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November 16, 2005

I made the decision a while ago that I’d be skipping the upgrade to Adobe’s CS2 suite. It just didn’t look like it had enough new to entice me. Or at least, enough to justify the price tag.

But the little things that don’t make it into the initial marketing push are adding up. Case in point, Smart Objects:

…now you can place a photo in Photoshop and make it a “Smart Object”, just select the layer of the photo and go to the “Layer menu” and choose “group into New Smart Object”.

When you do this it is linked to the embedded high-resolution original. So now when you resize it’s still crystal clear even if you scale it a dozen times.

On one hand, it’s great to have that ability in Photoshop, and I’d be using it all the time. On the other hand, it’s about time. Illustrator and InDesign have done it for ages, with the “Place” command. It’s more an obvious catch-up feature than anything new, which is indicative of my overall problem with this recent upgrade: it feels more like a functionality service pack than a must-have set of new features.

I think I’ll continue holding off for CS3, which ought to be around a year from now given a roughly 18 month release cycle. By then, with the new features it offers, we might be approaching something resembling a must-have upgrade.

Paul D says:
November 16, 08h

CS2 doesn’t seem to have any new killer features, and the only thing I miss in CS is that it can’t read my Nikon D50 raw files. I’m also not too interested in depending on any pro apps that require product activation. I guess that means my future buying Adobe products isn’t too bright.

Also, am I the only one who thinks the whole Photoshop interface and workflow needs a re-think? The other day, as I clicked through the 6 (yes, 6) clicks and alert boxes required to save an existing PNG graphic, I realized that usability is really crap in this program.

Paulo says:
November 16, 09h

Heh, the only reason I like Adobe CS upgrades at all is that they push down the prices of older secondhand versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, which are more than sufficient for my needs as a designer. I haven’t needed any new features on Photoshop since version 6.

Zach says:
November 16, 09h

Smart Objects and RAW editing are nice (along with the dozen or so other features they mention that sound useful), but the two or three times I would use it doesn’t justify the upgrade in my eyes.

I hope CS3 makes some substantial changes, so the price tag doesn’t seem so outrageous.

Timo says:
November 16, 09h

I still use Photoshop 7 and am content. One thing that keeps me from upgrading is the crapy licensing and activation processes.

giovanni says:
November 16, 09h

I agree with Paulo. Version 6 was the last really significant upgrade. I fear that the guys at Adobe are starting to run out of ideas.

Kent says:
November 16, 09h

Now that I’ve used them for a while, I couldn’t live without smartobjects.

They are perfect for mocking up things, when you don’t know what size the final is going to be. I used to keep an unscaled version in a separate layer so I could always go back to the source. But smartobjects do that for me.

They aren’t a complete implementation IMHO though: layermasks of smartobjects cannot be locked to the smartobject, they have to be moved/scaled separately. Also, smartobjects are rasterized in ImageReady.

The next release of Photoshop will no doubt be after the Macromedia engulfing, but I’m guessing they’re not going to mess with it too much. If you were talking about holding out on upgrading Freehand till the next release I’d be a bit more worried…

November 16, 09h

I skipped the CS release and had still been using Photoshop 7 until a few weeks ago when I made the plunge into CS2 (mainly because Photoshop 7 barfed on a CS document sent to me by a client). Having been working with it for a few weeks, I feel CS2’s a mixed bag.

I love the new transform tools (especially Mesh Transform), nested folders (which may have been in CS), and being able to select multiple layers at once to move up or down in the Layers Palette or around on the stage, regardless of whether they are actually grouped or linked together. The new typing system (and color preview) is pretty good too – more like Illustrator.

I think some aspects of Smart Objects are good, but there are others I can’t stand, such as trying to mask one. Also, Photoshop CS2 is a hog. I have a gig of RAM on my WinXP machine running a P4 @ 2.4GHz and it crawls, hangs and even crashes on occasion.

There are also a few weird bugs such as the odd one which makes all of the layers in the Layers Palette (which I keep tucked in the well) hidden. I freaked out the first time that happened, but I eventually figured out that creating a new layer in the palette makes them all come back. It’s a lame workaround, but at least it works.

