Tactical Advice

The Creative Touch

New features make Adobe Creative Suite 5 more user friendly.
This story appears in the June 2010 issue of BizTech Magazine.

Not long ago, the Adobe Creative Suite was thought to be for photographers, film producers and graphic artists only. With the introduction of Creative Suites 3 and 4, Adobe expanded the product so that anyone who wants to make an artistic statement can do so with flair.

This trend continues, as the new features in Creative Suite 5 are nothing short of astonishing — almost magical. Whether it’s making an impression in a classroom, a conference room or just for the boss, there’s never been a tool more versatile and easy to use than Adobe’s Creative Suite 5.

End-User Advantages

Adobe has exerted a great effort to make Flash more approachable. In the past, only those with scripting or programming skills could make the most of this platform. While that’s still true to some extent, most nonprogrammers will do just fine using intuitive tools such as InDesign CS5 and a new product, Flash Catalyst.

With Adobe’s new Heads Up Display, you can create buttons, full data lists and toggle switches from a graphical user interface. Using InDesign CS5, you can embed a movie right into a media project, remove its play bar, set it to repeat itself and activate the title when a box is clicked — all without any programming knowledge. Flash Catalyst creates all the scripting behind the scenes for you, which can still be edited in a code view if necessary.

There are also two new tools in Photoshop CS5 that are very useful. The first is the Content-Aware Fill tool. Simply select a foreground object — for example, a bicyclist in a park scene in front of a couple of trees and a fence — and activate the tool. In moments, the bicyclist is gone, and the fence and trees and even the leaves on the ground are all filled in for you. What used to take hours with a clone brush now takes just a few clicks and 30 seconds.

If that’s not enough, Adobe borrowed a trick from After Effects in CS4 and built it into Photoshop CS5: the Puppet Warp tool. With this tool, you select part of an image — for example, a person’s arm from shoulder to hand. Put in a few anchor points (such as the hand, elbow and shoulder) and then move them around — the whole arm will automatically adjust to the new points, like a puppet on strings. You can then do this a bit at a time, saving each image, and then export it all as frames for a video.

Why It Works for IT

Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 has a new service called BrowserLab that allows Quality Assurance folks and developers a chance to see what their web creations look like in various browsers and platforms. For example, you can see how your web page looks in Firefox 3 on Windows, Firefox 3 on the Mac or Internet Explorer 7. You can even use an “onion skin” feature to overlay the pages from different simulated browsers to see how the offsets differ.

Disadvantages

Adobe Creative Suite 5 consists of almost a dozen different products and four different collections, so there are many different ways to buy it. It can seem a little complex at first, especially if you are trying to satisfy the needs of many different users or departments. Make use of any online tools you can find, and make sure you’re getting all the pieces and parts you need before making a purchase.

Also, the movie editing products now require a 64-bit hardware unit and operating system. However, if these requirements aren’t met, Adobe does provide the CS4 edition to run in its place. Wise IT administrators will prepare for this and provide appropriately outfitted computers to those who run such memory-intensive applications

Dr. Jeffrey Sheen is the lead enterprise analyst for Grange Mutual Insurance of Columbus, Ohio.
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