Category Archives: News

Adobe MAX: Android, AIR, Edge, HTML5 and jQuery

Adobe MAX provided several news items and inspiring developments, but of course some of it is out in the wild now while others are only in the rough stages. Here are my impressions of several announcements made by Adobe at MAX.

Android and AIR

The strong penetration of the mobile marketplace by Android proves that Adobe was wise to develop for that operating system. Adobe announced AIR 2.5, which supports Android as well as Apple’s iOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS, and this really sets them apart as a platform-inclusive service provider. A more comprehensive news article on this can be found here.

AIR 2.5 is available today, as is the BlackBerry Tablet OS SDK. I can’t tell yet if AIR 2.5 will boast strong performance, but it’s important that it does. Since Apple banned Flash from iOS, some people have said online that Flash is a buggy and cumbersome technology that should be eliminated everywhere. I don’t see that myself, but if AIR 2.5 runs the same way then it will get the same criticisms.

The Edge prototype and HTML5

One of the most interesting early sneak peeks for me happened in the first keynote, when a prototype application codenamed “Edge” was demoed. Basically, Edge converts simple timeline-based animation to HTML5. A good demo can be found here on Adobe TV. Adobe also demoed a rough Flash-to-HTML5 export in its sneak peeks.

It’s important to notice Edge is not Flash: its focus on transitions and animation looks a lot like Flash Catalyst, which can produce Flash content but is not as robust as Flash Pro. My review of Flash Catalyst CS5 is here. I see Edge being rolled into Flash Catalyst at some point, perhaps as an HTML5 export feature in Flash Catalyst CS6. It performed well but, like Flash Catalyst, Edge only produces a subset of the what’s possible in Flash.

Again, Adobe is wise to push hard to get its content production tools on all platforms. Flash Player is still ubiquitous—CTO Kevin Lynch reported Flash Player 10.1 has the best market penetration ever seen with Flash Player—but the design community has its eyes on HTML5 as the next standard and device and software manufacturers need to follow their lead, whether or not it’s the best option for developers and consumers. I think it’s ironic some people criticize Adobe for sticking with the Flash Platform, while the things they demoed at MAX revolved around the adoption of HTML5 as an alternative.

jQuery

John Resig, the creator of the popular jQuery framework, sat in on one of the keynotes as Adobe touted some internal development happening with jQuery and jQuery Mobile, the latter of which is still in the alpha stages. There was some vague allusions to how Dreamweaver might integrate with jQuery in the future, and if that’s the case I would be curious how it combines with—or replaces—the Spry framework Dreamweaver already has. But details were scarce and there’s not a lot to report on this front.

Conclusion

I think that compared to last year’s MAX, this year touched on more platforms and runtimes. This is a response to the fragmentation of the developer marketplace due to HTML5 penetration and also the number of mobile operating systems coming out all at once.

This could be a great thing for future development but I personally worry that developing for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and HTML5—and possibly XHTML—will get us away from the standards-based mindset that has worked well in the web design community. The idea of “write once, publish everywhere” may still be possible, but it’s hard to see how it will work in practice.

Photoshop Family Product Discounts Through December

Adobe is putting out some holiday discounts for Photoshop family products from Monday, December 13 until Sunday, January 5. This includes all products in the Photoshop family, including the consumer-oriented Photoshop/Premiere Elements 9 bundle which non-professional users will enjoy. It looks like Photoshop Elements 9 alone is not included in the discounts, but it currently has a $20 rebate through the end of the year that makes it $79.99. For $20 more, you can take advantage of the discount and get Premiere Elements 9 in the bundle.

Here are the discounts:

psepre9
Photoshop Elements 9 & Premiere Elements 9 Bundle
US $99.99 (save $50)

pslr3
Photoshop Lightroom 3
US $249.99 (save $50)

pscs51
Photoshop CS5
US $649.99 (save $50 off full version or $25 off upgrade)

pscs5e
Photoshop CS5 Extended
US $899.99 (save $100 off full version or $25 off upgrade)

Adobe MAX: Digital Publishing Suite

The unveiling of the Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) at Adobe MAX interested me more than any other news, since I am a developer who’s also a print designer and I’ve worked heavily with print publications in the past. Unfortunately, we’ve known about the DPS for some time—having had a sneak peek of Condé Nast’s WIRED Reader and The New Yorker months ago—and we still need to wait for the DPS to actually be available to buy next spring (you can use it now through the prerelease program though). However, Adobe revealed a lot and I’ve been looking at the material from both the designer and developer perspective.

InDesign has changed little

I had expected more tools or changes to the publication designer’s workflow, but this isn’t really the case. Everyone should note the Digital Publishing Suite is a set of new services and AIR applications, and there’s just one plugin to add to InDesign CS5, which is required. The best demo of the DPS/InDesign workflow I’ve seen is this one from Terry White, and there is really no changes to InDesign itself. The main points to remember are:

  • Design for the iPad’s 1024×768 screen. This is already available when a document’s Intent is set for Web in the New Document dialog box.
  • Build one InDesign file per article, and horizontal and vertical versions for each if you want it to change with the iPad’s orientation.
  • InDesign’s interactive features are supported, such as hyperlinks and rollovers, but not its rich media features such as video. An AIR app, Adobe Interactive Overlay Creator, can be used to generate this media and the resulting SWF files can be placed in InDesign. These SWFs are converted to iPad-friendly media when the document is bundled.

Creating horizontal and vertical version of your publications is a mild nuisance but it is optional—the Adobe Content Viewer allows for single-orientation publications. Having to create a document for every article and ad seems very cumbersome. I think segmenting one document into sections—already an InDesign feature—would be a great way to keep everything in one file and still separate articles and ads for use on the iPad.

After a document is bundled and prepared for iPad, it will be viewed on iPad with the Adobe Content Viewer. It should be noted this is designed to work with several tablets, including Android tablets and the upcoming RIM Playbook (shown in the MAX Day 1 keynote) as well as the desktop via an AIR app.

The rest of the suite

The meat of the Digital Publishing Suite is in its various services:

  • Production Service takes the InDesign document and makes the final assembly, including the addition of metadata and export to a variety of formats including HTML5. This includes the Adobe Digital Content Bundler app, which Adobe plans to integrate into the hosted service.
  • Distribution Service stores documents in the cloud and distributes the content to the Adobe Content Viewer. This includes a dashboard for library content and reader notifications.
  • E-Commerce Service monetizes the enterprise on retailer platforms or mobile marketplaces such as the Apple App Store or the new Adobe InMarket (also announced at MAX).
  • Analytics Service, supported by Adobe SiteCatalyst/Omniture, provides an impressive analytics dashboard including not only general page views and trends but also the way readers view and read the publication.

A full list can be found in this PDF.

The price

The big news should be the large price tag associated with the Digital Publishing Suite. The cheaper Professional Edition is US$699 per month on top of a per-issue fee that is based on volume. The Enterprise is a totally customized solution that gives publishers total access to the API and integration with back-end services like subscription management, but it’s a negotiated cost with Adobe and constitutes a multi-year agreement.

I think a lot of people hoped to build iPad publications with InDesign when they saw the WIRED Reader hit the Intenet a few months ago—imagine using File > Export > iPad just as easily as exporting to PDF! It would have probably been that easy if Apple allowed Flash on the iPad. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and along with the iPad conversion there’s also the leveraging of Adobe’s purchase of Omniture and the inclusion of its analytics in the DPS. All this makes the suite far removed from the cheap and simple export some people might have hoped for. Instead, it’s priced for serious publishers and its focus on analytics, distribution and e-commerce shows it’s been developed for the business side of publishing.

Adobe tells me they expect to put a reseller program in place so DPS customers can resell the service to smaller publishers and independents at a cheaper price. There’s no details on this yet but it’s good to see Adobe at least thinking about how to penetrate the small and mid-sized publisher market. I know there’s a lot of potential there, as the publishing business in general is full of small publishers and self-publishers.

Participate now

If you want to try the Digital Publishing Suite now, visit Adobe Labs and download the package. You can also learn more by visiting the Digital Publishing page on Adobe.com.

Adobe Announces Acrobat X

acrobatx_boxes

Yesterday Adobe announced Acrobat X, pronounced “X” but corresponding to version 10 of the flagship produce for PDF creation and handling. I’ve been working with the Acrobat X Pro beta for a couple weeks and my first impressions are mostly positive, but my complete responses will be in my upcoming review for CreativePro.com. In the meantime, Adobe’s press release is below for your review.

Press release

Adobe today announced Adobe® Acrobat® X Pro, the next generation of its tool for creating, reviewing, delivering and protecting documents. With Acrobat X Pro, creative professionals can develop polished communications using PDF Portfolios, work together more effectively with easy-to-manage shared document reviews, simplify workflows with integrated online services for storing and sending documents, and ensure designs will print accurately with advanced print production tools.

“With Acrobat X Pro, creative professionals can rest assured their projects will print as intended, which is critical when working under tight client deadlines and with limited budgets,” said Ali Hanyaloglu, product evangelist for Acrobat Solutions at Adobe. “Acrobat X Pro gives everyone involved in the project the necessary tools to create and collaborate so users can quickly obtain client feedback, streamlining the entire design process from concept to approval through final production.”

Top features and improvements:

  • The Action Wizard helps users automate and standardize multi-step tasks for maximum productivity.
  • New customization options for PDF Portfolios enable designers to create and share custom layouts and themes that enable the development of PDF Portfolios with consistent branding and presentation.
  • Users can speed up everyday work by customizing the Quick Tools area for fast access to the tools they use the most.
  • Tight integration with Acrobat.com allows users to share large files online, streamlining collaboration.
  • Improvements made to the Preflight tool enable creative and print professionals to process jobs quickly and accurately.
  • Acrobat X Pro also supports the latest versions of the PDF/X-4 and X-5 standards, enabling users to stay current with industry standards.

All four Creative Suite® editions that currently include Acrobat 9 Pro – Creative Suite 5 Design Standard, Creative Suite 5 Design Premium, Creative Suite 5 Web Premium and Creative Suite 5 Master Collection – will include Acrobat X Pro in a future release. Creative Suite customers who have purchased the upgrade plan, or have a Gold or Platinum support plan, will be notified automatically when the update is available. Please contact me if you have questions on Acrobat X availability for Creative Suite. Customers who previously purchased Acrobat 9, 8 or 7 (either Standard or Pro) and have a serial number can upgrade to Acrobat X Pro.

