Adobe CS5 chock-full of new features

The latest iteration of Adobe’s Creative Suite (CS) 5, launched today, comes packed with 250 new features, including online marketing and analytics tools, and Bridge — a tool that allows Flash developers to create applications for Apple’s iPad.

Support of 64-bit computing on the new Mercury Playback Engine, allows for smoother real-time video editing and playback, Adobe says.

Enhanced 3D rendering tools, more flexible image editing, and the ability to create interactive designs without writing code are some enhancements users will experience in CS5, Colin Smith, systems engineer for San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe Systems Inc. said during a pre-launch briefing Friday.

In some instances, the upgrades could shave off more than 30 per cent of the time spent on typical design processes, Smith told

“We’re streamlining the workflow for designers and developers with these tools so users can concentrate on the creative aspect of their work.”

Smith pointed to several features that enhance the product’s flexibility and enable it to be used effectively in the interactive and mobile Web spaces.

Inclusion of an online marketing suite from Omniture, he said, allows creative professionals to track and analyze items such as online visitor acquisition, Internet and mobile channels and conversion rates on a dashboard.

CS5’s Content Aware Fill feature

CS 5 comes in five flavours: CS 5 Master Collection; Web Premium; Production Premium; Design Premium and Design Standard.

The release today features new versions of 14 key Adobe products, including: Photoshop, Adobe’s popular photo editing software; Illustrator, the firm’s graphic design and illustration software; InDesign, for print layout and publication; Acrobat, that lets you view, create, manage and edit files in portable document format (PDF); Flash Catalyst, a rich Internet application (RIA) tool; and Flash Builder, an integrated development environment for building RIAs and cross platform desktop applications.

Five of the coolest updates to CS5 include:

Packager for iPhone/iPod/iPad – Much has been written about Apple’s decision not to support interoperability for its popular mobile devices.  With CS5, says Adobe, Flash developers no longer need to forfeit a valuable revenue stream.  Adobe CS5’s Packager lets developers create Flash apps that would function on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Content Aware Fill on Photoshop – Very often someone editing a picture needs to “clean up an image” by removing an unwanted item in the foreground. It could be a wart on a person’s face or a not- -so-artistically positioned boat marring a beach scene.

Up until now, even in Photoshop, removing the object and then “filling in” the vacant space so it blended with rest of the image rather than appear as a blemish in the picture was often a tedious affair.

Depending on the size or number of images to be retouched, artists would sometimes have to spend hours on this chore.

Adobe says new proximity matching technology in CS5 addresses this issue effectively. Content Aware Fill automates the “retouching” process, reducing it to just a few clicks of the mouse.

Adobe CS5’s Edge Detection tool.

Artists mark out the object to be deleted and then press the Content Aware Fill button. The software automatically takes note of the surrounding area and uses colours and textures to fill in the vacant space.

Puppet Warp

This new feature adds motion to static images. You start off with an image or photo in Photoshop and “wrap it” with a mesh.

Then add Puppet Warp points to parts you want to activate. Pull at the points to create separate or synchronized movements.

Flash Catalyst – Targeted at creatives who work with Photoshop, Illustrator and Adobe Fireworks, this interactive design tool enables users to develop expressive interfaces and interactive content without writing code.

Users can create interactive portfolios, product guides, microsites, site navigation and interfaces for rich Internet applications with Flash rather that depending on a browser.

Designers can use Flash Catalyst to create the functional applications and then move the project file over to developers, who would use Flash Builder to add functionality and integrate it with servers and services.

Edge Detection – It has always been a challenge to crop around people’s heads because it’s typically hard to accurately capture the edges around the hair.  

The new Edge Detection tool on Photoshop CS5 makes cropping images a cinch, Adobe says.

The feature offers users greater flexibility and accuracy in defining areas to be included in the crop. The result: a closer and cleaner cut.

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