this issue: october 1, 1999
Books / Digital Culture:
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There's no disputing that Photoshop is the 800lb gorilla of image-editing software. Adobe has been at the top of this market for some time now and it doesn't look like they'll be letting up anytime soon. In fact, even their incremental software upgrades offer up more than some other companies do in a full digit jump. This is certainly the case with Photoshop 5.5. If they were so inclined, Adobe just might have even been able to get away with calling it Photoshop 6.
Users of Photoshop 5 shouldn't have too much trouble adapting to this latest version. The interface has largely remained the same, although even experienced professionals will want to read through the new 5.5 User Guide Supplement for all the new features. Also included is the complete 5.0 User Guide, which provides a very comprehensive overview.
The most significant addition to 5.5, is its web capabilities. With the upgrade, Photoshop is now truly an all-in-one solution for web graphics. It's an expensive solution, but it's likely to be the best you'll find.
A very smart move by Adobe, in my opinion, is providing two separate programs, rather than bloating Photoshop proper into an untamable beast. Photoshop still does everything it does so well, but now also includes Image Ready 2.0 for web graphics. This does not mean, however, that Photoshop doesn't have any web capabilities of its own.
The what-did-you-ever-do-without-it "save for web" feature has made the previously tedious job of image compression incredibly easy to do. With this, you're able to view several different versions of an image, and compare to the original in order to determine the best compromise between image quality and file size. All of this is handled through a very intuitive interface.
The integration between the two programs is very impressive. For instance, there are jump-to buttons that allow you to move files from one program to the other and still have all of the layers and other file attributes available. The undo feature is also preserved between the two programs. So if a change is made in Image Ready it can be undone in Photoshop, and vice-versa.
I have been using Photoshop 5.5 for over a month now and it's completely won me over, mostly due to it's excellent web features. However, if you don't do web work and already have version 5.0, there is probably not much this new version can offer you. But if you work on the web, and your budget allows it, Photoshop 5.5 is the ultimate olution.
Next month, in part two of this review, I'll look at some of the many other features of Photoshop 5.5 in greater detail. And provide an updated report.
Reviewed on: Dell Dimension XPSR350. PII350MHz, 64MB RAM.
The writer of this article welcomes your comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
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