Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Design Standard review

Price when reviewed

The simplest and cheapest CS5.5 suite edition is Design Standard. Aimed at graphical designers, it includes Adobe’s two graphical flagships: Illustrator for vector-based illustration, and Photoshop for bitmap-based photo editing.

Neither has been updated for this release, but Adobe has launched a new Touch Software Development Kit (SDK), which enables touch-based mobile applications to interact with Photoshop on your desktop computer over a Wi-Fi connection.

Adobe has rolled out three apps of its own to demonstrate how this works – Colour Lava for colour mixing, Eazel for finger painting and Nav for selecting images and tools – but third-party developers will ensure these are just the first of many Photoshop apps for Apple, Android and BlackBerry tablets.

CS5.5 Design Standard also includes Adobe Bridge for image management, new releases of Device Central and Media Encoder and the latest version of Acrobat for making the most of Adobe’s PDF file format, Acrobat X Pro, which is included in all CS5.5 editions apart from Production Premium, and adds a number of features such as action-based automation and improved collaboration.

Adobe InDesign CS5.5

InDesign CS5.5

The real core of CS5.5 Design Standard is InDesign where text and graphics are brought together, laid-out and published. Previously, InDesign’s main publishing output was commercial print, but InDesign CS5.5 opens up a completely new medium: the handheld mobile device.

For delivering basic content to smartphones and eBook readers, InDesign CS5.5 boosts its EPub support with a host of features, such as an Articles panel, in which you can drag and drop text and images to control their order. You can also now dynamically resize images depending on the width of the page, map paragraph and character styles, to tags, and for adding audio and video.

Even with these enhancements, the reflowable EPub format is limited when it comes to design. The real potential of digital publishing comes with tablet-based support for typographically rich layouts combined with immersive interactivity. Building on InDesign CS5’s existing Flash capabilities this shouldn’t have posed a problem, but Apple’s refusal to support the Flash and AIR players blew a hole in Adobe’s plans.

Adobe InDesign CS5.5

With InDesign CS5.5 that hole is bridged with the introduction of Folio Producer tools. Using the Overlay Creator you can add a wide range of dynamic content such as audio, video, slideshows, 360˚ tours and web content, which are then output along with InDesign’s rich page layouts as a “folio” file. These files can then be read by Adobe’s dedicated Content Viewer mobile app which, crucially, will be provided across the Android, BlackBerry and iPad platforms.

Adobe Digital Publishing Platform

The real advantage of Adobe’s new app-based digital publishing will be felt by publishers of newspapers, newsletters and magazines, as it enables users to subscribe and have folios automatically delivered to their device of choice. To enable this, publishers will need to repurpose their projects and sign up to Adobe’s web-hosted Digital Publishing platform to ensure the delivery of the right folios to the right devices.

However designers who have come to assume that electronic publishing is effectively free are in for a shock. The cheapest version of the Adobe Digital Publishing platform costs $495 a month and you have to add in platform fees depending on the number of folios distributed, starting at a minimum of $5,500 for 25,000 downloads over the year, as well as vendor fees (most obviously Apple’s 30%).

On reflection, the majority of large publishers will still jump at this opportunity. Digital publishing to mobile devices may not be free or simple, but neither is commercial print, and this is an exciting and entirely new market that could prove just as significant.

Next: Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Design Premium.


Software subcategory Graphics/design software

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