So I have mixed feelings about the upgrade, but there are definately a few features which make me glad I did it.

Elton says:
November 16, 09h

I’m currently sticking with CS, also…I downloaded the trial of CS2 to check it out and it was terribly slow. My system’s the same as Aaron’s, and CS2 absolutely crawled. Did the same on my Athlon64 3400+ also. So I quickly went back to CS.

November 16, 09h

I would have to agree with you about some of the new features FINALLY being available that should’ve been part of the package long ago, such as the red-eye correction. However, I disagree with regard to the new features. Some are pretty slick (like warp, and vanishing point), albeit not likely to be heavily used.

As for the resizing issue… Photoshop was never intended to be a vector-based graphics program, as Illustrator was. Comparing the two isn’t a very fair assessment, since their capabilities and purposes (up until this release at least) have been vastly different.

Rock Norris says:
November 16, 10h

One word of warning with the “linking…” of smart objects. I learned this at the MacDesign Conference via Deke McClelland – they are NOT linked, they are EMBEDDED documents inside your Photoshop document. The good thing is that you’re never missing your original documents. When you double-click on a Smart Object, it ACTS like you’re opening a separate file into Illustrator, but you are actually opening a vector piece of your Photoshop document into the Illustrator workspace.

The main reason this matters? File size. Also, I have no idea what happens when you place a Smart Object that itself has linked graphics in it into a Photoshop file.

If there’s a preference where you can toggle this behavior, please someone let me know.

November 16, 10h

I’ll leave “Smart Objects” to the design professionals. I’ve still no reason to upgrade from PS7.

November 16, 10h

I got Photoshop 6 (full version) fairly cheap about the time version 7 was released, so this confirms Paulo’s statement above about newer version lowering prices of older ones.

I’ve had thought about getting a digital SLR in the next few months (maybe at an after Christmas sale), and am eyeing the Nikon D50 (great post on that subject, by the way!), and understand that newer versions of Photoshop are able to work with camera RAW files…Could someone tell me the the earliest version of Photoshop that is capable of working with RAW files? I don’t know if Photoshop 6 can do that…

I have been considering upgrading to a newer version of Photoshop, or even the suite (CS2). Apparently there’s an upgrade version that can upgrade just from Photoshop, and not a whole suite.

November 16, 10h

I am holding off till CS3 as well. I not only feel that CS2 is merely a “service pack” but there are also rumors that CS3 will support Intel Macs. I’d really like to get an Intel Powerbook after the Rev. A kinks are all worked out, and waiting until CS3 comes out just happens to coincide with new hardware. I also have to use Dreamweaver at work, and I’m going to wait to see what happens to it since the whole Adobe/Macromeida thing will certainly change the development of those products (though I hope not).

But for now my current powerbook and Photoshop CS (along with the whole CS suite) work just great and I’m willing to wait a year.

November 16, 11h

@Rock Norris, it’s indeed not physically linked to a file outside your document, however it is ‘linked’ (or how would you describe this) to the original source file, this way you get flexibility if you need to transform over and over again. For instance you can scale a small thumb up to the size it was when you just placed the image.

@all: There are a lot of features I like about CS2, like selecting multiple layers, Bridge, snippets, vanishing point, warp effect on an object, layer or selection…. Problem is people often don’t dig enough… me included, but I try to change this ;-) That’s why I post about this stuff now and then. I still have some more up my sleeve. Still, I understand that a lot of people use Photoshop not at its full power and then it might get expensive to upgrade each time.

November 16, 12h

“CS2 doesn’t seem to have any new killer features”
– True

“product activation”
– Lets face it, photoshop is probably the #1 most pirated piece of software in recent history

“I still use Photoshop 7 and am content.”
– Even though I have bought CS2 I still have approximately 37 copies of Photoshop 7 knocking about between my place and the places I go when my home pc gets a virus.

