December 20, 2006

Now showing: The rest of the CS3 icons

Some folks have expressed curiosity about the other icons planned for the CS3 generation of Adobe applications, especially given our goal of having them work well as a complete system. So, with the blessing of Michael Gough, Adobe’s VP of Product Experience*, here they are.
[ *Not to be confused with Alfred from Batman ]
[ Update: Some commentary: Jason Santa Maria hates ‘em; Veerle Pieters likes ‘em, and has more commentary from Adobe designer Ryan Hicks.

Update 2: Lee at The Flash Blog has created a 3D carousel of the icons. And Terri Stone pointed out her story on the genesis of the CS2 icons.]

Posted by John Nack at 11:29 AM on December 20, 2006

Comments

  • bjn — 12:02 PM on December 20, 2006

    My nightmare realized. Mystery meat two-letter icons with often slight variations in color. My workspace will be indecipherable.
    [Not dismissing your opinion at all, but isn’t it nice that in this world, at the end of 2006, it’s computer iconography that constitutes our nightmares? We are very lucky to have literacy, intelligence, and leisure enough to give a damn about this stuff. –J.]
    Maybe I’ll find the old eyeball and Venus icons in the disk archives and resurrect them.
    [Rock out. –J.]
    I noticed that someone had the balls to stand up for the equity for a few products like Acrobat and flash. Consistency looks pretty bland and bereft of meaning from this workstation.

  • Samuel Clarke — 12:19 PM on December 20, 2006

    Are the icons going to be staying square? If so I’d question if the designers use macs at all. Those icons look really bad in the dock – I’m a designer and use the CS apps every day, and I’m looking at the icons all the time, they just don’t work in the dock! Sure it’s great to have simplicity, but don’t you think you have overdone it? I design icons for fun (and sometimes for design work), and though I don’t claim to be an expert, it normally doesn’t work having the icon totally rely on type to communicate the idea.
    Have the team that have come up with the branding for CS3 ever read Apple’s guidelines for icon design? Not that they have to be followed, but they make sense generally. I can see where you’re trying to go with the look of CS3, but man, the icons need more work! Both Mac OS X and Vista (and future versions of each OS) are headed (or with Mac OS X are already there) toward graphically rich icons – yes I know that’s a challenge creating simple icons that are that – but these icons look totally out of place. I really hope that they’re improved a lot before CS3 goes GM!
    For me icons are part of the user experience, especially with Mac OS X – squares of color (ok there’s a gradient) with type (even if the fount is really nice – which it is) just don’t work.

  • Layne Lev — 12:21 PM on December 20, 2006

    Great! More ammo for the Dock Scrabblers.
    [Hah! Hadn’t seen that; thanks for the link. –J.]

  • Sol — 12:32 PM on December 20, 2006

    Though I have been using Adobe/Macromedia products for over a decade now, I found it hard to decipher even a handful of those icons. They all look so similar and there appears to be very little relationship between the icons and what the programs do. I’m sure I’ll get used to it after using it for some time, but I’m sure the lack of differentiation between the icons will make it take just a bit longer to get familiar with.

  • Mrad — 12:37 PM on December 20, 2006

    Pretty sweet. I’m a little dismayed at the appearance of FreeHand though.

  • Martin — 12:48 PM on December 20, 2006

    Thank you for letting us see this.
    Frankly, I don’t like the new “icons”. When I think of the dock full of those plain letter icons I can’t imagine how to quickly find the application I need. I have the same problem with the current meaningless icons.
    I want functional icons and I agree that the icons should have the name of the application in it but please similar to the Flash icon: THIS I call an icon. It has charm, it is simple and it clearly shows the letter f at the same time. I can easily identify it. Application icons should be individuals but still functional. Not just letters where color is the only difference I’m afraid.
    The new font by Robert Slimbach shure is great but at icon size it doesn’t matter what font. Adobe could also use Helvetica without any difference.
    Just my 2 cents. Sorry.
    But I’m glad Adobe is thinking of functional icons now and I’ll use CS3 anyway :-)
    Martin

  • Sao_Bento — 12:58 PM on December 20, 2006

    I know some people are going to go overboard complaining about this, but, seriously – if they had the complete name, at least they’d be functional. I can’t even tell what half of the products are. I recognize the easier ones like AI, PSD, and AE, but I have no idea what VC is or what those little pictures mean. Pages? I mean how many different Adobe products can produce a page? All of them? I’m guessing there’s some reason to make it look like the periodic table, but I don’t really get it.
    When I saw that PS icon on the CS3 public beta, I figured it was just a placeholder because the product is still in beta.

  • Andrew — 1:08 PM on December 20, 2006

    These almost entirely defeat the purpose of having an iconic GUI. These are supposed to repesent graphic design programs? I thought it was a cruel hoax pointed at the almost indistinguishable lot of icons currently employed by CS2.
    This is a real shame. Is there an information designer in the house!?! ANYBODY?

  • gL — 1:09 PM on December 20, 2006

    Guess I’ve spent too much time with ‘shop 3.5, 5.5 and 7 to like those… It looks like periodic table and most of the abbreviations don’t make any sense to me :)

  • Sebastian — 1:09 PM on December 20, 2006

    Oh Joy, just bought a Macbook and was looking forward to CS3 coming out, and now I can tell I’m going to need to dedicate a special folder just to hide these Icons.
    While functional is nice, I don’t want Alphabet soup in my Dock. If I wanted Alphabet soup I would heat up a can of Alphabet soup and eat it.
    Don’t mean to come off as a jerk but I thought the Photoshop CS3 icon was just a well, beta icon. :(

  • Cameron — 1:12 PM on December 20, 2006

    I really like the new new icons. I’m a graphic designer as well and I think they work great on the Dock. They stand out from everything else because of the simplicity.
    Great job on this new branding campaign!

  • Brian — 1:22 PM on December 20, 2006

    Sorry Adobe, but I’ve already got a system, and your software is just a small part of it. Design consistency across Adobe apps means _nothing_ when you place that design next to non-Adobe apps. And those other developers actually put some thought behind their icons. Talk about frickin’ lazy.
    [Talk about frickin’ rude. I swear, this whole Interweb thing tires me out sometimes… The validity of your points gets lost when you get into name-calling. –J.]

  • Ernesto — 1:32 PM on December 20, 2006

    It is interesting where we pick our battles. I have to say that I like the new icons although I only use several of Adobe’s products. I use the OSX platform and already change many of my app’s icons (using iconfactory products) to a more clean and uniform style. I think clean and distinctive is good on all my desktops (lapops and towers). What these new icons represent fall right in line with what I already do.
    If BMW were to change the logo on my beloved M5, I would still enjoy my vehicle nonetheless.
    [And I would still envy your ride. ;-) OT: Best license plate I’ve seen in a while, spotted in Evanston, IL: “NV MY MV”. –J.]

  • Chris Harrison — 1:51 PM on December 20, 2006

    I’ve started to try and identify each of the symbols here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdharrison/328467657/
    We need a legend for this thing!
    For me, I don’t care how the icons work. I care that the app is stable, has the features I need, etc. When Adobe change the way the icons were designed in CS, I had to readapt. With the new branding direction, we’re going to need to do the same.
    Love it or hate it, deal with it. (You can always change it later if they bother you too much. So chill, people.)

  • Rob — 2:01 PM on December 20, 2006

    As I feared, the whole range of Adobe products is going to be converted into a lifeless series of indecipherable colored squares.
    Honestly, I can’t figure out what most of these programs are, and I am very familiar with most of Adobe’s products.
    The presence of an icon here and there is quite puzzling, and at the least inconsistent.
    I do have to ask, is “Pm” PageMaker?

  • the tide — 2:07 PM on December 20, 2006

    For those mac users who have expressed difficulty in deciphering what I see as elegantly simple icons…
    Why are you not using Quicksilver? Is it because QS requires users to distinguish between keys on the keyboard?

  • vendredi — 2:17 PM on December 20, 2006

    That is a joke, right? :-|

  • Welles — 2:21 PM on December 20, 2006

    That design is by someone who designs with their head exclusively, not with heart. Truly awful icons for anyone who appreciates elegance.

  • Luke — 2:23 PM on December 20, 2006

    Like most of the posters I’m not a big fan of these icons, just as I wasn’t a fan of the Macromedia icons. I see the point, I encourage the use of a system that pulls from the color wheel, but like some others are pointing out, when you have a gradient of icons in the dock, things are going to be harder to pick out from the rest. Currently, when I want to open Photoshop I reach for a feather. Illustrator, a flower. InDesign, a butterfly. There is the continuous theme of the soft white rounded boxes with a strong and drawing form in brilliant color to offset. Couldn’t something like that be done? Macromedia used to have some very wonderful icons with the flowing dial for Flash or the weird, almost curved circuits of Dreamweaver, to the fun, flickering flames of Fireworks. All of these could’ve been revived to appear against the white rounded boxes of the CS2 visual system and far less people would’ve had a problem. It will also look pretty odd to have the “Periodic Table” as has been described by others with icons here and there that have the classic marks on them such as Acrobat. To me, that tells of a lack of foresight into the visual system as it was being established and a reluctance to realize the new system wasn’t working as originally thought and a lack of willingness to deter from the course. I also prefer to have my icons in alphabetical order in the dock according to the application name (i.e. – Acrobat, Bridge, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop…) and now I’m going to have red, deep red, orange, purple, blue. I don’t like the idea that in order for things to look good, seemingly admittedly by the designers of the new system, you must have many CS3 applications and have them in the gradient order. I don’t have a use for Flash or AfterEffects or any of them not in the design pack, so the system is going to basically be broken in my dock. That’s not what design is about, I’m afraid, it’s about creating a visual system that works as a single item as well as in a handful or in a complete set. I hope this has been constructive for the team, regardless of whether or not it’s too late to do any revision, should there be any chance of that happening. I’m just glad that there are going to be enough improvements and enhancements of the applications to make the upgrade well worth it.

  • Oliver Busch — 2:33 PM on December 20, 2006

    This is by far the worst and most non-systematic system of symbols.
    Have you ever heard of the term ‘usability’? Stuff like consistency? User anticipation? Color blindness, anyone?
    Do you really expect people to adopt to “PS” for Photoshop? I remember a certain other Adobe technology that already occupied this abbreviation. If you like to make the point that it has a lower case “s”, yeah, that’s easily distinguishable from the upper case “S” in small caps.
    Also Adobe seems to introduce a calendaring app, as “Di” ist the official abbreviation for Tuesday in German.
    I also particulary like the “Au”, “Br” and “Co” apps which seem to mark Adobe’s entry into the chem app market.
    Will there be an AM version of the “FM” radio app?
    Hell, what were you thinking?

  • m0nstermike — 2:44 PM on December 20, 2006

    If it catches on, we’ll certainly have a new language around our professional roles. Apologies in advance.
    “I used to be all orange (Director) — everyone was going red (Flash), so I decided to break from the trend and jump to purple (Premiere).”
    “I’m tried and true green (Framemaker, Pagemaker seems to be in the wrong place), but once Ottaway started publishing online-only, I started to feel the pull toward yellow (Dreamweaver).”
    “He thinks he’s all blue (Photoshop), but his complete ignorance of LAB color proves he’s far more orange (Fireworks).

  • Flash Developer — 3:03 PM on December 20, 2006

    Those icons aren’t clear enough. Icons need to be recognizable at 16×16 and 32×32.
    The flash and acrobat ones make sense but those other Arial 2 letter icons are too simple.

  • Jason Santa Maria — 3:53 PM on December 20, 2006

    When making icons, you usually try to design something simple and recognizable to identify things. At the expense of creating a family of icons, you’ve watered them down so much as to be unrecognizable at a glance. The variety of color, while great in theory, does little to help matters because of the sheer number of icons. The plain facts that monitor variations kill the subtle differences, and there are quite a few color blind people out there who can’t distinguish certain shades from one another, should have led you towards a backup plan. That may be what the periodic letters are for, but in choosing to go with one font, and one orientation, you’ve created enough noise that none of them would be recognizable among the others. Plus, baking in the action of having to read the icon just to decipher it adds an unnecessary step.
    This is an utter design failure.

  • Raul Gutierrez — 3:55 PM on December 20, 2006

    While I suppose it’s easy enough to copy the old icons and use them, I honestly can’t fathom the thought process behind the swap. The new icons are generic and break years of branding. I honestly don’t get it.

  • picsel — 4:17 PM on December 20, 2006

    i think we’ll all just going to get along very nice after a while using these new icons and never want to go back to other kind of icons. color + simple IS the way to go! will always be.
    and who uses 16×16 icons AND apps in CS3?

  • Dan — 4:21 PM on December 20, 2006

    I honestly don’t mind since I spend my time with the programs open rather than looking at the icons. I figure after a few tries I’ll figure out which is which.
    However, I don’t quite understand why similar technologies weren’t grouped together by color. I read that their historical colors were being kept, but it’s odd to me that Dreamweaver and Contribute are on opposite sides, and that the server technologies are all over the board.
    That said, I’ll get used to it.

  • picsel — 4:24 PM on December 20, 2006

    forgot to say: “how many color blind people use 2 or more adobe apps?”

  • Don — 4:36 PM on December 20, 2006

    Apart from the coloring and cryptic naming, my question is what is the significance of the positions of the various products? Why is Pagemaker out on the edge and Flex in the center (product age?). Why are DreamWeaver and Golive opposite one another and why is VersionCue (someone asked what is VC) next to DreamWeaver? Why is Photoshop grouped near ColdFusion?
    I would think that similarly colored items would have similar functionality and that changes in shade would signify different levels of functionality (like Elements compared to Photoshop).

  • Matthew Fabb — 4:43 PM on December 20, 2006

    It’s interesting to see that the Flash player got to keep it’s old font, but the Flash authoring tool is in the new font.
    There’s already been some people posting online their own icons to replace the Photoshop C3 icon and I imagine that the bad reaction to these new icons will encourage even more people to do so. It could end up being quite interesting have several sets of Adobe icons out there from different designers for users to choose from.

  • charles — 4:56 PM on December 20, 2006

    “Mac OS X user application icons should be vibrant and inviting, and should immediately convey the application’s purpose. The TextEdit icon, for example, indicates clearly that this application is for creating text documents.” – Apple Human Interface Guidelines
    So I can assume that this set of applications is to help create a Periodic Table?
    [Apple = Correctness. I know, I forgot. I will retire to the Garden of Pure Ideology now for re-education. By the way, what does the Motion icon convey to you? Celestial navigation, maybe? I’m not trying to stick it to Apple; I just get weary of the presumption that anything done at that company = The Way (and I’m typing this from a brand new MBP, btw). –J.]

  • Mihai — 5:09 PM on December 20, 2006

    >
    Check the Windows Start menu.

  • Nick — 5:19 PM on December 20, 2006

    Sorry, but you’re kidding, right? These are more like icon placeholders than actual final icons. What’s with the color wheel?
    I use Photoshop and InDesign virtually every day but I had to look at a legend that someone created and linked to in the comments just to find which ones were for those programs.
    The “less is more” approach does work for many things but definitely not in this case. Please reevaluate these icons. They’re simply not good.
    Take a cue from the popular web development book: Don’t make me think.

  • Campbell — 5:22 PM on December 20, 2006

    Awwww cummon now people, if adobe gave you the colour wheel background as a desktop background then you could lay your icons out like that and use color semantics instead on image semantics….Where can I get my blank desktop lol.

  • ethan — 5:33 PM on December 20, 2006

    Oh dear, i thought this was a simply a beta placeholder. I honestly feel like you’ve taken this “less is more” icon design to the extreme. I didn’t care for the last set-what does a feather have to do with photoshop? You guys have to remember that your products are tools(not states of mind or elements on a periodic table), which we need to find quickly and efficiently. Over the past few releases you have allowed (and this is said in the nicest way possible) your designers egos to get in the way of their job, which is to develop icons that allow us to immediatly process the symbol and link it to the software in our head. If i have to sit and decode the symbol then you have failed at the most important goal of the icon.

  • Ted — 5:33 PM on December 20, 2006

    I still believe this is a joke and that these are just the “temporary” icons for Adobe’s products.
    More telling, though, is that there is no “IR” for Image Ready to be found, but “Fw” for Fireworks is present. Should we take this to mean that ImageReady is dead and Fireworks will be replacing it in CS3?
    [IR is dead; pour out a 40 for our dead homie. FW will not replace it in the Photoshop box. –J.]

  • Joseph Labrecque — 5:35 PM on December 20, 2006

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much whining from a group of users… I’m sure this decision was not made rashly and find the icons (with corresponding themes running through each app) to be unobtrusive and elegant. I’m pleased with the change and wish Adobe and those behind this effort all the best.
    [Thanks, Joseph. –J.]

  • Josh Hughes — 5:46 PM on December 20, 2006

    I had assumed the Photoshop icon was temp art slapped in by the devs. It’s a bit disheartening to see that it’s the final product.
    The design strategy is very similar to the former Macromedia apps, but at least those had some degree of typographic flare. These are very generic.
    Ah well. Thanks for posting this at least. I’m sure there will be plenty of replacement icons to choose from.
    [I have no doubt. ;-) –J.]

  • Bob — 5:56 PM on December 20, 2006

    So…someone actually paid a “designer” to redo the Periodic Table? Hope Adobe can get their money back!

  • Josh Kritner — 6:09 PM on December 20, 2006

    For what it is worth, everyone has to remember that 99.99% of the users of the various apps are only going to see a max of 3 or 4 of the icons at any given time, so the worry about Alphabet soup is kinda moot.
    As far as I’m concerned, seeing PS, IL and ID in the dock is a helluva lot more useful than a feather, flower and butterfly.
    A bonus for those of us that try to keep their desktops as neutral as possible (Your work should be the most colorful thing right?) is that the icons should be fairly simple to convert to grayscale without looking too bad.

  • Chris Rhoadhouse — 6:22 PM on December 20, 2006

    Still too busy, if “less is more” gimmie more, err less, and another 5,000 words of corporate double plus good speak to justify it!

  • Stéphane Mercier — 6:28 PM on December 20, 2006

    I find the new icons easier to identify when switching between apps (just Photoshop, Acrobat and Bridge for now). The plain colored background makes them stand out in the dock and, since Adobe apps are my main apps, that’s a good thing.
    Having usually 7 or less Adobe icons in the dock, I don’t find the new letters confusing at all.
    Still, I guess something like Adobe Reader icon would have satisfied more people : plain colored background to have it stand out in the dock and the usual logo in thin version stuck on it (feather or eye for Photoshop, butterfly for Indesign, flower or face for Illsutrator etc.)

  • Patrick — 6:39 PM on December 20, 2006

    This makes no sense. I can understand if they are simple placeholder but looking at all of these in the dock or start menu could get tiring quick? What about the non-English users? Will each language have it’s own set of icons? Good grief. Go with something graphical.

  • Robin — 6:52 PM on December 20, 2006

    With the Flash icon staying the same I don’t see why not leave Dreamweaver and Fireworks alone. Well I do see why, because both are integrating into CS3 rather than like Flash which is more of a separate product like how Acrobat is.
    Still, it’d be more interesting if the type on each product’s icon had more style. I think after a while these icons will seem kinda bland (and judging from reactions from above comments, various blogs, and various messageboards, I think some people already think so).

  • Jon C — 6:55 PM on December 20, 2006

    I also thought the icon was a “beta thing.” I totally understand your icon concept in theory, but in practice… I think someone needs to re-think.
    I’m a CF developer by trade, but just because I write and read code all day doesn’t mean I want a user interface that consists of the same. I thought the Contribute icon was the Coldfusion icon at first.
    That PS3 icon in my dock has me humming “One of these kids is doing his own thing…” (Old-school Sesame Street reference) I may be a “dev”, but my CS apps are where I kick back and have a little fun – even when I’m using them for work.
    Seeing five of those non-descript squares in my dock would make my System Prefs icon look really sexy, though. ;-)

  • greg h — 7:13 PM on December 20, 2006

    VP of Product Experience? Fire Michael Gough.
    Let’s fix this branding debacle before we get out of beta.
    I will sum it up for you in 4 letters: Y-U-C-K
    And I thought Adobe was a design company?
    g

  • John — 7:23 PM on December 20, 2006

    I have to agree with everyone who doesn’t like the square icons and similar colors between apps. I think they will be difficult to navigate in the OSX dock and will cause issues. Luckily, once we have everything open, we can use Expose and soon Spaces.
    Here is a little tidbit that Microsoft learned when designing the new UI ribbon.
    “People can scan disparate patterns more easily than homogenous patterns. When we use more toolbar-like layouts–a bunch of equally-spaced, equally-sized buttons, people scan them less quickly than when each chunk has a memorable layout.” Link: http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2005/09/29/475296.aspx

  • bruzed — 7:28 PM on December 20, 2006

    omg i feel devastated! :(

  • eric dolecki — 7:31 PM on December 20, 2006

    it might be okay to merge the present icons with the square periodic table ones… however this is a real departure and i don’t feel comfortable with the cs3 icons right now.
    not that i have to though.

  • heathrowe — 7:54 PM on December 20, 2006

    Thanks for the sneak peek – they all look good :)

  • John Dowdell — 8:04 PM on December 20, 2006

    John, I’ve been meaning to talk with you about something… that yellow plaid shirt and black jeans, they’re okay, but the brown shoes… don’t make it…. ;-)
    You’ve gotten picked up on Digg and a few weblogs:
    http://digg.com/search?s=adobe

    http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?q=%22john+nack%22&scoring=d
    [Ah–that would explain it! All I do now is sort through comment emails! –J.]
    I think the current reaction may be due to the lack of context, the need to figure out the two-letter glyphs, the inability to see how things lay out in dock/taskbar. Any chance we can get some more of the screenshots up, so that people can see how this will really work…?
    (For the record, I like the whole presentation greatly myself, but I can understand how people might react this way with the little they’ve seen so far.)
    jd/adobe

  • ethan — 8:53 PM on December 20, 2006

    “By the way, what does the Motion icon convey to you?” john i actually think that a gyrascope is a pretty good icon for an app that allows you to apply behaviors to assets over time like rotation, bounce, particles, etc. as this link descibes:
    http://scientificsonline.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_3037265
    [A reasonable point, Ethan. I guess the thing always reminds me of an astrolabe, and the only time I used a gyro directly was on a Navy ship. –J.]
    also i slapped together a mockup to see what my dock may look like soon to add some context and i didn’t even put bridge or acrobat in. I think MM was able to get away with their glyph designs as they did not have as many apps as adobe does now. I’ll be upgrading but i’m glad i own candybar…
    http://www.waq177.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/cap.jpg

  • Tracy McGreevy — 9:51 PM on December 20, 2006

    I think the idea is brilliant and totally in keeping with Adobe’s product line, which gets better by the day.

  • tim — 10:04 PM on December 20, 2006

    Looking at the chart I’m struck by how hard it is to pick out individual icons even knowing the names of all the apps… In fact the only icons that are instantly recognizable are the legacy graphic ones… The reason people use distinct images and fonts in signage is to differentiate the signs from one another…

  • Kevin Nathanson — 10:34 PM on December 20, 2006

    So this one’s not for posting (Hey, you didn’t post the last one either…)
    [Sorry–it wasn’t intentional. I get a heck of a lot of spam comments, and sometimes they get filtered too aggressively. –J.]
    DUDE! FWIW, I was one of the more arrogant and intolerant PMs when I was there; not quite at the Hamburg / Andrei level, but then I’m not nearly as smart as they are either…
    …but now I feel like Paul Horning watching LT beat my record; what is UP with the COMMENTS?!?
    These are customers, man! I KNOW you’ve got the coolest job in the place, but WHOA!
    [Maybe I need to see an example of what you’re referring to, Kevin. Or maybe I need to stop working so much and actually get some fresh air. I think I show my respect for customers by having a blog at all & interacting via the comments. That said, I didn’t come here to be a droid or a doormat. –J.]
    I know – unsolicited advice, but just ask yourself “What would Connor do?” or Brown, or Julie, or Maria, etc.
    [Perhaps they’d be more chill, by dint of being less fried, by dint of not blogging at all… Still, I hear you, and I don’t mean to be a defensive pill (esp. as I’m just the messenger on this icon thing). I can hardly argue for civility while being impolite. –J.]
    Or even better, John or Chuck?
    OK – I’ll shut up now. Be well…
    (Oh, be well AND announce cross-platform licensing; it’s still festering…)
    [I already said on the forum that we’ll enable cross-platform testing of the beta. I just haven’t publicized it widely because we’re still ramping up support & I don’t want to crush those guys with requests just yet. First we have to make sure that all remaining kinks in the serialization tool are worked out. *Then* the crushing can begin. ;-) –J.]

  • Kevin Nathanson — 11:56 PM on December 20, 2006

    Uh… I REALLY MEANT it wasn’t for posting (inside voice and all).
    Anyway, I’ve been there man, and I think your diagnosis is spot on. Your web footprint says that you are everywhere all day long, and that means that MeetingMaker is probably also beating you to death.
    Mucho credit to you for taking on the icons; that’s either clever, generous, or both! BTW, how do those localize into Japanese and other two bite languages?
    That’s great news on the licensing; there is a petition thread out on the labs site that hasn’t got that message yet. Your (or JCs) defusing services would be much appreciated there.
    Enough of my critical babble; I’m sure I’ll meet you in three weeks at Moscone; stop by the FileMaker booth if you get a chance!
    SLEEP!
    ;-)
    k

  • Paul Lloyd — 11:58 PM on December 20, 2006

    If I ever needed confirmation that Adobe has lost the plot.
    [Because of some icons…? I mean, really? –J.]

  • Charles Badland — 12:27 AM on December 21, 2006

    Well, I like them!
    Much better than the Feather/Feathers/Flower/Shell/Butterfly (or is that butterfly another feather? And what does clicking on the starfish launch again…?)
    The new ones are smart, clean, easy to figure out (and to remember) what is what.
    Adobe is a BIG family now. This is a good solution to keep aesthetic consistency, yet easy to recall who-is-who.

