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April 2005
Adobe Suite Offers Second Take on Integration

SAN JOSE, CA—The new version of Adobe Systems' Creative Suite (called CS2) is one of the most rich and featured-packed upgrades in recent memory. This is due to a move the company made about 18 months ago to dramatically change its approach to upgrading its key creative products—Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and GoLive.

Instead of rolling out a hodge-podge of individual product updates, Adobe decided to align the product development schedules and release all application updates simultaneously. The reason for this new approach was not to simplify management of upgrades—neither for Adobe, nor its customers (although that has been a welcome bonus). What drove the new strategy was making the interoperability of the four applications deeper and more functional.

Adobe realized two things. The first was that many Photoshop users also use Illustrator, nearly all InDesign buyers use Photoshop and Illustrator, and so on. Why not make it easier for these applications to work together?

At the same time, it was clear that Adobe had discovered Quark's Achilles Heel. If it could make Photoshop and Illustrator more powerful when used in combination with InDesign—as compared to QuarkXPress—for page layout, the company would have an advantage that Quark could not hope to beat.

The first version of Creative Suite featured relatively modest product integration modules, but they signaled a clear direction for future developments. CS2 takes the concept of integration very seriously, offering an architectural infrastructure with enormous potential.

It's a challenge to evoke all of the functionality of CS2 in this short review. The key features fit into three broad areas of functionality.

The first is the greater integration of each application's features into other applications within the suite. For example, InDesign CS2 can access the individual layers created in Photoshop files, greatly facilitating approvals and production of multiple editions.

Second is the integration of a barebones (yet very functional) asset management system, called Adobe Bridge, which in itself makes the sharing of files between applications much more accessible and powerful.

A third group of improvements falls loosely into the category of metadata, both in the conventional sense (i.e., information about a digital file attached directly to the file) and also a broader sense—the flexibility of attaching nested style information into any part of the various digital file types supported by the CS2 system.

There are lots of bonuses in this upgrade, as well. One is called Adobe Stock Photos service, which provides a direct interface to hundreds of thousands of stock photos from the leading online agencies. Another is expanded support for JDF, a feature of increasing importance to printers.

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