“I fear that the guys at Adobe are starting to run out of ideas.”
– Which would be very sad.
In 2001 I wrote a veerryyy lengthy list of things I wish I could do with photoshop, to date the only items on my list that became reality are:
Nested Folders/Groups,
Smart Objects,
selecting multiple layers
Layering of filter effects in the filter gallery
(not exactly what I wanted but close),
Vanishing Point
(not up to my expectations),
Enhancements to the brushes
(still missings LOTS of useful stuff available in Painter, PaintShopPro, DeepPaint, and ZBRUSH!!!),
Warp (not up to my expectations),

“Photoshop was never intended to be a vector-based …Comparing the two isn’t a very fair … and purposes”
– My purpose for buying the suite was to Create Quickly, intuitively, and efficiently. And I like creating things that involve a lot of photography and vector art. I see no reason beneficial to users why we can’t have photoshop’s pen tool work exactly like illustrators or have Illustrator’s pathfinder pallette in photoshop.

Honestly, if you already have PS7 or CS1 and are looking for something to enhance or inspire your creativity, just go buy ZBrush!

“Also, am I the only one who thinks the whole Photoshop interface and workflow needs a re-think?”
– You are not alone. I believe both photoshop and especially Illustrator have a lot they could learn from InDesign, Flash, Maya, and ZBrush!

Imagine, being able to take any menu item and drop it on a custom toolbar for when you have a lot of repetitive things to do that don’t justify making an action.

Imagine a new user being able to hold down the ctrl button and anything he mouses over pops up a large, lengthy description of what that thing does.

Imagine trying to paint on a locked layer and being told “Could not use the brush because the layer is locked” AS WELL AS having the layers pallette pop open and a large red line being drown from the error message to the lock layer button.

Imagine painting with the pattern stamp and having the texture bend and warp to conform to the direction your mouse or stylus is moving.

Imagine using the pattern stamp and having it wrap seamlessly to the other side of the canvass instead of having to use filter-offset.

The more I imagine the more it pisses me off.

Alex says:
November 16, 12h

I do use the newest version and am happy with it. Why? Well my company did pay for it and with cs2 my workflow did improve much.
The ability to select layers with control and shift is really good.

And Camera Lens Filters are at the site of the SmartObjects very nice to use.

BUT, I also use Illustrator and InDesign and just don’t get it, why these three programs can’t be put into one programm.
I mean everytime I use one of these tools, I miss a certain feature from the other two!
Really stupid that is.

DD says:
November 16, 12h

I believe that the next suite will include both Macromedia and Adobe applications.

That is something I am looking forward to. :)

November 16, 14h

I upgraded from Photoshop 7, Illustrator 10 and InDesign 2 to the whole CS2 suite and it is definitely a mixed bag, one full of bug, annoying ones at that. In photoshop I get quite annoyed that it never remembers my previous workspace settings, often putting my toolbar palette in the middle of my screen (Win XP). Another big annoyance is when using the polygon marquee too I will be working away and all of a sudden the whole app screen decides to completely redraw. I find Bridge cool, but very slow.

On the plus side of things, smart objects are wonderful. InDesign CS2 is great, the new layout has saved me heaps of time, really like the palettes being able to collapse to edges. The feature I love most is Illustrator’s Live Trace and Live Paint, what a time saver.

Wish they’d hurry up with patching all the bugs though.

Rock Norris says:
November 16, 17h

@Veerle Pieters: i think the problem here is adobe playing loosely with the term “link.” seriously, every other adobe app, when referring to “linked” documents, is referring to documents OUTISDE of the one you are currently in. this is definitely NOT the case in photoshop cs2. whether you want to use verbiage like “contain” or “embed” or whatever, the fact remains that, if you place an illustrator document as a smart object into a photoshop document named “file.psd,” then put that file, all by itself, on a cd, and mail said cd to guam, and someone on the other end opens that solitary file on their end, they will have access to and be able to edit that placed smart object. maybe they don’t CALL it embedded, but it’s what we’ve all come to know of as “embedded” from using, well, every other app under the sun.

Paul D says:
November 17, 02h

Grant, Photoshop’s Raw support is on a camera-by-camera basis. I think CS was the first version to have widespread Raw support, but the D50 is only supported in CS2 with the latest Raw plug-ins installed, as far as I can tell.

At any rate, when Aperture comes out, I probably won’t need Photoshop for much photography work. :)

November 17, 03h

I’m also in a holding pattern on CS, waiting for CS3.

