Adobe detailed on Monday the latest version of its flagship product, Creative Suite 6. In addition to scores of new features, the mammoth release, scheduled to sell within the next 30 days, is accompanied by a new Creative Cloud and a subscription-based model.
Creative Suite 6 comes in four editions -- Design and Web Premium, Design Standard, Production Premium, and Master Collection. Creative Cloud allows users to download and install all 14 CS6 applications, plus two new HTML5 products, Adobe Muse and Adobe Edge preview, plus cloud-based sync and storage.
'Radical New Way'
The company said in a statement that Creative Cloud was "a radical new way of providing tools and services that will change the game for creatives worldwide." Muse allows designers to create and publish HTML5-based Web sites without writing code, and Edge provides tools to create HTML5 animations.
With Creative Cloud membership, users can also deliver apps they've developed to iOS and Android marketplaces through the Cloud's publishing services, or publish, manage, and host Web sites with access to Adobe Typekit and its large library of fonts for Web sites. Updates to CS6 applications will be available via the Cloud before they are generally available as updates.
The Cloud also provides integration for Adobe's growing line of touch-based tools, which now include Photoshop Touch, Adobe Ideas, Adobe Collage, Adobe Debut, and Adobe Proto. With a new app for the desktop, called Creative Cloud Connection, users can sync, share, and store files across devices, up to 20 GB.
The Cloud is available through a subscription membership of $49.99 monthly, with a one-year contract, as well as through a month-by-month option or a lower, special introductory price for owners of earlier Creative Suites. The company said it is currently developing training, support, and community features for Cloud users.
Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine
Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner, said Adobe's Creative Cloud is "definitely one step closer to where the personal cloud becomes more important than the personal computer."
He noted that the new pricing structure gives more choices to users, "who don't have to plunk down" a large outlay for a new app, and who can switch readily between Mac or PC. Increasingly, Gartenberg said, this kind of structure is becoming a standard, where apps "will have a cloud function just as they have a print function."
CS6 includes the newest versions of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro, After Effects and Flash Professional. Customers can also purchase the collections or individual apps as before, with a new Master Collection going for $2,599 or $549 for an upgrade.
The many enhancements to the CS apps include faster performance for apps through use of the Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine that harnesses new hardware power, new Content-Aware capabilities in Photoshop that can fill in backgrounds or stretch images automatically, and new interfaces for Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and others.
There's also a streamlined ability to create multiple layouts for various media from a single set of content in InDesign, and a new 3D camera tracker in After Effects, for positioning a virtual camera in 3D space to better create such effects as 3D text with shadows.