Tag Archives: creative suite

Adobe announces next Creative Suite, now called Creative Cloud

Adobe has announced the next version of its all-conquering Creative Suite, now renamed (or subsumed into) Creative Cloud.

Availability is set for June 2013. There will not be any perpetual licenses for the updated applications:

Can I purchase a perpetual license for the new Creative Cloud (CC) desktop applications that were announced in May 2013?

No. The new CC versions of the desktop applications are available only through Creative Cloud offerings for individuals, teams, and enterprise. We do not have any current plans to release future CC tools outside Creative Cloud.

Let’s start with the important stuff. I like the new “totems” which are intricate and abstract; but I think it works. Here is Creative Cloud:


and here is InDesign, wow:


Here is Premiere, can you see the lettering?


So what about the technical stuff? Here is quick tour of what’s new.

Adobe always seems to demo Creative Suite on the Mac these days, but says there is feature-parity between Mac and Windows. GPU acceleration of algorithms (such as in the Mercury engine) no longer uses NVidia Cuda but rather Open CL for best cross-platform compatibility.

Typekit Fonts can now be installed on your desktop, and once installed work like any other font – you can use them in Microsoft Office, for example.


We quizzed Adobe about what happens to the fonts if you stop subscribing to Creative Cloud. The answer seems to be that you must no longer use them, but whether this is technically enforced is unclear.

Settings synchronisation is a theme across a number of apps including Dreamweaver and After Effects. This touches on a curious aspect of Creative Cloud: despite the name, the applications are desktop applications. Sync settings means you can log in on any machine with the suite installed and get your settings back, including for example web sites in Dreamweaver. The consequence is to bring the make your desktop experience more cloud-like in respect of working from anywhere.


Photoshop gets an amazing camera shake reduction feature. Camera shake is a big problem for me, as I rarely have a tripod. The new feature detects how the camera moved during the shot and compensates accordingly. The demo worked great on Adobe’s sample shot, but then it would, so it is not until we get to try this with some of our own images that we will know whether Adobe’s claim of “making unusable images usable” is justified. Still, Adobe has a good track record and I am optimistic.

Other interesting features are a filter for Camera Raw, and a “straighten” effect for perspective distorting in images such as those of tall buildings which look as if they are leaning (though I am sure I have seen ways of handling this in earlier versions too). There is also an rounded rectangle editor, a new artefact removal feature, and the ability to upsample an image so that your low-resolution bitmap magically becomes more suitable for print.

There will no longer be an Extended Photoshop. If you have it, you have it all.

The Kuler colour theme chooser has been rebuilt in HTML.


Illustrator gets a CSS properties panel.

Flash has a Publish feature which converts Flash to HTML (We can see where Adobe is going with this). This uses the CreateJS framework; it does not convert ActionScript.

Premiere Pro now includes the engine from Audition for advanced audio editing within the application.


Edge Animate is able to animate a sprite across a Motion Path curve for some cool effects.


Fireworks is still in the suite, but is not being updated. Bad news for Fireworks lovers.

Dreamweaver has a new CSS designer, and a Fluid Grid Layout for designing adaptive web sites:



After Effects now embeds the Cineware 4D engine, which is big news if you use both AE and Cineware (as many do).


InDesign is now 64-bit with an updated user interface.


InDesign also has a “favourite fonts” feature making it easier to manage a multiplicity of fonts on your system.

What have I missed? A lot, no doubt; but I am impressed with how well Adobe has managed its transition from mainly perpetual licences to mainly subscription, how it is rapidly adding features to Creative Cloud, and how it has also managed the transition from Flash to HTML.

Adobe “shifting its business model”: more publishing, less programming

Adobe has announced a shift in its business strategy, together with the loss of around 750 employees.

So what is changing? Adobe says it will be focusing on digital media and digital marketing, while investing less in “certain enterprise solution product lines.” In line with this strategy, Adobe acquired video advertising company auditude last week.

Here are the things which Adobe says are “important elements” in its new approach:

  • Creative Suite extended with tablet apps and delivered through the cloud
  • Greater investment in HTML 5: Dreamweaver, Edge and PhoneGap
  • Flash positioned for “advanced” web, video, and mobile apps
  • Digital publishing solutions
  • Video advertising
  • Document services such as electronic contracts and signatures

So what will Adobe be doing less? This is harder to discern as the releases, naturally enough, say less about it. The key remark is that:

the company will reduce its investment, and expected license revenue, in certain enterprise solution product lines

We can conclude, I guess, that the Digital Enterprise Platform once known as LiveCycle is going to get less attention as the company focuses more on digital content and less on providing a platform for enterprise applications. I would guess that this will impact the middleware services more than things like the Flex framework and Flash Platform tools, but I am speculating. More information is coming in a financial analyst meeting tomorrow in New York.

