Adobe Photoshop 5.5
by Rick Smith August 16, 1999
(updated December 2002)
This article is a "live" article that is updated as I examine the exciting new features of Adobe's Photoshop 5.5. It started as a "first look" and eventually transformed into a review. This experimental article style was developed by Reviews OnLine to balance in-depth product analysis with the dynamics of timely Web publishing.
Today I loaded Adobe's latest version of their powerful Photoshop software. Although much of this version is similar to the previous 5.0 version (a 5.0 version user manual is included), 5.5 is definitely "webified". Included is Image Ready 2.0 and it has some wonderful features. Since this is a first look, I will briefly describe what I feel are great new Web features:
If you have ever needed to see how compression visually affects a picture, Live View is your answer. You can simultaneously compare up to 3 separate versions of the picture at various compression levels, file formats, color depths and dithers, against the original picture. While other programs such as Microsoft's Image Composer perform similar tasks, Photoshop does it better!
You can set a zoom level and each picture then zoomed to the same amount. When you pan (with the Adobe "hand"), they pan together. By being able to compare these synchronized pictures, faster and better decisions can be made about the compression amount and file type to use. I have never been able to easily examine the specific, subtle changes made by each compression type as I have been when I used Photoshop's Live View. You can even specify a file size and Photoshop will search through different quality levels to achieve that file size.
When an optimal compression and file format combination is found really great for your project, you can NAME it for quick reuse in the future. This speeds your workflow and helps create uniformity in the project by having consistent compression and without having to put sticky notes on the monitor for the settings to use for each project.
Another feature I tried was the lossy GIF feature that can create a GIF file at nearly the same small size as a JPG with high compression. Adobe states that lossy GIF can save 10 to 50 percent of file size.
Some of the other great features that Photoshop 5.5 has in store are:
Quick slicing of Web graphics
Quick animation capabilities
Background eraser / Extract Image - I saw this feature demonstrated at PC Expo in New York - Wow!
Quick and fast Web galleries and contact sheets
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