To The Future!
Gerard Mason runs Big Friendly Apes, a boutique Flash and web development studio in Melbourne, Australia.View all articles by Gerard Mason
It would be easy to say the Web Premium package is essentially updated and refreshed versions of Adobe's standard set of products with the added bonus that for the first time they have been able to include applications like Flash and Dreamweaver as a result of the Macromedia acquisition. In many ways that is what we have got here, but there is at least some effort on Adobe's part to create a suite of products that is not only a complimentary set of tools for designing and developing web content, but also a set of tools that seam together well.
This brings us to an interesting point to end the review; How well have Adobe done at incorporating the newly acquired applications in its stable with its old ones, and where exactly are Adobe heading with this product line?
Most of the recent changes to Flash revolve around producing interactive web based content (with many of the new features having to do with ActionScript, import/export of artwork, capturing motion as XML etc...) and not a lot has been done to re-enforce Flash's reputation as a powerful animation tool. As we head further and further into rich media and user-generated content presented on the internet, should we assume that Flash will begin to be biased towards facilitating this sort of content?
In my opinion that is exactly what we will see, with perhaps minor changes and bug fixes in terms of Flash's capabilities as an animation tool, but none of the more advanced feature requests floating around the web, such as After Effects style curves for fine control over tweened animations, and hierarchical linking of objects.
Whatever way it pans out, integration between applications will be the key to future success and, whilst nice Illustrator and Photoshop importers are an excellent addition to Flash, it is hard to shake the idea that, particularly in the case of Illustrator, this is something of a workaround.
What would be great, and hopefully something that is in the minds of those at Adobe, is a transparent relationship between Illustrator and Flash files - that is, opening a Illustrator file in Flash (as in 'File->Open', rather than 'File->Import') should yield all artwork in it's right place, layers preserved and all features supported. Similarly, the Flash drawing tools would ideally be identical to the Illustrator ones so that, in that case of projects with more modest requirements, design tasks could be completed entirely in Flash, or tweaks made to artwork produced in Illustrator with tools that are up to the job.
This transparent integration is something that is sorely missing from this release, and would undoubtedly be the most attractive feature to those engaged in web design, development or any other sort of emergent new-media type production as it would speed up the project workflow considerably when build time arrives.
Overall the Adobe® Creative Suite® 3 Web Premium package is a good step towards providing a seamless and efficient method of producing Web projects from design to delivery, but we may have to wait for a future version before we see the kind of tight and transparent integration that we thought was possible when Adobe brought Macromedia under its umbrella.Whilst this release is not the be all and end all web development suites, the most exciting thing going on here is that it definitely has the potential to be that very thing, and by the looks of it Adobe are most certainly working towards that goal.