  • Dan Griffiths — 12:31 AM on December 21, 2006

    I, like others, thought the CS3 icon was purely for the purposes of the beta! I really think Adobe have made a mistake going down this route – the icons are ugly and confusing.
    However I guess the decision has been made now?

  • Paulius Uza — 1:21 AM on December 21, 2006

    We have enough abbreviations and shortcuts in our daily lives, and i don’t really think we need another 20+;
    Theese icons WILL bring confusion and dissapointment.
    CS2 series was a good example of what icons should look like.

  • Drew — 1:30 AM on December 21, 2006

    This is incredibly discouraging. Terrible taste in icons is one thing, but why is it being defended here with the “We don’t care” tactic?
    When someone says “Those are really bad” your response better be “No, they aren’t” not “Oh come on, it doesn’t really matter,” which is what the author’s blog comments seem to boil down to.
    Seriously… hire a designer. This better be a joke. And don’t defend poor design with “It’s not a big deal, guys.” Actually, icons matter.
    [When did I say, or even imply, that this doesn’t matter? Obviously it does, or people wouldn’t be so vocal in their reactions. –J.]

  • Nigel Moore — 2:17 AM on December 21, 2006

    Regarding the comment by charles on Apple’s humnan interface guidelines, he seems to overlook the way in which Apple rides roughshod over those same guidelines when it comes to the GUI of their pro apps.
    The non-Aqua interface (actually almost an ‘anti-Aqua’ interface) is not only contrary to those guidelines, other apps and the OS in general, but it’s actually damned difficult to use. Aperture, FCP, Motion, the lot of them need a UI overhaul, to be brought into line with the Aqua interface.
    That said, I’m no fan of the CS3 icons either. They are neither distinctive nor representative. Very odd for a company producing creative software, that the icons should be so lacking in creativity.

  • Leo — 2:39 AM on December 21, 2006

    Adobe icons never make sense on Mac, feather? eyeball? But those squares with letters are not even icons. I have to watch them for 1 second to realize what it was, PS is Photoshop, Fl is flash, but where is my favorite Illustrator?
    That’s a bad ,bad, bad idea to replace graphic icons with 2 letters.
    Silly.

  • Aral Balkan — 2:47 AM on December 21, 2006

    Someone earlier said, “my nightmare realized” and I agree completely. I was hoping these were throwaway designs for the betas because somehow you guys didn’t have enough time to work on them before the public release.
    This looks like a branding exercise undertaken by programmers or science professors. Are you aiming to satisfy the Slashdot crowd with the geeky in-joke?
    All right, so the Studio 8 branding sucked but is there any reason to try and outdo Macromedia on that one?
    These are some of the worst production values I’ve seen. They say one thing to me and that is: “shareware”.
    Please re-think this terrible branding strategy while there is still time to make a change.

  • jirjen?! — 2:50 AM on December 21, 2006

    Sorry. But the icons really do suck.

  • matti — 2:58 AM on December 21, 2006

    Does the “FH” stand for FreeHand? Now THAT would be good news …

  • Karsten Vestergaard — 3:35 AM on December 21, 2006

    At least the icons are highly stackable, thats good when entering the European market :-)
    Thanks for showing us “The wheel”. Can we all have this wheel in front of us and hum to the words of “Blood, sweat and Tears”:
    Spinning Wheel

    (…
    What goes up must come down
    Spinnin’ wheel got to go ’round
    Talkin’ ’bout your troubles it’s a cryin’ sin
    Ride a painted pony let the spinnin’ wheel spin

    You got no money and you got no home
    Spinnin’ wheel all alone
    Talkin’ ’bout your troubles and you never learn
    Ride a painted pony let the spinnin’ wheel turn

    Did you find the directing sign on the
    Straight and narrow highway
    Would you mind a reflecting sign
    Just let it shine within your mind
    And show you the colors that are real

    Someone is waiting just for you
    Spinnin’ wheel, spinnin’ true
    Drop all your troubles by the riverside
    Catch a painted pony on the spinning wheel ride
    …)

    I’ve been using this song for therapy the last few days, and it seems to help a bit.
    Good luck with the new design, You’ll need it (and we will by it anyway).
    Best Regards
    Karsten Vestergaard

  • Grillo — 3:42 AM on December 21, 2006

    well I doesn’t have much to add but I wish I could listen the talk in the cs team, especially the ps beta team, that the most, and almost the only criticized feature of the beta is the icons, and that they are causing so much havoc in the designer community hearts!
    As I’ve stated before, I don’t like them, if you print the color wheel and spin it, you won’t find the app you’re looking for in less than 10 secs , and that’s bad to me … that dock mock up after staring at it for 10 seconds I couldn’t tell which app was each.
    I’m only sorry that in a PC it is a lot harder to change an icon that it is on the mac…
    but since we’re still in beta, I an only hope! :)

  • Rave3000 — 3:46 AM on December 21, 2006

    Oh my god. This can’t be. My tool of ignition, my tool of inspiration, has turned on me. What are you thinking Adobe? This is the most ludacris set of icons I’ve seen. Beeing a graphic designer / Art Director this is just like out of a nightmare for me. This is the most lack of creativity I’ve seen in years. This is what I would expect from companies that have no Imagination.
    Bring on the colors. Well I guys Adobe is trying to make sence out of theyre familly of products so ala colors and simple names. Well let’s dwell on this issue for a second. The few who use all your products, and I’m assuming someone does… Having all the icons in the color spectrum won’t make him find them faster, nor will it enhance the feeling and inspiration, the identity each product has. Colors are nice but use them wicely. Letter like Co, Ae, Ps sorry playnly suck – I surely hope that this is just a joke and not the real thing. How many companies do you think are using icons with letters on them? Well my company has created a few. So distinct no, not in longshot. Adobe has been a leader in inovation, leader in inspiration for Artists… Just look back and adore the new CS2 startup window for Photoshop, remember when they started going beond the square frame in the startup window… Even just creating the round edges… this is inspireing (sorry my english / I’m an Icelander so it’s not my native toung).
    Adobe plz go for something exciting, something special something that gives us hope, purpose. Something we would love to see in our dock, in our taskbar… Something to look forward to launch from our dock, after having our coffe cup after 3 hours of sleep. Because this program especially is my mistress. My friend. My partner.
    Common Adobe plz tell me this is a joke.

  • Peter — 3:57 AM on December 21, 2006

    I’m sorry John — how ever good the upcoming CS3 products are the icons look absolutely terrible IMHO.
    The whole look doesn’t come across as very professional, particularly the letter ones. The square shape doesn’t look all that bad but it would indeed stand out as a toothache in the dock on Mac.
    Also have you guys thought about the possibility that using these letter combinations in icons for your products might be profanities have other unwanted connotations in certain languages?
    I hope this does get reviewed again, its painful.

  • Peter — 4:01 AM on December 21, 2006

    I’m with Luke regarding the good old graphical Flash/Fireworks/Dreamweaver icons, these were the best application icons I have ever seen. They were easily recognizable and still astonishingly beautiful, even at 16×16 in 256 color mode.
    With the new Adobe product line icon set, it took me quite some time to figure out which applications all those icons were referring to.
    Even though they make it easier to differentiate between the applications, they do not make it easy to find a specific application among the icons. This is not a problem if you have Photoshop only, but if you have more than one, one can only go by color (reading the two-letter combination takes way too long to be a viable method of finding a particular software). All the power that lies in the shape of the icon, is wasted.
    Just have a look at the dock in ethan’s mockup and compare how long it takes to complete the following two tasks. There are exactly 11 Adobe product icons and 11 non-Adobe-product icons…
    – Find iTunes
    – Find InDesign
    I mean, obviously I have not been using that icon system in practice yet, maybe it turns out better than I can imagine in everyday use, but right now my impression is that your design team has been a little over-enthusiastic, I’m afraid.
    But hey, one can recognize great art by the fact that it makes people think, and many marketing geniuses can only dream about their target audience spending so much time just thinking about their logo :)

  • nicolas — 4:04 AM on December 21, 2006

    they are just awful. sorry.

  • HHII — 4:06 AM on December 21, 2006

    Can you please change the Illustrator icon to “Ill” instead of “Ai” ;-)
    Serious, why is it “Adobe Illustrator” and not only Illustrator? I mean this is the only app where you put Adobe in front. Is there a reason for this?
    [“AI” is the historic abbreviation for “Illustrator.” Yeah, it’s a little quirky, but it’s been that way for 20 years, and the design team wanted to respect that history. –J.]
    And: is there any sense in the order of the icons on the color scheme? I don´t get it.
    Is it true that you hired a Microsoft GUI designer to do this work? ;-)
    [No–it’s the design team from the former Macromedia. –J.]

  • Ben Darlow — 4:13 AM on December 21, 2006

    Whilst I don’t doubt this decision was debated internally I can’t help but feel whoever approved it has taken leave of their senses.
    If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe Apple‘s own HIGs for icons? After all, these applications will almost certainly be in widespread use on their machines.
    “…application icons should be vibrant and inviting, and should immediately convey the application’s purpose…”
    It’s also poor form to dismiss comments simply because it’s only about “some icons” (you thought it worthy enough a subject to post about, after all). Icon design might seem a trivial matter but by the same token, so are the creative arts which these applications serve.
    [Again, I don’t recall dismissing anything. Maybe there’s some alternate version of this thread that no one has told me about. ;-) –J.]

  • Karen Hughes — 4:46 AM on December 21, 2006

    As someone relatively new to the Adobe Creative Suite, I find identifying the program from the current icons quite difficult when I see them together.
    While I’m not a massive fan of the new coloured blocks, I do see them as more easily distinguished than the current ones due to the text cues – and on that score preferable.
    I do admit that, if I used a lot of them, then they might be less easy to tell apart in the Mac OS X dock. But I tend to put programs into the dock in functional groupings so they would have some context anyway.

  • Andy McDonald — 5:16 AM on December 21, 2006

    I reckon that using the color wheel as a design theme is really appropriate for Adobe however I do have to agree with some of the comments regarding the ‘distinguishability’ of the icons. I am color-blind and have real trouble differentiating between the new icons – the shades are just too close and the letters do not offer enough distinction. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were grouped by function so that similar apps had similar colors. That said… Adobe is a smart company and I’m sure that when these icons are viewed within the context of new packaging, promotional material and possibly a refreshed Adobe.com; people may not be so harsh.
    Just my thoughts… McDee

  • Vincent J — 6:13 AM on December 21, 2006

    Don’t blame the designer- blame the Client (Adobe). I’m sure this icon system wasn’t the only creative option provided to Adobe. Too often the client dumbs down an idea and forces a designer into a corner where the result is a complete embarassment.
    [Designer = Client in this case. The design team from the former Macromedia has remained intact & drove this effort. They didn’t want to end up with some milquetoast, design-by-committee results, so they went off, did their thing, and presented the results. I wasn’t involved in this effort, but I used to be a designer & I know all about clients dumbing things down. In this case I get the impression that the design team had pretty free reign to solve the problem as they saw fit. –J.]

  • Matthew DeVille — 6:25 AM on December 21, 2006

    A periodic table of adobe elements? I don’t mind the simple two letters icons so much. Sure, they are dry… What really worries me is that mouse arrow being chased by the rocket or whatever that is…

  • Ben Lowery — 6:28 AM on December 21, 2006

    People still use MeetingMaker? For reals?
    [No, thank God. But now we use Exchange, which–at least if you’re on a Mac–will make you pine for just about anything else. –J.]

  • Thomas Link — 6:37 AM on December 21, 2006

    Hi John, thanks for the post. Design is not an easy thing to discuss in public.
    The color wheel with the icons looks nice and charming – especially in presentations.
    Please consider the real world situation and respect some of the serious arguments in the previous comments – and go into reverse to a user friendly design.
    I would love to see major guidelines respected by Adobe.
    – Color blindness
    – Missleading 2-letter abbreviations
    – Downscaling to 16×16 Pixels
    – Spatial frequency uniqueness
    In case you need some arguments:
    http://tango.freedesktop.org/Tango_Icon_Theme_Guidelines
    http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/icon_analysis

  • LEE — 7:03 AM on December 21, 2006

    I was hoping the icons would be Flash .swf’s infused with some amazing AE8 animation…and I know you guys are joking about this. lol December fools joke, right? Or you’re waiting to unleash them on a confused and saddened audience for Christmas? Either way, I understand you have to spend way more time on security and anti-piracy measures than on icons, so no love lost. But yeah these basic blocks are ugly. Cheers

  • Kyle Hayes — 7:40 AM on December 21, 2006

    From Apple’s Human User Interface Guidelines:
    “Third-party applications enhance this package by delivering specific vertical solutions with sophisticated features and behaviors that are consistent with Apple guidelines.”
    In the chapter titled “Attractive Appearance” Apple has this to say to 3rd party developers about the way their applications graphics and ICONS should look:
    “From packaging to user interface polish, make sure your software looks professionally designed.
    – Use high-quality graphics and icons. If needed, contract with a professional graphic design firm to create these for you.”
    I am sorry to say, Adobe, as a loyal user of your products on both the Mac and PC platform, you have disappointed me for the first time. A company that stands for communication and design, how can you possibly state that these icons convey either one of those attributes.

  • Rob — 7:42 AM on December 21, 2006

    Here’s a test showing my Windows XP layout and the new 16×16 icons in the taskbar.
    This is an animated GIF that will switch between CS2 and CS3 icons every five seconds.
    http://www.techwarrior.cx/~roliver/cs3-icons.gif
    Granted, I know that the real icons will be optimized for 16×16, but this gives some idea of the monotony that these little squares create. They all blend together to my eyes. Nothing pops out.

  • Scott Citron — 7:50 AM on December 21, 2006

    I’m all for design simplicity, but these new “icons” (and I use the term loosely) are an embarrassment. I, too, thought they were beta placeholders when I first saw them, but apparently they’re the real deal.
    What further muddies the water is that some of the icons are in fact true icons (Acrobat, Flash Player, Adobe Connect, e.g.)! Doesn’t this mixing of graphic icons with simple letters in boxes violate the whole idea of using icons in the first place (i.e., design consistency)?
    As a designer and design teacher any student who presented these icons for a final grade would sadly flunk.

  • Patrick — 8:07 AM on December 21, 2006

    This will get pretty confusing when it comes to other applications out there. I think Print Shop also has a PS as it’s icon. When I first downloaded and installed the Photoshop beta I was a little concerned that I had downloaded the wrong thing because that icon did not look right. The wheel also reveals another thing. Adobe has too many products and thus stealing too many letters from other developers who might want to use the same initials for something. Seriously, for the sake of international consistency change them back to something graphical.

  • pixie — 8:09 AM on December 21, 2006

    it looks like a corporate, cheesey powerpont slide. If there is a metaphor, it’s not a good one.

  • Brian — 8:14 AM on December 21, 2006

    You think the icons are bad, wait til you see the new CS3 toolbar…
    http://img392.imageshack.us/img392/2789/cs3toolbarop4.gif
    [Hah! What you don’t know is that the icons will be translated to Sanskrit, and you’ll need to mouse over them to hear an audio version of each. ;-) –J.]

  • jive — 8:17 AM on December 21, 2006

    eeewwww.

  • Promee — 8:21 AM on December 21, 2006

    I agree with everyone here, the new US currency does look like “Monopoly Money”!
    What were they thinking? I feel the spending juices flowing right out of my balanced body now that money doesn’t look the same. How will I buy anything with confidence again?
    ;)

  • Jericho — 8:22 AM on December 21, 2006

    I’m an icon designer by profession. I for one understand Adobe’s move to using the two letter product name of the products as most users on the forum refer to them anyway by their two letter name (DW for Dreamweaver, FL for Flash, PS for Photoship, AI for Illustrator, etc). I think this is a great idea, but I just wish the icons were not color coded according to their use, but instead may maintain a light linear red gradient [Adobe’s official color] and place a hint or faded icon of the product that we’re all familiar with, then include the two letter acronym, somewhere at the bottom right corner with a smaller type. That way, imho, it looks a bit more stylish than bland.
    I’ll create a prototype and post it over a dA, if anyone’s interested.

  • Geoffrey Williams — 8:23 AM on December 21, 2006

    Not too much to add outside of saying I don’t like the new icons. They are just plain and don’t pop out like they used to. They’re missing a flare that makes each application uniquely identifiable; or at least distinguishable to a higher degree than these represent.

  • Tom Murray — 8:44 AM on December 21, 2006

    Ha ha ha, ha ha.
    Best practical joke ever!
    Looking forward to seeing the real icons in the final release.

  • Derek Vadneau — 8:45 AM on December 21, 2006

    [When did I say, or even imply, that this doesn’t matter? Obviously it does, or people wouldn’t be so vocal in their reactions. –J.]
    I think what people are referring to when they mention you saying “it doesn’t really matter” is your comments below:
    [Not dismissing your opinion at all, but isn’t it nice that in this world, at the end of 2006, it’s computer iconography that constitutes our nightmares? We are very lucky to have literacy, intelligence, and leisure enough to give a damn about this stuff. –J.]
    [Because of some icons…? I mean, really? –J.]
    While I agree with your comments in the context you were responding, I think people had their opinions in their heads and saw those responses and came up with your argument is “it doesn’t really matter”.
    [Okay, that’s useful feedback–thanks. It’s just that I’m jumping between these comments & reading about all the evil stuff going on in the world, not to mention all the serious computer science/project management/etc. that constitutes building Photoshop, and I’m a little bewildered that the icons can generate so much Sturm und Drang. –J.]
    Anyhow, the link given by ethan that shows a screenshot of what his dock would look like with the icons, looks FAR better than the colour wheel. While I still don’t like the icons as much as the previous MM ones, the colour wheel itself confuses people since there would seem to be an implied association between applications according to the colour wheel, when there clearly is not.
    The apps have kept their old colours, which is fine – I use Flex, Flash, and Fireworks and could easily identify them on my desktop according to colour. If the colours had changed in accordance to the colour wheel analogy where the colours indicated similar functionality (which I considered for a moment) can you imagine the outcries then?! Photoshop, Fireworks, etc. all in yellow shades, or blue shades, ugh. You’d be opening the wrong program all the time.
    What people seem to forget is the important icons aren’t the app icons at all but the file icons. As long as I can identify an FLA from a PNG and those from any other icon on my computer I’m happy. Any chance you could post those?

  • Robert D. — 8:52 AM on December 21, 2006

    On the one hand, I’m probably going to only have Dreamweaver and Photoshop in my dock. Those two are different enough in color that I won’t worry about it. Secondly, I usually use Quicksilver to launch apps, so the icon doesn’t really matter in that respect.
    On the other hand, these icons seem like really cheap throwaways. Jack, you can make fun of the Apple HIG if you want, but those guidelines are GOOD guidelines, darn it, and I think all the artistic graphic designers see the “periodic table” look as just plain old lazy. You’re dealing with artistic people, here, and I think they want an artistic icon set.
    When it comes down to it, it’s the program, not the icon that makes it. However, I think you’re going to find people copying the old .icns files out of their CS2 package and swapping that out. Iconfactory will have tons of replacements for people to use. We’ll have to see how things come out, but I think that if most people end up swapping the icon, it indicates a poor design choice on Adobe’s part, no matter how much the company likes them. (It reminds me of the utterly failed NY Islanders “fisherman” logo.)

  • Jericho — 9:02 AM on December 21, 2006

    I’ve just created a quick prototype of what I think the entire logo should look like instead as a splash screen or Mac icon.
    You guys can find it here:
    http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/45106214/
    Maybe it can spark a sense of creativity and others can contribute too, since I know that Adobe listen’s to the community.
    Cheers!

  • critter — 9:12 AM on December 21, 2006

    Oh lordy… I have to issue a complaint on this one as well. I have to agree with the guy way at the top complaing about text icons. Given that an icon that simply said “This is an icon” works, it really doesn’t give any, I don’t know, personality to the program. Having done icon design in the past I’ve always felt a good icon set added, uh, I guess a bit of “flair” to the program they’re in. Now, more or less I’m talking about icons inside a program interfaces and such, but still… Ps does work for Photoshop, but that really tell us what it is Photoshop can do? It shows us so far that Photoshop can make a dark blue box with two letters and a neat lighting effect. Whoo… You know, Illustrator CS2 has a great icon and splash screen that shows what it is the program can do.
    Given that simplicity can work, I think you guys are producing the wrong type of sortware to implement that much simplicity. If you guys were making C++ compilers and the icon said C++, that works. These are graphical design software programs, you guys have to show it off! Given, it sounds stupid argument over simple icons and splash screens, but really, looking back at the other splash screens and icon sets, this is a let down and I do hope it’s a practical joke and you’re waiting to go live with a bigger, badder set. Hell, if anything give us the option to revert to the CS2 icon set.

  • Matt — 9:23 AM on December 21, 2006

    You’ve got to be kidding…
    Letters and colours how obtuse.
    Not to mention an extreme waste of a once strong brand.

  • Juan Ignacio — 9:23 AM on December 21, 2006

    I wished Adobe ocntinued the Macromedia Icon System. That gesture / rounded type letters rock! Its very easy to identify what program it is from and they are also very good looking.
    [Well, apparently the design team that created them didn’t think the approach they’d taken previously would scale across the whole Adobe product line. –J.]

  • Joe Clark — 9:25 AM on December 21, 2006

    Calling your designers lazy isn’t calling them “names.”
    [Dismissing the work of a team of people with a single epithet is, itself, lazy. By all means disagree with this design choice. That’s completely cool & healthy. But saying people are lazy & “suck” isn’t real useful, not to mention polite. –J.]
    You asked for comments and you got them.
    [I didn’t, actually. –J.]
    The verdict is in: Your icons suck.

  • another_angel — 9:30 AM on December 21, 2006

    As a designer who has been using Adobe products for the past fifteen-or-so years, I must say I’m SEVERELY saddened by Adobe’s lack of creativity with these icons. I mean, this is a company that is supposed to be in tune with designers and artists, who in turn are VISUAL people! Hope they get rid of the person who came up with this rediculous idea before he/she can do more damage!

  • Matthias Jakob — 9:31 AM on December 21, 2006

    Very very ugly! Don’t do this! This icons are very ugly!

  • Dan — 9:34 AM on December 21, 2006

    These icons are bad and you should feel bad.
    [I do, Dan, even though I had nothing to do with creating them. I take everything about Photoshop personally. I probably shouldn’t, but passion’s kind of a bitch. –J.]

  • Ricky Romero — 9:38 AM on December 21, 2006

    I’m going to have to chime in here and say that while the element table idea is cute, it does not hold up for icon work anymore like it did when Macromedia was doing it with only a few apps.
    I predict these icons will work in the Start Menu for me because I usually sort it by name and then just look up the product’s name. But in my Mac OS X Dock, this is going to get unbearable.
    Let’s face it… The Mac Intel-native qualities of this release are one of the main reasons Adobe is doing CS3… Please don’t leave Mac users with a bad taste in their mouths with regard to icon work. We’re snobs about that kind of thing.
    I know this has been linked to already, but it’s satire, and I think it makes a very strong argument:
    http://img392.imageshack.us/img392/2789/cs3toolbarop4.gif
    I strongly urge you guys to get the head designers behind this look and feel to read through the public’s reaction to this design decision.

  • joecab — 9:44 AM on December 21, 2006

    Gee, I thought this was a parody at first. (!)
    The only thing it has going for it is that there’s no question what application each icon stands for now. Really, what could be more meaninglessly random than a feather, a star, a butterfly and a flower? I prefer these to the last generation only in the name of clarity. But I still wish they hadn’t yanked Aphrodite and the eye just as they were reaching iconic status.
    [Yeah, I actually had *much* bigger problems with that move than with any of this. I note with some relish that the Lightroom team has appropriated the eye for their beta splash screen. :-) –J.]

  • josh — 9:45 AM on December 21, 2006

    @Jericho,
    Yeah, I like that idea, it really helps to have an icon with the two letters incorporated. Nice design!

  • Michael Scholz — 9:49 AM on December 21, 2006

    Feine Ikons, ich bin sehr angetan. Das “wheel”-Konzept überzeugt und im Dock (Mac) fallen die Programm-Ikons angenehm auf.

  • Drew — 9:50 AM on December 21, 2006

    The reason for the fuss is simple. Graphic icons grab the brains pattern recognition system easily. There is ample evidence for facial recognition in newborn babies, for instance. We are not born with inherent ability to recognize letters. Those are harder to detect. There is a pause every time the brain tries to wrap around some pattern. The longer the pause (characters vs graphics) the more the discomfort and frustration. Certainly, abbreviations can be learned. But can they be learned as easily as graphics? I don’t think so and obviously neither does this crew.
    Think of it this way: Why is creating graphical icons so hard? Because the designer is trying to cram much more recognizable information into the tiny space for the icon. That requires effort. Putting AE into the icon? Not so much. So there is less information being passed to the user.
    Just my $/50

  • evan — 9:52 AM on December 21, 2006

    Awe man… I can just see it now, at the beginning of my work day, i’ll be opening 10 different programs trying to remember which is which.
    And is “Ai” Illustrator? If so, why does that one have the “Adobe” appended to it and not the rest?
    Looks more like a period table than anything else.

  • Emery — 9:53 AM on December 21, 2006

    I can’t say I’ve ever felt so compelled to leave a comment about an icon as I am right now.
    The fact is, the consensus is these new icons are less than what would be expected from the king of design companies… Adobe.
    I would imagine that you could pluck out 5 random designers and 4 out of 5 would tell you all the design principals (especially as they relate to icon design) that are being ignored in this new set.
    These icons evoke zero feeling. As others, I too assumed the photoshop icon was nothing more than a place holder that was slapped in by coders that have little interest or knowledge of design.
    John, you have been very defensive of the the new icons, in part because I assume you had a hand in the development of them. It’s an awful feeling when people do not like something you have put great time and thought into and going on the defensive is the natural reaction. However, more important than defending yourself would be to listen to the sheer outcry of your users. The consensus of this group and others on the web are very clear: we dont like them.
    [I am listening, Emery, but for the record, I had nothing to do with their creation. I can take neither praise nor blame on this. I’m simply the messenger. So it’s more important that the folks responsible for the design are listening, and they are. What they do with this feedback is not my call. –J.]
    Here’s hoping that you will hear our cries and reconsider the icons so on CS3 release day we can all have a shiny new icons bouncing in our docks.

