Which Adobe Creative Suite is Right for You?

By Nathan Segal

It's no secret that Adobe is at the top of the heap when it comes to the leading graphics software. Their software is typically also among the most expensive, as well. In this article we're going to look at the current group of Creative Suite 5.5 software packages by Adobe, as well as their new subscription model.

Looking at the Adobe pricing in this table (part of which is shown below) you'll see that the software suites range in price from $1,299.00 for the Design Standard Suite and as much as $2,599.00 for the Master Collection. One option if you have to pay upfront is to only buy the programs you need, but to do so can easily cost you more than the suite itself, depending on how many programs you buy.


It seems that if you want to get into this kind of software you're going to have to spend a lot of money upfront. Having said that, with the new CS5.5 introduction, Adobe has come up with a new, more attractive pricing model.

For those of you who want to use the Adobe Creative Suite (or portions of it) without having to buy the entire thing, Adobe has introduced the Creative Suite 5.5 Subscription Edition. This is a major development because you can now rent access to different suites or key components within a suite for limited or ongoing periods of time.

Here are some of the reasons you might want to go in this direction:

* You get the current software version without paying upfront for the full price

* You get the latest versions without extra charges

* You can purchase time when you need it.

How Does the Creative Suite Subscription Edition Work?

Here's how it works. Let's say you wanted to buy the Web Premium Suite. The upfront cost of this is: $1,799.00. If you wanted to use this suite for only a few months, you would pay $135.00/month or $89.00/month if you commit to one year's worth of using the program. Another option, if you only need to use 1-2 programs is to look at that pricing option. As an example, let's say that you only want to use Dreamweaver. The per month cost is: $29.00. If you commit to using the program for a year, the price drops to $19.00/month. Contrast that to paying $399.00 to buy the program outright. As you can see, this type of pricing can be quite attractive. You can view this pricing information on the Adobe web site.


Some other things to note are: Products are available as an electronic download (without a backup DVD), you'll receive an email with a serial number and link to download. One major advantage for both the consumer and Adobe is the elimination of a boxed delivery, which saves on the time to produce it and shipping costs. The major down side? Be prepared for a long download time, especially if you want to rent the entire CS5.5 suite.

As I mentioned earlier, there are five main Adobe suites, each designed for a different purpose, such as video designers or print designers. For a web developer Adobe recommends the Web Premium Suite, which is $1,799.00 and is the one best suited for web design work. This suite includes: Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Acrobat X Pro, Flash Catalyst, Flash Professional, Flash Builder, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Contribute.

New Features and Functionality in Adobe CS5.5

Of these tools several have been enhanced in CS5.5. The major advancements include: HTML5 in Dreamweaver CS5.5. This includes the jQuery mobile framework and PhoneGap integration. The multiscreen preview panel has been improved and it's possible to set this up so that you can see what your layout will look like on three different platforms, such as browsers over 800 pixels wide, drawing tablets and small computer screens with resolutions form 4-800 pixels and mobile phones with resolutions up to 400 pixels. One of the options available is a default setting for these various devices which can be adjusted as need be.

In Flash Professional and Flash Builder Premium are new tablet and smartphone capabilities which can be used with the Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS platforms. In Flash, you can scale stage content to adapt to different screen sizes and also includes a new shared assets feature for more streamlined publishing.

New in this release is the PhotoPhotoshop Touch Software Development Kit (SDK) and tablet applications which work with with Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CS5 Extended. With the SDK, Adobe has developed three Photoshop companion apps for the iPad. These are: Color Lava for Photoshop, Eazel for Photoshop and Nav for Photoshop. These apps allows users to create custom color swatches, paint drive Photoshop tools on tablets.

There are also several other programs that come with this suite, including Bridge, Device Central and CS Online Services, which includes: BrowserLab, CS Review, Acrobat.com, Story and SiteCatalyst NetAverages. If you want to get a taste for what BrowserLab can do, be sure to check out my upcoming review of Adobe Dreamweaver 5.0

These programs are used to test web apges across browser and operating system. You can review content within the context of the application, collaborate on web content, simplify script development for video projects and track web analytics and trends.

In upcoming articles we'll look at the HTML5, CSS3 and mobile phone developments in Dreamweaver and what they mean to you as a web developer/designer.











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