October 08, 2008
Introducing Adobe Configurator
By now you’ve probably heard me talk many times about our desire to better manage the complexity and power of Photoshop. The very general interface that Photoshop presents is incredibly flexible, but it can be overwhelming, and it doesn’t do much to show you just what you need when you need it. We can do better.
It should be possible to:
- Make Photoshop “everything you need, nothing you don’t”
- Navigate Photoshop as task-based pieces (think workspaces on steroids), each showing only what you need for the task at hand
- Let anyone remix the Photoshop UI to fit their needs
- Make it drop-dead easy to share these remixes
Adobe Configurator (screenshots 1, 2), a new utility that’s due to ship on Adobe Labs around the end of the month, is a key part of our strategy. Configurator makes it easy to snap together your own Photoshop panels (a.k.a. palettes). Think of Configurator as a box of Legos–an app that lets you drag and drop all the tools and menu items in Photoshop, call actions & scripts, and add widgets (images, videos, other SWFs, etc.). I’ve posted a 10-minute demo on Russell Brown’s site. (If you don’t have QuickTime installed, you can watch it on YouTube as well, though the compression quality there is pretty abysmal.)
We’ve shown a beta of Configurator to members of the press & have been getting great responses:
- Imaging Resource: “Dead easy. But we expected it to be easy. What we didn’t expect was just how useful the little panel we built would actually be.”
TG Daily: “[I]t is very intuitive to use and enables users to integrate virtually any function of Photoshop in a custom panel.”
- Outback Photo: “We personally love the new Adobe Configurator 1.0… Using the new Configurator is as easy as gets.”
We’re putting the finishing touches on Configurator right now, so look for it on Labs in the next few weeks. [Update: It’s live now!] (I’ll of course post news about it here.) We look forward to hearing your thoughts & using your feedback to move the tool forward.
[Updates: Sorry, I forgot to mention that Configurator requires Photoshop CS4. It’s building on top of the Flash panel extensibility system that’s new to CS4. We wanted to make sure people could create for that system without having to be coders. If you do write ActionScript, however, you can go much further using Flash and/or Flex. You can create independent SWF panels, and you can incorporate your SWFs into Configurator-made panels via drag and drop, just as easily as I added an image in the demo.]
PS–If you’d like to be able to configure other applications (Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, Fireworks, etc.) via Configurator, please make a little noise. We’ve designed the tool such that the other apps just need to supply an XML file that lists their menu items plus the associated scripting commands, as well as PNGs for their tools. Hearing your interest would help the PMs of other apps raise the priority of supplying those assets & testing Configurator.