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

Comments

  • Seim Effects — 11:54 PM on November 18, 2008

    This is so cool.
    I Can’t wait to explore the possibilities with making better interfaces to control my action packs and other critical items. So cool :)
    Gavin Seim

  • Bernard — 3:55 AM on November 19, 2008

    Great Add on but is it working for Photoshop Cs3 ?
    Because our Photoshop digital mag (Photoshop-Newsletter) is focused to speaking spanish people, due we have to wait for a translated version to spanish ?
    Thanks to answer !
    Bernard

  • Jonas — 5:32 AM on November 19, 2008

    Works great, except when I try and install your example panel with the extension manager (the mxp file). Crash every time. Crashi crash.
    Anywho.

  • Vincenwoo — 5:45 AM on November 19, 2008

    I was wainting for and I tried Configurator. It’s a really good idea (i use Flexbuilder too) which gives anothers ideas to Photoshop users. But I see we can load Scripts, video, Swf files inside a panel but not a library of Brushes (file .abr).
    [It's a good idea, and it may be possible to select a brush, setting, or tool preset via an action. If so, you could drag a button that launches the action into your panel. (If scripting could do the job, you could likewise drag in a script.) I'll give it a spin a bit later when I have some more time. --J.]
    I thought it was really cool to have a custom panel with his brushes by theme (by exemple : blood or drip, etc…) associated to a video to explain how tu use theses brushes with a graphic tablet. Or to associate certains brushes to a script for making “Pochoir” (sorry, I don’t know the word in English).
    Maybe I make a mistake and I don’t understand all what we can do with Configurator, John.
    [It's all a front end to the Photoshop scripting/actions system, so anything you can do with that system can be launched from a Configurator panel. You can also load in other SWFs to extend the panel. --J.]

  • jimhere — 6:54 AM on November 19, 2008

    Can it store, say, Curves Presets as buttons? Usually to save a Curves setting (or any setting) you save to somewhere on your computer, then “Load” it later. It would be great if Configurator could be a drawer that stored all this in one place (like LR’s Presets).
    Otherwise, your video demo made it seem that Configurator was more of a shared training tool than I thought. Adobe has emphasized keyboard shortcuts (and making your own keyboard shortcuts) since the 90s. Clicking a tool and seeing it also clicked in the panel seems harder than just tapping ‘p’ for Pen in the first place. IS it primarily for training?
    And thanks for your Curves vs. Curves-Dialog idea.

  • Marcos Rodriguez — 7:00 AM on November 19, 2008

    This is a major step forward in user configuration, and as a Photoshop user for more than 8 years I could not be happier.
    One thing I don’t see (yet?) though, is a way to add third-party plugins to the created panels. That would be a quantum leap in Photoshop customization and workflow improvement.

  • Integrafica — 7:02 AM on November 19, 2008

    Beautiful tool, i can`t wait for further development like icon object to execute the script when pressed, just like the tools panel. For the moment it seems only text buttons as object are available
    [Yes--we'd like to let you drop in images (to serve as custom buttons) and attach scripts/actions to them. We have tons of good ideas already for 2.0 features, but please keep the suggestions coming. --J.]

  • maeandros2 — 7:39 AM on November 19, 2008

    I’ve used Adobe products for quite a few years now and have appreciated a lot of the changes added to Photoshop anod other products over those years, one of my biggest wishes was the ability to customize my workspace more. Adobe had made some advances towards this in recent years, but nothing like this. This will revolutionize the way I use Photoshop and save me a lot of time and effort. I think this is one of those seemingly small changes that changes the entire game. Please, please, extend this to the rest of the CS suite apps as soon as possible. And thanks for the great work on this.

  • Stephen Walker — 12:04 PM on November 19, 2008

    Great stuff John, I’ve downloaded it and on first impressions I reckon you’ve got a real winner here – especially if you get it working throughout the Creative Suite.
    I’m very, very impressed.
    Thanks.

  • Richard Broom — 1:32 PM on November 19, 2008

    Just loaded configurator. Absolutely wonderful. I think this is going to be a bit like a cellular telephone. What did we do before they were invented! Very keen to learn more about Air and stuff like it.