Pricing and Availability

Acrobat X and its associated products are scheduled to ship within 30 days, with availability through Adobe Authorized Resellers, the Adobe Store and Adobe Direct Sales. Estimated street price for Acrobat X Pro is expected to be US$449 (US$199 upgrade). Free 30-day trials of Acrobat X Pro will be available when the product ships. For more information, visit http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/.

Adobe Releases Photoshop Elements 9 and Premiere Elements 9

psepre9-boxes

Adobe Systems announced today that Photoshop Elements 9 and Premiere Elements 9 have been released and are immediately available at www.adobe.com, and will be available soon at retailers. The Elements applications are Adobe’s consumer photo and video editing applications and I’ve always been impressed by the amount of advanced features and also the clean organization of the tools and digital asset manager, the Organizer.

Photoshop Elements 9

pse9-photomerge

Content-Aware Fill is used to finish up panoramas and fill in the gaps caused by warped edges.

As with Photoshop Elements 8, Photoshop Elements 9 borrows the best technology from its professional counterpart, Photoshop CS5. The Spot Healing Brush has been enhanced with Content-Aware painting, which was a hit with the Photoshop community from the beginning. Content-Aware Fill has also been added to the Photomerge Panorama creator so the unavoidable gaps left by stitched photos can be filled in automatically. I thought this was a great way to make Content-Aware Fill even more useful.

pse9-healing

The Spot Healing Brush has been improved with Content-Aware technology.

Other additions to Photoshop Elements 9 include:

  • Five new guided edits including a Lomo effect, portrait retouching workflow, reflection builder and a step-by-step process for making foreground subjects “break the frame” of the photograph.
  • Photomerge Style Match, which applies the tone and color of one image to another. This reminds me of Photoshop’s Match Color feature.
  • The Photoshop Elements product manager tells me Facebook is now the number-one way to share photos online. Photoshop Elements integrates with Facebook and will resize and upload images, and also create albums.

There’s several more new features in the reviewer’s guide but I want to test them and report back in my full review.

pse9-edits

Five new “fun edits” help consumers create some cool effects without handling advanced tools. Layers are created during the guided edit process so users can dive deeper and tweak things with other tools.

pse9-reflect

Convincing reflections can be created with a new guided edit in Photoshop Elements 9.

pse9-popart

A new guided edit creates “pop art” out of your photos. My first graphics on the computer were colorized clip art in the pop art style, so I have a soft spot for this feature.

pse9-frame

Step-by-step directions help users “break the frame” and make three-dimensional pictures.

pse9-lomo

Lomo camera effects give images a saturated, vignetted look.

Adobe Illustrator CS5 HTML5 Pack Improves SVG and CSS3 Creation

Adobe announced today the immediate availability of the Adobe Illustrator CS5 HTML5 Pack, an extension of Illustrator CS5 designed to make it easier to output SVG graphics and CSS3 styles for use with HTML5 web layouts. This is surprising news despite Dreamweaver’s own HTML5 Pack, introduced last summer—Illustrator has never been considered a vital tool for web designers. However, the strategy behind the Illustrator CS5 HTML5 Pack suggests it might eventually be as important as Photoshop to web designers.

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) has been around for over 10 years but has been seldom used by web designers. HTML5 allows designers to embed SVG graphics in documents and not rely on pixel-based bitmap graphics for web design. SVG graphics look sharp and clear no matter the browser’s zoom settings and can be modified with JavaScript or HTML5′s canvas element. The HTML5 specification is not yet implemented by all browsers and SVG is not supported by Internet Explorer, so consider the HTML5 Pack a forward-thinking addition to Illustrator.

The Illustrator CS5 HTML5 Pack does four major functions:

  • Export artboards as SVG graphics and include CSS3 media queries
  • Create widgets with dynamic vector art that can be manipulated by data sources
  • Implement SVG graphics and HTML5 canvas to create interactive art
  • Export character styles and object appearances as CSS3 styles

The first function is particularly important because it plays into Adobe’s strategy of helping designers deploy to multiple devices. The idea is to create artboards for various devices—computers, tables, mobile phones and TV—and output SVG graphics and a CSS file that serves up the right graphics depending on the user’s window size.

Visit www.adobe.com/go/illustrator_html5 to download the HTML5 Pack and view demos, forums, the press release and download a trial of Illustrator CS5. The HTML5 Pack requires the most recent update of Illustrator (CS5 15.0.1) so be sure to use the Help > Updates… command in Illustrator if you don’t have the most recent version of CS5. Also note that this is not a public beta but is instead a “compatibility update” that isn’t final. I expect it will be rolled into an Illustrator dot-update the way Dreamweaver’s HTML5 Pack was added to its 11.0.3 update a couple weeks ago.

Goodbye PMS, hello PANTONE PLUS

Today Pantone announced the widely-used PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM® has been discontinued immediately and replaced by the new PANTONE PLUS SERIES®. This is an historic moment for graphic designers everywhere who have used the old “PMS” colors and have many numbers committed to memory.

pantoneplus

“PANTONE PLUS takes what designers and printers know and love about the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM and supercharges it with a host of new features, colors and digital tools,” said Ron Potesky, senior vice president and general manager of Pantone. “The PLUS SERIES provides designers with greater freedom for selecting, specifying and matching color. And, since the PANTONE PLUS SERIES is based on the widely used PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM, there’s no training or new equipment required to start pushing the boundaries of creativity.” Pantone is framing this change as the “next generation” or “modern version” of the PMS but it’s clear to me that the PLUS SERIES is not the same thing—it’s probably better.

A little history: Goe in 2007

In 2007, Pantone released the Goe™ System with 2,058 new colors, chromatically arranged swatchbooks, new base inks and digital and interactive tools to help select Goe colors. I remember a lot of online discussion about this new system when I covered the news that year, but I never did see it used in the field. I work in Iowa so you can take that observation for what it’s worth.

I wondered at the time whether Goe could compete with the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM, which has almost 50 years to entrench itself in the design community. I thought Goe would not have a real chance to emerge with PMS still active. I asked Ron about this and it seems Pantone deliberately made Goe’s release vague, refusing to give it a clear position in the Pantone family of products. The intention was to let customer behavior dictate how Goe and PMS would co-function in the marketplace, but I don’t think this strategy was very effective. From my perspective, without a specific target market Goe was left to find a small niche in the packaging and specialized printing industries, leaving the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM’s position in the design market almost unchanged.

You gotta pull the trigger

I think Pantone has realized the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM had to go in order to make way for the next generation of color tools in PANTONE PLUS. It’s a sensible move because PANTONE PLUS has some features superior to PMS but keeps some elements of PMS to make the transition easy:

  • 224 new solid colors—1,341 total
  • Chromatically arranged swatchbooks
  • Swatchbooks are printed on text-weight stock, not cover-weight (100# text for coated, 80# text for uncoated)
  • Formulated with the same 14 base inks that constitute the PMS
  • Metallics can now be coated and varnished without changing luster
  • Reference numbers for PMS colors are unchanged (new colors begin at 7548)
  • Swatchbooks have a color-checking swatch on the inside back cover that helps judge studio lighting for a proper swatch check
  • The COLOR BRIDGE swatchbook (used for finding CMYK equivalents of PLUS colors) has swatches on the inside back cover, suitable for swatch capture like a Macbeth color checker
  • A PASTELS + NEONS family of 154 pastels and 56 neons is now available for active sportswear markets
  • A free COLOR MANAGER application will be available for updating Quark and Adobe products’ swatches and converting spot colors to CMYK

Pricing

According to Giovanni Marra, Pantone’s Director of Corporate Marketing, there is a small price increase of less than $5.00 per swatchbook. The most common product, the PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE, is $109 for coated and uncoated books; the three PMS books (coated, uncoated, matte) are $125. Other swatchbook sets are anywhere from $79 for the metallics and pastels/neons to $125 for the CMYK set and $209 for the COLOR BRIDGE set for matching PLUS and CMYK colors. Chip packages are $169–175 with the SOLID CHIPS set running $259. All products are available today except COLOR BRIDGE and the public beta version of COLOR MANAGER, which will be available in June 2010.

Beginning last March, Pantone also made Goe slightly cheaper:

  • GoeGuides are $20 less
  • GoeBridge is $10 less
  • GoeSticks are $40 less
  • The Goe Systems are also $40 less

I predict many designers will just go on living with their old swatchbooks and familiar colors (Reflex Blue, anyone?) but Pantone has just made the essential decision that will see PLUS replace PMS within a few years. Sounds good to me, because the chromatic arrangement and new colors makes PLUS a better color family without making things hard for printers.

Sidebar: myPANTONE X-Ref Color Tools for iPhone and online

xrefapp

This has actually been in the news since early April, but Pantone has released the myPANTONE X-Ref Color Tools for iPhone and online. This application is designed to cross-reference PANTONE color libraries and find color matches. The application includes all color libraries so users have full access to the PANTONE MATCHING System, Goe and the new PANTONE PLUS system in June 2010. The online application itself is available for free at www.pantone.com/xref and the iPhone app is available at the iPhone App Store for $1.99 (compatible with iPhone OS 3.0 and higher on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad).

Adobe eLearning Suite 2 Catapults Captivate 5 to Mac

els2

Adobe Systems today announced the upcoming eLearning Suite 2 and Captivate 5, to ship in June 2010. CS5 was just announced last month and has begun shipping already, so it makes sense the eLearning Suite, which shares several apps with Creative Suite, would be right behind it.

The big news is the suite’s central application for building e-learning products—Captivate—is now available for Mac. Dr. Allen Partridge, the Product Evangelist for the eLearning Suite, tells me this makes the eLearning Suite the only e-learning solution available for Mac—other competitors like Articulate Studio are Windows-only and until now Mac users had to use a presentation tool like Keynote or an application like Flash Pro or Director. This will open up huge e-learning design opportunities for many Mac-using creative professionals.

