Now and again a product arrives that reminds you of how things used to be in the days when people got excited about release dates.
The current excitement, certainly in the graphics design market, is around the arrival of Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4). The suite of products that most people in design and publishing use every hour of every working day is getting a refresh.
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Over the past few years Adobe has managed to dislodge the incumbent graphics software specialist Quark from a fair few accounts by promoting its package to a PC as well as Mac audience. That dual platform approach has been crucial because the Mac's traditional hold in the design community, although still strong, has been attacked increasingly by PCs.
On top of that, the way users work with a product like Creative Suite has included not just designers but other departments that feed into the process, using mainly PCs.
So what does CS4 do that is different to previous versions? Whenever these upgrades come through the vendors always stress that they have taken into consideration the demands of the user community.
Presumably one of the things that came back in the feedback was to make workflow processes easier and those concerns have been addressed with the ability to switch between projects and a lot of common tasks being made part of the system.
Another advance is the in-built Flash capabilities that make it much easier designing for the web and multiple browsers. There are also more 3D tools. But for most people the key will be the ease of use and the ability to weave in and out of the applications that comprise the suite: InDesign, Illustrator, PhotoShop, Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Acrobat.
This is one of those products that has the ability to really improve the way people work and to a certain degree the expectations around upgrades are very high as a result.
In terms of placing CS4 in the context of what is going on in design it taps into the growing need for web and animation as well as making it more straightforward for multi-tasking. Bearing in mind the resource strain most people are under, the idea of speeding up tasks is going to be hugely attractive.
From a reseller point of view this is a solid product with a solid price that is a must-stock for those serving the design community as well as those that are increasingly being asked to provide greater creative tools.