September 26, 2007

Feedback, please: User-powered help inside Photoshop?

I have a very simple idea–one that I think could be very powerful.  I’m proposing that Photoshop (and other Adobe apps) become living organisms, platforms that constantly improve as users learn & share.  Whether the idea sees the light of day depends largely on what you say about it.

I want to start by addressing a simple problem: Let me preserve what I’ve learned & keep it at my fingertips.  If you’re like me, you’ve probably jotted down a million notes about software over the years, storing them on sticky notes, on legal pads, wherever… most of which are nowhere to be found at the moment you need them.  Instead of settling for this, what if you could capture your knowledge about Photoshop inside Photoshop?

It’s the simplest idea in the world: let’s let people jot down notes and stick them into the application itself.  Instead of living only on the local hard drive, the notes would be stored on the network.  That way, no matter where you found yourself working, your accumulated knowledge would always be there, in the context of the tools themselves.  In essence you’d be micro-blogging from within Photoshop.

Ah, but the network is built for sharing.  So what if you could elect to share your notes with others, and what if you could see what they’d shared?

Here’s a practical example.  Let’s say you go into Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask dialog box.  “Amount” is straightforward, but what the hell do “Radius” and “Threshold” mean, exactly?  Let’s say you make sense of it, or you find settings that work really well for certain images.  Why not jot down a note right there?  That way you’ve enriched Photoshop with that knowledge, in context, and made it part of your permanent collection.

But what if you don’t know what something means?  Maybe you could see what Bruce Fraser has to say on the subject–reading a note with Bruce’s tips right in the dialog.  Inside Illustrator’s Live Color feature the other day, I was dying to have Mordy Golding drop by my office and give me the straight dope.  Why couldn’t I see Mordy’s writing–or hear audio narration, or see a video, for that matter–right within Live Color?  Why can’t I see Mac Holbert’s best practices for printing–right in the print dialog?

As I envision it, notes would be searchable, and you could give a quick thumbs-up/-down, TiVo-style, to each note.  That way the good stuff would bubble up while the crap falls into obscurity.  (And, of course, you could always elect to keep your notes private–which they would be by default.)

Here’s a really simple mockup I created to depict the concept running in a palette/panel.  (Yes, it would look slicker when real UI designers did their thing.)

So, what do you think?  Would you find value in jotting down what you’ve learned, making it portable and permanent?  Would you share that info with others?  Would you read what they’d shared?  Is any of this worth a damn?  I’m dying to know your take.  Here’s a 3-question survey, and comments are welcome.

Thanks,
J.

PS–At risk of overloading the concept, I may as well confess that I regard notes as the “thin edge of the wedge.”  I want not only my knowledge to live “in the cloud”; I want everything that makes my copy of an app mine–custom palettes, brushes, swatches, font styles, everything–to live on the network, to be synched seamlessly and to be sharable with others.  If I come up with a kick-ass skin for using Photoshop for Web design, I want you to type “JNack” into your copy of Photoshop and have it, bang, zero friction.  Viva the Photoshop Nation.

Posted by John Nack at 1:01 AM on September 26, 2007

Comments

  • John Ward — 11:57 PM on September 25, 2007

    I love the idea. I really hope that this sees the light of day.

  • Rob — 12:06 AM on September 26, 2007

    Love the idea. This is why they pay you the big bucks.
    [They pay me big bucks? ;-) Thanks for the props, though. –J.]

  • Dan — 12:14 AM on September 26, 2007

    Great idea John! I like the idea of having such an expansive knowledge base at my figertips without searching all over the interwebs! In-ap wiki FTW! Speaking of wikis, it would be useful to see all of this knowledge outside of the application as well, on a dedicated website. This could also be a great way for users to submit suggestions to the developers.

  • Ralph — 1:04 AM on September 26, 2007

    There might be a problem with “too much information”. A special website, hosted by Adobe, would do the job as well. Photoshop is used in so many different ways in so many areas… IMHO, I would prefer a website. but, that’s me. BTW, I appreciate sharing vision of JN here.

  • Benoit Marchal — 1:19 AM on September 26, 2007

    Great idea. For developer’s thing, there are many collaborative sites today and extending that concept to the software is great.

