Adobe CS4 Initial Thoughts Review

By Cory • Sep 4th, 2009 • Category: Reviews

I finally caved in and bought the newest Creative Suite from Adobe, CS4. I wanted to get the premium design version, but ended up going with the premium web version. Amazon couldn’t seem to figure out how to get their prices right last month, so the web version was $100 cheaper. A new version of InDesign was sacrificed for a little money in my pocket. I’m still a Quark guy anyway, so no big loss.

Anyway, on to the new programs. The Suite came with Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, Acrobat, Soundbooth, Contribute, Bridge, Version Cue, Device Central and some video training. I was upgrading from CS2, so I was excited to get a new version of my Adobe favorites like Illustrator and some of the new Adobe/Macromedia products like Flash and Dreamweaver.

I’ve had CS4 for about a week, so I’ve had a chance to put it through some of my normal day to day workflow. Most of that work is done in Illustrator. Overall, the transition was pretty smooth in Illustrator. There were a couple of “what the..” and “son of a…” moments, but not too many.

Here are my initial thoughts on CS4. This mostly deals with Illustrator and a little bit with Photoshop. I haven’t had time for the rest of the programs. Also, I skipped the CS3 upgrade, so anything from CS3 is new to me in CS4.

Things I Like in the New Illustrator

I like the new cascading menus. They definitely seem to keep the work area a little cleaner.

The blob brush seems interesting. I have to admit that I haven’t used it that much because I mostly use the Pen Tool, but I can see it potentially being very useful.

Automatic expanding in the Pathfinder menu is back. I never really understood why they added that in the first place. I guess you could hold the Option key down to do it in CS2, but it’s nice that it does it automatically.

I like that files open in Tabs and that it is an option you can turn off as well.

Things I Don’t Like in the New Illustrator

I’m not sure about the extra long Toolbar, but it’s not really a big deal.


The Unite pathfinder no longer unites non overlapping objects, although you can use Compound Path (which has a keyboard shortcut). So all is forgiven.

I’m not really sure why I have to Expand Appearance on the Round Corners filter now. This goes back to the point of adding unnecessary steps like the Expand button on the pathfinder palette.

The new Smart Guides kind of suck (strictly professional term). They don’t seem to snap. I’m not really sure what they are supposed to be used for if they don’t snap. Luckily, a wise person on the internet told me that if you hold down the Command/Control key, they function like they did before.

Things I Like in the New Photoshop

I haven’t spent too much time in Photoshop, but some of the same things from Illustrator apply (Menus and Tabs).

Things I Don’t Like in the New Photoshop

I make a lot of jpeg thumbnails in Photoshop with Actions, so I was pretty upset that the Raster EPS window doesn’t save the preferences from the last open document anymore. I haven’t found a work around for this yet, so I’m mostly still using CS2.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m happy I upgraded. I haven’t opened the programs yet, but I think having Flash and Dreamweaver again will be great. That alone, really makes the upgrade for me. I’m not sure it mattered all that much for Illustrator and Photoshop. I may be biased though. I have a set way of working, and I don’t use a lot of the latest and greatest features. Really it seems like the big reason for upgrading is to keep your resume updated with the latest random changes Adobe is making. Although, I’m sure my thoughts will change down the road, and I’ll be gushing about some can’t live without feature a year from now.

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2009 Cory Thoman.