I’ve got CS4…now what?

With the announcement that IU had acquired free Adobe software for all of it’s employees and students, your first thought was probably “How do I get it?” Now that we’ve all had a couple of months to get the software downloaded and installed, you’re likely thinking now: “What do I do with all of this stuff?”

Adobe is one of the largest software companies in the world, and while most people are familiar with their core apps, like Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash, there are many applications included in the suite that you might not be familiar with. In this post, we’ll take some time to examine all the different applications that you can install with the various Adobe suites. We will focus on the applications in Design Premium CS4 and Production Premium CS4. There are many add-ons and extra technology included in the installers, but we will look only at the applications included.

Design Premium CS4

The Design Premium suite is probably what most users will download first. This package includes the most common applications that Adobe offers. Let’s look at what’s included.

Photoshop – This is Adobe’s flagship application, and the one most people are familiar with. It is a professional quality photo editing program. It can be used by basic users, but is designed for advanced and professional users. Some tasks you could complete in Photoshop include resizing images, color correcting, making a collage of images, and even saving as a different format. More complex tasks can include retouching and repairing damaged images, or removing distractions.

Dreamweaver – Dreamweaver is a website creation program designed to allow users to see the web page they are creating as they are creating it, rather than typing in code. As the user creates parts of the web page, Dreamweaver writes the code in the background, which the user can view and alter as necessary. Dreamweaver also offers Cascading Style Sheet integration, and the ability to add code in several popular web programming languages like PHP and ColdFusion.

Flash – Flash is an animation and application development platform. You can create simple or complex animations, and use the ActionScript programming language to create full featured web applications. Because it combines animation and programming, it can become a very complex application, but it also means that you can create very impressive applications once you have some knowledge.

Acrobat Professional – Acrobat is a program that creates and edits PDF documents. PDF documents are designed to be read by anyone with the freely available Adobe Reader, but with Acrobat Professional, we can create these documents and add special features. We can create PDF forms, and add links, bookmarks, and file attachments to standard PDFs. We can also add security features to our PDFs with this program.

Illustrator – Illustrator is a program designed for the creation of print graphics. It is a program designed for artists, and requires good knowledge of the use of the tools and drawing in general to get good results, but with some time and effort, most users can become proficient with the tools.

InDesign – InDesign is a page layout program that can be used to create newsletters, brochures, flyers and even more complex publications like magazines and books. InDesign works very well in any instance where text and graphics need to be placed precisely. Again, it is a program that benefits from a solid knowledge of the tools and design principles, but is usable for basic users.

Fireworks – Fireworks is a lightweight graphic editor that is focused on web graphics. We can quickly optimize web graphics, and create web specific graphics like animated GIFs, image maps, and navigation bars. It is excellent for quick re-sizing and saving in web based formats like JPG, GIF and PNG.

Production Premium CS4

The Production Premium suite is focused on video editing and creation. These programs are likely less familiar to a broad audience. Also, Photoshop, Flash and Illustrator are included with this package, which are discussed above. These programs are almost universally more complex than the Design Premium applications, because the concepts are so much more complex.

Premiere Pro – Premiere Pro (not to be confused with Premiere Elements, a separate program) is a high-end video editing program. It is a complex program that requires a good deal of skill and know-how to use proficiently. Basic users are probably more interested in the more basic Premiere Elements (available as a separate download for IU staff and students from IUWare), or Windows MovieMaker, which is available by default on Windows computers.

Soundbooth – Soundbooth is a sound recording and editing program that comes with the Production Premium suite. In this program you can alter pitch and tone, change the sound levels, remove and add audio, and even add special effects to your sound recording.

After Effects – After Effects is a program that allows you to add special effects to videos like animation, or screen overlays. It can also do video touch-ups, much like the healing tools in Photoshop can touch-up photos. It is another program that requires a lot of knowledge of video formats and the tools to get good results.

Encore – Encore is a fully-featured DVD creation program. It allows us to create a DVD with all the features of a professional DVD, such as multiple audio tracks, animated menus, chapter lists, and even includes DVD burning. Encore is a DVD creation program only, and it relies on the other programs in the suite like Photoshop, After Effects, and Flash to create some of these more complex assets, but with some know-how, a basic user could create a simple DVD fairly quickly.

OnLocation – OnLocation is an organizational program to help keep track of video files as they’re being shot. It can track a shot list, including the camera that was used, the time of day, and other information essential to a large or small production. It is designed for professionals working on a complex video shoot, and is probably not of much use to the basic user.

Adobe Media Encoder – This is a program designed as an add-on to Flash and Premiere, but can be used as a standalone application as well. It converts video files from one format to another with great precision. Basic users can use the presets, and experiment with different settings to find a good balance of size and quality.

This has been a brief overview of the programs included in the Adobe Creative Suites. If you want to learn more about these programs, and how to use them, keep an eye on this blog or try these sources:

  • http://ittraining.iu.edu – IT Training & Education offers in-depth classes on all of the programs in the Design Premium suite.
  • http://www.adobetv.com – For shorter video tutorials, Adobe TV can give you specific tips and skills on all of the Adobe products.


  1. Al

    If I download the Premium CS4 package and all I’m interested in is working with photo’s should ( can) I only install Photoshop??

  2. Andy Hunsucker

    You can install each piece individually with no problem. I would however, also install Adobe Bridge, which is a companion program that you might find helpful. Unfortunately, there’s no way to download the individual programs in the suite.

    As for whether or not you ‘should’, that’s up to you. Photoshop can do pretty much everything you might want with an image, but there’s a couple other programs that might do specific tasks a bit faster or more efficiently.

    For instance, if you’re just resizing images for the web, Fireworks is a program that can quickly and easily do that.

    Also, there’s a couple of programs outside of Design Premium that might be of interest. Lightroom for example is a photo organizer that will also allow you to do contrast and color adjustments from within the program.

    You might also consider Photoshop Elements. If your needs are somewhat basic, it’s a good lightweight program that includes a lot of the high-end Photoshop features like healing tools and masks. We teach a class with Elements called “Digital Photo Editing Basics”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *