Spotlight news

Analysis: Version Cue CS3

Version Cue made a number of significant changes to its CS2 incarnation to address issues related to the old (unintuitive) product design. The new Version Cue has the same look and feel as the CS2 version, so users will not notice many of the improvements that have been made to the internals of the product.

When you save new versions of files, the current Version Cue only saves the changes produced, not the entire file, significantly reducing the amount of space required on the hard disk as well as the bandwidth consumed on the network. (The backup software employs the same concept.) One aspect that is lost with this new orientation is the ability to create backup copies of individual project versions using the Version Cue preferences pane, which is accessed can be accessed through Mac OS X system preferences (you can still create backup copies of entire projects, or the latest version of a project through the web-based management console), but this technological limitation has been a good decision taking into account the advantages of the current model in which only changes are saved. While all content and versions can no longer be exported at the same time, Version Cue’s free Access Utility tool allows sysadmins to set up automated scripts to take care of exporting project content. This utility is especially useful for team members who do not have Version Cue.

Workgroups will also find the utility’s new support for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) user permission profiles helpful, as well as the ability to modify Version Cue’s interface and capabilities through Java programs. Both of these features allow Version Cue to be adapted to workgroup standards, indicating for example who can access or modify a specific file.

One noticeable change is that the Alternates feature is gone; that is, the ability to save alternate versions of a particular file. This is a good thing, since it was a difficult feature to understand, and in fact the same result can be achieved by saving the file under a new name. This capability should not be confused with the utility’s versioning feature, which remains unchanged.

Adobe has also transferred some of the functionality of Version Cue (such as restoring files) from the Tools menu (in the Open and Save dialogs) to the Bridge Tools drop-down menu (in the menu bar). This is something that makes sense. You can also access these commands by Control + clicking on the files from the Open and Save dialog boxes in CS3 applications with Version Cue support. Some Mac users, and especially CS3 users who do not work with Photoshop as the main tool, may not find that way of accessing files intuitive, while others may feel confused due to the change of menu options depending on the selected item.

If we focus exclusively on the internal changes to Version Cue CS3, Adobe has done a good job of keeping the user experience largely unchanged for most of its users. This allows you to focus on using the new functionality added throughout the Creative Suite and not on relearning a new interface. Users will take advantage of smaller file sizes, while large businesses using custom workflows will be able to integrate Version Cue more easily.