  • scutdog — 9:53 AM on December 21, 2006

    I actually thought ‘Fx’ was After Effects until I saw ‘AE’. (That actually would have been kind of cool in this spectrum.)

  • Vincent — 9:54 AM on December 21, 2006

    It’s bad, really bad. Go back to the drawing board.

  • thorsten wulff — 9:55 AM on December 21, 2006

    I love the new icons…
    Illustrator, InDesign and Phostoshop live next to each other in my Dock… finally I know which is which again. And the periodic style fits 2007 imo
    ;)

  • Marc — 9:55 AM on December 21, 2006

    Wow, I really like that reimagined icon from Jericho (although I’d be interested to see a version that’s scaled down to the size it would actually be used at. (I just did a quick resizing at Photoshop and at 16×16, the reimagined icon doesn’t really work). In any case, I like something along those lines much better than the periodic table look.
    As with others, my concerns with the iconset are:
    1) Usage by those who are colorblind.
    2) Internationalization.
    3) Having to think in order to figure out what some of the two letters stand for.
    4) Distinguishing between a number of icons when they are all in the dock.
    The feather of Photoshop or the butterfly of InDesign are not exactly crystal clear at first look either, but they work over time as the brain connects the two. And while the meaning may not be immediately obvious, once those connections are made, seeing the feather gives an “Ah ha!” as well as a subconcious connotation that this is a program that is not just pixels and numbers: it has a feather; this is art.
    What sort of connotation does Ps have? Yes, the colors each have their own connotations. But to me, the periodic table icons scream out Adobe ‘Scientific’ Suite rather than Adobe ‘Creative’ Suite.

  • graphicartist2k5 — 9:57 AM on December 21, 2006

    gee, these icons look as unoriginal as milli vanilli. seriously, what is up with adobe? i know they’re wanting to tie all their programs together with a cohesive theme, but what the hell happened to good old fashioned creativity?

  • Mihai — 10:01 AM on December 21, 2006

    Yes, and I just killed a puppy.
    What, are you outraged? Why?
    It’s just that I’m jumping between these comments & reading about all the evil stuff going on in the world … and I’m a little bewildered that a puppy can generate so much Sturm und Drang.
    Not dismissing your opinion at all, but isn’t it nice that in this world, at the end of 2006, it’s little puppies that constitutes our nightmares?
    See, this is the “it does not matter” attitude that people complained about. It is about attitude, not word by word quoting.

  • Mihai — 10:09 AM on December 21, 2006

    Ok, now something more constructive (I hope).
    As all most of the others, I don’t like the icons. I do understand the color idea, and I like it. My guess is that the color will be used throughout the application (install time, splash-screen, about, help, manual, box, etc.)
    But the letters are a terrible idea. Images are better than letters, because of the human evolution. Someone who did some driving in Europe and in US can tell the difference. The European traffic signs are international, easy to identify and see from great distances. The US signs are for English speakers only, and from distance they are all a black scribble on white background.
    Please, listen to all the comments here, and take a look at the Office icons. Same idea (one color for each application), but a real graphic. C’mon, it is painful to give Microsoft vs. Adobe as an example of good design, but it is true.
    I know it is difficult to design meaningful, creative, and beautifull icons for so many applications, but don’t give up. We love the Adobe apps, and we only want the best for them. Including the best icons, really.

  • Ricky Romero — 10:11 AM on December 21, 2006

    Shape is a powerful (and necessary) identifier in icon work… With this new icon suite, you lose that.
    http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/7125/masksqh9.png
    I’m sure most Mac users can identify almost all of the top apps by their icon shape alone. Obviously, it’s not so easy with the bottom selection of icons.
    [It’s an interesting point. Of course, had you picked Safari, Aperture, Internet Connect, DVD Studio Pro, etc., it would’ve been a bit different, given that they’ll all circular. –J.]

  • Kris — 10:18 AM on December 21, 2006

    These icons are terrible. Guys at Adobe probably need to be reminded what ICON really means: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icon_%28disambiguation%29
    Really bad…

  • Jason Adam — 10:19 AM on December 21, 2006

    Not much to add, other than just letting you know I use Adobe/Macromedia products every single day. I see what you guys were trying to do, and I’m sure people could get used to them over time. But you shouldn’t mess around with icons in this way. I’ll add my voice to the din.
    Don’t like these at all. Please change them.

  • Mark B — 10:19 AM on December 21, 2006

    The only thoughtfulness these “icons” (really they’re just abbreviations) show is at the system level. Obviously the design team saw it as a problem of designing a family of several dozen icons, rather than finding ways to make each application special.
    Looking at an individual icon, out of context of the whole product line, I see no thoughtfulness whatsoever. The Photoshop icon has no idea, no artistic effort.
    Application icons are the front line of my impressions about Adobe. Like it or not, I will now think of Adobe as the “thinking inside the box” “giagantic rude dock icon” company.

  • confinta — 10:19 AM on December 21, 2006

    Possibly the worst icon set ever, surely this is a joke?

  • Steve G. — 10:26 AM on December 21, 2006

    This surely is a joke, right? Seriously? If not, then I have in one mouse click lost almost all of my respect for you guys. It has become very apparent that suits and not artists are making these decisions now. This is just plain sad.
    [I don’t recall ever having seen Michael, Ryan, or any of those guys in a suit, and love it or hate it, the redesign is their baby. –J.]

  • Joe Stewart — 10:28 AM on December 21, 2006

    I love these icons. They communicate the product well, are easy to distinguish, and will lead to me clicking the correct icon more often, which is where the current set fails. Icon design is not about making something pretty, it’s about making something that works right. Nice work.

  • Simanek — 10:34 AM on December 21, 2006

    Adobe isn’t a design-driven company. It is a marketing-driven company.
    [I will let the Experience Design team know…
    Love the new work or hate it, as far as I know the team had pretty free reign to create what they deem the best possible solution. –J.]

  • Aral Balkan — 10:44 AM on December 21, 2006

    Also, remember that this is not just about the icons. The same aesthetic (or lack thereof) is reflected in the splash screens and the in-product branding also. It will also feature on the packaging.
    [No, it will not. I’d rather you didn’t make pronouncements on things you either haven’t seen, or have seen & have agreed not to discuss. –J.]

  • Simanek — 10:44 AM on December 21, 2006

    John, this isn’t a post, but a site bug. In your site’s comments forms I have a problem. In Safari pressing ‘Tab’ predictably takes my cursor to the next form container, but in Firefox 2.0 for the Mac and IE 6 for Windows pressing ‘Tab’ takes me to the top of the page. Thought you’d like to know.
    [Thanks for the heads-up, Jason. I’m using a standard template that came with Movable Type, so I’m not sure how to change tab order. I also can’t get the comments on the right to look less than awful in Mac FF. I live in email now, and my CSS skills kind of suck… –J.]

  • MattK — 10:44 AM on December 21, 2006

    The icons work. Ignore the whiners – you’ve made a good decision, ahead of it’s time.
    MK

  • Adam Rice — 10:47 AM on December 21, 2006

    What all y’all who are criticizing these icons don’t realize is that Adobe has super-secret insider info that the dock is going to be circular in Leopard. What Adobe has done here is designed the icons to suit that dock: it’s going to look just like the color wheel seen in the linked image, and it’ll look much better in that context.
    Or, you know, maybe not.

  • Photoshop for the Soul — 10:48 AM on December 21, 2006

    Great set of icons!

  • pfm — 10:54 AM on December 21, 2006

    I, for one, love the new icons, and I desperately hope all this negative feedback doesn’t cause Adobe to change them before release.
    Admittedly, I have low expectations given the last two generations of icons which were pretty but totally and utterly useless.

  • Scott — 10:57 AM on December 21, 2006

    It’s so weird that so many people bash the icons used. Step back and think about what everyone uses the programs for and not just you. You can’t put an icon to PhotoShop because it does so many different things (web, video prep, photo manipulation, etc.) and I mean the same goes for most of the “mainstream products”.
    I for one think that a scalable and easy to read icon is much better than some picture that isn’t viewable at 16×16.
    Getting a similarity between 20+ products is hard to do, but for the cs3 family of icons it will be a snap to say “Yup, that’s a cs3 family product”. The colour wheel philosophy is just the cherry on top of the sweet cheesecake.

  • charles — 10:57 AM on December 21, 2006

    Yea, and everyone wants Jeb Bush for 2008!
    [The completeness of that non sequitur is really kind of refreshing. :-) –J.]
    Get real Adobe. These are baaaad.

  • Stephen — 10:59 AM on December 21, 2006

    I actually like them. When I installed Adobe Reader 8 (a universal binary) I loved the new icon! I had it open next to Adobe Acrobat 6 and well I liked the new one. Now I can’t wait to install PS3 beta so I can have matching icons. I would have preferred that instead of Ps it had the old eye from PS7. The whole wierd icon thing from Cs1 and CS2 is odd. I liked right before that PS7, Illustrator 10 etc). By the way – why is Indesign now Pink and why does Illsutrator have the file extension (AI)?

  • constance — 11:06 AM on December 21, 2006

    Looks like these icons were done by a teen on work experience. I just want to know what crazy art director signed them off.
    [Really? Because that info is in the four-line post. –J.]

  • Nighthawk — 11:06 AM on December 21, 2006

    What the hell did you guys do to the Adobe CS icons? These look like pure and total crap, hard to distinguish between them especially if your color blind or sight impared at all – For the love of Jesus, PUT THEM BACK TO THE WAY THEY WERE!!

  • Craig — 11:10 AM on December 21, 2006

    I wonder…is the FM icon for FrameMaker? Is there going to even be a new version of that ever? Does it even fit a niche anymore?

  • Aaron — 11:13 AM on December 21, 2006

    I think Adobe should be congratulated. Icon design has traditionally been a difficult task for new developers, and historically professional graphic design has been one of the clearest differentiators between big companies and small individual developers when comparing programs. Now, Adobe has lowered the bar — if this is professional, then anybody can be professional! I bet someone could easily throw together a CS3 Icon Construction Program and reduce even further this barrier to entry into the software market.

  • Derek Vadneau — 11:18 AM on December 21, 2006

    Why is it that I feel compelled to defend John here? Oh yeah, people are not reading the entire set of comments and then making the same incorrect statements and taking the icon announcement personally.
    Holy crap people, John didn’t say it but I will: they’re just icons. Have your opinions, say they’re really bad or really good, but people are coming off like the Adobe just kicked them in the teeth. In an age of typing rather than talking we’ve degraded into rants and personal attacks.
    Just so the next people making comments don’t have to scroll so far to see the answer to the question they’ll probably ask again:
    “why does Illsutrator have the file extension (AI)”
    “And is “Ai” Illustrator? If so, why does that one have the “Adobe” appended to it and not the rest?”
    John already answered this many comments before:
    [“AI” is the historic abbreviation for “Illustrator.” Yeah, it’s a little quirky, but it’s been that way for 20 years, and the design team wanted to respect that history. –J.]

  • Phil McClure — 11:20 AM on December 21, 2006

    I think I’m the only one that likes the new icons. I like them much better than the CS2 icons, at any rate.
    At least with 2 letters on the icons, you can guess which app goes with which icon. With the CS2 icons, you have a butterfly, a feather, a flower–all with surprisingly similar color palattes which makes picking which app you need out of the dock at a glance, impossible, and with a scrutinized look, difficult.
    Plus, it appeals to the chemistry geek in me. ;)

  • Chad — 11:25 AM on December 21, 2006

    Umm….
    Hmm….
    Umm…..
    Oh, I get it. April Fools!
    Right?
    Hmmm….guess not.
    Seriously, are these going to be the new icons? I thought that the Creative Suite icons were already pretty ugly and non-informative, but after seeing the PS CS3 Beta icon, I assumed what others have — it’s just a place holder. Is this seriously going to be the icon? If so, I’ll have to switch PS and Illustrator back to the PS7 and Illustrator 10 icons. At least those icons made a little more sense, or at least had a built up history behind them.
    What does a feather tell me about an application? Not much, unless it involves learning how to stuff a peasant.
    Granted, not all icons give a detailed idea what an application does (Adium’s icon is a duck…but it is an instant messenger client, so how does that make sense), but many icons (especially in OS X) DO make sense and give some indication what the application is all about.

  • Nate — 11:27 AM on December 21, 2006

    All I can say is booooo!

  • Aaron Priven — 11:28 AM on December 21, 2006

    I think the general reaction can be summed up here:
    http://www.writeonlymemory.com/images/fu.png
    [Classy… but good for a chuckle. ;-) –J.]

  • Grillo — 11:29 AM on December 21, 2006

    John, does it by any chance has some sort of meaning in the color, something like flash is between illustrator and after effects, cause it does vector animation ?
    [No, as far as I know the color choices were made for historical reasons (e.g. keeping Illustrator yellow). –J.]

  • Fredrik — 11:30 AM on December 21, 2006

    It seems most of the nay-sayers are Mac & OS X owners :-)
    Personally I’ve been working at Adobe TS for two years now on both Mac (secondary) and Windows (primary) and I use all the graphics and video applications on a daily basis and I still have to hover over the CS2 icons to tell them apart on OS X. On Windows I simply have a separate menu near the systray with around 30 Adobe products in it spelled out with names, so there it is not really an issue. So I have to say these icons (and the splash screens) looks much better and much more professional than the old ones. The new blue Ps splash screen is simple and clean and same with the new orange/yellow splash of Ai.
    evan (and the rest too): For you that wonders, why Ai instead of Il? well there’s the reason right there, in some fonts you cannot tell a capital I from a small l. Internally we use the Ai abbreviation for Illustrator just to avoid confusion.
    I guess my pro-new-icon bias might also be because I am a Windows person. The OS X interface (after two years of using it) still feels very awkward to me and the lack of a maximize function and native MDI makes me cry every day :)
    Simpler looking = better in my eyes, both from a design point and usability point.
    Congrats to whoever came up with the idea of simple icons :)

  • Adam Welling — 11:33 AM on December 21, 2006

    I like the new icons. I found the old icons to be a weak representation of the suite, and these are very clear as to which product is which without being intrusive.
    My desktop area doesn’t need to be pretty, it needs to get out of my way while I do the design work. These icons suit that purpose well.

  • Stv, — 11:34 AM on December 21, 2006

    So I quite like them – they’ll be much more distinguishable at tiny sizes than the CS 2 ones. My one query is why Illustrator is “Ai” for ADOBE Illustrator, whereas no other icon contains the Adobe portion of their name? I suppose Il doesn’t look so hot, but doesn’t the naming inconsistency drive you nuts?

  • Rick — 11:35 AM on December 21, 2006

    Ugh… All the more reason to stay with the previous versions of the apps…
    [I guess I have a hard time imagining that people whose livelihoods are presumably connected to their software tools make multi-hundred-dollar buying decisions based on easily-switchable icons. –J.]

  • John P. — 11:38 AM on December 21, 2006

    I actually like the new icons. I wish Dreamweaver had the iconic ‘d’ in it instead of Dw, but I LOVE the periodic-table look, and this should certainly help out with some confusion between applications (ie, look at history of Illustrator icons -> Ai 10 to CS).

  • Rich — 11:42 AM on December 21, 2006

    Seriously, I thought this was a joke, but I guess not. What are you people thinking?
    I haven’t seen anything this misguided since the “Flower Power” iMac.
    Ugly. Frickin’ ugly and equally misguided.

  • Brandon — 11:42 AM on December 21, 2006

    These icons are very clean, simple and easy to understand, they are great. If only your products reflected clean and simple. When I think adobe I think slow, and bloated. It is the sad truth. Foxit PDF reader is so much quicker than Adobes PDF reader, why is that? Photoshop is a powerful tool, I just wish Adobe focued on optimization on all their products. Good work on the Icons though!

  • steven vore — 11:46 AM on December 21, 2006

    You asked for comments and you got them.
    [I didn’t, actually. –J.]

    yes, by posting to a weblog that has comments enabled, you did. that’s the current method of communication “out here.”
    and for whatever it’s worth, I agree 100% that the new icons are fugly and worse than useless – they’ll add to dock confusion rather than reduce it.

  • Simanek — 11:48 AM on December 21, 2006

    My above statement was rude and didn’t explain itself.
    I disagree with Adobe’s attempt to unify all of these products under one brand. The final design theme really is beautiful. I saw a screenshot of the Photoshop beta and the splash page is very beautiful and a big departure from past versions. However, I question the wisdom of making it obvious to everyone that Adobe owns such a large amount of the design (web, motion, graphic, video) tools used in the industry. They end up looking like Microsoft. The relationships between applications like Freehand, Fireworks and Illustrator are not apparent. I don’t understand why a ‘highly organized’ company that has a tool for everything has these redundant applications (GoLive and Dreamweaver). If they truly want to give an image of product unity they should reevaluate their product line. From here (and I mean the view of the icon color wheel) it looks like some of the more recently acquired products are merely getting repackaged. I would like to see this color wheel represent a product line made up of a variety of unique elements that all contribute to the whole.
    [Thanks for the additional info and perspective, Jason. As I say, I’m all for healthy dialog about this stuff. I’m just the messenger, and I kind of wish there were a proper forum for the design team to interact with customers. This seems to be all we have at the moment, though. –J.]

  • Court Kizer — 11:51 AM on December 21, 2006

    As a senior visual designer for a nameless ;-) company, I think the new Icons are fantastic. I was always clicking on ImageReady instead of PhotoShop or Illustrator in my Dock. I do hope though that Photoshop & Illustrators colors are different enough that I don’t get confused.
    Take a look at it in my Dock. It stands out perfectly!
    http://courtkizer.com/photoshopcs3_in_dock.png

  • rbs — 11:52 AM on December 21, 2006

    I see a rectangular icon in my Dock with “Ps” written on it, and the first thought to cross my mind is, “PostScript document”.

  • xxdesmus — 11:55 AM on December 21, 2006

    Wow, these are some of the ugliest and least descriptive icons I have seen for any application in easily 5 years. 2 letter abbreviates for an application are a terrible way to drum up brand recognition. Just look at the Adobe logo, you don’t see them going with Ab for a logo…it just doesn’t make sense.
    You really can’t come up with something a bit more creative than 2 letters? Wow, just wow.
    Well, I know I (and 99% of other users) will promptly be replacing these icons the second we install your product.

  • John Philip Green — 12:01 PM on December 21, 2006

    Many consider art/design successful not if everyone likes it, but if it polarizes viewers to be passionate about them.
    The long list of comments is a testament to that!
    That said, I hate these new icons. I want Venus back.

  • Dede Villela — 12:01 PM on December 21, 2006

    I just thought that would be nice to see some of those icons in real life, so I did this screen (Win XP)… Now if some Mac user liked the idea, feel free to share it with us.
    Btw, I liked the color scheme and the icons! They’re different from previous applications but still got that charm!
    Best Regards
    Dede Villela

  • Ryan Favro — 12:08 PM on December 21, 2006

    Are we being Punk’d? Where is Ashton? Being privy to several Adobe beta’s that incorporate the new Periodic Table icons, I had originally assumed they were place holders for the real deal. Reading this post is a huge disapointment. I also feel this whole color wheel arrangment is very offensive to us developers (not designers). The big question was how would Adobe handle the development and server tools acquired from the macromedia acquisition? Adobe had no real track record in the server world after all. Although I’m generally happy with whats going on with ColdFusion and Flex I must say the color wheel reference is a reminder Adobe cares more about it’s design customers then it’s adopted Macromedia developer customers post merger.

    That my $0.02
    [I don’t see it as an Adobe vs. Macromedia thing, given that it’s a former-MACR team that did the redesign. –J.]

  • Gabe — 12:14 PM on December 21, 2006

    I for one like the letters! Now I can arrange them alphabetically and not have to scan through a thousand icons to find the blue feather (not to be confused with the two yellow feathers)!

  • Jim Laski — 12:14 PM on December 21, 2006

    The icons suck… Oh well, I use Paint Shop Pro and Notepad for all of my web design anyways.

  • bl0k — 12:29 PM on December 21, 2006

    Wow, people are up in arms over a series of icons, amazing!
    I thought the PS icon was just for the beta as well, but I actually like the icons seen in the bigger picture of Adobe now had 20+ apps that need a uniform feel.
    Icons matter, but come on people, a blue Ps is just as good as a stupid feather or a pair of eyes – which always freaked me out.
    Keep up the good work guys, and thanks for the early look!

  • Ryan Favro — 12:42 PM on December 21, 2006

    John point taken re: the former MACR team did the redesign. But is it possible we have a case of Montezuma’s revenge happening here? Former Macromedia staff having a good laugh at Adobe’s expense?
    [I really don’t think so, Ryan. That would be the ultimate case of cutting off your nose to spite your face! Obviously a lot of people don’t dig the new icons, at least taken on their own (out of context of new packaging, etc. That’s fine, but it’s not because the design team hasn’t made a very sincere attempt to provide a new visual system that works across a broad range of products. –J.]

  • codeman38 — 12:43 PM on December 21, 2006

    Scutdog: Glad I’m not the only one who thought “Fx” = After Effects at first. So if the Macromedia “f” is Flash, then what’s “Fl”? One commenter suggested that Fl = Flash, while f = Flash Player…but that’s just as confusing, since that’s the same icon used in the previous version of the Flash *authoring* app!
    What also confuses me is the erratic capitalization. Why is it “Ai” and not “AI”, when there’s “ID”?

  • Ted — 12:43 PM on December 21, 2006

    So John… by saying “IR is dead; pour out a 40 for our dead homie. FW will not replace it in the Photoshop box. –J.”
    …am I to understand that Fireworks will not come with Photoshop (standalone) as did Imageready, but will be included in the Creative Suite bundle?
    Do you know if Fireworks will be sold seperately outside of the suite?
    [Ted, I’m not sure how specific I’m allowed to get at the moment, but I think it’s a safe bet that FW will be available on its own or via a Suite of some sort. –J.]

  • Sam — 12:49 PM on December 21, 2006

    Not impressed with the icons. Kinda get the color wheel idea.
    But, if so considering CF and Flex are Adobe’s programing languages (though maybe Spry as well?) why are they on opposite sides of the color wheel? Shouldn’t they be together?

  • Mordy Golding — 12:50 PM on December 21, 2006

    To get Venus back, launch Illustrator CS or CS2 and press the letters V-E-N-U-S on your keyboard with any tool selected except the Type tool. Enjoy :)

  • KGS — 12:51 PM on December 21, 2006

    To sum it up, it can be argued that the new icons are:
    1) Confusing (color differentiation ends up being ineffective for such a large family of icons, defeating the very underlying goal of the color palette approach)
    2) Misleading (Ps and Ai mean what again? Such letter combinations have little semantic meaning and in some cases where they do, are already used for other well-known abbreviations, e.g., Ps is for PostScript and Ai is for Artificial Intelligence)
    3) Aesthetically… dull. (When other applications are investing in and transitioning to high fidelity 512×512 icons, instead of some beautiful rich imagery, we get giant traffic sign like designs in their 512×512 form, and unrecognizable designs in their typical Dock size form.)
    4) Inconsistent with Mac OS and Vista icon guidelines. (The result is your icons “stick out” — and as evidenced by the user reaction thus far, isn’t the kind you want).
    Last but not least, the icons are controversial. It wouldn’t matter as much if you weren’t getting this sort of feedback from your primary target audience… but unfortunately, you are.
    Adobe has sacrificed the basic principles of exemplary icon design for a seemingly confusing and ineffective brand strategy.
    It’s not too late. Reverse the current course when you still can.

  • dd — 12:53 PM on December 21, 2006

    i think/hope what adobe SHOULD really do RIGHT NOW once they’re starting to be more open to community and show us some things of the future – why couldn’t they release a CS3 set of icons for current CS2 applications? it doesn’t have to be more official that posting in such blog. i’m not sure about windows version but swapping icons in macosx is just a quick file replace in application’ bundle.
    so- enthusiastic people could just swap their cs2 workflow into upcoming cs3 icons mockup and try. i believe there would be lots of switched-minds once tried working in new appearance everyday for some time, getting the feel of alt/option-tabbing, finding and launching..
    i personally have lots of doubts in new trend as i believe – designers as “visual” people are much more into pictures/icons than into plain “text”. e.g. microsoft word with ‘W’ icon is much more effective solution for application’ target audience than “Ps”, “Pr” or “Ae” for adobe’ creative users.
    i find what’s left- recent acrobat triangle and flash ‘F’ icons superb. i like new style how they look and would be very happy if adobe could come with _strong_ icons for their other products, even if new/fresh icon today wouldn’t have traditions which would start working after 3-5 years.. or- maybe streamlining into clean shape older photoshop eye, illustrator venus – would be enough to recover feel and symbol of the products we were used to identify so easily just a few years ago.
    heck- maybe i could stand out rebranding of a few core product only in this new way but once i imagine a dock with similar 7-8 adobe applications – i’m a bit scared. ‘Fl’, ‘Fx’, ‘Fw’ will slow down me to think what is what and what it does and what i need. e.g. if adobe had products with real verb names – like for instance corel suite: ‘draw’, ‘paint’, etc. and icons would say the task possible to work on- again imho it’d better than forcing user to permanently mind new-words such as ‘Contribute’=web editing/blogging.
    another question- what about document icons’? currently i find cs/cs2 document icons quite effective solution to quickly identifying type of the file i see in folder. however if in future we’ll be seeing color square with subtle shades (Fw and Ai very close orange, Ae and Pr – purple) that also makes more pain than current cs2 branding imho..
    so please- could we get a see-and-try replacement set of icons for cs2?