The combination of products in the eLearning Suite hasn’t really changed. It includes:

  • Captivate 5
  • Dreamweaver CS5 with Course Builder elements
  • Flash Pro CS5 with Learning Interactions
  • Photoshop Extended CS5
  • Soundbooth CS5
  • Device Central CS5
  • Bridge CS5
  • Acrobat 9
  • Presenter 8 (Windows only)

The central component in the eLearning Suite is Captivate 5, which as I mentioned is now available for Mac and Windows. Most of the new features in eLearning Suite 2 are found in Captivate:

  • A retooled user interface that borrows a lot from the Creative Suite UI
  • Object styles and master slides to streamline page and object production
  • Leveraging Acrobat.com for collaboration and tracking/reporting
  • The Captivate Results Analyzer, an AIR application for reviewing test and quiz results
  • Better video format support, on-the-fly encoding with Media Encoder CS5 and video synchronization across multiple slides
  • A Twitter widget for communication and collaboration between students and instructors

There’s also some improvements in the eLearning Suite itself, mostly around “roundtripping” of assets between Captivate, Flash, Photoshop and Soundbooth. The most important of these roundtripping options is Live Capture from Flash to Captivate 5, which I’m most curious to try when the review software is made available.

Adobe reports many new features provide major productivity gains. A third-party usability study concluded the roundtrip functions provide anywhere from 21% to 36% more work done compared to the previous eLearning Suite. Simulations scored a huge 39% productivity improvement. This will be good news to previous Captivate and eLearning Suite users.

Captivate 5 will retail for US$799 or upgrade for US$299. The whole eLearning Suite will retail for US$1,799 and upgrade for US$599—obviously a big savings over buying all these applications separately. Mac users who use eLearning Suite 1 on Windows will have a cross-upgrade option to get the new Mac version without purchasing a full license. All products will ship in June. I will write a full review of Captivate 5 when the suite becomes available.

Photoshop Extended CS5 First Impressions

ps_box

Today Adobe announced the upcoming release of Creative Suite 5 (CS5) and its vast array of applications for creative professionals. Photoshop upgrades to CS5 along with the rest of the applications and I’ve been working with Photoshop Extended CS5 for several months now as a beta tester and reviewer. I believe Photoshop CS5 is a more compelling upgrade than Photoshop CS4 was and there are some very smart new features coming to Photoshop users everywhere.

Why Photoshop without Extended?

Before I go into Photoshop CS5′s new features, I should point out the are still two version of Photoshop:

  • Photoshop Extended CS5, which has special features for certain professionals and is included in all CS5 suites except Design Standard, and
  • Photoshop CS5, which has a smaller feature set and is included only with CS5 Design Standard.

I don’t know why Adobe continues to sell Photoshop CS5. Every professional I know uses Photoshop Extended CS5, though that may change with this new configuration of suites: the difference between Design Standard and Design Premium is only the addition of four web design applications, and print designers can easily do their work with Design Standard. But so far there’s no compelling reason to use anything other than Photoshop Extended CS5 so that’s what this article and my upcoming review will cover.

The File Browser is back

It’s true: the File Browser, that handy little asset management tool from way back in Photoshop CS, is back and I think it’s better than before! Adobe had moved digital asset management from File Browser to Bridge but that application turned out to be too cumbersome and overpowered for some users. Bridge has improved over the years but the Photoshop team has an extension called Mini Bridge that provides a leaner and more useful experience.

Mini Bridge provides only a few features from Bridge including file preview, filmstrip/thumbnail views and access to image processing functions such as Photomerge or the new Merge to HDR Pro. It’s not very powerful but it’s very accessible and easy to work with, and I like docking Mini Bridge to the bottom of my screen so I can access the filmstrip. Bridge’s Compact and Ultra-Compact modes come closest to Mini Bridge’s ease of use but Compact mode can still get in my way and Ultra-Compact mode is not really useful enough for me. I think users who loved the old File Browser will love Mini Bridge.

HDR reclaims its old intentions

Merge to HDR was introduced in Photoshop CS2 as a tool to boost photography’s tonal range, but it was used and overused by some professionals to produce work that is close to surreal. Overdone HDR photography is usually easy to spot with its extreme range of highlight and shadow as well as oversaturated colors. I personally like the artistic expression in such HDR photography but I don’t use it in my own work.

Merge to HDR has been augmented in Photoshop CS5 to “Merge to HDR Pro,” and I think it comes closer to making HDR photography a useful tool for everyday professionals. One simple example is the new Remove Ghosts feature that eliminates ghosting caused by misaligned shots: it works great and will probably salvage a lot of work. Previously, such ghosting was sometimes removed by exaggerating HDR effects, making the “surreal” HDR style more common.

ps_hdrproThe Merge to HDR interface is more useful and detailed now with Merge to HDR Pro.

There’s a lot more to Merge to HDR Pro, including settings for precise control of edges, glows, tonal settings and color. Things that were done before in Photoshop can be done in Merge to HDR Pro. There’s also a preset menu available that gives you 14 custom settings for everything from photorealistic to surreal imagery. Photographers who haven’t been comfortable with HDR photography in the past due to its lack of control should look at the new features in Photoshop CS5.

ps_hdrpresetsThe HDR presets that will ship with Photoshop CS5.

If you like the wild colors in HDR photos but actually don’t care to shoot multiple exposures and do the work with Merge to HDR Pro, Photoshop CS5 has a new HDR Toning feature in the Adjustments menu that recreates the HDR look for 8-bit images. Unfortunately it’s not available as an adjustment layer, but it’s available in Image > Adjustments and it does a good job of recreating that HDR look. I’m curious to see if any color correction gurus will consider it as a color correction tool, because at first glance it produces colors close to the Lab color space, which has been proven to be a useful colorspace for corrections.

Refine Edge: Still not Extract

ps_refineedgeThe Refine Edge dialog box in CS4 (left) and CS5 (right). Click the image for a better view.

I lamented when the Extract filter was removed from Photoshop CS4 because it was the best background-removal tool Photoshop had. The Background Eraser and Magic Eraser tools were just not as good. In Photoshop CS5, the Refine Edge has been rebuilt with much-improved edge detection and interpretation that almost makes it a replacement for the Extract filter. This would be a phenomenal addition, since the Extract filter was a very difficult feature to use, but so far I don’t think Refine Edge duplicates Extract’s results. It was hard for me to retouch edges despite Refine Edge’s new Refine Radius and Erase Refinements brush tools. I am still working with a beta copy of Photoshop Extended CS5 so I am not passing judgment on Refine Edge yet, but so far it’s a fair improvement but not a replacement for the Extract filter.

More 3D improvements in CS5

I keep waiting for Adobe to produce a standalone 3D application, but for some reason they continue to load Photoshop Extended with more and more 3D tools. In CS5 we have a new 2D>3D extrusion feature with its own name—oddly enough, “Adobe Repoussé.” When I saw this name appear in the Photoshop prerelease beta program I hoped it would be temporary, but it looks like it will be a permanent addition to the product. I don’t have a problem with the name myself but I can see how it would be confusing. Repoussé basically extrudes 2D shapes into 3D shapes, the same way Illustrator has been for years with its 3D filters. Repoussé is more powerful than Illustrator’s filters and finally gives Photoshop a method to produce its own 3D objects.

There’s also some improvements to the current 3D tools in Photoshop Extended, including support for 3D materials and a new ray-tracing engine for handling lights, reflections and refractions. Photoshop Extended CS5 can also produce cast shadows with the Shadow Catcher feature. This all helps to make Photoshop Extended CS5 a better producer of realistic 3D objects.

Better brushes

Photoshop has always prided itself on its brush engine, but I’ve preferred Painter to Photoshop any day for digital painting. Photoshop CS5 introduces a new Mixer Brush that behaves like Painter’s brushes—responding to canvas wetness, “paint” load, mixing and flow—and a Bristle Tips feature that delivers conventional fine art brushes—such as fan brushes—to the Brushes panel.

I had a really fun time testing these new painting features out. Some brushes feel a little stiff but some fiddling with the settings can make these brushes work very much like real paint brushes. Right now I prefer working with paint on a blank canvas rather than an existing photograph, because photos tend to dominate any color on your brush, but with some practice and more tweaking of the settings I hope to improve my results.

Nips and tucks

Photoshop Product Manager John Nack seems to mention the “nips and tucks” every time a new version of Photoshop is released. With CS4 it seemed like these small improvements actually outnumbered the big new features, but this time around they do not. I think this bodes well for Photoshop CS5. However, these small productivity enhancements really do make Photoshop CS5 a more valuable tool. Here’s a list of my current favorites:

  • Perhaps the most well-known Photoshop tip is using the Ruler tool and Rotate Canvas to straighten an image. Now the Ruler tool has a Straighten button in its toolbar that will straighten an image for you. However, the button actually executes a Rotate Canvas and Crop at the same time, so undoing this requires two undos.
  • The Gradient tool now has a neutral-density preset.
  • The Zoom tool now zooms in and out gradually if you hold the mouse button.
  • 16-bit photos can be saved as 8-bit JPEGs in one step.
  • Lens Correction is in the Filter menu and does much more auto-correction. This filter has been much improved and I’ll cover it in more detail in my review.
  • Default values for layer styles can now be modified and saved.
  • A new on-screen heads-up display (HUD) lets you select colors without going to the color well on the toolbar.
  • A Paste Special menu item in the Edit menu lets you paste inside and outside elements.
  • Workspaces will now remember any changes made to it, so if you move a panel or change a keyboard shortcut it will stay that way. You can reset workspaces as always.

The big one: Content-Aware Fill and Spot Healing

I wanted to save what might be the most jaw-dropping surprise until last: Content-Aware Fill and Spot Healing. Photoshop CS4 impressed many with its Content-Aware Scaling, which can accurately judge how to scale an image and scrap or create detail without losing important elements. Photoshop CS5 takes it a step further with Content-Aware Fill—available with the long-standing Edit > Fill command—and the Spot Healing Brush tool, which now has Content-Aware as an available mode. These two new features have made the rounds on YouTube, having been demoed at some events such as Adobe MAX’s Sneak Peeks, and elicited oohs and ahhs from the crowds.

ps_cafContent-Aware Fill before (left) and after (right). Ironically, the new Content-Aware technology in Photoshop CS5 works better as a fill than as a brush.

I’ve been using Content-Aware Fill and the Spot Healing Brush tool for my retouching and they have performed well in the past few months I’ve used them. Content-Aware Fill performs the best: it is very smart about figuring out what is subject and what is background in an image selection and recreating the background to cover up the subject. The Content-Aware mode of the Spot Healing Brush performs well too but less so—sometimes it will pull detail from unrelated areas to replace brushed areas, which is the problem I’ve had with the Spot Healing Brush in general. But I am only working with a beta version so I’m withholding judgment until I get the final product to test.

