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Adobe Web Studio CS2 Review

posted under category: General on May 22, 2007 at 1:00 am by MrNate

I thought now that CS3 is out, I should probably write up something about my experience with CS2, since Adobe was nice enough to give it to me free (thanks to User group giveaways).

The box cover was large and colorful. The inside box itself had a black-on-black A for Adobe logo. I put up a couple nice shots of it on Picasa for you to see for yourself.

The installation.
Really, there were 2 parts to the installation - installing Adobe products and installing former Macromedia products. Adobe products included Photoshop, Illustrator, GoLive, Acrobat, and a couple other things I've never used nor plan on using, like Bridge, Version Cue and LiveCycle Designer. There were lots of disks, I hope this ships on one DVD next time around. The Macromedia software installation was as simple as ever, click a couple buttons and it all comes off of one disk. Macromedia software included Dreamweaver, Flash Pro, Fireworks, FlashPaper and Contribute.

Photoshop CS2.
The undisputed king of all computer graphics, Photoshop, is as good as ever, but honestly, it hasn't changed much in the last few versions. There's a lot of people who would debate its bloatedness and complexity, but for those of us who have been using it for 10 years, it couldn't be easier. So it helps to learn a couple hundred keyboard shortcuts, you're smart, you can learn them. So maybe it takes a gigabyte of memory, that's memory well spent. Anyways, all the old favorite features are in here, but I get the sense that the new features were hardly more than putting enough in just to make marketing look good. I'm just saying, it was a little light compared to changes in some of the previous upgrades. Maybe not worth of a full upgrade from CS, in my opinion. Not to say that I don't love Photoshop, and perhaps there are a few big time savers in there that will allow you to justify the cost. In fact, the layer organization features alone may be worth it, but that's your call.

Continue on to read the thrilling conclusion...

Illustrator CS2.
I haven't used a lot of Illustrator, but trying it out a couple times since I installed this version has been a very satisfying and fun experience. Illustrator is just as technical as before, but somehow it works a little better and makes more sense. I hate to say it, but this version of Illustrator makes Freehand look really bad. This is the most fun I've had in a drawing program since Auto-Illustrator. I will be using this one more.

GoLive CS2.
I've used GoLive since it was GoLive CyberStudio for the Mac, though I've never used it much. It's been a fine editor for a long time, but always lacked that pro feel of Dreamweaver. I cracked this version open a few times only to click around, get bored and close it again. I did, however, use it to open an XML file one time, and I've got to say, that was a treat. The collapsing tag view was perfect for browsing and editing XML nodes. This, however, is the only reason I think I would ever use GoLive again.

Dreamweaver 8.
I've used Dreamweaver since the original beta version, so I'm fairly comfortable with it, though I haven't ever committed to it, thanks to HomeSite/CFStudio and CFEclipse. Anyways, this release is better than ever. DW's tried and true "we don't change your code" strategy is always a winner when using the design view, and Dreamweaver remains the best tool out there for visually designing web sites. The code editor still, for no reason whatsoever, feels wrong, like it's not fast enough or instantly gratifying enough. I can't explain it. The greatest thing is the huge list of file types it supports. It gives intellisense and highlighting for almost any web-related file type. It's solid, never once crashing for me, and I believe it opens a fair amount quicker than the previous version. Dreamweaver 8 is a very nice program, and is becoming easier and easier to use, while not forcing developers to give up control.

Fireworks 8.
Again a Macromedia product I've used since it entered beta, and I'm happy to see some of the ideas from fireworks entering Photoshop CS3. Likewise, a lot of the advanced photo editing features that MM "borrowed" from Photoshop are here, but not nearly as well polished. Fireworks is a truly fun web image program that instantly gratifies. It's fun to use, but even as much, I would only use it on the types of projects I worked on, say, 7 years ago - these were tourist sites, simple 6-page brochures, etc., where I did design, graphics, HTML and programming all by myself. Sadly, I personally don't have much use for it today. Ahh when times were simpler. :)

Flash Professional 8.
The program I have used the least of all. I just don't do flash anymore. I never really loved the event/action/keyframe programming model - I know it's better now, but I'm too buried in CF to do any flash. Sadly, I have nothing really to say. I played with it for a couple minutes just to say I had, and I fire it up whenever I have a flash file to edit, but that's so rare these days. It does export to previous versions of the flash player quite well.

The Rest.
Contribute: Never used, probably never will.
Flash Paper: I keep hoping to find a reason to use it.
Bridge, Version Cue: Bloatware, in my opinion.
LiveCycle Designer: Could be cool, if I take time to learn it.

Overall, it's an amazing software package to own for any developer. Thanks to the AZCFUG and Adobe for supplying it, I really do appreciate it a lot!

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