  • Lasse — 1:20 AM on September 26, 2007

    this could be really cool, if you could select to only search in maybe 2-3 other persons notes than your own. And keep both some private and some shared notes. extended to color profiles and such and the ability to use your own server so an offline studio setup would be posible and you would have a huge concept. that would make it a pro feature in my book.

  • Adam — 1:26 AM on September 26, 2007

    I like the idea, kind of what the Adobe Labs “knowhow” pallet in Illustrator really wants to be if it could network like its Kuler (cooler?) brother.
    [Yep. I’ve envied the Illustrator team’s ability to get the ball moving with knowhow & contextual help, but we’d all like to see the idea taken much further, leveraging the power of the community. –J.]

  • Richard Earney — 2:35 AM on September 26, 2007

    Great idea. There used to be a centralized version of tips and tricks (rather than user notes) in Macromedia products, but it never really got updated.
    Also Photoshop did have the ability to create How tos, but the interface was too much of a wall for most people.
    [Oh yes–that was one of my first babies when joining the team. I bribed Seetha to make it happen in exchange for a bottle of Don Julio. :-) Unfortunately, you’re quite right that creating the content required jumping through too many hoops. The process needs to be “idea->written->done/shared,” period–zero friction. –J.]
    This concept would be much better!

  • thorsten wulff — 3:24 AM on September 26, 2007

    Amazing concept. Count me in. So often I mailed screenshots with explanations and Shortcuts etc. to folks, I am sure this would work great with the pro community, too.

  • Pete Nicholls — 3:35 AM on September 26, 2007

    I am quite happy with being able to add to the Photoshop Help Menu. I have a HTML index page attached for my personal help item that launches all of the external articles, notes, tutorials, etc. I even have a batch file to update the index with new content. Kind Regards, Pete

  • picsel — 3:35 AM on September 26, 2007

    Yay! I always wondered what John Nack actually does behind Photoshop :))
    [You & my colleagues all do. ;-) –J.]
    Just kidding. This is an amazing idea, John. This is future. All apps in the world should interact like this. I always loved how Google SketchUp integrates the 3D Warehouse, for example. This kind of simple forward thinking makes me love to use a great app. The Photoshop Nation exists out there, why not have right in the app itself?
    [Exactly! –J.]

  • Brian Stoppee — 4:55 AM on September 26, 2007

    This is an innovative approach. I have some concerns that this could become the world’s biggest blog to the point that the good stuff is tough to find.
    [Yeah, there are a number of issues that we’d still need to experiment with & address. You wouldn’t want your apps’ interfaces to turn into a carnival of sticky notes, and I’m not sure whether you’d want to search from within each area of each app, or whether there should be just one search interface. Anyway, I’m massively encouraged to spend the time figuring it out based on all the good feedback here. :-) –J.]

  • Phil Brown — 5:14 AM on September 26, 2007

    John, not only is it a great idea, but it works.
    The simpler the better, too. Sure, have more complex options available, but at the root level it needs to be about as complex as opening a text file and it saving with some sort of context flag automatically added for ease of recall.
    Just to prove how nerdy I am, I play an MMORPG. One of the best features of a game that takes over 4GB to whack on your harddrive is the command “/note”. All it does is open a text file in the game that you can add notes to. Yup, brilliant. And it works. At any time you can open it up and see what you’ve typed or add to it without having to take yourself out of the application.
    Nice work, mate. Now just make it happen and I’ll have to add a few more beers if you get down to Sydney :-)
    [Heh–all the better to wash down a kangaroo pizza in The Rocks. ;-) –J.]
    Oh, and to have access to read and contribute, perhaps you’d need to be registered. Handy way of adding value to genuine users as opposed to pirates (it always helps to show the improvement on the bottom line when you’re trying to get the corporate buy-in :-)
    [Believe me, I’ve mentioned it. And I think there are a whole variety of ways we could help authors, trainers, & other motivated folks earn money in exchange for their services. Maybe there could be a micropayment system for premium content. Maybe there could be premium channels. Maybe attending a seminar or buying a book would unlock the trainer’s voice, right within Photoshop. Once we crack that door open, the possibilities are pretty considerable. –J.]