My first impression

Photoshop Extended CS5 could generate excitement like I haven’t seen since Photoshop CS first hit the market. The Content-Aware features by themselves make this an upgrade worth considering, but for me it’s Mini Bridge and the improved Refine Edge that make Photoshop Extended CS5 far more useful. There’s many more new features besides these that I will look at in my full review.

Dreamweaver CS5 First Impressions

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Dreamweaver CS5, just announced today as part of Adobe’s Creative Suite 5 (CS5), has actually been doing duty in my web design business for several months now—I’m a beta tester for several Adobe products including Dreamweaver. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay Dreamweaver CS5 is that it has performed like a shipping product from the first day I got it. Dreamweaver CS4 users will not find too many differences between that application and Dreamweaver CS5, but there are some major improvements in handling CSS and working with dynamically-generated webpages, such as those created by PHP-based content management systems (CMS).

Dreamweaver CS5 is included with the Design Premium, Web Premium and Master Collection suites as well as a standalone product.

Improvements for CSS

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) have been the primary method for controlling websites’ designs and Dreamweaver has emphasized it for a few years now. The application gets a few new CSS-related features with every release, and Dreamweaver CS5 is no different:

  • A new Inspect button produces colored overlays that help visualize the margins, widths, padding and other properties of the CSS box model. If your paragraphs or divs have any of these properties, click Inspect and then hover over the elements with your mouse to reveal these properties. The CSS Styles panel will also highlight the particular rules you are hovering over, which is handy.
  • CSS styles can now be disabled or enabled in the CSS Styles panel—hover over a property in the panel and click the icon, and Dreamweaver CS5 will comment out the rule in the CSS code. I find this to be more useful than the Inspect feature, because you can toggle properties and get immediate feedback on what they do. Designers who constantly check their CSS changes in browsers or Live View can now disable CSS properties and see the results in Design view or Live View.
  • The CSS-based starter layouts have been redesigned to use simpler CSS classes and include more comments in the code and the actual page text. Ironically, there are significantly fewer layout templates in Dreamweaver CS5 than in its predecessor. I don’t use these canned layouts myself because I prefer to build mine from scratch, but intermediate and beginner CSS users will benefit from their educational value and even expert CSS users can get a jump-start on a project with these layouts.

dw_cssenableYou can click the “no-smoking” icon in the CSS Styles panel to enable and disable styles. The colored overlay on the paragraph shows the width, padding and margins for that element.

Improvements for PHP-based CMSes

The most game-changing improvement in Dreamweaver CS5 is its support for PHP-based content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal. The new Dynamically Related Files feature basically compiles all the CMS-related PHP files and use them and Live View to generate dynamic pages just like the CMS would. You can navigate pages like you would in any other browser, work with JavaScript-powered navigations and move from page to page on internal and external servers. Dreamweaver CS5 even can bring data into pages from external databases.

dw_cmsThis image shows the prompt to “discover” dynamic files (inset left), the list of files after discovery (inset right) and Dreamweaver CS5′s ability to render a dynamic page (background). Click the image for a better view.

I tested these new CMS-related features at Adobe in January and they work very well for the common PHP-based CMSes like WordPress. I want to do some further testing for my upcoming review because I actually prefer to use a paid PHP-based CMS called ExpressionEngine and my first attempt to use Dynamically Related Files with an EE-based website did not work. I will figure out what I did wrong and report back in my full review.

PHP coders will enjoy the new custom class code hinting and site-specific code hinting available in Dreamweaver CS5. Dreamweaver now provides hinting—even for code that hasn’t been saved yet—for PHP core functions, objects and site-specific hints for customized code like those for blog themes and content management systems.

dw_sshintsYou can get code hinting on a site-specific basis, based on its CMS…

dw_phphints…and you can also get PHP code hinting.

Other than that…

…there aren’t a lot of major features beyond those for CSS and CMS handling:

  • Those who read and liked my piece on Adobe BrowserLab will be glad to hear Dreamweaver CS5 has an integrated BrowserLab preview. BrowserLab, like similar services, will take a snapshot of a webpage previewed with one of a variety of web browsers. The service is now improved because there are more browsers available and you can also freeze JavaScript interactions in Live View and preview them with BrowserLab.
  • New support for the open-source version-control application Subversion lets users move files and synchronize changes with the remote depository. You can also revert to previous versions of a file.
  • One change that I particularly appreciate is a redesigned Site Definition dialog box. Every website designed with Dreamweaver is first set up in this dialog box and it hasn’t always been user-friendly. There’s not really many improvements to this other than a new look and feel, but some new prompts and the ability to start a site without having every detail filled in makes this dialog box an improvement over the one in Dreamweaver CS4.

My first impression

The quantity of new features in Dreamweaver CS5 is not large, but what is included are improvements vital to the way web designers and developers work today. Dynamic websites powered by content management systems are all around us and Dreamweaver needed to address the lack of tools and interface to handle these sites. The Webkit-powered browser within Dreamweaver and introduced in CS4 was a catalyst for the improvements in Dreamweaver CS5, and interaction has now become as manageable as images and layouts.

InDesign CS5 First Impressions

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InDesign CS5, announced today with the rest of Adobe’s Creative Suite 5 (CS5) applications, has already proven to be a solid and dependable product in my toolkit. InDesign is actually not one of the products I beta-test for Adobe so I haven’t used InDesign CS5 for more than a couple months, but in that time I’ve played with many new features and have enjoyed the experience.

InDesign CS5 is included with the Design Standard and Design Premium suites as well as the Master Collection.

“Not about the new stuff”

“Not about the new stuff” is written in my notes from my visit to Adobe headquarters in January, and this is a good way to classify the differences between InDesign CS4 and CS5. As with Illustrator CS5, InDesign CS5 doesn’t have many radically new features: several features augment basic functions like creating text frames and organizing page elements. However, some of those simple additions constitute radical departures from InDesign conventions—can you imagine text flowing outside of its frame?! You can now with InDesign CS5.

Now a multimedia publishing tool

id_mediapanelInDesign CS5 previews and controls video with the new Media panel.

InDesign has been a Flash-publishing application since CS3 and CS4, but InDesign CS5 sports several panels designed to handle video, animation and multimedia functions, making Flash publishing a larger aspect of the application. In the past this print/media combined strategy has not performed too well—QuarkXPress’s HTML publishing capabilities come to mind—but the InDesign team believes multimedia and Flash will be most valuable to publishers as they look for multiple revenue streams and try to embrace the Internet to do it. I was at Adobe the day Apple announced the iPad and the synergy between the iPad device and InDesign-built eBooks (exportable to the widely-supported EPUB format) and Flash was apparent. But Adobe has a near-impossible task in convincing Apple to put Flash on the iPad and its other devices, and my experience as a print designer is that many of my customers still consider print and electronic publishing to be separate things.

InDesign CS5 introduces five new panels in the Interactive category:

  • Animation, for building animations with the same motion presets in Flash Professional CS5,
  • Object States, which can build multi-state objects such as slideshows and text that responds to simple mouse input,
  • Timing to control timing and playback for interactive and animated elements on the page,
  • Media, a video monitor and playback interface for tweaking video in InDesign, and
  • Preview, which will show all multimedia on the page in real-time.

id_interactiveThe five new Interactive panels in InDesign CS5. Click the image for a better view.

The panels are easy enough to understand and use, though there are quite a few interactive panels now—nine total—and you have to move back and forth between them to produce multimedia in InDesign CS5. Some streamlining of the interface would be a good feature to add in the next version of InDesign. The other advancement for multimedia in InDesign CS5 is the ability to export files as Interactive PDFs or FLA files for further editing in Flash Professional CS5. The Interactive PDF export dialog box is a simplified version of the standardized PDF Export dialog box, and I don’t understand why it is different from that interface (now called Print PDF). I thought a exporting preset for interactive PDFs would have been less confusing. As for the export to FLA, the new text engine in Flash Professional CS5 makes it easier to work with FLAs produced in InDesign CS5. I haven’t tested this feature extensively so I can’t report on any difficulties or benefits, but I will do so in my full review.

id_flashA layout shown (left to right) in InDesign CS5′s Preview panel, layout view and in Flash Player. Click the image for a better view.

As with Word, track your changes

Oddly enough, the feature I use most in Microsoft Word is for tracking changes. InDesign CS5 now does the same thing, tracking changes and giving the user a way to accept or reject changes later. The Story Editor and the new Track Changes panel facilitate this new feature. This is a very useful addition and I’m already experimenting with adding it to my workflow. The major problem is Track Changes cannot be turned on by default and it works on a per-story basis, so it doesn’t seem efficient to use it on all stories in all publications. The other downside is changes are tracked and shown only in the Story Editor, a text-based editor that InDesign has had for a long time. Changes aren’t shown in InDesign CS5′s Layout View, unlike Word.

Improve your organization with Layers and Mini Bridge

There are two major additions to InDesign CS5 designed to assist with organizing assets both inside and outside the InDesign file:

  • The Layers panel has been rebuilt and now functions much like Illustrator’s Layers panel. Elements can be individually selected from the panel and layers can be nested and drilled down all the way to individual objects. This is an example of one Adobe product looking to another for ways to improve.
  • Photoshop CS5 may have Mini Bridge as an extension, but it was developed by the InDesign team and InDesign CS5 sports it as well. In InDesign CS5, Mini Bridge can not only navigate external files but can also show linked files for a particular document, making it something of an internal “File Browser.”

id_layersThe new Layers panel.

One more new feature indirectly related to organizing assets will appeal to users who hate to handle all the fonts associated with projects. Document-Installed Fonts is a feature new to InDesign CS5 that makes the application basically serve as a font management program for the fonts in a particular project—the user manually creates a font folder and InDesign CS5 will move the needed fonts to that folder and install and uninstall them on demand. Printers won’t have to copy and install designers’ fonts anymore—InDesign CS5 will do all the work without a need for other font management applications. The InDesign CS5 press documentation says the Fonts folder generated during packaging will also work as Document-Installed Fonts, but I’ve not tested this particular method yet. In any case, this is a novel way to attack the problem of moving fonts from client to vendor without fouling up typography or copying fonts.

My favorite: multiple page sizes and column spanning/splitting

A new Page tool now lets you resize and modify individual pages in a document, something that previously required a third-party plug-in to accomplish. Magazine designers who often work with gatefolds and other folded pages are going to be thrilled. The tool works great and settings can be changed in the tool’s Options bar. Unfortunately you can’t do the same modifications from the Pages panel, which would have been a smart place to also include this feature.

