Adobe Creative Suite 4 Preview

Design Premium CS4 is the suite most Macworld readers will be waiting for, comprising new versions of InDesign, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, and Acrobat 9 Pro. Also included for the first time is Fireworks, perhaps a curious choice given its legacy as a web prototyping tool.

Web Premium CS4 additionally offers Contribute and Soundbooth for audio. Production Premium CS4 also has Soundbooth but enables video, motion graphics and DVD/Blu-Ray authoring through Premiere Pro, OnLocation, After Effects and Encore. All the suites ship with updated versions of Bridge and Device Central as well as collaboration utilities.

Design Premium

Central to Design Premium, InDesign CS4 has received a wedge of productivity enhancements, possibly to combat the threat of a revitalised QuarkXPress 8. The first is live Preflighting, using a new dockable Preflight panel that tracks your work and alerts you to any errors in the layout while you’re in the middle of the design process, rather than at the end.

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Web Premium

Dreamweaver CS4 remains the dominant web design tool in the Creative Suite, after Adobe ended development of GoLive earlier this year. Like Photoshop and Illustrator, the interface has been revamped, with a tool to switch between workspaces. Preset workspaces include options for coders, application developers, dual-screen users, and designers, and you can switch back to pre-CS4 legacy mode. Spring-loaded panels are also a common feature of CS4. In Dreamweaver, these expand with a single click for quick access, and then collapse when no longer needed.

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Production Premium

The main tools in Adobe’s dedicated post-production suite show even greater integration than the rest of the Creative Suite. You can now use Dynamic Link when exporting After Effects compositions to Premiere Pro and Soundbooth, so any edits in After Effects are always reflected immediately in your Premiere Pro timeline. Dynamic Link between Adobe Premiere Pro and Encore also saves you time by eliminating the need to render clips before authoring. As well as being able to author standard DVDs and high-definition Blu-Ray Discs, Encore CS4 lets you render the same projects for the web as interactive SWF files.

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OUR VERDICT

We were impressed by this beta version of CS4 and have very high hopes for the new suite of applications. Adobe has found many ways to enhance productivity. We particularly liked the Pre? ight panel that follows your progress in real time, rather than alerting you to problems at the end of the process – a great time-saver. We were also struck by the rotate view, enhanced smart guides, speech search in SoundBooth, and gradient transparency. Other useful features in this online age include the potential to export InDesign as a SWF ? le and re?ned Flash animation. The introduction of a Mac version of On Location is a bonus too. You can read a full preview of Adobe's new Creative Suite 4 in the November issue of Macworld. Out now.

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