Macworld is reporting that Adobe has discontinued operations of the GoLive product. GoLive was a visual HTML editor that, when launched, was popular with the designer crowd. The integration with the other Adobe applications (PhotoShop, Illustrator, etc.) was pretty good and overall the application did pretty well.
It’s interesting to note that in the late 90s visual editors were all the rage. Today it seems hand coding is back in style. Those who don’t handcode seem to use tools like WordPress where no HTML is required to get up and running.
Today we will take a look at a photo editor that believes it is better than the current market leaders. And I think it is a pretty powerful piece of software. Called Xara Xtreme Pro, it comes to us from London and offers an interesting combination of the best of Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark and Flash in one easy-to-use package.
Since this is a review for a web designer, we will only focus on the features that will help someone in creating web-ready graphics. The app is strong for illustration and desktop publishing but that is better covered by someone who has more experience than I in these areas.
Let’s start with the Flash capabilities. Over the years, I have reviewed Flash versions as well as worked with flash designers and developers. Let’s be honest… Flash is not a program that you can pick up in a day. Creating nice looking, smooth animations (even basic ones) takes a lot of time and effort and patience. With Xara Xtreme Pro, creating flash animations is very easy. Basically all you need to do is create the key frames (those that are in the states you want) and Xara creates all of the inbetween frames to make the flash movie smooth.
On the web graphics side, Xara does a good job of making sure your files are saved in the most optimal format for quick downloading by your users. That is one of the things I don’t like in Photoshop. There is a save as/save for web option but which is the best for this specific graphic? JPG?PNG?GIF? Xara takes care of it for you. I was able to create some nice looking buttons and they looked pretty professional. Of course I am not a designer so they were not perfect, but good enough for an average personal web site.
Lastly, the photo editing capabilities are good. I compare them to Paint Shop Pro in its ease of edit. Crop, Rotate, Resize, color, red eye, etc. are all included as is the ability to add text, borders, shadows.
So how do I sum up Xara Xtreme Pro? Easy. It’s a mashup. They have the best features of Photoshop, Quark, Illustrator, Flash and Paint Shop Pro together in a package for $199. Will it replace these other tools? No. Design houses will probably stick to the status quo. But for either someone who wants to get into design, a freelancer or independent designer, this is a perfect solution for them. Especially since you can import and export from the other guys mentioned. The only other negative is that there is no Mac version. Since most designers use a Mac, they are losing the opportunity to switch these users to Xara. So I think many of the pro designers will be out in terms of customer base. But if you use Windows you are in luck. They offer a 30-day demo so give that a try and post a comment in the forum about your experiences with the tool.
Suitcase Fusion is a combination of Suitcase and Font Reserve. In addition to the easy to use interface, Suitcase has launched a number of new features. Suitcase Fusion is a professional font manager targeted at the professional who is working with type and fonts. Suitcase Fusion represents a seamless, dependable tool to manage your fonts, no matter how many you use. No matter how many documents you work with. No matter how demanding your workflow is.
Included in the delivery of Suitcase Fusion is a version of Font Doctor 7 (Morrison Software) for checking and repairing your fonts. Suitcase Fusion is a single-license product specifically for Mac OS X. Unfortunately, with the launch of Suitcase Fusion the support for the Classic version vanished.
Helpful Tip: After upgrading, keep the “Suitcase Bridge” and “Suitcase Extension” of your Suitcase X1 in the system folder/system extensions. That way the fonts are ready to be used, if supported by Classic.
Suitcase Fusion supports Mac OS X (version 10.3.9 or higher) and needs a Macintosh G4 or faster. 30 Megabytes of free disk space and 256 Megabyte RAM, as well as a CD-ROM drive for installation and setup.
Efficient font management is achieved through features such as Font Vault or Type Face Activation. The Font Vault is a central font repository that houses all your fonts, while the Type Face Activation safely adds your fonts to the Font Vault and checks if there are any defective typefaces within your library. Furthermore, Suitcase can automatically activate fonts that you need for a specific project or document. That way you don’t ever have to worry about manually activating them.
