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30 Days of CS5: Conclusion

This wraps up our 30 Days of CS5 series. Although we’ve covered lots of new ground, we’re still really only scratching the surface of how these features can be implemented into your workflow to help you work faster and expand your creative options. Those deeper posts will continue over weeks and months to come, particularly as the new Adobe Developer Platform becomes widely available later this summer. These tools, used to create the Wired iPad app, may help realize some of the potential offered by the interactive tools in InDesign and close synergies among Flash, Fireworks, Flash Catalyst and InDesign.

You may also be surprised to learn that 30 days was not nearly enough time to cover all the applications in CS5. Soundbooth, Encore, Contribute, and OnLocation received nary a mention, while other top features in Photoshop like repousee and puppet warp. Hopefully we can address those over the summer.

Looking forward
As I compare the state of visual communication (photography, design, technology) today to the launch of CS4 just 18 months ago, much has changed. Obviously, the economy has negatively impacted the publishing industry, but looking longer-term, I see a renewed interest in long-form journalism, exciting new methods of publishing photos and videos and a willingness from the publishing industry to try new things.

On the technology side, I see two main trends, simplification and convergence—they are emerging. Software tools are becoming more sophisticated and new improvements aim to simplify the experience rather than add new capabilities. The Code Snippets in Flash, Animation features in InDesign and CMS integration in Dreamweaver are examples of this trend. Outside the Creative Suite, successes like WordPress for inexpensive blog and site creation, Sorenson 360 and Ooyala make it simple and affordable to publish high-quality video content, and the iPad, whose instruction manual is really no more than one business-card sized sheet of paper showing the On/Off and Home buttons.

This trend toward simplification is a double-edged sword. Some professionals built their business on things being hard to learn, with a technical skill being the primary divider between amateur and professional. As these barriers are eliminated, these professionals will have to adapt or suffer as their market disappears. For professionals who focus on providing the creative process, the imagination that fuels business growth, these new technological tools amplify these individual’s ability to serve their clients. And for amateurs, being able to do more with less expensive tools in a shorter period of time will be a boon for them.

The second trend, convergence, is embodied in the hybrid SLR camera and the iPad. Hybrid SLRs allow photographers and videographers to use one tool that can effectively perform two jobs. These cameras have gone from clunky to quite mature in a remarkably short period of time. So much so, that the season finale of House M.D. was shot on hybrid SLRs, less than two years after the technology was first introduced.

The iPad is a convergence technology in that it wraps together the best features for consuming content and Web browsing, into a simple, booklike form factor. Although today, it is a bit of a platypus when compared to laptops (keyboard is too small) or printed books (battery life doesn’t compare), I suspect that the iPad, and devices like it will increasingly displace these other technologies.

What I’ve found most remarkable about writing this series is how well Adobe has anticipated these trends and is providing tools to accommodate this evolution. Aside from the Flash vs. HTML5 episode, most of the technologies I’ve covered in this series address convergence, interoperability and simplification. As creative professionals are asked to do more and create for new mediums, it helps to have tools designed by those who are anticipating the steps and helping ease the way.


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