I’m beyond jazzed about Adobe CS6. As someone who spends his entire day using InDesign (iPad Magazine), Dreamweaver (Edudemic.com), Photoshop (every image you see on this site), and all the other Adobe software, every upgrade to the creative suite truly affects my life.
I was fortunate enough to actually be invited down to New York City by Adobe to check out CS6 in person about a month ago. I got to sit at a table and get an intimate look at each new program from the people who actually built it.
I saw these giants of software development create some quite dazzling displays in just a few seconds. But that got me thinking…
What about the rest of us? What about us mere mortals who didn’t actually create the software? Sure, seeing the person who oversees the entire development of Photoshop was cool, but could I actually figure out the stuff he was doing?
I put my question to the test over the past couple of weeks. I’ve had a copy of CS6 since then and have been doing my darndest to put it through its paces. What follows are screenshots, tips, guides, and my personal experience with the collection of software. I encourage you to check out CS6 and Creative Cloud for yourself (after you read through all the stuff I worked so hard at writing and making for you, the lovely reader).
What Is Adobe Creative Cloud?
First off, let’s look at the biggest change happening at Adobe. In fact, it’s a huge shift and shows that Adobe is listening to customers (hi!) like teachers, school districts, and everyone else who can’t afford their software.
Creative Cloud is basically an app store that you pay a monthly fee to have access to. For that monthly fee, you get unlimited access to ALL the Adobe products. Better still, you can have the most updated versions since all the software can be downloaded from cloud servers.
[Fun Tidbit: Did you know that Adobe couldn't do wholesale updates to their software because of arcane shipping specifications that require them to always have the feature set described on the box? CTO Kevin Lynch shared that gem and it made me laugh at how archaic the whole boxed-software idea really is nowadays. The new Creative Cloud fixes this problem, by the way.]
Another quick note: you will still be able to buy the collections like Web Premium as you normally have (in a box, etc) and don’t have to use the Creative Cloud.
Key Feature #1
So here’s the beauty of Creative Cloud. It’s not just storage like Dropbox or anything like that. Sure, it lets you store your files that you use in Adobe products and access them anywhere (mobile devices like iPads benefit a lot), but it’s the fact that the software is now actually affordable. For the one monthly fee, you can actually get access to the latest version of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, After Effects, you name it. All the software. Normally, you’d have to pay at least a couple thousand dollars just to get your hands on the whole collection for longer than 30 days.
Key Feature #2
So how does this benefit schools, you ask? Well, schools can now simply purchase access to Creative Cloud rather than having to buy a very expensive license for every computer it’ll be on. You’ll need a subscription to Creative Cloud for every computer, but that’s going to be far cheaper than what you were paying. Better still, the lower price point actually gives you access to better technology. It’s not like you’re buying the ‘lite’ version of this stuff. Totally win-win.
Key Feature #3
Creative Cloud actually lets you edit images (including layers!!) right in your web browser. For example, you can open an image on the Creative Cloud site, remove layers and do some editing, cropping, whatever… then it’ll save across all your devices. Your version of Photoshop Touch will look just like the version on your desktop at home and laptop in the classroom. The power of the cloud.
Now I’ll say it one more time. Cloud.
What Are The Biggest Features I Should Know About?
#1: Adobe Creative Cloud is by far the biggest change. It’s the new way you’ll be buying all this software, accessing your files, and working on your tablet. It’s basically an app store for all Adobe products that you pay a monthly fee to access. This is going to be extremely useful for schools on a budget (all of them?) in need of some premium software.
#2: The darker design of most of the new CS6 products is going to be the biggest visual change you’ll see. I’m a fan but don’t worry you can always change it back to the previous gray setting used in CS5.5 and earlier. The darker UI helps you focus on the content at hand though as it’s less distracting.
#3: Each product runs a lot faster. They were all either upgraded or totally rebuilt to run on a ‘Mercury’ rendering engine that basically makes most tasks scream along even on slower computers. If you have a 64-bit computer with plenty of RAM and processing power, you’ll notice a massive difference. Especially in video-related work. But even if you’re on a Macbook Air, you’ll see a definite improvement over previous version. I did.
#4: Photoshop CS6 is darker, has background save, 62% more new features than CS5 (a product of user feedback!), a very cool new cursor that gives a lot of information to you just by mousing over stuff, an upgraded Content Aware Patch / Tool, and a better ‘blur gallery’ that doesn’t make you wait to render your entire image in a proposed blur effect. It’s a faster, darker, leaner, meaner Photoshop that’s still quite easy to use despite it’s crazy amount of features.
