Adobe has today unleashed the next-generation of its powerful suite of creative applications, Creative Suite 2.

The release supplies updates across all the CS creative applications - Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, GoLive and the extra utility of Acrobat 7.0 Professional. These solutions are joined by a Version Cue CS2, Adobe Bridge and Adobe Stock Photos. The latter product provides designers with fast, instant access to well-known royalty-free image agencies – from directly within the application suite.

Integration remains critical to the company's vision in this release, which also lets designers create content for multiple media, print, Web and mobile devices. Additional page layout tools and some anecdotally highly impressive new features boost the package.

Users also benefit from more consistent colour when creating PDFs from within all the applications of the suite, choosing from a selection of shared presets, set for Web, print or other uses. These presets are also shared by Distiller.

Adobe's digital Graffiti Bridge

The all-new Adobe Bridge (imagine Photoshop File Browser on steroids) lets users manage, find and preview assets – even among workgroups. Adobe Bridge also puts users in touch with five (more to come) existing image agencies - with drag-and-drop (and single-click buying) ease.

It supports PSD, AI, INDD, and Adobe PDF files, as well as other Adobe and non-Adobe application formats. This support for multiple image formats enjoys a boost with support for RAW, and Adobe's own new vector graphics standard. Adobe has made the Bridge accessible from within all CS applications, except Acrobat. Users can also toggle on a compact mode for Adobe Bridge, so it becomes an easy-to-access floating palette.

Colour and content control

Adobe Bridge also lets designers synchronize their colour settings across Photoshop CS2, Illustrator CS2, and InDesign CS2 for consistency.
Like iPhoto, Bridge has a slider at the bottom of its window to determine viewable image sizes from within it, and a number of different views (Filmstrip, Details views).

Users can also see file type and creation date/time, metada information - even browse through PDF files with more than one page. The Bridge lets users search through or add to metadata. That data can include: descriptive information, GPS data, digital camera data, and stock photo data. Complex searches are supported.

Illustrator users see Live Trace promise

Adobe has enhanced Illustrator CS2 and its capabilities to build vector graphics with a new Live Trace feature. This powerful new tracing tool, lets designers convert scanned line-art or bitmap images to scalable, editable vector paths and anchor points in just seconds. Accompanying application Live Paint lets artists paint the Live Traces.

A new preference in Illustrator CS2 and InDesign CS2 controls the onscreen appearance of black, including rich blacks. Rich blacks, which comprise 100 per cent black plus some CMY values, can result when RGB blacks are converted to process colour. The new preference means users can choose to see and print rich blacks as they truly are (shades of dark grey), or as they have before (in solid black).

Photoshop grows superpowers

As well as a variety of under the hood improvements, Photoshop CS 2 offers a selection of impressive new features: Vanishing Point and Smart Objects.

Vanishing Point lets designers clone, paint and transform image objects while retaining visual perspective. It also makes it easier than ever to remove objects from images, and includes a Healing function that can smooth any rough edges within the work being done. The company's Healing Brush has been improved, too.

Smart Objects lets users scale and transform images and vector illustrations without losing image quality. Users can also exploit this feature in order to link certain objects to one original, so that if an original image is changed such changes are engendered across the document or project.

Another new twist lets designers customize their Photoshop environment to be how they or their project needs the environment to be. So menus and keyboard shortcuts can be customised.

Moving to RAW image data files, Camera Raw 3.0 allows settings for raw files to be batch modified. Batch processing of raw files to JPEG, TIFF, DNG or PSD formats can now be done in the background without launching Photoshop.

InDesign takes the Bridge

Adobe's integration is clearly seen within InDesign's use of Adobe Bridge. This means designers can easily find and use assets within their projects.

The application also offers better drop shadow; fill and stroke; text attribute; Object Styles; layer visibility controls; and more. Object Styles can be applied globally across a document.

Adobe's new snippets feature lets users select content and layout from part of a page: such selections can include graphic, text or frame attributes, and the feature lets users share, or eventually repurpose all or just part of a page in relative ease, simply by adding these elements to Adobe Bridge, the Desktop, Library or even to an email message.

Acrobat 7.0 Professional makes electronic reviews more flexible and inclusive with a new feature that allows even more clients and colleagues to participate.

Version Control rolls back the clock

Adobe believes creative pros spend "at least 10-20 per cent of their time" managing files, "finding, opening, moving, and renaming the many file versions generated in typical creative projects".

Enter Version Cue CS2, which now lets users manage and share both Adobe and non-Adobe project files, access historical file versions as well as version “alternates".

Two versions of Adobe CS 2 are available, Premium (£889), which includes all the above products and Design Guide, and Standard Edition (£669) which offers the same, but does not ship with GoLive CS2 or Acrobat 7.0 Professional.

Upgrade prices are: upgrade to Premium Edition, £569 from Photoshop; £429 from Adobe CS 1.x; upgrade to Standard Edition, £349 from Photoshop, £319 from Adobe CS 1.x.