Adobe Creative Suite 3.0

Tuesday, March 27, 2007  

Today Adobe Systems has announced new versions of most of their software. This is a long-awaited release for many reasons, but most momentous is that it is the first major release since they acquired Macromedia. For the first time, new versions of Flash and Photoshop come under the same label.

Read my overview at

MeatyRather than marketing the individual programs, they are pushing packages, under the moniker Creative Suite 3. Flash and Photoshop are the most popular programs of the bunch, but this release includes packages for anyone in print, web, or video production. Microsoft controls much of the business environment, but Adobe now dominates almost everything relating to media production.

I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing: at least for now Adobe continues to be a company which is heavily focused on its users and releasing great products. These programs tend to work very well together, and inspire creativity in those who use them. I wonder if there is anyone with a copy of Photoshop who has not at least once doodled with all those filters. And now these programs are loaded with more features than ever, enough to drown us all. But innovations like collapsing panels and small tweaks here and there have kept things in check. There are still some rough spots when it comes to consistency between programs, so we’ll be looking to Creative Suite 4 to finish the job.

There is at least one casualty from all this. Over the years Adobe has acquired several companies, and Macromedia a few as well. Some years back Adobe acquired a company called Aldus, then a leader in print production. To prevent a monopoly, the courts ordered Adobe to sell one program that came from Aldus, Freehand. At the time it was the only competitor to its Illustrator. They sold it to Macromedia, who continued to develop it as a robust competitor. Well, Adobe has the same situation, owning Freehand again, but this time there are no orders from the court. This is from their public relations:

Before the acquisition of Macromedia by Adobe® in 2006, the last major update to FreeHand was FreeHand MX, v. 11.0.1, released in March 2003, followed by a minor update, v 11.0.2, in February 2004. The release of Macromedia Studio 8 in August 2005 did not include FreeHand, as the Studio 8 line of products became more focused on the web, although FreeHand MX was still offered as a stand-alone product. Adobe® Illustrator® is widely recognized as the industry-standard vector illustration tool, and with the release of Illustrator CS3 in March 2007, Adobe has delivered three major releases of Illustrator since 2003. Illustrator is the company’s primary vector illustration tool, both as a stand-alone product and as an integral part of the Design, Web and Production Premium editions of the Adobe® Creative Suite® 3 family. With this focus on Illustrator, Adobe does not plan to develop and release any new feature-based releases of FreeHand. Adobe will continue to sell FreeHand MX, and will continue to offer technical and customer support. While we recognize that FreeHand has a dedicated user base, we encourage customers to migrate to Illustrator CS3. FreeHand customers are entitled to special pricing for Illustrator CS3, along with many resources to help make this move.

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One comment for “Adobe Creative Suite 3.0”

  1. John Nack says:

    FreeHand is indeed a casualty of Adobe, but not in the way you think: The market’s clear adoption of Illustrator* lead Macromedia to move efforts away from FreeHand onto other, more promising efforts. The reality is that FH development had withered years before the Adobe-Macromedia deal was even announced, much less consummated.


    *Incidentally, I’m not saying that market adoption is some surefire measure of product quality. Both FH and AI have their strengths & their passionate fans. I’m simply pointing out that a lot more people use Illustrator than FreeHand, a situation that’s persisted for several years now.