Worldwide mobile computing boom accelerates Adobe
by Alan Zisman (c) 2011
published in Business in
Vancouver May 31-June 6, 2011 issue #1127 High Tech
Every eighteen months for much of the past decade Adobe has released a
new version of its Creative Suite – bundling pro-level tools like
Photoshop and Flash in a variety of packages aimed at graphics, video,
and web development design professionals.
Starting this spring with its new release of CS 5.5 coming just twelve
months after the previous version, Adobe has picked up the pace,
promising updated versions every year (and a major revision every
second year) – a response to the explosion of mobile and tablet devices.
These new devices have posed a problem for designers needing to make
content accessible in multiple sizes for print and online for
computers, smartphones, and tablets. And they’ve posed a problem for
Adobe given its commitment to Flash as a standard for delivering
multimedia content online. Apple has refused to allow Flash on its
iPhones and iPads, while performance and battery life on mobile devices
that do support Flash have been mediocre at best.
Adobe hasn’t abandoned Flash in its new release. CS 5.5’s Flash Builder
can be used to create apps for the 131 smartphone models that Adobe
expects will offer Flash support this year. But Adobe is also offering
tools for developers needing to work with Flash alternatives.
CS 5.5’s Dreamweaver will let web developers continue to work with
Flash or to move their work to platforms like HTML 5 and jQuery
supported on iPhones and iPads.
Other new features also aim to help developers cope with the increased
popularity of mobile devices. The new version of Dreamweaver, for
instance, supports CSS3 formatting, allowing the creation of web sites
that adapt to multiple screen sizes. Users can simultaneously view a
web page as it would appear on different devices.
The new InDesign CS 5.5 allows page designers to output more
sophisticated Epub-format e-books and produce documents with images
that automatically resize to fit different screens. InDesign’s Folio
Producer offers tools for the production of digital magazine editions
aimed at tablet users.
To show off CS 5.5’s new Photoshop Touch Software Development Kit –
used to build tablet or smartphone apps that interact with Photoshop,
Adobe released a trio of iPad apps. Color Lava lets Photoshop owners
use an iPad to ‘mix’ colours and create custom Photoshop colour
schemes. Nav lets an iPad act as a control panel for Photoshop tools
and documents. Eazel can be used to ‘fingerpaint’ on the iPad,
optionally exporting artwork for fine-tuning in Photoshop.
CS 5.5 does not include a new version of Photoshop, however, just a
modest update to the previous CS 5 version to allow it to work with the
new touch apps – this update is also downloadable for Photoshop CS 5
As with previous Creative Suite versions, the new CS 5.5 applications
can be purchased individually, bundled into collections targeting
developers primarily working in print, web, or video, or in the $2600
Master Collection for all of them. Upgrade pricing is available for
current CS users.
New this time around, though not really a feature – Subscription
Editions. While many professional graphics shops will continue to
purchase their preferred version of Adobe’s suite, renting the software
on a monthly basis can make sense for some users – those who want a
chance to try it before committing to an expensive purchase, for
instance, or for design firms needing additional licenses for temporary
staff hired on for specific projects.
Monthly subscription costs range from $49 for Photoshop alone, $139 for
the Design Premium suite, to $195 for the Master Collection; prices are
discounted (about 30%) with one-year contracts.
Subscribing for two years would be more expensive than paying upgrade
prices for every second annual version, but would have the advantage of
always providing the most recent version.