I just wish that they’d get a solid, consistent interface across Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. There are too many little irritations in the differences that really should have been ironed out many versions ago. The most notable one for me is the flyout palettes of InDesign, which I find handy, don’t exist in the other two apps.

Aside from that, the next thing I want is bloat reduction. All 3 applications feel too sluggish at times, and I can’t help but wonder how much old, innefficient and antiquated code still lurks in their bowels from much earlier versions.

Perhaps one day we’ll get a more modular system that blurs the lines between the three apps. But then again, perhaps with the acquisition of Macromedia, we’ll see Adobe pull an “Internet Explorer” where they pwn the market, stop development and the apps stagnate for 5 years.

geoff says:
November 17, 07h

Being the idiot that I am, the live spell check in InDesign CS 2 frequently finds my typos. Plus, the layer toggling of PSD files in ID CS2 is the awesome. That is well worth the price of admission.

I still can’t stand Illustrator though.

Dave says:
November 17, 09h

Nikon View comes with a Photoshop RAW plugin that works in versions as old as 6 (I think). I forget which version off the top of my head supports the D50, but you might as well get the latest (6.2.5). It’s slower than Camera Raw but you get what you pay for I guess.

You might also want to try Nikon Capture for RAW files which is only $99 (download the demo and try it).

November 17, 10h

Paul D, Dave: Thanks for the tips on Nikon D50 and Photoshop. I think I’ll sit on the Photoshop upgrade for a while - may as well get tte camera first - and see what happens int he way of CS3. I’m intrigued by what might happen with Adobe’s suites now that it has bought Macromedia…might be nice to get Photoshop and Dreamweaver in one package!

Aundrae says:
November 17, 12h

I might be the only one that seems to love Photoshop CS2. To be honest, and this might sound crazy, I think its the best Photoshop since 5.5. I really didn’t see the big deal with any of the ‘new’ features found in Illustrator or InDesign. I still just have not gotten adjusted to Illustrator CS even to this date. I must be getting old.

Mike says:
November 17, 17h

I agree with you I did not get it for the same reasons and the fact the everything Adobe seems over priced.

Steve says:
November 17, 18h

I too will be waiting for the next release, with the money that adobe charges there ought to be an insurance program that says if you don’t even use half the features by the time a new version is out, you only pay half price for the next one, or get one free or something…

matthew says:
November 17, 19h

Adobe Bridge is awesome and has totally changed the way i work with my files. for me, CS2 is worth it just for Adobe Bridge. i love it.

shorty114 says:
November 17, 20h

Sorta like Studio MX vs Studio MX 2004… not enough to justify the price.

David R says:
November 18, 04h

Perhaps Adobe ought to go the way of Microsoft with their Visual Studio.

Back with Visual Studio 6, each IDE had its own program (Visual Basic was separate from Visual C++ and Visual Interface, for example).

But with Visual Studio 7 (aka “.NET 2002”) they decided to use a single IDE environment, each “language” was simply a set of modules and handlers that the IDE loaded.

I can see this working for Adobe, if they create a single program “Creative Studio”, where Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc are all just modules for the environment.

This would solve numerous issues, numero uno being the inconsistent user-interfaces inside each different CS product. But also it should help reduce bloat, since it would be of modular design.

What does everyone else think of that?

November 18, 07h

I agree. Having a modular design, with all the apps wrapped in one basic framework would save time and space, and give all of the apps the official, final Adobe interface (whatever that may be).

My company bought CS2 for me. I wouldn’t have paid for the upgrade myself, but I do find some of the new features handy. Live trace/paint, Bridge, smart objects, and the layering system in PS being updated. FINALLY!

I’m hoping for a more substantial update in CS3, but what I’d really like to see more than feature addons is for someone at Adobe to just sit down and develop a user workflow and usability standard.

As much as I hate Microsoft, I’ve got to give them an A for effort on Office 12. Anyone who reads Jensen Harris’ blog will tell you that they’re working hard on making a product that’s easy to use, scaleable and modular.

Who knows, whith the Adobromedia conglomerate we might see some innovation.

Flashastrator? Fireshop? GoWeaver?

