September 04, 2008

CS4: Nearing the door

The cat is officially clawing its way through the bag: Adobe has announced that the next version of the Creative Suite will be announced* just three weeks from now, on September 23rd.  The company plans to host a webcast (for which you can register here) covering the new product line-up at 1pm Eastern time Tuesday the 23rd.  Meanwhile we plan to show off a few more bits tomorrow morning at Photoshop World, so perhaps some interesting info will make its way online.


*Announcing an announcement–getting very meta, eh?

Posted by John Nack at 12:46 AM on September 04, 2008


  • Jim Goldstein — 1:16 AM on September 04, 2008

    Looking forward to learning more about the details of the features in CS4. Thanks for the info on the webcast.

  • Kayzah — 1:30 AM on September 04, 2008

    I hope CS4 doesn’t suck as much as your CS3 products.
    For more information read:

  • Nils — 1:35 AM on September 04, 2008

    Bring it on come late October! I’m wondering why there wasn’t an open beta this time around? Any official remark on that, John Nack?
    Best regards, Nils
    [As I said when we launched the CS3 beta, “extraordinary times called for extraordinary measures.” The Mac Intel transition, not to mention Vista, put customers in a unique position, and we felt we had to go the extra miles to give them what they needed. A public beta means a lot of overhead for the team, so this time around we didn’t thing the bang/buck ratio warranted taking that step. –J.]

  • Matthias — 2:03 AM on September 04, 2008

    Awkward week day/time for me to watch … :/
    Will we unfortunate wage slaves be able to watch the webcast later on?

  • David Camps-Campins — 4:57 AM on September 04, 2008

    Hi John,
    Great Blog. Thanks for the info on the announcement of CS4

  • Danny — 5:03 AM on September 04, 2008

    Being a Mac user, your reference to a cat clawing it’s way out of a bag, got my attention. (Tiger, Leopard)
    Sadly, we are left out.

  • Elja Trum — 5:50 AM on September 04, 2008

    Great news! I’m looking forward to the improvements.
    Is 1 1/2 year after the availability of CS3 sooner than before?

  • Todd Patrick — 6:33 AM on September 04, 2008

    I cringed at the CS4 icon in the corner of the registration screen. Please tell me you’re not actually using that typef*ck, or the inscrutable PBS/PS-aqua logo from a couple months back (and what’s up with the Max abomination that graces your homepage?).
    Does Microsoft’s design team have incriminating pictures, or did you lose a bet to Corel?

  • ninjaturkey — 9:59 AM on September 04, 2008

    and why isn´t anything to read about Illustrator CS4?
    [Because we haven’t announced anything yet. –J.]
    Hey Adobe, you don´t have any serious competitor any more, so where´s the problem to give some information to the crowd. So they could discuss the usability and importance of some new features BEFORE the had to BUY the CS4.
    [Do you not expect to have all that info provided? Have you ever known this company (or any company) to force you to buy software just to find out what it contains? –J.]

  • Jay Chiang — 10:57 AM on September 04, 2008

    I just bought a copy of CS3. Will there be a upgrade program for us?

  • Greg — 10:58 AM on September 04, 2008

    There has been a beta program for Photoshop and Bridge CS4 for a few months now and an open beta for Dreamweaver and Fireworks (part of CS).

  • d — 12:49 PM on September 04, 2008

    Woo-hoo! Is there gonna be a huge uproar about the icons this time round too… :P
    [Yeah, but not here. I have absolutely nothing to say about the branding (in fact, it’s not shown to the product teams while it’s in development), so I’m not going to be anyone’s punching bag. –J.]

  • J-Man — 6:45 AM on September 05, 2008

    As a new tool/tech adopter and satisfied CS3 and Vista user, I am probably unlike the typical Mac fanatic posting here who thinks their PPC Mac has still “got it”, but I see a relatively rare upgrade opportunity this fall with Intel’s new Nehalem chips. I have been saving my pennies for a clean slate update, a brand new Nehalem box, 64-bit Vista, and of course, Master Collection CS4.
    Why does everyone complain about the new tools? I am hoping there are so many cool new features that it takes me all of October to read about them as I wait for the software to ship. Ooh! I am tingling already thinking about it! I love upgrades, don’t you? I know the upgrades help pay John’s bills, but isn’t launching a new version of an Adobe suite exciting, like test driving a new car? Like trying that new restaurant that just opened up? Like cheating on your wife with the new girl from the gym? You know, the same basic parts, just new and exciting!

