Adobe Creative Cloud 2015 review: A meaty update – for some

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Last year’s Creative Cloud update was the most significant since the inauguration of Adobe’s subscription payment model, so it’s somewhat predictable that 2015’s “milestone” release has been less extensive.

That’s not to say the applications haven’t benefited from some useful updates, but the biggest development this year doesn’t relate to the suite’s major software applications. Instead, the most significant addition in Creative Cloud 2015 is a new service that plugs into those apps: with Adobe Stock, Adobe is for the first time getting into the stock photography game.

Adobe Stock and Linked Assets

If the bank of images, illustrations and vectors in Adobe Stock looks familiar, there’s a good reason. Its 40 million or so images come directly from Fotolia, a stock image firm acquired by Adobe earlier in 2015. It won’t have had much chance to stamp its own ethos on the content just yet.

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Rather, much of the work so far has been on integration with the Creative Cloud apps, and in this respect, Stock works in a similar way to Typekit. At its simplest, you can carry out a keyword-based image search from the Adobe Stock website, and then download images in the browser.

While this is possible with any stock-image website, with Adobe’s offering you can carry out searches directly from within the applications you’re working in. Search results appear in a web browser, but once selected, images are imported into your Creative Cloud Library folder, which can be accessed directly from within the CC applications themselves.

Adobe Stock isn’t free to Creative Cloud subscribers. Single images cost £6 each, while the basic subscription costs £20 per month for up to ten images; these aren’t prices that will scare other providers – not yet, at least.

Stock’s big selling point, however, is that users are able to download and work with free watermarked images from within Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign, then update those images seamlessly with the full-resolution, non-watermarked versions, by simply clicking the “License image” option in the Library panel. 

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That’s certainly an improvement over most stock-image workflows, but Adobe’s system needs some work. For instance, the web interface is basic, yet it still manages to confuse. If you click on an image for a closer view, the option to save directly into your libraries disappears. And, while working with watermarked photos is fine, it isn’t as effective a system for working with vectors and illustrations, as you can’t drill down into the individual components and remove or tweak elements until you purchase the photos.

In another cross-CC change, Adobe is introducing a feature called Linked Assets in 2015’s release. This builds on CC’s existing Libraries features, allowing users to keep commonly used graphics up to date across multiple projects. Edit the graphic, save it into your library and, as long as that graphic has been placed as a linked item, it will instantly update across all the projects in which it’s been used. 

There are improvements to CC’s sharing options, too, with Adobe adding the facility to email public URLs pointing to individual assets stored in your libraries. You can even send links to entire libraries if you want to.

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