Adobe released a mini-upgrade of their popular design and production suites last month, CS5.5. However, some people hesitate to upgrade software when the latest "full" version was released just a year ago. There is no one-size fits all, so we've outlined some criteria to help you decide whether upgrading now is right for you.
Something to Consider: What Version Do You Have Now?If you are using anything older than CS5, UPGRADE NOW. Seriously. You will be extremely thankful that you did. We'll go make a pot of coffee and wait until you get back.
Something to Consider: Affordability
If you are a one-man (or woman) band, perhaps this upgrade is out of your budget. None of these features are anything you can't live without. If it's simply not in your price range at the moment, do wait until CS6. However, if you purchased CS5 after March 11, you may be entitled to a free upgrade. If after you've reviewed the program changes you still want to upgrade but can't afford it, try a monthly subscription (details here). And if money is no object…then drive to the store in your Ferrari and pick up a new copy, why not?
Something to Consider: Your Frequently Used Programs
What programs in the CS suite do you or your team make the most use of? Are there some that you don't touch at all? You may want to consider if the upgrades to your particular programs of choice make this switch worth it. First of all: Illustrator, Fireworks, and Contribute CS5 have no changes at this time. We'll be covering the rest of the basics here.
This release of Photoshop is not 5.5 – it is 5.1. The only new addition is the cross-platform Photoshop Touch SDK, which will allow developers to use mobile devices such as the iPad, Android phone, and others to communicate with the desktop version of the software. This mobile digital sketchbook could be a perk, but if you were hoping for a large leap (think CS4 to CS5), then you might be better off holding out for CS6 (rumored to be released some time in 2012).
Showcased features in InDesign CS5.5 put a strong focus on digital publications. Producing digital documents for tablet view, embedded video and audio, PDF accessibility items, etc. If you work heavily in digital publication, you may consider the upgrade to make your job a bit easier. If print is more your game, wait for CS6.
The newest features of Flash are aimed at simplifying the creation of experiences consistently across all platforms – desktops, smartphones, tablets, and televisions. The program also now auto-saves and recovers crashed files (why wasn't this a feature before?). Applications and components are resizable, and asset caching reduces compile time for faster deployment. Flash Builder 4.5 features mobile application development for multiple mobile platforms, including an emulator to test the code and the ability to package and sign the necessary resources for deployment. Code templates and auto-complete make typing more streamlined, and designers can now open/edit/save Flex projects that were previously edited with Flash Builder.
After Effects CS5.5 enables fine control over detail. Can't afford a Steadicam? Unstable camera footage can be smoothed with Warp Stabilizer. Depth-of-field and light intensity on 3D objects can also be controlled post-film. Source timecode support is also a fairly significant feature, making source footage edits more precise and less of a guessing game. After Effects CS5.5 is all about control. With no need to reshoot due to the advanced post-film editing capabilities, you will certainly save time.
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One significant change users will immediately notice is the palette. Tools are more efficiently organized, with an ability to customize your most frequently used into the Quick Tools area. Multistep tasks can now be automated, standardized, and shared in one click with the Action Wizard. Scanned documents can be exported to Word or Excel, and Office 2010 documents are easily transformed into pdf files with a single click within the Microsoft program. Another feature Adobe has been emphasizing is PDF Portfolios - a variety of file types can now be combined into a single PDF portfolio, with applied layouts/themes and color palettes.
This release of Dreamweaver is arguably the most evolved of the CS5.5 software. Dreamweaver CS5.5 has been updated for mobile-ready programming: from jQuery Mobile integration, multiscreen views (does this fit on an iPhone? How does it translate to the iPad?), and the ability to create native Android and iOS apps with PhoneGap – no need to learn a new language – this release marks a huge leap forward in mobile development ease. Developers will also appreciate the CSS3 and HTML5 support, with built-in W3C validation.
We will be going into more detail about app development within Dreamweaver CS5.5 next week, so stay tuned!
If mobile development is a priority for you, this upgrade is definitely in your favor. Otherwise, you may consider waiting for CS6, depending on the features above. For more detail on individual program updates, view the Adobe blog.