Adobe Debut: my favourite of the new touch apps, cloud-side rendering

Adobe announced six touch apps for Android and Apple iPad tablets yesterday at its MAX conference in Los Angeles. These hook into cloud services offered by the Creative Cloud, also just announced.

My favourite among the new apps is Adobe Debut. The problem this addresses: you want to show your client the work you have done in one of the Creative Suite apps like Photoshop or InDesign. A tablet is ideal for handing round at a meeting, but Adobe will not be porting the full Creative Suite to iPad any time soon.

The solution: Debut runs Creative Suite in the cloud and sends down static images to your device. You can even see the separate layers in a Photoshop image.


It seems to me there is a lot of future in this kind of cloud-side rendering. Provided you have an internet connection, it is an elegant and scalable solution. In Debut, it is rounded off by commenting and mark-up features. The simplicity and focus of the app may make it preferable to running the full Creative Suite app locally, though it is not so good if the client asks you to change some detail RIGHT NOW.

Note: I have not actually used the app except in a brief demo.

Adobe Muse: so what is wrong with Dreamweaver?

Adobe has released a preview of Muse, a new web site design tool.

My first reaction was one of be-musement. What is wrong with Dreamweaver, the excellent web design tool included in Creative Suite? Bearing in mind that there is also a simplified Dreamweaver aimed at less technical business users, called Contribute.

Here are some distinctive features of Muse:

1. It is aimed at non-coders. The catch phrase is “Design and publish HTML websites without writing code”. Muse actually hides the code. I installed Muse on a Mac, and one of the first things I looked for was View Source. I cannot find any such feature. You have to preview the page in the browser, and view the source there. That is in contrast to Dreamweaver, where the split view shows you simultaneous HTML and visual designers, and you can edit freely in either.

2. It is an Adobe AIR application. I discovered this in a bad way. It would not install for me on Windows:


A curious error. Luckily I am also working on a Mac right now, and there it worked fine.


3. It will be sold by subscription only. The FAQ answer is worth quoting in full, as it describes one of the key advantages of cloud computing:

Muse will be sold only by subscription because it will allow the Muse team to improve the product more quickly and be more responsive to your needs. Traditionally Adobe builds up a collection of new features over 12, 18 or 24 months, then makes those changes available as a major upgrade. It is anticipated that new updates of Muse will be released much more frequently, probably quarterly. New features will be made available when they’re ready, not held to be part of an annual or biannual major upgrade. This will enable us to stay on top of browser and device compatibility issues and web design trends, as well as enabling us to respond to feature requests and market changes in a much more timely fashion.

I am reminded of Project Rome, a cancelled project which was also intended to be subscription only. Rome was for desktop publishing, Muse is for web design; otherwise there are plenty of parallels.

4. Muse promotes Adobe hosting via Business Catalyst, and if you select Publish this is the sole option:


Of course you can also Export as HTML. Still, it looks as if Muse is intended as part of a wider initiative which will include hosting and web analytics.

5. Muse is not a Flash authoring tool. Check out the Features page. The word Flash does not appear. Nor did any hidden Flash content appear when I exported a page as HTML. My guess: there is a quiet Flash crisis at Adobe, and the company is hastening to make its tools less Flash-centric, in favour of something more cloud and HTML 5 based. I do not mean that Flash is now unimportant. It is still critical to Adobe, and after all Muse itself runs on Flash. However it is being repositioned.

A few comments. Unfortunately I’ve not yet spoken to Adobe about Muse, but the obvious question is reflected in my heading: what is wrong with Dreamweaver? To answer my own question, I can see that Dreamweaver is a demanding tool, and that Muse, while still aimed at professionals, should be easier to learn.

On the other hand, I recall many early web design tools that tried to hide the mechanics of web pages, some more successful than others, and that in the end Dreamweaver triumphed partly thanks to its easy access to the code. Some still miss HomeSite, an even more code-centric tool. What has changed now?

Needless to say, Dreamweaver is not going away, but there is clearly overlap between the two tools.

Of course non-coders do need to be involved in web site authoring, but the trend has been towards smart content management tools, such as WordPress or Drupal, which let designers and coders develop themes while making content authoring easy for contributors. Muse is taking a different line.

