toolkits is Adobe Photoshop. From its humble beginnings nearly twenty years ago, Photoshop has grown to become the dominant force in computer image editing, and with good reason: it's simply one of the best image editors around. In all honesty, it's the standard by which all other image editors are judged. With the latest release, part of Adobe's Creative Suite 3 Web Premium (Photoshop is also part of several other CS3 bundles), Photoshop gets even better.

The big new feature for Mac users is, of course, compatibility with Intel Macs. And for owners of Intel Macs, this is a great feature, indeed. While Photoshop Creative Suite 2 was painfully slow to launch of my MacBook Pro, Photoshop CS3 is almost ridiculously fast. And once it's launched, image operations are noticeably faster in CS3 on Intel hardware. The Windows version is no slouch, either; on Windows XP and Windows Vista, Photoshop CS3 performs very well.

However, that performance comes at a price. Photoshop CS3 is resource hungry, and that includes RAM, disk space, and processing power. The Windows version requires 512MB of RAM, 1GB of disk space, and a Pentium 4 or higher. The Mac version adds an additional gigabyte of disk space to the requirements and asks for a similarly equipped processor (G4, G5, or Core Duo).

Another new feature in Photoshop CS3 is the smart filter, which allows users to apply filters non-destructively to layers and objects. In the past, this was an all or nothing deal, but now you can apply and remove the filter to and from selected parts of your layers at will.

With version CS3, Photoshop has absorbed one of my favorite Adobe applications, ImageReady. ImageReady was ideal for creating icons and other images destined for the computer screen. Most of ImageReady's great features have been rolled into Photoshop. Simply choose "Save for Web and Devices" from the file menu to bring up ImageReady's familiar multi-paned dialog. Sadly, not all of ImageReady's features survived the transition, such as the ability to position layers quickly and easily without using guides.

Speaking of surviving transitions, Adobe GoLive barely made it. Their old standard has been updated to version 9, but Adobe says that it's the last version, and it hasn't been included in any of the Creative Suite 3 bundles. Following Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia, Dreamweaver is the new Adobe's HTML editor of choice. As a former GoLive fan, I was disappointed to hear that news, but I have to admit that the new Dreamweaver CS3 is a great upgrade.

Dreamweaver's best new feature is the integrated Spry Framework for Ajax. The Spry Framework includes some really snazzy widgets like tab panels, accordions, collapsible panels, and menu bars, and Dreamweaver CS3 makes it incredibly easy to add these widgets to your web pages. This makes it dead simple to give your website the "Web 2.0" look that all the kids go nuts for these days. In addition, the Spry Framework also includes form elements and even tools for parsing and displaying XML data, such as RSS feeds.

Dreamweaver always played well with Fireworks, but now that Dreamweaver and Fireworks are Adobe products, it integrates equally well with Photoshop CS3, which is great news for those who may not be fans of Fireworks. (Fireworks was upgraded to become part of the CS3 family, but its new features aren't compelling enough to warrant further inclusion in this review).

For fans of the animated web, Flash has also become a member of the Adobe Creative Suite 3 family. This means tight integration with Photoshop CS3 and Illustrator CS3, as well as a more refined Adobe interface. I don't use Flash much myself, but a colleague who uses it frequently for work has mentioned several times how much faster it is and how much easier it is to use than previous versions.

For many users, a big selling point for Flash CS3 is the ability to create and encode your own FLV (Flash Video) content for streaming media on your website. FLV has become very popular due to its reliance on only the Flash plugin (so no dependence on QuickTime, Windows Media, or RealPlayer) and its ability to scale fairly well onscreen.

Whether you're designing icons or building your online presence, Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium is a fantastic set of tools to take care of those pesky non-coding jobs many of us have to do. Starting at $1599 ($499 upgrade), it's certainly not cheap, especially for the indie developer, but it's definitely in a class by itself in terms of performance, elegance, and features. As a free alternative, you could download open source programs like GIMP, Inkscape, and NVu, but while they do their respective jobs fairly well, they lack the power, simplicity, and integration of the Adobe Suite. It includes everything but the talent.

End of article.