My favorite feature in InDesign CS5 is something very radical and at the same time very simple: modifying column layouts for text selections. For example, a bulleted list of several items can split into two columns without requiring a two-column text box like before. Conversely, a headline can span two or more columns and break through the column bounds. I love this feature because it really makes multi-column layouts easier to work with and the improvement in typography is beautiful. I used to do this work by nesting text frames into other text, but it’s all unnecessary now.

id_splitspanA bulleted list (left) split into two columns and a subheading (right) spanning two columns. Click the image for a better view.

My other favorite: object grids and the Gap tool

The InDesign team must have had grids and frame boundaries on their minds in the last year because, along with breaking column frames with text spanning, InDesign CS5 has two beautiful features for creating and spacing objects. When dragging the mouse to create a text frame or object, you can use the keyboard’s arrows to build grids of multiple objects. For example, you can use File > Place and select six images, then drag a single image box and use the Up and Right arrows to make the one box into a 2×3 grid of six boxes. The images will then place into all the boxes and your work is done. Frame Fitting Options and the new Auto Fit feature will let you fill all the frames as you like and keep them that way even if you resize your boxes.

The other new feature is the Gap tool, which lets you adjust the gaps between objects and page boundaries. Position the Gap tool between any two objects and you can then “position” the gap itself by dragging. Aligned gaps—such as those found in large grids as described above—can be moved as a group or independently. If you have Auto Fit turned on for your boxes, images within the frames will resize to fit or fill as directed. This feature doesn’t excite me too much because I don’t often build large grids of images, but I know many publication designers do and the productivity improvements possible with this set of new tools is worth trying out.

My first impression

There are more features in InDesign CS5 that I am saving for my full review, such as the Content Grabber and live captions, but I wanted to convey the out-of-the-box thinking that went behind some of InDesign CS5′s new features. I never would have expected to see text flow right out of its box or such a large suite of multimedia tools in what is really a page layout tool. Industry changes are making InDesign a very different product than what it was ten years ago, and I will be very curious to see how the print community welcomes it.

Illustrator CS5 First Impressions

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Adobe Illustrator CS5, a part of all Creative Suite 5 (CS5) suites announced today, was the first beta application I tested for Adobe several months ago and I’ve used it all this time in my professional workflow. The application is stable and has some nice new features and improvements to existing features, but I’m not sure if it is an essential upgrade.

Some new features are extensions of old features

CS4 was a notable release because many product teams focused on productivity enhancements and “making things easier” for users. Adobe began to promote this approach about halfway through CS4′s product cycle. I think the Illustrator CS5 product team has maintained this approach, because several new features in Illustrator CS5 are improvements to old features or provide new ways of doing things.

One example is the addition of Drawing Modes, which allow you to draw behind or inside objects. There are three modes:

  • Draw Normal, which is default behavior,
  • Draw Behind, which draws behind a selected object, and
  • Draw Inside, which will put strokes and placed objects inside an object.

Draw Behind is not particularly useful, and I tend to go back to my usual behavior of moving objects to the back if needed. Draw Inside is a lot more useful but you can do the same thing with clipping masks or opacity masks. I happen to not like working with clipping masks so Draw Inside is a positive addition to Illustrator, and I think others will agree, but it’s not one of those jaw-dropping features we have come to expect from Adobe. It’s really a productivity enhancement.

ai_rearrangeartboardsThe Rearrange Artboards dialog box makes it much easier to organize artboards without precise dragging and numeric inputs.

Another example are the enhancements made to artboards, which was the killer feature introduced in Illustrator CS4. I use artboards regularly as an organization tool for my work but Illustrator CS4 does not make it easy to align or organize artboards. Illustrator CS5 has improved the artboard feature with an Artboards panel where you can rename, reorder and rearrange artboards pretty easily with just a panel menu command or a dialog box. You can also rename artboards in the Artboard tool’s Options bar. These are all welcome improvements to an existing feature, and it makes handling artboards easier without changing artboards’ basic functions.

Probably the most dramatic tool designed to improve an existing feature is the Shape Builder tool, which duplicates what one can do with the Pathfinder’s Add and Subtract buttons. The Pathfinder panel is powerful but disappointingly complicated. The Shape Builder tool will combine or exclude shapes with a simple drag, and it’s fast and intuitive. It can take a little time to master but it’s worth learning, and it will also lessen the need for clipping masks to hide objects.

New perspective drawing

ai_perspectiveIllustrator CS5′s perspective grids make three-dimensional drawing much easier, and two-dimensional objects snap to the 3D space when dragged onto it.

Perspective drawing might be the most dazzling new feature in Illustrator CS5. 1-, 2- and 3-point linear perspective grids can be produced and drawn upon for building three-dimensional drawings. You can drag and drop two-dimensional shapes and drawings onto grids and they’ll conform to the right perspective, and it’s fun to build three-dimensional drawings so easily with perspective grids. Everything remains live so you can edit shapes and even text, but you have to be careful: if you use the regular Selection tool to resize perspective-enhanced text it will be expanded and you’ll lose edibility. A Perspective Grid tool and Perspective Selection tool are available to handle perspective-enhanced objects.

Stroke shaping

It blows my mind that Illustrator can now widen and narrow specific points in a stroke! The new Width tool can change the width of points on a stroke so multi-width shapes can be built with just one stroke. I really like this feature because I often draw organic shapes that can’t be produced with the Pathfinder panel and can be comprised of just one multi-width stroke. A good example is a stroke that’s pointed on one end: in Illustrator CS4, a combination of stroke outlining and point manipulation is needed to produce this. The Width tool can do the same thing with just one drag.

ai_strokesThe maroon stroke (top) demonstrates multiple widths while the star (above) has new dash controls that keep the points sharp.

There’s also some improvements to arrowheads and dashed line control in the Stroke panel that help users fine-tune the positioning of arrowheads and dashes around endpoints and corners. This is another example of a feature that is helpful but is really an extension of long-standing features.

The Bristle Brush: Beautiful art done quickly

Photoshop CS5 has introduced brush tips to its painting engine, making it a better application for fine art painting. Illustrator CS5, being a vector art application, doesn’t handle painting the same way but it tries to mimic the look of painting with a new Bristle Brush brush type. A variety of round, pointed and fan brushes are available with settings for brush length, density, paint load and opacity. Illustrator CS5 recreates the look of paint by overlaying multiple strokes of various opacities to create a blended and shaded strokes of color.

ai_bristlebrushBristle Brush controls are easy to work with, but you can get good results with the defaults as well—even if you “get creative” and just start brushing.

I like the Bristle Brushes, not really because they recreate a painterly look (Painter and Photoshop are superior in that regard) but because the results are very pretty. Illustrator graphics tend to be flat and blocky, but the Bristle Brush can make very nuanced and shaded artwork quickly. I will be curious to see how easy it is to actually print Bristle Brush art in the final version, because I fear so much transparency and overlaying strokes may make it hard for a RIP or a printer to handle, but on the screen the results are striking.

ai_drawmodesThere are two Bristle Brush strokes in the artwork above, one drawn above and one with the new Draw Inside feature. Nesting elements inside shapes will be easier and more intuitive.

My first impression

Illustrator CS5 might be an exciting upgrade for some and not worth the money for others. I was surprised how many features are enhancements to existing features or rely on other applications like Flash Catalyst CS5. My favorite new features are the Shape Builder and the Width tools, with the perspective drawing features a close second. I will be writing a full review of Illustrator CS5 when the final product is shipped.

Adobe InDesign Celebrates a Decade of Publishing Innovation

PRESS RELEASE

SAN JOSE, Calif., — March 9, 2010 — Launched in late 1999 and created as a successor to Adobe® Pagemaker® software, Adobe InDesign® revolutionized the publishing industry with its unrivalled technology and features. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Adobe is releasing a commemorative book titled “Page by Page: 10 Years of Designing with Adobe InDesign” that highlights the product’s evolution and features designers who have helped make InDesign a success. The PDF version of the book is available on Adobe.com and the limited edition print version will be available through Blurb in mid-April. Additionally, to mark the occasion, the company will be releasing 10 new InDesign tips and tricks video tutorials on Adobe TV.

Rapid Innovation in an Evolving Market
As publishing evolves, Adobe continues to lead the industry, revolutionizing how creative professionals design and produce publications. Entering its second decade, InDesign is poised to change the publishing industry again, allowing designers and production professionals to deliver page layouts beyond traditional print to online media and mobile devices, including eBook readers, smart phones and a new generation of tablet devices due later this year. Adobe has changed the course of desktop publishing with InDesign, giving creative professionals the freedom to create what once seemed impossible and to extend delivery of engaging documents to more than one channel.

“Page by Page: 10 Years of Designing with Adobe InDesign”
Designed to provide an inside look at the company’s stewardship in moving publishing from print to digital solutions, the 10th anniversary book examines the role of InDesign and the InDesign Family in transforming the layout and editorial workflow at agencies, corporate publishers and traditional publishers worldwide. The book also details the evolution of InDesign from its public debut in 1999 to today and includes sample work created by designers for publications such as Marie Claire, publishers like Condé Nast, and cutting edge design agencies such as Modern Dog and Mucca Design.

Quotes

  • John Loiacono, senior vice president, Creative Solutions Business Unit at Adobe
    “InDesign took on an entrenched competitor and won through innovation and customers who demanded more from their software. Now InDesign is seen as an essential tool for enabling publishers to deliver in print and build new businesses around digital publications.”
  • Suzanne Sykes, creative director, Marie Claire
    “InDesign was the breakthrough publishing had been waiting for, and Marie Claire was lucky to be one of the first to take advantage of it.”
  • Michael Strassburger, co-founder, Modern Dog
    “As InDesign began to dominate the publication design world, we were nervous that Adobe could become less attentive to its customer base. But it has been exactly the opposite. Adobe has continued working hard to improve InDesign, including actively soliciting customer input.”
  • Matteo Bologna, president, Mucca Design Corporation
    “With the arrival of InDesign, I was finally freed from the weight of QuarkXPress and allowed to just design – and make mistakes thanks to the Multiple Undo feature!”

About Adobe InDesign
Adobe InDesign CS4 software, available for both Mac and Windows®, breaks down the barriers between online and offline publishing. InDesign lets you design, pre-flight and publish a broad range of documents in print, online and mobile devices. Whether you work in a design team or on your own, InDesign has consistently delivered breakthrough features and workflows that simplify page layout so creative professionals, production professionals and print service providers can make quick work of everyday tasks and deliver error-free engaging documents across media.