  • Petra — 5:26 AM on September 26, 2007

    I like the help idea, but I want to extend it to include a way to store techniques or recipes that I create or learn from others. Not actions, but just step by step instructions about adding this layer, changing that blending mode, creating this mask, etc. I have lots of scraps and notes on this stuff, and would love to find it inside my copy of Photoshop where I need it.

  • Jim Monaco — 5:28 AM on September 26, 2007

    I like the idea you’ve got in the PS part at the end there. That’s something I’ve wanted for a really, really long time; some sort of way to move an entire “user” around, carrying anything I’ve put into Photoshop (patters, swatches, shapes, keyboard shortcuts, etc) to any computer that I sit down and use. I’m really happy to see that somebody who actually has the influence to get it done has the same kind of “want”!
    [[Note to self: Don’t bum him out by mentioning how long you’ve been (fruitlessly) pushing for this. (Dang, no internal monologue…)] Cool; we’ll keep fighting to make it happen. –J.]

  • Trevor Morris — 6:35 AM on September 26, 2007

    As usual, John, great idea. Love the concept. I also love the simple surveys you’ve been using to solicit feedback. Respect.
    [Thanks, Trevor. I’m finding Survey Monkey to be drop-dead easy to use. –J.]

  • Chris — 7:00 AM on September 26, 2007

    Great idea! To expand the lifespan and usefulness of such notes, any new releases of photoshop would need to know how to migrate the notes from the old version to the new (notes would need to be tagged as either specific to the current version or not).

  • German Bauer — 7:37 AM on September 26, 2007

    Excellent concept. Macromedia started letting users see comments to help live both inside the apps and on their website (read and write in the latter case) which really helped explain some concepts, and correct some mistakes.
    Spinning this further you could use scripting technology to have people record and “show by example”. Scripts could be lightweigth and low on bytes.

  • Landon — 7:43 AM on September 26, 2007

    Interesting. It feels a little like live docs fed into a Photoshop panel, or a context sensitive help panel.
    I agree with Dan that it is a great way for users to relate frustrations/suggestions to developers since the communal knowledge and usage of a function could be gathered from the comments/notes. Also, it could be very useful for software training in organizations that require specific workflows. An uberuser at a company could load up a copy of Photoshop with his tech comments and share with all users at his company.
    My reservations would be:
    (1) if shared among all users of Photoshop, what keeps users from abuse/spam/junk/obscene or just plain incorrect notes? Could it be moderated?
    [I think it would have to be, at least to some extent. –J.]
    (2) Could I correct a note if I’ve made an ass of myself? Yeah, it happens. Might be happening now. :)
    [Yes (the former, not the latter ;-)). –J.]
    (3) As with anything plugged communicating online, will we have to contend with a new vector for viruses and worms? I couldn’t deal with a “don’t use photoshop this week, wait for a patch” notice.
    [The notes mechanism itself would facilitate just the exchange of notes–simple, non-executable data (text, audio, video). But as for the broader idea about making P2P exchange of actions and scripts super easy, yeah, it does carry some risks. We’d probably need some method for establishing levels of trust & running code only from trusted parties. –J.]

  • Brian O'Neill — 8:01 AM on September 26, 2007

    Great idea. Being able to sort what type of user you view tips from would be a huge help, as well, to cut down on information clutter.
    For example, I should be able to view “Adobe Team Only” for the creators’ tips, and “My Team Only” for tips and SOPs created by colleagues at my design agency or prepress facility.

  • Ales — 8:09 AM on September 26, 2007

    This idea is very good, devil is in implementation.
    For example “Categorize this note” will always offer too general items, it should be user configurable.
    What about user editable “cool tips”?

  • Carsten — 8:15 AM on September 26, 2007

    Great Idea! But what about quality of the comments / best practise? I can imagine thousands of suggestions, descriptions and how-tos in such a system. How can I see how much they are worth? Or do I have to scroll them all for hours?
    There should be a system implemented that takes care about the quality in this system. Maybe this could be through kicking out artivcles that have the lowest ratings etc. Quantity or just the possibility of contributing can’t be the solution. There must be quality.

