creative cloud logo

Adobe’s Creative Cloud represents a fundamental change to the way the industry leader will be distributing its products. Creative Suite has been a mainstay for creative professionals for years and we have all become used to the linear version releases, but now it’s official: there will be no CS7.

The next generation of Adobe applications will follow the principles of ‘software as a service’. Creative Cloud is to be charged via a monthly subscription which gives you constant access to all 26 programs and toolkits. You can then pick and choose the applications you wish to download and install, and receive updates and new features as they are rolled-out, instead of having to wait for the next CS release as before. It is like a car company adding features to the car while you are driving it, rather than making you wait for the next year’s model. Essentially you now pay for the ongoing services of Adobe in their development of the applications. You can still use the programs offline, but you do need to connect to the internet at least once a month so the programs can verify that your subscription is valid.

It is a big change, but a necessary one. In just the last few years we have seen the explosion of enormous brand-new markets centering around mobile devices. Creative Cloud gives Adobe’s software the ability to evolve at the same aggressively fast rate as the industry; to react more quickly and give designers what they need when they need it.

This is a fairly drastic modernization of Adobe’s business model and we have been hearing a few recurring questions from our students about the transition. In particular the new subscription types take some explaining:

If you have never purchased CS3 or later, full Creative Cloud subscription is $49.99/month. If you are an existing customer (own a valid serial), the first year is $29.99/month, and for teachers and students signing up before June 25th 2013, the first year is $19.99/month. These individual plans come with 20GB of Cloud storage and are a 12 month commitment.

For businesses, it is $69.99 per team member per month, which includes 100GB Cloud storage and extended one-on-one support. And again, if you already have a CS3 or later serial, the first year is $39.99.

The services provided are intended to go beyond mere software. With Cloud storage, enhanced file syncing through CC Connection, and other tools emphasizing live collaboration, Creative Cloud is recognizing the increasing mobility of todays creative professionals. It addresses the growing need we have for access to all of our resources from whatever location we’re at, and whatever device we’re on.

Part of this modernization is the introduction of web services like Behance. Hailed in this year’s MAX Keynote presentations as “the ultimate creative ecosystem”, it serves as online space for creatives to showcase their work in a format reminiscent of Pinterest, but with the self-promoting elements of LinkedIn. You can even share unfinished projects directly from the program you’re using and receive live feedback from the creative community – coined ‘the credible mass’ by Adobe.

CC also seems to have a theme of creating synergistic workflows between several existing programs. Below is a rough example of a comp started in Photoshop, made responsive in Edge Reflow, and tested in Edge Inspect to make the design compatible on multiple devices:

Comp made in Photoshop...

Comp made in Photoshop…

...layout configured with media breakpoints in Edge Reflow...

…layout configured with media breakpoints in Edge Reflow…

...and tested in Edge Inspect on my smartphone.

…and tested in Edge Inspect on my smartphone.

Essentially the vision is for there to be an always-accessible, swirling cloud of resources, support and inspiration from the creative community above our heads, and an equally collaborative and intuitive suite of programs under our noses; signaling a new-age for the creative design process.

Judging by the reviews on the Creative Cloud site, this transition will be a hectic time for Adobe’s customer service staff. The drastic changes to the pricing structure may have alienated more casual users, and the option of a single program subscription for $19.99 per month does little to appease them. But amongst those with higher levels of usage at least, the benefits outweigh the apparent cost commitment and CC seems generally well-received.

Ascend’s scheduled classes will start being taught in CC 30 days after the official release from Adobe on June 17th.