A few months ago, I asked Creative professionals to share how they used Adobe Bridge. It is very clear from the huge number of responses and the large variety of respondents that I clearly struck a nerve with my questions. I wanted to share those results with you, kind reader, and to acknowledge some of the details provided by the Creative community. Due to the volume of responses, I’ve summarized and consolidated. If you are a respondent and you don’t see yourself quoted, please know that all of the responses have been read and shared here at Adobe.
The respondents identify themselves with a wide array of jobs. We were looking for a broad spectrum of Bridge users, and we certainly got it! Photographers led the way, but Creative Directors, Graphic Designers, and sole proprietors were prominent as well.
We had a healthy blend of sole proprietors as well as Enterprise Creatives as well. We hear a lot from our individual users and small business users (think small agency or creative shop), but we don’t hear as often from our Enterprise customers. In this Enterprise shops, we saw teams as small as one and as large as 100.
Having this diversity of respondent is important to us. While Bridge is a mainstay for Creatives in general, as we look ahead at the future of Bridge, we want to ensure that whatever we build will continue to keep all Creatives productive while offering some specific benefits to the individual user as well as to the Enterprise Creative. One of the areas of interest across the board was scripting and automation.
More than a few of the individual respondents commented about how they used scripting to automate parts of their Creative process. This might include tagging images, running scripts in Photoshop or Illustrator, or making common items like comp sheets. Many of the Enterprise Creatives told us that they used scripting or even developed their own custom panels to connect to their business process systems like job planning and manufacturing. Automation and connection to other services is definitely important to everyone!
Let’s dig a little deeper into how the respondents spend their day.
It is clear that today’s Creatives are working on more than one media. This correlates with other research we’ve done over the years. We also heard that having access to all of the Creative Cloud tools as Creative Cloud members has made it possible to branch out into other areas. It is not surprising that there is a clear bias toward Print among the respondents, however, as many Creative professionals have print backgrounds. Web and Mobile focus is emerging but rapidly accelerating as tablets and mobile devices overtake Desktop computers as the primary digital consumption tool. I’ll be interested to revisit this question in a few years.
Impact of Bridge on respondents’ day
Bridge usage across all types of users
Since this survey was about Bridge, we asked how often folks used it. Most of the respondents use it several times a day, which is not surprising. We expected that we would see wide adoption, since this survey was directed at Bridge users specifically. We are happy to have respondents who use it infrequently, however, as it provides valuable data points as we evaluate the reasons why folks choose to use Bridge or not to use Bridge. Here are some quotes from the survey:
I would get lost without Bridge.
Bridge is essential to my workflow. I have tried using Lightroom as a substitute but it is simply not the tool that is best for the file examination that I do on a day to day basis.
[Bridge] does feel like an old application that is ripe for an overhaul.
We have built our image workflows in a way that makes good use of DNG and metadata (both for asset management and workflow), so Bridge is an interest for me but just as a piece of a larger puzzle of dependancies.
I wish I could show to everybody what we have achieved with Bridge in our image production.
I love Bridge for being simple yet extremely useful, and even with Lightroom I have not been able to create a workflow that does not include Bridge.
EVERYONE I introduce to Bridge instantly becomes a fan. Bridge is one of Adobe’s BEST products but seems to be given the least amount of publicity and attention by Adobe.
We use bridge as the hub for everything in an extremely adobe centric workflow for all our media.
Love bridge use it all the time still surprised to see how many of my clients do not use it.
Most important program of the cloud.
The CC Suite would be almost unusable without Bridge.
We have many, many users (possibly 10-20% of the 600+ reported above) that love using Bridge for their daily file browsing/management, even outside of the custom interfaces that we have built for Bridge. It is a great way to preview and manage files.
I can’t live without it.
I love Bridge! I would be a babbling, incoherent basket case without it.
As you can see, there is a lot of love for Bridge. There is also criticism, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t summarize that here.
It’s too slow.
