This was the year that tablets started to make an impact. As well as marking the launch of the iPad 2, tools became available for content creators to deliver digital publications and interactive apps. On the publishing front, usual suspects Quark and Adobe finally got their digital act together (see below). Expect all magazines to offer a tablet edition very soon.

2011 also saw Adobe revamp its Creative Suite line, a mid-cycle update that heavily featured the ability to create content for the emerging smartphone and tablet platforms. As well as folding the ‘Flash-killer technology’ HTML5 into the mix, Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium offered Flash Builder 4.5, which allowed developers using the Flex 4.5 framework to develop and deploy mobile applications to Android, BlackBerry Playbook and iOS devices. A new scripting engine in Photoshop and an enhanced Photoshop Software Development Kit (SDK)enabled developers to build interactive tablet applications, such as Adobe’s Colour Lava app.

Wacom’s Inkling went further in the gesture stakes – it’s a digital sketch pen that captures a digital likeness of your work while you sketch on any sketchbook or standard piece of paper.

Adobe launched Flash Player 11 and Adobe AIR 3 later in the year to deliver content across multiple devices and platforms. The company also released previews of Edge, a new HTML5 web motion and interaction design tool, and Muse, which allows designers to create HTML websites without writing code, plus a Flash-to-HTML5 tool codenamed Wallaby.

As for Apple? The 64-bit, gesture-driven Mac OS X Lion was released, while the revamp of Final Cut Pro managed to revolutionise the post-production process, but at a cost to legacy users. Final Cut Pro X was repackaged as an 64-bit program and was sold at a reduced price on the Mac App Store, but no longer supported projects created in earlier versions.

Autodesk made use of the cutting-edge code in Lion to release Motion FX, a free movement-based video effects program. It enables users to create smoke, fire and a variety of other fluid effects that react to real-time movements captured on the FaceTime camera. Autodesk also launched Maya 2012, which offered new trends in previsualisation, virtual moviemaking and games prototyping. Other innovations in 3D software came via Maxon’s Cinema4D, with new character tools, integrated stereographic capabilities, streamlined multi-artist collaboration and physical rendering.

Elsewhere, Vue 9.5 from E-on tapped into the power of the GPU to increase rendering power. This extra processing grunt and a 64-bit OS spell a future of fluid creativity on the Mac.

Digital publishing software

Product name: InDesign CS5.5
Company: Adobe    
Price: £714

InDesign CS5.5 brought simplified object selection and editing to speed up the page layout process, but the main focus was on digital publishing. EPUB3 and HTML5 code tools help to create multimedia eBooks, while the integrated Folio Producer toolset adds substantial interactivity to page layouts targeted at tablets. Documents can be authored with panoramic views and more.

Design for the iPad

Product name: QuarkXPress 9.1
Company: Quark
Price: £935

QuarkXPress Version 9 aimed to benefit time-poor designers with the Cloner, Callout Anchors, ShapeMaker and Image Grid tools, while features like Conditional Styles and the Story Editor directly addressed previous shortfalls. A 9.1 update brought the App Studio, offering dedicated vertical and horizontal layouts to author for tablet devices, as well as supporting scrollable layouts with pictures, slideshows, movies and audio content.

LCD interactive screen

Product name: Cintiq 24HD
Company: Wacom
Price: £1,999.99

The Cintiq 24HD is a 24in high-definition LCD screen that features Wacom’s interactive pen technology – so you can write directly on the screen. This means having precise control over line weight and opacity, while Touch Rings positioned on either side of the display can perform tasks including zooming, scrolling and changing brush size.