As with many of Adobe Creative Suite CS6 applications, Illustrator has been given a revamp with over a dozen key new features. I’ll cover six here, to give you a sampling of what Illustrator can now do better, more easily, and more efficiently.
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Adobe InDesign CS6 has received a variety of updated features to work with digital tablets as well as repurposing content for various media. Alternate layouts as well as the Content Collector Tool rate high on the list. Here’s what I discovered while working within the new version.
Determine how pages and objects are adapted with the layout hub, a place to preview and create changes. Liquid page rules are an efficient way to design for multiple page sizes and orientations.
[Liquid Layout Page setup]
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Photoshop Extended CS6 includes over a dozen new key features. I’ve chosen to feature a handful in this post, the ones that seemed to pop out the most for a photographer/designer.
Precision cropping with overlay guides and custom presets
In Photoshop Extended CS6, images can be changed nondestructively, quicker, and with greater precision by using multiple overlays.
One of the key tools completely updated for Photoshop CS6 is the all-new nondestructive Crop tool. Change the format of your images faster and with greater precision with multiple overlays. The options include Golden Ratio, Golden Spiral, Diagonal, Triangle, Grid, and Rule of Thirds.
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Part of the newest Adobe CS6 collection is Acrobat X Pro, software that lets you create and edit PFD files, share information, and work with rich media. Acrobat X has several new features worth mentioning.
The Acrobat Form Wizard walks you through a series of simple steps to turn an existing form into a fillable PDF form. Whether you scan a paper form or start with a Microsoft Word or Excel file, Acrobat automatically recognizes elements on the page that look like form fields and turns them into fillable electronic fields. You can instantly customize your new form with additional fields, checkboxes, and drop-down menus.
The field order can be rearranged by dragging and dropping them their proper places in the order list, located to the right of the document area.
You can edit a particular field by clicking and typing into a field in the list.
The areas filled in with blue are the electronic form fields. If you prefer to create a form from scratch or based on a template, use Adobe LiveCycle® Designer ES2 software for Windows®, bundled with Acrobat X Pro.
You can post a PDF form directly to your website or use Acrobat to send it to desired recipients by email. Anyone with Adobe Reader (the free version of Acrobat) can fill in and save a form. Acrobat also lets you check responses, add more recipients, remind people to respond, or change the response deadline.
Acrobat automatically compiles data from collected forms into a table for quick review, a great way to both organize and filter responses. Responses can be received either via email attachments, the free Acrobat.com online service, or your internal server, making it no longer necessary to retype or copy information. You can also export the entire data set to a comma-delimited file for further analysis, using spreadsheet or database software.
With Acrobat X Pro, users can collect data from virtually anyone who uses Adobe Reader. Both Reader 9 and X users can save local copies of the forms for their own records. Acrobat X Pro also lets you enable Reader 9 or X users to add an electronic signature to PDF forms.
Acrobat is also well-represented in the mobile device sector. Adobe Reader is available as a free app for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4/4S, iPod Touch (3rd and 4th gen), and iPad, as long as you’re using iOS 4.2.5 or greater. High-quality PDF files can now be created using an iPad with Adobe CreatePDF software. The app supports the following formats: MS Word (docx, doc), Excel (xlsx, xls), PowerPoint (pptx, ppt), Adobe Illustrator (ai), Photoshop (psd), InDesign (indd), images (jpeg, bmp, png, gif, tiff), RTF, Text, WordPerfect, as well as OpenOffice and StarOffice documents.
Creating a portfolio with Acrobat X Pro can include spreadsheets, videos, web pages, several individual PDF documents, live web content (e.g. YouTube videos) or even an entire folder. As well, content can be edited within the program by first double clicking an item, then clicking Open. The item will either open in its native application (if it’s not a PDF file) or open directly in Acrobat Pro X ready to edit. Save the edited item and it will update the next time the portfolio is opened.
Portfolios can be customized with a layout and theme. Colours and background settings can be customized. By clicking Save in the toolbar, Acrobat opens the Save dialog box for naming your PDF portfolio.
Another new feature lets you set advanced conversion options in an Office application. Turn Word headings, Excel worksheet names, or PowerPoint titles into navigational bookmarks.
Other settings in your application, such as attaching source files, retaining links, fitting an Excel spreadsheet on a single page, or preserving PowerPoint animation effects are also possible.
Export to Word and Excel now supports open XML as well as legacy formats. Vector art remains intact and editable. Acrobat X will even save a collection of images from the PDF and export them into a folder so that they can be used in another application (InDesign, Photoshop, etc.).
I wasn’t able to locate the Document Processing section in the Tools area. Not all menus are shown on default. On the top right is a tiny icon that allows you to show or hide certain menus. Once I’d found the Document Processing menu, I was able to add it and export my images.
Designs created here can also be shared with others for consistency. Online file sharing (via SendNow) allows you to both send and track large files from Acrobat directly to other users without the need for FTP or Dropbox.
Action Wizard lets you automate and share routinely used actions to save time, eliminating repeated tasks. Watermarking, creating small files, editing headers and footers, including specific security features, the list goes on. Acrobat also lets users check a document for accessibility via the Accessibility Setup Assistant.
A series of five screens cover settings such as large document visibility, reading order, high contrast colour combinations, choosing to show the keyboard selection cursor, and setting options for screen readers and magnifiers.
There’s a wealth of other features that make this version an update worthy of purchasing. View more Acrobat X Pro features online. I’ve also written about Adobe’s new Creative Cloud, and will be reporting back on Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop Extended in future posts.