  • keith — 9:08 AM on September 05, 2008

    In reply to Jays question about upgrading from CS3.
    In the past Adobe has sold upgrades. And you can upgrade from 3 versions back, so CS or newer & the price is about $199.00

  • Manuel Dos Reis Machado — 2:28 PM on September 05, 2008

    The Adobe licensing scheme allows you to install and activate the software on two machines – What I’d like to see is a combined installer (like Maxon’s), that would let you install your software on the Mac OS partition, and then on XP under bootcamp, then activate both of those with the two activations. No major changes in policy associated with that, just some forethought and acknowledgement that flexibility is an easy way to add value.

  • Sigurdur Armannsson — 3:25 PM on September 05, 2008

    I have always felt that Adobe had a very clear view of the needs of the people who are making their living in the graphic industry and were pretty responsive to the needs.
    Few years back I asked for a path-brush in Illustrator on the Illustrator Feature Request. I was asked by the moderator about my request and I explained in detail. Similar to the brush tool in FontLab. And to my surprise CS3 brought us the new path Eraser which is half way to it. I am hoping for the full version now. Maybe I am too optimistic… but you’ll see :D
    Besides that it has always been exciting to get a new version of those tools. In my opinion Adobe always exceeds the users expectations.

  • blurrylens — 4:10 PM on September 05, 2008

    Hope this is fixed in CS4:
    How come my camera raw file is 10mb, but when I open it in Photoshop cs3, do nothing, then save as a PSD, it becomes 67mb’s? Add a few layers, and it’s 200+mb’s. Do you own stock in Western Digital or something? Can’t you do something to keep file sizes down? Love EVERYTHING else about PS, couldn’t live without it!

  • Ramón G Castañeda — 7:08 PM on September 05, 2008

    There’s nothing to “fix”. Your raw files are losslessly compressed, PSD files are not.
    Of course layers multiply the size too.
    You might try reading the documentation a bit.

  • Cresta — 9:31 PM on September 05, 2008

    Well, I have to finally admit I’m a complete Photoshop junkie. I’ve been searching the internet everyday for any little tidbit of anything related to the new CS4. Thanks for the update on the announcement! At least now I can count down the days – it’s like Christmas in September! ;)

  • Eric — 8:23 AM on September 06, 2008

    Oh, just great. I decide to buy a house, and the next day you tell me I’m gonna have to buy another copy of Creative Suite! :-D
    Can’t wait. Dreamweaver CS4 is awesome. Can’t wait to see Bridge. I’m hoping it’s going to be a real useful tool now.
    And I hope a massive bug in Flash is fixed! Other than that, I’m a happy camper.
    What’s with all the Mac hostility? We’re getting a great upgrade. So it’s not 64 bit yet. Big whoop. In 18 to 24 months it will be, when we finally have our 50 megapixel point and shoots to contend with and my Nikon D5 is 100 megapixels.
    BTW, can you post a link to the preview at Photoshop World if there’s any video made of it? Thanks.

  • Blurrylens — 8:43 AM on September 06, 2008

    Ramón – Clearly you are someone who never questions the status quo. Never wonders if software tools could be made better. I’ve been using PS since version 5 and have read the documentation more than a bit. I am asking for an “improvement” in the technology, not more of the same. The RAW format was a great leap forward. Now I am “wondering” if the PSD format could be more efficient or even replaced by something better. It’s called progress.

  • Marc — 9:34 AM on September 06, 2008

    Who created that ugly CS4 Logo? My goodness i can’t believe Adobe has no better icon designers.
    First the new ichat-looking ugly Photoshop logo and now this.

  • David — 7:41 PM on September 06, 2008

    A raw file only stores 1 channel per pixel, while a PSD has to store 3.
    I just opened a 17mb raw and it saved as a 72.8 mb PSD
    14*1 color channel = 14 bits per pixel
    16*3 color channels = 48 bits per pixel
    The PSD is only about 25% less efficient than the raw file.

