Version Cue CS 2, by Adobe
Posted: 2-May-2006

3 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Adobe Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Judd Spitzer Class: PRODUCTIVITY

Overview
Version Cue 2 (VC2) is both a version control application and project collaboration tool enabling you to have multiple people work on the same files at the same time. The primary users would be offices that have different departments working on different aspects of a project, such as an Art department for illustrator files, a photo department for photoshop files, a layout department for InDesign files, etc. All of these different files can find themselves neatly placed into a VC2 folder for review and updates. Some people may see this as merely a version control tool, similar in some ways to Visual Source safe with an implemented front end, integrated within the CS2 suite, but it's power and useability come from the collaborative review processes.

Installation and Operations
The installation of VC2 is accomplished as part of the standard installation of the Creative Suite 2. I tested it using a 17" iMac (800MHz G4). Once the software is installed, you need to setup the software by using both the preference panel and a web based interface for management. Additionally, a Menubar is added to your Mac to help you quickly turn on or off the VC2 services as required.

You should know, VC2 is not your standard Mac Application. This particular program operates in the background more as a "Service" rather than a traditional application. So when you need it, it's there.

VC2 organizes related files into "projects". A project is nothing more that a folder within Version Cue that contains files on a server. The server can be on your local network, or can be any arbitrary IP address.  There are two different ways to set up a project.  You can either use the Adobe Bridge, and easily create one there, or if you have Version Cue administrative privileges, you can create a project from within your web browser.


Using Adobe Bridge to create a Version Cue project


Adobe Bridge is file browser application that provides the glue integrating the CS2 suite together. Adobe Bridge provides an easy interface to access and create Version Cue 2 projects that can be reviewed and worked on by individuals throughout the network. Additionally Bridge has other capabilities, such as enhanced batch processing of photoshop/image files, thumbnail and filmstrip reviews, search, use advanced scripting, and access Adobe Stock photos. Adobe bridge specifically provides a direct link to the Version Cue 2 workspace for ease of maintenance and access.

Version Cue, however, misses out on a great Mac-specific opportunity. Many Mac Users have .Mac accounts. This uses a different interface than a local server. It would be great to see some work done to help smaller users leverage their .Mac accounts with this collaborative content management tool.

Collaborative Working Concepts
If you have had the pleasure of working in a collaborative work environment, then you understand workflows and file servers, etc. However, in many collaborative processes, you download files to your system to work on them, then upload them back to the server. Version Cue 2 takes a smarter approach by having the users work on the files right on the server. This means that you don't have 4 other copies sitting around your desktop, and then have to guess which document you meant to put up on the server. While you can work on the file locally on your desktop and save it locally; whenever you Save A Version, that version is saved on the server.

A VC2 project does not merely have pointer files; these are the real files used to create your project. In many cases there could be 5 or 6 versions of the same file stored at this location. The big concept to grasp with Version Control 2 is that all documents stored within a VC2 project area are versioned, not merely CS2 documents. Once the document is "tagged" to also use VC2 then you can save that document without the use of Adobe Bridge.

When you save a file, you are presented with the ability to provide comments on your changes.


Saving a Version


As stated before, you do not need Bridge to open project files, it just makes it easier to do so. If you open a file using any of the CS2 products, then use the Adobe Dialog (There is a button to choose it), you will see a link to access the Version Cue workspace. From there you can find items that you can work on.

Working with versions
Another aspect of VC2 is that you can have people take projects in different directions and maximize their creative talents by working on the same files without causing a problem with the original source file. This is called using "Alternates." Very helpful when you ask a few people to provide inputs on the same file.

Reviewing your documents
Throughout the CS2 suite there is integration for Adobe Acrobat, and this is one of the places where you can utilize the PDF review feature reasonably. You can send your project out for review as long as you have a PDF file in the project. At this point Acrobat can collate and manage the review comments, then send them back to the VC2 service for inclusion in the final PDF document.

User Access
So how do you give a person access to the project? Projects and the VC2 areas are configured via a password-protected web-based interface.

Once you log in, you have many different options. Edit Users (or add them), Create a project, or more advanced options. Maneuvering through this web-based interface is easy and straightforward. If you have an idea on what do do, you can quickly get there. through the administrative panel.

Some of the important aspects of version control and collaborative work is that you can go back and see the project from beginning to end. Version cue allows you look at older versions. See who is working on the files and when, and more.

Summary
If you are not alone in your creative pursuits, then Adobe Version Cue 2 will help even two co-workers bring together their project with fantastic results. No more emailing of large files, or wondering if you have the right version, Version Cue 2 sorts out the latest versions and quickly provides them to your desktop. It's a snap to administer and you can be up and running in less than 30 minutes. You can navigate to find your projects and files using Adobe Bridge or whatever CS2 program that you are using. Version Cue doesn't leverage .Mac, or integrate version control on software other than CS2 projects. For users of any CS2 applications, such as Photoshop or InDesign, Version Cue is a powerful collaboration tool that small offices will use to ensure that their customers are provided accurate information and final products.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Strong Version Control
  • No need to email files

Cons

  • No .Mac support
  • Awkward support of 3rd party files for version control


Overall Rating:

3 1/2 out of 5 Mice