  • András Puiz — 1:21 PM on December 21, 2006

    This is a genuine WTF moment.
    Let me start by saying that the Dock fails as a general app launcher. It’s been a failure since day one, and has remained one.
    There’s a saying in UI design: a word is worth a thousand pictures.
    I strain my brain a lot when I search for an app icon in the Dock. I keep saying the app’s name to myself, and I need to match it against some picture. It’s hard. It’s not natural. It’s almost like those “the word ‘red’ written in blue” brain twisters.
    This is why I keep an icon of the Applications folder in my Dock at all times. Dock icons are only for the most commonly used apps.
    But these two-letter codes just take away even the little visual cue we used to have. It took me months, but finally I learned: buttefly equals InDesign. Feather equals Photoshop.
    But now Ps and Id… Don’t know. Now my brain needs to switch gears even more than before.
    And besides, they look bland. But that’s not a huge deal. Usability is (should be) the number one concern. I’d rather leave cute design ideas for the splash screen or the packaging.

  • Hadley Stern — 1:22 PM on December 21, 2006

    I’m gonna chime in with an alternate point of view…and that is I like them. When I first downloaded the Photoshop beta I thought it was a placeholder icon. But now I like it. I was never a fan of the CS icons…too fussy and hard to read. At least now when I see the Ps icon (and I can imagine the others) in the dock I’ll know what they are.

  • christophe — 1:27 PM on December 21, 2006

    Why is the reason logo in there? ;-)

  • james — 1:33 PM on December 21, 2006

    I’m not to impressed with the the icon designs,
    however, using quicksilver, I hardly ever go to the dock anymore.
    Mac users please check out the freeware quicksilver. scrolling thru your dock isn’t needed anymore.

  • Eric — 1:34 PM on December 21, 2006

    Come on, people. The flower/feather/butterfly icons from CS2, while not very indicative of their respective application, were infinately easier to associate with the application after a few uses than these acronyms are going to be, especially with their inconsistent truncation.
    It’s not like these apps have such abstracted, esoteric uses that they can’t be represented visually in a fairly straightforward manner. Off the top of my head, Photoshop=camera, Illustrator=pen, InDesign=page spread, Flash=filmstrip, etc. Why not put monochromatic renderings of these things in the boxes, Acrobat-style?
    Even non-designers — hell, ESPECIALLY non-designers — are going to scoff at these abortions.

  • Oh God! NOOOOOOOO! — 1:34 PM on December 21, 2006

    Seriously! Please please please! They are freaking terrible! DO NOT DO THIS ADOBE!

  • Alisic — 1:37 PM on December 21, 2006

    I think that before condemning and making useless whining remarks about the icon decisions, the best thing to do would be to wait and see how they do in use. I’m sure Adobe has given this much more thought than most people that criticized this did when they chose to post. I think the icons will look and feel cool when put to use. And even if they don’t, so what? Props to Adobe for trying out something new in either case, but I think these icons will work nicely.

  • Adz — 1:45 PM on December 21, 2006

    I don’t mind the new icons, however I think there are too many to keep track of. How about Adobe just copy all the sourcecode of all of the applications into a single file, compile it, and call it Adobe Complete Suite? Then you just need one icon and all of these arguments will disappear.

  • ShaSpleem — 1:55 PM on December 21, 2006

    This has to be the most minimilistic and lazy approach to tackling their icons.
    I’ll put in my two cents and say I don’t like it.

  • jjhny — 1:56 PM on December 21, 2006

    Awful.
    This is an attempt to be clever and it fails miserably. I thought the “feather, flower and butterfly” were the bottom.
    Adobe has crashed through that basement floor and reached a new nadir in design!
    I am SURE there was some convoluted meeting where the logic of this was explained. But they are bland and ugly – some people on the web have (in their SPARE TIME) made better icons.
    Note to Adobe – Fire your Designers!

  • Nina Tovish — 1:57 PM on December 21, 2006

    I didn’t like the random iconography of the CS2 icons… (feather, for an image manipulation program???), but I like these bland squares even less.
    For the most part, the application icons in my doc are either easily associated with the app’s name or its function, or both.
    What does a periodic table of elements have to do with this software? Nothing. The blandness and similarity of these icons is truly uninteresting and uninspiring.
    Please try again. It’s not too late to do something better.

  • Christoffer Du Rietz — 2:01 PM on December 21, 2006

    As many have already commented. These icons look terrible in the dock. Please be a little more creative than this…

  • leo — 2:05 PM on December 21, 2006

    Pretty plain and generic. Is this the best Adobe can come up with?

  • Brad Serum — 2:06 PM on December 21, 2006

    Dear John,
    Let me first say that I appreciate the enormity of the task at hand. The project is clearly no small challenge by any stretch of the Imagination. That Adobe tackled the job from a holistic standpoint is commendable. I also applaud the value placed on simplicity of design. In these days of information overload, simple elegance is as valued as it is hard to come by. But as for the result…
    Though I suppose these two-letter abbreviations are in common use in the Adobe offices, their use fails to acknowledge that these abbreviations are not the exclusive domain of Adobe products. For instance, When I see FM, the first application that jumps to my head is FileMaker Pro. And I’m sure I’m not the only one to think of PostScript when I see PS, especially in the world of Adobe technology.
    The use of color is an intriguing aspect of the design, but after looking at this wheel for over an hour, I am still scratching my head trying to decode what the color is supposed to be telling me. Typically, I expect color would indicate product families, related tools or types of media. So it is so perplexing to see FreeHand so close to Photoshop while Illustrator is practically on the other side of the wheel from them both.
    Thus, it can be argued that this treatment is as prone to confusion as it is to clarity. And if there isn’t visual interest to fall back on, then the design is in trouble.
    As another poster has keyed into, the design seems to have been driven exclusively by left-brain solutions. Therein lies the true failure of the design: in the single-minded pursuit of clarity, they’ve lost all visual interest. And in the design of a visual identifier, that’s other half the battle.
    I fully concede that a pictogram of a flower or a detail from a Botticelli painting does nothing to key into the fundamental nature of an application and therefore are no more clearer than the abbreviation concept. I also admit that the age-old “illustrate-what-the-program-does” route is every bit as creatively uninspired as the accusations being leveled at this design. But the benefits these directions DO have is some modicum of visual interest.
    And in the end, Adobe will find that this lack of any visual interest is at the heart of why these icons fail. They do nothing to feed the imagination. And when their company’s slogan is “If you can dream it, you can do it,” failure to feed imagination is a glaring one.
    Icons are similar in many ways to logos and there is a reason why simple word-marks never achieve the esteem that Saul Bass could create for his clients. Think Apple. Think Target. Think Nike. Regardless of how much or how little it speaks to the company’s product or service, it is a graphic thumbprint of the entirety of everything that company stands for.
    The inconsistency in the implementation of the design bears my observations out. The Acrobat symbol was retained due to it’s consistent recognizability. Though I confess that it’s a mystery to me as to why some of the other genericons elsewhere on the wheel were maintained.
    Adobe finds itself dealing with the result of it’s biggest icon mistake: the constant reinvention of their icons. My unsolicited recommendation is to mine the histories of these products and find the iconic elements that have resounded with the public. Take these disparate elements and illustrate them with a common graphic style to infuse a familial look.
    I do admire that you chose to go with a direction that was no doubt perceived as risky or bold at most if not all levels of their development. Taking chances is the domain of innovators. I also applaud Adobe’s solid history of listening to customer feedback. Doing so is the domain of successful businesses.
    Warm wishes,
    B.
    [Thanks for the thoughtful feedback, Brad. This kind of thing is all good, and useful. Maybe we can get the design guys to address some of your & other folks’ specific comments, as I’m sure many of these things came up during the design process. –J.]

  • Ann Shelbourne — 2:07 PM on December 21, 2006

    >[I don’t see it as an Adobe vs. Macromedia thing, given that it’s a former-MACR team that did the redesign. –J.]>
    There is your problem — in a nutshell!
    You are hell-bent on foisting Macromedia’s lousy idea of GUI design onto Adobe users who are used to a MUCH higher standard.
    Start from the other end:
    Try to drag those pathetic Macromedia designs UP to Adobe’s standards rather than dragging Adobe’s products down into the gutter.
    I would suggest that you start by dumping anyone who had any connection with designing anything for Macromedia and replace them with the outstanding Adobe staff who have built Adobe into the global leaders of outstanding software for the graphic arts industry.

  • Chris G — 2:13 PM on December 21, 2006

    After reading through this comment page (wow it’s long!) to make sure I didn’t repeat any questions like some people… I would just like to say I LIKE the icons. I think they reflect the new and upcoming “Web 2.0” look – elegant. Since applications are becoming more and more integrated with networking and the internet, I think the aesthetic of simple “tiles” with 2 letter labels reflect icons on, say, a web blog, or something modern, provides a good connection to this “web world”. (since so much of what is made on these Adobe applications ends up on the web anyway).
    This might not make much sense, but I am trying to put into words what I sense visually. Additionally, I think rounded corners might make me feel more comfortable, squares seem a little sharp (i.e. on the dock) and reminiscent of old windows icons. (however, the gradients counteract that some). If the design team has decided that they want to steer away from graphical pictures or symbols because it would be too hard to come up with a coherent set, I still think they could make a simple white “silhouette” symbol for each icon along with the 2-letter label.
    p.s. John, I think it’s cool that we get such close interact to Adobe designers!
    [Thanks for being part of the conversation, Chris. –J.]

  • Mike — 2:18 PM on December 21, 2006

    Hi John, sorry you are getting dumped on with all this. Even though you are taking the brunt of this backlash and it’s not your fault, I do think that you could potentially be doing Adobe a lot of good.
    [Thanks, Mike; I hope so. –J.]
    This backlash (read feedback) is what corporate blogs are all about. I hope all this feedback will be listened too by the powers that be.
    [It’s certainly reaching them. –J.]
    I agree with most of the comments hear (and I’ve read them all to his point) and say I HATE the new “icons”. For me, it all comes down to the fact that the “icons” don’t have symbols on them. Although we have to memorize all icons, graphical images/symbols are much more easily learned and recognized. Any symbol (feather, flower,butterfly, it doesn’t matter)is easier to associate than trying to read/interpret and abbreviation or acronym. With these 2 letter abbreviations, you can’t memorize the pattern or symbol for the app, you have to read it and decode it, which is more difficult. And with the abbreviation, in reading it, you have to already know what the answer is, so you end up in a kind of a loop. Instead of symbol=app, you have pattern=letters=abbrv=(remember list of possible apps-minus exceptions(Ai)-abbrv that could be two apps)= ahh ha = app
    This is important to Adobe. These icons, by definition, do represent, literally, a huge investment of Adobe intellectual property.
    There is also the emotional factor of the old icons for all of us long time users. For something completely over the top (and probably ridiculous I admit), if someone still doesn’t get it, ask them how they would feel if the American Flag (a real icon) was changed to a purple square (representing the red and blue) with two white letters Us on it, and saying this is much easier to understand. Britain would be purple too with Uk on it, etc… you get the idea. What country does a brown square with Bn on it stand for? Bangladesh? Bhutan? You have to already know the answer to figure it out!
    [Yeah, frankly, I was up in arms about going to the feather three years ago, ditching the eye that had been there for 13 years (not to mention the Illustrator Venus, etc.). It struck me as really arbitrary and capricious, but in it went. As regards these new designs, I happen to like the aesthetic (to each his own), but more importantly I’ve had no problems using them in my dock. Maybe we can find a way to let people kick the tires and see whether the same is true for them. –J.]

  • Adam A — 2:29 PM on December 21, 2006

    Haha, wow.
    I see a lot of valid points here. Too bad most of these points have to come saturated with rudeness and insults. People act like their use of the program depends on the ‘pretty factor’ of the icons. Seriously people, you are buying the program, not the icon. If you don’t like it, switch it. Use the old ones. Deal with it.
    And how about some consideration for the people that put hard work into this? They obviously had a reason to do things the way they did, and I have a feeling that all has not been revealed yet.
    That being said, I am going to reserve judgement until I have had a chance to use the applications w/ the new icon system.

  • Michal Janowski — 2:34 PM on December 21, 2006

    Hi again,
    A picture is worth 1000 words they say. And so are the mockups of docks/taksbars posted here.
    For me its clear – in terms of pure usability, not some designer eyecandy, the new icon set is worse… You will blame those icons for the same reasons you blame the CS2 set, even more I think.

  • Derek Vadneau — 2:36 PM on December 21, 2006

    “Photoshop=camera, Illustrator=pen, InDesign=page spread, Flash=filmstrip”
    Filmstrip for Flash? Ugh. Yeah, ’cause Flash developers haven’t had a hard enough time trying to be taken seriously as developers that they need Adobe to tell everyone that the app is a movieplayer. Sorry … sore point.
    “however I think there are too many to keep track of”
    Really? You’re going to have ALL of the Adobe designer/developer apps/server products installed on your computer?
    How is it different from having the same number of different styled icons? Strange argument.
    “Kinda get the color wheel idea.
    But, if so considering CF and Flex are Adobe’s programing languages (though maybe Spry as well?) why are they on opposite sides of the color wheel? Shouldn’t they be together?”
    This is why the colour wheel should be removed and just have the icons displayed.
    The colour wheel is confusing people because they are, naturally, associating the apps with the colours. But the colour of the apps aren’t related to each other. Where applicable, the colours the apps had before remained. This is why you have Cold Fusion as blue and Flex and Flex Builder as Black/Grey, etc.

  • Simon — 3:02 PM on December 21, 2006

    I don’t think those icons are very nice. What is the whole deal with the two letters, and what do they stand for… the whole reason why they are called ICONS is because they are iconic as to what they represent.
    On a side note, I would get this comment form fixed, when I attempted to tab from one field to another I was taken right to the top of your page to the search box or somthing… which was very annoying and almost cost you me not posting…

  • Ade Barkah — 3:07 PM on December 21, 2006

    Wow John amazing number of comments!!
    Us humans instinctively recognize things like butterflies and feathers, because we’ve had a few million years of evolution geared towards exactly that.
    We’re also good at associating graphical imagery with concrete concepts… Mike’s flag analogy above is spot on.
    By comparison, in the evolutionary scale our ability to decipher text characters is fairly limited
    We have to consciously “read” characters like ‘P’ and ‘s’, as opposed to instantly “recognize” the shape of a feather, for example.
    By removing graphical imagery from the new icons and replacing them with text, we’re not taking advantage of a few million years worth of cognitive evolution.
    The best is a combination of both, such as an icon of a feather, and the text “Photoshop” right beneath it. Oh wait… that’s how it is now. :-)
    Another $0.02,
    -Ade

  • Bruce Fleming — 3:19 PM on December 21, 2006

    How many people, when you roll over something in the dock, think “Aha! Photoshop! There it is!”? I just go down to “that thingie.” New apps don’t take long before their icons sink in on that level. Because of this, I respond generally favorably to the periodic table theme. It is a kind of alchemy, what we do with these apps. I’m sure I’ll get used to opening the red one or the blue one as needed.

  • Jeff L — 3:41 PM on December 21, 2006

    Here is an image someone linked on digg that best explains why these icons frankly suck:
    http://img392.imageshack.us/img392/2789/cs3toolbarop4.gif
    It’s funny, but only because it’s true. Icon: “a sign or representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance or analogy to it.” An abbreviation is not an icon. Spelling out “Photoshop” on a square would not be an icon.
    You are supposed to look at an icon and immediately recognize what it is. Look at the Internet Explorer icon, or the Firefox icon, or Outlook. You immediately recognize what application will pop up when you press it without having to read anything.
    Which is why I assume the toolbar icons in Photoshop aren’t made up of two letter abbreviations.

  • Helping Hand — 3:41 PM on December 21, 2006

    As a break from the comments on the new Adobe Icons, here’s a comment on your blog itself: I find your last name absolutely indecypherable in that gothic medieval font you’re using. I thought the title of your blog said “John Hock” or something like that. Please consider something a tad more legible.

  • Philip — 3:48 PM on December 21, 2006

    its a realy great idea if you are a little bit authistic. like all big companys :) if i would only use adobe/macromedia apps, i would say: ok, yeah thats good, that performancs better than this dock decorations. but there also other companys using this color systems for branding: as example the icons from native instruments (audio software). if you mix them up in your app launcher/dock you could get troubles if your thinking only in colors. but as someone else allready said, quicksilver shows the way to think and adobe would be a step more avantgarde if they kill the gradient.

  • Dave C — 3:50 PM on December 21, 2006

    Sorry to be negative but… ugly, awful, and utterly pathetic. Write a check to the guys over at the IconFactory and have them show you how its done.

  • jim — 4:00 PM on December 21, 2006

    a lot of posters here seem to be missing the fact that icons for related applications are intentionally spread out on the color wheel, so that when you have them open in your dock/taskbar, they are easier to distinguish.

  • info — 4:08 PM on December 21, 2006

    Bravo! The new icons do a good job of expressing the corporate monotony of Adobe. Might I even say… “GREAT JOB!!!” These icons are truly iconic!
    However, I think the text labels are superfluous. Just go with little color chips! In time, people will learn that Photoshop = Pantone “Reflex Blue”.
    In fact, this is a major new stream of licensing revenue for Pantone. You had better reserve your Pantone Application Domain Name now. Adobe has got a head start on all the really good Pantone color names, no doubt!
    Oh and that one near the center is sheer genius. The one that looks like a modern version of a radiation warning. Is that the new icon for Adobe’s legendary anti-customer licensing system? I am surprised that such an honest icon was chosen. Another good move by Adobe! Users will find it easy to identify what is poisoning their system. Bravo!
    All in all, keep up the great work! I cannot wait until the new Corporate Suite, CS3, gets here! I need to create some boring corpsicle brochures and nothing does the job like the ‘ol grandaddy of insanely hard to use software, Corporate Suite!!! Bring it on, Big Adobe Daddy!!!
    [You’ve got a lot of anger in there, my brother. Hope you get that cleared up peacefully. –J.]

  • Mark Thomas — 4:11 PM on December 21, 2006

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t be nice or civil about this. These icons are nothing short of braindead, Win.idiot-concocted garbage. They’re pathetic. The CS2 icons were already next to useless, but this periodic table of elements nonsense is insulting, sad, worthless, retarded, laughable and ultimately detached from all notions of reality, usability and, astonishingly, good design. I’m not sure whether to bellow great bales of laughter or collapse in a sobbing pile of crushed illusions. If all you’ve got is one lame blue “Ps” in your dock, then yes, it stands out the way a zit stands out on a pale brow. Otherwise, this is the most colossal design blunder of the millennium. I don’t even know what any of these apps are! Di? Fw? Vc? Co? Lc? Is this some kind of joke? Rh? Jr? Fb? Cf? Di? Vc? Sb? I hate Adobe. I used to love Adobe. Now I hate Adobe. These icons symbolize everything that’s wrong with the crew of idiots who pilot this massive, competition-eating garbage truck of a software company. They suck and they’re stupid. Merge with Microsoft already, buy yourself some sh*t-brown Zunes, then go away and never come back. These icons will never grace my dock, and I’m never using this bad, buggy sad excuse for a software suite ever again.

  • Ryan — 4:15 PM on December 21, 2006

    These are not good. Thankfully, iconfactory exists – those icons won’t last very long on my computer.

  • Min — 4:15 PM on December 21, 2006

    UI debate aside, I think the color chart is simply beautiful.
    UI debate in front, I suspect my initial impressions might not mean a thing when it comes down to living with these icons day by day.
    What I find most interesting is how often we’ll refer to these initials in our daily communications… hey, wait-a-minute… pimping Acrobat, InCopy…

  • Dmitry Chestnykh — 4:16 PM on December 21, 2006

    OMG!!!
    [As in, “Oh my God, that’s a metric crap-tonne of comments about some friggin’ icons!”? ‘Cause I’ve been thinking that myself. ;-) –J.]

  • billie gaitz — 4:19 PM on December 21, 2006

    Well we for one are glad to see the decrease in originality. You see here at MicroCrap we were getting shown up even by Adobe’s icons and now we feel we can burst ahead at least in that area, but we too were considering our own trebuchet font on simple boxes. We are now considering arial on circles! — Billie Gaitz
    [Did I mention that I was holding open mic night at the Adobe Chuckle Hut? C’mon in, bring your laffs, don’t forget to tip your product mgr… –J.]

  • tray — 4:32 PM on December 21, 2006

    dear people who don’t like the new icons, you will get used to it. just like all the “new icons” that we have experienced in the past. we have all learned and our brain has become “used to” what was once “new”.
    on a personal note… hey.. i can’t bash it until i see them all on my dock… and for me.. the icon is the most unimportant thing of the program (yes.. i do like looking at pretty icons.. but i always have my dock so small that you can usually only recognize major shapes and colors anyways) i’d much rather have a kick-butt program than a pretty looking icon. :-P
    i’ll just say..
    hey adobe… keep making AWESOME software!
    thanks :-)
    [Thanks, Tray. –J.]

  • Gary Fenton — 4:50 PM on December 21, 2006

    For a company like Adobe who produce creative tools, these are the most uncreative icons I’ve ever seen.
    Is this some new type of ironic art form? (Ironic, not iconic)
    Or has someone been cutting up the periodic table from a chemistry book?
    Naff, really uninspiring. This is a joke, right?

  • greg h — 5:11 PM on December 21, 2006

    Icons? This stuff doesn’t just go on icons. It goes in advertising, on packaging, spash screens, on the installers (and you know during a CS3 install you are going to be looking at this dreck for 30 minutes or more).
    Please give us branding that will make our hearts soar!
    g

  • info — 5:26 PM on December 21, 2006

    “[You’ve got a lot of anger in there, my brother. Hope you get that cleared up peacefully. –J.]”
    Sorry, man, but this brother has had to use Adobe Acrobat with its horrible system-killing licensing malware on a machine with a RAID controller for the past two years.
    When your whole machine locks up because of Adobe’s licensing system, it really does sour the user experience. And if you are doing work with audio on the same machine as I am, the situation is much worse as the Adobe licensing causes drop outs and glitches in your audio.
    If you Google on issues with Adobe Acrobat licensing, you will find many hits. It is a real issue. I’m sure you are not personally aware of it, but for many of us real people out here trying to use Adobe products, there are serious problems with many of them.
    When I see a lot of effort (or at least a lot of time) go into a new set of icons vs. fixing bugs, increasing system compatibility, decreasing TCO, etc., it does make me angry, disappointed, etc.
    There seems to be an entire dimension of quality that Adobe apparently does not know exists or chooses to ignore.
    My personal opinion is that Adobe is in a success trap and due to its monopoly on creative tools doesn’t spend much time on what I would call “deep improvements”. There is just some flashy stuff that can be hyped and marketed so people upgrade to the next version.
    And so we can get back to discussing the icons now ;-)
    Cheers, mate.

  • matt innes — 6:00 PM on December 21, 2006

    hi john
    thank you for sharing this information with us, and for gracefully & humourously dealing with slavering rabid commenters. Just these two simple things give me a good feeling about Adobe (thats perhaps been a little lacking over the last couple of years – i’m looking at Illustrator’s sluggishness on OSX, Adobe becoming our graphics monopoly overlords ;-) & a very long wait for intel mac versions, perhaps all related problems )
    And it cheers me to read that you too were dismayed by the direction of the icons in CS/ CS2. They did indeed wander off into a field of meaningless symbolism (and less attractive art) than previously. This new attempt at unification is a good & worthy idea. Unfortunately it does seem to fail on several points.
    First, as a design system it’s already broken by retaining some old icons, and so feels incomplete or just plain “beta”.
    Secondly, it’s anglo-centric. I live & work in japan & i really can’t see designers here warming to this system. For example, Illustrator is known here as 「イラレ」 (i-ra-re) shortened from イラストレーター (irasutoreta) so for japanese, 「イラ」 would make more sense than [ Ai ] & be more recognisable. This really makes a bit of a mockery of the design system your designers chose, as it doesnt work consistently across cultures.
    Thirdly, its spartan plainness does your brand image a disservice. A little bit of graphic inspiration would do a lot to warm the icy hearts of mac-heads who’ve been waiting a long time for intel-native photoshop & illustrator to drop..
    Thanks for your time and do please consider a rethink of this design strategy.

  • Dean — 6:19 PM on December 21, 2006

    Wow. I have to disagree with just about everybody. I think these new icons are genius. I, too, thought they were just placeholders, but now that I see it all in place, I love it. They look great in my dock and they stand out from everything else.
    As for those who keep complaining that they never can get used to most icons, I wonder how often they actually open their software!? I open these apps 50 times a day. I’ve memorized that the blue feather means Photoshop and the pink butterfly that tears my heart into tiny pieces when it crashes is InDesign…and now I’ll memorize the [Ps] equals my beloved image-editing software.
    Super smart and (given time) super functional.
    Thanks the betas! Adobe’s back on my good side. Please tear up my break-up letter. {^_^}

  • Nathan Thompson — 6:29 PM on December 21, 2006

    I have not read all the comments to this post, but I did skip around to read random entries.
    Similar to a few of the comments, I also use a launcher when I need to open an application or even when an application is already open and I want to get to it quickly. While Quicksilver is a nice utility I wouldn’t put all that greatness to good use.
    My alternative for the simple act of launching applications is to use Namely (OS X). Free and easy to use with a simple keyboard hotkey combination to invoke the drop down text entry. Start typing an application’s name and Namely quickly pops up with matching results.
    I do understand an application launcher will not solve the problem of similarly styled icons for those users who drag and drop documents to a docked app. Yet, this does help a regular schmo like me who spend 95% of my time launching or switching to applications not interacting with the icon.
    As to the icon design of Adobe applications, I don’t actually use anything Adobe makes, well beyond Flash player and Adobe Acrobat, the latter only on my pre OS X Mac systems. Overall an interesting debate and while I don’t really have a dog in this fight, I do enjoy reading the debate.