#5: You can edit anywhere! Thanks to Creative Cloud, you can edit images in your web browser and even add / remove layers. If you’re a Photoshop or Illustrator fan, that’s a big deal. I’ve seen it in person and it’s great. Better still, it’s just the beginning of what Adobe is gonna enable you to do in your browser. More on that later.
What’s It Cost? Are There Student / Teacher Plans?
Creative Cloud will give you access to the entire Creative Suite, Lightroom 4, Muse, Edge, touch applications, and 20GB of cloud storage with syncing options. For non-education people, it’ll cost $50 per month with a required one-year contract.
Adobe Creative Suite 6 products and Adobe Creative Cloud are scheduled to be available within 30 days (of this writing). The Student and Teacher Edition of Adobe Creative Cloud is available for US$29.99/month. Volume licensing for Creative Cloud “team-ready” is available via the Adobe Transactional Licensing Program. More information on Adobe licensing can be found at: http://www.adobe.com/
Adobe is also offering a new Adobe K-12 Enterprise Agreement designed for the needs of school districts in the United States and Canada. Customers can purchase Creative Suite 6 via Adobe.com and through select retail and online stores. More product information is available at: http://www.adobe.com/products/
Sneak Peek: Adobe After Effects CS6
A new ray-traced 3D rendering engine, allows you to simply and quickly design fully ray-traced, geometric text and shape layers in 3D space. It supports reflections, refraction, environment maps, and much more.
The 3D Camera Tracker greatly simplifies previously labor intensive visual effects tasks such as replacing multiple data screens arranged at multiple angles, shot with a handheld camera. It helps you determine good candidate points and planes to place new elements and define your new 3D plane.
Sneak Peek: Dreamweaver CS6
Fluid grid layouts enable you to design page layouts that adapt to fit different screen sizes. The Resolution Switcher contains three icons for Mobile, Tablet, and Desktop sizes that control the size of Design view as you design layouts.
Sneak Peek: Illustrator CS6
Adjustable UI brightness provides smooth, continuous control of the background’s gray scale to quickly match the look of your video tools or work in whatever tone you like. And set your Illustrator CS6 workspace canvas to white, if that’s your preference, no matter what the gray of the rest of the interface.
With Image Trace, you can convert raster images to editable vectors with clean lines, accurate colors, and reliable results thanks to a new panel and new options. It’s now quick and easy to create and adjust traced objects.
Sneak Peek: InDesign CS6
Sneak Peek: Flash CS6
The Adobe Flash Professional Toolkit for CreateJS is available as a separate and free download for all CS6 customers. This extension will enable users to leverage the rich animation and drawing capabilities of Flash Professional CS6 and export their assets to HTML5 in one click.
Sneak Peek: Photoshop CS6
With the all new Crop tool, you can change the format of your images faster and with greater precision with multiple overlays, including Golden Ratio, Golden Spiral, Diagonal, Triangle, Grid and Rule of Thirds, and the ability to save specific crop dimensions and resolutions as presets. You can also adjust perspective while you crop!
(Left: Original image. Right: After extending the background and removing the objects)
Sneak Peek: Premiere Pro CS6
Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch told me a few things that really spell out the future of Adobe, CS6, Creative Cloud, and what’s next. I figured using direct quotes here would be easier / more fun than interpreting what he said:
“Devices are for creating not just consuming.”
“The number of screens is changing. And so are we.”
“We’ve reached an inflection point and we don’t want to hold customers back. So we’re blending the science of technology and the magic of design.”
“This has been the biggest change at Adobe in 20 years. It took us 18 months to get CS6 to where it is right now.”
“The three biggest things [Adobe] is focusing on are cloud, mobile screens, and social.” (Adobe announced a social analytics tool just a couple days prior to him saying this)
The Future Of Education Technology
But the moves that companies like Adobe make are what dictates the future of education technology. Where Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft go… others follow. If they all say that mobile platforms are now the most important place to develop software, you can bet dollars to donuts that education technology products will follow suit. So rather than reading tea leaves, just look at what Kevin Lynch said above.
According to Lynch, it’s safe to assume that education technology is only going to get more mobile, social, and in the cloud.
It’ll also, of course, be forever changing. I hope this mega-guide helped you get caught up to at least what Adobe just announced. For the rest of the education technology, I’m afraid you’ll have to just become a regular reader of Edudemic!