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Product: Adobe Photoshop 5.5
Company: Adobe
Website: http://www.adobe.com
Estimated Street Price: Full Version $609 (Reviewed) - Upgrade $129 (after rebate) to owners of both Photoshop 5.0 and ImageReady 1.0, and $199 (after rebate) to owners of 4.0 and previous versions of Photoshop
Review By: Clifford Palmer, Jr

The Features

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Installation
3: Image Editing
4: Web Design
5: Photoshop: For Serious Designs Only
6: Conclusion

Adobe Photoshop has long been the quintessential tool for photo editing and a crucial component to graphic design.  No publisher or graphic designer would ever be caught dead without a copy of Photoshop on his or her workstation.  The graphic design/publishing market has always been Adobe’s niche.  But in recent years, Photoshop has found a new niche, the web designer.  Photoshop’s state-of-the-art tools and editing abilities have made it the web designers’ best friend, enabling them to make images that previously could only be dreamt of.

Unfortunately, Photoshop, as good a program as it was, was sorely lacking in some features that Web Designers were clamoring for, and other companies came to the rescue.  Products like Macromedia Fireworks, JASC Paint Shop Pro, and Microsoft Photodraw all targeted web designers (or potential web designers) with the lure of features such as animation, high compression methods, image slicing and HTML generation, all built into a single graphics suite. 

Adobe began to fight back with last year’s release of Photoshop 5.0, which brought us better GIF and JPG support, special effects and vector text format, among other features.  Then, Adobe has continued its assault on the web design market with the release of Adobe ImageReady, which contained many of the web-centric features that were lacking from Photoshop.  With the new release of Photoshop 5.5, Adobe has packaged Photoshop with ImageReady 2.0, and even thrown in some new features to both products.  It would seem that Web Designers can finally rejoice as the best graphic design software is finally truly “net friendly”.

Here are a few of Photoshop 5.5’s highlights (off of the 5.5 retail box):

  • Expand Your Creative Power
  • Perform a range of masking tasks with the easy-to-use Background Eraser, or use the new Extract Image command to achieve professional-level masking of images with complex edges.
  • Automatically transform an image into painted strokes using the new Art History brush.
  • Create Web page contact sheets or picture packages of all images in a folder, including captions.
  • Achieve accurate color settings with the Color Management Assistant.
  • Undo and redo multiple steps with the History palette.
  • Create and format text, and easily make changes on editable layers.
  • Produce superior Web graphics
  • Instantly produce JavaScript rollovers, and even animate rollover behavior.
  • Slice complex, layered images and apply different format and compression settings to each area. When you export, all HTML code is written for you.
  • Preview up to four side-by-side live versions of a file in Photoshop to determine the best tradeoff between image quality and file size.
  • Optimize Web graphics using sophisticated compression and export controls.
  • Quickly turn layered Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator files into GIF animations.
  • Specify Web-safe colors with hexadecimal values
  • Integrate smoothly with Adobe Programs
  • Gain a complete Web graphics production solution that combines the creative power of Adobe Photoshop with the sophisticated Web tools in Adobe ImageReady.
  • Use the Jump To command to move instantly between Photoshop and ImageReady.  The award-winning Adobe user interface offers common tools, palettes, and keyboard shortcuts.
  • Preserve layers and key file attributes, such as History, when jumping between Photoshop and ImageReady.
  • Share files seamlessly among Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign™, and Adobe Acrobat® on Windows® or Macintosh systems.
Well, from all this, you can tell that Photoshop 5.5 has plenty to offer, even over the features that were previously released in 5.0.  Let’s see how they hold up in real-world usage.  I haven’t tested all of the new features, as there are so many, and so many that don’t normally fit in to what I do, so the rest of the review is a result of what I have tested, and used in this new version of Photoshop.

 

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