Adobe Announces CS5 Today

HOW’s longtime Technology columnist Stephen Beale filed this early report on the new CS5; stay tuned here for his thorough review in the next 2 weeks as he fully test-drives the new programs.

Adobe Systems has taken the wraps off Creative Suite 5, featuring new versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and its other products for creative pros. Adobe has lot riding on these releases–many users declined to upgrade to CS4, and the company is hoping that the enhancements added to CS5 will be enough for holdouts to make the leap. I’ve been working with beta versions for the past couple of months and there’s much to recommend here. I’ll have more to say in the near future, but here are some highlights:

• The Mac version of Photoshop CS5 finally supports 64-bit processing, promising better performance on systems with more than 4GB of memory (the Windows version added 64-bit support in CS4). You’ll have the option of installing a 32-bit version, which might be a good idea for users with a lot of third-party plug-ins. Plug-ins will require re-writes to operate in the 64-bit version, though Adobe says it’s been working with developers to make this happen.

• Photoshop and InDesign have added Mini Bridge, a stripped-down version of Bridge that lets you browse and open files from within the programs (Bridge remains as a standalone application). It’s just one of many enhancements to these key design apps. I’m especially impressed with InDesign CS5, which now leaves QuarkXPress even farther behind.

• New to the suite is Flash Catalyst, which lets you create interactive Flash presentations without coding. It’s not a “light” version of Flash Professional, but a new product with a more-intuitive interface for the artistically inclined. It’s not to be confused with Business Catalyst, a separate product that Adobe quietly acquired last year (fortunately for Adobe, most reviewers don’t deduct points for bad product-naming decisions).

Business Catalyst is not part of CS5, but web designers who work with small-business clients should check it out. Built on the software-as-a-service model, it provides easy-to-use online tools for building e-commerce sites, complete with product catalogs, shopping carts and back-end functions such as customer list management. One interesting aspect is that Adobe is enlisting designers as resellers–you can set up a site for a small-business client, and then get a percentage of the monthly fee that the client pays for the service. You can build the pages themselves in Dreamweaver, and Dreamweaver CS5 includes an extension that integrates directly with Business Catalyst.

• Adobe has added several other online services that integrate with the CS5 apps. They include CS Review, which provides workgroup collaboration functions, and BrowserLab, which allows Dreamweaver users to simulate how pages will appear in various browsers. These services will initially be available for free, though Adobe will presumably charge for them at some point (company reps were hazy on the pricing details during a media briefing in January).

As before, these apps will be available separately or in various bundles, including packages for web and print designers. They’re all slated to ship this quarter. Visit for more information. Or, tune into Adobe’s live launch preview today at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT for the formal unveiling.

Then, catch live demos of the new CS5 at the HOW Conference in Denver, where Adobe Evangelists like Russell Brown will be showcasing the new tools.