5. Illustrator CS6
Again, Adobe Illustrator is the best vector graphics editor available. Much like Photoshop, it has no real competition, especially since Adobe purchased (and killed) Freehand. Admittedly, we have never really gotten into the whole “3D space in Illustrator” thing, but other than that, it is one of the three applications we use the most. What is interesting about illustrator is that it has some “hidden” capabilities that people may not be aware of until they begin working seriously on web design. More specifically, we have found Illustrator to be one of the best tools for Web page design. Its robust, well-established user interface and tools, combined with the relatively new “pixel preview” feature enable web designers to create whole webpages in Illustrator and then slice it up and import into Fireworks or Photoshop. Although web design is basically pixel art, it is extremely tedious to work with vectors in both Fireworks and Photoshop. There is nothing worse than realizing a bar or button is a few pixels smaller than it should be, and that is where vector editing comes in. Although Illustrator already has some great effects that can be applied to vector graphics like drop shadow, inner shadow and round corners, it would need many more to become a fully-fledged, self-sufficient web design tool. Although both Photoshop and especially Fireworks have their place in web design, it would be really awesome if Adobe decided to make Illustrator stronger in this area. For web designers, we suggest giving Illustrator and its pixel preview a try. The results provide a pleasant surprise. Just be sure to export work into PNG rather than using the “Save As” command because, for some reason, the export gives superior quality output. 5.1 What Is New
A long awaited feature has finally arrived - Illustrator finally supports gradients on strokes. This feature is not as “corny” as one might think. It is almost a necessity when designing web elements, and is also used for some very sophisticated vector art. What is still missing (but was already present in Freehand MX) is the ability to apply multiple properties to a single stroke. We are not sure why Adobe did not implement this magnificent idea, perhaps it was due to technical reasons.Say goodbye to Illustrator pattern scripts - the new Pattern creation panel is excellent. Using “pixel preview” is recommended when creating web-friendly patterns.
There have been great strides forward in Image Tracing as well, boosting already existing tracing tools. This feature will either eliminate or reduce the need for 3rd party tracing tools. Pattern Creation is the third important feature in Illustrator CS6 and, considering it is a brand new feature, it really works as advertised. The new pattern control panel will be obviously extended over time, but it is already powerful enough to create patterns without need for gimmicks like applying double “Transform” effects.Gradients are either horrible or brilliant. Same with strokes on gradients. This feature will be used both to create brand new stuff and enable faster web button creation. Now all we need is the fantastic “strokes with layers” feature back from Freehand MX! (Those who know what it was will probably agree with me).
5.2 User Interface
Quite a large number of additions and tweaks in Illustrator CS6 are in the user interface. The UI was historically one of Illustrator’s weakest points, especially compared to other CS applications. Many panels have been enhanced, and as mentioned before, the UI has 4 grays to choose from.
Illustrator now also uses the Mercury Performance System. Natively built for 64-bit systems, the performance boost is most visible when working with very large files and when applying complex effects onto vector graphics.6. Adobe InDesign
If Photoshop enabled Adobe to become the dominant graphics design software platform, InDesign is the application that nailed it. We used to be avid fans of QuarkXPress, but InDesign CS2 simply forced us to switch, because it was too good not to. It built upon the foundations of PageMaker, avoided the mistakes of QuarkXPress, and implemented features from Photoshop. These were the keys to success of InDesign. It provided a tool that finally enabled graphics designers to create layouts they wanted, without the need for super-expensive 3rd party plug-ins and programs. There is a reason it has become the industry standard.
Honestly, there is not much improvement left to go in DTP when talking about print. PostScript, OpenType, PDF and many other groundbreaking technologies are already well established and well developed, and are integrated seamlessly into InDesign. Digital publishing (ePublishing) is a completely different kind of beast though. This is the direction that InDesign, starting with CS 5.5 and now continuing in CS6 is moving towards, while not neglecting its print production capabilities in the process. 6.1 Folio
Digital publishing stopped being “the future” this year. Not only did Amazon’s eBook sales overtake printed book sales, but the introduction of iPad 3 with its Retina display became the final step in digital media catching up to print in terms of display quality. What is still unclear is what the new standard or standards for digital publishing will be. Although Adobe’s .folio is not an industry standard yet, there is not much in the way of competition. Even at this early stage, it is probably pretty safe to say that Folio will become the new PDF. (We will write more about enhancements to PDF in the Acrobat X Pro chapter). Luckily for us, Adobe is known for setting their own standards pretty high, rather than waiting for the competition to show them how stuff is done.
