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Tackling the Workflow Challenge --McIlroy

August 2004
Adobe Creative Suite and Version Cue—they're the newest mountain in a molehill. Have they even crossed your radar screen yet? You may have heard the Reader's Digest version. Instead of releasing individual versions of their hit software, like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, Adobe has chosen to unify their major products under the CS (Creative Suite) name, and release all individual upgrades simultaneously from now on (including Adobe InDesign and Adobe GoLive).

Wow! It's the kind of news guaranteed to excite Adobe employees and put the rest of us to sleep. But buried within that announcement is something far more important: Version Cue. As Shakespeare wrote so long ago: "Aye, there's the rub."

Version Cue is about workflow, and nothing else. More specifically, it's about the management of digital assets within a production workflow. It has relatively modest aims. As Adobe says on its Website, Version Cue "helps you find files fast, track multiple versions of your files and share your files for creative collaboration."

Broadly speaking, Version Cue can be classified as a "metadata" standard. That's to say that Version Cue offers data about data. It doesn't tell you how a picture or page should look, but rather who created the file, or who edited it last.

Take a Hard Look

At first glance, this doesn't seem like a big deal. But stop a moment. Today, in your shop, how would you: "find files fast, track multiple versions of your files, and share your files for creative collaboration?"

If you run a "sophisticated" operation, you may have already implemented a DAM (Digital Asset Management) system, or even perhaps a CMS (Content Management System). These systems generally contain the features of Adobe Version Cue (and much more besides). I'll bet they work fine within your shop, but I'd also bet that they lead to lots of interoperability challenges with your clients and your suppliers.

That's the strength of Version Cue. Adobe has created a single underlying system for (the basics of) DAM and CMS, and built it into their "Creative Suite" of software.

If you're a "power user" of DAM or CMS then Version Cue will remind you of the early '90s. The functionality is sparse. Any DAM system or CMS today could run rings around Version Cue. But that's not the point. The most important aspect of Version Cue is that Adobe has, overnight, made this a standard, and has instantly changed the landscape for the future of graphic arts workflows.


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