Everything You Need to Know About Creative Cloud 2014
This week, Adobe announced the 2014 update to their Creative Cloud suite and its expanded mobile offerings. With the 2014 version of their Creative Cloud, Adobe has updated the applications therein -- 14 of them -- to varying degrees. Some applications get more updates than others, while many of the applications receive features that were formerly the province of their other apps.
Photoshop CC has added new Blur Gallery filters that allow you to give a sense of motion to 2D images. The interface for handling 3D objects once loaded into Photoshop has been streamlined to make it easier for users to interact with, place, light and texture the objects within Photoshop. New 3D capabilities allow users to convert 2D objects into actual 3D objects and then export them for printing -- even directly uploading them to Shapeways and selecting your materials within the Photoshop interface. Smart Objects have been improved, allowing imbedded objects to be updated externally and the changes to be carried across multiple projects. The Focus Mask allows you to mask objects based on the depth of field. That is, object in focus and out of focus will be masked separately. Layer Comps have been improved, allowing you to take changes made to one layer and cascade them across other layers in the document. Live font preview has been added to Photoshop, so instead of applying each font selection and waiting to see how it looks, you can instead see them in your document as you select them. The Photoshop interface has been improved on Windows 8 touch devices, allowing pinch-based zooming and smoother strokes on these devices. Smart Guides have been improved and made more consistent with how they work in Illustrator, making layer alignments fast and easy. Photoshop CC also makes more extensive use of GPU acceleration in UI operations like zooming. Adobe simply says it has "enhanced Mercury Graphics Engine performance."
Illustrator CC 2014 has new Live Shapes, allowing rectangles to be quickly transformed into complex shapes (and back) with a few clicks. Also new to Illustrator CC 2014 is GPU acceleration of vector graphics rendering "on Windows with an Adobe-certified NVIDIA graphics card," which can be understood to mean it is using CUDA. Pen tool use is now previewed live in the window. Users can now sync Typekit fonts back to their desktop, making them available for other applications.
InDesign CC 2014 spotlights new features for dragging and dropping rows and columns within tables for easy rearrangement, support for export to a fixed-layout EPUB so that graphically rich ebooks can be seen as designed, and seamless updates allowing your custom settings to be automatically imported when the application is updated.
Muse CC 2014 has been rebuilt with 64-bit native support. The interface has been revised with a new Dark UI reminiscent of the other CC applications. Extensive reworking under the hood allows in-application previews of the various desktop and mobile versions of your page design without leaving the application, and design changes to the UI to make it look, feel and work more like other CC applications. It even allows for a certain amount of in-browser editing, allowing clients to make changes to their sites without having to push things back to the designer. The new release is rounded out with Creative Cloud add-ons like UI widgets, menus and navigation scripts that can be imported and personalized for your project, and HiDPI support for both Windows and OS X. Upon seeing Muse CC 2014 demonstrated at the Adobe presentation video, many designers were exclaiming that Muse CC 2014 is "finally ready for prime time."
Premiere Pro CC 2014 has Live Text templates making titling faster and easier, and features in-app access to Masking and Tracking features that were formerly exclusively the province of After Effects. With Master Clip Effects, an adjustment made to the Master Clip in your timeline -- for instance, color correction -- ripples down to every part of that clip in your sequence. Mercury Playback Engine performance has been improved, specifically its OpenCL performance, and Adobe has added a GPU-based debayering for RED media. It adds support for new camera formats as well as improving support for some other formats. Integration between Premiere and Speedgrade is improved, making working between the two faster and easier.
After Effects CC 2014 has the other portion of Live Templates: the ability to create a template for Premiere Pro, within After Effects. This means that a title, lower third, or another graphic containing text can be created in After Effects and exported as a Live Text template. The template can then be used in Premiere and the text can be changed without editing the rest of the template. Masks made in Premiere Pro can be shared with After Effects and dynamically linked to later work. Animation with a mask will be picked up by Premiere, which means you can use After Effects to refine a rough mask made in Premiere and have that mask update within the Premiere project. Additional filters added to this version will allow better keying of less-than-ideal footage, especially highly compressed footage like h.264. Kuler and Typekit have also been integrated into After Effects, like they are in other Adobe applications. After Effects CC 2014 also adds Mercury Transmit, allowing you to use a connection from your graphics card (an HDMI port, usually) for external playback of previews without additional hardware.
Improvements to Adobe's web authoring tools include the ability to look at and mark up a document within Quick View in Dreamweaver CC 2014 without having to flip in and out of Quick View, SVG export in Flash Pro CC, and native HTML5 video support in Edge Animate CC.
Adobe also announced a new Creative SDK that allows access to files in the Creative cloud, and also includes within its library methods for accessing element within PSDs. It also allows the use of cloud image editing services like the aforementioned Content-aware Fill within your app. The Adobe Creative SDK was used to build Photoshop Mix, a new application for image compositing and masking on the iPad, and is currently targeted for iOS development. IT is being tested by select iOS developers and is expected to enter into a comprehensive beta shortly.
The Adobe Creative Cloud 2014 releases are available now. Pricing varies by plan, and includes a new Creative Cloud Photography Plan for $9.99 a month that gives you Photoshop and Lightroom -- a good idea considering those are their most popular apps. $120/yr for Photoshop isn't bad at all.