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Below are my notes from tonight’s FlashMN meeting starring Dustin Tauer.  The presentation focused on the new features of Adobe Creative Suite 4.

Illustrator CS4

  • Can create multiple art boards.  So, if I wanted to use artwork for the front and back of t-shirt, I would create 2 art boards (up to 100).  There are a bunch of pre-set art board sizes.
  • Can create art boards inside of art boards.  So, if I wanted to create one art file with different sections that would save individually, you could do that.
  • Tab-viewer for multiple documents (rather than windows for each document) – this is similar to Firefox tabs
  • Gradient panel has opacity option.  Gradient tool provides a visual way to shift the gradient ON THE SHAPE (rather than in the panel)!
  • For people who draw, there is the “Blob” tool, which makes it easy to change existing shapes (no more messing with paths).
  • Nice “smooth out” tool for drawers to fix up sharp edges.
  • You can now export layers as .png’s (or jpegs or whatever), entire artboards, or a certain range of art boards
  • Shortcut: CTRL+ALT+0 shows all artboards (“Super Show All”)
  • You can place drawings and paths inside of paths – i.e. Illustrator is smart in the way that it manages stuff
  • New “Smart Guides” feature to help line stuff up.  So you don’t need to draw a bunch of lines
  • Can now toggle between editing stuff either inside or outside the clipping mask.  Can easily edit the size of the clipping mask.
  • Can now edit styles and stuff in the “Appearance” panel
  • Can change styles and stuff in ALL art boards at the same time.  So, if you wanted to change all the headers to blue, you could do that.
  • Can save complex graphic styles.  So, you can add drop shadow on top of slant (i.e. styles don’t get overwritten)
  • “Separations Preview” panel allows you to turn on “overprint fill” to avoid certain printing issues related to print documents

InDesign CS4

  • “Smart Guides” help you to quickly align stuff and match sizes/rotation
  • “Rotate” tool tells you degrees
  • “Links” panel – you can control which info you view in the panel
  • You can rotate entire page view.  This is good if you have text that displays on an angle or upside-down or some other rotation
  • “InCopy” feature can dynamically pull text (i.e. separate text copy from the design) (related to “story editor”?)
  • “Conditional text” can change if you are switching between UK and USA versions of a pamphlet/document.  For example, you can switch between Brittish pounds and US dollars.
  • “Preflight” tells you where your errors are.  You can also create rules such as “All images need to be 300dpi” in “Preflight Profiles”
  • Can export .swf and .air files.
  • Can create buttons (“next page”, etc.)
  • Easily export “page flip” feature
  • FYI: Acrobat 9 supports Flash.  You could embed webcam videos, Flash features, etc.
  • Page tranisitions

Dreamweaver CS4

  • Yahoo! YUI widgets play nice with Dreamweaver. Some YUI widgets even SHIP with Dreamweaver
  • “Live Mode” renders html.  So, you don’t need to “preview” in a real browser as much.  It only renders html, ajax, javascript, etc. (no server-side stuff)
  • Top bar automatically pulls up related files so that you can easily switch between them.  (i.e. it makes it easy to open up the .css file for a given page)
  • “Live Code” view allows you to see how the code changes in real time.  So you can see the real-time changes in code on hover, etc.
  • right-click–>”code navigator” allows you to easily jump to specific areas of css stylesheet
  • New “InContext Editing (ICE)” interface turns Dreamweaver into CMS.  But your editors will need to purchase a subscription to ICE for this to work.  This is cool, because there is no need for a database or other normal CMS stuff.
  • “Spry Data Set” allows you to convert a table into interactive menu (or just a plain table for those without JavaScript).  This is a great Search Engine Optimized way to create a data-driven website.
  • Same as CS3, you can drag and drop Photoshop files into Dreamweaver.  If you change the size of the imported photo, you can “Update from Original” to make sure you don’t get any pixelation

Photoshop CS4

  • New adjustments panel
  • New masks panel
  • Content Aware Scaling – WOW!
  • “Auto Blend Layers” feature works for stacked images now!  This is in addition to panarama feature that existed in CS3.  (Also chck out the “Merge to HDR” feature in CS3 for a similar thing)
  • “Canvas Rotation” feature (NEW!).  This doesn’t edit the image.
  • Enhanced “dodge, burn, enhance, etc.
  • More Camera Raw features
  • Vignettes work better in Camera Raw
  • New 3-D tools (roll, pan, slide, etc.).  See textures.  Add decals to 3-D things, then “Merge Down”.  It will add texturing and everything else as if you added it in Maya.  You can now import 3-d Maya, etc. files
  • Make any layer into a 3-D object (Great for creating book covers for display online).  Map 2-D graphics/photos to 3-D objects (cone, pyramid, etc.)
  • You can now bring .psd documents into After Effects, etc.

Flash CS4

  • Timeline on the bottom by default
  • “Properties” panel is verticle (rather than horizontal)
  • “Inverse Kinemantics” creates pivot points that you can mess with at runtime by a 1-click option.
  • Animation is SUPER easy – no need to manually add keyframes
  • You don’t need to convert things to movie clips any more, because Flash does it automatically.
  • Guide layers are automatically created by default.  This makes animation WAY easier.
  • Animation info on timeline is not linked to a specific object.  So, you can easily swap movie clips while maintaining the animation.  (Object and animation are completely separate).  This is the same as the “swap” feature.
  • “Save Motion Preset” allows you to apply animation to new objects.  You can save this as XML for sharing between computers.
  • “3-D Rotation Tool” does some cool stuff when animating text.  Wow!
  • “Motion Editor” allows you to edit all the properties and easing at specific animation points (I don’t know if I said that right)
  • You can view select keyframes (i.e. only those that show scale, only those that skew, etc.)
  • “Deco Tool” lets you symetrically, randomly, etc. place multiple objects on the stage all at the same time.  For example, you could add a bunch of twinkling stars to the sky.
  • Publish to AIR
  • Meta data support
  • XFL support to open InDesign files

Configurator 1.0

  • Create custom Photoshop panels
  • Create “How-To” Videos

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