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Producing With Adobe Creative Cloud: UPDATED

Adobe Creative Suite gets cloud treatment, giving producers options for licensing Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Flash Pro and other CS6 applications on a month-by-month subscription basis, rather than paying for boxed product with perpetual licenses.

Editor's Note: After publication of this article, Adobe clarified its position on Edge's availability after the May 11 launch date for Adobe Creative Cloud, stating "Users are currently able to get Edge Public Preview for free on Adobe Labs. Adobe will detail purchase and/or subscription options when Edge 1.0 is released later this year.”

Adobe yesterday rolled out its Creative Suite 6 (CS6) line of products, including Adobe Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Flash Professional, as well as a subscription service—Adobe Creative Cloud—for those who want to pay a monthly fee for the applications rather than buy perpetual licenses (the license that comes with those cute little Adobe CS6 boxes).

Much has been written about CS6, including at our sister publication, StreamingMedia.com, and a bit has been written about the Creative Cloud offering. Now that Adobe has detailed its plans for CS6 and Creative Cloud, many are asking which one is the right choice.

For the streaming media producer who will be in the field, or have limited data access, the perpetual license model of CS6 makes the most sense, but with caveats which we will cover below. For the producer that's in a studio or have access to a fairly fat data pipe, the Creative Cloud may make the most sense, especially when it comes to data sharing and collaboration.

Adobe Creative Cloud

We've briefly covered CS6 Production Premium, including an article about Adobe Prelude last week, but it should be noted that point products such as Flash Professional span the range between Production Premium and the Design & Web Premium suite. Those who need access to Dreamweaver and other applications in the Design & Web Premium suite would either have to buy the Adobe CS6 Master Collection or sign up for Creative Cloud.

Even those who buy Master Collection won't be getting the whole deal, though, which was the biggest news from yesterday's CS6 and Creative Cloud launch. Turns out that not every application will be available in CS6 Master Collection but will be available in Creative Cloud, which has a $49.99 per month subscription price.

As an example of the difference between CS6 and Creative Cloud, an Adobe press release lists several recent Adobe Labs projects that won't be available as part of CS6.

"Creative Cloud membership provides users with access to download and install every new Adobe CS6 application announced today," the press release states, "and two new HTML5 products, Adobe Muse and Adobe Edge preview."

We covered Edge for StreamingMedia.com and it is a powerful tool for HTML5 visual and interactive development, one that might be a compelling point product. It offers benefits for creating Flash-like video players and other interactive elements that can be used on iOS (Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod touch) as well as Android handsets and tablets.

The choice by Adobe to curtail inclusion of its HTML5 tools is troubling, not just as a way to drive traffic to the Creative Cloud, but also as a larger question of its verbal commitment to push HTML5 to equal footing with Flash. When it comes to the world of standards-based development, Adobe looks to be acting like a big corporation, profiting from the pain point in the transition from a Flash-dominate world to a world of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS3.

The choice to allow Creative Cloud-only access to an HTML5 web development tool also appears to run counter to the stated goal of Adobe's educational push. In fact, with the launch of CS6, Adobe took pains to showcase its commitment to HTML5.

In a separate press release, Adobe said one of the goals with CS6 was to "expand the delivery of education content with multi-screen publishing across multiple platforms and devices using HTML5 and the very latest standards for Web, mobile, e-books, and tablets." While it's true that Dreamweaver will be available in CS6, the lack of Edge means that schools will be forced to pay $29.99 per student per month to get access to a tool that's arguably a better training tool for HTML5 than the bloated Dreamweaver application.

Adobe Creative Cloud

In addition, Adobe has stated that it will update the Creative Cloud applications before it updates the point product applications. While that might be assumed, it's a bit surprising to see it in print.

"Creative Cloud members will have access to application upgrades, including new CS point-product features, before they are launched as part of major CS updates," the company's press release states.

All that to say, gentle reader, that Adobe has made itself clear: If the carrot of cloud accessibility (and 20GB of "free" storage) isn't a compelling reason to join the Creative Cloud, the stick (withholding particular products) will be used to push users to the cloud approach. It's a gamble for Adobe, one that may pay off, but it seems to be more about revenue than actually meeting Creative Suite customers at a happy medium.

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