  • fjf — 8:15 AM on September 26, 2007

    John:
    Please extend this to Lightroom. Since release I have wanted the ability to add notes to an image. I find image variants on HDDs but do not remember why I made this version, how it differs from version A,B and C, what I attempted to do and how it failed (I learn from failure not success). At present this is done using the directory structure and cryptic filenames whose intended meaning is no longer remembered.

  • Marc — 9:45 AM on September 26, 2007

    Heck yeah!!! I use the Foxmarks extension in Firefox to let me have my bookmarks anywhere. I would love to have something like this to sync my home and work software settings. Do it!

  • Lindsey Thomas Martin — 9:46 AM on September 26, 2007

    A central repository in Bridge would be useful for sorting and reviewing such notes. As would the ability to shunt notes to metadata if one wanted to.
    LTM

  • Jeremy Vest — 9:56 AM on September 26, 2007

    Also having a video with experts showing how to use the the pallet would be a great start :-)

  • seiben — 10:57 AM on September 26, 2007

    This is an awesome idea! I really hope it has legs. What I’ve been doing so far is putting my notes into the File–>Info… of each image I work on (when there’s something special worth noting, that is). Spotlight (OSX) also does a decent job of scanning through my various notes and pdfs, but it would be fantastic to be able to have this info accessible no matter what computer I’m on. Being able to search my Quicktime movies and skip right to the relevant info would be icing on the cake!
    I agree with Lasse though; I’d definitely want to keep some notes private. Certain techniques and methods are learned through years of trial and error; I’m not so keen to give those ideas away.

  • Doug Nelson — 11:04 AM on September 26, 2007

    I’d be less interested in sampling the cloud, and more interested in professional (ie: commercial) input. Take it from someone who confronts it on a daily basis, mass advice is generally bad advice. I’d much rather have a “Deke” tab or a “Katrin” tab or a “Rodney” tab, and reward their efforts accordingly.
    [Most definitely. You’d be able to say “Make mine DekeShop” by overlaying Deke’s notes, for instance. As I noted elsewhere in the comments, I want to make it possible to authors to be rewarded for their work, if they’d like. You should be able to subscribe to the Katrin Channel, or to the Pixel Genius Channel, the O’Reilly Channel, etc. How the content gets bundled & how one pays for it are interesting questions. –J.]
    I enjoy Digg, but I’d never trust it as a news source. The crowd is not as wise as reputed.
    [No, but look at Wikipedia. I’ve heard it said that the Wik’ offers 10x the content of Britannica at 90% the accuracy. Sometimes that broad coverage can get you pretty close to what you need. –J.]

  • BJ Nicholls — 11:17 AM on September 26, 2007

    Notes about using Photoshop? It’s so intuitive and simple, why would I do that?
    I already make my application notes with the same tool I use for my other electronic notes. I’d think several times before entrusting important notes to a proprietary Photoshop feature. Instead, save the notes as text or html files and provide a nice standalone note app that can be easily invoked from Photoshop or any other suite application. The only reason I might like Adobe to take a stab at such a tool that already exists would be to integrate the note app so it could edit metadata.

  • photoburner — 11:21 AM on September 26, 2007

    Sounds like a great idea. I could trim my favorites list down quite a bit if this was implemented

  • Pedro Estarque — 11:36 AM on September 26, 2007

    I’ve always wanted to be able to access my shortcuts/pallets from anywhere, in fact, I have them at my website so that I can download them when needed. But yes, having this built-in would be a beauty.
    As for the tips, I think it’s great but there should be a rating system, 5 starts or something, so that the community could moderate itself.
    I was thinking of suggesting you to do just that, feature polls, as I think you’ve become a bridge between Adobe and their users. But than you beat me to it with the first survey. I hope to see more of them!

  • Gary Newman — 12:47 PM on September 26, 2007

    I really like this concept. But I don’t care about quality ratings for such notes; I’ll only include content, from whatever source, that I find useful to me. For instance, in all the CS apps, at various times, I’ll come upon a problem to which I don’t know the answer, and look it up – help files, user forums, Google, trial and error. When I find an answer that works, I’d put it in this feature. It would either be an application-wide note, or context sensitive – it would attach itself to whatever tool, panel or dialog I was using at the time.
    For example, I’m a frequent visitor to the Illustrator User to User Forum. Somebody will will post a query about how to achieve a particular effect relating to 3D. I’ll do some research of my own, and may find something valuable for that user, for the wider community, or just to myself. So, within the Illustrator 3D dialog, I would create a note, and post it as a response in the forum for others to check out. If I found a useful tip posted by another user, I could copy just the portion that was important to me, and paste it back into my own notes.
    I currently do something similar to this, putting the tips in a long, unorganized text file, available only to me, and only then when I take the time to find it, open it, and search it. Making the notes part of the application, and shareable would be terrific indeed.

