November 18, 2008

Configurator is live!

I’m extremely happy to say that Adobe Configurator 1.0 is now available for download from Adobe Labs.  Configurator is a simple drag-and-drop tool for creating panels that extend Photoshop CS4.  It’s an important step in the process of making the Photoshop UI much more flexible–much better able to be "everything you need, nothing you don’t."


For more info about Configurator, please see my previous post and video demo.  In this post’s extended entry I’ve shared some additional odds & ends (read on).


  • A key idea here is to let smart people share their knowledge easily. To that end Configurator works hand-in-glove with Adobe Extension Manager (which is installed by default with Photoshop).  When you export a panel for use in Photoshop, Configurator also spits out a .MXI file.  Double clicking the MXI file will cause Extension Manager to launch & to prompt you to create an MXP file.  When you send someone the MXP file, they can double click it to have Extension Manager come up & put the contents into the right locations*.


  • Some sample panels:
    • Russell Brown posted a great panel (screenshot) that walks users through the process of creating lenticular images using PSCS4, offering guidance & scripted steps along the way.
    • Colin Smith from PhotoshopCafe created a proof-of-concept panel (screenshot) that ties together Photoshop selection tools & tips.  He expects to post the finished version on his site shortly.
    • During the Photoshop prerelease cycle, some customers complained about losing the ability to create & edit a curves adjustment layer via a dialog, instead of via the new Adjustments panel.  To ease their transition I made a simple panel (screenshot) that lets you create & edit curves layers via a dialog.
    • Among the prefab widgets you can drag into a Configurator panel is a UI Search field.  Click it and start typing to get results from the Photoshop menus (e.g. "Cur…" will pull up the various curves-related commands).  Here’s a panel (screenshot) that features just the search widget.


  • The XML format (.GPC) used for authoring panels is the same one used by generated SWF panels at runtime.  In other words, you can use Configurator to open up a panel made by someone else, then modify & build on that code.


  • The Configurator discussion forum is live on Labs.  I & other members of the Configurator team will monitor it as time permits to provide guidance & to discuss ideas.


  • Configurator (both the authoring tools & the SWF the forms the basis of the panels it makes) is being released as an open source project.  Others are welcome to customize and extend what we’ve started, or just to look at the code as a learning resource.  The source code hasn’t been posted yet, but it will be soon.


Last but by no means least, hats off to the terrific little crew in Adobe Beijing for building these tools, and to all the folks in Adobe San Jose, Minnesota, San Diego, and elsewhere who helped make Configurator a reality.  Now, on to v2… :-)


*On Vista your recipients may need to be logged with admin privileges for the process to work seamlessly.  Also, I’ve found that Safari doesn’t handle MXP files gracefully, so I suggest wrapping them in ZIP packages before posting them online.

Posted by John Nack at 9:31 PM on November 18, 2008
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