Adobe Web Bundle

AdobeA spin on the old real estate maxim, software is all about covergence, convergence, convergence.

Remember the quaint old days when you could walk into a software supplier and say ‘Harry, I want you to sell me Photoshop 2.5.’ (to paraphrase Monty Python). You still can, of course — although not version 2.5 — but who buys individual graphics applications any more?

Like media companies trickling into the grasp of Rupert Murdoch, the early noughties saw a shake-up that repositioned the major graphic design tools into Adobe’s hands. Their audacious takeover of Macromedia late last year assimilated the major web design applications into their collective as well. It’s telco deregulation in reverse — where there was once Quark, Aldus and Adobe battling it out, now Adobe is the potential monopolist of digital graphics.

Of course, the good thing has been the opportunity to kit out your whole studio with one purchase and feel confident you won’t have compatibility problems to deal with. As more print graphic designers have embraced online graphics, somebody must have asked themselves; ‘wouldn’t it be great to offer the industry standard print and web design packages in one box?’ Cue Adobe’s acquisitions department and rest is history.

Any serious review of the Adobe Web Bundle has to compare it to the m.o. of both Macromedia Studio and Adobe Creative Suite. Not because it comprises both those packages, but because Macromedia and Adobe respectively set the benchmarks for individual software packages working together.

Adobe did a better job of it than Macromedia, stitching their apps together with tools like VersionCue and the Adobe Bridge, both of which have grown more robust over time regardless of their relevancy.

Sadly, there isn’t much to tell about the Adobe Web Bundle, because there’s no such melding of cultures going on. Adobe has literally chucked both packages in the box as they are; Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium (containing Photoshop 10, InDesign 4, Illustrator 13 and Acrobat 8) and Macromedia Studio 8 (containing Dreamweaver 8, Flash Professional 8, Fireworks 8, Contribute 3 and Flashpaper 2).

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. If you need a kettle and a toaster, you can expect to buy them both from the same supplier and pay less than the sum total in return for your business.

But Adobe have set the bar too high for themselves with CS2, and you expect the same sort of unity in a box that contains all their major programs. They didn’t just throw Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and Acrobat into a box and call it Creative Suite – they put a lot of development and effort into transforming them into the branches of a design hub.

Of course, engineers are probably tinkering away in the bowels of Adobe labs as we speak to bring us the Grand Unified Theory of Graphic Design. As long ago as March 2006, a news on Mac rumour site claimed CS3 was in development. If there’s any reason not to buy the Adobe Web Bundle, that’s it. The first two versions of Creative Suite were barely more than a year apart. CS2’s now 18 months old but Studio 8 only appeared in July this year. You decide how far away a truly integrated mega-product is.

If you can’t wait, there’s only one criteria to use to weigh up a purchase of the Adobe Web Bundle; price. It retails at $3,399. Alone, CS2 costs $2,199 and Studio 8 costs $1,559 — a total of $3,758 (RRP).

If you’re starting your own design studio from scratch or you’re working on software so old it makes sense to upgrade it all at once, Adobe Web Bundle will be the most value for money purchase you’ll make on software this year. But if you’ve shelled out for either version of Creative Suite, Studio 8 or even the last bundle under Macromedia’s ownership (Studio MX), they’ll keep you going until Adobe comes up with a killer converged application set.

Contact: Adobe

Phone: 1300 550 205


Market: Enterprise/SMB
Price: $3,399

Pros: Value for money if you’re just starting out

Cons: If you’re not, you’re likely to already have both individual packages.

Verdict: 2/5