The massive new toolkit that marries Adobe and Macromedia products, otherwise known as Creative Suite 3, is now shipping.
The Suite is available in several editions, each oriented toward a different set of professional users. The Design Premium and Standard editions, as well as the Web Premium and Web Standard editions are now available in the U.S. and Canada.
The Production Premium package, which is designed for creators of video and rich media, and the Creative Suite 3 Master Collection -- for those who want everything -- will be shipping in the third quarter.
If you'd like to get the applications a la carte, Adobe said that new versions of the individual programs are now available. Choices include Adobe Photoshop CS3, Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, Adobe InDesign CS3, Adobe Illustrator CS3, Adobe Flash CS3 Professional, Adobe Dreamweaver CS3, Adobe Fireworks CS3, and Adobe Contribute CS3.
Integrating Adobe and Macromedia
All of the individual applications and the suites are available for both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs running OS X, and for Microsoft Windows XP and Vista machines. Adobe has said that an update will be issued after Apple releases OS X Leopard, now scheduled for October.
The most notable of many new aspects of these releases, said Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg, "is the level of the integration between Adobe and Macromedia." The companies merged two years ago.
"Adobe has clearly moved beyond the whole notion of just graphics or design to the whole Web experience," he said.
The "whole Web experience" also means mobile media these days. A new product, Device Central, is part of the Design and Web editions. It enables you to preview your work on more than 200 mobile devices, using a library of device profiles from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Verizon, and others. For example, the CS3 author can test Adobe Flash Lite content, and the emulator mimics the way the user interface, performance, and memory would work on the targeted device.
Some of the New Features
A list of the enhancements and new features, large and small, in Adobe's updated applications and new suites could stretch for days.
Among them are Dreamweaver CS3's integration of the Spry framework for Ajax, providing more support for creating cross-platform, rich media experiences. In Photoshop, an enhanced auto-align allows multilayered images to automatically line up and a new degree of edge control makes blue-screened images look more natural. There is also a better ability to treat a 2D object as if it were 3D.
The Web editions allow for importing native Photoshop and Illustrator files into Flash and Fireworks with full fidelity, for the first time. A new Color Live feature in Illustrator allows users to save and apply color combinations quickly.
Adobe said the "estimated street price" is $1,799 for the Design Premium, $1,199 for the Design Standard, $1,599 for Web Premium and $999 for Web Standard. There are also many upgrade paths for current Adobe users.