The cache rebuild time is too long.
Scripting in Bridge CC is too hard.
Lightroom is a way better retouching environment.
Make it work better when browsing network storage.
It crashes all the time.
It takes too much memory.
The current Keyword management is archaic and obsolete.
I hear rumours Bridge isn’t been developed anymore.
These are not all of the critical comments we got, but we wanted you all to know that we read them all and take them to heart. Most of the criticism focused on performance, which we hear loud and clear. As for rumors, you shouldn’t believe rumors. Bridge is alive and well.
Tools you use
We took a look at how folks used other tools in their day, as a way to gauge the importance of Bridge to Creative workflows. Bridge is used predominantly as a companion to other apps, which is how it was designed. In fact, it was originally part of Photoshop, but it was so useful that it became its own product and expanded to include integrations with Illustrator and InDesign.
It is no surprise that nearly every respondent uses Photoshop regularly. It is also no surprise that InDesign and Illustrator have high adoption. It is interesting to dig a little deeper into the “other” category. There’s Muse, Acrobat, Mobile Apps, Audition, Lightroom and more in there. It’s clear that Creatives are using a broad spectrum of tools, and that Bridge should remain a general tool rather than one focused specifically on Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.
When we sliced the data across workflows, the numbers shifted a little bit. For Multiple-workflow Creatives, the distribution closely correlates with the entire set of respondents. We expected this, as most of the respondents identified themselves as multiple-workflow Creatives. Here are some thoughts
Print-centric Creatives met expectations, with their primary tools being Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. There’s not much else to say here, except when we had asked this question just a few years ago, the number of Dreamweaver and Premiere users had been close to zero. This speaks to the transformation of publishing from paper-only to paper and digital. Here’s some comments from the Print-centric Creatives.
Since every application on my computer is a plug-in for Photoshop, you’d think that PS is the most important app on my computer. No. It’s Bridge.
My flow is simple, Bridge, Camera Raw, Photoshop, 3rd Party (if needed) done.
Would love for Bridge to be faster at building thumbnails/previews.
I’m sure there are other ways we can use Bridge to enhance our workflow. I just need time to go in there and research and explore more.
Web/Mobile-centric Creatives are more broadly distributed in terms of the tools they use. We were pleased to see how prominent Premiere and After Effects usage is, but with so much brand reliance on video for modern marketing, it is not completely surprising. Buried in the Other category are tools like Muse, Edge Animate, and the mobile tools such as Shape and Brush, too. Here’s some comments from the Web/Mobile-centric Creatives.
We have built a central script multi-user system that only works in our network which it ensures that everyone has the last studio color camera profiles (dcp, xmp), the latest script updates, etc. Bridge is a major part of this. It allows our product DB to be merged with image/product metadata. For example, I can automatically, sort my product images by camera ID, but also by focal length and by our product sub category.
I use Bridge instead of Finder/Explorer for all folder and file navigation and I love it.
I would just like it to load faster, sometimes its unusable because of how long it takes.
Video-centric Creatives all seem to use the same set of tools, or it looks that way from the tight correlation between Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere and After Effects usage. This group was the smallest among the respondents, but we had a reasonable statistical sample. Almost a third of the respondents say they use InDesign, too, which is very interesting. Here is some of their feedback.
Please provide better video playback and performance.
Bridge helps us with scanning and previewing images as well as organizing folders.
Its great for Batch File Renaming and Manual Sorting of Video Clips
What did we learn from this survey?
Overwhelmingly, we heard loud and clear how important Bridge is to you, our customers. We also know how important it is for individual Creatives and Enterprise Creatives alike. Automation and scripting kept coming up across users, as did performance with network file shares and large sets of files.
We also heard a lot of concern about whether Bridge will continue to be part of the Creative Cloud family. I want to reiterate that Bridge is alive and well, and you all are helping to make it better than ever through your direct feedback. Thanks for your honesty and I’m looking forward to sharing what’s next when I can.