CS4 unleashed…10 WOWs from a fab launch

It’s been a restful yet exciting couple of days in Cape Town, having squeezed in the last couple of days of annual leave I shall see until the election in April next year (sheesh)…all shore leave officially cancelled as of last week..the campaign ship sets sail. Being the procrastinator I am, I’ve only got down to this now because I really wanted a last couple of days sans PC before the madness begins..

I had the great (and somewhat surreal) pleasure this weekend of meeting face to face with an internet buddy, Jason Levine, who hopped through here with his fellow Adobe evangelist Greg Rewis to launch Adobe’s CS4 (just say WOW people..all together now…)

I had a groovy time chilling at the waterfront with the guys pre-launch…honestly two of the funniest blokes I’ve met in ages, getting an insider’s view on the gut-churning scariness that is Sarah Palin (I WEEP for America if that pineapple gets into office) and the upcoming American elections which are but one month away.

Also, on a more sombre note, I watched these guys gutted to witness the stock market crash on Monday evening (the DOW was down by 730ish points by 8.30pm), brought to us live via i-phone. Like anyone who’s ever had a sore tooth and can’t leave it alone, the refresh button was being used frequently. I actually inadvertently (for 10 whole minutes) got sucked into this scary black hole that I shall call social cyber-separation for want of a better phrase (you know…when you twitter the guy sitting next to you instead of just telling him he’s got spinach in his teeth?)

I pinged (new word..lol..thanks Jase!) my boet who works for a hedge fund in London to make sure he wasn’t balancing on the edge of a tall building – he’s also lost a fair whack of cash, and says his mantra for now is “think long term…think long term, find money, buy low…” It really makes me glad that I have the financial acuity of an oyster and can only afford to buy things I can see (well actually, I can’t afford to buy those right now either)..and while lame platitudes are probably the last thing you want to hear, my heart really goes out to all of you feeling the pain right now..

Upside to this, and in addition to the wonder that is CS4, I got to behold for the first time close-up the wonder that is the i-phone. EISH…I knew I’d been artfully avoiding looking too closely at these things for a reason because now of course, I want one. Who can scorn the sheer coolness of a gadget that can listen to the radio for you and not only recognise the song you want identified, but find it online for you to buy, should you so desire to…WTF? Apparently it’s ‘all about the apps’ but I’m also reliably informed that the battery life totally sucks. I’m someone who literally only uses my phone for sms’ing and phonecalls (yes folks, there are still some of us left) and I tend to avoid gadgets at all costs, so for me to say that this has me seriously excited is really saying something…YES Jayx, you were right (..again).


On to the *actual* topic of this blog (at LAST you say!) the launch of Adobe’s CS4, which was held at Canal Walk on Tuesday. I stupidly didn’t take my camera with me, for which I have kicked myself the prescribed number of times, plus a couple more for good measure (aargh). First to take the stage were Jason, Greg and our own local evangelist, Mo Jogie (where’s your blog dude?) who delivered slick energetic and highly amusing presentations (my fave line? Mo: “moms are low res, dude”).

They were followed up by some of our local trainers who went into a little more depth on the applications and their shiny new features. As I am currently still using CS2, my brains were pretty much on the wall by the time it was over – there is simply no comparison between the two…I obviously can’t contrast CS3 and 4, but I know for a fact that the changes are a far cry from the “general “service” update on CS3” that many people predicted (your words there, Shukri 🙂 lol). So here’s my wow by wow rundown, I’m gonna limit this to 10 wows or I’ll be here all night and most of tomorrow (apologies to the boffs if I get the lingo wrong). Bear in mind I mainly use Photoshop, Indesign and Dreamweaver, so I’ll stick to those and leave the media geeks to their own wows…

WOW1: The first thing that struck me was that the integration of the macromedia elements (Fireworks, Freehand, Flash, etc) is now completely seamless, which I don’t think it was post-macromedia acquisition in CS3 (I stand to be corrected of course).


