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Adobe set to take the wraps off Creative Suite 4.0

Adobe plans to offer its customers the first overview of Creative Suite 4.0 later this month and could be ready to deliver the software to market as early as this fall, according to those close to the company.

The Mountain View, Calif-based software maker released public betas of CS4-bound applications Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Soundbooth in late May, but has kept secret its plans for some of the suite's more prominent components, namely Photoshop and Flash.

That's about to change. The company this week began notifying its customers that it intends to host a webcast covering its next-generation software bundle at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, September 23rd.

"Are you ready for something brilliant?," the company wrote on the digital registration form for the presentation. "Be one of the first to see Adobe Creative Suite 4.0 in a special web broadcast."

Word of the event comes amid an increasing number of reports from Adobe's partners who say the company is aiming for a near 18-month refresh cycle of its bread and butter software suite, with a release as early as October. This comes despite earlier claims of an October release that were hotly contested by company representatives.

Creative Suite 3.0, which delivered universal binaries of all major component applications for the Mac, was announced in March of 2007. Adobe offered several different editions or bundles of the suite when it began shipping between the months of April and June that year.

People familiar with the ongoing development of Creative Suite 4.0 say a good chunk of Adobe's resources for the project were devoted to bringing two applications acquired from Macromedia — Dreamweaver and Fireworks — up to spec with its existing flagship offerings. However, the company is expected to tout a handful of significant enhancements to both Photoshop and Flash.

For example, the company is expected to announce that Photoshop CS4 (codenamed Stonehenge) will be capable of pulling in 3D objects as wireframes. Although UV mapping won't be supported, the feature will reportedly allow sales teams to perform quick color changes and color corrections.

The new version of Photoshop will also feature a Flash services panel, natural canvas rotation, content aware image resizing and deliver 64-bit support for Windows users.

Separately, Adobe is planning a slew of enhancements in Flash CS4 (codenamed Diesel) that have resonated well with early testers, leading some to bill upgrade as "the best thing" to happen to Flash in quite some time. Among these will be a completely new "and proper" timeline dubbed Motion Editor, as well as a new object-based motion tween model.

Other enhancements bound for Flash CS4 reportedly include an "Inverse kinematics" tool for building complex animations and 3D rotation support.