Disclosure note for review: Cmply.1
I’ve been looking through the latest Adobe Creative Suite design applications this week (Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop Extended, Acrobat Pro) upon installing them as part of Adobe’s Master Collection.
The biggest new feature (aside from the shiny new interface) is Creative Cloud. Adobe has gone completely online, including a vast series of Adobe TV tutorials to get users up and running with respect to their own software and online service needs.
Once I’d installed the software, a new Creative Cloud services panel appeared, showing several options. The apps are accessible by clicking on the Creative Cloud red icon at the top left.
Each software program can be directly downloaded and installed to your desktop. In other words, users get on-demand access to the Adobe CS6 Master Collection (provided they have a Creative Cloud membership).
I checked into the pricing for a Creative Cloud membership. The free starter plan allows for 2 GB worth of storage. The benefits kick in with the $49.95 per month membership (based on a 12-month commitment; $74.99 on a monthly basis), where the full 20 GB becomes available (current CS customers pay $29.99).
The difference between the two is in the amount of storage space and access to the software. With the 2 GB plan, you’re also allowed 500,000 page views/month, unlimited website usage, unlimited fonts per site, and access to the Typekit library. You’re also able to access 30-day free trials of all CS6 applications, as well as Edge preview and Adobe Muse.
Creative Cloud Files are where your files will be stored in the cloud. Business Catalyst, a web building and hosting service, allows users to host up to five websites as well as get stats on how well the site is performing.
Typekit (acquired last year by Adobe) allows you to access a font library for your website(s).
By purchasing a Creative Cloud membership, your files are in the cloud and accessible via either Mac or PC, as well as on both Android and iPad tablets. 20 GB of storage space is included.
Adding new files is easy: clicking on an empty folder allows you to name it, at which point you can either click on upload to find the file on your desktop or drag and drop the file to the folder. To share the file, select the file within the folder and move the red Private icon to the left so that the blue Public icon is highlighted.
This will allow other users access to the file, but only if they know the URL. When you switch the bar back to Private, it remains invisible to other users.
Files can be permanently deleted inside Creative Cloud if you fill your space to capacity. You can also recover deleted files within the file window via a drop-down menu.
I wanted to learn how a creative person could use Creative Cloud with an iPad. An Adobe Touch app such as Adobe Ideas can create files that will sync and store assets from your software, allowing a client to review what you’re working on. The six apps ($9.99 each) available for both iPad and Android tablets include Photoshop Touch, Debut, Proto, Collage, Ideas, and Kuler. Since Creative Cloud is now fully integrated with these apps, a sketch created on the fly in Adobe Ideas can later be opened in Adobe Illustrator CS6 on your desktop for further refining, bézier curves and all. The files can also be accessed via creativecloud.com.
Adobe’s thought this out pretty thoroughly. Not only are files available to non-Cloud subscribers, but the file information is there as well, including font usage and meta data.
Creative Cloud subscribers will also be notified of software updates; with the one-stop Application Manager panel (shown above), all Adobe software is instantly accessible.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on Acrobat Pro X, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop Extended. Disclosure note for review: Cmply.1
If you’ve ever run into the scenario of being stranded at an airport due to flight delays, or been convinced to stay “just a night longer” while visiting friends, there’s now an app for spontaneous travel decisions like these.
HotelTonight is a last-minute hotel booking app currently available in over 30 American cities. It will launch in Canada on April 26th for the Vancouver and Toronto markets, with more cities to follow. Here’s a great solution to booking for a same-day stay. The app promises to find and book a deeply-discounted (up to 70%) room at one of the hottest local hotels for you. Sounds good so far.
You can scroll through each hotel’s details and book in “just three taps and a swipe.” You’ll have until 2 am to complete the reservation, and will be able to book one to five nights at a time.
This will be great for visiting friends and family who are looking for a great deal and perhaps have already booked their flight weeks earlier, in order to take advantage of a cheaper fare.
This week, I’ve been test-driving the HP Photosmart 6510 e-All-in-One printer. This model forms part of the new revolution in wireless printing, with a wealth of features packing a punch at US/CDN $150.
I like the combination of matte and glossy black finish and sleek design of the printer.
It’s the amount of features that perked my interest in reviewing the 6510 in the first place:
- Automatic two-sided printing
- Access apps directly from the touchscreen for printing recipes, colouring pages, and games without a computer
- Make the most of fun and useful templates for calendars, games, and other projects using HP Quick Forms
- Print photos and documents, make quick copies, scan and get access to apps from print to the web
- Produce lab quality photos; scan using the 3.5 inch colour diagonal screen
- Print on photo quality or plain paper (plus a variety of media types) using the automatic paper tray
- Access online photo libraries
- Onboard memory slots to print photos without a computer
- Uses four individual inks, expandable to high-capacity cartridges to save on usage costs
- Print photos and documents while on the go
- Set preferences to who can access ePrint, a service available as a wireless network
- Integrated wireless networking allows cloud printing from multiple computers
- Access a suite of mobile printing solutions (via connecting the e-All-in-One to a wireless network)
- With AirPrint™, print wirelessly from an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch
- Consumes up to 50% less paper with two-sided printing
- ENERGY STARⓇ qualified
- Utilizes less than one watt of energy in Off mode
For the purpose of experiencing a typical install, I’ve outlined the steps I took in getting the 6510 ready for action.
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