  • Alan Chao — 6:49 PM on December 21, 2006

    I quite like the new icons actually. I found that out of the people I know, the ones who have more of an appreciation for design tend to like the icons more. Generally, my “style” is fairly simplistic/minimal, and I know that minimal designs tend to go under more scrutiny. Someone did, however, make the point that the icons may be difficult to distinguish from each other in the dock. I can see this possibly happening, however I don’t think it will. I don’t know anyone who uses so many adobe/macromedia applications that it makes it difficult to distinguish what’s what at a glance.

  • Doug Karr — 7:07 PM on December 21, 2006

    People are always adverse to change. Management by consensus will only provide you with the least common denominator, the worst decision that is never daring.
    Be bold. These icons are elegant, family-like, and stand out from the crowd.
    Designers should recognize this.
    Regards,
    Doug

  • Hendrik — 7:08 PM on December 21, 2006

    I also assumed the icons were temporary placeholders for the betas only. And when reading this post I (as obviously many others) first assumed it to be a practical joke. But from the responses to comments it seems like this is real (or a really well followed through practical joke ;) )
    I know that Adobe cares about its customers a lot and I am sure they will take the feedback here into account. Although I guess it might be a bit late in the game to change things.
    I liked the previous Lightroom icon quite a bit.

  • Marquez — 7:24 PM on December 21, 2006

    Terribly hideous, or should I say.. fugly?
    It’s a bit web 2.0, which is not so fashionable anymore.
    Above all, it means I must hide my dock when working, or get all those beasts replaced by custom icon.

  • John — 7:58 PM on December 21, 2006

    I think they’re fantastic!
    What some people here don’t seem to realize is that after you’ve placed an app in your dock and used it a couple of times, you don’t actually look at it very closely anymore. Instead, you rely upon the physical memory of its location. For example, I know that my copy of Photoshop is on the left side of my dock and the icon is blue and white. It doesn’t matter whether the icon has a rendering of a feather, eye, or camera lens on it. All a dock icon needs to be is distinguishable enough from its neighbor at a glace—which these are.
    These icons will be a sober, sophisticated, and welcome change from the usual, cartoonish icons that fill my dock. Well done Adobe!

  • Mark — 8:02 PM on December 21, 2006

    I for one really LIKE the new icons, i can’t understand why people can’t work out that PS stands for Photoshop(okay PS may also stand for PostScript, but how many of you mistakenly installed a PostScript application and keep getting it confused with Photoshop CS3?).
    The icons are distinctive and beam out of the dock because they are so different, and well how can that be a bad thing really, even if u think “damn they’re ugly” it’s got your attension, which is all Adobe want really.
    They’re good because it scales across the whole prouct range, you can’t get them confused. The components of the suite likely to be used together are completly different colours meaning they are going to be confused less(compared it they were all a different shade of the same colour as some have sugested). They are good at graphically scaling.
    I really don’t see how people can’t understand how simple it is, the only real shortcoming that i can see is what about different languages – but i guess this has already been answered internally.
    Good Job,
    Mark

  • Reed — 8:04 PM on December 21, 2006

    A Typophile thread on the icons, started by yours truly: http://typophile.com/node/30174 . Pretty even split on Typophile in terms of like it/hate it; Veerle Pieters has convinced me now somewhat.

  • Daniel — 8:24 PM on December 21, 2006

    In the past Adobe always had the best looking and practical icons. Macromeida’s icons have never eally looked that great. It was a big miustake to have Macromedia’s design team work on the new icons. I feel it will be in Adobe’s best interest if the original Adobe Design team dealt with all the new icons and and started from scratch.

  • Andrew — 8:32 PM on December 21, 2006

    if i understand the diagram correctly, the thought behind it is brilliant. spatially arranging the applications by technology and then assigning a color to it. This could then define the color scheme for the product from icon to packaging etc.
    I personally don’t want icons that are identical save color, but that’s a different argument.

  • FataL — 8:35 PM on December 21, 2006

    I will be short: those icons are lame.
    From aesthetic and usability points of view.
    Hope they will be changed because I’m going to change them by myself than.

  • Ben — 8:56 PM on December 21, 2006

    whew! Thats a bit more personal vitrol then I would like to see over something that, although useful, will not solve all the world’s problems. Obviously icons, as any piece of art, is quite subjective. Personally I really liked the old “eye.” But then it disappeared to be replaced by the often confusing “beautiful nature shapes.” And now Adobe is moving to the “field of color with type”. I like the typeface. I’m not sold yet on how well the icons will work in actual practice (when one will have more then 2 to work with). So I will withold judgement until later. What is interesting to note is how conservative people are when it comes to icons, I included! Must be the time and memory taken to understand a particular icon’s visual information and make it productive. I would say your design team is doing something right when they can stir up so much passion over functional art!

  • pixelation — 9:24 PM on December 21, 2006

    i’m as amazed at all the negative comments as i am excited about the icons. most professionals have a rather long and crowded dock, so these will really stand out. those feathers and flowers and butterflies were pretty tacky. i also can’t figure how people think these are confusing. how much more direct could they be? the photoshop, illustrator and flash icons are easily identifiable. do people drop every one of these apps into their dock? honestly, i don’t think most of the people complaining are really professional designers.

  • Jt — 9:51 PM on December 21, 2006

    No one seems to mention that you will not use every single app every single day. Just dock the ones you normally use and you will learn through repetition what is what. It’s really not that hard.

  • Mark Reynolds — 12:06 AM on December 22, 2006

    VERY interesting move on Adobe’s part. Seeing the icons on the periodic-like wheel is confusing, slow to decipher and not intuitive.
    After I study it though it becomes quick to understand. However, the icons are lacking in beauty due to the stripped-simplicity (which will hurt packaging BIG TIME).
    I’m curious to experience the icons in the dock, because using CS1 icons is confusing… IMHO. I think the dock-use will be more intuitive, quick and easy.

  • docbot — 12:13 AM on December 22, 2006

    very good set of icons. congrats!

  • Dig — 12:16 AM on December 22, 2006

    The idea sounds good in theory but for the most part fails. They look unfinished. What I really like are the Acrobat and Flash Player icons because they are, iconic (Isn’t that the point of an icon?).
    The product is whats really important not the icon, but making bad decisions regarding small details isn’t good either. I won’t be too harsh though. Adobe still has a few month until they release their new products and I assume they can fix this design.
    On the color blindness issue, I don’t have any stance but partial color blindness is not that rare. I know three men who are partially color blind, they can’t tell the difference between blue and purple. They all work at ad agencies and the only app they use in those colors would be Photoshop anyway.

  • Ryan Clark — 1:34 AM on December 22, 2006

    What? These are icons? No design is not the same as minimal design…

  • luke — 1:45 AM on December 22, 2006

    My vote on these icons : -1
    Ok, start again :)

  • Tiago — 2:59 AM on December 22, 2006

    Me personally, I love the way how Adobe created the new logos based on the colourwheel, It may be a bit difficult for the hardcore adobe users to live with it, but I bet that it will change soon..
    Anyway, great work on the new Icons

  • info — 3:03 AM on December 22, 2006

    Many problems associated with icons are caused by lame operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc) that do not support arbitrary width icons (and do not generally support vector icons).
    These CS3 icons are likely the last raster icons before all icons move to vector in future operating systems.
    And once icons move to scalable vectors, the idea of type-as-icons will make more sense.
    For both larger displays and denser displays, it will be easy to display “Photoshop” as the icon name, not “Ps”. This way the color of the icon gives you reasonable ‘findability’ and a full word vs. an abbreviation gives you a clear idea of what the icon does.
    A larger and/or denser display area for the icon will also give rise to high quality color gradients and vector effects that can be used to further differentiate the icons.
    As type and vectors can scale well with resolution, these CS3 icons, while not really adding any value today, are primed for the future.

  • T — 3:44 AM on December 22, 2006

    I kind of like the icons for beta, but for the full app, I think they’re terrible. They just don’t have the right feel. I mean, I really liked the feather and eye icons for photoshop. What’s with the text? I do like the acronym icons for Macromedia’s apps, just not the Creative Suite ones.

  • Michel Bozgounov — 4:35 AM on December 22, 2006

    Three words describing the new icons: ugly. ugly. ugly.
    I could as weel describe them in 6 words, but I guess, there’s no need doing this ;-)
    Macromedia Team did this? Why? I am a user of Macromedia Fireworks for a long time already, and always liked, for example, the Fireworks icon/logo. The feather used in the Photoshop icon was nice, too. And after Adobe aquires Macromedia, what do we see? Where’s creativity, usability? We see plain ugly squares with plain ugly letters in them… Wow!
    Anyone read that?
    I guess, yes? So?…
    Oh, forget it …
    If Adobe likes the icons, let them be, right? Pity, you can’t change them to the old ones in Windows environment…
    Disappointed: Michel
    PS Note: When I use TAB when posting comments on this blog, instead of GOING FROM FIELD TO THE NEXT ONE, the focus always jumps to the TOP OF THE PAGE, some 6 kilometers away… Not nice. I tried Firefox, IE, all the same… No way of moving from field to field except with the mouse :(

  • Rob — 5:16 AM on December 22, 2006

    These are the worst icons I’ve seen in years, and they communicate four clear messages to me:
    1) Adobe, the number one design software company in the world feels it has the right to own certain two letter abbreviations. It doesn’t care about the rest of the apps out there that might have used these abbreviations before and it doesn’t care what users might have associated with these abbreviations before. And it certainly doesn’t care what these abbreviations might mean in other languages – even if Adobe is co-opting mnemonics which have been in use for hundreds of years (such as Di for Tuesday in German-language countries, as mentioned in another posting above).
    2) Adobe’s designers feel they have the right to disregard the collective wisdom and best practices of icon design developed by the industry (and to a great extent, Adobe’s own customers) over the last two decades.
    3) Adobe’s marketing has no clear long-term strategy and will be changing its product branding with every release from here on. Every 2-3 years it will reward its customers for upgrading by subjecting its branding policy shifts on them irrespective of the effect this has on their productivity.
    4) Adobe regards the uniformity of the branding of its products to be more important than the visual appearance of these applications once installed on the end-user’s system. The subtle inference here is that Adobe places greater emphasis on the sales pitch than the user’s experience.
    It’s amazing how much a bunch of 32×32 pixel images can infer.

  • Peter — 6:00 AM on December 22, 2006

    Just out of curiosity: What happened to the original Adobe design team? Were they laid off, or were the two teams merged into a single big one?
    [As far as I know the teams are merged. –J.]

  • Martin Pilkington — 6:07 AM on December 22, 2006

    I don’t hate these icons, but I definitely don’t prefer them. It’s going to be a bit of a jump going from PS7 to PS CS3. I honestly believe you should consider going back to your pre-creative suite era icons. IMO the PS7 icon is the best Photoshop icon, it looks cool and is instantly recognisable

  • Andrew Maben — 6:14 AM on December 22, 2006

    These aren’t icons they are labels, and not very effective even at that level… Sad to see. The people who use Adobe apps are visually oriented, these seem aimed at bookkeepers.
    And for those who are saying we should relax, they’re “just” icons: I think you’re wrong, they project an attitude of indifference to and ignorance of the users, that introduces the suspicion in my mind (and I’m sure I’m not alone) that this indifference may be reflected (if not now, then sooner or later) in other parts of the apps, like UI and functionality.
    (Adobe user since PS 5.5)

  • Daveed V. — 6:56 AM on December 22, 2006

    To Nathan Thompson: QuickSilver solves even the “open a document by dragging it on the application icon issue”. When you’ve selected an application with Quicksilver, you can drop a document on the Quicksilver box (bezel, in my case), and it’ll start. You can even start dragging, and while doing that, you can call up Quicksilver to drop the document onto it.
    (And I agree that my using Quicksilver reduces the icon design issue to an aesthetical one for me.)

  • Dan — 7:16 AM on December 22, 2006

    Who cares about Adobe Icons???!?? get a life.

  • HHII — 7:38 AM on December 22, 2006

    I love this post and the comments…
    And we all learned something new: draw a rectangle, put in minimal color, two letters of a boring font and bingo, just designed icons for some major apps. Great.
    This is not graphic work – this is art. ;-)
    But that doesn´t help that the icons are incredible ugly and unimaginative. And sorry – that´s exactly the reason why the stay out of the crowd, as some people said here before.
    I don´t think the enormous bad feedback here is just a matter of getting used to them and of rejecting new ideas. The icons are far too simple to have any graphic importance and this will definitely not change as time goes on. I mean – come on – any child or graphic newbie would design icons exactly like this.

  • Mark Thomas — 7:39 AM on December 22, 2006

    [Dr] [Ad]
    [Yr] [Nw] [Ic] [Sk]
    [Yu] [Sk]
    [Yu] [Ar] [Id]
    [I ] [Ht] [Yu]
    [Mt]

  • Mardi — 8:00 AM on December 22, 2006

    The new icons doesn’t look like anything else than placeholders to me …

  • Mike — 8:18 AM on December 22, 2006

    Lack of distinguishing visual cues aside, the underlying poblem is that there are TOO MANY APPS!

  • Marc — 8:26 AM on December 22, 2006

    Surely this is a joke.

  • Mark Thomas — 8:50 AM on December 22, 2006

    It really is incredible how much discussion this has generated, as if there was any question about this being really terribly poor icon design resulting from bad taste and purely logical rather than creative thought. Even the notion of grouping application types by color, which might sound logical, is really only foolish and illustrates how left-brained thinking has rotted out the right half like a kind of cancer.

  • Ann Shelbourne — 8:57 AM on December 22, 2006

    These ugly square blobs may be “Just Icons” but what we need to be very aware of is that they signify that Adobe are permitting the inferior company which they acquired to have far too much influence over their own highly esteemed products.
    The Macromedia team have clearly demonstrated that they have no concept of what constitutes a “good user experience”. (Just look at the appalling website design that the Macromedia crowd are starting to inflict on Adobe Forums including the CS3 Beta sites.)
    These horrible icons are further proof that they have no sense of aesthetics either and I fear that the influence of their appallingly bad taste will soon permeate all of the Adobe Application GUIs.
    Please get rid of these people before they do any further damage to Adobe’s products.

  • Tom Murray — 9:16 AM on December 22, 2006

    [Ha] [Ha] [Ha]

  • renman — 9:26 AM on December 22, 2006

    I like the new icons. People like to complain about change. But I’ve been looking at the same stuff from Adobe for 15+ years. It’s nice to see a different approach.
    And for all of those that don’t like em, you have two choices: 1-don’t buy the products because you don’t like an icon; 2-change the icons in the get info box to whatever you like.
    Nuff said, whiney sobs!

  • Computer User — 10:44 AM on December 22, 2006

    I like them. They are very easy to identify. The people posting opinions here are probably well over 50 and their brain can’t adjust to new things too well. Think of the future, not these crybabies. Keep them as they are.

  • Todd V — 10:49 AM on December 22, 2006

    John, please let the designers of the new icons know that there are those of us who appreciate them. I’ve been a fan of Macromedia’s icon designs because of their simplicity and the ease with which they can be recognized on the dock and the new CS icons continue in that tradition. They are without question the easiest to recognize icons in my dock. The color differentiation is welcome, as I can’t tell you how many times I have launched InDesign instead of Bridge by accident when in a rush.
    I don’t find it surprising that so many are resistant to change and I am sure you don’t either. For those of us still interested in breaking new ground in the graphic arts, change is a welcome thing, not the enemy. For instance I am personally thrilled that very soon I won’t have to teach my students that the Brightness/Contrast command is the worst way to adjust the brightness and contrast of a photograph! I suspect not everyone writing these comments will share my enthusiam however. Please take their comments with a grain of salt.
    I am glad to see that with the new icons as well as the beta release of Photoshop that Adobe is still willing to take chances to stay on top of its game. Good work!

  • LEE — 10:54 AM on December 22, 2006

    Adobe should go with these!
    http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/19215705/

  • tony — 11:04 AM on December 22, 2006

    Quit crying. You should all be using Quicksilver to launch your apps anyway. And since when do you spend more than a second looking at the icon in your Dock when you go to open an app? I usually have a fairly good idea of where my Photoshop (and others) icon is before I even look, my mouse heading in that direction before I even look.
    Seriously, make your own if its that much of a problem.

  • Scot Hampton — 11:57 AM on December 22, 2006

    Interesting…
    The Periodic Table is fun to modify with different schemas, but it’s been done too much.
    Take for instance, the table of fruits and nuts(http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Periodic-Table-of-Fruits-and-Nuts-Posters_i338065_.htm), or perhaps the Periodic Table of Sex (http://www.moviepostershop.com/item_lrg/1-8166.jpg).
    And while the marriage with the color wheel is an interesting hybrid, there seems to be no systematic consistency, save for the two-letter acronyms.
    I’m assuming the point was to tie all of Adobe’s programs into a complete system of tools that come full circle, that comprise a well-rounded compendium of creative tools.
    I find it interesting that they didn’t start by dividing the color wheel into as many slices as there are Adobe programs, using each color as a backdrop for each program, then designing an icon that more closely matched (icon instead of text) the particular tool/program.
    Well, all I can say is, I’m glad I’ve got a folder with thousands of icons cuz if CS3 comes out with these generic, bland icons, I’ll be switching mine on the first day…to, let’s say, a loupe for Photoshop, a paint pallette for Illustrator, a bridge for Bridge (I’ve got a cool Golden Gate Bridge icon I could use), the list goes on…
    And Adobe, I’d design icons for you for free, as I’m sure anyone at Panic would too! if only you would promise not to use these bland two-letter boxes you’ve unveiled :)
    Best,
    Scot

  • Scot Hampton — 12:04 PM on December 22, 2006

    FYI: for the naysaing, naysayers… I love change, I am a young designer under 50, and I am open to all things new and fresh. I’m not whining, yet neither are these icons are fresh or new unfortuanely, just a rehash of a style already over-proliferated in the mid 90’s.

  • Rocky — 12:11 PM on December 22, 2006

    I have a simple ques. If you are confuse by the icons what are you doing using Adobe’s programs. Surely they confuse you even more.
    Also if you are color blind I question your ability to use Photoshop and others programs to their fullest. BTW I like the Icons. I guess that most of you have not got past the icons to test the program itself.
    :-)

  • Mark Thomas — 12:12 PM on December 22, 2006

    New & Improved Photoshop CS3 Icon:
    http://homepage.mac.com/marsviolet/.Pictures/Bs.jpg

  • Mark Thomas — 12:22 PM on December 22, 2006

    I’m all for change and evolution — I love reinvention — but it would be lame to devolve back into a Neanderthal.

  • Kristopher Parker — 12:37 PM on December 22, 2006

    These icons are like the dark purple bruises on the arms and legs of AIDS patients. Sure, you can cover them up but it’s a clear indication that the whole body is infected.

  • Mark B — 12:38 PM on December 22, 2006

    It’s SURPRISING to see people saying that it’s a good thing that the new icons will STAND OUT in the dock. Why the ASSUMPTION that Adobe apps are MORE IMPORTANT than my other apps? These icons are the visual equivalent of ALL CAPS.

  • MonkeyT — 12:40 PM on December 22, 2006

    Adobe needs to stop believing that connecting strong products to weak products is a good idea. You wind up moving all your products to the middle for the sake of a stylistic conceit. That was the primary problem with the feather/flower/whatever icons: they had absolutely no meaning to the customers – only to the marketing department. The new icons force the customers to have a knowledge and understanding of the entire marketing scheme (not to mention English) in order to understand any single icon, and punishes customers if they don’t have that understanding. How is that supposed to create warm, fuzzy feelings for the product? The new icons have quite literally make Adobe’s most prominent and daily exposure to their customers a bland, generic experience. This is a good thing? They should stop trying to make the icon a marketing opportunity for their entire product line (which the customer may or may not care about) and use it to reinforce the visual identity of the product they have already demonstrated some affinity for. It is, in every sense, bad design. This tactic impresses developers, engineers and accountants, not designers – the primary market for most of Adobe’s products.

  • Mark Thomas — 1:07 PM on December 22, 2006

    LEE, the CS2 icons were nearly as bad as these ones. They were pretty at least, but still abstract to a fault. Icons should be symbolic of the functions the app performs.

  • eobet — 1:43 PM on December 22, 2006

    My first impression was that they took the flat look too far. I personally would at least include a white silhuette of the former symbol in the icons.
    The second thing that hit me was, will these icons have to be localized, translated? I don’t know if the brand names ever are translated though, perhaps into arabic and japanese only?
    Third, I wonder if the Macromedia design team are OS X users, because large, square icons produce weird effects in the dock, while looking good in the Windows Start menu, perhaps.
    I’m also wondering if these icons will be intuitive. Commonly, icons have associated a symbol to a program. Now, at a glance, we only have the color to go by, since the basic shape is the same, and the brain will interpret letters the slowest.
    Then we have people who are color blind, and also those who are dyslexic.
    Of course there are worse problems out there in the world, but I think we should ask ourselves if these icons make the world a better place?
    I’m quite serious, actually. I always try to make the world a better place with my designs.
    How about this:
    http://www.eobet.com/temp/cs3ps.png
    I tried to go for a quilt pen association, which I guess would be better suited for Indesign, but I just wanted to illustrate an example.

  • Clayton — 2:09 PM on December 22, 2006

    Whoa! Such vitriol! Isn’t this just part of the design process, everybody?
    The team at Adobe had some ideas, they executed them, and now they’re getting feedback, which hopefully can be used to improve the icon set we’ve seen. I find the emotional response from so many users curious (though, for anything so entrenched as the Adobe suite, perhaps not unexpected).
    I have no doubt that Adobe, ex-Macromedia folks included, comprise some smart people. Just like anything new, this icon system will take some serious work to straighten out, but such are the challenges of the design profession.
    How often does an experiment get it right on the first try?

  • Paul — 2:39 PM on December 22, 2006

    I’d like to put my cents in and say as a long-time Photoshop user (since version 2 on the Mac), these new icons are terrible.
    Just terrible.
    Forget all the philosophizing and intellectual exercise that went into producing them. I understand the motive of trying to avoid “design by committee” but this is a glaring case where “design by fiat” produced truly awful design.
    The new CS3 icons are the philosophical equivalent of BMW’s much-hated and ironic iDrive. Sure, it sounds good as an intellectual exercise, but the actual reality doesn’t jive with the good intentions here.
    Frankly, this is an utter failure of the Macromedia designers. They deserve 99% of the blame of trying to foist these unworkable ideas onto the rest of Adobe, which has to take the remaining 1% of listening and agreeing to this hyper-intellectual nonsense.
    The CS3 icons smack of raw hubris, and Adobe is fooling itself if it thinks it’s making a brave and bold stand with this effort. No doubt Ford thought it was making a great, industry-defining car when they put out the Edsel (why else did they name the car such).
    With all due respect, I hope Adobe wakes up. As one commenter noted above, the biggest problem with Adobe’s icon is that they change every few years. There is no permanance, and that is the biggest evidence of the iconography’s failure. My prediction is that if CS3 ships with these icons, Adobe will find itself replacing them again down the road because “timeless” these so-called icons are not.
    You have to have respect that designers can designs the way they want, but what happens when the designers end up putting out a mistake?
    Adobe has two choices – ship CS3 with a mistake while proclaiming, “No mistake here, nothing to see, move along now!” or they can admit the whole effort is a failure and hire another group of designers to produce something truly timeless.

  • anonymous — 2:54 PM on December 22, 2006

    Designers have long been criticized for presenting information that accords with their own learning style (namely, that of the visual learner).
    Without overly delving into the well researched and documented psychological knowledge base (see: learning styles), I wonder if it was right to hand over creative control for the new iconography to the Macromedia design team.
    Different strokes, for different folks.
    Visual cues for designers, and literal cues for developers please.

  • Anonymous — 3:06 PM on December 22, 2006

    Oh, and Mark Thomas…
    I do wonder why your comments are being moderated yet posted.
    Your inflammatory posts are counter-productive. I can only hope that they’re being allowed in the interest of free-speech and not an attempt to discredit the numerous reasonable objections to the new logos by way of association with irrationality.
    [Yeah, I pretty much pass through anything that isn’t totally profane/hateful/pornographic, etc. I’d rather not be in the business of cherrypicking responses, and with 250+ on this post alone, I just don’t have the time! -J]

  • Tom Murray — 3:40 PM on December 22, 2006

    The Edsel was named after Edsel Ford.

  • Miko — 4:13 PM on December 22, 2006

    These new icons are ridiculous looking and as Aral pointed out give the product a shareware feel. It is obvious that we all expect more than that from such a well known software company.
    Designers and most of the people using these apps are used to graphic representations, symbols and professional looking logos and now we have something that looks like it was created for new scientific discoveries? I am sure that the folks at adobe have more insight to the long term big picture here but in my opinion it’s like the new Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Future Concept Car featuring a joystick instead of a traditional steering wheel.
    It may be different but it’s not something most people will adapt too easily or be happy to use.
    Take a good look at all of the overwhelming negative responses to this blog post and many other respected websites and individuals discussing this topic. It seems like a bad decision and hopefully you will listen to your customers and change it before it’s too late.

  • Moses Gunesch — 5:23 PM on December 22, 2006

    Science H. Logic people, get over it.
    It’s a set of icons for cryin’ out loud.
    Come to think of it, I don’t see one icon in my OSX dock that is horizontal, square, and modeled vaguely after a periodic element.
    Hmm, so actually once I have about 4 or 5 of them down there they will pretty much stand out as a clean, color-branded set, won’t they?
    Anyway BFD. They’re a bit boring but might stand out thereby. Who cares. Products are still great, and honestly I don’t need a giant 1980’s eyeball- superimposed- w- feather in my startup screen to like, jazz my creativity.

