Ray Richards is founder of Mindspan Consultants and a technology journalist hailing from Ottawa, Canada

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Adobe Creative Suite 2 - Review

Let me start off by saying that Adobe, with this latest, most comprehensive offering to date, has raised the bar to such a degree that competitors would be hard pressed to even think about matching it in terms of features and component integration with the whole. This mammoth suite of digital imaging and publishing tools quite simply rocks – and there are indeed few things I would say that about.

Now that that's out of the way however, I'd like to delve into the first experience a user has with any software product: the installation process. Adobe Creative Suite 2 has in this regard given me the exact opposite impression of that indicated in the preceding paragraph. Frankly, the installation process is total crap.

When attempting to first install the 4 CDs which comprise the application, my entire system locked up rock solid 5 times in a row. Not even being able to hit ctrl-alt-del and end the offending process, I was given no recourse other than the reset button... and we all know how much Windows likes being improperly shut down. To be fair, I was doing this installation after having removed the beta version of the suite from my machine which may have been responsible for some of these issues – but a quick scan of Adobe's online support quickly informed me that I was certainly not alone; so I doubt it had much to do with this fact. 

Once the installation finally completed on attempt six, I examined the state in which my system was left and was greeted with irritation upon irritation – the first few falling however, into the category of minor annoyances. Adobe had seen fit to solely put an Acrobat shortcut on my desktop (why I would potentially ever want this there completely escapes me), also dropped 8 program icons directly in the root of my "All Programs" folder and created a separate Adobe folder which contained two further shortcuts to programs I would likely never use. What a mess! If you are going to create an Adobe folder, why not dump all your shortcuts into there? Better yet, why not ask the user where they wish your icons to go in the first place?! Obviously this situation was easily dealt with but the second set of annoyances was more insidious and considerably more irritating.

By default, Adobe enables system startup processes which in aggregate comprise over 102 megabytes; including Version Cue (Adobe's version control application which we'll discuss in depth later) and background processes designed to speed the execution of Acrobat. By way of contrast, Photoshop itself only uses around 60 megs! I suppose if all I ever wanted to do with my PC was run Adobe products than this would be fine – but seriously, can I ever picture a day in which I would wish 10% of my system resources to be constantly consumed when I am not even running an Adobe product?! I think not.

Most of these can be disabled of course, but you have to know what you're doing and since Adobe clearly planned on at a minimum having all its users employing the 2 meg Version Cue system tray application, you'll have to create a shortcut to that app by yourself if you want to maximize your system resource pool, given Adobe does not provide one.

Ok, well now that I feel better having gotten that off my chest, I'll move on to how great I think this suite is – once its installation issues have been dealt with.

This article was in progress for HUB magazine when the editor cancelled it as he was of the opinion that the Adobe Creative Suite was beyond the level of interest of the everyday technology consumer. I begged to differ, but we moved on to other topics.


This article was only partially completed and as a result, you only get to read my initial rant on the installation process. I'd like to say for the record that despite the issues with the Adobe installer(which incidentally have gotten worse, not better), I think the Creative Suite, now in its 4th edition, is an incredible acheivement and I use it every single day with good results.

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