Adobe Announces CS5.5, Subscriptions, Photoshop SDK and Touch Apps

CS5.5 for Web: Big on mobile devices

Mobile web development is exploding rapidly, which is one reason why Adobe had to respond with CS5.5—waiting another six months for the normal product cycle to complete would have been too long of a wait. Dreamweaver CS5.5 pushes out several features related to the mobile web:

  • Multiscreen Preview based on the CSS3 Media Queries spec allows developers to style code differently depending on the detected screen dimensions of multiple devices. Theoretically, you can serve one CSS stylesheet to a computer and another to a phone or tablet. However, in practice this is dependent on whether the device’s browser supports Media Queries.
  • Code hinting now includes prompts for jQuery and jQuery Mobile syntax. jQuery has emerged as perhaps the most dominant JavaScript framework, and many websites employ it.
  • Code hinting also includes CSS3 rules, and CSS3 is applied in Live View.
  • The handy PhoneGap mobile development framework is baked into Dreamweaver CS5.5, allowing you to write web-standard code, add functionality for specific devices as needed and package for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Palm among others. You can check out PhoneGap here.
  • I’ve been waiting for this one a long time: W3C validation. With an Internet connection, you can validate a document with W3C’s popular and accurate service. You can even validate the original HTML code or the browser-rendered Live View page. Both are really exciting and helpful!
  • Support for Subversion version control system, FTPS and FTPeS are included.

Dreamweaver CS5.5 is probably the most-developed CS5.5 product being released today. There are several features. Flash Professional CS5.5 also has some new features but most involve publish settings or content scaling for mobile devices. One new feature in Flash that’s specific to development is the ability to copy entire layers in the timeline now.

Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP

Flash Builder is the only product in the Creative Suite that doesn’t carry the CS5.5 badge; it’s at version 4.5 in this release. Like Flash Professional CS5.5, it has some additions to help users build apps for mobile devices. But I think the larger story is in a modified version of Flash Builder that Adobe is releasing today but not widely promoting: Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP, which integrates the PHP development product Zend Studio with Flash Builder 4.5.

Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP is based on Eclipse and makes a lot of sense for Flex/PHP developers. You can even debug the two languages simultaneously. Flash Builder 4.5 (without PHP) is what’s bundled with CS5.5 Web Premium and Master Collection so I don’t know how much traction this product will get in the marketplace. We might see it be incorporated with the next version of Creative Suite.

CS5.5 for Video Production: Continued efficiency gains

“Efficiency” and “productivity” have been buzzwords for Adobe in the past couple years, and CS5.5 Production Premium continues the trend. Improvements such as roundtrip editing between Premiere Pro CS5.5 and the newly-added Audition CS5.5, even greater gains with the speedy Mercury Playback Engine, and batch encoding with Media Encoder CS5.5 all increase productivity.

The two “wow” features, in my opinion, come from After Effects CS5.5:

  • Camera Lens Blur can be added to a camera for proper depth of field or “bokeh” effects. It’s a beautiful effect that really adds realism to a shot.
  • The Warp Stabilizer can stabilize shaky camera work and recreate any blank areas on the edges created by the process. I’ve seen it in action in a demo and it is impressive.

There are a few other added features to Production Premium CS5.5 but some have been seen before (such as the Adobe Story script collaboration application) or are technical improvements that video hardware professionals will appreciate. I encourage you to check out the Adobe website for more information.

About Soundbooth and Audition

CS5.5 Production Premium and Master Collection will see a change: the sound-editing software Soundbooth has been discontinued and replaced by Audition, which has existed since the 1990s and has been an Adobe product since 2003. It was available only for Windows until a public beta recently made it available for Mac. The culmination of that public beta is Audition CS5.5.

Audition has always been positioned as a more professional choice for sound professionals; Soundbooth was designed for creative professionals who needed to work with sound for Flash or video production but weren’t necessarily trained for the task. Based on this and the comparison chart here, I think Audition will have more of a learning curve than Soundbooth but it will have many of its tools and a lot more.