Helpful Links
Link to InDesign 10th Anniversary Video Tips and Interactive Timeline
InDesign Facebook fan page
Follow InDesign on Twitter
Follow InDesign Gurus Unleashed on Twitter [-- ed.]
Links to relevant Adobe TV InDesign CS4 tutorials
Link to Adobe TV

About Adobe Systems Incorporated
Adobe revolutionizes how the world engages with ideas and information – anytime, anywhere and through any medium. For more information, visit www.adobe.com.

Design Icon I.D. Magazine Folds After 55 Years in Print

Devastating news for the design world: After 55 years in publication, I.D. Magazine, America’s foremost design publication, has folded.

I.D. was the oldest design magazine in the country, and was the one-time employer of many noteworthy figures, including Bruce Mau. Its yearly design competition, the Annual Design Review, was the oldest and biggest design competition in America, and had been operating ever since I.D.‘s inception. The competition was also the magazine’s cash cow; F&W, I.D.‘s publisher, plans on continuing the event and publishing the results online.

In the course of its publication, the magazine won five National Magazine Awards: For General Excellence in 1995, 1997, and 1999; for Special Interests in 2000; and Design in 1997. That amounted to an astounding haul for a magazine with only 30,000 readers per issue. Nonetheless, I.D. had not turned a profit in seven years, and was beset by competition from shelter magazines and mainstream glossies, which have been aggressively adding design coverage, owing to rising interest in design among mainstream audiences.

Read the complete story on Fast Company.

Nielsen Sells Adweek, Billboard; Folds Editor & Publisher

Nielsen Business Media today announced an agreement to sell to e5 Global Media Holdings, LLC, a new company formed jointly by Pluribus Capital Management and Guggenheim Partners, eight brands in the Media and Entertainment Group, including Adweek, Brandweek, Mediaweek, The Clio Awards, Backstage, Billboard, Film Journal International and The Hollywood Reporter. Simultaneously Editor & Publisher and Kirkus Reviews will be discontinued.

Read the full story.

New DisKeeper 2010

The Only Way to Prevent Fragmentation–Before it Happens

PRESS RELEASE BURBANK, CA, November 18, 2009 –Diskeeper Corporation launched today Diskeeper® 2010 performance software–the only product available today that actually prevents fragmentation before it happens. Utilizing a new revolutionary technology called IntelliWrite™, Diskeeper 2010 intelligently writes files to the disk to prevent up to 85 percent of fragmentation from occurring. Coupled with Diskeeper software’s superior defragmentation technology, Diskeeper 2010 delivers a complete performance solution for every Windows system at every site, and goes far beyond what defragmentation alone can achieve.

The negative effects of file fragmentation have been battled since the invention of the modern computer in an effort to negate its crippling effects on performance and its life-shortening toll on hardware. Originally defragmentation could only be performed manually, and was followed soon by scheduled solutions. Scheduled defrag remained the only solution until fairly recently, when fully automatic defrag came along, giving IT back considerable hours while keeping system performance and reliability consistently maximized. Now fragmentation can be prevented before it occurs.

Diskeeper 2010 takes enterprise network performance far beyond what defrag-only can achieve. Prevention coupled with the advanced features in Diskeeper 2010 makes previously unapproachable levels of system efficiency a reality. Significant savings are achieved reducing energy consumption and cooling–even more than is done with conventional defragmentation.

Diskeeper 2010 with IntelliWrite prevents the majority of fragmentation before it even happens and for any fragmentation that does occur, Diskeeper 2010 utilizes the most powerful defragmentation engines created to rapidly handle any remaining fragmentation with zero impact on system resources. Diskeeper 2010 also optimizes file placement for fast access utilizing its I-FAAST® technology. Diskeeper 2010 is the only complete solution for eliminating the harmful and costly effects of fragmentation.

“I am very impressed with Diskeeper 2010, particularly the IntelliWrite feature. I do a lot of speech recognition, and noticed a big difference, as IntelliWrite addresses fragmentation proactively. This is a major advantage for disk-intensive applications. The performance for achieving proactive fixes vs. reactive was very fast – I noticed a significant shift within one day.” said Joseph L. Marion, Principal at Healthcare Integration Strategies, LLC.

“There are several interesting and useful improvements in Diskeeper 2010, the most important of which is speed,” said David Yohn, Ph.D., Director, Marchi Thermal Systems in Redwood City, California. “Not only does the IntelliWrite technology speed up disk defragmentation since it prevents fragments from occurring, and not only does the software simply perform its functions much faster than did earlier versions, the benefits of improved disk optimization means the systems run faster all the time. Every function seems faster, especially those that use large disk files like PhotoShop or AutoCAD. I was afraid that the IntelliWrite feature might become a system resource hog and slow performance, but the opposite is indeed the fact.”

Key Benefits
The benefits of Diskeeper 2010 include dramatically improved system performance from faster file reads and writes. By curtailing the excessive I/Os associated with fragmentation, wear and tear on the drive is greatly reduced, resulting in extended hardware life. Behind the scenes, free space is consolidated, further reducing the chances of future fragmentation, and the location of the most commonly used files is optimized for faster access. All of this occurs with zero impact on system resources.

Diskeeper 2010 contributes to an enterprise’s “green” initiatives by reducing energy consumption and by lowering overall cost of enterprise operation while enhancing speed and reliability providing an even faster return on investment (ROI). An additional benefit is that data/file replication traffic and storage requirements times caused by technologies which monitor block level data access, such as snapshots, are also significantly reduced.

Diskeeper 2010 with IntelliWrite offers enterprises the powerful, yet easily managed, tools to put fragmentation issues behind them–completely and forever. Diskeeper 2010 is the only way to prevent fragmentation before it happens.

Free 30 day trialware and further information at www.diskeeper.com or call 800-829-6468.

Adobe MAX Sneak Peeks—Video!

I finally got permission from Adobe to show some video I captured during the Sneak Peeks event at Adobe MAX. The Sneak Peeks reveal some of Adobe’s latest technology being developed for possible inclusion in future Creative Suite applications. Some of the technology is still pretty raw and didn’t always function during the event, but other features performed well and I would not be surprised if some are already in the beta stage, being prepared for future release. Adobe wanted me to add this disclaimer to the video: “The sneak peeks at Adobe MAX represent technology projects from Adobe’s development labs. Please note that the demonstrated technologies may or may not be incorporated into future Adobe products or services.”

Copy/paste Illustrator graphics into Dreamweaver

A demonstration of copying and pasting an Illustrator chart into Dreamweaver. A “Smart Paste” command pastes the chart and also binds data to the chart for dynamic updating.

Copy/paste Flash animation into Dreamweaver

As with the previous footage, the demonstrator is pasting media into Dreamweaver. This time, it’s a Flash animation.

Content-Aware retouching in Photoshop

This one got the most applause: the Content-Aware technology behind Photoshop CS4′s Content-Aware Scaling is now applied to a brush, making it an exceptional retouching tool. Star Wars fans also get a treat at the end.

Adobe Rome

Adobe Rome is an AIR application that combines tools from Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver and other Creative Suite applications. Rome probably surprised the crowd the most—a new desktop application that combines basic Creative Suite tools?—but it doesn’t surprise me: the CS4 applications often borrow features from one another, and I’ve predicted a “super-application” that could do the work of several apps. Rome doesn’t look as feature-heavy as the average CS4 application, but it has great potential.

Flash physics panel

A Physics panel attached to Flash allows gravity to be applied to instances on the stage and then animated by Flash. Experienced Flash users will note that the animation is produced frame by frame, not with ActionScript or tweens. This may be problematic from a production standpoint, but the effect looks cool nonetheless.

Interesting Creative Projects At Talenthouse

I was notified that Talenthouse, a website that brings creative projects to the creative professional community, has some new high-profile projects from Dr. Dre, Naomi Campbell, Nokia and Adidas. The website launched last year and is relaunching this year, and at first it seemed to me just another place for creative professionals to give their work away for free—payment is at the recipient’s discretion. However, there’s some deals and high-profile exposure to be made so it’s worth looking at for the marketing potential. Here’s the press release.

PRESS RELEASE

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA (October 27, 2009) – Talenthouse, the leading platform for creative collaboration, today announced that Beats by Dr. Dre, Naomi Campbell, Nokia and Adidas were among the Creative Invites with the aim to discover new talent, design new products and create original content. They are among major artists and brands who have embraced the Talenthouse vision to enable emerging artists from all disciplines around the world to secure recognition and compensation.
Unique to the platform is the “Creative Invite” – where an artist or brand invites the Talenthouse community to collaborate on a professional piece of work.

Creative Invites provide opportunities for emerging artists throughout the world to shortcut the usual career path by collaborating with established artists or brands and gaining recognition and compensation for their work. Talenthouse, unlike many other sites, protects the artists interests and therefore does not take an ownership position in any of the artwork submitted.

In each sponsored Creative Invite funds will be divided between all the artists who participate. One artist will be selected to work directly with the hosting artist or brand. The Talenthouse community and the participating artists individual peers are involved in determining the best work. However, the final winner is being selected by the inviting artist or brand.

“We believe that all artists of the world should have the opportunity to be recognized and compensated for their work” says Amos Pizzey, founder of Talenthouse. “That’s why we are here and why global brands and industry icons are supporting our vision.”

Today, the global creative community is invited to collaborate with:

  • Dr. Dre, the legendary music producer, has teamed up with Talenthouse to find the next promotional video for his successful Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. This invite is open to all aspiring video/film makers interested in creating an artistic, hip and edgy 30-60 second video clip that reflects the Beats by Dre overall mission that “sound matters.”
  • Naomi Campbell, the internationally renowned supermodel, has created two “Creative Invites” exclusive to the Talenthouse community. The first challenge is to find the next international fashion photographer. The second challenge Naomi Campbell has set is to discover the next international fashion model, female or male. The two winners from both categories will have the opportunity to work with a major fashion magazine.
  • adidas, one of the world’s most iconic sports and lifestyle brands is inviting designers from the Talenthouse community to customize a pair of adidas iD2 goggles to be worn by Olympic athletes participating in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The winner designers will be sent several pairs of the iD2 goggles as the challenge also requires the designers to actually implement their design onto the goggles which will then worn by athletes during the Olympics and featured on the adidas eyewear website.
  • Nokia, the global leader in mobile communications, is looking for an outstanding videographer with an eye for talent and an ear for music to work on a high profile global entertainment project. Nokia and Talenthouse invite all videographers around the globe to submit examples of their past work and the community will decide who gets to participate in this global one-off.

