adobe shows off cs5.5

But can it sing? Judging by the handout highlights, it’s pretty clear we’ve moved well beyond desktop publishing. When I joined two dozen or so other invitation only attendees in Orlando April 5 for an Adobe technology sneak peek, bets at the $2 window were on a new full version Creative Suite release. Instead, a recalibrated release timetable was rolled out along with a CS5 dot-five version upgrade, company insight into areas of major focus, and a show and tell review of CS5’s major product (mainly Photoshop) improvements.

it slices, it dices, all very well

The two-hour session, held in an anteroom at the Seaworld Renaissance Orlando, was hosted by Scott Morris, Senior Director of Product Marketing, and Noha Edell, Senior Solutions Engineer, in a tag-team format of feature highlights and live how-to demos. Message of the day? An almost urgent awareness of the importance attached to serving content to mobile platforms; the role of metrics as the company extends channels (Omniture and hosted services); and a clarifying ceasefire in the Adobe-Apple Flash On-Flash Off Mobile War.

For now, the official face saving position is for users to go with HTML5, via Dreamweaver’s coding capabilities, when multiple platforms are a concern — when wouldn’t they be, actually —  pending a broadly hinted solution that may someday soon satisfy Apple’s somewhat pouty objections to staging Flash on iDevices.

mark your calendar accordingly

Responding to consumer fatigue with the traditional 18-month cycle of new version intros, the announcement that full product releases would now occur every two years, based on feedback revealing users were in many cases just getting up to speed with the feature complexity and rich depth that Creative Suite represents, drew nods of approval around the room. Interim upgrades will become an annual cause for celebration, and presumeably much more easy to digest before the next course.

Adobe characterized corporate direction in three main areas:

  • Online Marketing (devices)
  • Customer Experience Management (interactivity)
  • Digital Media (monetization)

The new emphasis on extending content to smart phones takes aim (for now) at the Android/iOS/Blackberry troika using AIR apps as the bridge, while InDesign looks increasingly like the hub in a multi-spoked production wheel that serves content to an audience regardless of experiential preferences.

This makes perfect sense to me: the ability to integrate content generated from a wide variety of applications, then optimize it based on use before deployment. The pr world, specifically, stands to benefit significantly by adapting a fresh workflow that utilizes the scaleable benefits of what started as DTP and now stands alone as a means to format for multiple audiences.

Photoshop got several breakout mobile device apps, while InDesign, along with Dreamweaver, continues to be taught new interactive tricks as a way for actually generating income. Prediction: this drumbeat can only get louder.

What this first time session left me with was an elevated sense of urgency when it comes to guessing the skills necessary for creating content in the years ahead. We were reminded that when CS5 was released, the iPad was still a rumor and MySpace still ruled social media’s roost. Times change. Increasingly, overnight.