2001: The Creative Year in Review
We asked the writers and pundits who contribute to creativepro.com to review 2001 from the perspective of product releases and news events for creative professionals.
The events of September 11 cast a shadow on all of us. We cannot think about the past year without replaying the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and remembering the lives that were lost. We anticipate the impact of these events will resonate throughout creative work for years to come.
However, our scope here is to look at the tools and technologies that help our readers achieve their visions. A recurrent theme, not surprisingly, is what didn't ship, most notably Adobe InDesign 2 and QuarkXPress 5. Here is a look back at 2001 for creative professionals by a few of our contributing editors.
A Bad Year for Business: Eric J. Adams
On the business front, unfortunately, the news was rather dismal: advertising at an all-time low; the death of many more magazines, the last throes of the dot-com implosion; and reluctance on the part of many corporations to undertake fresh marketing initiatives. The year also saw the further Ebay-ification of the freelance job market with the likes of elance.com, where designers are asked to bid feverishly and publicly in exchange for cut-rate work.
On the positive side, economic indicators inching up at year's end suggest the recession is winding down, which should result in pent up demand for creative services and an improved job market by as early as next quarter.
Read Eric J. Adams' Art of Business columns for 2001.
The Almost Year: David Blatner
For me, 2001 was the year of almost-released software. Most of the year was spent waiting for a usable version of Mac OS X to ship. Even now that 10.1 has shipped, we're still waiting for all the other programs and utilities to catch up (fortunately, FontReserve and Suitcase 10 just slipped their releases in before the end of the year). The two biggies, of course, are QuarkXPress 5 and Adobe InDesign 2, each of which is impressive in its own way. Remember that Quark was going to ship version 5 back in 1999, so the turn of this calendar year is particularly difficult. And Adobe has been pushing to release a version of its professional page-layout program that people could actually use without wincing. It's beginning to look like everyone's wait will be over in 2002! I'm looking forward to it.
Read more by David Blatner.
A Year in Limbo: Sandee Cohen
The most important events in 2001 for page layout actually took place just before and after the start of the year.
The first important event for 2001 occurred just at the end of 2000. That was when Tim Gill officially left Quark Inc. As the man who fathered both Quark Inc. and QuarkXPress, Tim was Quark Inc.'s visionary. There were serious questions as to how well Quark Inc. and QuarkXPress would do without Tim's guiding light.
As the year went on, the answer seemed to be "Not well." First there was the release of the rather anemic feature list for QuarkXPress 5 at Seybold in Boston in April. With a heavy emphasis on Web layout, most designers wondered if XPress was moving in the right direction.
Six months later, at Seybold San Francisco, the XPress team made what has to be the worst blunder in keynote-address history when they uttered the words "As we showed you at the last Seybold..." The big honchos who go to Seybold are not there to listen to a keynote that admits it is rehashing old information. Keynote addresses must be new, exciting, and groundbreaking.
The next big event for the year 2001 will be the release of InDesign 2. Obviously Adobe can't afford to release InDesign before it's finished baking in its beta oven. However, January's Macworld Expo would be a terrific time to start shipping. Not only would this mean InDesign 2 beats XPress 5 out the door, it would be an important opportunity to satisfy the cravings of Macintosh OS X users.
Read Sandee Cohen's Digital Dish columns for 2001.
What's Hot in 2001: Bruce Fraser
Adobe Photoshop 6: The best upgrade yet of an outstanding product.
Epson Stylus C80: An all-round color inkjet printer that prints black text fast, and comes close to equaling the performance of dedicated photo printers on color images. If inkjets get much cheaper, the vendors will be paying us rather than the other way around.
80-Gigabyte hard drives for less than $200: That's fractions of a penny per megabyte. Amazing.
GretagMacbeth Eye-One: This incredibly versatile color profiling tool doesn't cost more than a car. (Editor's note: Stay tuned for an upcoming review.)
Apple SuperDrive: Under OS X, it makes burning CDs and DVDs insanely easy, incredibly reliable, and quite speedy.
Read Bruce Fraser's Out of Gamut columns for 2001.
Outstanding but Overlooked: Susan Glinert
Two great products shipped that went largely underreported -- Creature House's Expression 2 and Adobe's FrameMaker 6. Expression 2 is a wonderful vector paint program that lets you design amazing brushes and paint with a natural feeling, but unlike bitmap painting programs such as Painter, the lines remain editable and can have different brushes applied.
FrameMaker 6, an outstanding desktop publishing program, is usually totally ignored by the press for reasons that I can't figure out. Yes, its color handling is a little awkward, but for long documents, FrameMaker 6 beats out everyone, what with cross-references, variables, multiple indexes, tables of contents, and other lists. You can set up documents with conditional text so, for example, you can have one document produce both a wholesale and retail catalog. It's easier to master than Adobe PageMaker or QuarkXPress and does a great job with PDF output, too.
On the Windows side of the fence, XP shipped. My new portable came with Windows XP Pro and I love it. XP handles most PostScript fonts natively without Adobe Type Manager -- just drag and drop the fonts into the Fonts folder. (Warning: DO NOT INSTALL ATM 4.0 in Windows XP. You will destroy the operating system and likely have to reinstall it. You must upgrade to ATM 4.1, which works fine in XP). On the other hand, some handmade fonts don't work under XP.
XP supports both OpenType and Unicode fonts and the gorgeous Japanese IME input editor works just about anywhere without having to a dual boot with Japanese Windows. Photoshop and Illustrator run with snap and I have had no stability problems, even with enormous (greater than 250 MB) files.
On the down side, CorelDraw hates XP and crashes about every ten minutes. Corel's Web site is mum about it, except to suggest installing another patch, which some users found to make things worse -- Draw wouldn't run at all after the patch was installed.