Artists can log onto www.talenthouse.com to participate in the Creative Invites.

The Talenthouse launch today marks the beginning of a new era. By the end of 2010 the platform will have rewarded more than 1 Million artists for their work. “We offer artists exceptional, life changing opportunities. Direct access to global brands, to leading icons. Now its in their hands to reshape their industries forever”, says Roman Scharf, Talenthouse CEO.

About Talenthouse

Talenthouse is the leading platform for creative collaboration, providing artists opportunities for recognition and compensation. Talenthouse embraces artists at every level of their career, as well as all supporters of the arts. Attracted by the potential for discovering, collaborating with and mentoring emerging talent, many global brands and acclaimed industry icons are involved with Talenthouse by hosting Creative Invites. Brands choose Talenthouse to engage in a dialogue with their audience in a targeted, relevant and credible context. Talenthouse currently focuses on film, fashion, music, art and photography.
For more information please visit www.talenthouse.com.

Free Thanksgiving Fonts


Free Thanksgiving Fonts from Designorati

In addition to all the wonderful things in our lives to be thankful for this season—loved ones, health, happiness, and Designorati—we thought you might also like to give thanks for some free* Thansgiving fonts.

Note: Fonts are Windows TrueType format. To convert for Mac OS X and below, download this free utility: TTConverter15.hqx.

101PunkinPie.ttf

101! Punkin Pie 96,364 bytes

4YEOT___.TTF

4YEOT 160,980 bytes

ChefTurkey.ttf

Chef Turkey 125,624 bytes

Edbindia.ttf

Edbindia 72,700 bytes

KRTurkeyTime.ttf

KR Turkey Time 33,120 bytes

LMSPostThanksgivingShopping.ttf

LMS Post-Thanksgiving Shopping 105,528 bytes

LMSPuritanPartyHats.ttf

LMS Puritan Party Hats 30,032 bytes

Pf_pumpkin2.ttf

Pf_pumpkin-2 37,832 bytes

Pf_turkey_thanksgiving.ttf

Pf_turkey_thanksgiving 151,860 bytes

Pf_turkey2.ttf

Pf_turkey-2 399,992 bytes

PilgrimHats.ttf

Pilgrim Hats 25,428 bytes

THANKS1.TTF

THANKS1 10,584 bytes

Thanksgiving.ttf

Thanksgiving 56,208 bytes

*   All fonts were found on the Internet on websites or newsgroups identifying them as “freeware” and/or “public domain”. Any documentation or “read me”-type files that accompanied the fonts from their sources have been preserved. All files are packaged exactly as they were found. If a font presented here may not be legally distributed via this collection, the author and/or trademark holder is requested to contact us here prepared to establish his/her identity, legal ownership of the material in question, and to request removal of the material from this collection.

And don’t miss the 300+ free Halloween fonts!

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Enters Public Beta

Adobe announced today that Photoshop Lightroom, its photo management and editing application, is now available as a public beta of version 3. This is the next major upgrade for this application and all three versions have been preceded by a public beta. I was able to attend a demo of the version 3 beta by Tom Hogarty (Lightroom Senior Product Manager) and also gained some insight in their approach to this public beta process.

Image quality, performance—and one improvement I love

I saw lots of nice improvements in the Lightroom 3 public beta demo. The two main improvements will be found in general performance and a redesign of image quality algorithms. This second improvement was most apparent in the new Settings > Process Version menu item, which lets you switch between the old algorithms and the new. I believe you can specify which algorithm version you want for all your photos, but Tom spent his time demonstrating the menu item, which can toggle back and forth. The image improvement was noticeable but I want to test it on my own images and see how they respond.

lr3-version

The integration with photo sharing websites like Flickr is very impressive. Flickr and other photo sharing sites are now listed in a Publish Services panel below Collections and Library. One can drag and drop photos right to the panel and Lightroom 3 public beta will do the publishing. Online comments are visible in the Lightroom 3 interface and changes can be made and updated automatically. In the case of Flickr, these nifty features are only available to paying Flickr Pro users—the free Flickr service still works in some ways, but dynamic updating and commenting doesn’t work.

lr3-pubservices

lr3-pubmodify

The one improvement I love the most is the redesign Import window. Of all the interfaces I use in Lightroom 2, I use Import the most and it’s never been up to par with the rest of the well-designed application. Now it has matched it and then some. It’s still its own window but it has the same user interface design as the rest of the application, with photo sources on the left and destinations on the right. It looks very slick and easy to use. Even better, the whole window can collapse into a small interface where you can quickly select a source, destination, metadata and file handling presets. I can’t wait to use it.

lr3-import

lr3-importsm

Editing and presenting improvements

There are also several new features for editing and presenting photography:

    lr3-nr2

  • Sharpening and Noise Reduction have both been improved. This feature set will change a lot during the public beta: Tom mentioned the noise reduction feature will be released with color reduction only and with luminance reduction to follow.
  • Collections are now available in the Develop module.
  • lr3-vignettepriority

  • Post-Crop Vignetting has been expanded and a Grain effect is available to recreate film grain. Post-Crop Vignetting will have a color priority and highlight priority mode in the initial public beta, but user feedback will eventually eliminate one of these.
  • lr3-playback

  • Slideshows can now be published with music and set to sync with the song duration.
  • lr3-video

  • Slideshows can also be exported as a video file. Lightroom 3 public beta offers a few common preset sizes.
  • lr3-watermarkedit

  • Watermarks can now be edited with much greater control in the Watermark Editor. I remember being wowed by the watermark feature in Lightroom 1, but this is even more exciting. At first glance it looks like it could be developed further, but I’ll know more after I start using it.
  • lr3-custompackage

  • Print output has been improved: Custom Packages have much more flexibility and look more like a page layout application than ever before. Contact sheets can have colored backgrounds and more metadata options displayed.
  • lr3-contactsheetpage

I couldn’t really complain at anything I saw during the demo—everything operated very well, and it should be a fun public beta experience.

A “medium rare” public beta

Tom used some vivid metaphors to describe how the Lighroom team is approaching this public beta differently than the one for version 2. The first public beta program was “medium rare”: lengthy and full of development. This made sense since it was for a brand new application. For version 2, the Lightroom team adopted more of a “medium well” public beta program, allowing less time to digest feedback and improve features. It seemed the reason was because Lightroom had already established a strong feature set and the team didn’t expect version 2 to require as much time in beta development.

For the version 3 public beta, Tom and his team are going back to the “medium rare” public beta program and will devote more time to it. It’s unclear how long it will last, but Tom says Lightroom 3 will ship “in 2010″ so at the most we can expect the public beta to last a year.

Changes in system requirements

There will be a few bumps in the system requirements that may exclude some Lightroom 2 users. Windows users will require 2GB of RAM to operate Lightroom 3; on the other hand, it will work with Windows 7. Mac users will have more hurdles to clear: not only is 2GB of RAM also required, but Lightroom 3 will not work with Mac OS X 10.4 (“Tiger”) or with PowerPC processors. It’s been a few years since PowerPC Macs were being sold, but I know there’s still plenty of them out in the field. The Lightroom 3 public beta may convince some of these users to buy an upgrade.

How to sign up

The Lightroom 3 public beta just went live at http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom3/. Participation is easy—just download the software and use it—but be sure to give your feedback when you can. I know the Adobe engineers take the feedback seriously, though they also have their own ideas of what Lightroom 3 should have. Lightroom 2 users should note that catalogs from that application cannot be imported into Lightroom 3 public beta—you’ll need to import your own images into that application.

Impressions on Adobe MAX Day 2 Keynote

It’s been a week since I returned from Adobe MAX, but I still have some notes to publish. Here are my notes from the keynote on Tuesday, October 6:

  • We’re watching MLB executives David Yu and Jen Taylor talk to themselves about MLB.com’s use of Flash video to stream their games. I wish they were talking to the crowd instead of themselves—Jen Taylor doesn’t have much to say other than “very cool, very cool.” And David just walked off the stage after maybe four minutes of dialogue. Jen is much more interesting, talking about Flash video innovations. I’m excited by David’s mention of delivering a DVR experience to MLB.com, and Jen’s mention of new HTTP streaming with Flash Player 10.1 is great news. It sounds like there’s also going to be some kind of security protection for Flash video online.
  • Jen Taylor has just officially announced that the Strobe project is now OpenSource Media Framework (OSMF). Ironically, I just finished a hands-on session working with OSMF and I found it to be fairly easy to use if you’re a professional coder.
  • Adam Mollenkopf, FexEx’s Strategic Technologist, is now showing FedEx Custom Critical, a very nice browser-based enterprise application FedEx uses to monitor truck positions and the number of carriers in any given area. The vehicles even return temperature and speed data via an RTMP streaming server, the same technology used for streaming video (though Flash Player 10.1 will also stream from HTTP servers). LiveCycle Data Services and Flex were used to build the user interface and move the enormous amounts of data around.
  • Heidi Williams, Adobe’s Senior Engineering Manager, is walking through a Flash Catalyst/ColdFusion 9 demo. I’ve never used ColdFusion before but the fact that it’s closely entwined with ActionScript and Flash makes me wonder if it’s a smart choice for Flash designers who want to branch out into application development like I am. Heidi and Ben say this entire demo can be done without writing hardly any code, but there’s a lot of code up on the screen and it didn’t just magically appear. Even when there’s prebuilt components and frameworks, the developer has to know how to handle code when the inevitable bugs arise.
  • Daniel Fiden, EA’s Senior Producer for POGO.com, is talking about POGO.com and the variety of online games available there. The statistics say it’s the US game site with the most engagement (minutes per visit) and traffic overall. It’s interesting to know some of their games’ early development involves building cheap mock-ups in Flash and playing it during development, creating many iterations along the way before a decent game takes shape. All this is done with Flash.
  • Serge Jespers, Adobe’s Senior Platform Evangelist, wrote the Flash-based MAX widget—looks nice, but I never put it on my website—is demoing a simple Flash game that sends win/lose notices via Adobe’s Wave, a new notification service that I just heard about here on MAX. I’m running it right now but I haven’t found a good use for it yet. Anyway, Serge just built a simple demo application and is using the Flash Platform Services Distribution Manager (bundled with Flash Builder) to track installations of his widget around the world. Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen talked yesterday about not only giving people the tools to communicate but to also track and optimize, and this is an example. Serge is also showing how to export the Flash application to AIR, upload to the AIR Marketplace and let Adobe handle the transactions and report your sales and revenue. It looks great and the demo mentioned only three lines of code are needed, but I still think it can’t be as easy as that.
  • CTO Kevin Lynch is back from yesterday to demonstrate augmented reality in Flash. The major demo is a new song by John Mayer, which has a multimedia component using augmented reality. Now on stage is John Mayer himself, talking about using augmented reality to tell a story and create an artistic experience. He mentioned “the Blitz guys and the Adobe guys” so I am sure John isn’t actually sitting in front of Flash producing this piece, but he knows that it’s the cool online videos that get passed around (or the funniest or the stupidest). The very short clip that was shown here looked interesting technically and for John it’s about combining an art form that’s “been around for a thousand years with an art form that’s not been around for a thousand hours.” That’s an interesting (and smart) approach, though I’ll be curious to learn if people do all the necessary work to experience Augmented Reality.

