A few days ago Adobe held a Creative Cloud launch event to showcase what was next 2014. After watching the keynote address, I must admit, as a designer, I was feeling pretty underwhelmed. Here’s why.
A Little Background
First, I admit that I am a fan of Adobe and their products and have been using them for over 20 years. Over this time I’ve seen many Adobe software releases, been to many Adobe launch events and have even been quite excited at times—especially with the release of InDesign 2.0! I quite like the concept of the Creative Cloud and, unlike many others, I have no issues with the subscription service. In fact, to me it make sense, I really love the fact that my software is always up to date and TypeKit is just plain awesome. However, after last Thursday’s keynote address (I watched the on-demand video version), I was left wondering what all the fanfare was about—especially as a designer.
The Keynote Address for Designers
Adobe made a massive deal about how the new updates to Photoshop and Illustrator would make us more productive. I’m not sure if I was missing something, but I felt as though they were clutching at straws with this one. Let’s run through it.
Overall, I didn’t find too much excitement here. Certainly nothing that would make my average day any more productive.
- Live font preview. You can now toggle through the font menu and see each typeface applied to the selected type Layer in real time. A nice feature but something that has been possible in InDesign for years.
- Smart Object Improvements. Smart objects can now be linked so that if the external file is updated/changed, the placed version will automatically update. This works much the same way as placed graphics do within InDesign, so nothing really new here. Not sure why this has taken so long to implement?
- 3D Graphics. It was demonstrated how to create a 3D scene by placing a car within various landscapes. The results were OK, but far from being realistic—the finished artwork looked like a scene out of a video game. Plus, I can’t see a huge demand for 3D scene generation (for graphic designers) anytime soon.
- 3D Printing. There was quite a big section devoted to Photoshop’s 3D printing capabilities. While, I believe that we will see more 3D printing within the graphic design sector, it will be a niche market. 3D printers are a long way from being able to produce cost-effective, large quantity production runs. At this point, they are mostly used for prototyping purposes within the industrial design sector.
- Focus Mask. Photoshop will now automatically select the in-focus area of a photo. I can see this coming in useful maybe once or twice a year? Additionally, the photograph would have to be just right for this to work effectively.
Some nice little changes to the core functions of Illustrator in regard to the creation of bezier shapes. However, nothing major.
- Live Shapes. You can now quickly modify rectangle corners independently which will retain attributes when scaled or rotated. Handy.
- Pen Tool preview. You will now see the path you are drawing before you place the next anchor point. This is really great for beginners but not a great deal of use for the seasoned pro.
- Anchor Point enhancement. Adjusting curves now seems much easier with new anchor point controls the ability to change corner points to smooth without modifying the overall shape of the object. A nice refinement.
Here we go again. Create a website without coding. I put off learning HTML and CSS for years and spent many hours learning WYSIWYG HTML editors such as Adobe GoLive and Dreamweaver only to discover that I couldn’t problem-solve issues or do what I really needed to do. When I finally did learn HTML and CSS it was much easier than I thought, and didn’t take long—much less time than learning Dreamweaver! This has allowed me to do so much more, such as create WordPress themes; use Frameworks such as Bootstrap and Foundation; implement any jQuery plugin/effect I want; apply the latest web technologies to my sites; and most importantly, problem solve and debug cross browser compatibility issues. If you seriously want to be able to create websites for your clients you’ll need to learn HTML and CSS – It’s not hard at all, trust me! Don’t waste your time learning another application.
There were certainly some promising concepts demonstrated during this section. I could see myself using Adobe Sketch and Line for the conceptual stages of the design process. Especially if paired with the Adobe Ink and Line which is basically a glorified pressure sensitive Wacom pen and ruler. The best part, anything created in these two applications can be sent directly to Photoshop or Illustrator via the Cloud. However, the Ink and Slide combination will set you back a US$199.00, which seems a little pricey…
Photoshop Mix was also demonstrated which is basically a dumbed down tablet version of Photoshop. It has some nice features, such as creating masks/selections with your finger and the ability to make photographic composites. Just like with Sketch and Line, anything that is made in Mix can be sent to Photoshop via the Cloud. Again, I can see this being used for generating quick concepts before creating finished pieces in Photoshop.
- The introduction of a new stock library, which works much the same way as TypeKit. May have some use for generating mockups and will be great for student working on course projects. However, I’m guessing these images will be drastically over used.
- InDesign didn’t’ make it into the keynote address. However, there are some nice improvements surrounding eBook creation.
- There were also demonstrations regarding video editing and photography. I don’t dabble in any of these areas, so I can’t really comment on what was presented.
Installing the Updated Software
This is the thing that annoyed me the most. Most of what was presented was worthy of an incremental update—not a completely new version. I was a little peeved when I discovered that I had to install a completely new version of each application and then uninstall the older versions. Also, any plugins would need to be installed again. Can’t see how this is making me more productive Adobe!
I get the feeling Adobe is stuck halfway between the old world of pre-bought software with major upgrades every 2-3 years and the new world of a cloud based subscription service. It seems as though, they are concerned that we expect a major upgrade cycle like years gone before. Since the Creative Cloud began, there have been constant incremental improvements to each software application, which I’ve been really happy with. These have been easily installed though the Creative Cloud panel and I have been presented with videos that explain the new features when I next open the software. Easy. Simple. Quick. Great! Why the need for all the fanfare and completely new installations for 2014? In fact, if this update was treated like the ones before, I wouldn’t have written this article…