  • Ramón G Castañeda — 9:31 PM on September 06, 2008

    That was hilarious. I’m more of a thorn on Adobe’s and John Nack’s side than just about anybody else I know.
    [Oh, you have some good competition these days. ;-) –J.]
    If you’re not happy with PSD files, which I happen to prefer to any other format just the way the are, just switch to TIFF with the compression scheme of your choice. Then spend your days waiting for your TIFFs to open and save.

  • Ramón G Castañeda — 9:35 PM on September 06, 2008

    Give Mr. Nack a break, he already said he had nothing to do with the CS4 logo, which looks exactly like a guy on his knees looking for something behind his back, or a guy on his knees handcuffed by the applications, to paraphrase MO.

  • Blurrylens — 10:53 PM on September 06, 2008

    Ramón – You continue to miss my point. I am completely satisfied with the functionality of the PSD format and do not wish to switch to another even more antiquated file format such as tiff. What I’m spending too much on is waiting for 300mb files to write to disk every time I hit save. What I want is for Adobe to find a new way to save my layers and smart objects so they only take up 30mb’s instead of 300. Oh and you better watch those thorns of yours, someone might come along and paint them out (on a non-destructive layer, of course)
    [The current system is geared towards maximum compatibility, both with other apps and with older versions of Photoshop. Rasterized copies of the raw data enable you to open Smart Object layers in other tools, including versions of PS that don’t have the same set of filters installed.
    For what it’s worth, I’d love to offer more options for trading off file size savings vs. compatibility. If, for example, PS let you place a raw file as a Smart Object & apply filters to it without A) embedding the raw file, B) retaining a rasterized copy of the raw data, and C) saving a layer composite, the size of the PSD should be measurable in kilobytes. The cost, of course, would be that you’d have to keep the raw file around, you’d need to wait for it to re-rasterize/get filtered on file open, and you wouldn’t see a preview in apps that rely on PSDs containing a composite (such as Apple’s Quick Look).
    Offering the ability to choose among these options would give customers much more control at the expense of adding complexity. If you’d be willing to live with the trade-offs, make some noise. Thus far I haven’t been able to get us to raise the priority. –J.]

  • J-Man — 9:54 AM on September 07, 2008

    Ramon, you are right about Marc’s complaining about the logo. Not even really relevant to the topic, and shows he spends more time in the launch screen than the actual application (maybe he’s running a PPC Mac?).
    I will admit that I am a bit disappointed in the style, especially since every print piece from October on will have some element like that in the design. Seriously, Adobe and Apple drive “the look” and that can be a good or bad thing. Am I the only one that is sick of “creatives” using the CS3 flourishes in every magazine ad they produce?
    [I don’t think you’ll need to worry about that come October. Perhaps, seeking to set the design community free, the icon & branding peeps will mount a “Springtime for Hitler”-grade effort to make you hate their work, thereby destroying the temptation to imitate. –J.]

  • Blurrylens — 10:47 AM on September 07, 2008

    John – I am ONLY a photographer. I do not even use any other CS apps. I only output to web and inkjet prints. I use Bridge exclusively for outputting jpegs at web size. (I really like Bridge and don’t understand why it’s so unloved) I use the HP PS plugin exclusively for all my printing to my HP B9180. (Sorry, but it’s WAY more functional then the “improved” PS print tool) I keep all my original raws. I do not need my PSD’s to be compatible with any other apps. You bet I want options! I am certain I am not alone. Thanks in advance for addressing this concern.

  • Stefan Klein — 4:23 AM on September 08, 2008

    I`ve just watched the Photoshop World keynote online. John, you talked about Pixel Bender and showed real time filter previews. Are they part of PS CS4?
    [This technology builds on the same base that enables fast, smooth pan and zoom, etc. in the next release, but the filter support itself narrowly missed the cut for inclusion in the box. The plan is to offer it via Adobe Labs soon after we ship. –J.]

  • alex — 6:58 AM on September 08, 2008

    I hope that Adobe sell CS4 for the same price in europe as in america.