Read Susan Glinert's product reviews for 2001.
A Better-Looking Year: Brian Lawler
I am really impressed wtih PIM -- PRINT Image Matching -- a technology developed by Epson that releases us from the tyranny of sRGB when making images with digital cameras. Seems that back in middle of the last decade, when nobody knew better, the makers of digital cameras (all of them!) agreed on using sRGB as the "target color gamut" of their current and future digial-camera offerings.
But over the years cameras, computers, and printers have improved. Today's printers can produce a whole lot more colors than those found in the sRGB gamut.
In 2001 Epson developed a technique that works within the existing file standard for digital cameras, but which records pointers to a larger gamut of colors for those printers that can take advantage of this information (otherwise the information is ignored).
Epson licenses the technolgy to other camera manufacturers for free -- and almost every other manufafturer has licensed it. Expect prints to look better from digital cameras in the future.
Read Brian Lawler's articles from 2001.
Staving Off Virus Attacks: David Morgenstern
For the Under the Desktop beats, the past year's prime story -- one that will undoubtedly continue into the year ahead -- was the increasing rate of computer virus and worm attacks. Despite the fact that we have nothing else to rely upon, the traditional anti-virus software is looking anemic. For Windows desktop computers the discovery rate of new viruses and worms became a daily event during the last quarter.
The method of attack is convoluted. For example, the recent "Happy New Year's" Internet worm comes as an executable email attachment, which then points your browser to a malicious site. This page sends your computer a Visual Basic Script to attack your system files.
In late December, Microsoft was embarrassed with the revelation of a gaping security hole in Windows. The company asked that all users of Windows XP install a software patch as well as anyone running its Internet Connection Sharing client under Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows ME.
Content creators running the Mac OS rarely experience such nasty virus or worm attacks -- in fact, the most common attacks on the Mac have been macro viruses for Microsoft Office. So if Mac-based creators add Windows machines to their workflow or shop, some may be a bit lax on the security front. As the rabbinic saying goes: If everyone sweeps in front of their door, the whole city will be clean. In the year ahead, let us all be vigilant.
Read David Morgenstern's Under the Desktop columns for 2001.
Anticipation, Impatience, Hope: George Penston
Although I really love my new iBook, Apple hasn't really offered up any real groundbreaking hardware innovations this year. Sure, the SuperDrive and iPod can be considered as such, but I expect that much from Apple. Speed bumps and hardware updates are fine but ho-hum. Where's the revolutionary Apple industrial design I know and love? I hope that the upcoming Macworld Expo will finally see the next incarnation of the iMac.
After waiting six years, Apple finally made good on its promise of delivering to us a truly next-generation operating system, Mac OS X. Regrettably, the first release was barely usable. Only recently has the new OS shown a glimmer of what's to come. In September, Apple doled out OS X 10.1 bringing the OS to a respectable level of acceptance.
Adobe did send out a carbonized version of Adobe Illustrator 10, a nice update to version 9 released in the beginning of the year. But many other OS X-native Adobe products won't be in our hot little hands until early next year some time, according to official announcements and rumors: Adobe InDesign 2, GoLive 6, LiveMotion 2, After Effects 5.5, and Photoshop 7.
I suspect that the majority of the creative Mac users won't even seriously think about migrating to OS X until a carbonized version of Photoshop is released. Plus, I've been waiting for the follow up version to LiveMotion for so long that I've almost given up all hope. I'd like to mention something about Macromedia and Quark but neither impressed me this year. Again, maybe next year we'll hear something about new, carbonized versions of Dreamweaver and XPress, but I'm not holding my breath.
On a personal side I've been watching my daughter grow up before my eyes and I've bid farewell to many of my friends that moved to San Francisco a couple years back but had to move back home because of the Internet crash and employment slump. If I had to use one emotion to describe this year in terms of creative tools, it would be anticipation. All this year seemed to be leading up to the big pay off of next year but I always want the latest and greatest right now.
Read George Penston's Creative Toolbox columns for 2001.
A Year of Uncertainty: Pamela Pfiffner
The year 2001 began with uncertainty as the job market for creative professionals atrophied with the dot-com implosion and as the identity of our elected president remained in question. The year ended with uncertainty as the economy descended into a recession and world events compelled us to turn inward to ponder our collective and singular fates.
In between we saw the introduction of stellar products from Adobe, such as Photoshop 6, Acrobat 5, and Illustrator 10. Launched earlier in the year, Macromedia's FreeHand 10 is often overshadowed by its Adobe rival as an illustration product, but its improved integration with Flash makes it a solid Web tool as well. The much-anticipated and closely watched match up of InDesign 2 and QuarkXPress 5 has been delayed to next year. I've been playing betas of both products and I can tell you it's going to be a doozy of a fight.
Innovation on the Web front slowed as the Internet boom stalled. As the industry retrenched, Web designers were able to master existing tools instead of racing to keep up with a flood of new products. Flash, once used primarily for special effects, is ubiquitous now. It's rare to find a professionally designed site that does not require the Flash plug-in.
The printing industry took its lumps this year, too. The demand for printing dried up as once-fat magazines ceased publication and direct-mail marketing fell victim to the Anthrax threat. The dot-com downturn affected many printing companies as well; millions of dollars poured into Web initiatives seemed like bad bets in light of a sagging economy.
The journey that creativepro.com took this year in many ways reflected that of the creative industry as a whole. Even as our traffic escalated, revenues declined, and the site faced an uncertain future. In October PrintingForLess.com acquired creativepro.com, thereby allowing us to continue to publish news, reviews, and features for creative professionals.
We anticipate a good year in 2002, but to keep creativepro.com growing we need your help: Please patronize our partners. Using site services such as the Printing Center allows us to stay in business. Thanks and cheers.
Pamela Pfiffner, editor in chief
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