  • Steve Laskevitch — 10:35 PM on November 19, 2008

    Thanks John. The Graphic Artists Guild folks I presented to this evening really liked the idea. At first, they wondered when they saw a panel next to Masks called “For Steve”. At first, I told them that the Photoshop team really likes me. Then I gave in and told them about your lovely Configurator.
    [Heh--you should have kept 'em going a little longer. ;-) --J.]

  • gary greenwald — 4:59 AM on November 20, 2008

    it was nice to spend hours late last night creating the perfect panel.
    i look forward to being able to place fgd/bgd colorchips, and the quickmask icon as well, on it so i can just do away with the common toolbar totally.
    as well as 3rd party plugs of course, and also to place my most used brushes on it (still awaiting brush folders in the brush panel as well someday to sort them all)…
    but this is a great start and hopefully the future of the whole suite, tx
    gg

  • Alex — 12:34 PM on November 20, 2008

    John, Congratulations to you and the whole team- CS4 Extend is in my eyes is perfect. It prints exactly the way it should, install was a breeze, after the 3rd try, the speed is excellant, of course I put in a fast CPU this time. I love it- no trouble from me, now I need some business. Times are tough in Michigan. Alex

  • mike hale — 6:34 PM on November 20, 2008

    I’m not sure if this is what Vincenwoo wanted but you can load most saved presets using javascript. The following would load the set ‘blood’
    app.load(new File(‘/c/brushes/blood.abr’));
    And you can use the Action Manager API to select most of the tools. The following selects the brush tool.
    var desc = new ActionDescriptor();
    var ref = new ActionReference();
    ref.putClass( app.stringIDToTypeID(‘paintbrushTool’) );
    desc.putReference( app.charIDToTypeID(‘null’), ref );
    executeAction( app.charIDToTypeID(‘slct’), desc, DialogModes.NO );

    • Michael — 8:13 AM on August 31, 2011

      Hey Mike,

      I was also searching how to add .abr files to panels, and I’ve tried to use the script you suggested (with a different file path, of course), but Photoshop keeps returning me “Syntax Error”! Since I know nothing about javascript, can you please tell me how to fix it?

  • Ann Shelbourne — 6:09 PM on November 24, 2008

    John:
    I am thrilled with Configurator.
    [Great! --J.]
    No need for any other Panels now — I can just click a button in my Configurator Panel (which I have moored in the bottom edge of my monitor) to make any palette appear, or disappear, as a floating palette at will.
    Actually, there is one improvement that I would welcome:
    Could you make it possible for a Configurator Panel to be wider than the current nominal maximum of 1000 pixels? That covers only half the width of my monitor when docked at the bottom of the screen and it would be nice to have it occupying the full-screen width and less height.
    [Good suggestion. You may be able to specify a large value manually by popping open the GPC file in a text editor and tweaking the width, but that may trigger some kind of freakout (I don't recall offhand why we decided to enforce a limit via the GUI). --J.]
    How quickly can you implement Configurator for inDesign and Illustrator?
    [That depends almost entirely on the AI and ID teams. They want to make it happen, but so far they've been spread too thinly to push things forward. Encouragement helps. --J.]

  • Ann Shelbourne — 3:16 PM on November 25, 2008

    Tried that idea but unfortunately you get skewered when you try to re-open the altered GPC file in Configurator which tells you sternly that 1000 pixels is your limit!
    Good try, though.
    :)

  • jimhere — 7:48 AM on December 04, 2008

    John, thanks for the Curves Adjustment Layer button — it took me until only now to realize I had to Trash the CS3 Extension Manager for it to work (your mxp kept opening the old one by mistake).
    Anyway, it’s a helpful gizmo.

  • Larry Leuallen — 12:29 PM on December 09, 2008

    John,
    In the Curves Adjustment Layer panel your buttons have no icon.
    How’d you do that? I don’t want any icons for space reasons. Your buttons are smaller than they would be with icons.
    Larry
    [Ah, good question. You can drag any button to the panel, then edit/replace the script attached to it. (Select a button, then click the little pencil icon on the right of the "Script" field at right.) By pasting the desired script into that field, you can thus call a script without having the script icon. --J.]

  • John G. Kuyten — 10:46 AM on July 17, 2009

    I am really enjoying Configurator, but find that Photoshop crashes quite frequently when I use the panels. Is this something that has been observed by others?
    I am running CS4 on the Mac Pro

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