  • Leo — 6:16 PM on September 08, 2008

    Blurrylens – I’m with you. PSDs should be compressed – if its good enough for RAW files its good enough for PSD. Even Adobe’s own RAW format (DNG) supports compression.
    David – I’m not sure why you think PNGs have three times the colour data of RAWs – they don’t, RAWs also have 3 channels – red, green and blue straight from the sensor.
    You are correct in that PSDs can have 16 bit colour and that RAWS gnerally have 12 or 14 bit colour but you can also set PS to 8 bits per channel…
    So a single layer 16 bit PSD should only be a little bigger than a 14bit compressed RAW file… and an 8 bit one PSD considerably smaller.

  • Leo — 6:19 PM on September 08, 2008

    Alex : Add Australia to the list for price parity!
    There is no good reason why software should be different prices in different markets.

  • Chris Cox — 7:52 PM on September 08, 2008

    Yes, it is possible to get better file sizes than PSD while retaining all the information. However, you give up all compatibility with other applications that PSD enjoys, and compatibility with older versions of Photoshop. You would also give up fast loads and saves. And chances are that such an advanced file format would not be supported by third parties because they would need Photoshop code to render the file.
    Oh, yeah, and because the data would be re-rendered on the fly — the image you get tomorrow might not be the same image you saved today due to bug fixes and small changes in the software. And if you used a smart filter, that could change too. Working around that means storing extra copies of your image data (like PSD does).
    PSD is not the best compression technology, nor the best image edit-list format around. PSD is a safe, well known, well supported format that gets decent compression and really stores all the data that you are seeing and working with – so that you’ll still see the same thing tomorrow.
    I’ve been working on improved file formats for a long, long time. But there are no good answers. (easy, portable, fast or small – pick one)

  • Leo — 4:45 AM on September 09, 2008

    Chris – as far as I know PSD doesn’t use any compression… do you have evidence to the contrary?
    Reasonable compression can be done reasonably quicky – e.g. JPEG, MP3 and DNG. Files may actually open faster under some circumstances as uncompression can be faster than file transfer…
    [Note that JPEG and MP3 are lossy, and you wouldn’t want to use that approach in a format like PSD (where the file is likely to be opened, re-edited, and re-saved many times). And in fact, if that is the approach you want to take, you can elect to save your layered file as a TIFF using lossy (or lossless) compression. –J.]
    Yes, there would be an adjustment phase while third party software adjusted to the new format, but it would be worth it, and easily overcome by Adobe offering an uncompressed format for maximum compatability.

  • Stefan Klein — 6:41 AM on September 09, 2008

    John, does that mean (concerning Pixel Bender etc.) that all filters will be GPU accelerated or just some new filters?
    [It’s only the new stuff, and the plan is to ship it on Adobe Labs instead of in the box. –J.]

  • Ramón G Castañeda — 3:40 PM on September 09, 2008

    You do know that Chris Cox actually writes a lot of Photoshop’s code, don’t you? Look for his name on the Photoshop splash screen next time you launch the application.
    You are wrong. PSD does use its own lossless compression.

  • Chris Cox — 4:14 PM on September 09, 2008

    PSD/PSB use run length encoding for 8 bit image data, and ZIP/FLATE for 16 and 32 bit image data (with predictors). Some non-image data is also ZIP/FLATE compressed.
    The only image data that is uncompressed is 16 bit previews, because of backward compatibility issues (when I compressed it, other applications crashed, they didn’t expect it to be compressed).
    JPEG/MP3 are lossy, and semi-fast.
    The really advanced lossless compression algorithms are far from fast. Even ZIP/Flate can be painfully slow depending on the data it is compressing.
    If you believe that you have a strong need for a maximum compression file format and can live without compatibility, please file a feature request for it. I have trouble convincing those pesky product managers that we should spend time on such things. :-)

  • Leo — 6:14 PM on September 10, 2008

    Thanks Chris (& Ramon) – I wasn’t aware you were an Adobe programmer. Its great being able to talk to someone on the team ;-)
    I forgot when I was posting that some types of compression are lossy and guess that would probably rule it out jpeg type compression for most PS users, then again Nikon offer a RAW format using lossy compression.
    I have been experimenting, and PS does do some strange things – adding a blank layer doubles the size of the PSD, adding another blank layer has little impact. I guess a single layer image acts as its own preview, and a multi layer image has a seperate preview…
    Does unckecking the “compatability” box in the CS3’s save dialogue do anything other than remove the preview image?