  • Bryan Jones — 5:25 PM on December 22, 2006

    Wow. Those are some sorry-looking icons.
    Fortunately, it will be very possible to hack CS3 to use the icons from CS2. And since most of us who use CS on a regular basis are very computer literate, it won’t be hard to do.
    I just can’t believe that’s the best Adobe can do. I mean, the things make me cringe just thinking about having to pick the right one. Ugh.
    Someone should start a “come up with better icons for CS3 than Adobe can” contest and give the winner a free copy of CS3. Then let us grab the winning icons so we don’t have to look at these eyesores all day long.

  • GregM — 7:17 PM on December 22, 2006

    The icons are fine…in fact, far superior to the bereft-of-meaning icons we got in CS2. (It’s still not clear to me what was wrong with the far more distinctive Photoshop eye and Illustrator Venus that were part of the products for so long. At least those had the benefit of a history with the product.)
    Personally, I think the “elemental chart” icons are pretty distinctive from everything else in the Dock, and if the giant “Ps” doesn’t communicate “Photoshop” to you in three nanoseconds, I don’t know what would.

  • LEE — 7:34 PM on December 22, 2006

    These are waaaaaay better !! = ]
    http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/19479011

  • stephen — 8:01 PM on December 22, 2006

    One fallacy that seems to have been bought into by the icon designers was the initial assumption that most customers are going to own two or three dozen Adobe apps. Most will only have two or three. We don’t need some overarching scheme to help us identify them among zillions of other Adobe apps.

  • Bob Whaler — 8:35 PM on December 22, 2006

    What I find most shocking here is the author’s snotty responses to some criticisms.
    Or perhaps it is his comments that he is doing us a favor by having this blog
    RIght or wrong, this is people’s opinions. No, not people, customers.
    John, you are really not doing anyone a favor, especially your employer Adobe, by being so snotty, defensive, and belligerent.
    [Sorry, Bob. –J.]
    At the end of the day, you want to be convincing your mavens and influencers that Adobe is not the Microsoft of the creative app space. (Just some constructive feedback)
    [Point taken. It’s not my intention to be snotty or beligerent, and maybe tone of voice doesn’t come across well in text. (For what it’s worth, others have drawn different conclusions after reading my comments.) I’m getting kind of exhausted dealing with this thread, on which I’m simply the messenger. –J.]

  • Justin Reese — 9:29 PM on December 22, 2006

    I vote to keep the icons on the island. They’re brilliant.

  • greg — 9:36 PM on December 22, 2006

    Freehand made the cut? Yippee!

  • info — 10:34 PM on December 22, 2006

    “[Point taken. It’s not my intention to be snotty or beligerent, and maybe tone of voice doesn’t come across well in text. (For what it’s worth, others have drawn different conclusions after reading my comments.) I’m getting kind of exhausted dealing with this thread, on which I’m simply the messenger. –J.]”
    It is this brother’s experience, that you’ve done a great job mostly staying out of the way and letting people express themselves. You deserve kudos for your gentlemanly approach.
    I’m sorry to hear that dealing with the customer is difficult for you.
    The situation is a difficult one because Adobe is one of the very worst companies when it comes to listening to the customer and caring about the customer.
    So whenever there is any chance to give Adobe ‘feedback’, you can be sure it will be tough to deal with, especially for those people at Adobe who rarely, if ever, interact with customers.
    Yes, we do have a lot to say. And if anyone at Adobe pops up and says “comment here”, well, you can see what happens! ;-)
    This massive thread should be moved over to the Macromedia design team who should explain to their customer base what they were trying to do and offer their opinion on how good of a job they think they are doing.
    Some sort of context would enable a higher quality ‘conversation’. Is there any chance of this happening?
    And… happy holidays ;-)

  • Joshua Ochs — 11:03 PM on December 22, 2006

    In general, the feedback here is overwhemingly negative. The only positives so far are for simplicity. The negatives are lack of distinction, elegance, or conveying purpose. Posters even used the Apple HIG (which I’ll note said essentially the same thing 10-20 years ago, when people including Apple paid attention). Colorblindness – yes, such people still use graphical applications.
    What do we get in return? A lot of sarcastic and insulting replies. I actually had to check that this was on adobe.com and not on a personal blog.
    I expect better from Adobe, much better. Both in design and elegance (your reason for being in the first place), and in customer relations (don’t we spend enough on these products?).

  • Gavin — 11:31 PM on December 22, 2006

    I just hope this doesn’t catch on with other software developers. I’d never find the program I want to run!

  • David Bailey — 11:41 PM on December 22, 2006

    I thought that the “Ps” icon was just a BETA placeholder, not the actual icon…Whazup w/ this? I’m on a Mac and my dock displays the name of the software as you roll over it–I just started getting used to the CS2 symbols, and yes color does help, but these are just sad and boring. Boring. Boring. Nice color palette, but gimme some symbols! There’s a lot of very talented icon/symbol designers out there–give ‘em a call. Cheers.

  • Dustin — 1:47 AM on December 23, 2006

    That’s funny, I just assumed the Photoshop CS3 icon was the way it was because it was beta material and a nicer icon would take it’s beta place.
    For a company that makes software for designers, I was expecting quality icons that were pleasant to look at. This is pretty uninspiring stuff guys.

  • gavsstudio — 5:01 AM on December 23, 2006

    When I launched PS CS3 my first impression and comment was that the logo was a placeholder as it was a beta and there was going to be some grand unveiling when the product launched.
    That’ll teach me to assume. Part of me is wondering what all the fuss is about as it should be the substance rather than the style of the products that is the most important thing. But this logos have lost their iconic status – they do feel bland and functional. And they are not, as pointed out, consistent.
    Now the merging of several product lines from two leading design companies should show a whole that is greater than the some of it’s parts. Now that Dreamweaver and Photoshop should work together in a more seamless and intuitive way – this is the hope and the expectation.
    So I’ve expect the icons – and the branding – to reflect product ranges interact. All I get from the colour choices is a mess. For example I’ve have thought that incopy and contribute are similar in their function so the colour would be similar – but then fireworks and illustrator and photoshop aren’t.
    Actually if you are colour blind (a point that is often raised and never addressed – I know that John is just the messenger) they turn grey anyway.
    So it seems from this glimps that innovation and imagination have fallen to away to function.
    Not to mention that all the logo are very english-speaking centered, unless Adobe is going to replace PS with Japanese, French, German, etc alternative.
    I can see that the Macromedia idea on logos – big bold buttons with funky fonts has been adopted – and had the fun and funky pulled from them.
    So overall it doesn’t really matter if each of the products was given a random number as I’d hope the actual product itself should be wonderful regardless.
    I guess I’m just disappointed as I’d expected to see each of the threads of products have their own unique identities – or at least have some personality like the butterfly and feather.
    But all I’m left with is some letters and a random selections out of a pantone book.

  • Mardi — 5:21 AM on December 23, 2006

    I don’t want a “CP” icon in my dock!

  • jimmy — 7:37 AM on December 23, 2006

    I love these icons. The whole idea behind it, the simplicity… I understand the arguments against them, but I really think people (especially in the creative visual business) should really practice their ability to distinguish colors, and these provide the perfect ground for that.. :) Nice work.
    Now, if you could do something similiar to ease up the workflow in most Adobe apps… would be kinda nice. For some of us.

  • +1 Insightful Anonymous — 7:54 AM on December 23, 2006

    If I had to guess, I’d say the split between those who like and dislike these icons is falling (very?) roughly along platform lines. Windows icons tend to be square and relatively small, distinguished more by color than shape. Users on that platform probably find these icons somewhat attractive and useful. The underlying design element is attractive, and in the right interface environment — one consisting chiefly of buttons and squares, like Windows — it will blend right in.
    On the other hand, OSX users are faced with the Dock. Even those users that don’t use the Dock as a launcher have to stare at the icon while the application is running. Plain, unrotated, monochromatic squares look really, really unattractive on it. Few icons on the average user’s Dock are similar and in fact most are likely to be colorful, pictographic, and most importantly will lack a background.
    A better way to have used the “periodic table” design while remaining attractive on the Dock would be to retain the initial-cap abbreviations — possibly in the application’s designated color — while discarding the background square. That would fit in with the Dock’s ecology while still keeping Adobe’s new visual branding.
    As it stands, I question the usefulness of the “periodic table” styling in the first place. At Adobe, it probably makes sense because Adobe people see and deal with and know about the whole universe of Adobe products.
    However, Adobe’s customers don’t really think of the products as products. The notion that their handful of preferred tools are part of a large heterogeneous family doesn’t really apply. I suspect the “periodic table” design is the result of a design constraint that made sense within Adobe’s corporate environment, but is extremely confusing to those of us on the outside.
    To me, the new icons smack of corporate myopia on several fronts. The Windows-centricity of the design, the Dock-unfriendliness of the background square, and the use of insider “mystery meat” abbreviation all combine to create a user experience which is jarring in a negative way.
    Also, “Fx” means “Firefox” to the outside world. Two letter abbreviations make collision somewhat inevitable, but collision with widespread, common applications often used in conjunction with your products is something of a user experience no-no.

  • Wolfsoap — 9:02 AM on December 23, 2006

    Why can no one work out the color wheel. Its the continuation of they old icons colors.
    Derrrr.
    Thats why there spaced out the way the are on the color wheel, its got nothing to do with what the app do.

  • Mario Georgiou — 10:12 AM on December 23, 2006

    I’m highly amused at the whole discussion. As a long time designer of icons for applications and as a creative whose been involved in the process of creating software. I am probably one of the few people whos kows the answer to this question.
    Designing an icon for a software package is usually one fo the last things which is done … much of this has to do with a combination of factors.
    Marketing, packaging and product placement considerations aside you also have to look at the serial nature of iconography. In this case Photoshop is part of a suite of products all of which have to be seen as a family with an equivalent visual identity. Most likely Photoshop will no have an icon produced until management, marketing and whatever artist is chosen to create the look for the suite (much like earlier suites, so I have to assume they’ll follow previous form).
    Basically all I can suggest is wait till the packaging is decided upon and you’ll most likley have your clues as to what the icons will look like then.
    In other words don’t get your knickers in a twist…
    [Actually, these are the icons we’ve been planning to use. The packaging has also been chosen but hasn’t yet been revealed. More than one person in the know has remarked that the design choices make more sense when taken together than when taken separately, but we’ll see what the world at large says. –J.]

  • Josiah Pugh — 12:56 PM on December 23, 2006

    Is it just me… or are Adobe product icons becoming worse and worse over time?

  • David — 1:38 PM on December 23, 2006

    Oh dear.
    Adobe, please reconsider! Your new icons are awful.
    Normally, this is the part of the message where I’d lay out all the failings of your strategy and how you should address the problem.
    BUT, there is no point. The problem is quite simple: your icons are terrible in EVERY meaningful way, from concept to execution.
    If your customers are anything like me, they like their tools to be well designed and to enhance their lives just a little. We do, after all, have to work with these things all day long, every day. Your customers are going to be VERY surprised when they realize that these icons are NOT placeholders used only in beta products.

  • Josh — 1:53 PM on December 23, 2006

    ‘”Fx” means “Firefox”‘
    This statement is the second place I’ve seen this abbreviation for Firefox… ever. It’s not common at all.
    Moreover, the Flex logo has been FX for a long, long time.

  • Bryan — 2:06 PM on December 23, 2006

    You know, someone up there had a fantastic point: Most customers aren’t going to own more than 6 of Adobe’s programs.
    I’m a Flash designer who uses Dreamweaver, PhotoShop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Flash. Some other coders may use GoLive or ColdFusion, but they probably don’t use Illustrator or InDesign in that case.
    The point is, none of Adobe’s customers need these icons to keep track of 30 apps. We usually need to pick between – at most – ten apps. In fact, the only person who REALLY needs to keep track of all 30,000 Adobe applications is…. Adobe.
    And for what’s it worth, I really like the “reimagined” icons linked above. They look much more polished.

  • Tom Murray — 2:06 PM on December 23, 2006

    Arguments aside.
    It is interesting to note how many poeple independently and spontaneously assumed the new icons were beta place holders.

  • Christian in NYC — 2:26 PM on December 23, 2006

    These icons are the New Coke of Adobe design. They “solve” no problems that most users had — where was this mystical outcry about how we couldn’t tell InDesign from Photoshop? — and not only completely blandify each product but add unnecesary confusion. It looks like change for change’s sake, frankly. Design masturbation. This is a mistake on so many levels, it’s hard to know what to say, other than: This inspires little confidence in whatever other “fixes” await us and god help us all; and, I’ll be damned if I upgrade to CS3 for a long, long time.

  • Mario Georgiou — 3:44 PM on December 23, 2006

    I hate it when I don’t spell-check my missives … I guess I should also read what I’m responding to more carefully next time.
    However if this is the direction chosen, then I’m more than a little disappointed at what has up to now been a very inspiring approach to application identity.
    So why am I being so critical … truth to be said I am a fan of simplicity, and if like in the case of the Macromedia icons for flash and Dreamweaver, Adobe had used a very distinctive looking font or character type, then your approach could be forgiven.
    However, the typeface selected for this application is in my mind, very nondescript, and as a result, is in danger of falling into being ineffectual.
    Homogeneity is a condition which much like political correctness should be avoided. This is the state, where I feel the current look has the danger of presiding in.
    The whole periodic table approach is cute, but far from creative in it’s current incarnation. Cute but no cigar…
    Create a look and feel that makes the icons look unique and immediately able to stand out from the crowd rather than one which looks like an afterthought.
    I personally want more effort put into the applications I use than just being represented by lettered buttons.
    Too bad if this is what you’re settling for … raise the bar folks.

  • Damer — 4:05 PM on December 23, 2006

    I find it quite telling that Adobe has chosen an approach unlike the design of Monopoly™ properties for their new icon system. Where in the ‘old days’, each software product was an application with a distinct character, history, and passionate group of users, they are now simply ‘properties’ of a software empire. Entire industries, professions and their respective micro-cultures are amalgamated into one UI and one super-monoculture. On the Monopoly® board, the character of each place is not reflected in the board design, for the sake of homogeneity, and the only real information on the square is the rent price. This reflects a disconnection between passion and production, which is commonplace in real estate, and, now more than ever, in amalgamated software companies. That the game these icons unintentionally resemble is called Monopoly™ is the icing on the cake.

  • Rob — 4:10 PM on December 23, 2006

    “Windows icons tend to be square and relatively small, distinguished more by color than shape. Users on that platform probably find these icons somewhat attractive and useful.”
    Errr…no….Windows icons do not tend to be square and distinguished by color, and this Windows user most certainly does not find them attractive.

  • Jim Stewart — 4:47 PM on December 23, 2006

    It seems that the colour code just reflects the colour of the old icons. What a wasted opportunity.
    If you’re going to completely redesign the icons for all your products, it would be great to have applications with the same function grouped together by colour.
    Icon recognition would be so much easier if I knew that all my Adobe web application icons were green, for example. And if you’re going to brand Lightroom and Photoshop as belonging together, shouldn’t both icons be similar colours?
    Currently GoLive and DreamWeaver are opposite each other on the colour wheel. Same thing with Freehand and Illustrator.
    This just seems weird.

  • Meskalicious — 5:04 PM on December 23, 2006

    I like them. Simplicity. I hated the CS2 icons – (although i liked the packaging) – labels, idents, whatever you want to call them, work superbly in a production/creative environment.

  • BANTER® — 6:57 PM on December 23, 2006

    The new icons look great! I think the colour assignment for each could have been better thought out, but overall the periodic table of elements style works great with all the apps Abobe now owns with the aqquistion of Macromedia.
    Now one can only hope that a redesign of Macromedia’s horrible GUI is in the works.

  • Mark Thomas — 7:39 PM on December 23, 2006

    From the Apple Human Interface Guidelines:

    To represent your application in Mac OS X, it’s essential to create high-quality Aqua-style application icons that scale well in the various places the icon appears—the Dock, Finder previews, alert dialogs, and so on.

    Aqua offers a new photo-illustrative icon style—it approaches the realism of photography, but uses the features of illustrations to convey a lot in a small space.

    Icons can be represented in 128 x 128 pixels to allow ample room for detail. Anti-aliasing makes curves and nonrectilinear lines possible. Alpha channels and translucency allow for complex shading and dimensionality. All of these qualities pave the way for lush imagery that enables you to create vibrant icons that communicate in ways never before possible.

  • Rob G — 8:30 PM on December 23, 2006

    The irony gods strike again! Adobe, a company which makes programs for people to design stuff, has created the worst icon design I’ve seen in ages.
    I exaggerate for effect, but my point (about the irony of horrible design for design apps) remains the same.
    In all honesty, why? Plain human language – why two letters and a base colour for each program?

  • Ollie — 10:21 PM on December 23, 2006

    Interesting and quite gutsy choice for the icons. Most of what I think has been covered but theres a couple more things.
    #1 I can see how these were signed off, as a whole (i.e. on the color wheel) they look great. I think it’s a shame that they’re being presented in that way everywhere since they’re never actually going to be used like that, and as individual icons they’re much weaker.
    #2 The main problem with the letter codes is not that you can’t associate them with the name of the application (because you can) but the problem is that you have to KNOW the name of the application.
    The icons are relying on a mental link between the abbreviation and the application name, which is then linked to the users memory of what the application actually does.
    How is this worse than the previous set of icons? When I want to open photoshop and I look for the icon, I can directly associate the “feather” with my memory of “graphics application”. Adding an extra step to the cognitive process makes it less reliable and slower. So a user has to think “Ps” … “photoshop” … “graphics application”.

  • Michael Stoll — 5:15 AM on December 24, 2006

    hey, i wonder what “Di” stands for. Dimensions? Will it be back? That would be a good outcome from this. :-)

  • Brian — 8:59 AM on December 24, 2006

    I don’t understand why the icons are changing at all. Yes, it’s a new version–so what? Changing icons forces users to relearn something as basic as which damn icon to click. It wastes of time and pisses us off.
    [So, if you have CS2 and CS3 sitting in your dock next to each other, they should look identical? And there should be no attempt to make the Adobe & former Macromedia products look like they come from the same company? –J.]
    Polish’em up a little, sure, but changing the fundamental idea of what the program is is braindead.
    [Who is changing the fundamental idea about any of the programs? We just have some new icons. I appreciate that people want the icons to be as functional and attractive as possible, but when people jump to conclusions that the applications have changed their nature, that Adobe has derailed, that features and quality must now suck… well, that’s what all seems a little hysterical (and not in the ha-ha way). –J.]
    The positive side of this is that there are going to be a lot of folks making good-lookin’ replacements.

  • Daniel Mendoza — 9:42 AM on December 24, 2006

    Jason Santa Maria is thinking along the same lines as my self. My thought are;
    The whole definition of an Icon is to be a symbolic representation of an idea or an object. That is why the CS1 and CS2 icons were such miserable failures, they represented nothing at all about the Programs for which they were intended. Now Adobe would have us believe that they are so powerful that they change the very meaning of the word Icon, and use no symbol or image whatsoever to function as an icon.
    [Sorry, but I don’t really think a leap from icon design to some naked fascist power grab is warranted. Perhaps you have lingering resentment towards the company for some other reason(s), which would certainly be worth talking about. But the design team’s genuine, if imperfect, attempt to address some design challenges is not something out of “1984.” Sometimes an icon is just an icon… –J.]
    This blatant misuse of concepts and terms is guaranteed to make any trained designer using one of their art programs scratch their head in disbelief.
    I also like what he said about having to read the icons. It totally defeats their purpose.
    [For what it’s worth, I never “read” the icons in my dock. Color and placement give me what I need. –J.]

  • Ann Shelbourne — 11:09 AM on December 24, 2006

    >And there should be no attempt to make the Adobe & former Macromedia products look like they come from the same company? –J.>
    Yes indeed, but you did it the wrong way round!
    Adobe now owns Macromedia so the Macromedia icons, splash screens, packaging and web presence need to be redesigned to have the look and feel of Adobe products.
    Start again from the beginning: get rid of these Macromedia designers and hand the job over to the original Adobe team.

  • Blain — 11:20 AM on December 24, 2006

    The Microsoft Mac EWXP icons, while just letters, have the benefit of also being graphical and stylized, with aqua translucency and a fancy (if not illegible) font. Same with Opera and its use of gradients on the O. Same with Flash and its circle and italic ligature. What’s more is that the high-contrast shape is unique (Even in comparing the safari and internet connect icons, the needle and ethernet jack are different) as opposed to, the Pm Ai and Fw being all white squares.
    To me, a simple sans serif two-letter combo, on a simple gradient brings images that the sales box will be generic off-white cardboard with only a word of two of generic black text.
    Were I a competitor, I figure this would be a great oppurtunity to, say, make Paint Shop Pro’s icon a shaded box with Ps (for Paint Shop, naturally) on it, with Pro in cursive. Ps Pro must be better than Ps, right? One thing I think hasn’t been discussed (but I’m not a lawyer) is how encorcable these icons are in terms of copyright.
    So many squares is going to be confusing. “But,” Some say, “only 3 or less will be used at a time.” If that’s the case, then the universal branding won’t matter; they’d be seeing too little of the color wheel to see the trend. In its current state, the motif is either counterproductive or irrelevant.
    Yes, it is just the packaging. But being graphical people, packaging is part of the experience. And I’d be wary of a product whose package violate asthetic and usability rules like this.
    If you must keep the periodic table motif, at least move the rectangle to be at an angle such that the letters form part of the outline, or even better, the letters are standing on top of a perspectived incarnation of the CS2 or earlier icons. That way, you gain the utility of the letters without sacrificing the usability of unique outlines and iconography of previous brandings.
    Finally, I do know people who are partially colorblind and use graphical programs. Just because they have trouble differentiating tween various reds and greens doesn’t mean they can’t see shapes. And there’s still quite a bit of greyscale photography out there.

  • Max — 1:23 PM on December 24, 2006

    I am not too big on the new style, seem a bit bland for such amazing products. Plus they can spell some entertaining words in the Dock ex. [Fl][Aw] as someone mentioned above.

  • Gary Politzer — 5:02 PM on December 24, 2006

    I think you are headed the wrong direction with these icons. They all look the same. Icons should be a unique graphical clue to the functionality offerred. To have them not only look the same, but be based on words, defeats the purpose of haviing icons in the first place. This is a design disaster.

  • Kevin Phillips — 5:18 PM on December 24, 2006

    Is it me or did the company that creates THE premier application for image editing and creation just take a step backwards?

  • Marc Stress — 10:41 PM on December 24, 2006

    I don’t particularly care for the new icons, there’s an inconsistency across the family of [now] Adobe aps. Unless these differences in icon renderings are supposed to be foreshadowing of future development arms of Adobe. However, given the response to these new icons, I can’t believe there wasn’t an tremendous outcry over the icons from the previous 2 revs of CS icons. The flowers, feathers, etc. were the most meaningless metaphorical garbage in the history of UI design. At least now we’ll have some mnemonic device to help us decipher what we’re hoping to open.
    Somebody call the folks from iconfactory! Save Adobe from itself!

  • Kay Summers — 11:56 AM on December 25, 2006

    Icon designs aside, I agree with Kevin Nathanson in thinking that you sound like a complete douchebag and your attitude coupled with the direction things have been going since the advent of the “CS” moniker suggests to me that you’re not exactly the most effective product manager the industry’s ever seen. As a user, the knowledge that I’ve contributed to your salary in some way saddens me greatly. As an engineer, I have nothing but the greatest sympathy for anyone who is required to take direction from you.
    If your little blog makes you so unbelievably angry then take it down and stop pretending you’re anything other than a soulless corporate drone who cares about anything other than job security. This ersatz altruism isn’t helping anything but your raging ego, and the header graphic alone proves the fact that you know amazingly little about good design.
    [Thanks for taking the time out of your Christmas Day to write this. –J.]

  • judah — 12:15 PM on December 25, 2006

    I am not a genius by any means but it doesn’t take two seconds to see that these icons are passionately disliked. Enough that people who never post on your blog are telling you to change them. If this many people are commenting on them do you think they they may possibly have a point?
    [Well, as I’ve now said more than once, it’s not up to me; I can take neither credit nor blame for the design choices. Amidst all the chatter, the ones I’ve found interesting have been those that make points about shape, usability, cognitive load, and so forth. I claim no expertise in this department, but I’d like to hear the design team’s response. I’m sure they’re discussing the feedback now, or will be once they return from break. –J.]
    Personally I have been inspired by the colors and gradients used in the last set of icons.
    Please everyone, if you are not happy with these icons, post to the adobe wishlist as well. http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/mmform/index.cfm?name=wishform
    [I don’t think that stuffing the Adobe mailbox with the same point is going to be terribly productive for anyone. –J.]

  • Zack — 3:18 PM on December 25, 2006

    I’m kinda thinking that they did this so you would make your own icons. I know it sounds stupid, but why not let the users brand the product they use every day?

  • Matt Thomas — 4:06 PM on December 25, 2006

    Am I the only one who was amused by the multitudes of commenters who figured out nearly every Application’s icon just from looking at them, then proceeded to complain about how unrecognizable they are? I’ll take a Ps and an Ai over a feather and a flower any day, thanks.

  • ben seven — 6:03 PM on December 25, 2006

    hey man.
    interesting post.
    the comments are partly to do with a lack of context for the icons – some of the reactions on this blog are truly incredible though!
    keep up the good work.
    seven

  • Danny — 6:35 AM on December 26, 2006

    Since my job is to provide technical support for Adobe products I have somewhere around 30 icons for Adobe products in my quick launch bar (Windows) and in my dock (Mac). After all this time I still have to pause and figure out whether I want the feather or the butterfly, the shell or the starfish. Sure they’re pretty, but I have those icons there so I can launch an app QUICKLY. The new icons let me just go straight to the program I’m looking for. Ps, Ai, ID, Fl – they tell me exactly which program is which. Kudos to the design team for these attractive AND functional icons!
    Ok, so maybe rounding the corners just a little would improve the overall look, but who cares. At last we have icons that do their job well.

