Today, Adobe announced some exciting new features in Creative Cloud, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Muse. Of particular interest to a lot of designers are the updates to Photoshop, while teams and agencies will be particularly interested in Adobe's new Creative Cloud Team subscriptions.
Despite the fact that Creative Cloud has only been available for a few months, there are well over 200,000 subscribers, with 80% choosing the annual subscription. The constant stream of innovation that Creative Cloud memberships provide over the standard licenses make it an attractive offering for a lot of designers.
New features in Photoshop
Of particular use to a lot of designers are the updates that will be shipping to Photoshop Creative Cloud users. While some of the additions may be more useful to photographers than web designers, other features are sure to be hugely beneficial to designers.
Although almost all of the new features in Photoshop are exclusively available to Creative Cloud users, there is one feature that's rolling out to Creative Suite purchasers, too. That's new support for HiDPI and Retina Displays. This feature is also being released in Illustrator at the same time. This improved support for high-resolution images will be really useful to designers as Retina images become more commonplace in web design.
Enhancements have been made to the new crop tools, to make them easier to use. These will be great for users who might have found the new crop tools to be a little less user friendly than the old tools.
Of particular interest to photographers and those who do a lot of photo retouching is the new ability to use Smart Objects with Blur Gallery and Liquify filters. That means these effects can now be used non-destructively, and reverted or edited at any time. This is a huge advantage over previous versions, where your only option if you wanted to preserve the original image's integrity was to work with a layer copy or a file copy. These smart object improvements even work with video.
Another great new feature that's being added to Photoshop is conditional Actions. Conditional statements, otherwise known as if-then statements, can fill a lot of designers with dread — developers are generally more comfortable with them — in this case they're straightforward and easy to implement. They can be particularly useful if you want to, say, apply a different filter or watermark to an image depending on whether it's portrait or landscape oriented.
A lot of word processing and publishing programs, like InDesign, allow you to define default styles for characters and paragraphs. This is particularly handy if you're working on a number of separate files that all need to have consistent styles. Now, Photoshop lets you do the same thing: define your own default paragraph and character styles. And of course you can still define separate styles within templates if you want (which won't be overridden by the default style).
Developers will be pleased to hear about the addition of CSS support in Photoshop; in the past, developers had to hand-code CSS based on PSD files sent to them by designers, which often included a ton of checking and re-checking to make sure things like font sizes and line heights were consistent. No more. The newest Photoshop Creative Cloud release includes the ability to copy CSS on a per-layer or layer-group basis and paste it into your code editor of choice. That includes things like type layers or vector layers. The CSS won't include positioning data (as that generally needs more specific attention than things like font sizes or creating rounded rectangles).
One of my favorite JDI features in the newest Photoshop is the ability to import swatches from CSS, HTML, and SVG files. It's a simple addition, but could prove to be a huge time saver for designers working with existing color palettes in websites or other designs.
Another useful JDI addition is the ability to make fine adjustments to anchor points with your spacebar while creating paths. It's a small improvement, but one that will likely solve a lot of headaches for designers.
Some improvements have been made to Photoshop Extended, too, with improved 3D effects, image-based lighting enhancements, and enhanced details for textures with normal map generation.
New features in Muse for mobile designs
Adobe Muse, which is exclusively available to Creative Cloud subscribers, has been very well-received among a lot of designers. In fact, 40% of Creative Cloud subscribers have downloaded Muse.
Muse will now be offering support for creating mobile and tablet versions of a website. This is a huge deal for designers using Muse (or those who were maybe holding off on using Muse due to this limitation).
Desktop Sync officially launches
Desktop Sync has been in public preview for a while now, but it's about to officially launch. You get 20 GB of storage space, and it simplifies syncing your files to the Cloud.
All you have to do is drag and drop files to your shared folder and you'll have access to them via your Cloud account from any device where you access that account. This also makes it easier to sync files for sharing.
New offerings for teams
This is possibly one of the most exciting additions to Creative Cloud: team accounts. These accounts will include everything from the individual accounts, including all the same services and desktop tools.
One big advantage to the team accounts vs the individual ones is the increase in storage space. With individual accounts, you get 20GB, but with team accounts, each user gets 100GB.
You can create private workgroups within your team account, so projects can be easily shared with just the appropriate team members, rather than everyone.
There's no limit on the number of team members you can add (you can even create a team account with just one member). Of course, for huge teams (with say, more than 1,000 members), Adobe offers Creative Cloud Enterprise accounts, which are custom-tailored for your specific organization.
One of the best parts of team accounts, beyond the additional storage space, is the expert support you can get. Each user will receive two one-on-one phone and web support sessions with an Adobe expert. That means if they're running into an issue with a project, or need advice on how to best do something in a Creative Cloud product, they can get expert advice. It's similar in concept to Apple's Genius Bar, but all online.
Exclusive training opportunities
The training opportunities that will now exist within Creative Cloud make it a really attractive offering for both beginning and expert Adobe users. Since Creative Cloud includes access to virtually every application Adobe offers, it's likely that users will want to learn more about at least some of those offerings.
With these exclusive training videos, from some of the best trainers in the business, mean you can easily expand your skills without ever leaving the Creative Cloud ecosystem. Some of this content is entirely unavailable outside of Creative Cloud.
Adobe plans to continue offering more value to their partner ecosystem in the future, to.
With regular updates like this coming from Adobe, Creative Cloud membership is quickly becoming a "must". Especially considering some features released to Creative Cloud may or may not be released in the classic versions of Adobe's products.
What did you think of the Create Now Live event? And Adobe's new product updates? Let us know in the comments.