  • Ramón G Castañeda — 10:26 PM on September 10, 2008

    Does unckecking the “compatability” box in the CS3’s save dialogue do anything other than remove the preview image?
    It has nothing to do with the preview. At the very least, it does away with the flattened composite.
    Hard drives are darn cheap these days. Storage space is no longer the issue it once was.

  • Dan P. — 12:29 PM on September 11, 2008

    Will CS4 ship with both 64 and 32 bits for Windows in the same box? I have 64 bit desktop and a 32-bit laptop.
    [Yes, it’ll be a single installer containing two binaries. –J.]

  • Gothmeister — 2:32 AM on September 22, 2008

    >>I hope that Adobe sell CS4 for the same price in europe as in america.

  • Jason The Saj — 8:01 AM on September 23, 2008

    “Why I may never pay for Photoshop again. And how Adobe may have pushed me to the point of supporting software piracy.”
    I’ve been burned too many times with software purchases. I just got my CS3 installed on Aug 7th. I’ve used it two times. Once to see that it worked and once to test that it would open a Canon 40D RAW file.
    Now CS4 is out, and once again I have paid hundreds of dollars to have an outdated product. None too happy.
    I am sick of the secrecy bullshit that companies play. The fact that no one will tell you that they’re just several weeks from a major release. The mis-information that you get. (No, not all products are being updated for CS4 suite, some will be the CS3 versions, blah blah blah.)
    I am not a professional. I am a hobbyist, albeit an advanced hobbyist. It’s not easy to justify a $450 software purchase for a hobby to the wife. And to have that software be outdated with no resource and no easy upgrade path. Now I have to spend the full $199 upgrade that people who’ve used CS3 for years now have to pay. WTF?
    Am I pieved. Heck ya! I wouldn’t have a problem paying another $50 processing and packaging fee for the upgrade.
    And yes, I know there will be dozens of replies that that’s life. Welcome to the world of software. Well guess what…
    I’M SICK OF IT!!!!
    And it won’t be me who loses. It’ll be Adobe. Because I sure as heck am not going to pay $199 to upgrade to CS4 when I just paid to upgrade to CS3. And I am tired of waiting and getting stuck in this part of the upgrade cycle. A similar thing happened to me when I got CS2. CS3 came out shortly thereafter. So I am tired of being two years behind the curve.
    So let me suggest that Adobe consider some policy changes. Be more open about releases. Offer upgrade insurance or a reduced upgrade price for those in that last quarter before the release.
    Because right now, if I don’t get this worked out. I am going to use CS4. I’m just not going to pay for it. (Because morally, I feel justified. I try to pay for all my software and be legit. But this leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. I feel lied too, deceived and swindled. So my moral qualms have pretty much been extinguished.)
    The sad thing is, I am otherwise very very supportive of Adobe products. I’ve done YouTube video campaigns in support of Adobe.
    But us amateurs are constantly screwed over by this sales method. The professionals buy the new version as soon as it comes out. Because they make money from your software. Us amateurs make little to no money. We are not able to justify immediate purchases at release. Hopefully Adobe will consider revising it’s policies. Or it will have lost at least one CS4 “purchase”.

  • Leo — 9:47 PM on October 06, 2008

    >>Ramón G Castañeda
    >>Does unckecking the “compatability” box in the CS3’s save dialogue do anything other than remove the preview image?
    >>It has nothing to do with the preview. At the very least, it does away with the flattened composite.
    >>Hard drives are darn cheap these days. Storage space is no longer the issue it once was.
    That flattened image is used as a preview by many external viewers… and is what I was talking about. Hard drives may be cheaper than in the past, but files are also bigger than ever, so compression is still appreciated.
    Gothmeister — 02:32 AM on September 22, 2008
    >>I hope that Adobe sell CS4 for the same price in europe as in america.
    >>Alex, I’m sure it will; at the same number of US$/£/€.
    >>I.e. the upgrade will be US$199 or £199 or €199
    LOL Unfortunately I think you are right for those markets – even though that equates to a big difference in actual costs. Adobe software is always horrifically overpriced here in Australia – I wish it was $199 AUD, then it would only be 15% overpriced rather than the usual 150% :-(

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