  • 42 — 7:52 AM on December 26, 2006

    too bad some can’t focus their brilliant and righteous anger on issues that actually matter.
    I neither like nor dislike the icons. I don’t care. really. I just want the products as I’m tired of Rosetta’s mire.
    enough of this foolishness.

  • darkjedi235 — 9:28 AM on December 26, 2006

    Perhaps it’s time for a brief trip down memory lane, of previous PS icons and splash screens:
    http://www.guidebookgallery.org/apps/photoshop
    Meanwhile, let’s hope the XD team digests the copious feedback of all flavors and stripes and forges ahead with more promising iterations that a) respect Adobe’s past and b) anticipate a bright Adobe future.

  • Scott F — 10:17 AM on December 26, 2006

    Am I the only one who was amused by the multitudes of commenters who figured out nearly every Application’s icon just from looking at them, then proceeded to complain about how unrecognizable they are?

    I was working from an annotated Flickr post with rollover captions for each icon.
    And they’re garbage. For one thing, how badly do you have to be doing your job to be inconsistent with such a simple concept as two letters on a square? Adobe is that incompetent.
    Look at “ID” for InDesign. Is the D capitalized because of the camelcase in the product’s name? Then why “Gl” for GoLive, especially when a capiital L is a unigue glyphm unlike the lowercase form? Why “FH” for Freehand and “LR” for Lightroom?
    Unpreceedented stupidity is taking over. CSx for version numbers? Stupid. Tying the upgrade cycle of so many importand applications together? Remarkably stupid.

  • jrea — 4:17 PM on December 26, 2006

    Retards. You’re bitching about a fucking icon.
    Anyway, I say well done Adobe, I like the new icons.

  • Marc Stress — 7:23 PM on December 26, 2006

    @ Kay Summers.
    It’s a shame you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to use a live URL. I thought the URL you listed as your contact was kind of funny, so I purchased it. Thanks.
    [Hah–excellent! ;-) –J.]
    *****
    I’m surprised that only a few people mentioned that FreeHand still seems to be alive, albeit on the other side of the “chart” what ever that could mean. Is that the pro-sumer side??? Or is that just a little joke from the Macromedia folks?
    It would be great to have a little bit more context to view these icons with. Perhaps some of the comments above might be proved moot or answered if we could see an overlaying matrix showing the thinking behind the organization of the layout.

  • Brannon — 11:56 PM on December 26, 2006

    I thought GoLive was dying.
    I remember the first time I saw the CS icons. Which was the first time I had saw the professional Adobe apps. I was in love. Life will never be the same.
    What a mounting column of comments!

  • Ville V. — 5:50 AM on December 27, 2006

    I don’t think that the icons are attractive nor functional. Scott F. made some good points. There is no logic in how the two letters are chosen and capitalized.
    I can very well see myself clicking the “Ai” icon when I want to open Adobe InDesign. Then I learn that “Ai” is actually Adobe Illustrator. Next I want to open Adobe Distiller and start scanning for a “Ad” icon among the twenty or more icons. Of course there is no such icon because Adobe Distiller is “Di”.
    Catch my drift? It’s actually going to take a lot more time figuring out these icons than the butterflies and flowers.

  • www.lindkold.dk — 8:47 AM on December 27, 2006

    My guess… No way, it’s the finished look now.
    Lindkold

  • Arnoud — 1:25 PM on December 27, 2006

    Come on people,
    Reading all the posts i’m almost starting to believe that the icon story is serious….
    This is all a joke right? This is adobe for god’s sake! They can’t make that crappy icons (ugly AND unclear) for their super software….
    You almost had us adobe :) Good prank!

  • FoSTeX — 2:34 PM on December 27, 2006

    I agree the icons could be more interesting especially coming from developers of the most popular graphics applications… However… ultimately I’m more concerned with the layout… performance/stability… any major functionality changes… and the interconnectivity between other Adobe applications.
    Viewing the big picture… icons are not a significant “issue” so long as you are able to launch the application and use it successfully.

  • Virgil Viall — 6:08 PM on December 27, 2006

    One simple reason more complex icons work is the simple fact your brain could recognize it faster because it differentiates more against other icons.
    It is just like branding, and it is important for each application to have its own branding and Adobe to have its own as a whole. I wouldnt be suprised if it was a joke, but then again large corporations make mistakes all the time.

  • Brian Ellis — 12:50 AM on December 28, 2006

    (Warning: this comment is enormously long.)
    Let’s do a little heuristic evaluation on these icons, shall we?
    Since icons are most definitely a promiment part of human-computer interaction, and heuristic evaluation is one of the most common and well-respected usability evaluation methods in HCI, I’m going to take the leap of assuming that the applicability of this method here will not be in question. You may quite reasonably disagree with my analysis, but I think you will find that it accurately reflects the intent of the method. Here goes.
    Visibility of system status

    The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time

    This isn’t particularly applicable to an icon, unless the design failed to permit things like progress bars to be added to the Mac OS X Dock icons, which it doesn’t. Verdict: PASS
    Match between system and the real world

    The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.

    The letter abbreviations chosen by the designers have no mapping whatsoever to the functions of the applications, and refer instead (and often obliquely) to the names of the applications. While these mappings could be considered logical (since the names of the applications are presumably familiar to the user), they are often ambiguous (as has been mentioned in previous posts). The color mappings are also logical, but are similarly ambiguous; as the color wheel shows, they cluster together especially in teal and bright red, and therefore color alone cannot be reliably used to differentiate the icons. Verdict: FAIL
    User control and freedom

    Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.

    This doesn’t apply to the icons, which are static rather than dynamic and cannot be evaluated in terms of behavior. Verdict: PASS
    Consistency and standards

    Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.

    As previously mentioned, the icons run almost precisely contrary to platform conventions. The icons are consistent in that they are visually similar (to the point of confusion, as will be discussed later), which conveys the fact that they are all designed to work together; this is of minimal benefit, however, to someone who does not own the entire Creative Suite or chooses not to use the interoperability features of the products. Indeed, compared to something like the task they are trying to perform by using the application, it conveys very little of use. Verdict: FAIL
    Error prevention

    Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.

    As has been discussed in previous comments, the current design falls far short of preventing erroneous launches of the wrong software due to the extreme similarity of icons to each other in shape and color. Verdict: FAIL
    Recognition rather than recall

    Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.

    This heuristic is the one in which, I feel, the icons fail the most badly. Several previous comments have addressed the added cognitive load of mapping the name of the application to its abbreviation to its icon, but it’s actually worse than that. You may be familiar with the “Stroop effect”, where words naming a color that are presented to a subject impede their ability to express what color the word was printed in (e.g., one might present the word “GREEN” in red ink, and the subject would be likely to say “green” rather than “red” when asked what color the word was). The upshot of this is that when one sees text, one cannot help but read it. Seeing the icons purely as symbols (which is what an icon was originally intended to be) is more difficult when there is prominent text.
    The fact that the characters are the only way apart from memorizing colors to differentiate the icons just makes things worse; now, not only is the user encouraged to read the text, they must memorize the mapping between the abbreviation and the concept of the application with almost nothing to prime them (as opposed to visual icons, which tend to provide more helpful primes in the learning process, usually mapping to the function or task the application performs) — and if they cannot recall the association directly, they must follow the more convoluted path of deciphering the two-letter code for the application name. It is also worth mentioning that the reason many icons use easily visualizable objects is not just for emotional impact — it has been widely demonstrated that it is easier to remember things that are concrete and easy to visualize.
    There are several other problems with the icons that fall into this category, but in the interest of brevity I will stop there. Verdict: FAIL
    Flexibility and efficiency of use

    Accelerators — unseen by the novice user — may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.

    This heuristic may seem inapplicable at first, but accelerators designed to speed up interaction map quite directly to the stage of using an icon where it has become encoded as a single pictogram with a particular meaning. As pictograms, the icons fail miserably. The user (who, remember, has moved past the point of needing to consciously associate the abbreviation with the application) must have either encoded the abbreviation itself as a representation of the application, which will interfere with other encodings for that abbreviation, such as Ps for “PostScript”, “AI” for “artificial intelligence”, or Fx for “effects”, and may heaven help them if the icon is too small for the letters to be easily readable; or must have encoded the shape and color of the icon itself, as is the intended purpose of an icon. I am tempted to say that this is not possible, since all the icons are square and the colors are not easily differentiable (the problem is far worse for colorblind individuals, which comprise 6% of the population). Even if it is possible to use the shapes of the letterforms reliably as a symbolic representation of the concept, it is definitely far more difficult (especially considering the fact that white objects on a dark background appear to have less contrast than the other way around). Verdict: FAIL
    Aesthetic and minimalist design

    Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.

    Well, it’s hard to say the design isn’t minimalist. I claim that the information conveyed by the uniformity of the icons (e.g., the ability to interoperate between applications) is irrelevant or rarely needed, but I won’t make that assertion very strongly given that I have very little understanding of Adobe’s target markets. However, it remains that the only units of information available to differentiate one icon from all the others are its color and the abbreviation that is used. The other possible modalities (i.e., shape, image identity, prior user knowledge) are largely unused and ignored. This makes the square shape of the icon, as well as the color, font, and size of the text, akin to visual “clutter” and lowers the relative visibility of the icons for the task of differentiation (which is the entire point of an icon). Verdict: FAIL (believe it or not)
    The last two of Nielsen’s suggested heuristics (“Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors” and “Help and documentation”) are also irrelevant to an icon design, so we’ll be generous and say they count as a PASS. That’s four out of ten, and all four almost solely because there was no opportunity to do it right or wrong. If all of these issues were to be addressed (with the greatest emphasis on the use of text as the primary differentiating factor), I feel the design would have to be radically changed, perhaps to the extent of redesigning from scratch. It’s not up to me to say whether that’s worth the time and money of doing them over, but considering that these icons will likely be used by literally millions of people on a frequent basis, it seems odd to me that they are being approached as “just icons”. That’s like a company dismissing complaints about its logo because it’s “just a logo”. Like a logo, it’s the first thing that a user is going to see of your product whenever they interact with it, and that counts for a lot.

  • Rich — 1:05 AM on December 28, 2006

    Having a few of these icons in the dock isn’t what worries me. It’s when I’m looking through some of my old folders trying to distinguish an SWF from an FLA from a PSD from a GIF from a JPG. How will the adobe-branded icons for all the ancillary files look? How will you distinguish a Fireworks PNG from a Photoshop one? Or how about an .as file from an .ai file?
    Looking at the link of all the past icons makes me want to return to version 6…in icon only, that is…

  • Richard — 6:03 AM on December 28, 2006

    I haven’t made my mind up whether or not I like these yet, in some ways it seems lazy and I don’t like the way the icons are square, but in other ways it’s a very daring and new idea. Have fun!

  • Pam — 3:08 PM on December 28, 2006

    Adobe will have to include a secret decoder ring in the software box.
    I understand the company’s packaging progression from picturesque to austere, but they’ve over-arced it and landed on banal.

  • Alister Cameron, Blog Consultant — 4:27 AM on December 29, 2006

    There are not icons, they’re letters in boxes.
    I have to assume we’ve all missed something…
    Or else Adobe have lost the plot.

  • johncgaiser — 7:29 AM on December 29, 2006

    On the blows-a-meter,
    yep, bean dip!

  • Joe Clark — 11:59 PM on December 29, 2006

    You asked for comments by leaving your comments field open.
    [Fair enough. I did not, perhaps, ask for 350+ of them, but it’s the season of generous giving. ;-> –J.]

  • Bobby Singh — 5:48 AM on December 30, 2006

    I like the idea a lot, and i really doubt all of you complaining are going to buy every one of those products, if you buy the creative suite you’ll get a mix
    Anyways i think it’s pleasing to the eye and consistency is a concept i approve of…

  • Kevin — 12:19 AM on December 31, 2006

    Whoa when i first saw those icons i thought it was a joke.
    Says enough i think..

  • d — 3:01 PM on January 01, 2007

    I’d like to offer a different perspective to the debate. Given its length, that’s probably easier said than done :) Unfortunately, I have added to the length of the debate considerably :(
    I’m a mathematics post-grad, so if you’d like to dismiss my opinion, here’s a good time to do so. The reason why I spend an awful long time to read all the comments was to learn something about the way professinal designers and artists think.
    I am very interested in icon design and graphic design in general, despite my complete incompetence at actually drawing something. I for one cannot decipher how to use a product like Photoshop (though I will have to force myself to learn how to use InDesign for a magazine I’m contributing to).
    Bearing this in mind, I really like the new icons. I think that the ‘periodic table’ branding is brilliant. I also think that, rather than the icons themselves, it is the actual concept which has failed. Few people have made this comment (though it has been made).
    Many comments have been made about some of the previous icons used for the CS programs. Being a mathematician, I like to think of myself as being able to grasp abstract ideas, but the CS and CS2 icons failed in communicating the ideas the designers wanted to (there is a link to some of the thoughts of those who designed those icons somewhere on this page).
    For those who read that: Predictibility and Nature? Really? Another rant: people really need to learn that mathematics is not the Golden Ratio / Fibonnaci’s sequence. There are far more beautiful things in mathematics than these trivialities.
    My rants just prove one thing – often, people feel very strongly about things like icons, when as many have pointed out, there are other things arguably more important (like real life). That point is moot – I think good icon design ranks up there with other modern art and graphic design.
    Negative feedback has been concentrated on two fronts:
    1. The icons are ugly
    2. The icons fail usability tests
    Given a little thought, the icons do fail usability tests. There are no two ways about it – for people who actually use these products, seeing even 3 or 4 of them on the taskbar/dock can easily be confusing.
    As for the icons being ugly/bad design, here I would disagree. I was amazed when people thought that the periodic table concept was unoriginal, banal or boring. This is the first time a major software company has branded their products in such a cohesive manner.
    One comment made was about how they liked the connotations with alchemy – and I thought that was brilliant! Here are technical products, based on code, computing, all the things which ‘designers’, ‘creators’ etc. seem to inherently feel are opposite to themselves, being used to further their work and even inspire them. Similarly, alchemists use the cold laws of chemistry to create potions and magically transform metals into gold… As soon as I read the word alchemy, I thought of this analogy. I think that if the icons could invoke such imagery in me (read: mathematician!), the metaphor must be pretty good!
    I would expect some to dismiss that. Maybe you don’t see such a powerful concept in these icons. Maybe all you see is two letters in a coloured box. But as a branding concept, I think it’s a brilliant concept. A mix between creators and developers.
    And for those who believe that this stuff is better left to advertising: Adobe has every right to expect their customers to know the name of the product they are using. For those who cannot easily decipher the names, I completely agree that if you have an accessibility issue, the icons do not help much. That is a design issue that appears to have been strangely missing when designing the icons. If you believe that the icons are barely passable, then as logos they are genius! Adobe reserve the right to enforce customer recognition by using the designs as both icons and logos.
    The other is that I do not believe that the break from CS/CS2 was radical enough! Some of the decisions made in the lettering are wery odd. Just as it is possible to change the icons, so it is possible to change a moniker. Ai for Illustrator seems silly. If Il is not easily distinguishable, then choose a font where it is. This is the ultimate failure of the design – there is no consistency in the use of lettering (which seems to be deliberate, but for what reasons I don’t know).
    Actually, there is one more point I’d like to make. I came to this post because I saw the new Ps logo and saw something like ‘rest of CS3 periodic table logos as a colour wheel’. I thought wow! How did someone merge two such powerful concepts together? Putting the logos on a colour wheel may’ve been how they were developed, but as a design concept it seems silly – a picture where there are squares (undeniably cramped in places) with a black void in the middle does not scream good design to me. Far better for the reasoning behind the colour choices to be made clear. Perhaps actually arranging the squares in a pseudo-periodic table? Columns as product families? (Thinking out aloud here, have not really thought about how that would look).
    I do think the icons need to be rethought – but as a concept, I see it as pure genius. A little consistency and better colour differentiation would send a powerful message about Adobe. Whether the author of this blog would agree or not (poor you John, I can imagine not expecting to be the fall guy for the icons!), icons are a huge deal. A little evolution of the concept (and not a total redesign as many are suggesting) would make for a truly memorable icon set.
    [Thanks for the detailed thoughts, D. –J.]

  • Eddie & Toly — 9:54 AM on January 02, 2007

    We are unhappy with the elimination of the butterfly, feather, and flower in the InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator icons. It is life-threatening to the CS 3 users.
    [Seriously? “Life-threatening”? Why? –J.]

  • Ben Richardson — 2:24 PM on January 02, 2007

    Wow. I genuinely thought it was a joke graphic, playing off the temp. icons for the CS3 Beta. Seems not!
    The current CS2 icons are some of the clearest, most memorable, most usable icons in the business. Colour coded, distinctively shaped, but still clearly part of a family. The white square alone is a mini triumph.
    With all respect, the “Periodic Table” thing is kind of first-year design student-y. It’s a concept to bounce off and take further, not a final piece.
    I honestly hope there’s time to rethink!

  • M — 2:44 PM on January 02, 2007

    I can’t help but smile at the insightful way they’ve made Bridge’s icon shit brown.

  • d — 11:11 AM on January 03, 2007

    Ben, I agree that the periodic table concept, as it applies to logos. But I still attest that as a marketing/branding campaign, it is clever. Guess we’ll have to see how it plays out…

  • Seth — 5:35 PM on January 03, 2007

    I for one am not a fan of the new icons.
    I appreciate the challenge of making icons for so many programs, and wanting to brand them all in a unified fashion, but I believe the design exercise was a failure.
    Back to the drawing board please Adobe…

  • rvr — 11:03 AM on January 04, 2007

    “[Fair enough. I did not, perhaps, ask for 350+ of them, but it’s the season of generous giving. ;-> –J.]”
    did you ask for 3? for 1,000? for a billion? how many did you ask for.
    sorry, but i find this attitude a bit annoying. adobe makes money (a lot) from selling products to customers. your customers are telling you what the think. you should be grateful, not making snyde remarks about getting so many comments (maybe it wasn’t meant as snyde, but it comes off that way a bit).
    [I was trying to be funny–hence the winking smiley face. :-) It’s unfortunate that text still doesn’t support tone of voice. –J.]
    now, i don’t think the icons will determine the success or failure of the products. i’m very happy with the cs3 beta so far, and love and rely on photoshop and illustrator day in and day out. i won’t stop using them due to some bad icons. clearly, though, there are a lot of people who care about the icons and adobe’s design. i would argue that many of us see adobe as a leader in visual design, not just the tools, but the actual design. packaging, ui, advertising and icons. so please show more appreciation for a strong community of customers who care deeply about your products and the leadership position you have earned as a company.
    as for the icons, i agree that the periodic table and color wheel come off a bit as the design school exercise that should have been the starting point, rather than the end point. i like the simplicity and the idea on a conceptual level, but it’s not a solution to a conceptual problem, it’s a solution to a visual problem.
    i’m sure my brain will remap the icons to the apps without much trouble in short order, but the usability concerns raised are valid, and i hope adobe is listening closely.
    thanks for sharing the icons, and the beta app, most of all. and keep up the good work, because it is a lot of good work.

  • Nicolai Elmqvist — 7:09 AM on January 05, 2007

    This must be a joke. Listen to the users. And try again :)

  • Ian Moss — 8:13 AM on January 05, 2007

    I love em!!!!

  • S Cornuelle — 8:14 AM on January 08, 2007

    I still can’t find InDesign….
    I still enjoy the elegance of the current CS2 icons. Very creative and easy to use for very creative and easy to use Applications.

  • matias torres — 10:06 AM on January 08, 2007

    hola, soy diseñador gráfico me podrian pasar info a mi e-mail; un abrazo
    [I wish that I weren’t, like most Americans, a basically mono-lingual rube. Because I am, I can only partially read the text above. That said, I’m reminded that I could go for more tildes in my life, not to mention that groovy little “ç” character. :-) –J.]

  • Mark Thomas — 1:12 AM on January 09, 2007

    that groovy little “ç” character
    Oui, la cédille est très groovy, mais c’est étrange que le mot “cédille” n’a pas une cédille, n’est pas ?
    Ou peut-être ça serait mieux comme ça: [ç]
    [See, now you’re just showing off. ;-) –J.]

  • MadScott — 6:37 AM on January 09, 2007

    This scheme is iconic of design-by-committee hubris rather than the production of something that might be useful to the end user.
    Icons by definition are something that quickly and intuitively lead the viewer to understanding. These are indistinct, indecipherable and user hostile. Even the periodic table, apparently the source of this mess, has some reasoning behind it.
    [Out of curiosity, did you read the intro article about how the icons came to be, and why? –J.]

  • Scott F — 4:44 PM on January 09, 2007


    Out of curiosity, did you read the intro article about how the icons came to be, and why


    OK…

    Their elegance comes from how the entire desktop brand system works as a whole. The more Adobe apps you have, the better the system works. Adobe’s icons stand out instantly in the visually-dense world of user desktops because of their simplicity; complexity ≠ information.”


    The more Adobe icons you have, the worse the system works. You would end up with several nearly identical icons which you would need to read and translate, rather than glance at, to understand what application they represent.
    While it might be easy to spot the Adobe applications, I really don’t care who make the program so much as how I use it. I use Photoshop to edit photos, not because I want to run an Adobe application now. I think that’s pretty much universal.
    This is branding, driven by the (brain-numb) marketing department at Adobe. They do not do the job of icons because they are not designed to. They do the job of logos, and badly, since there’s so little consistency. (Number of letters? Check! Square? Check! Use of capitals? Nope. Letters stand for program? Nope. At least the first letter is the first letter for the program? Nope. How the heck do you screw that up?)
    As icons they are a failure. While some may argue that they are not, you cannot ignore the fact that they are an embarrassment. The clear majority of users disapprove, most falling between dislike and outright hostility.

  • jive — 6:44 AM on January 10, 2007

    um, John Jack? Care to respond?
    [Jonas, I think I’ve said all I usefully can say about the icons. I leave it to others (e.g. the folks on the design team) to share other thoughts, responses, etc. The feedback & give-and-take are welcome, but I’m just the messenger, and I do have a day job to get back to. ;-) –J.]

  • David Foster — 1:12 PM on January 10, 2007

    Well, I think these new icons are really ugly. I will change them myself before living with them.
    The customer is always right. Adobe should poll beta downloaders as to what they think of the new icons. I think they will find the reaction pretty negative.

  • jive — 7:46 AM on January 11, 2007

    Hey at least icons can be replaced… Here are the new icons revised by someone else. A bit better…
    http://www.koregraphik.com/downloads/adobe-cs3/

  • scooter — 3:00 PM on January 12, 2007

    This has been a very interesting dialog to follow. As most have mentioned, the response to this work has been overwhelmingly negative.
    John has mentioned that we should wait to hear the “design team” defend these designs. I’d love to.
    What blog should we go read to hear from the design team? I’m assuming they are lurking behind all these comments in this thread. When will we hear from them?
    [Good questions. I’ll ask. –J.]

  • rickyaustin — 9:34 AM on January 13, 2007

    I invite the complainers to lay out all the current Macromedia and Adobe icons, like they have laid these out – and compare how the icon (sans name) relates to the program.
    What uneducated user would pair up Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Bridge & GoLive with a feather, butterfly, flower, seashell & starfish-thingy. They may have more luck with the old macromedia icons, solely because of the letterform on the icon.
    I bet that an uneducated user can pair those programs up when there are 6 different icons on the dock, and they say Ps, Id, etcetera…
    They bring in the macromedia feel, mixed with the great idea of elements & a color wheel. It’s a uniform system for a large group of programs. I love it. The PS3 beta icons (Photoshop & Bridge) and Adobe Reader icons I have now look powerful in my dock. I can’t wait to add more.
    This will be useful when I have Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, Bridge, Affer Effects, GoLive/Dreamweaver & Flash in about 6 months. I’ll like the letters and distinctive colors more than the washed out butterfly, feather, seashell, tricycle, motorbike, thimble, book, starfish mess that could have happened.

  • Scott F — 5:15 PM on January 15, 2007

    I was never a fan of the current flavour of logos. For one thing, the feather clearly belongs with Illustrator, since it reminds one of a quill, which then reminds us of Illustrator’s key tool.
    They look like they were pulled from a hat. Why a shell for Bridge? Why not, oh, I don’t know, a bridge?
    But to say these icons benefit uneducated users is to point out one serious flaw. Most of us are not uneducated users. Abode sells more upgrades than new licenses. And uneducated users quickly become educated users, making the benefit (which I doubt) short-term at best.
    The uneducated user will quickly become familiar with Illustrator/Photoshop/Dreamweaver/WhatEver. Then, the well-designed and distinctive icon would be a blessing.

  • Bryan — 5:35 PM on January 15, 2007

    I’m really impressed with how you’ve handled the response to the icons, and I hope this doesn’t discourage you or others in your company from future blogging about what is going on inside Adobe.
    FWIW, I love the new look.
    [Thanks for the kind words, Bryan. –J.]

  • Ka-Ping Yee — 6:11 PM on January 18, 2007

    I am extremely disappointed with how Adobe is choosing to represent its products. Please reconsider.
    Icons should be beautiful, distinct, recognizable, and inspiring. At this, the previous icons succeeded, and the proposed new icons fail.
    I am glad that you have invited feedback here, and hope you will take it seriously. The new icons are the outcome of what was initially a clever idea, but upon execution have turned out to be a design mistake. I hope Adobe has the humility to acknowledge the mistake and try again.

  • d — 1:53 PM on January 23, 2007

    Did you manage to get a contact from the design team of the icons? Do they have a blog here? (Apologies if you’ve posted this info somewhere, but I can’t find it…)
    [Let me ping them again on this. –J.]

  • greg h — 5:48 PM on January 24, 2007

    Yuck! I am looking at the homepage of Adobe.com and the more I see the new logos the more I just think yuck. They are almost as bad as just wrapping each product in a different colored paper sack.
    And let’s stop deluding ourselves that this is just about “icons”. It is product branding in its entirety. Logos, packaging, splash screens, etc.
    [Funny, then, that people are getting worked up without actually having seen most of the CS3 branding. –J.]