WOW 2:This has allowed for almost TOTAL cross-platform integration or ‘sharing the luuurve’ (right Jase?), meaning that live-time edits of one object are possible in several different applications at once (think the “edit original” function in Indesign CS2, which allows you to tweak your images in Photoshop in real time without the opening, saving and closing of documents, but across ALL the applications…did I say wow yet?)

WOW 3: The government in this country could learn a thing or two from Adobe…it’s very obvious that they’ve actually been listening to their users and have pimped the end user experience to allow for maximum efficiency with massive time-saving implications and have replaced the teeth–grating features with things that actually work.

WOW 4: Photomerge in Photoshop, which was available in CS3 but (I’m told) is vastly improved in CS4, plus ‘content-aware scaling’, which means you can horizontally or vertically compress/expand an image without the objects in that image distorting (people getting fatter/thinner/taller/shorter etc). The “3D postcard” function allows you to rotate a 2D image and actually get realistic perspective alteration. 3D object manipulation, which I believe is much improved, is another thing I can’t wait to sink my teeth into having skipped CS3.

WOW 5: Improved gradient tools and functionality – the gradient tool is now a slider bar (with the relevant colours visible) which appears on top of the object you’re working on and makes the whole gradation job so much quicker and easier – opacity settings are also much more easily accessible.

WOW 6: The workspace itself is supercool and smooth panning, rotation and scaling functions, as well as newly introduced side-by-side viewing panes in several of the apps (notably Dreamweaver) and tabbed file displays (similar to those in web browsers) mean that the creative process is no longer hampered by jumping between images, entering rotation values (angle values are actually visible as you rotate) and all those other little irritations.

WOW 7: Adobe Illustrator, of which I’ve always been very nervy, now not only allows you to have multiple artboards (THANK YOU Freehand), but for all of us security-blanket-huggers out there, also allows you to adjust your workspace to look just like Freehand, so the lure into new waters isn’t scary at all.

WOW 8: Image alignment and spacing in Indesign – something which always irritates the crap out of me and means that I invariably can’t see my product by the end of the process because it’s enmeshed in a web of guides – is now virtually all automatic – a few clicks and it’s done for you (I see much longer lunchbreaks on the cards here folks). According to the trainer, guides will soon be a thing of the past (yessss!)

Knickers in blue
WOW 9: Which isn’t a wow for most of you is RAW image formatting in Photoshop – I haven’t had the pleasure yet as it only became available in CS3. Now that I have the camera, and spent a very instructive hour in their (very blue) hotel bar with Jase and Greg (whose horrified expressions at my use of the flash were quite priceless, and which is where the accompanying pics were taken), learning about all those *other* settings aside from full-auto, I can’t wait to try ‘getting RAW’! Putting the ‘pro’ in procrastination, I’ve been putting off the instruction manual/training video thing since I got the camera, and I guess I now no longer have any excuses to get busy.

WOW 10: I have been converted by the power that is evangelism (you have been HEEEEEEALED my child) …two apps I’ve been way too scared to even attempt to date, Flash and Fireworks, are now on my doable list of things to do. Greg succinctly described my exact experience with Flash…I woke up one day and stated (assume superhero pose): “TODAY I will learn Flash”… by 10am I was crying and pulling out my hair…by 12, I was morose and contemplating drowning myself in a bottle of vodka. From the brief demo, the app now seems well within reach, as does Fireworks, which (who knew?) is SO much more efficient at image compression for web than Photoshop. The migration of files from Fireworks to Dreamweaver deserves a *wow* of its very own, and for a n00b web-type such as myself, cuts the turnaround time for the creation of a basic web page in half.

So, enough wowing now, it’s bedtime…like I said there is just *so* much cool new stuff I haven’t even scratched the scratches on the surface. There is a ton of stuff out there on the web – here are a couple of places to start…

Layers Magazine

Photoshop user


Adobe TV

Or straight to the source… adobe.com

Thanks again to my new American friends and all at Adobe who made the launch such a pleasure. With that, time to flex the fingers, dust off the wacom tablet, set up camp by the post box and wait…

Arrrgghhh… pardon the layout of the images in this post .. WordPress is being a bitch and it’s 2am, so bugger it!

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