GPSolo Magazine - December 2005

PRODUCT REVIEW

Adobe Creative Suite 2

 

Adobe developed a reputation for excellence in the graphics world some time ago. Photoshop and Illustrator, two of its most significant graphics programs, led the pack. Most of us have looked at those two programs as the gold standard for some time. Adobe became very important to the legal world as a result of its development of the PDF (Portable Document Format) standard and, along with it, the Adobe Acrobat program and Acrobat Reader. While Adobe continues to sell most of its programs separately, a few years ago it put together a package called the Creative Suite. Recently, it added more programs to the package and brought out the Creative Suite 2, a grouping of every significant graphics and imaging program in the Adobe library. The Creative Suite 2 includes full, upgraded versions of Adobe Photoshop CS2, Illustrator CS2, InDesign CS2, Version Cue CS2, Adobe Bridge, and Adobe Stock Photos. The Premium version of Creative Suite 2 also includes a full version of Adobe Acrobat 7 Professional as well as Adobe GoLive CS2.

The package transforms a series of stand-alone programs into an integrated suite that enables you to perform most graphics-related tasks, moving easily from one program to another, as needed. The Adobe Bridge provides a nexus for the integration of the programs, allowing you to move easily from one place to another within the suite. Think of it as the distribution point or access point for the suite. The Bridge functions as a file browser. It allows you to easily access folders, files, and programs from a central location. You can even access RSS feeds from the Bridge Center. The Bridge window has several panes. On the left side of the window you will find panes for navigating to files and viewing any keywords and metadata attached to them. You will find a resizable preview pane on the opposite side. The program offers several views, including Details, Filmstrip, Thumbnail, and Versions and Alternates. The Bridge also ties you to Stock Photos, a new service from Adobe. This service lets you locate, purchase, and download photographic art.

Adobe Photoshop allows you to edit individual images or portions of the images. The new CS2 version adds numerous features. The introduction of the new vanishing point allows you to quickly and easily create new perspectives for your images. The addition of “smart” objects to this version of Photoshop allows nondestructive manipulation of your graphics (i.e., you can make changes without losing the original). The enhanced multiple-layer control allows for the movement of groups of images and alignment of them within the picture. Image warp allows you to wrap an image around almost any shape. Upgraded photo-enhancement features also come in the package. One-click “red-eye” correction allows you to adjust the size and darkness/color of the pupil. The “spot healing brush” allows one-click removal of blemishes, scars, tattoos, etc.

Adobe Illustrator has been around for a long time. Adobe just keeps making it better and better. My favorite new features of the CS2 version are Live Trace and Live Paint. Live Trace lets you quickly and easily convert photo scans or other bitmapped images into editable drawings. Live Paint facilitates completing the color correction of your image and helps you by detecting and correcting gaps, filling them in with the appropriate color. You can use Illustrator and Photoshop together on the same image now, previewing and importing through Photoshop and modifying in Illustrator.

Adobe GoLive CS2 gives you the ability to preview changes in web pages in real time inside a browser. Its enhanced ability to handle Cascading Style Sheets is probably the most significant advancement in this version.

Adobe InDesign gives you the ability to design and create pages, manipulate images on the page, and see how the final product will look.

Version Cue is an upgrade to the relatively weak version that Adobe brought out in the first iteration of the Creative Suite. The program facilitates collaboration on graphic design.

Adobe Acrobat is in a different category than the other programs in the suite. Acrobat provides powerful business tools that facilitate the handling of text documents as well as graphic images. I have taken the position for several years that Adobe Acrobat is “must have” software for every law office. You can debate about whether the extra features contained in the Professional version of Acrobat merit the additional cost from the perspective of a law office. I believe that they do and that Professional is the way to go under any circumstances because of the additional features respecting review and commenting.

Adobe has done an impressive job in upgrading and integrating its graphics software in Creative Suite 2. The suite brings tremendous graphics power to your computer. The suite’s capabilities exceed by far the graphics work that most of you will need or that you will use in your office, however. In that sense, the suite is overkill for most law offices. On the other hand, the portions of the suite that you will use most, Photoshop (which most of you will want) and Acrobat (which all of you should have) cost enough by themselves that getting the additional programs in the suite becomes a small additional cost. It makes good sense to consider getting the full suite in order to have the additional capabilities in case you want to use them.

Adobe offers Creative Suite 2 on the Mac and the Windows operating systems with identical pricing and substantially identical features. The Standard version of Creative Suite 2 costs $899 as a first-time purchase or $349 as an upgrade from Creative Suite 1. You can also upgrade from an earlier version of Photoshop to the suite for $499. The Premium version of Creative Suite 2 lists for $1,200. You can upgrade from Creative Suite 1 for $549 ($449 if you have version 1.3). You can also upgrade to the full Premium Creative Suite 2 from an earlier version of Photoshop for $749. While at first blush that sounds like a fairly steep price, remember that a new purchase of Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional will cost you $449 (you can upgrade from an earlier version for $159), and Photoshop CS2 will cost $559 as a new purchase ($149 for an upgrade). Accordingly, if you planned on getting Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat Professional as new purchases, you would pay $1,008 (or $308 for upgrades of both). That means that you can have all the remaining components of the suite for only an additional $191 as a new purchase (or an extra $441 over upgrades to both Acrobat and Photoshop). And if you wanted to upgrade an older version of Photoshop and also planned to buy Acrobat 7.0 Professional as a new purchase, you can have the entire Creative Suite for only an additional $151. At those price differentials, even though the full Creative Suite contains far more capability than you will likely need or use in your practice, it may well make sense to acquire the suite. That conclusion becomes inevitable if you also have an interest in acquiring or upgrading Adobe Illustrator to the CS2 version. A new purchase of Illustrator will cost you $499 (you can save $150 if you have CorelDraw or Macromedia FreeHand). An upgrade will set you back $169.

If you have an interest in acquiring top-level drawing and photo-editing tools, you will have a hard time finding anything that will work better than Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. In Adobe’s Creative Suite 2, the suite’s value as an integrated tool clearly exceeds the value of its individual parts. True, Creative Suite 2 has features that I am sure I will never use. It also has a number of excellent features that will make it quite useful to me. I must admit, however, that most of those graphics features appeal to me as a hobbyist, not as a lawyer looking for software to use in my practice.

 

Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the Graves & Allen law firm in Oakland, California. A frequent speaker on technology topics, he is the special issue editor of GPSolo’s Technology & Practice Guide and editor-in-chief of the Technology eReport. He also teaches business law in the graduate and undergraduate divisions of the Business School of the University of Phoenix. He can be reached at jallenlawtek@aol.com.

 

 

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