  • Mordy Golding — 12:50 PM on September 26, 2007

    John, are you familiar with a brand new site that just went into beta — it’s called Attendi (http://www.attendi.com)… it allows you to search for conversations that people have had about stuff you’re looking for. It even lets you contact people to have conversations with them when they are online. It’s pretty wild and I think borders on some of the concepts you’re presenting here.
    [Hmm–I’ll have to check that out. –J.]
    By the way, if you use the Force, it’s not that difficult to figure out Live Color in Illustrator :)
    [Ah, who needs the Force when I can pester you? –J.]

  • Colin — 4:36 PM on September 26, 2007

    I would love the ability to take notes right in photoshop! This would save a lot of time, inside and outside of photoshop.

  • Joe Lencioni — 4:37 PM on September 26, 2007

    This is a fantastic idea. I’d also like to see some sort of community built set of notes that goes a step further than the mockups you made. They would be, in a manner of speaking, a wiki help area where it doesn’t matter who said what.

  • Vickie Belcher — 4:48 PM on September 26, 2007

    Yes, I would love this. I take all my little jot downs from my desk once a month and type up a list of tips and little used shortcuts I want to keep handy. I am passing on all the little tidbits to my daughter, also, who has not used Photoshop since Photoshop 3.

  • Laura — 4:55 PM on September 26, 2007

    I really like the idea and as with all new ideas there will be a lot to work through before it’s ready for prime time, but I hope it goes forward. I have already used the facility that Photoshop has to add to the help menu, but it’s not as easy as I would like.
    I don’t mind that all of the notes might not be good advice. After all it’s Photoshop and you can give it a try and if it doesn’t work then you can undo.
    I like the idea of a rating system. You could also let people report abuse or questionable content.
    Keep up the good work!

  • Phil Brown — 6:00 PM on September 26, 2007

    “[Maybe attending a seminar or buying a book would unlock the trainer’s voice, right within Photoshop.]”
    Imagine the Easter Eggs that could spring from this…I can just imagine my speakers leaping to life to the sound of AC/DC’s The Jack :-)
    Going down that line, actually, I could see other vendors (*cough*such as printer manufacturers*cough*) providing modules that step users through preferred settings or setting options when printing from PS. It’d be cool to get that level of cooperation from other vendors.

  • JustSomeSchmoe — 7:00 PM on September 26, 2007

    Yeah, I guess this would be okay. I already do something like this, but my process is slightly different. I first try and undo a bunch of times; then I open a browser totally by-passing the useless Help system that came with PS (ah, what the heck, maybe this time it really does have the answer); get disappointed; go to Google; type in my question; search for answers from other users; spend hours searching for and reading who knows what; go off on tangents (like finding this site and writing 3 comments in one day instead of working); finally get the answer; try it; say to self: “Wow, I got the answer thanks to someone else!”; then forget the whole thing a 3 months later and redo the same process.
    I think rated notes might eventually replace my system, but what the heck it might be better. ;-)
    [ By the way, not for posting: What does the “Remember Me?” radio button do? ]

  • Mike — 4:45 AM on September 27, 2007

    Absolutely. If this isn’t included in CS4, I’ll be very disappointed.

  • Joe Loehle — 5:20 AM on September 27, 2007

    Fantastic idea. I could really see using this a lot in all the Adobe apps. Especially Photoshop and Indesign.

  • Matt Radel — 6:12 AM on September 27, 2007

    I love the idea, but it’s going to rely heavily upon the execution. There’s alot of questions here. Would you impose a maximum length, to truly keep this in the “notes” realm? Do you envision some type of moderation? I could see some of the notes getting way too long, or worse – some grumpy designer/developer could post some naughty things (but I suppose that’s the danger of community anyway).
    But overall the spirit of the idea is great – I’d love to see how it’s carried out.

