Uh, what does this button do?

Welcome to my first entry into the brave new world of the blogosphere. A place where anybody can talk about, well at least in my case, nothing of great importance. Think of it as the Seinfeld of the Internet. :) But, since I’ve decided to stick my little toe in the water, I thought… hey I can talk about nothing too! But Adobe’s not too thrilled about employees talking about jib jab, so I’ll reign myself in a bit and talk about stuff that relates to our products or technology. So, like all good hosts, I’ll introduce myself, bore you to pieces, and probably never see you again.

I started at Adobe in 1999 working on a now discontinued program, PhotoDeluxe (PDx). I got brought on to work on the fourth iteration of the Macintosh version (which never shipped). And in fact, it would have been only the third version (as version 3 was skipped). They had made some changes to the text engine in the 4th version of the Windows project and I was responsible for making it work on the Mac. Prior to coming here I was still in college, so that meant I knew Unix. For most professions in the computer industry, knowing Unix wasn’t so helpful so this Mac thing was a whole new experience. What did I get from it? Well, how about a lack of documentation. Wow. You could find more tumbleweeds rolling about then useful Mac documentation (pre-OS X). But I digress… Shortly after hitting beta, PDx was ended and they moved most of the team over to a whole new program, Photoshop Elements (PSE). Moving to PSE was pretty exciting. Its charter back then was to make the very powerful, but complicated Photoshop more accessible to average people. It was just the type of challenge we looked for. Being a Photoshop user myself it was right up my alley.

On version 1 of PSE, I was responsible among other things for dreaming up Recipes. Recipes were an interactive list of steps to help the user achieve a task. The idea of guided activities were not new (they were in PDx) but one of the limitations of guided activities were that locked the user into a specified process. Not being a huge fan of being told what to do I felt Recipes should merely suggest what to do but still allow the user to try things out and maybe learn as they go. The other features I worked on were some behind the scenes work in the File Browser (which later moved to Photoshop), the red eye removal brush (which later became the color replacement brush), and some Twain (scanner) improvements.

Version 2 was more of the same… I worked on re-architecting the Recipes work (renamed How Tos) and added a search box and interface into the online help system. I also saw the concepts behind Recipes find its way into Acrobat.

The biggest change in version 3 was the “integration” of Photoshop Album (now called the Organizer). I didn’t work on that part, but instead co-wrote the Photoshop Elements Help application (which later became the basis for the Creative Suite Help System). I was also responsible for creating the single-column toolbar. Exciting, eh?

In version 4 I really didn’t have a feature, per se. Instead I was tasked with making the Editor startup faster. When Acrobat 7 debuted, one of their biggest improvements was their startup time. So, I worked with some of the Acrobat guys to determine what PSE could do to take advantage of what they learned. And we saw noticible improvements. In PSE 3 our “cold” startup time went from around 20 seconds to 6.5 seconds in PSE 4. And from around 8 seconds “warm” launch to about 3.5 seconds on the same machine.

PSE 4 was also the first time we staggered our release of the Windows and Macintosh versions. So, shortly before PSE 4 Windows was finished I got pulled off to work on the Mac version. Aside from bringing over most of the Windows Editor features, the major changes were integrating Bridge (the File Browser replacement) and moving from the application being Carbon (CFM) based to MachO.

I’m hoping this blog will serve as a means for Engineering on PSE to communicate with our customers, and allow for a more technical discussion regarding the underpinnings of a solid graphics program. Adobe does keep me busy, so I’m not sure how often I will update this blog, but feel free to check out my other passion.