With nine-plus applications included in the new Adobe Creative Suite 4 Web Premium edition,
it has all the tools a Web designer could need for building sites using the latest digital formats.
These are serious, heavy-duty tools for the Web professional,
not the casual WSYWIG tools of the past. Unlike
earlier versions of these Adobe programs, it makes sense to
buy them all as a collected suite instead of buying each one
individually; that can get very expensive.
Installation is a long process, involving 3 DVDs worth
of data, and it is best if you close any running applications
before starting. Thankfully, unlike the CS3 update, this is a
clean install that leaves your older applications unmolested.
You will need a pretty powerful computer to run these programs:
Windows XP or Vista users need a processor of at
least 2 to 3.4 GHz with plenty of extra HD space (around 25
GB would be about right). For Mac, make sure you’re on OS
X v10.4.11; either way, you’ll want a 1280x900 pixel monitor
to display all those workspace configurations.
CS4 is designed to make your workflow efficient and
standards-compliant. What makes this series of programs
better is an even tighter integration with Photoshop; which
itself is much improved. It also has video tools like Adobe
Media Encoder to optimize video for the Web or to build
Web-based applications such as Adobe Air. You will also
have the ability to build sites for the mobile platform and
test them with Adobe Device Central.
I’ll concentrate on some of the main programs in the
Adobe Fireworks CS4
Fireworks is an excellent prototyping tool that has XHTML
and CSS exporting capabilities that can speed up the process
from Web design layout to a finished site. While building
your layout, you can actually prepare your
naming them prior to export. Fireworks comes with a full
set of common library objects to assist when converting
your design to a finished project. These objects export as
fully-functioning controls, like simple form tags that
automatically export in code and can be further tweaked in Dreamweaver. You can also directly import native Photoshop
files (.psd) into Fireworks and edit them. The export process
generates valid XHTML and standards-compliant CSS. You
can easily merge creative styles with existing ones to serve as
foundational site-wide style sheets. Overall, Fireworks is a
great starting point for producing custom Web designs.
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Adobe Dreamweaver CS4
In the past, having a page that accurately represents all external
Dreamweaver was a headache. Previewing edits in a browser
was, at the very least, cumbersome. Now, with version 4, it’s
become much more intuitive and efficient. A cool new feature,
“Live View,” renders the page and previews page functionality,
all without leaving the program to do a browser
test. You can make edits in this mode as well. CSS integration
is vastly improved with the new code navigator function.
You can update all CSS rules much more easily in this
version, and pull up your website’s external style sheet as an
active window for editing. In fact, the tabs make for easy access
to any related external files. It all helps you create a
seamless workflow when it comes to building your website.
read more below...
Adobe Flash CS4
Flash is widely used in Web-based and broadcast animations.
Compared with the last version, animating in Flash
is fundamentally different and takes some time to get acclimated.
In some ways it’s become even more complex, even
as many other basic functions have become easier to master.
The motion models are less timeline-based and more
object-based. Many steps previously used in tweening are
abbreviated. If you haven’t learned Actionscript 3.0 by now,
it will be even harder to avoid it in this version.
Of all the programs in the suite, this upgrade is the one
that’s changed the most. The properties panel is now vertically
integrated into the other tool panels, and the new motion
editor panel gives you a granular control similar to
Adobe After Effects or Avid. It also allows for some easier
custom motions and fine tuning. 3D rotation of objects in
space is also supported, and other tools like Bones are
specifically designed for character animation. Flash CS4
does so much more than its previous version and its interoperability
with the other CS4 programs is a bonus.
Adobe Photoshop CS4
Adobe Photoshop has been the mainstay of the image editing
business for so long that it would be easy to dismiss yet
another upgrade as mere software bloat. But this is a substantial
upgrade; whether you’re a photographer, Web designer,
or effects artist, there is plenty to explore. The new
version’s major improvement is a streamlined approach to
simplify the color adjustment process. A new access panel
makes adjusting photo layers a quicker job, with fewer
clicks and selections from drop down menus. By creating a
non-destructive adjustment layer, you can bring out highlights
and deepen contrasts without a lot of guesswork.
There are plenty of presets and filters with a higher degree
of mask control. Bridge CS4 is a bundled program that lets
you keep track of your work in thumbnails and organize
your media files. Photoshop has become a more wellrounded
program; as with other Adobe programs, multiple
documents are in a tabbed array, so you see one document
at a time and switch to the rest by clicking their tabs.
Adobe CS4 is a substantial upgrade that is not for the
beginner. Most of the programs, especially Flash, have a
steep learning curve. The days of picking up a WSYWIG
program and building a website in minutes is fine for casual
users with very simple objectives, but not serious coders.
Overall, the integration improvements make it a necessary
upgrade for most Adobe users. The biggest problem with an
upgrade like this is that most Web designers have learned
a specific method for doing things, and suddenly altering
your workspace can be unnerving. Do yourself a favor and
take a few hours to get familiar with CS4 before you start
that shiny new website.
About the Author: Aaron Kupferberg is Art Director and Interaction Designer for
Didit and develops website audits based on user-oriented goals.
Since 1996, Didit combines top-tier SEM strategy, highly sophisticated
analytics and modeling, and best-of-breed technology
to produce unmatched SEM results for more than 100
clients across all major verticals. Didit was co-founded by industry
thought leader, SEMPO founding board member, and
Didit Chairman & CEO Kevin Lee.