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First Look: Adobe Creative Suite 2

A prerelease overview of the new applications and suite components By Dave Nagel
Adobe today announced the latest version of its Creative Suite, and we have all the details to share with you. We've been keeping this information bottled up for an awfully long time, and now that we can talk about it, we're not going to hold anything back. So we'll be providing you with in depth coverage of the Adobe Creative Suite 2, including spotlights on the individual applications in the suite--Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator--and the suite as a whole. We'll kick things off now with an overview of the new features in the Creative Suite 2.

By far the most exciting new features to be found in the new suite are those in Photoshop CS2. All of the applications in the suite gain at least a few significant enhancements, but with Photoshop, the new features are the most dramatic, including everything from the tiniest workflow enhancements to major new capabilities. We'll go over those later on in this article, with more expansive, feature by feature coverage in separate "first look" articles on Photoshop CS2, InDesign CS2 and Illustrator CS2 beginning today and continuing through next week with seriously in depth "spotlight" articles on major new individual features.

Aside from the applications themselves, the Creative Suite components also gain some significant additions and refinements, from the new stand-alone file browser to an update of Version Cue to enhancements of inter-application color management. We'll get into these first.

However, if you'd like to read our First Look articles on the major applications in the suite, you can find those by following these links:

? Photoshop CS2
? Illustrator CS2

A new file browser: Adobe Bridge
Probably the most dramatic change to the suite elements has to be the new version of the File Browser. In the previous version of the Creative Suite, the File Browser was a window called up within Photoshop. Now, however, it's a standalone application that can be called up anytime and can be used to drag and drop elements to any of the CS2 applications. The new, stand-alone version is called Adobe Bridge.

Here's a look at the main Bridge interface using one of the four interface options: Film Strip.

The other view options include Thumbnails, Details and Versions & Alternates. And there's also a Compact Mode options, which collapses the sidebar panes in the browser and places the Bridge interface in the frontmost window position (on top of any document windows), regardless of which application you're using. (In this mode, it will also remain the frontmost window even when switching to non-Creative Suite applications.)

But beyond this, the Bridge adds further tools for manipulating images in your collections before you even open them up. This can include batch conversions to different file types and color spaces; batch renaming; running Photoshop scripts; applying Photoshop services; and applying functions from individual applications in the suite. This last category includes preflighting, Flash export; PDF export; and other functions.

From the new Bridge, you can drag and drop files into documents in the Creative Suite or even use it as a general-purpose tool for bringing documents into any application that provides drag and drop import capabilities for images, such as Adobe After Effects, Apple DVD Studio Pro, Macromedia FIreworks, etc., etc. And, because the Bridge can be used as a floating palette, you can always have your images easily accessible.

In fact, with the new capabilities of Bridge, it makes sense to incorporate it into every aspect of your workflow. I've set it up as one of the start-up items on my computer so that I'll always have it handy. It's just plain too useful now to ignore!

But the new feature of the Bridge don't end there. You can place items into Creative Suite applications from the File menu.

You can apply Camera Raw settings from the Edit menu.

You can even access and edit full XMP File Info on any image at any time, just like in Photoshop's File Info function.

There are tons of other refinements in the Bridge, including support for QuickTime movies (with video previews) that can be dragged and dropped into applications. (In fact, it even works with audio files.)

And there's even an option for searching for and purchasing stock images using the new Adobe Stock Photos service. This service incorporates the royalty-free stock collections of a number of providers, including Comstock, Photodisc (Getty Images), Digital Vision, Imageshop and Amana, for a total of some 230,000 images as of this writing. You can search for images, browse categories and download comps directly from the Bridge. (Double-clicking any thumbnail image in the Bridge opens up the comp in Photoshop.) And you can get instant quotes on the images at various resolutions and purchase the images on the spot, adding them to your shopping cart within Bridge.

Synchronized color management
The Creative Suite now includes synchronized color management between Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator so that you can have consistent color between these applications. From the Bridge application, you can access "Creative Suite Color Settings" from the Edit menu, where you can then choose the default settings for all applications.

This automatically synchronizes the Creative Suite apps. But you can also still adjust these settings manually in each application through their respective Color Settings dialogs.

And, if you choose to make changes, you can save these changes to a new settings file (complete with your own description), which can then be used for all of the CS2 applications.

Beyond this, there are also individual color enhancements for InDesign and Illustrator, which we'll discuss separately.

Other suite-wide changes
Version Cue CS2 also gains several improvements, but far more minor than those of the Bridge. These include access through Bridge of Version Cue documents (with search capabilities and project creation); simplified versioning; simplified administration; and online, browser-based PDF review.

In addition, all of the applications in the suite gain access to common PDF export presets for more consistent PDF creation. This is a great little addition not just to the suite, but to your workflow as a whole. The new PDF presets in the Creative Suite provide for consistent PDF creation throughout the applications. But, in addition, they can also be accessed by non-Adobe applications in Mac OS X whenever you choose to print to PDF!

Finally, Help in the new suite has been redesigned into a new Adobe Help Center, which includes the ability to access Adobe Expert Support.

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Related Keywords:adobe creative suite 2, photoshop cs2, illustrator cs2, indesign cs2, adobe bridge

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