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Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Adobe introduces Creative Suite 4 product family

Adobe on Tuesday officially announced its Creative Suite 4 product family, a new series of media applications scheduled to begin shipping next month with more tightly integrated workflow solutions aimed at advancing the creative process across print, Web, mobile, interactive, film and video production.

The San Jose-based software developer said the release, billed as its "biggest" ever, features new levels of integration and expressiveness for Flash technology across the entire product line, which includes Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design editions, Creative Suite 4 Web editions, Creative Suite 4 Production Premium, Creative Suite 4 Master Collection, as well as 13 point products, 14 integrated technologies and seven services.

Photoshop CS4 with GPU acceleration

Photoshop CS4 will cost $699 and take advantage of the latest graphics processing unit (GPU) hardware to deliver improved performance, such as a smoother pan and zoom experience, allowing users to easily edit images at the highest magnification while maintaining clarity.

A new Canvas Rotation tool was also designed to make it easier to rotate and work on an image from any angle, while a Content-Aware Scaling feature provides a way to intelligently size and scale images with a simple drag of the mouse. At the same time, new Auto-align and Auto-blend modes generate composites based on extended depth of field and 360 degree panoramas now with seamless tones and colors.

The new version of Photoshop also sports a new "clutter-free" unified application frame with a tab-based interface and self-adjusting panels that provide quicker access to advanced tools and a more fluid way to interact with the application.

Adobe said finding, previewing and managing image assets are enhanced by Adobe Bridge CS4, which offers faster start-up performance and speedier transfer of images to Photoshop CS4. New path-bar navigation and workspace selection buttons across the top of the Bridge window should let users quickly jump to the right display for every task. Also included are new Camera Import controls, visual folder navigation, and a Carousel View for larger image-group selections.

Photoshop CS4 Extended

Photoshop CS4 Extended will retail for $999 and include all the new features of Photoshop CS4 plus the ability to manipulate 3D imagery, such as painting directly on 3D models and surfaces, merging 2-D files onto 3D images, and animating 3D objects.

The new 3D engine has been rebuilt from the ground up, Adobe said, to provide faster performance, allow editing of properties like light and the ability to create more realistic renderings with a new high-quality ray-tracer. Video professionals will also have the ability to turn any 3D object into a video display zone and can animate 3D objects and properties. In addition, the core motion graphics editing has been improved with more efficient single-key shortcuts, the company said.

InDesign CS4

A new version of Adobe's InDesign page layout program will retail for $699 and include a Live Preflight feature that highlights potential production problems in real-time from within the layout and directs users to the problem area to resolve the issue. A customizable Links panel will let users to find, sort, and manage placed files in a document, view attributes such as scale, resolution and rotation — and identify files faster using thumbnails.

Designers can export InDesign CS4 documents as an XFL file and then open them in Adobe Flash CS4 Professional to add interactivity, animation, and navigation. Alternatively, Adobe said designers can produce interactive brochures, dynamic presentations, and other online materials by adding page transitions, interactive buttons, and hyperlinks to documents and then exporting them as SWF files — for playback by the Adobe Flash Player — or interactive PDF files.

InDesign CS4 also includes new productivity enhancing features that make it easier to create and manage long documents such as manuals and textbooks. The new Conditional Text feature lets users quickly produce multiple versions of a document for different uses such as multi-lingual documents or Teacher/Student materials. Designers can apply conditions to selected paragraphs, words or characters and then hide or show that text depending on the required context. Additional time-saving advancements are provided by a new Cross-References feature that simplifies the writing, production and management of long form documents by dynamically updating referenced text as content is changed or moved within a document.

InDesign CS4 also includes Adobe InCopy CS4 and InDesign CS4 Server, which can be customized, scaled and extended to meet the evolving needs of publishers.

To solve specific workflow challenges, Adobe is introducing IDML (InDesign Markup Language), an open, extensible XML representation of InDesign documents that allows third-party developers and systems integrators to programmatically create, modify and deconstruct InDesign documents outside InDesign or InDesign Server — using standard XML editing tools.

Creative Suite 4 Design Premium

Creative Suite 4 Design Premium will cost $1799 for new users, $599 for CS3 Design Premium users, and $799 for users of Creative Suite 2.X and 1.X, Adobe Studio 8 and Adobe Studio MX 2004. It includes Adobe InDesign CS4, Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended, Adobe Illustrator CS4, Adobe Flash CS4 Professional, Adobe Dreamweaver CS4, Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro and the newly integrated Adobe Fireworks CS4 for quickly prototyping websites and applications.

A new version of Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Standard will also be available for $1399 with the standard version of Photoshop CS4, and without Adobe Flash CS4 Professional, Adobe Dreamweaver CS4, and Adobe Fireworks CS4.

Creative Suite 4 Web Premium

The new version of Adobe's Web design and development bundle Creative Suite 4 Web Premium will sell for $1699. Upgrade pricing start at $599 from Creative Suite 3 and $799 from Creative Suite 2.X and 1.X, Adobe Studio 8 and Adobe Studio MX 2004. For a limited time, however, validly licensed customers of any version of Adobe Creative Suite Design, Web and Production Premium will be able to upgrade to Creative Suite 4 for the CS3 upgrade price

Creative Suite 4 Web Premium includes Adobe Fireworks CS4, Adobe Dreamweaver CS4, Adobe Flash CS4 Professional, Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended, Adobe Illustrator CS4, Adobe Contribute CS4, Adobe Device Central CS4, Adobe Soundbooth CS4, and Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional software.

A version of Adobe CS4 Web Standard will also be available for $999 and lack Photoshop CS4, Illustrator CS4, Acrobat 9, and Soundbooth.

Creative Suite 4 Production Premium

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium edition will sell for $1699. Prices for upgrading to Creative Suite 4 Production Premium from CS3 will be $599 and from previous versions will be $799. For a limited time, licensed customers of any version of Adobe Production Studio are eligible for the $599 upgrade price.

The bundle includes Adobe After Effects CS4 Professional, Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, Adobe Encore CS4, Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended, Adobe Illustrator CS4, Adobe Flash CS4 Professional, Adobe Soundbooth CS4 and Adobe OnLocation CS4 — now redesigned to natively support Intel-based Macs.

Adobe CS4


Creative Suite 4 Master Collection

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection includes every component of the aforementioned suits and is priced at $2499. Upgrades start at $899.

Availability

Adobe is currently taking pre-orders for all Creative Suite 4.0 bundles via its US online store. The company also operates online stores in the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, and Germany.