  • Ilias S — 7:55 AM on January 25, 2007

    Ok!
    Let’s face the truth and be honest to ourselves, including both users and Adobe staff.
    The color theme icons is a great idea because you really can distinguish what app you want to launch on your desktop.Different colours for different apps.If you have many Adobe apps this idea will solve you many problems.
    I LIKE IT,no doubt!
    But the letters really suck.Ok.Let’s admit the truth, Adobe.They make sense only because represent Adobe’s famous applications.If any of you saw these icons for some other’s company apps you would laugh at them and ignore them ,no doubt.
    That doesn’t mean is a bad idea.As you have seen yourselves, Macromedia’s MX products captured the very same idea but with a great difference. Appealling shperes not simple non-rounded corner squares containing an eye-catching letter standing for the appropriate app, not a group of simple letters,easily created even in Word!!!.The whole icon looks too cheap.
    So, the new icons concept is very very useful but they need just a boost. I don’t think too much artwork will make them better, as many users claim.
    I’m talking about subtle changes.
    Believe me as far as I’m concerned the icons I checked at: http://www.koregraphik.com/downloads/adobe-cs3/
    represent the Adobe’s new idea the best. Round-corner squares and two opposites gradients transform the ugly icons to glamorous logos.
    Besides Adobe is the King and its users want shining,rich looking packages :)Give us glamorous icons

  • Dean K — 12:36 AM on January 26, 2007

    Oh no. Here’s my plan: 1. Buy CS3. 2. Replace all desktop icons asap. 3. Start using CS3.
    Isn’t it funny how instantly recongisable the Flash player and Acrobat reader icons are in the flash blog’s representation of the icons. And the rest… I don’t recognise at least 50 percent of them.
    The thought process that “a picture tells a 1,000 words” was clearly not behind this creation.
    Still — at least I have the power on my desktop to completely ignore what is offered, and just use my own. Good ol’ internet frontier at it again!
    [Customization, like variety, is the spice of life. It’s great that people can season things to taste. –J.]

  • Greg — 6:18 PM on January 29, 2007

    I’m really looking forward to CS3, but I don’t like these new “icons” at all. I would have expected better from Adobe.

  • Joe Dempsey — 5:47 AM on January 30, 2007

    I like the new icons. They stand out on the desktop and are much easier to pick out on a crowded desktop. For instance, when making a quick selection from my bottom of screen tool bar, I will often click on my database icon instead of Illustrator CS2. The two icons are the same color and easily confused. The new ones are unique and put an end to that problem.

  • jd — 1:19 PM on January 30, 2007

    The CS2 Icon Set is so much better… also the Macromedia Studio 8 Set…
    of Course you need one look for all products.. but please a good and creative look.
    The Studio 8 icon set was also very simple.. so why not something like that..!?
    [The same people designed them, and I’ve already , so I don’t have anything new to say about that. –J.]

  • Mark Mosher — 6:47 PM on January 30, 2007

    I don’t like the icons in the OS X dock. Most good dock icons are ovals or irregular shapes. Nearly all use transparency or cutouts to dramatic effect. Microsoft’s icons for Office 2004 are more pleasing and easily identifiable.
    But frankly, the CS3 Beta is so much faster on my Macbook Pro I don’t care if the new Photoshop icon is a little piece of Almond Roca.
    [ :-) –J.]

  • buddhistMonkey — 7:46 PM on January 30, 2007

    I HATE the icons. They look like they were created by a graphically-impaired newbie programmer for his first “hello world” app. (“Hey, I know, I’ll call my demo word processor PageSmith, and for an icon, I’ll just type the letters P and S into a blue square. Perfect!”) I’d forgive the newbie, but for the world’s leader in graphics software, it’s unforgivable. In the Windows world, where beauty is regularly subjugated to utility, maybe this will fly, I don’t know. What I DO know is that of the 146 icons in my OS X Applications folder, the ugliest belongs to Photoshop CS3 beta, and by a wide margin.
    I halfway suspect that this is some sort of April Fool’s joke on the graphics community, and that the REAL icons are going to be so drop-dead gorgeous that we’ll all get a good laugh at all the anxiety these ugly Beta icons caused. I’m really, really hoping, anyway. What will really suck is if these are, in fact, the actual icons, because then I’ll have to spend my first few hours with my new Creative Suite digging through the package contents to replace these Scrabble tiles with actual icons. Maybe some industrious third-party developer will create an attractive replacement set of icons with a proper installer. I’d be willing to donate a $20 shareware fee to the cause (which is pretty sad, if you think about it).

  • Russell Youngblood — 6:17 AM on February 01, 2007

    Well, …. it looks like the ColdFusion programmers have been hard at work designing the new CS3 software icons. ;)
    Please tell someone at Adobe Systems to ask (Sally Cox@ Adobe Systems)to help them out.

  • Eddie — 8:38 AM on February 01, 2007

    To answer your question about why I see the new icons as life-threatening: Obviously a mere change of icons could not literally threaten the lives of users. The danger I see is more symbolic. I, for one, have developed such a strong emotional connection to the CS 2 icons that changing them to something so alien as this would be like ripping out a piece of my very soul. I suspect that many CS 2 users feel similarly. Therefore, my comment was in fact inaccurate. The new icons are not life-threatening; rather, they portend a fate worse than death. Adobe, please don’t do this to me — keep my beloved butterfly, flower, and feather in CS 3.

  • billy bob — 12:15 PM on February 01, 2007

    I think the icons are fine_ And I’m sure like the software being in Beta form still – some of what we’ve seen is still being finalized_
    As a professional Designer – I think they break from the mainstream [currently everything is glassed-over lately]- simple – clean – precise_
    Some above mentioned they will have to stop and read the icons to figure out what App to click on – whatever – when CS1 first came out – it was a change from what we knew – where was the camera lens and eyeball that Photoshop had from the beginning ?
    I am very visual and I see it as a graphic and from there it’s merely a point of memorization of the icon and it’s location_
    When the rest of the Apps are released if people don’t want to stare at a rainbow of color on their Dock [in OS X] then group them in a different fashion_ I group my icons according to function and workflow and based again on what I’ve seen of the icons if someone buys one of the main groups [Ill – PS – InD – Fl – Dw – FiW – Premiere] first the colors on the new icons stay true to the histories of the color schemes for the respective Apps and secondly are distinct enough to standout from each other [blue – red – yellow – orange – green – purple – brown]

  • Barry Pearson — 12:56 AM on February 02, 2007

    I want icons to be functional. I have just judged all the icons I use, and come to the following conclusions.
    The best are the new Bridge (Br) & Photoshop (Ps) icons. Close behind are Word 2003 (W) and Excel 2003 (X).
    Worst, by far, are the CS2 icons! Meaningless – I have to remember colours, or position, or hover over them.

  • Michael — 6:18 AM on February 08, 2007

    Nice Blog!I like your post.And i hope your blog became better and better!Thanks.Welcome to my Blog:blogger.I thought the PS icon was just for the beta as well, but I actually like the icons seen in the bigger picture of Adobe now had 20+ apps that need a uniform feel.
    Icons matter, but come on people, a blue Ps is just as good as a stupid feather or a pair of eyes – which always freaked me out.
    Keep up the good work guys, and thanks for the early look!

  • Drew — 9:50 AM on February 08, 2007

    Maybe Adobe could just provide a configuration setting for us that says something like:
    ___ Use Letter Icons
    _X_ Use Graphic Icons
    That would make things so much easier.
    Could someone on the design team just give a yea or nay on this?

  • Pat — 6:00 PM on February 12, 2007

    I don’t care what the icons look like just get CS3 released. And I don’t think they are that bad.

  • Jared Roussel — 6:01 PM on February 13, 2007

    I agree. Adobe is going through a transition where certain people are used to a certain look and certain features. While I recognize that CS3 is going to be a revolutionary release in that it combines the power of Macromedia and Adobe and rids of some things and adds others, what would be the trouble of creating another icon set for those that prefer a more graphical look? I think some of the other posters said it best in that it’s more recognizable and does not take a long time to think about it. Letters are symbols, but since we use them so often, they have really lost their power of distinguishment and recognition. When you have such a mixed audience like this (I’d say at least 50% think this is a bad idea. In brief, make a set of icons that the rest of us can use too!
    [As for the usability, I’d say “wait and see.” I just spent 2 solid weeks demoing Photoshop on a machine where every Suite app was running & in the dock. I honestly never had a problem knowing which icon to click. Your mileage may vary, however, and some people simply aren’t going to like the icons’ appearance. That’s where folks like Iconfactory come in. (Plenty of people replaced the feather, etc. of CS2, and plenty would want to modify just about anything, which is all good. –J.]

  • AL — 3:45 AM on February 14, 2007

    Sorry, like many I don’t like it! The “placeholder” icons simply are boring and …ugly. I was hoping you would let Metadesign do it again (I think their CS2 packging is beautiful) but I guess with all those apps to redesign it would be a biiig amount of money. But hey, isn’t Adobe a big rich company?

  • Stuart Schoneveld — 7:38 AM on February 14, 2007

    I think we should leave the bike shed unpainted :)

  • ds.store — 4:48 AM on February 15, 2007

    Like someone once said: “When things are presented crystal clear people get confused and begin to complicate them.”
    IMHO you Adobe an amazing job. Everything seems just perfect. I guess people just have trouble to picture these icons side by side in dock during actual work. I have no doubt they’ll work flawlessly.
    That color wheel demonstrates much wider integration and cohesion than just for icons. So many comments here for the icons themselves and they are all missing the big picture. Let’s talk about naming conventions? We had Photoshop 1, then 2, then 3, 4, etc. Then someone realized that sooner or later we’ll have PS24 or PS72. So they took advantage of the better application integration and made CS1. Now we have CS2 and then CS3, probably CS4… How far can that go? It could end with year based naming (like AutoCAD). But look at the PS CS3 Beta icon. It just says: “Ps”. Also, every other on the color wheel (except those few with pics): “Ai”, “Ir”, “ID”, “DW”,… So, instead of CS3 with PS10, AI13, ID5,… we simply have PS, AI, ID,…
    Then, we had this major “world collision” – Adobe and Macromedia. All interface had to be brought on the same level. How to accomplish this? And who knows what changes, even bigger than this, we’ll witness in future? I guess we don’t have that many flowers, feathers and jellyfish :)
    This multiple integrations have just started, there is new palettes concept in PS CS3 Beta – will it be incorporated in other apps? InDesign now have layer styles not unlike those in PS, etc. Sooner or later, I suppose, we’ll get some über application and these picture-less icons look like the only logical choice.
    And before you quote Apple HUIG (I’m typing this on a Mac, btw) please look at how much it took for them to minimize the distraction stripes make in windows and menubar. Five years or so and I don’t think it’s completely over. And you worry that new Adobe’s icons minimalistic look will be outdated in the future? Well if it took Apple five years to come to this point I don’t think that others will leave it for at least that long.
    And these icons are already there: unobtrusive, distinctive and very functional.
    P.S. Sorry if I made some disasterous mistake on english; it’s not my native.

  • CJM — 10:46 PM on February 15, 2007

    Interesting discussion, quite a read (sympathies to John who is handling the barrage just fine)

    The point that these are “just icons” is moot for several reasons.
    1) That is what this discussion is for, that is why everyone is here, that is why everyone (even those making this point) are commenting.
    2) Many of us use these programs constantly. They represent a large investment of time, energy, and finances. We depend on the decision making processes of Adobe for our livelihoods.
    3) The professions of the people at Adobe and the people passionate enough to post here stand for the idea that design IS important even (and especially) in the little things.

    It seems some here like them, some don’t. IMO there has been more evidence presented on the negative side of the argument. They have even gone so far as to personally craft alternate versions as well as provide in-depth analysis and other visual aids (including the satire. Some of that was most effective :)
    Those in favor of the icons seem to have 3 basic positions.
    1) They like the look
    2) They don’t feel that these will be a hindrance to use.
    3) Wait and see.
    There has not been a fraction of the kind of visual evidence posted in favor of the designs as there has against.

    Regarding the readability and recognition…
    Some have indicated that only inferior users would have difficulty understanding the new system. Unfortunately for them, the length of this discussion refutes that idea. It would be unfortunate if Adobe shared that attitude.
    There are many different types of users out there. They could be colorblind, or a novice user, or anyone that is limited or unable to change the icon set. To belittle these people demonstrates an incredible lack of intelligence and character.
    Adobe should be a leader in usability and user-experience.

    Regarding the passion and emotion expressed throughout these posts.
    It isn’t necessary for people to be rude or to kill the messenger. But the fact that there is this much emotion surrounding this issue and that these people are informing the source (Adobe) is excellent. What a great opportunity for Adobe. Not only is there ample feedback here, but these are: Customers, Users, and informed opinions. The arguments have been fleshed out and suggestions, alternatives, and supporting materials have been presented in abundance. All for free.
    The fact that this is all flowing out in this venue might indicate (as pointed out above) that Adobe has not sought out input or provided a more effective avenue for people to share these insights and opinions. This might also account for some of the heat behind these emotions. For instance, the people who were responsible for the designs have been mentioned several times, but are conspicuously absent. I don’t blame them, (this group seems to have it’s share of the lynching type) but Adobe could at least mount some sort of collected response rather than leave it to poor John to deal with (for months on end).
    I can personally attest to the fact that these programs are costly. We have invested a lot in this company and its products, and continue to do so because of their quality. The fact that Adobe recently bought up some of the competition more than understandably adds to the uneasiness of its customers as we experience an effective monopoly in our chosen field of work. We need reassurance from the company at critical times like this, that the user is still the main priority. Those of us in the trenches that eat and pay rent with these tools need confidence that we have invested wisely and decisions like this (for better or worse) are ‘state of the union’ moments for the design nation.
    From this perspective, the emotions make much more sense. These icons do matter and they represent more than an application – they represent the livelihoods of many of the people here including myself. Broad decisions about the future of the company and the product line are sometimes our only indicators of what to expect from Adobe. It speaks a lot louder about how well Adobe knows its customers (us) when something like this is presented. We get to look through the marketing pitch and see directly into the decision making process, and knowledge of the end-user.
    There is a lot of passion here on this subject matter as is clearly demonstrated by the number of people willing to read and participate in this. These people could have kept this to themselves and begin to migrate to other products. They could have just berated Adobe everywhere else on the internet but here. Instead, Adobe get fresh, hot customer feedback by the boatload. USE IT.
    Adobe can get double press for this issue and turn it into a coup (if that isn’t already the plan).

    There are clearly a number of flaws with the design, and they have been well documented (personally I don’t understand the sudden allegiance to the historical colors if all other visual history has been forgotten). I agree that there is some meat to the idea of the periodic table, but that the execution leaves much to be desired.
    When Mendeleev discovered (yes, discovered) the periodic table it came from making clear, organized, and essential connections between one element and the next. It was an exercise in seeing the order that was inherently there. This approach was so successful that it actually predicted the position and nature of elements yet discovered
    This system is unlike that in every important way. It was contrived rather than discovered, it confuses the order that that is there (ie program use, relation to other programs) in favor of the “concept”, it fails to organize the information at hand let alone create opportunity for new elements to fall neatly in place to complete the system.

    I have attempted to keep this constructive. I feel that many knowledgeable people have thoroughly covered visual recommendations, this was more about relations between the company and its customers. I hope that all of these things have been heard by those that matter (nothing against you John ; ) and that those people will take accountability for the response of all of these investors.

  • Alan G — 10:20 PM on February 19, 2007

    Having just reviewed some of Terry White’s podcasts after reading many of the diatribes in this thread, I have to say that the new icons stand out beautifully from the crowd in the Mac dock, and are very easy both to identify and differentiate, even at the fairly crummy resolution of a low-res video podcast.
    I’ve never been a fan of frippery in the UI, and when I upgraded to Vista one of the first things I did was turn off most of the bells and whistles, so I don’t much care what the icons look like, so long as they’re clear. The new look of CS3 seems both professional and eminently usable.
    The CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) membership will always find things to gripe about, and can usually be ignored.

  • Izzy — 11:34 PM on February 19, 2007

    I’ll admit it, the icons on the whole are some of the worst my colleagues and I have ever seen. When you add to that the fact that this new identity has been developed by the leading graphic design software company in the world, it’s staggering. Sure they may seem like “just icons,” but time has begun to reveal a trend of consistently eroding quality at Adobe, and these icons are another symptom. The culprit has yet to be deciphered, but the decline is real.
    Our interactive design firm has watched carefully as Adobe’s support and service for Mac has unabashedly decayed to something beyond dismal. We’ve always been keen on Adobe’s horrendous understanding of web development, and the propellerheads at work were hoping the Macromedia acquisition would redeem that. Unfortunately the consensus thus far is that instead Adobe has brought the Macromedia offerings way down in quality instead of the other way around.
    Thankfully we’ve found numerous burgeoning alternatives for the Mac platform that are just as powerful as Adobe’s tools (in some cases more!) and the developers aren’t as far behind as Adobe and they have a much better understanding of usability and overall user experience.
    Additionally we’ve dumped all our ColdFusion servers as well as Dreamweaver (and maybe someday Flash) as CF doesn’t even support JVM 1.5 yet and all these products draaaag on Mac OS X due to the fact that Adobe is so embarrassingly behind on the Intel transition that it’s obvious they could care less. Believe it or not, the less expensive, community-oriented world of open source is much more consistent with upgrades, updates, bug fixes, patches, etc than the cha-ching machine tahat is Adobe. Go figure.
    Interestingly enough, the new icons are further evidence that Adobe could care less. The worst part is that the creative strategy behind them isn’t even consisitent! What a half-baked idea to stamp the majority of icons with the ridiculous acronyms and then sprinkle stylized sympols (i.e. Acrobat, Apollo) on a few. Ice that cake with inconsistency of the system behind the letters used for each app and Adobe’s lunacy is near complete. Some names exhibit abbreviations which represent the first letter of each word in the app’s name (Ai for “Adobe Illustrator”). Then there are the syllable-based abbreviations such as Cf for “Cold-Fusion” and ID for “In-Design”. Of course next there is the ingenious idea of using either the first two letters or the first and the last letter for other apps (Fx – Flex, Fl – Flash?, Di – Director).
    I don’t think it gets any worse than this. We’ve been holding back our jeers for a while now Adobe, trying to be patient with the merger, standing by trying to understand the Universal Binary delay, and even excited to see how Adobe would strategically merge the identity of the Macromedia products with the Adobe lineup. We thought we’d be impressed with an elegant, and seamless transition. Unfortunately time’s about up, and all we have to offer is Boooooo Hissssss!

  • Jonathan Reed — 9:05 PM on February 22, 2007

    Like I do with the current apps, I’ll be changing the icons to things that make sense to me. They can design whatever they want. But since their icons for CS2 aren’t helpful in differentiating their programs and the CS3 fonts are even less so, I’ll just use images that work for me.

  • Dekoration — 2:39 PM on February 28, 2007

    These new icons are ridiculous looking and as Aral pointed out give the product a shareware feel. It is obvious that we all expect more than that from such a well known software company.
    Designers and most of the people using these apps are used to graphic representations, symbols and professional looking logos and now we have something that looks like it was created for new scientific discoveries? I am sure that the folks at adobe have more insight to the long term big picture here but in my opinion it’s like the new Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Future Concept Car featuring a joystick instead of a traditional steering wheel.
    It may be different but it’s not something most people will adapt too easily or be happy to use.
    Take a good look at all of the overwhelming negative responses to this blog post and many other respected websites and individuals discussing this topic. It seems like a bad decision and hopefully you will listen to your customers and change it before it’s too late.

  • GD — 10:04 PM on February 28, 2007

    Read about 2/3 of the way, and hadn’t seen the following point made:
    One of the things the previou Icons have done on occasion for me is to inspire me to the beauty and elegance which is possible to achieve using the software I’m about to launch.
    I don’t think these icons will be inspiring anyone.
    Also, if I were in the process of releasing some new product and I saw an inbound avalanche of comments along the lines of “OMG. I’ll be replacing that the instant it hits my workspace”, it wouldn’t take me very long to realize that, no matter the merits of the current design, that there was very likely a better one out there.
    And I think the reason so many people are discussing this second point (replacing the icons), is related to the first one (inspring creativity).
    The overwhelming reaction of disappointment is that these icons are the gateways to the software we use to express ourselves and the current crop is, ironically, incredibly uninspiring and uninspired.
    Inspire us with beauty, Adobe. Beauty we can see and be moved by even before the application launches.

  • Waschstrasse — 2:17 PM on March 01, 2007

    I’m gonna chime in with an alternate point of view…and that is I like them. When I first downloaded the Photoshop beta I thought it was a placeholder icon. But now I like it. I was never a fan of the CS icons…too fussy and hard to read. At least now when I see the Ps icon (and I can imagine the others) in the dock I’ll know what they are.

  • Tommy — 12:59 AM on March 03, 2007

    Well, I like them!
    Much better than the Feather/Feathers/Flower/Shell/Butterfly (or is that butterfly another feather? And what does clicking on the starfish launch again…?)
    The new ones are smart, clean, easy to figure out (and to remember) what is what.
    Adobe is a BIG family now. This is a good solution to keep aesthetic consistency, yet easy to recall who-is-who.

  • Elektrotechnik Wuppertal — 1:01 AM on March 03, 2007

    These ugly square blobs may be “Just Icons” but what we need to be very aware of is that they signify that Adobe are permitting the inferior company which they acquired to have far too much influence over their own highly esteemed products.
    The Macromedia team have clearly demonstrated that they have no concept of what constitutes a “good user experience”. (Just look at the appalling website design that the Macromedia crowd are starting to inflict on Adobe Forums including the CS3 Beta sites.)
    These horrible icons are further proof that they have no sense of aesthetics either and I fear that the influence of their appallingly bad taste will soon permeate all of the Adobe Application GUIs.
    Please get rid of these people before they do any further damage to Adobe’s products.

  • Tommy — 1:07 PM on March 03, 2007

    LEE, the CS2 icons were nearly as bad as these ones. They were pretty at least, but still abstract to a fault. Icons should be symbolic of the functions the app performs.

  • Alexis — 2:50 AM on March 06, 2007

    I have to say that I strongly disagree with those new icons.
    I am even wondering how a design software maker can produce such horrific work.

  • Printninja — 1:36 PM on March 10, 2007

    What is the difference between an icon and an image. An icon is ICONIC. There is a good reason that stop signs are red, octagonal and have the word stop written on them. They speak to both sides of the brain. Most large companies are aware of the power of visual memes, and put a lot of effort into making sure their logos speak to both the conscious and unconscious parts of the brain. Why would Adobe suddenly forget this?
    The original Adobe icons (eyeball, Venus) instantly conveyed a message as to what the programs did. Photoshop dealt with image manipulation, hence the eyeball. Illustrator was about creating beautiful works of art, hence the well known Birth of Venus painting by Botticelli.
    [Er, well, while I liked the old imagery myself & fought to keep the eyeball, I think it’s a stretch to say that those images had anything to do with the function of the programs. I mean, isn’t Photoshop about creating works of art? Why isn’t is associated with Venus, then? What do an antenna, a running horse, and a butterfly have to do with motion graphics, video editing, and page layout, respectively? –J.]
    Does anyone else see the irony in a company like Adobe creating icons so minimalist that they almost seem like joke being played on its users?
    Maybe they just wanted to out-do Quark’s recent fumbling of their “Q” redesign.

  • Will Robertson — 10:20 AM on March 12, 2007

    Wow. I can’t believe this got out the door. This seems like some kind of beta joke. Is this for real?
    [Your response, you mean? Because honestly, man, it’s almost a verbatim restatement of what’s been posted, oh, 20 times already in this thread. –J.]

  • James Kachan — 5:09 PM on March 13, 2007

    awful.
    cold. unhumanistic. and uninspiring.
    i hate these icons.

  • John Repka — 9:31 AM on March 14, 2007

    I think the icons are excellent – the idea of the icon is to get it to stand out on the dock. I can’t tell you how many times I opened InDesign or ImageReady when I was trying to open Illustrator or AfterEffects. My Eye automatically picks up the color field now, and the “table of elements” abbreviations, for the most part, are easy to understand.
    Excellent job…

  • Robert — 12:35 PM on March 18, 2007

    These are NOT icons.
    They are letters.
    Perhaps Adobe should hire designers to work on this. The Macromedia icons and design in general was modern, slick, smart, and effective.
    [Did you read the part about the former Macromedia folks being the ones to design these icons? –J.]
    Adobe bought Macromedia because they were solid… now how about using some of that, instead of pretending that old school boring Adobe can pull some rabbit out of their hat before the deadline comes for the new icon release.
    [Did you read the part about the former Macromedia folks being the ones to design these icons? –J.]

  • Ken Lawson — 11:01 AM on March 19, 2007

    Is GoLive getting a new update or release at the end of the month?
    [Nothing has been announced yet. –J.]

  • Mike Lee — 11:59 AM on March 19, 2007

    [Your response, you mean? Because honestly, man, it’s almost a verbatim restatement of what’s been posted, oh, 26 times already in this thread. –J.]
    John:
    Even if this is your own “view” it is still the kind of comment I am sure Adobe stock holders would not want you to make. It is not in their best interest to have you in any way even infer an insult towards anyone who even looks at an Adobe product.
    Michael
    [Fair enough, Mike. But you know, after hearing the same unoriginal comment over and over and over, arriving what seems like every day for three months… I’ve had it. There’s no point in leaving comments open on this pulverized dead horse any longer.
    The End. –J.]

  • Redding — 8:20 AM on November 16, 2011

    The comments on this post actually made for an entertaining read. It would appear that the world really didn’t come to an end after Adobe made a few less than stellar choices on icons.

    Who would figure?

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