Watch this space though. Even on the briefest of looks, this is an impressive AIR application, and it will be interesting to see how it fits into Adobe’s evolving business strategy.

Update: Elliot Jay Stocks blogs about the code generated by Muse, which he says is poor, and his opinion that it is too much print-oriented:

warning signs are present in this public beta that suggest Muse is very much a step in the wrong direction.

Hands On with Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 for Android

I have been trying several cross-platform development tools for mobile, and today I set out to create an Adobe AIR app for Android using the new Flash Builder 4.5, available separately or as part of the Creative Suite CS5.5.

I made another calculator app, which may seem boring but gives me a chance to compare like with like.

You get started by running up Flash Builder and creating a new Flex Mobile Project.


The disappointment here is that only Android is supported, so it is not all that cross-platform. According to Adobe’s Andrew Shorten:

An update to Flash Builder, scheduled for June 2011, will provide additional options to package Flex applications for Apple iOS and will include built-in support for packaging both Flex and ActionScript applications for BlackBerry Tablet OS.

so we have not got long to wait.

Flash Builder is based on Eclipse. The IDE is slow at times, for example when switching to visual design mode, but the platform is familiar to many developers and it feels reassuringly enterprise-ready. I find it a productive environment.

I laid out a screen with buttons and a label to display the output. The alignment tools work well although I made them a little too small as you will see shortly. Then I started writing code. The language of Flash Builder is ActionScript, which is based on JavaScript.

Here I met my first little annoyance. You can easily create a click handler for a button by right-clicking in the designer and choosing Generate Click Handler, or by clicking Generate Event Handler in the properties window. However, I thought it would be smart for most of my buttons to share the same event handler. All I need to do is to read the label of the button which was clicked, and pass it to my addnum routine that processes the input:

protected function btn_clickHandler(event:MouseEvent):void
    var theButton:Button = Button(event.currentTarget);

This works fine, but the IDE does not let you select an existing event handler for a button. You can paste it in, or add in in the source code editor, which is what I ended up doing. The source code editor is rather good, with excellent code completion, hover-over help for keywords, and so on.


The second annoyance was with the label. I wanted to add a border. I selected the label but could not see a border property. I went to the full list of properties and found exotic things like dominantBaseline in the style list but still no border.

Then I found this in the reference for a label:

Borders are not supported. If you need a border, or a more complicated background, use a separate graphic element, such as a Rect, behind the Label.

I wondered if a panel would work, and started to type it in the editor:


Well, it looks as if Panel is overkill for simply getting a border, but it was interesting to see the editor report that “Adobe discourages using Panel when targeting profiles: mobileDevice”. I decided to do without a border for the moment.

I finished the coding and successfully ran the project in the Android simulator. Next, I attached a device and created a new Run Configuration for a device attached via USB. I plugged in my HTC Desire running Android 2.2. Provided USB debugging is enabled on the device, this works well. Not only could I run on the device; I could also set a breakpoint and debug on the device. Everything was a bit slow in debug mode but it worked.


Finally, I built a release version using Export Release Build on the Project menu. You have to sign the package, but there is a wizard to create a certificate for testing.

Here it is on the device – as I mentioned, the size of the buttons needs a little work:


So how is performance, bearing in mind that the app is trivial. Well, the good news is that performance is OK, though launch is a little slow, except for one thing that I have not figured out. Sometimes I touch a button, and see the graphic effect as the button depresses, but the input does not register. It seems most prone to this just after launching, and usually a second tap works fine.

The vsize reported for the app process by the Dalvik Debug Monitor is around 200K, similar to that for the PhoneGap version.

Overall I am impressed, though I would like to understand the button issue, and I am beginning to wonder if my year-old HTC Desire is a bit under-powered for AIR. Device performance is improving rapidly, and Flash optimization is part of the design process for mobile graphics chips, so my guess is that AIR will be more than viable as a cross-platform toolkit for mobile. You also get the benefit of all those lovely Adobe design tools.

All-new Adobe Audition is re-written for cross-platform, some features not yet ported

Adobe’s forthcoming Creative Suite 5.5 includes a significant change to its audio editing support. The Soundbooth application has gone, replaced by a new version of Adobe Audition for both Mac and Windows.


I thought this was good news. Audition has always been an excellent product, even back in the days when it was Cool Edit from Syntrillium – Adobe acquired Syntrillium’s technology in 2003. I found it difficult to understand why Adobe had two audio products, especially when Soundbooth is not as capable as Audition. Until now though, Audition was Windows-only, and Creative Suite is cross-platform for Mac and Windows.