  • Scott Valentine — 8:38 AM on September 27, 2007

    Yup. Gopher it.
    I am leaning towards the idea of subscriptions, like an XML/RSS channel that could be loaded on the fly. That would help those of us who go between photography, design and technical uses.
    Sort of like the Exchange and Extensions, I can see an Adobe-hosted list of approved channels, and then the capability to pick up a feed/library from the random schmoe on the web. It would be a great channel (marketing term) for revenue if a PS site could offer ad and non-ad versions.
    If that’s not clear, I imagine being able to go to some online community or guru’s website, see their work, and be able to grab an RSS-like link to drop into my workspace, like a bookmark. The provider could offer two versions; one may be free but have ads or limited info, and a premium would have no ads and more content (maybe even actions, workspaces, and other stuff).
    But Adobe-approved content would be listed in a repository on Adobe’s servers, with a special direct link in PS… maybe even a catalog or aggregate search function. This would open up adding in links to online communities, too, which enables dialog.
    Let’s bring Adobe’s help system and the community at large together ;)
    (btw – a comment on Flash and DW’s help/reference docs… they are useless. There are tons of resources there, but no useful way of filtering or drilling. And not all keywords are properly indexed; I’ve searched on words I am currently reading, and will get a zero-result return. I’ve abandoned using those help files).

  • jimHere — 8:45 AM on September 27, 2007

    I too approve the idea.
    Could you access the stuff from outside an Adobe app, or just when you’re in one?
    Also, after messing around with Geni.com for awhile (family trees), be prepared for your bosses getting on your case about “privacy” (so many limits on what we can do because they’re afraid of getting sued). The borg-cloud would have tenticles to everyone’s machines through Adobe Help.

  • Mike Wilday — 10:01 AM on September 27, 2007

    Wow. How could we live without it now that you have brought the idea up. Two thumbs up!

  • Rich Gibson — 10:03 AM on September 27, 2007

    Oh God Yes!
    How many times have we wondered, after coming back to a particularly awesome PSD file, “How’d I do that?”…which is why I have the Detailed History box CHECKED in my preferences… but what you propose is manna from heaven… do you realize how much such a concept could shorten learning curves… my word… it’d be unreal. And of course, the Photoshop Guys would go NUTS with all sorts of commentary available (I can see Kelby’s head spinning with ideas already).
    Suffice to say, “cat is out of the bag”… you gotta run with this now! TOP OF THE LIST for CS4 features (or maybe even a point release???). Pretty Please.
    As my seven your old sings from time to time (I like it! I love it, I want more of it!)
    Oh and by the way, can you get it done tomorrow? ;-)
    –Rich
    photoshopaholic (“My Name is Rich.” “Hi Rich!” “… it has been seven minutes since my last adjustment curve…”
    [Jeez, Rich, tell us how you really feel. ;-) Thanks for the feedback & encouragement. –J.]

  • Dave M — 6:56 PM on September 27, 2007

    Sounds good, but there would have to be some way of controlling how much of that mojo someone sees – if at all. Kai Kraus had a concept where you earned points as you played with more things and exposed more things. Kinda nice, too. But the idea of having reference links is a good one – provided they remain fresh and un-tethered to ‘buy me’ crap.

  • Kyle — 7:44 PM on September 27, 2007

    I love the idea. I don’t find myself with a lot of time to post on forums but I’ve got a thousand tips that I have jotted on post-it notes over the last 3 years that I’d love to share, but can’t realistically do it. I think that it could be particularly useful with a powerful search feature, as I find myself hard-up for information relating to pre-press uses of Photoshop, Acrobat, etc. The ability to easily share that information from within the program would be great.

  • Doug Nelson — 9:12 PM on September 27, 2007

    I suggest codename: Firehose

  • Viktoriya — 5:00 AM on September 28, 2007

    GREAT idea!

  • jared — 6:53 AM on September 28, 2007

    I think the biggest problem would be sorting through the mass of notes for the gem. Although, making it context specific (only unsharp masks notes are visible in the unsharp mask dialogue box) would help tremendously. I like the video idea too.

