Adobe Releases Significant Creative Cloud Updates

Image shows interfaces for Adobe Animate CC and Adobe Muse CC as well as splash screen from Adobe Bridge CC
Three of the Creative Cloud Applications - Muse, Animate and Bridge - get significant and long-overdue updates.

One of the really great features of the Adobe Creative Cloud is the release of updated applications when they are ready rather than the usual 18-month cycle. Yesterday Adobe made three significant- if not overdue- updates to its lineup. They are:

  • The addition of Responsive Design to Adobe Muse.
  • The resurrection of Flash as Adobe Animate CC
  • A total revamp of Adobe Bridge CC

The Muse update is significant in that Adobe has been on record as promising to blend the features of the defunct Edge Reflow product into Muse. For many the wait has been long. I suspect it took more time than they realized to add responsiveness to Muse and then they made the decision to make sure they got it right. At long last it has arrived.

A few months back Adobe clearly stated it would be rebranding Flash to reflect the fact that Flash does a lot more than banner ads and bloated animations. It also was a huge misconception that Flash wouldn’t play nice in the mobile design and this update should finally put all of that to rest. With the absorption of the now-defunct Edge Animate into the new Adobe Animate CC, one of the premier motion design applications in the market is positioned to reclaim its rightful place in the designer’s toolbox.

Adobe Bridge CC is quite the surprise. This media management application, first released with the Adobe Creative Suite 2 back in 2008, has had a difficult time of it and there were many calls over the past couple of years to disconnect Bridge from life support. Thus it will be quite the shock when many of its vocal detractors discover that not only has it been brought back to life but it has been seriously updated into a rather more robust and speedy version of its former self.

Let’s take a deeper look into these updates

Adobe Muse CC

One of the more frustrating aspects of using Muse was its lack of a responsive design capability. Though you could sort of create responsive layouts, the approach was Adaptive Design more than Responsive Design where precise breakpoints could be added to the layout.

The now-defunct Edge Reflow was the only application in the Adobe line-up that permitted us to add breakpoints when the design fell apart at precise viewport sizes.  The Reflow timeline was the key piece of that puzzle and it has been added to Muse CC.

What makes this so important is Muse CC is a visual editor that doesn’t require a designer to manually add the HTML, CSS and jQuery code to the web page. By adding the Reflow timeline to Muse CC, designers need do nothing more than identify where the design “breaks”, add a break point, and move the content around. No longer do we have to concern ourselves with separate desktop, tablet and smartphone layouts. It can all be done on one surface.

Apart from the Responsive Design features, Adobe has also added a couple of welcome new features to Muse.  The big one is the ability to use Creative Cloud libraries in Muse. Adobe also added the ability to find, manage and license images and vector graphics directly from Adobe Stock. A full run down of the improvements can be found here.

Adobe Animate CC

It is going to be interesting to see how web and motion designers accept Animate CC. For those who are expecting a version of “Flash In New Clothes” or those who have a deep, ingrained prejudice against the app …  Boy are you in for a surprise!

Animate is an “in-your-face” recognition of what the application does best: Create deep, engaging and interactive projects that are platform agnostic. That means they work anywhere on practically any screen you can think of from the smartphone – eg: iOS and Android – in your pocket to the 4K OLED TV in your living room.

Some of the really neat new features include:

  • Typekit integration for HTML5 Canvas docs
  • Publishing settings for, which can be optimized for ads that need to load quickly, or for websites that require higher resolutions
  • Support for HTML5 Canvas templates that can be customized with any code editor (for example, you can add scripts for Doubleclick or AOL tracking).
  • Tagged colour swatches linked to documents. Change a colour in a tagged swatch and all assets using the color are changed.
  • Creative Cloud Libraries access.
  • Vector brushes.
  • The ability to output to 4K video.
  • Export to .OAM format for easy inclusion in Dreamweaver CC and Muse CC.
  • Improved Onion Skinning.

Those are just a few features. For a full run down, you might want to check out this blog post from Adobe.

Adobe Bridge CC

I have to admit I am one of the few who actually used Bridge on a regular basis. I also have to admit that over the past couple of years my “regular” use became irregular. I found this application to be slower and slower and, to be blunt., rather “Unuser-friendly”. Imagine my surprise to discover Bridge has been re-engineered from what seems to be the electrons on up. Some of the major updates include:

  • Automated cache management. The central cache of Adobe Bridge stores thumbnails, previews, and metadata information in a database. This database improves the performance when you browse or search files. However, the larger the cache, the more disk space it uses. Cache preferences help you manage the trade-off between performance and cache size. Adobe has improved the purging cache capability, which was a little known feature in Bridge. In this update, automatic purging of stale cache items has been enabled when the application is idle.
    Adobe is also  providing a cache compaction option in the Bridge Preferences to set up cache clean-up at exit in case the database size increases beyond a certain size. Both these options improve performance of the application and help keep the cache and database clean over extended periods.
  • On Demand Thumbnail Generation. If any one feature of Bridge moved me into the “irregular user” category, it had to be thumbnail generation. It seemed to take forever for a folder full of thumbnails to appear or for the application to simply give up.
    This is ,hopefully, a thing of the past with this update. Adobe has made improvements to the way the thumbnails, previews, and metadata are extracted/generated. Now when you select a folder, the thumbnails/previews are extracted on priority for only the on-screen assets. The thumbnails for the remaining files are either generated on demand (when you scroll down/up) or when the application is idle. The metadata extraction happens on priority for all assets, thereby enabling the filter panel and search to become functional sooner.
    This change enables you to work with folders containing dozens of images without any performance issues like hangs and not-responding states. With this change, you will now have a fully updated Filter panel even before all the thumbnails/previews are generated. This will also enable you to search for the files even before all the thumbnails/previews are generated.
  • Import from Device Option. I never understood how it was that Bridge was one of the very few Mac OS applications that couldn’t import images in El Capitan  directly from my iOS or Android device. This has all changed with the inclusion of File>import From Device in the Mac OS version of Bridge.

On the whole, these updates are solid improvements to Muse, Bridge and Animate CC. My advice, if  you have a Creative Cloud account, is to install them and then start exploring what they can do. I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.