Adobe Creative Suite 6 review

23 Apr 2012

A big release, featuring major overhauls of several key applications, along with a whole new way of paying for and accessing the software

Price when reviewed 
2,668

The way we work has changed fundamentally since the last full release of Adobe’s Creative Suite. The rise of first smartphones and then tablets has added a whole new layer of complexity to the design and production process, with assets now required to fit a wide variety of devices. Tiny portrait smartphone screens, larger landscape tablets, scalable browser windows on high-resolution monitors: all these must be built into the process from the start rather than tacked on afterwards.

With that firmly in mind, Adobe has made changes to its existing Creative Suite packages. The first is the rolling together of the former Design and Web Premium packages into Design/Web Premium, reflecting the diminishing need for those two suites to be available in isolation.

Design Standard still houses its trio of stalwarts, and InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop have all been overhauled. The elements of Production Premium get a cleaner interface and a host of big improvements.

And with resources increasingly spread across multiple platforms, the need for easy interaction between them is greater than ever. That’s why Adobe has launched Creative Cloud, a subscription model that gives access to all of CS6’s applications and more, all centred around a cloud-based community interface.

Adobe Creative Suite 6

Read our reviews of each CS6 package:

Adobe CS6 Design Standard

Adobe CS6 Design/Web Premium

Adobe CS6 Production Premium

Adobe Creative Cloud

Plus our earlier review of Photoshop CS6 beta.

Our verdict

Adobe has made big changes to almost every element for Creative Suite 6, including a top-level reshuffle that comes as a direct response to the rise of new digital platforms. Rolling together Design and Web Premium into one web-centric uber-package is a sensible move with the times, but it also reflects just how precarious the future of the Web Premium package must have looked given Adobe’s recent Flash troubles.

In all other areas, however, CS6 takes big strides forward. The improvements to Photoshop and Premiere Pro cement them at the top of their respective fields, and Design Standard has changed far beyond its original paper-focused remit. Changes to the workflow in InDesign, among others, mean adapting content for output to smartphones and tablets is now infinitely easier.

Then there’s Adobe’s new baby, Creative Cloud, a product (or should that be a service) that has the potential to change design and production workflows for the better, while also offering a much more affordable entry point into an often prohibitively expensive suite of software. It isn’t the finished article just yet, but we’ll be watching its progress with interest.

So although Creative Suite 6 follows on from CS5.5, this is much more than a mere point release. It introduces engine enhancements, major interface overhauls, whole new products, and a vital shift of focus in favour of the ever-changing demands of developing for handheld devices. The best thing is that for the most part it succeeds. With one or two exceptions, Creative Suite 6 is an excellent piece of work by Adobe.

Details

Price ex VAT Upgrade, £397 (£476 inc VAT); Full, £2,223
Price inc VAT £2,668
Software subcategory Graphics/design software