  • Daemon — 9:54 AM on September 28, 2007

    Just one question: how to combat spam? What would prevent someone from buying PS just to be able to send tons of notes around the web spamming his new porn website? There would have to be an administrator approving all the notes.
    Idea generally speaking is good, but i see too much abuse revolving around it.

  • Garon Salway — 5:44 PM on September 28, 2007

    Just what I need, the internet (with all of its warts) inside Photoshop.
    But seriously, I like the idea of retaining personal knowledge of PS inside PS and making its retrieval context-sensitive.
    Other than in the contexts of ‘back-up’ or ‘upgrade,’ portability of my knowledge to another machine is largely irrelevant since (1) I barely own a single copy of PS, and (2) my PS work is limited to a single machine.
    Besides, my hard drive is always with my machine, my machine is NOT always on the internet.
    (To be certain, I would love ‘zero-friction’ backup of my entire customized PS environment to a single location that I can find, like a CD or thumb-drive.)
    As for the utility of shared ‘user-generated’ knowledge, I don’t want my ‘context-sensitive’ help to give me an ‘internet-polluted’ response. I think it is very telling how quickly the idea surfaced that PS users could limit “user-generated context-sensitive help” to just “expert-generated context-sensitive help.”

  • Brad Stiritz — 9:08 AM on September 29, 2007

    Great idea, John, with one caveat: make sure the system can be fully indexed, especially if you decide to include rich media! The lynda.com site (which was a great bonus idea for CS3 buyers, thanks! I’m a full subscriber now. Deke’s lessons are taking me to the next level :) has one Achilles heel: search results are extremely coarse. If you only remember that a particular tool or trick was mentioned somewhere in a 20-hour lecture series, good luck! Hopefully that trick is mentioned in the title or synopsis, otherwise you’re stuck. Rich-media resources need complete transcripts and correlated searching that can point one deep inside the material. ~Brad

  • Ashlea Godwin — 12:40 PM on September 29, 2007

    I love this idea. About three weeks ago I had a similar idea for an adobe help pallet. It was simplier, just a help menu that functions as a pallet in the software. Yours is MUCH cooler!! I’m a graphic design student in austin tx, I even made a mock up as well for an interactive design class. I’d love to email you a pdf if possible.
    [Sure, please do. –J.]

  • KVS Setty — 11:56 PM on September 30, 2007

    Great Idea,But scared of over information, so expect some sort of filtering and managing and organizing the content. Say for example i want to see Scott Kelby’s jottings and notes only i must be able to do so.
    [Oh yes, most definitely. –J.]

  • Nicholas J. Nawroth — 8:28 AM on October 01, 2007

    John,
    Great idea, I think to make it really sing, you should make it so that I can add note items w/o having to open Photoshop, etc. Like a little applet or palette window.
    It would be REALLY cool if you get devise a plug-in for web browsers that could automatically collect the info (link, etc) and add it to the system, kinda like Google Notebook for the Adobe Suite… :)
    Also, I wouldn’t put it under “help”, I rarely look under the help menu, it might need its own palette called “knowledge” or something to differentiate itself from the standard help system.
    Nick

  • Carey — 11:04 AM on October 04, 2007

    There’s a church doing this kind of thing with the Bible. Check out LifeChurch.tv’s youversion.com for ideas.
    I really like your idea!

  • Joseph Bailey — 1:14 PM on October 04, 2007

    So, I can see Adobe renting/leasing access to different apps on-line rather than selling them…..and then renting/leasing the additional info/educational links that go with them, i.e. Lynda.com links open from within Help or Napp one-minute tips open from contextual menus — if you pay — and access to all your projects kept online at Adobe – or Google – or some other mass storage facility — accessible from any computer — or smart-phone – or Hi-def cable TV, with access privleges rented to your whole work-group/company. Big monitization models available here!

  • Stephan Bollinger — 5:21 AM on November 06, 2007

    first, i thought “what a great idea”, then your mockup-screenshots killed it a bit. i know, only mockups, but still. my first vision after reading your introduction was a little “*” button in every dialogbox. once you click it, a post-it note appears that allows me to enter whatever i want. i can resize it and “stick it” onto this dialog box (filter, whatever) wherever i feel fit. when the panel is closed, so is the postit. when i open the filter again, there it is, and floats with my dialog box.
    i could make my real notes, post it right on my screen, on my panel or filter window, perfect!
    for me to use it, it would have to be simplistic but sexy. not in a long list of comments, or even worse in the online help.
    [Being able to attach notes anywhere is the goal, but we have to start somewhere, and that’s why I depicted a single palette/panel (unsexily rendered). –J.]

