Adobe Photoshop does not blow the competition away - the best-selling image manipulation software just does not seem to have competition. Almost every design studio, art department and output centre uses Photoshop, and there are many whose careers depend on it. It is used by photographers, graphic designers, digital artists, Web-page designers and countless thousands of people who just love playing with it. Photoshop 5 has just been released and, unlike last year's upgrade, is packed with the features that people have been seeking. At the top of most wish lists was a 'Multiple Undo' function, addressed by the new History Palette which tracks steps taken while editing an image, so users can return to any stage with one click. This is far preferable to hitting the command-control Z keys six or seven times to undo unwanted commands. The History Brush is similar to the Rubber Stamp tool but paints the contents of one stage in the history palette into a later stage, allowing you to combine several versions of the same image. I've often wondered how many creative whizkids have toiled for hours only to discover, once finished, that they misspelled the client's name. In the past, such a blunder could drive sensitive artists to the window ledges of tall buildings. Those days are gone forever. Text is now placed on to a layer of its own where it can be edited and re-edited simply by double clicking on it in the Layers Palette. Text also can be adjusted for kerning, tracking, baseline shift and colour. As Photoshop 5 supports double-byte characters and vertical text, you can do all of this with characters. The new layer effects are not restricted to text, though that is where their strength is most obvious. They allow for a range of popular effects such as shadows, bevels and glows to be applied directly to the type. The tool box contains two new items - the Magnetic Lasso and the Magnetic Pen. Both are selection tools like their non-magnetic counterparts, but these tools find and cling to the edges of contrasting areas. The lasso defines a selection while the pen creates a path to trace outlines of objects. Photoshop 5 also introduces Automation plug-ins. These work in the same way as normal plug-ins but, instead of providing extra functions, they automate mundane or lengthy tasks. Version 5 comes with six or so of these new plug-ins, and a development kit is included on the CD to enable third-party developers to create their own. This version also provides greater colour control, more support for 48 and 64-bit images and spot-colour channels. Full Photoshop 5 installation takes 80-megabytes of hard disk space, without third-party plug-ins.