The press conference after the keynote

Kevin Lynch spoke to the press after the keynote and spoke in a little more detail about some things. Keynotes tend to be flashy without drilling down into the details, so I was glad to attend.

  • Adobe is being cautious about entering the 3D market. Kevin mentioned that Adobe products already handle 3D well: Photoshop has 3D capabilities and Flash Player and PDF also support 3D models. It seemed that a full-fledged 3D application was not yet on their radar.
  • Augmented Reality is still new and hasn’t found its killer application. It’s cool to watch but computers still need a black rectangle or colored rubber bands in view to motion track and add graphics. Kevin thinks AR will eventually work without these requirements and offer a blend of virtual reality and true reality.
  • “Flash needs to be on mobile to be relevant,” said Kevin, and the Flash Platform is now being engineered for mobile first and the desktop second. The Flash mobile and Flash desktop teams have in fact been merged at Adobe, whereas until now they have worked separately. I think Kevin is correct that Flash needs to stake its claim as the dominant mobile media format, but the mobile device industry is so fragmented that I think it will be a hard goal—the fact that the iPhone does not support Flash is a prime example.
  • Kevin briefly mentioned the multitouch and multiscreen market, which is emerging for both mobile devices and desktop monitors. Many desktop computer users have had multiple monitors for years but touch monitors are still not very common in the market. However, Kevin thinks it will emerge and the market share will go to the companies who work best within “the ecosystem” of their competitors. He cited the example of the PC market in the 1980s and 1990s: while Apple followed their own vision, Microsoft partnered with other companies in the ecosystem and Windows thus gained dominant market share.

Adobe MAX, Day One

Day one of Adobe MAX is nearing the end of sessions and the beginning of networking and fun—pizza and beer with the software product teams, and an afterparty for the press hounds. I attended three sessions:

  • Flex 101: Introduction to Flex 4 turned out to be a good pick for this Flex novice. Flex (now renamed Flash Builder) is a complex application and this session was well done but rushed due to the keynote, which ended over an hour late! We did some basic FB techniques such as data binding, creating custom components and building a user interface with multiple controls and objects controlled by an external XML file. I’m sure it was an easy session for regular developers but it was just right for a novice: tough but a good learning experience.
  • Motion Tracking in After Effects was more in my area of expertise, as I’ve done some work with Mocha, the surface-tracking software included with After Effects CS4. I think Mocha was a great addition to After Effects and Jeff Foster gave us a straightforward Mocha tutorial, overlaying a license plate image on video of a driving car and tracking the car’s motion. One thing I learned was that Mocha has been updated to version 2 since I wrote my After Effects CS4 review, and the interface looks improved. The other tutorials, which were more interesting to me, focused on the Stabilize Tracking function in the Tracker panel. This has all the tools you need to stabilize handheld video so it doesn’t look like it was shot on a dinghy.
  • Ajax For Designers with Greg Rewis is a good session for beginners and intermediate web designers but it’s a little rudimentary, especially the basic JavaScript tutorial that starts the session off. Despite this, there’s little tips and tricks throughout that may surprise you. One is the fact that you can Ctrl/Cmd-click any item in Dreamweaver’s Insert menu and insert the object without messing with any dialog boxes. Right now we’re learning about the jQuery framework, which I’ve been using myself in some of my recent website projects. The session is a really nice learning experience for those who haven’t used Ajax frameworks before.
  • That’s all for now, I will try to write more as I learn new things! Tomorrow’s schedule includes the Flex/Adobe AIR Boot Camp, a session on the Open Source Media Framework and the MAX Bash.

Impressions on Adobe MAX Keynote

I’m here at the keynote, listening to Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch talk about the Flash Innovation Timeline. Some of my general thoughts:

  • Josh James of Omniture was on stage a moment ago, but not many people appreciated his “Omniture Is Awesome” speech. Not enough time spent talking about Adobe’s acquisition of Omniture, too much time bragging about the huge money that’s been thrown at him and his big clientele.
  • Flash Player 10.1 is going to be a big step forward for leveraging mobile devices’ attributes with Flash. 50% reduction of RAM usage on current web content (videos, ads, animation) and possibilites for accelerometer and social networking. They’ve also been optimizing battery usage: Flash Video will be able to play over 3 hours of video or 6.5 hours of animation on a phone with a single charge. A dimmed screen will run for 14.5 hours! Kevin demonstrated Flash animation and video on Nokia and Android phones as well as live web conferencing with Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro in real time—on the mobile device. I am really pleased to see this: I’m currently in mobile web training with the W3C and we are taught to shy away from rich media because it makes for a bad browsing experience on phones. Flash Player 10.1 has all the right ideas but I think it will take years before these capabilities get true penetration to rural areas and Third World countries. Those with slick smartphones will see these improvements much, much sooner.
  • I need to learn more about Adobe’s Open Screen Project. Google and RIM joined it today. Right now Kevin is talking about improved video playback on netbooks and televisions—streaming Flash video in HD. The video looks great—clear Flash video on TV and netbooks, a lot different than the usual YouTube video experience. But that is changing….
  • AIR 2.0 is here. USB storage device detection, performance increases, native installer support, socket servers, UDP support and increased accessibility. You can also launch native applications with AIR 2.0 applications. The AIR team is making all the right moves with this announcement, and I would be curious to compare AIR 2.0 with Silverlight, which I honestly don’t know much about. Kevin just demoed an AIR application that detected content on a USB device when it was plugged in and launched a file in its native application. Another application was able to execute a search on multiple online and local resources and also use the computer’s microphone to record and play back sound.
  • AIR 2.0 and Flash Player 10.1 handles gesture and touch events, so multitouch applications are a possibility. Kevin demoed a New York Times reader and a photo-posting website (it wasn’t announced, but I could see the URL is http://beta.adobepost.com/).
  • Rob Tarkoff, Adobe’s Senior VP/GM of BPBU is talking about building enterprise software that “works the way systems work” and “work the way people work.” The big push is for data visualization through the Flash Platform, LiveCycle and ColdFusion. ColdFusion upgrades to version 9 and LiveCycle Enterprise Suite upgrades to version 2. Both CF and LC are getting cloud production capabilities, plug-ins for Flash Builder and other advancements.
  • Johnny Loiacono has just taken the stage. This is what I’m most interested in because it’s about the tools I use daily in my work. He’s demoing the unreleased Photoshop CS5 with a Wacom tablet. Photoshop CS5 has some new brush improvements that remind me of what Corel Painter has done for years: brushes respond to tablet pen angles and move and mix color in a realistic way—not just by mixing pixels.
  • Flash Pro looks like it is also going to be getting some text tools from InDesign, including the text engine needed for multi-column and threaded text boxes. It’s also sporting new physics capabilities that allow more realistic movements such as bobbling and bouncing. Johnny is also showing some code snippets that are to help people use ActionScript 3.0—this is still a difficult thing for many designers to handle.
  • Now on to Flash Catalyst. I have had the beta for months but admit I’ve been too busy to really play with it. It’s designed to make Flash creation easier, and it’s certainly easier to build things like buttons and video, but the interface is still complicated. I don’t think you can get around this when you’re creating multimedia. Johnny’s demo of Flash Catalyst looks nice, and he knows zero ActionScript (his admission) so I will be curious to explore the new beta 2, available today.
  • Now we’re being treated to a Mythbusters with Kevin and Johnny blending an iPhone with a Flash CD—making fun of the notion that iPhones do not run Flash. Johnny announced that Flash applications do now run natively on the iPhone—and demoed the game Chromacircuit on an iPhone. These apps are already on the iPhone App Store. This is news to me, and I’m curious to hear more. Johnny showed how it’s done in Flash, and it looks like Flash Pro actually publishes to a new iPhone setting (instead of Flash Player 10 or Flash Lite). He also mentioned that this is not interpreted code but native iPhone code, so I think this is actually not Flash but native iPhone code. I’ll be researching this new announcement.
  • Now we’re going to see Jim Cameron’s new movie Avatar, and I’ll publish more.

Adobe Announcements At Adobe MAX 2009

I’m here at the Adobe MAX press room, and there’s already several press releases and announcements that will interest designers. Here are several of them:

  • Adobe Unveils First Full Flash Player for Mobile Devices and PCs. It’s Flash Player 10.1 and it will be Adobe’s major push to get a consistent Flash presence on mobile devices. They have already enlisted some strong partners including NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Nokia as well as RIM, who has joined Adobe’s Open Screen Project. Google also quietly joined the Open Screen Project yesterday. Adobe just announced these today and the press room is a flurry of paper right now, so I honestly haven’t had time to digest this information. I hope to publish a follow-up article during MAX.
  • Adobe Flash Platform Speeds Web Innovation Across Desktops and Devices. This announcement mentions new products such as Flash Player 10.1 (mentioned above), Adobe AIR 2.0 (previews at MAX and beta available later this year), second betas of Flash Builder (previously Flex) and Flash Catalyst. There’s also mention of a “Project Zeri,” a new protocol support for media delivery with HTTP streaming on the Flash Platform.
  • Adobe ColdFusion 9 Now Available. There are many CF developers here at MAX, and this is surely welcome news. The announcement also mentions Adobe® ColdFusion® Builder™ Beta 2 and a private beta of the new ColdFusion 9 in the Cloud that will run in the Amazon Web Services environment and enable more developers to access the power of ColdFusion as a hosted service.

    There’s a whole lot of material to go through here and Adobe MAX 2009 hasn’t even started (I’m waiting for the keynote to begin), so stay tuned for much more!