So what the heck is Folio? Much like PDF, Folio is a proprietary self-sufficient multi-platform container file that contains a layout designed in InDesign. Although the files are created on desktop machines, a Folio file’s final destination will be iOS, Android, and Kindle mobile devices. The actual code is HTML5, CSS3 and probably some other stuff Adobe has not discussed, but the important thing is that it really works on all platforms and really gets displayed and viewed on those platforms the same way as while it is being created in InDesign. One major difference between PDF and Folio is that Folio contains DRM, so in the Adobe Content Viewer one can view only unpublished Folio documents. The final destination of every Folio file is ultimately to get up to Adobe’s servers, where it gets wrapped into a self-sufficient App format and finally gets distributed via Google Play, the iOS AppStore, or Amazon. You will immediately notice that the Pages panel can now contain more than one layout (in this case two), separate for each screen size and orientation. Folio documents can hold only one screen size with up to two orientations. Uploading (export) of Folio files is done by the panel shown on the right, and the process requires logging onto Adobe servers.
The other major difference between PDF and Folio is that Folio files can contain complex interactive elements, as well as multiple layouts within one single file. The possibilities for both are limited only by budget and creativity (and file size). This brings us to the new features of InDesign.6.2 Liquid Layout and Alternate Layout
Most of the new features in InDesign CS6 are related to Folio and ePublishing in general. Documents can be now created in a classical environment (strict page sizes), they can be liquid, or there can be multiple layouts for the same document. There are now two ways InDesign can treat objects (be it text, images, or interactive elements): static, as it has been until now, or anchor-based. The new anchor-based object placement system is essential for both Liquid and Alternate layouts. The differences are as follows.
A Liquid layout
behaves exactly like a liquid layout web page would: it looks different when the screen or browser gets resized or when viewed in fullscreen on different resolutions. It is best used if the purpose of the Folio file is to be viewed in fullscreen on various mobile devices that vary wildly in terms of screen resolution and format. This type of Folio file has only one layout - the liquid layout.
An Alternate layout
is more rigid, and is designed to provide two orientations: landscape and portrait. Anchor points are still used, but the format (16:10, 16:9, 4:3 etc.) is fixed and the positioning and size of the content is dependent on the orientation of the viewing device.You will immediately notice that the Pages panel can now contain more than one layout (in this case two), separate for each screen size and orientation. Folio documents can hold only one screen size with up to two orientations. Uploading (export) of Folio files is done by the panel shown on the right, and the process requires logging onto Adobe servers.
Although one single InDesign file can contain an “indefinite” number of layouts, exported Folio files can contain either one Liquid layout or two Alternate layouts. So, for example, when designing an Alternate layout fullscreen magazine for Galaxy Tab 10.1 and iPad, one must make two folio files, one for each screen format.6.3 Digital Publishing
Publishing Folio documents is simple, although not very intuitive at first. One part of it is integrated into InDesign itself (users must log-in to Adobe servers from within InDesign), while management and distribution is done on Adobe’s web. Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite
product (line) is sold separately and without it Folio files can be shared only by a limited amount of people (usually colleagues and potential investors).
InDesign now also supports (exports into) EPUB v3.0. 7. Adobe Acrobat X Pro
PDF is the de facto standard for internet documents. It is printable, legible, zoomable, scrollable, searchable, sign-able, encrypt-able, mail-able and every other -able that one can imagine. Illustrator, InDesign, and every other application that supports it can save into PDF, but Adobe Acrobat X Pro is the ultimate PDF utility tool. It is used for everything from checking files in print production workflows to creating fill-able forms. Once the layout is completed and uploaded from the InDesign’s Folio panel, the workflow continues on Adobe’s Acrobat.com servers.
There is one “new” level to PDF documents that will likely be used more in the future, and that is the fact that Adobe Readers slowly but surely have begun to support InDesign’s features that make PDF documents interactive. It does not support just hyperlinks and embedded videos, but also custom-made buttons, Flash animations, embedded HTML etc. InDesign’s “export to interactive PDF” is now more powerful than ever, making the creator of the PDF document dictate even the behavior of the Reader (for example, if “open fullscreen” is checked during export, the client’s Reader will open the PDF in fullscreen. Since PDFs are DRM-free, it would not be a surprise if more publications begin to embrace interactive PDFs (along with Folio and ePub) as their medium of choice. Since Acrobat X has been available since 2010, we will not delve further into its features.
Next week we finish the review of Creative Suite CS6 by taking on the video production and web development tools.
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