The Font Vault exposes users to highly professional font management. Font Vault is the manageable repository interconnected with the Suitcase Fusion database. This truly eradicates conflicts, especially if you have more than one version of a font with the same PostScript name. Font Vault supports the Font Sense-Technology for the precise identification of fonts and the efficient handling of multiple fonts on your disk.
Suitcase Fusion automatically splits up a font suitcase if any single font of the set has been added to the Font Vault. Also new to the product is the ability to work with multiple previews, collecting fonts for export/output and also organizing your fonts within nested fonts and applying keywords. Suitcase Fusion lets you create an Application Set. Application Sets makes working with fonts easy. Fonts stored within these sets are always automatically activated whenever a specific application is started. Attributes and the classification through keywords (for example project name, client) come in very handy. Exploring your fonts, searching and finding them is a lot easier and a huge benefit and time saver in the end.
(Suitcase Fusion offers font exportimg, type faces, fonts in (nested) sets, font families simply by dragging-and-dropping them.)
Suitcase interface; View at Font Sense identifier-code, Font Vault activation and Quicktype
keywords and allocation: example cape arcona
Preview at various font styles, showing “ABC 123” characters
My favourite features
Workflow optimization through Font Sense: Suitcase Fusion utilizes a technology called “Font Sense” to analyze and identify fonts. Fonts are identified on the basis of their kerning and the virtual outline of each character. Beyond the font name, these unique identifiers are used to prevent conflicts among fonts. Fonts with the same names are being kept apart nicely! This feature also applies to fonts embedded within EPS or PDF documents. The Font Sense technology is also available as a plugin for Quark Xpress, Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator.
Auto Activation has been improved since the latest version and is a real time saver, because you don’t have to activate them manually anymore. You open Adobe InDesign for example, and it will activate the needed fonts instantly.
Helpful Tip: In case you are not installing a new version of Suitcase Fusion, make sure that you remove the old version to avoid problems. Definitely go through the Quick Start Guide prior to your installation. It has a number of really helpful tips. For example the way OS X handles fonts or conflicts. In addition, you get an introduction to the Auto-Activation and its settings.
This review will focus on Photoshop CS 2 from the web designer/developer point of view. When it comes to creating web art, Photoshop still is king. There is nothing else on the market that even comes close. Yes, there are other tools, but there are no other industry-accepted tools. It is important to consider image output just as image creation and manipulation. All printers accept “psd” formatted files, and exchanging files between web designers is quick and easy. Even transferring a Photoshop file between the mac and the pc is effortless (except for potential font issues). Let’s start with a simple statement; Photoshop is King of web design applications.
I will start this review with the installation process. If I had to rate the program solely on the installation process, I would give it 1 star. This is based on having to install six (6) total cds. Why can’t Adobe provide the installation on a single DVD? If their argument is about piracy, that is hooey, their activation technology is rock-solid. (this is the installation process for the CS2 Suite, this review is about Photoshop and general Suite elements only)
One of the features I like from a web design standpoint is being able to save a file natively to PDF. This allows for easy comp creation and submission to the client for review.
Love the font samples — finally you can see a preview of the font without having to play “which font was that”.
The next big new piece of Photoshop is actually not part of Photoshop at all. It is called “Adobe Bridge”. Basically it is the new file browser for Adobe applications and really is well done. The Bridge allows you to view all of the details about your photos and easily organize them. I like being able to view all of the characteristics of a digital photo or psd file by just clicking on the file. No application to open, all of the information is presented. Changing the size of the thumbnails is easy, using the Size slider, you can make them any size you want. You can also rate photos from 1-5 which is great for weeding out the poor images from your camera’s memory card.
One of the changes that you might be shocked by is the layers palette change. You can now Shift-click to select layers, or Shift-click layers in the image window. But the link column is gone. Takes a bit of getting used to. You can still highlight multiple layers and right-click to link.
The tools palette has remained basically unchanged. Which is a good thing considering that many designers use the keyboard shortcuts so any change could become a major issue. Probably the number one feature that Adobe is promoting in Photoshop CS2 is the new Vanishing Point filter. It allows you to edit, clone, and retouch images in perfect perspective.