Now Adobe’s Durin Gleaves has posted in detail about the history of Soundbooth and Audition. The rationale for Soundbooth was not that suite users required a simpler audio editor, as Adobe had told me previously, but rather that porting Audition was too difficult:

The Audition team looked at the 15 years of legacy Windows code and were not confident the application could be ported quickly enough to satisfy the CS release schedule. As an audio editor was necessary in the suite package, we created Soundbooth which was a simple audio editor built on top of Premiere Pro’s media playback engine. This enabled the team to provide value to the Suite, but the limitations of a playback engine crafted to handle large video files was not ideal for detailed audio production.

To Adobe’s credit, it did not give up on bringing Audition to Creative Suite but has spent two years re-writing Audition in cross-platform code:

So we’ve spent the past two years re-writing Audition from the ground-up, preserving or updating our core DSP, modernizing the code to take advantage of current hardware and operating system technology, and emphasizing increased productivity and speed with every feature.

says Gleaves. The new Audition is optimised for multi-core systems and makes full use of background processing to improve productivity. On the Mac it supports Core Audio and Apple AudioUnit effects, and on Windows ASIO, though there is no mention of WASAPI, the low-latency audio API in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Steinberg’s VST (Visual Studio Technology) is supported on both platforms.

It it is not all good news though. To some extent Audition in CS 5.5 is a new application, and not all the features of Audition 3 have made it across. Gleaves lists the following as features which are not in this version:

  • Tone and noise generation
  • Pitch correction
  • Scientific filters
  • Graphic Phase Shiftter
  • MIDI support
  • CD burning

Most of these are likely to return in a future update.

While it is a shame to see missing features, it makes sense for Adobe to unify its audio development effort on a new and solid base.

One other thing I should mention. Soundbooth has a feature called Analyze Speech for which I had high hopes, as I frequently need to transcribe interviews, but in practice the results were disappointing. I suspect it may work reasonably when there is a script with which to match the audio. That does raise the question though: are there any features in Soundbooth that will be missed following the transition to Audition?

Adobe declares glittering results as CEO says Apple’s Flash ban has no impact on its revenue

Adobe has proudly declared its first billion dollar quarter, $1,008 m in the quarter ending Dec 3 2010 versus $757.3 m in the same quarter of 2009.

I am not a financial analyst, but a few things leap out from the figures. One is that Omniture, the analytics company Adobe acquired at the end of 2009, is doing well and contributing significantly to Adobe’s revenue – $98.4 m in Q4 2010. The billion dollar quarter would not have happened without it. Second, Creative Suite 5 is selling well, better than Creative Suite 4.

Creative Suite 4 was released in October 2008, and Creative Suite 5 in April 2010. It is not perfect, but the following table compares the Creative Solutions segment (mainly Creative Suite) of the two products quarter by quarter from their respective release dates:

Quarters after release 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
Creative Suite 4 508.7 460.7 411.7 400.4 429.30 432.0
Creative Suite 5 532.7 549.7 542.1      

CS4 drops off noticeably following an initial surge, whereas CS5 has kept on selling. It is a good product and a de-facto industry standard, but not every user is persuaded to upgrade every time a new release appears. My guess is that things like better 64-bit support – which make a huge difference in the production tools – and new tricks in PhotoShop have been successful in driving upgrades to CS5. Further, the explosion of premium mobile devices led by Apple’s iPhone and iPad has not been bad for Adobe despite Apple CEO Steve Jobs doing his best to put down Flash. Publishers creating media for the iPad, for example, will most likely use Adobe’s tools to do so. CEO Shantanu Narayen said in the earnings calls, “We have not seen any impact on our revenue from Apple’s choice [to not support Flash]”, though I am sure he would make a big deal of it if Apple were to change its mind.

Before getting too carried away though, I note that Creative Suite 3, published in March 2007, did just as well as CS5.  Here are the figures:

Quarters after release 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
Creative Suite 3 436.6 545.5 570.5 543.5 527.2 493.6

In fact, Q4 2007 at $570.5 m is still a record for Adobe’s Creative Solutions segment. So maybe CS4 was an unfortunate blip. Then again, not quite all the revenue in Creative Solutions is the suite; it also includes Flash Platform services such as media streaming. Further, the economy looked rosier in 2007.

