Disclaimer: I use Contribute purely for blog posts. If I want to update web pages I use Dreamweaver.
Well, I did. I decided to go ahead and buy the CS5.5 upgrade. I was surprised to find that not every thing is 5.5 – several of the programs are 5.1. Don’t know that it matters any, just a surprise. This 5.5 release seems to be focused on Dreamweaver, Device Central, Flash, InDesign and Premier Pro. The rest of the lot just went to 5.1. Makes me wonder if they had anything other than bug fixes and minor additions or if Adobe is just trying to keep up appearances.
I decided to start my foray into CS5.5 with Contribute, mostly because I feel guilty I have not updated my blog recently and that is the app that I use the most. (In Contribute, why is Check Spelling… under the Format menu rather than the Edit menu where you would expect to find it? That may be one of the few things Microsoft did right. Or maybe you and Apple could work something out to get realtime spelling correction?)
One of the first things to know is that Contribute 5 and Contribute 5.1 on the same machine do not play well together. The 5.1 version works just fine; CS5 not so well. CS4 and CS5.1 play well together. Why does this matter? I keep multiple version of CS on my machine at the same time. I usually keep two: current and previous. That way if the current one has a problem I may be able to rescue it with the previous one. I may end up with CS4 / CS5.5 rather than CS5 / CS5.5. This may be like Acrobat in that it touches so many things it would get confused if you tried to put two (2) different versions on the same machine. Not a big deal but worth noting. Also worth noting is that Dreamweaver 5 and 5.5 may share this oddity. You’ll probably have to test each one to find out if you favorite apps play well or not on your machine.
Back to Contribute. The main UI hasn’t changed. Left side still has the pages/drafts console and the “How do I…” help pane. Double click on the dividing line between the pages and the text area and the panels collapse into tabs just like they do in Illustrator and Photoshop. Press the tiny ddouble triangles above the panels for the same effect. You can also reorder the two tabs just by grabbing the top of one and moving it where you want it. “Undock” a panel just by grabbing it and pulling it away from the left side to any place on the screen. Not sure why you would do this but it’s your setup so have at it.
A quick look at the menus doesn’t show anything that jumped out at me as being new but I don’t have CS5 on a machine to compare it to so check your favorites to see if you got anything new.
The biggest change seems to be in the post space. In CS5, you wrote your post “in” your blog. That meant you saw you blog’s header and sidebar and the you had a window frame to write your post in. In Contribute 5.1, you don’t see all that when you go to write your actual post; you just see this nearly full-screen box. Does it matter? Well, no and yes. No, it doesn’t matter if all you are doing is writing a piece and putting in a few graphics. That doesn’t matter so much. Yes if you wanted a better view of how your text would interact with graphics (see beside or above or where ever). The root problem with all of this is the browser you reader is going to view this in. Unless you “own” the presentation space, that is how wide the blog body is irrespective of how big the window is (think three (3) column fixed) you text and image are going to float to the size of the window. Without the top and right side (or left or both depending on how you set you blog up) you don’t really know how things will flow out. I prefer to give my viewers as much freedom to resize the browser to view my comment. Some choose to own the browser. Most photographers choose to own the whole screen. Matter of taste I guess.
Guess that covers the things I have found in Contribute. I’ll let you know if I see any more.