November 18, 11h

I recently decided to freelance full time, so I went legit on all of my software.

Adobe actually let me upgrade to Creative Suite 2 with a serial number from and educational version of PS3 :)

I love the multiple layer slection. It’s definitlely something that should have been in there ages ago, however.

They really should rethink the interface. Watching the Aperture demos, it’s pretty clear that PhotoShop’s handling of RAW images is pretty crude.

FYI - I recently filled out a survey for Adobe. One of the questions was something along the lines of: “If you upgrade your computer in the near future and you would have to repurchase Photoshop, would you: something else
b.not buy anything for it?”

I, of course, took this as: “If you go out and buy a pentium based mac, you will have to buy Photoshop again.”
Maybe I’m just paranoid.

Tony says:
November 18, 16h

For those saying that Photoshop CS2 doesn’t have any new features, you need to stop looking at it through a web design filter. For digital photography, it’s much improved over CS and earlier versions.

CS2 supports the latest ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) which not only adds more recent digital SLR compatibility, it’s an overal big improvement over previous versions with new features and more capabilities. CS doesn’t support the new ACR.

CS2 adds Adobe Bridge, which, while not perfect, is a big improvement over the old viewer. It’s a great improvement to the digital workflow.

will says:
November 18, 17h

the last comment hits it for me. I dont do much photo manipulation any more, I make web sites. My photo manipulation consists of ctrl+L, ctrl+M, rotate and crop. ok, ctrl+U for singletone stuff and the occasional gaussian blur. that’s it.

I’m really hoping they go VERY modular with the macrobe stuff. I really want a web aware visual design package. stupid things make me crazy everyday. like, the color picker doesn’t include a # before the hex value. Some real styles support. I dont mean css styles (but why not!). I’m talking pagemaker 2 font and object styles. PS’s ‘tool presets’ just isn’t cutting it for me. when I place a photo in a mockup, I want to be able to add x-pixels of padding to it, and then a border. css 101 stuff. a new layer for border-top? come on. I’m not expecting photoshop to understand floats, just basic css. I mean, it can figure out tables!

In fact, I dont want any of this in ‘photo’shop. photoshop is (orta be)for photos. My little dream is that all the smart folks at this new company will just create a new web creation module on top of a slim adobe engine. they pretty much abandoned pagemaker and made a great layout program. I really think if they decide to, they can do the same for the web design.

ADOBE: I HAVEN’T DONE A PRINT JOB IN OVER A YEAR. This whole suite of applications is stuck in print with extras here and there for web design. I need a package that does the reverse. so do about 2083443253 other people.

November 18, 17h

The only thing I wish from Adobe, would be to lower the price of the software to something reasonable.

I won’t be upgrading from CS any time soon if it means I have to take out a second mortgage.

In keeping the prices higher, they’ve also cut out alot of businness.

ChadL says:
November 19, 21h

Version Cue, how come that has not been mentioned? Is it the biggest and best kept secret here?

At my workplace the designers (and developers) have been pushing for CS2 for Version Cue alone. I’m sure many - if not most - will realize the value of a versioning system. CVS, Subversion, Perforce… you can’t get away with developing a serious software system without one of those or their equivalents. Now, how have the designers dealt with mockups and graphics? ‘homepage_good_june12_final.psd’ or ‘homepage_v1.2.34_approved.psd’ or worse ‘homepage_v1.3_final.psd.psd’. Not much fun is it?

In comes Version Cue, not only does it provide an embed versioning system that is not only dsimplimpl for designers and developers to learn and use, it also saves on disk space*.

* Sure, disk space is considered cheap, but when a 10MB mockup is multipled by 5 revisions and then by 30 templates and then by tens or hundreds of projects. We’re talking terabytes here. Version Cue is intelligent in marking changes which effectively drops disk usage substantially.

@will: ‘Some real styles support.’ From what I see, there is some pretty slick style support in CS2.

@DD: ‘I believe that the next suite will include Macromedia and Adobe applications’ IMO this would be silly for them to do. Both have their own purpose and own followers. Sure there is GoLive vs Dreamweaver and ImageReady vs Fireworks, but besides those apps I don’t see a LOT of natural overlap.

