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Adobe Overhauls PhotoShop

Adobe Systems took a new tack with its software Monday, unleashing an integrated suite that combines new versions of its applications -- including its flagship Adobe Photoshop -- into a cohesive whole, all anchored by a new file management system.

Adobe is positioning the suite, dubbed Adobe Creative Suite, as a "complete design environment."

"With Adobe Creative Suite, we are delivering a platform for the future of design and publishing, building on 20 years of innovation and partnership with the creative community worldwide," said Bruce Chizen, president and CEO of Adobe.

The suite, which Adobe plans to make available to North American customers in the fourth quarter, comes in two editions. Adobe Creative Suite Premium Edition, with an estimated retail price of $1,229 ($749 if upgrading from an existing version of Photoshop), brings together Photoshop CS, Illustrator CS, InDesign CS, GoLive CS, and Acrobat 6.0 Professional. Adobe Creative Suite Standard Edition, with an estimated retail price of $999 ($549 if upgrading from an existing version of Photoshop), is the same, but lacks GoLive CS and Acrobat 6.0 Professional.

Both editions are anchored by the Version Cue file management system, which allows users to visually scan image thumbnails in Photoshop CS, Illustrator CS, InDesign CS and GoLive CS. It also allows users to search XMP metadata across version comments, keywords, author, date and so on.

"Simplification of the creative workflow and tighter integration of applications into suites is a trend which will benefit designers collaborating on projects to become more efficient and productive," said Joshua Duhl, research director at IDC. "Features that will allow users to share files with clients and colleagues, and locate files visually or through metadata will facilitate the broader workflow and lifecycle of creative assets."

The new Photoshop CS boasts increased user control, Adobe said, pointing to a redesigned File Browser. The File Browser improves search, sorting and sharing capabilities, the company said, adding that a new Histogram Palette monitors changes in the image as they are made. Other enhancements include Match Color, which reads color statistics to help achieve a consistent look across a series of photographs; Shadow/Highlight, which improves the contrast of over- or underexposed digital images; and improved ImageReady CS integration.

Adobe said the new version also integrates second-generation Camera Raw functionality, which allows direct manipulation of raw data in an expanded set of professional-grade digital cameras.

With the Illustrator CS version, Adobe has introduced support for 3D Effects. It also introduces the new Scribble Effect, which can give a loose, hand-drawn look to any image, Adobe said. Text enhancements are also part of the package.

InDesign CS is the latest version of Adobe's layout and design application. The new version features integrated word-processing functionality in Story Editor, and new features like Separations Preview and Flattener Preview to allow users to check output on-screen.

InCopy, the company's professional writing and editing application, previously only available through systems integrators and third-party developers, boasts a new editorial workflow technology to allow writers, editors and designers to work simultaneously on the same document.

Finally, the new release of GoLive CS, the company's publishing tool, adds support for CSS level-2 layout and authoring, and provides designers with the ability to visually author CSS level-2 compliant pages and check support in different browsers and devices.

All the new applications are available as part of the Creative Suite or as standalone applications, Adobe said. The suite supports Mac OS X 10.2.4, Windows 2000 with Service Pack 2, and Windows XP Professional and Home Edition.