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Chances are that if you're a web designer or developer, you use one or more Adobe products.

Adobe's Creative Suite, which includes programs like Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver, is one of the most popular software suites known to web professionals because of this.

Last week, Adobe shipped the latest version of Creative Suite - CS4.

If you are using Adobe CS3 and are thinking about upgrading to CS4 or have been thinking about making the investment in Creative Suite, here are the 3 most important new features (in my opinion) that exist in the latest versions of some of the most popular programs that come bundled with the different CS4 packages that are available.

Flash

  • 3D tools. Flash CS4 now includes a number of tools designed to make Flash a much better tool for 3D animations.
     
  • H.264 support. Adobe's Media Encoder now supports H.264 encoding for high-quality video.
     
  • Improved motion tween functionality. From present tweens to tweens that are applied to objects and not keyframes, Flash CS4 makes working with tweens a bit easier.

Photoshop

  • A new interface. Significant changes (and improvements) have been made which result in a better workflow for designers.
     
  • 3D editing. With Photoshop CS4, it's now possible to work with 3D images and models as effectively as Photoshop has enabled the editing of 2D images.
     
  • Windows Vista 64-bit support. As a new Windows Vista 64-bit user, I'm biased here and am excited that Photoshop CS4 is able to take advantage of even more RAM (Windows Vista 32-bit can use no more than 3GB of RAM).

Dreamweaver

  • Code hints. If you hand-code HTML and work with JavaScript, code hints will help you write your code by suggesting the right tags and code as you type it.
     
  • CSS improvements. Dreamweaver CS4's property inspector has a number of features that help developers work with CSS.
     
  • Source control. Dreamweaver CS4 is integrated with an open-source version control program called Subversion which means that Dreamweaver users won't have any excuse to implement version control best practices.

Illustrator

  • New drawing and color tools. Illustrator CS4 has a number of new tools, including some very cool additions to the existing gradient tools.
     
  • Improved interface. Like Photoshop CS4, Illustrator CS4 has some welcome interface improvements that should make working with the software a bit more intuitive and efficient.
     
  • Multiple artboard additions. Files can now contain up to 100 artboards and exporting them as multiple files is made easy.

Premiere Pro

  • Tapeless file support. Video in file formats from tapeless cameras can now be edited in their native formats.
     
  • Speech search. It's now possible to add metadata that makes searching for text within spoken video segments possible.
     
  • Adobe Media Encoder. This separate program, which is integrated with Premiere Pro CS4, makes it much more efficient to batch encode videos and export them in multiple formats for use on the web and elsewhere.

All in all, I usually don't get excited about new software releases and I'm usually not tempted to upgrade very quickly but Adobe Creative Suite is the exception. I've been impressed so far with my trial of CS4 and think web professionals who use any of Adobe's tools on a regular basis would be wise to try CS4 out.

There are a number of different CS4 packages available. Be sure to check out Adobe's suite selector if you're not sure which package would be right for you.

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Published 29 October, 2008 by Patrick Oak

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