Here is the quarter vs quarter comparison over the whole company:

  Q4 2009 Q4 2010
Creative Solutions 429.3 542.1
Digital Enterprise 211.8 274.10
Omniture 26.3 98.4
Platform 47 46.1
Print and publishing 42.9 47.3

In this table, Creative Solutions has already been mentioned. Digital Enterprise, formerly called Business Productivity, includes Acrobat, LiveCycle and Connect web conferencing. Platform is confusing; according to the Q4 09 datasheet it includes the developer tools, Flash Platform Services and ColdFusion. However, the Q4 10 datasheet omits any list of products for Platform, though it includes them for the other segments, and lists ColdFusion under Print and Publishing along with Director, Contribute, PostScript, eLearning Suite and some other older products. According to this document [pdf] InDesign which is huge in print publishing is not included in Print and Publishing, so I guess it is in Creative Solutions.

In the earnings call, Adobe’s Mark Garrett did mention Platform, and attributed its growth (compared to Q3 2010) to “higher toolbar distribution revenue driven primarily by the release of the new Adobe Reader version 10 in the quarter.” This refers to the vile practice of foisting a third-party toolbar (unless they opt-out) on people forced to download Adobe Reader because they have been send a PDF. Perhaps in the light of these good results Adobe could be persuaded to stop doing so?

I am not sure how much this breakdown can be trusted as it makes little sense to me. Do not take the segment names too seriously then; but they are all we have when it comes to trying to compare like with like.

Still, clearly Adobe is doing well and has successfully steered around some nasty rocks that Apple threw in its way. I imagine that Microsoft’s decision to retreat from its efforts to establish Silverlight as a cross-platform rival to Flash has also helped build confidence in Adobe’s platform. The company’s point of vulnerability is its dependence on shrink-wrap software for the majority of its revenue; projects like the abandoned Rome show that Adobe knows how to move towards cloud-deployed, subscription-based software but with business booming under its current model, and little sign of success for cloud projects like Acrobat.com, you can understand why the company is in no hurry to change.  

Adobe news: Flash Builder 4, Creative Suite 5, quarterly results

Lots of Adobe news this week.

First, the release of Flash Builder 4. It seems a long time ago that I was looking at the first preview of code-name Gumbo; it’s good to see this finally released. Since it is Eclipse-based, it looks similar to to Flex Builder 3.0; but under the covers there is the new Flex 4 SDK with the Spark component architecture. The design tools have been revamped, and a time-saving feature is that you can now generate an event handler with one click. Flash Builder 4 also has built-in unit testing with FlexUnit, which is a big deal for those enlightened folk who do test-driven development.

Adobe has also worked hard on database connectivity. Flash Builder 4 will generate wrapper code for a variety of data sources, including HTTP and REST, PHP, SOAP, and Adobe’s LiveCycle Data Services middleware.


There is a new data/services panel that shows all the available sources, with drag-and-drop data binding, batch updates, and other handy features.

There are a few downsides to Flash Builder 4. ActionScript feels dated if you have been playing with something like C# 4.0, soon to be released as part of Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2010. I’ve also heard complaints that equivalent projects built with Flex are larger than equivalents built with the Flash IDE. The naming is puzzling; we now have to distinguish between the Flash IDE and the Flash Builder IDE, which are completely different products, but the SDK for code-centric development is still called Flex. There is no support yet for AIR 2.0, the latest version of the desktop runtime; nor for the much-hyped iPhone app development. Patience is called for, I guess.

More information on Flex and Flash Builder here.

The next big product launch from Adobe will be Creative Suite 5, for which a launch date of Monday, 12th April has been announced. You can sign up for an online launch event and see some sneak peek videos here.

Finally, Adobe released quarterly financial figures today. The company says they are strong results; revenue is 9.1% higher than last year and GAAP earnings are positive (unlike the last quarter). However, looking at the investor datasheet [PDF] I noticed that new analytics acquisition Omniture now accounts for 10% of revenue; if you deduct that from the increase it does not look so good. Still, a profit is a profit, and the quarter before a major update to CS 5.0 may be under par as users wait for the new release,  so overall it does not look too bad.  The Q1 Earnings Call is worth looking at if only for its nice indexing; I wish all online videos worked like this.

One questioner asked about HTML 5 – “how quickly can you provide support when it comes”? An intriguing question. I suspect it reflects more on the publicity around Flash vs HTML than on the progress of the HTML 5 standard itself, which is coming in fits and starts. “The reality is that it’s a fragmented standard, but we will continue to support it”, was the answer from CEO Shantanu Narayen, though he added a plug for the “benefits of our runtime, which is Flash”.