As discussed in a recent Desktop feature (War of the Worlds, April 2008 issue), the line between Mac and PC is blurring, and as long as you enjoy comparable performance on the PCs as you do on the Macs in your office, there’s no reason why you can’t be a purely PC-based design studio.
Adobe Creative Suite Design Premium for Windows contains the same components as the Mac version (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver, Acrobat, Bridge, Version Cue, Stock Photos and Connect. A sticker on the back of the box warns of a known issue with Acrobat under Windows Vista, but we didn’t have any trouble, and there’s a patch to download from the Adobe website in any case.
Once you’re comfortable in an Adobe Creative Suite environment, moving from a Mac to a PC will be a snap. In fact the only major change you’ll have to get used to is holding down ‘Control’ instead of ‘Command’ for keyboard shortcuts. You can operate within the Creative Suite environment for every single creative task you can think of, from buying and downloading stock images and keeping track of all your assets to full content creation for print and web as well as repurposing of content for new platforms, including mobile.
Along with ironclad integration with each other component of Creative Suite, each application has a wealth of cool new tricks and productivity gains. Photoshop, for example, comes one step closer to eradicating the bane of colour retouchers’ lives with the quick selection tool. Click on a portion of your graphic and drag in a certain direction, and the tool will select the entire area up to the nearest predefined border of another colour. Photoshop actually has the most flashy new features, with enhanced Vanishing Point settings, the ability to turn plates on and off in layers, 3D and the ability to open video frames and digitally alter and treat them one at a time.
Dreamweaver isn’t fundamentally different from previous versions, as it was almost perfect according to current web development standards when Adobe got hold of it. As Illustrator and Photoshop are now part of the same family, there’s no more Fireworks, and Flash — along with every component — has been enhanced to test and export to a mobile platform using a suite of presets.
InDesign has similarly enjoyed a few cool new tools. You can now import a number of images at once with multi-file place, and page layout’s been bought into the 21st century with Snippets, a re-usable piece of content that’s saved as an XML file containing content, formatting, tags and more for use across a whole project. There’s also the ability to create your web page layout as an InDesign file and then export it to HTML. The result is an unformatted HTML document you can then apply CSS styles to, but it’s a bit of a mystery why you don’t just do it in Dreamweaver to begin with.
Each application looks and behaves the same, each now with the toolbar we first saw in Photoshop a few versions back, and with the best design tools in the same box, Adobe is ready to take on all comers.