Adobe Creative Suite 3 Premium: First Impressions

Well I finally relented and upgraded to Adobe CS3 Premium Suite – and after paying all the taxes I was relieved to see my account down nearly $800 for the upgrade. So I have been working frantically with almost all of Premium Suite such that I have some notable First Impression evaluations.

Note again these are quick first impression grades on CS3 Premium:
Acrobat – NA
Illustrator – B+
InDesign – B
Version Cue – NA
Dreamweaver – C+
Flash – D
Photoshop – A
Bridge – B
Device Central – NA

Install – A, It is very long but uneventful(just what users will want); same for activation and registration.
Getting Started – C (take a look at what the DB2 database people do in contrast with their First Steps)
Help Documentation – B- for old Adobe products, D+ for old Macromedia products(turn for the worse)
Printed documentation – B+ – the docs cost $24 extra and will arrive 7-10 days after the DVD. Buy them!
Integration with Acrobat, Flex, and Apollo – C – very surprising here, expected better
Video documentation – NA, I read the manuals, almost never watch the movies
Integration of products in Suite – B
Value of overall Suite – B+, the pricing for the suite is very good

I am surprised the Macromedia products are not holding up their side of the merger bargain. However, Fireworks is not included in the Premium Suite so I downloaded a trial version (see here is why I think Fireworks is one of the best of the new products) – and that would pull up the Macromedia side of the suite.

So far Photoshop Extended is the best – but the learning curve just went up by 50% or more on an already large , no HUGE base.
Flash is the biggest disappointment – it is caught in the “miserable Tennis middle” not really a developer tool; not really a designers either it appears to be a mausoleum to Flash 3 or 4 and the new docs are terrible.

These are first impressions (day and a half of work) and will change substantially as I write the reviews

In short, the Suite is off to a surprisingly shaky start with poor getting started and poor help docs in many products and for overall suite. Also the docs have really taken a turn for the worse in Help format(I think all of the Macromedia had to be converted to Adobe format). But harsh judgement on docs is predicated on late arrival of printed docs and without using the video docs yet. Also I was surprised there was not more mention of Flex/Apollo and new Adobe Video Player, etc. I know – its a big announcement. But given Microsoft Expression and SilverLight, a D for Flash and C for Dreamweaver (I just read the PC Worlds June reviews they look like Flash C, Dreamweaver B) just puts those guys in Redmond in a feeding frenzy – call it Mix07 delusive.

So the trade-off is the following in GUI Integration. Take Microsoft if you know absolutely and certainly that all your Web and desktop apps are going to run in Windows Vista (and XP for a little while longer) and maybe Linux. But it looks like not Safari nor Linux with full blown all the bells and whistles features. And if COM/DCOM and ASP cross platform support from Microsoft is any indicator(note not Microsoft but Novell is bringing support for SilverLight to Linux), this “Linux commitment” is for an undetermined amount of time. Development tools will be lead by Visual Studio and Expression Suite with some third party tools from eRain, MadCap, Infragistics, and others – but mostly as add-ons or components.

Take Java when Sun reveals what they are up to (and they just have, see here).

Take Flash/Apollo from Adobe for true cross platform. But look for a substitute for Flash as designer and developer. FlexBuilder looks pretty good for Flash savvy development, Photoshop Extended for some design, and undoubtedly some interesting tools from the likes of ToonBoom, eRain, AutoDesks many highend players, etc. But how many will commit to ActionScript 3 and FlashPlayer 9 and then 10 etc is still uncertain. However, it appears from a designers point of view, Microsoft has been given a lot of room to catch up and surpass Adobe – the Flash IDE is that badly stuck in the past.


Updated by JBS May 14th 2007
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