CS4 and beyond

Last week I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Beta of Adobe’s Creative Suite 4 and also get a sneak peak at what they have in store for CS5.

Having seen the great improvements Quark have made with Q8 I was keen to see what Adobe could pull out of the bag, and especially to see what they can do to help the production of iGizmo and other online magazines.

As you would come to expect from an Adobe update, CS4 has many of those improvements you wish for on a day to day basis, its a bit sleeker looking, a lot of the tool functions have been made more reliable and it seems to crash a bit less. But if it’s a CS4 review you want, there are many better sites to visit. From my point of view as an Art Editor of an online DigiZine Im looking for any programme that makes the work flow easier and quicker.

With Quark 8 you have the nifty little options of including interactive content within the Quark document and then export a SWF file. Great stuff, but on iGizmo we have a lot of bespoke Flash work, animation, database integration and the complicated Ceros publishing platform to contend with as well.

Quark 8 is great, but it will be of more use for people independently publishing there own titles. We have bigger needs and wider eyes, in the next few months we will be greatly improving the interactivity on iGizmo and this means more Flash work and thus the need of a talented Flash engineer, in this case Mr Caleb Wood.

CS4 bridges the gap between InDesign and Flash. InDesign is still the best programme to design DigiZines in, it is built for magazines and we are building exactly that. People often ask me why we don’t design in Flash, its simple, as good as it is, it is not built for designing magazines, its not as intuitive or as fast as InDesign’s simple layout functions. But what CS4 now does is allow you to export InDesign documents to Flash via and XFL doc. This simple introduction cuts down on hours of production time from both the design team and the Flash team, in short it is the biggest improvement one could ask for.

Ceros doesn’t yet support Action Script 3 but when it does CS4 will be churning out some great stuff, notably 3D models of mobile phones and HDTV’s. Flash CS4 allows us to map on photos of gadgets then have free roaming QTVR kinda animations, something that is almost impossible to do under the tight deadlines and tight budget of iGizmo, but something people have been asking for from the beginning.

My meeting with the CS5 team was quite interesting to say the least, its not often you get to meet the inventors behind the software commonly used for the last 5 years, and its even less often you get to tell them what you want to see in the next incarnation of Creative Suite.

It seems the CS team are very keen on doing a lot to help the likes of us interactive magazine designers, and InDesign CS5 will no doubt take a bigger leap than before in terms of Flash integration and with its in-programme interactive palette.

More general features seem to be putting more tool options on page, so when you click on a box you get the options of rotating or transforming displayed near each corner. It seems really useful and may just save you a milli second a page, but as I like to say a milli second on every page is a shit load of time every year so all welcome from me.

Better graph and chart tools, cropping and re sizing of images when packaging (as Q8 does), favourite fonts section, less crashes and a dozen other improvements were all asked for in my best English voice. And more importantly all were met with a genuine interest.

All in all there is some very promising stuff heading our way and it will all make interactive magazines both better to read and easier to produce. Im looking forward to seeing what Adobe pull out for CS5 and equally as interested to see what Quark can do to combat a once again renewed threat.

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