Adobe Creative Suite is the professional choice for desktop publishing, some web design and development work and has respectable tools for audio and motion projects. I am going to review the Creative Suite itself rather than the different programs within it for this review. There is something to say for each of the parts of the Suite by themselves. Learning one program, Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign helps in learning the others due to the consistent application of similar interface elements and processes. The quality of the software is good. There are many types of files that can be imported and used and many ways to export to usable file types. The software links up with a wide variety of things in the world as well, like printing presses.
I love that the Suite has so many programs to investigate. They all work together so having them together is nice. Granted, there is a cost to that, which I address in the dislike section.
A lot of things bug me about Adobe Creative Suite. First of all, the pricing structure. No matter who you are or how much you use it, the one monthly price is tough to swallow for some people and once you buy in, you have to stay in to be able to access all the work you have created. Full disclosure, I teach at a university and am eligible for a reduced monthly fee and I still find it to be very expensive. For students, if they need to keep the software on their own laptops, it seems prohibitive; though I like that they have access to all the different programs.
I have been using Adobe products since 1988 so I have seen a lot of change in those decades. In the early years I found it difficult to learn the programs. There was a strong push in the early 2000's where it seems that they were focusing on making everything easy to learn, sometimes to the detriment of advanced users. Now it seems like the trend is reversing. Some of the complexity is creeping back in here and there. I notice it a lot when teaching novices who can struggle with concepts behind the interface, like the difference between vector and pixel, that dictates the behavior of the tools.
Once upon a time Adobe did a lot of work making all the interface elements appear the same, even in cases where it didn't really work out well. The eraser tool in Photoshop and Illustrator is one example. In Photoshop it erases pixels taking them away the way a white board eraser does. In Illustrator the eraser redraws the vector shape. It doesn't make sense as an eraser. Now there seems to be a willingness to experiment with the interfaces of the programs. The way Photoshop moves an image within a window, sliding to a stop rather than adhering to the movement of the mouse or stylus is novel and sometimes annoying to me. Acrobat has an entirely new interface that is completely different from the old one and from any other Adobe product. Every time I open it I struggle to get my bearings, in a program that I love and use a lot for things that Adobe apparently does not think are important to support.
I've had trouble using the downloading feature to update programs. It seemed confusing. I didn't know if I was downloading what I wanted or if it had worked. Since I use this for work, frequent downloads of new software feels like a distraction I would like to have control over and, more importantly, do not want to have interfere with my progress or negatively affect my deadlines.
Another thing that I don't like much is the reliance on the Bridge. I avoid it in favor of keeping track of my files, organizing my work and having a plan to not lose things. Part of the challenge for me is carrying my files from place to place for teaching classes in different computer labs that do not allow access from outside. I know that one day operating systems will abandon the hierarchical file systems we use now and the Bridge will then become more valuable to me. In the meantime, I don't really get any real benefit from the Bridge and I don't teach students to rely on it either. In our labs the operating systems reset to a default on every restart so anything in the Bridge would be lost (I assume but haven't tested it).
And why do I need to dismiss a window with an ad on it in order to work. Every time I have to do that I am disgusted. If the software was free then maybe. It adds a step, distracts my focus and stops my files from opening so I have to open them again. I do not remember what those ad screens are about at all. So Adobe has annoyed me for no practical reason at all.
The new workspace presets do not work for me and especially they don't work for students. It is so confusing for the interface to remove things and not be able to get them back the same way. This might be in the way my school installs the programs that makes it worse but I can't tell by looking at it and if I can't tell I can't get it fixed.
I say Adobe Creative Suite is not headed in the right direction at this point because it seems to be in a bit of chaos. At some level I really love the entire world of tools Adobe has created. Maybe that makes me more critical than I might otherwise be. I find myself often saying, "apparently Adobe thinks this is an improvement. In my opinion, Illustrator 10 was as close to perfect as it ever was. Ever since then, it seems like the features I rely on, like the drawing tool - the fundamental process in the program, have been compromised while marginally interesting features have been added.
Making the programs harder to use feels like a choice that must be made. When they were getting easier to use I always felt like Adobe did not care about me, an advanced user, much. Now it seems like they focus a lot on things that don't really improve the programs; things that they can talk up but who cares. What would I like? What would I think is the right direction? Effective tools that work, not break something to add something new. Don't change keyboard shortcuts if possible. Relearning a shortcut has taken me years to get right once it is changed. More friendly pricing structures.