JordonW: ‘Who knows, whith the Adobromedia conglomerate we might see some innovation.’ If anything, I would expect less innovation as the competition dissipates.

machine says:
November 20, 19h

This upgrade justifies the price tag at least for web design, with smart guides, smart objects, more reversibility in general which makes my workflow better.

You probably will earn in that costs pretty fast with the faster workflow CS2 provides.

What is not good is that it is even more heavy, so you have to have a pretty good computer if you are on a mac at least g5 for professional print work.

CS2 is CS refined with all the stuff the CS lacked. CS2 is more professional and more web design centric. Even if it is slower it seems more stable and built better.

November 23, 04h

People not feeling Livetrace? I consistently get sent jpg’s that are needed as vectors (from clients) and the Livetrace feature looks (on the face of things) worth the upgrade price alone.

The new Photoshop cloning with perspective also look boss.

November 28, 19h

“llustrator and InDesign have done it for ages, with the “Place” command. It’s more an obvious catch-up feature than anything new”
You’re right, and they don’t even try to hide it. When you scale a smart object using the transform tool and then select a different tool, PS presents you with a confirmation box where the options are “Place” and “Don’t Place.”

The nice thing about Adobe, at least, is that they don’t assume we’re idiots.

Mb. says:
December 01, 09h

SmartObjects rock. And suck.

That I can’t link a mask to a SmartObject and move them together… I can’t think of any good reason for this, so I’m just assuming it’s a bug. But what really annoys, what really makes me think “damn guys, it *could* have been perfect” is the fact that once you’ve placed a SmartObject, for example an Illustrator file, you can’t update it automatically if you change it in Illustrator. There also doesn’t seem to be any sensible reason why not. I’m happy with SmartObjects, but I’d be ecstatic if I could do this stuff. Maybe I take my job too serioulsy?

timbo says:
December 02, 23h

Perhaps I was scrolling too fast, but I didn’t see any mention of the much improved Version Cue v.2 which ships with CS2. For anyone who is interested in being able to collaborate on projects, over the internet or on a local network, and doesn’t like having to sift through folder upon folder of recent or past versions of a project, image, or file, Version Cue is a great solution. (I think, Hummph!)

I am an architecture student and had to produce a lengthy research publication this semester which involved gathering and organizing tons of information from about thirty structural case studies. Adobe Bridge (also shipping with CS2) allowed us to organize the media using “snippets,” a cross-component media format which allows you to drag any media format directly from a window, into the bridge window and then back into another Adobe program with just a few clicks. The enhanced story editor in Indesign CS2 is quite nice and allows for a more speedy and efficient styling of text.

Version Cue 2 was the real engine behind the project though. I could assign chapters or sections to a group member, simply connect to their project, sync the file and presto! Not only did I have the current version but all previous versions as well. Also, I could work with their files offline, when their laptops were not at my apartment, save a version, and let them apply the changes in conjunction to any work they may have done while away. When it came time to print the book, simply adding page number variables to master pages, and adding them to a book file was the extent of the pain. Printing is a dream. When installed and running, the Version Cue server allows you to browse VC projects from any Adobe program, from a toggled OS/VC browser. Too easy.

I think that Adobe may be focusing more on how to integrate media across their different components, without messy or lossy imports (which I would argue is significantly more important than adding nebulous features to the components), while progressing in the direction of releasing a suite suitable for true collaboration on any scale project.

Ryan says:
January 05, 13h

Version Cue does rock. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to create multiple versions of a file, only to be stuck with five enormous files, each with creative (and sometimes indecipherable) suffixes.

Live trace is a huge time saver, as is live paint, especially when it comes to quickly reproducing a logo that has to be blown up for an ad.

And InDesign. I can’t even begin to describe how amazingly awesome InDesign is compared to Quark! Transparency and PSD support? I know that Quark 7 supposedly will have these features, but why get that when we already own InDesign?

As far as bugs, I haven’t noticed any. I’m running a dual 1.8 G5 with 768 MB of RAM (soon to be 2.5 Gigs) and no problems.

Now, there is room for improvement, but CS2 is certainly worth the upgrade if you use all applications.