Adobe Offers Sneak Peek at CS4

Adobe’s next generation of Creative Suite (CS) graphic design, Web development and video editing applications are edging closer to official release. The company’s Adobe Labs site has posted publicly available betas of Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Soundbooth.

Dreamweaver is Adobe’s application for Web design and development. Fireworks is for prototyping, and Soundbooth is for audio creation and editing. Anyone can download and launch the betas, but they will be only active for 48 hours. After that, only Creative Suite 3 owners will be able to continue using the betas until the next release of Creative Suite ships.

“Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Soundbooth are the major applications we’re unveiling as public betas before the next release of Creative Suite,” noted David Burkett, vice president of product management for Adobe Creative Suite.

“This early release software gives our loyal customers a taste of the radical workflow enhancements that we have in store, as we redefine how designers and developers collaborate to deliver stand-out digital experiences,” he added.

New in Dreamweaver

The new Dreamweaver public beta includes a new Related Files Toolbar and Code Navigator feature that lets users dive into complex pages that include HTML (hypertext markup language) files, links to JavaScript documents and integrated XML (extensible markup language) data, according to Adobe. Users can see related files in the Related Files Toolbar. With Code Navigator, they can make changes to code that appears in various parts of a document just with one update.

The update to Dreamweaver also features a new Live View mode, which is based on the open source rendering engine Webkit, Adobe said. It lets users see content in real-world, real-time environments without having to leave Dreamweaver to preview in a browser. This feature also gives users the ability to freeze JavaScript language to debug interactive pages as well as view and interact with Flash content.

New in Fireworks

The Fireworks beta now sports a new user interface that’s consistent with other CS applications. Plus, users can now export design comps as Adobe PDF (portable document format) documents for enhanced client communication, Adobe said.

The Fireworks beta is also now compatible with Adobe AIR, HTML, Adobe Flash and Adobe Flex Builder, which will let users design once and then deploy to whichever application platform a client is using.

New in Soundbooth

The Soundbooth beta now includes new multiple track support for editing multiple audio clips on a number of tracks. Users also have a new ability to match volume levels across audio files and preview MP3 compression settings before saving them. A new speech recognition feature can create a transcript of dialogue tracks that are then word- and phrase-searchable.

To continue using the betas beyond the 48 hour period, users will have to unlock the betas with their CS3 product serial numbers, which will make them active until CS4 ships. Beta access will also let users provide feedback via Adobe Labs for future product development, Adobe says.

Dreamweaver and Fireworks betas run on multiple operating systems, including Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X version 10.4.11 or later on PowerPC G5 or Intel-based Macintosh systems. The Soundbooth beta runs on all those systems except for PowerPC-based Macintosh systems.

Adobe Still Mum on CS4

“We haven’t announced any other details about the next release of Creative Suite,” Vanessa Rios, a spokesperson for Adobe, told TechNewsWorld. “What I can tell you is, in the past, Creative Suite is on an 18- to 24-month life cycle.”

While the Adobe CS applications can be purchased separately, they were released simultaneously as part of CS3 on March 27, 2007. If Adobe’s 18- to 24-month cycle holds, Adobe could release CS4 as early as September — though a release date could easily slip into 2009. After the release of CS4, Adobe will likely offer the new product versions separately for individual purchase outside of the Creative Suite bundle.

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