Today brought the announcement of Adobe’s first mid-cycle release for Creative Suite 5.5. Instead of continuing with uninterrupted milestone releases, these will be moved to a two-year cycle, with mid-cycle releases keeping the product relevant and at the cutting edge of technology.
There were two main sides to the announcement – functionality and licensing.
So is this just a ploy by Adobe to take our money more regularly? Quite the opposite – one of Adobe’s big changes has been the introduction of a Subscription Edition in order to make upgrading more affordable and more suited to users’ fluctuating usage scenarios.
It is now be possible to subscribe to all versions of the main Creative Suite, as well as selected individual products (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Premiere Pro, and After Effects) for a fixed monthly fee. For this you will get the software either on a month-by-month basis, or an annual basis depending on the subscription chosen, including access to the latest software updates for free for as long as you’re still a subscriber. It is possible to convert current trials to a subscription, and the software is exactly the same as the ‘traditional’ versions. Subscriptions are being sold exclusively on adobe.com with pricing information here:
So now the money talk is out of the way, what do you get that makes it worth upgrading? The answer is a surprising amount for what is not a milestone release. These enhancements span a variety of products and include:
Updates to both HTML5 and Flash authoring tools, showing once again that Adobe are more than happy for both technologies to co-exist. These tools are specifically designed to help the creation of mobile content for iOS, Android and BlackBerry Tablet OS as well as more traditional browser-based content. Dreamweaver contains jQuery mobile framework integration, PhoneGap, and WebKit engine updates, whilst Flash Builder 4.5 Premium and the Flex 4.5 framework cover those who prefer their development to be Flash-based.
Digital publishing is a sector which is evolving rapidly at present, and updates to InDesign will allow designers to introduce elements such as “video, audio, panoramic view, 360-degree object rotation, pan and zoom of images, integration of HTML and HTML5 content and other interactive overlays”. Again harking back to devices (“year of the tablet/mobile”, anyone?), the integration with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite will aim encourage more digital publications to be created for tablets in an increasingly simple fashion.
Are we done talking about devices yet? Not quite… in addition to the above, Adobe are releasing the Photoshop Touch SDK, which you may remember being demoed at MAX last year in the form of a palette application interacting with Photoshop, now known as Adobe Color Lava. The SDK will let developers create Android, PlayBook and iOS applications which seamlessly integrate directly with Photoshop functionality. For a first look at the launch apps, and to get some ideas, have a look at photoshop.com.
Finally there are great performance enhancements for video products in the Production Premium suite, covering performance upgrades for Windows and Mac OS as well as workflow and functionality improvements.
Only time will tell, but the introduction of the Subscription Edition looks to be a smart move on the part of Adobe, and will perhaps help to tempt in some of those who may not have considered paying the full price in the past. The move to mid-cycle releases is also wise – developments move so rapidly nowadays that Adobe (as others) will need to find new ways to keep up in order to stay relevant, and this seems a great way of keeping the buzz around product releases whilst giving users the tools they need. I’ll be upgrading my copy… will you?