  • derek roe — 3:23 PM on November 06, 2007

    I like the idea, but if I may make a comment based on a perceptual idea from a very intelligent friend of mine, Andy Moorer PHD (you may know him)
    “Sometime in the near future, the technology will make it possible to store all of the information in the world in a cube that’s 12 inches square….but the index to access that knowledge would take up an space 1/2 the size of the planet” (loosely quoted)
    Perhaps that may apply to this idea?

  • Glenn Hoechst — 1:38 PM on January 16, 2008

    I am an avid supporter of your effort and generally agree with other responder’s comments. A feature similar to the one proposed is incorporated into a product where I work. While it presents as a small “oh by the way” feature it has provided noticeable productivity gains. While this discussion focuses on individual users there is an opportunity for a LAN implementation at shops with multiple staff using Adobe products. This could shorten the time to productivity for new hires. Anyway here is my devalued 2 cents worth:
    As has been mentioned implementing this feature is going to require demonstrating a Return On Investment to your business.
    I would suggest that the functionality be implemented in measured phases on a foundation that can be easily adapted to future enhancements.
    The initial offering would be a basic, but valuable, tool that wouldn’t attempt to integrate sharing other user’s valuable and painfully acquired lessons. Postponing this provides the opportunity to collect metrics on the basic concept which can go a long way towards subsequent funding proposals for extended capabilities.
    Ah yes metrics: With complete disclosure to the product’s user provide them the option of allowing Adobe to record the frequency and TYPE of references used. For example Web links, Adobe Help, Adobe tutorials, local notes, etc. each would be a separate category. I’m unsure that, as a user, I would want anyone tracking the actual address of information. This would mimic website analytic functionality that tracks the areas of the website that visitors access the most often. This is valuable tool in maintaining an effective website.
    Postponing a globally shared user repository also provides time to address all the challenges associated with the valid concerns, from both the users and providers.
    Certainly simplicity is the key. Adding links should be as familiar as internet bookmarks. Actually I liked the approach in your screen shots. As mentioned in previous responses, too much information is difficult to both manage and use. Personally I would find that a plethora of “sticky” notes everywhere to be counterproductive (but then I’m a bit stodgy). I would prefer a central repository for the quick links from all products. Categories could separate Premiere links from Photoshop links from Bridge links, etc.
    It might be beneficial to leverage other vendor’s software where appropriate. For example Google provides a free desktop version of its search engine. Again this interface is familiar to most users. Google also provides functionality to tailor their capabilities to external applications. A search engine that already addresses multiple format sources of information repositories avoids the expense of enhancement and maintenance to inhouse applications.
    I also like the concept of transparent links to subscriber based libraries. Perhaps a strategic partnership with vendors such as O’Reilly’s Safari would be mutually beneficial. O’Reilly could offer subscription incentives to Adobe users and manage subscription fees. They might also be open to small software modifications to take advantage of Adobe’s customer base.
    I have mixed feelings about a web based repository. While it provides anyplace internet access to a broader audience, the management and required support would be expensive. And as mentioned by other responders the value and validity would raise concerns. Also this accessibility benefit might become a detriment when the user is away from their home base and readily available internet access.
    By the way I’m disappointed in Adobe’s Help functionality. I assume that providing it on the web facilitates just in time updates. However, if automatic updates are available for the software, why not the Help data base? I would prefer a local help database coupled with a Google search engine. But then that’s just me.
    I share your frustration with introducing new concepts to business owners. I’ve worked for 4 years to migrate a mainframe application to commodity hardware and software. After several successful prototypes that demonstrated superior throughput an actual production implementation may occur this year.
    I am very encouraged that you are championing this effort. When it is incorporated into the product I hope this feature is highlighted in product promotions.
    So Good Luck, Hang in there, Keep the Faith and take a VP golfing.

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