What Do You Need All Those Programs For?

Adobe is famous for having a ridiculous number of programs in a huge variety of packages. Do you need the designer or the web software package? Can you just buy one individual software like Photoshop?

So today I’d like to give a run-down of what many of the major Adobe programs are used for and what their specialties are.

Adobe Photoshop

The most famous Adobe program, this is used for photo manipulation, heavy graphics like a large photo-heavy poster, cropping of images for transparent backgrounds and digital painting. Photoshop is an excellent utility knife of a program. It is one of the most versatile for opening different image formats including EPS and AI files (though it will no longer BE a vector image after that point). You can create fliers, brochures, banners, posters and even websites using Photoshop. However, Photoshop does have a few downsides: one being that while it can be used for fliers, brochures, posters, etc it tends to make those files HUGE.


Adobe Illustrator

A revolutionary and very intuitive vector program, Adobe Illustrator and create images using mathematical formulas.  What does this mean? It means anything you create in Illustrator can be enlarged or shrunk infinitely without any resolution problems. Also, the file size tends to be very small, even for a large banner. The addition of being able to ‘create outlines’ out of text guarantees that your font will turn out exactly how you want it to because it turns every letter into a vector image. Illustrator is most famous for making graphics, esp logos, but it’s very handy for fliers, brochures, posters and web images one you get the feel for it. A word of warning: while you can insert normal jpg and gif images into an Illustrator file, they will not be turned into vector-images. Use this feature sparingly as it really increases the file-size.


Adobe InDesign

Completing the triumvirate is InDesign. InDesign was especially made for banner, brochure, magazine, catalog and newspaper layout. It is the most powerful tool for large or multi-page documents, especially ones with tons of images in them. Why? InDesign has this really neat trick. Unlike Illustrator or Photoshop when you “Place” an image into InDesign, it doesn’t actually put the image in. Instead it links to the folder where the image is residing.  This is why it’s important to keep all your project images in a project folder (so if you have to back it up you have all the needed images). What this does is allow you to design with hundreds of images without overloading your computer’s processor. It also allows easy uniform processing to PDFs of varying resolutions and compression sizes: from Press Quality to Web Quality.

When file size is your main concern, it’s best to alter the images in Photoshop, make the illustrations in Illustrator, save all those images into a project folder and put them together in an InDesign file. If you get no other Adobe programs, these will keep you pretty well ahead of the game design-wise.


Adobe Acrobat

Allows you to create, manipulate, add editable forms to etc PDF documents. Very useful tool, though I’ve since found out that, since PDF is an open source format, there are many cheap/free versions of this available. It’s nice if it comes with your package you buy just for uniformity’s sake.


Adobe Dreamweaver

I don’t use this much, truth be told, though I’ve heard it’s gotten better since it’s redevelopment from Macromedia (Adobe bought Macromedia). Dreamweaver is primarily an HTML/website builder that uses WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) interfaces and a large amount of pre-programed buttons and widgets to make a website. Frankly, compared to Joomla and WordPress I would take those over Dreamweaver simply for the simplicity and lack of needing substantial coding know-how.


Adobe Premiere

An astoundingly powerful video editing program. I know only the very surface of how to use it and even that is pretty impressive.


Adobe Encore

Creates beautiful DVD Menus and helps you burn DVDs that can be played on normal DVD players. One of my favorite programs to learn how to play with. You can do slide shows, import bookmarks from Premiere and AfterEffects as ‘chapters’ etc.


Adobe Soundbooth

Another very intelligent audio-editing program. I’m not entirely sure why it seems to be a bit of a one-trick pony, and would have liked to see it have more audio-mixing ability.


Adobe AfterEffects

A great add-on for Premiere. It is useful for creating animations, special effects and interesting transitions for video clips.


Adobe Flash

Now if you want to get SERIOUS about animations, this is the program for you. Not only can you create powerful flash animations, but it’s also great for creating flash-based websites with a lot of fun interactivity. The sky and your patience/planning are the limit here.


Adobe Bridge

I really like Adobe Bridge – it is a grea device for bridging media from one Adobe program to another. Say you want to create a video on Premiere with some Photoshop flies, and Illustrator image, some AfterEffects clips, a Flash animation and a Soundbooth edited clip. Bridge makes jumping and browsing between all of these super easy and functional.  In fact, the interactivity, easy navigation and simple compatibility between Adobe’s programs is what has made it the industry leader.

So these are all the major Adobe programs I know and use. Many of these programs have similar knock-off free programs that I’ve covered in a previous blog post. There are some other Adobe programs but I’ve honestly never touched them so I’m not good at reviewing or explaining them. I hope this helps you if you decide you might want to go down the path of buying Adobe programs or learning how to use the free versions.

Adobe does now have a monthly subscription service you can try if you’d like the power of the software but don’t want to commit to the massive price tag of their software. It might be a good option if you’re tried of the free stuff and ready to move on.


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