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Online Reviews and Site Testing with Adobe CS Live

Last year Adobe was nice enough to give me the perk of working with them on the prerelease of CS5 and Adobe was even nice enough to quote me in their global press release when they launched CS5. So I’ve have been working with the new applications for a while now and since the launch and features like content aware fill have rightfully been getting the lion share of the attention focused the new feature additions. There are two new additions that haven’t been getting much love that I wanted to feature because they are really useful and I’ve been using them more than any of the other new additions lately.

When you launch any of the new CS5 design applications like Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign you will now see this CS Live icon appear in the upper right hand corner as well as in a tab on a fly out panel running down the right side of the screen. Click on the icon and you will find a list of a number of new online features integrated into all the applications but the two I wanted to focus on are Browser Lab and CS Review.

Browser Lab

Any time you develop a web site or any browser based experience one of the most challenging parts is testing the final product to be sure it works in all the different browsers and platforms. I can be incredibly frustrating because you have to be able to run the tests on a Mac and PC and it could look perfect in Safari but is upside down and backwards on IE7. To try and simplify this process Adobe has now introduced BrowserLab which is an online application that lets you run simulated tests on your work on multiple versions of Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari. You can decide which browsers you want to test and organize them into custom sets for multiple test cases. Once that is done just flip over into Test mode, enter your URL and the site pops up for testing and QA.  You can view the results one at a time, side by side or my favorite Onion Skin. In the Onion Skin view the application overlays all the versions over one and another and it makes it really quick and easy to find big problems or subtle differences.

CS Review

Every agency has some kind of online client extranet where they can post comps for client review and to capture all the feedback in one place. The problem is that if you don’t own your own agency you don’t have access to these kind of tools until now with the release of another online application called CS Review. The reason I like this application so much is that it goes one step beyond simply capturing comments and creates an online review environment that integrates into the workflow of the CS design applications. Start by choosing CS Review from the CS Live menu and you will first be asked to create a Workspace which works like a folder.  From there you can name the file you want to post for review and choose the quality of the upload. Once it is uploaded the file will open on where you can highlight areas to comment on or send it out for review by your clients. When your clients review and comment on the work they only need to have Flash installed in a browser and not any Adobe design application. The resulting comments can then be viewed online or they will are pulled back into the design application and displayed when that file is opened.  It’s this flow starting with the application that moves into an online review and then back into the application that I really like because is creates a seamless workflow instead of multiple different systems that have to be manually combined to work smoothly.

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