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October 2007 e-gram

Work More Efficiently: the New Creative Suite

You have to feel sorry for software manufacturers: when a program or suite has been around for a certain length of time, how many ground-breaking new features can they really add? Like U.S. Patent Office commissioner Charles Duell’s infamous 1899 quote, “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” surely every software feature that could be added has already been added.

Well, just as Duell was proved spectacularly wrong, so too do we find new features appearing with great regularity. Case in point: the new Adobe Creative Suite. What we find though, are few revolutionary new features, but a host of small features that let creative professionals work more quickly and efficiently.

Software developers love to move commands around so that finding them from one version to the next is a bit of a scavenger hunt. However, InDesign Creative Suite 3 (CS3) has a new feature called Quick Apply that lets you type in any command and the application will tell you where it is and let you apply it with a single click.

The Type and Paragraph Control Palettes include many of the same commands so that when you are setting type specs you don’t need to keep switching back and forth. You can customize the commands displayed on each of the Control Palettes by picking which commands to bunch together.

That is one of the keys of the new Creative Suite: customization. You can customize many elements of the interface. For several versions, Photoshop has allowed users to save the workspace—that is, specific palette combinations and locations. Adobe has now added that ability to the other CS applications. Object Styles—which let you save graphic object specifications, much like Paragraph or Character Styles—have existed since InDesign CS2, but CS3 finds them enhanced. And the new Table Styles lets you save commonly used table and cell formats and apply them easily. For those creative professionals that use scripts to automate repetitive processes, InDesign CS3 has the ability to add a script to just about any command.

There is a price to be paid for all this functionality, and that is that Creative Suite 3 is a memory hog and requires substantial system resources to run. Adobe optimized the Macintosh version of CS3 for the new Intel-based Macs, while the Windows version requires at least Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Vista. It will run on older Mac systems, but sl-o-o-o-o-wly. Still, if you’re planning to upgrade your hardware (or have already done so), a CS upgrade might well be worth your while.