Adobe Creative Suite 2

The integration of Adobe’s products into Creative Suite 2 isn’t just a marketing hook. The products that comprise Adobe’s core print design methodology (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign) interact and interoperate beautifully.

Barely more than a year after the release of the original Creative Suite, Adobe has further cemented the joins between each application, and introduced new tools to oversee and manage them all.

Chief among them is Adobe Bridge, which you can reach by a single click in each component or open as a standalone application. Incorporating Version Cue from CS1 and based in part on the very handy Photoshop File Browser, Bridge is your starting point for everything — Version Cue projects and all versions thereof, RSS content like tips and tutorials, all files and their associated metadata (invaluable for sorting and searching everything you have), even buying stock photography from the most popular providers — without even having to open a web browser.

Version Cue hasn’t had an upgrade per se, but as part of Bridge it’s much more user friendly. You can still track multiple versions of files, including alternate and concurrent paths of changes. With all your assets in the one Version Cue project folder, Bridge is the natural place to access them all. Together, Version Cue and Bridge make an almost complete alternative to the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer for managing your work.

But as the artists hope for, the flashy additions are there too. Among the biggest is Vanishing Point, Photoshop’s extremely cool new trick to reference perspective in an image and draw or copy part of the image somewhere else — following the same perspective and saving hours of work.

Similarly heaven-sent is Illustrator’s Live Trace. If you’ve created a beautiful image from scratch as a raster file and realise to your horror down the track you need it as a vector, the only way of converting it before CS 2 was by placing the raster image in Illustrator and tracing it line by line with the pen tool. Now, Live Trace does it automatically with just a few clicks according to drawing style presets, saving you even more hours of work.

In fact, part of the whole CS philosophy has been about timesaving. The more integrated the products and the more flexibility you have at every step along the production workflow, the more time you have up your sleeve to be creative. InDesign paved the way by being able to work with native Illustrator and Photoshop files instead of only .tif or .eps files like Quark Xpress still does, and now even the last step — output to PDF — is editable. A palette of tools in Acrobat now lets you correct the most common handful of mistakes in colour and trapping set-up without you having to go back to your layout.

But if you do want to keep revisiting the InDesign file, you can take advantages of the innumerable timesaving devices there too. From the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them, like control-clicking on a linked image where the contextual menu has a Reveal in Finder feature to the oldies-but-goodies like Snippets — essentially the same as Quark Xpress’ old Library feature, accessed once again through Bridge.

Despite being one of the lesser of its kind, GoLive has also trumped its competition by incorporating mobile content production standards, some pretty intuitive CSS tools (now CSS has become more or less the defacto standard of web design), and favicon creation.

The original Creative Suite represented a quantum leap forward for design professionals. CS2 is no less sweeping, taking into account everything CS1 got right and making it better. So far, the user experience seems to be Adobe’s main priority. Let’s hope it stays that way when they’re a monopoly.