Another great feature in CS2 is Image Warp. Image Warp is similar to Text Warp but for images! So take an image and wrap it around a product for quick product mockups or wrap a building or car easily.
Adobe ImageReady CS2 continues to be bundled as a separate application within Photoshop CS2. There is tighter integration of the two products in this release. Of course, today it seems that Flash has become a designer’s first choice for animation. I don’t hear the same buzz about ImageReady that I did 2-3 years ago.
There is a lot of support within Photoshop CS including many tutorials on how to use the features of Photoshop CS. It sure does seem that a lot of the links within the help push you to the ExpertSupport (fee) or to training cds/dvds (fee). A bit over the top if you ask me.
One thing of note, the specs needed to run Photoshop CS — this comes straight off the package so you probably should look to have at least 30% more to be safe (windows version):
Pentium III or 4 processor
384MB Ram (1 GB recommended)
3GB of disk space – more for additional add-ons, 1GB on primary disk
1024×768 resolution (what designer is still working in this)
Photoshop is still King. I suggest that anyone looking to buy a new packaged version of Photoshop, get this version. The new features make it worth it over picking up a CS or 7.0 version at a reduced price on eBay and the like. If you are already using CS or 7.0 and are just working on standard web design, I am not sure it is worth the upgrade. Adobe has lowered the upgrade price to $149 which might just be worth it for the new features described above.
When designing a website, you want to set yourself apart from others by using unique layouts, elements, graphics and other things that identify you or your business. Same applies for a logotype and other elements of your (corporate) design. Colors are a big part of this! You can either use colors to get a certain effect, or you can mix various colors to arouse a specific mood and feeling associated with these colors.
For example yellow reflects joy, summer, hope. Brown reflects tradition, stability, and calmness. Orange is best known for its energetic feel. The effect that colors have are enormous, and that’s why you should spend a good amount of thinking about the “right” color scheme for your next project. While you don’t need to know everything about color theory and color psychology, you should at least pick colors that go well together and form a complete image in the end.
Color Schemer Studio is a good helper with this task and even if you have no idea what color scheme to go with on your next website, Color Schemer Studio gives you hints and tools to get started from scratch. Furthermore it is obvious that you can easily store and save your palettes and color schemes for later use in other programs or arrange colors within Color Schemer Studio.
You get started with the color wheel by selecting a base color. Through many ways of adjusting colors, color settings or simply by playing with color variations you will have no trouble getting started.
Once you are within the color wheel, Color Schemer Studio offers a broad range of possibilities to manage, define and detail your preselection of colors. From different palettes, websafe mode, Color Harmonies and Suggested Colors you are offered many possibilities that Photoshop or other graphic applications do not have built in. Having defined a color in more detail, you can add it to your Favorites, compare it to others and more!
Another neat function of this software is the Photo Schemer. You can easily add a photograph and the software will give you the color scheme of this picture. This is especially helpful if you want to capture the mood of a certain picture and rework this into a color scheme.
Besides features such as color blindness simulations, smooth exchange between programs (you can import Photoshop color palettes or export HTML color sheets and more!) this software also goes beyond your computer and extends online: you can share, rate and download other users color schemes and have another great option of finding schemes. Download them, load them into your software and start adjusting to your needs! This setup is very flexible and it’s great to see a community grow around this software.
About the only thing that I missed was a more profound preview option. Right now your project-preview possibilities are limited to a small window which is called “Quick Preview” and is meant to apply a color scheme to a sample project or sample setup. I would hope that in the future you will be able to import EPS or JPG graphics and style or colorize them directly within this software instead of having to deal with this very basic preview-example as currently.
The bottom line is: It is certainly a breeze to work with Color Schemer Studio. The workflow seems to be streamlined and this tool is great for everybody who needs results quickly, efficient and without studying color theories. As it works for PC and Mac computers everybody can access this tool and enjoy colors, color schemes and probably will have better results for your next project!