February 05, 2009

Feedback, please: Managing complex PSDs

Designers–and Web designers in particular–create some of the most complex, intricately layered Photoshop compositions possible.  How could we make the management & navigation of these files more efficient? I’d love to get your take on the following ideas:

 

  • Layer panel search/filtering:
    • Photoshop could offer a small search field at the top of the Layers panel.  As you’d type in text, PS would narrow down the display of layers (e.g. typing "b-u-r-r.." would hide everything but the layer called "burrito").  Searching would also find custom tags applied to layers.  Hiding layers in the list would have no effect on the appearance of the document.
    • Separately, PS could offer buttons on Layers that would let you filter the view so that you could, say, show only type layers, or only type layers and bitmap layers, etc.
  • Layer sorting: Photoshop would offer the ability to sort the Layers panel by layer type, layer name, etc.
  • Symbols (i.e. reusable objects that enable "edit one, update many"): Photoshop already supports this concept to some degree via Smart Objects.  You can convert a layer to be an SO, then duplicate the object, edit one copy, and have both copies update.  The interface could be made clearer, however (e.g. through adding a Symbols panel for managing objects).
  • Linked files (place a file, update it externally, and have all placed copies updated in PSDs): Again, Photoshop already supports linked files in a couple of ways.  If you double-click a Smart Object placed from Illustrator, PS will open a copy in AI.  You can also choose Layer->Smart Objects->Replace Contents… to have an SO replace with a file on disk.  Oh, and video layers are always linked to external files.  The raw materials for a traditional linking implementation are there, but PS would need to add things like a Links panel.
  • Type styles:  As you can in Illustrator and InDesign, you could assign a style to type layers in Photoshop, and when you changed the style definition, PS would update all layers that have the style attached.
  • Other?  Anything I haven’t mentioned?  Anything you like in other apps?

 

To gather feedback I’ve created a very quick survey, and of course your comments (below) would be most welcome. (And in the interests of sharing ideas freely, you can browse others’ responses, too. Note that I can’t edit/reply inline to suggestions posted via the survey.)

 

Thanks

J.

Posted by John Nack at 2:39 PM on February 05, 2009

Comments

  • Ben — 3:33 PM on February 05, 2009

    You forgot the Glyph Palette (like Illustrator has). I want to access every part of the wonderful features that make up OpenType!
    [A Glyphs panel would be great, but I don’t think it’s related to the topic of document management. –J.]
    I don’t think Layer search is as useful – but that’s probably because I do a good job of self organization (grouping things, giving things a descriptive names, etc.) But the filter by Layer type sounds interesting.
    Symbols – are we trying to get rid of Fireworks?
    [Not at all. Fireworks can (and no doubt always will) do lots of things Photoshop can’t do. But FW’s reason for being can’t be that Photoshop sucks (in relative terms) at layer creation and management. –J.]
    I do like the idea of a Links panel to organize and handle external resources. So yes to “Filter by Layer types” and “External Links”. I’d also like to see the ability to have slices managed on a “Per Layer Comp” basis – i.e. slices for buttons on one layer comp won’t cary over into a different layer comp in the same file.

  • Mark Meyer — 3:39 PM on February 05, 2009

    I may embarrass myself here for suggesting things that are already there, but of which I’m ignorant, so I apologize ahead of time…
    Type styles would be wonderful. Even more wonderful would be some sort of linked type styles, so if I had a type style in InDesign I could use it in Photoshop or Illustrator with the option of live updates–I change it in InDesign, wham! it’s changed in the photoshop or Illustrator doc as well.
    It would be nice if there was something akin to grouping for non-consecutive layers, I know you can link them, which is nice. Sometimes the layer order does not reflect the layer relationships and there are instance when it would be nice to decouple the two. For instance, I’d often like to turn a set of non-consecutive layers all on and off with one click or to apply an adjustment layer to them. No idea how one would implement this intuitively. Maybe it could happen in conjunction with layer sorting somehow.
    Again maybe wishing for the impractical, but… I often find myself making many versions of essentially the same document. I’ll need a CMKY version for an offset publication, a smaller one in RGB for the web, a large RGB for inkjet displays, etc. I generally keep a master version from which I resize and convert for specific purposes, but changes inevitably happen after I’ve done this. I would be super cool if there was a way to define output styles and automatically update versions based on a master file. Don’t know if something like that is possible, let alone practical, maybe it’s better handed with actions, but I thought I’d just through it out there.
    I was about to add a request for a preference to change keyboard shortcut behavior to allow one to add adjustment layers rather than the adjustment–such as having command-m add a curves adjustment layer, but I just discovered I can do that for myself in the shortcuts preferences. It’s nice to think about these things from time to time.

  • TJ Downes — 3:44 PM on February 05, 2009

    How about a tooltip that lets you mouse over items and highlights the layers and objects in the layers panel?

  • Phil Weber — 3:54 PM on February 05, 2009

    The addition of a symbol library would make a huge difference for me. Sharing a library across a series of files. Editing symbols in context would be nice, too.
    Some sort of project management would make my life a lot easier. Ability to create a series of pages that can share templates (header, footer, etc). Easily share your symbol library, layer styles, type styles, guides, etc across a whole project. Maybe a quick, easy way to pop out a site map using the comps.
    Change layer styles to work more like illustrator appearance settings. Instead of having a check list of effects, have a blank panel that can have effects added to it. This way you can have multiple versions of the same effect and change their layer order.
    Ability to have type rendering reflect different browsers and different platforms. Type never ends up looking like the Photoshop comp.
    Different sets of guides. Maybe treat guides as objects like in illustrator so they can be grouped. I’m always frustrated that I can only have one set of guides in a given file.
    Vector shape scaling that preserves corner rounding radius. Maybe just a 9 slice setup.
    Not using cs4 yet, so I don’t know if any of these are different now. Some web designer love in Photoshop would be extremely appreciated.

  • Paul Smith — 3:58 PM on February 05, 2009

    I think the layer filtering idea would be VERY helpful. make it so that you can do stuff like this:
    you have a folder/group called “header” and a layer in that folder called “bg: It would be AWESOME if I could type “header bg” and it would find the layer named bg inside of the folder called header.
    Type Styles would be extremely helpful as well. Especially for web designers. I have lots of styles that I have to copy paste when I make changes.
    Also make sure the search/filter box is fixed to the top so I don’t have to scroll the layers panel to the top to search. It’ll just be “fixed” to the top of the layers pane.
    Another cool one would be “bookmarking” layer. These bookmarks would show near the scrollbar so if I’m working on a particular section or need to a move a layer from the top of the stack to the middle I can easily find where I need to move to. Email me if that doesn’t make sense.
    This a huge one and could just be a preference (maybe it exists and I’m missing it), but it would be nice to apply styles or add styles to layers and not have it expand the styles. I never need to see it expanded and it just takes up space.
    some small stuff:
    – When a new group/folder/layer is created the “name” textbox should be focused so I can start typing the layer name by default.
    – Have a preference so that when copying layers/folders have a the word “copy 839443″ doesn’t appear. Generally I don’t need to know if it’s a copy and it just makes things cluttered.
    Woo that was a long list, but it would help a lot.
    Thanks,
    Paul

  • Paul Smith — 4:07 PM on February 05, 2009

    Oh and GLOBAL type styles. When I’m working on web different pages of the same application it would be immensely useful if I could apply styles to all of the other PSD’s. That would probably be much harder, but it would be very cool. Maybe apply them when they are re-opened.

  • Matt Radel — 4:52 PM on February 05, 2009

    I’d rip Fireworks’ pages concept. I always thought it was more intuitive than layer comps for some reason.
    While we’re on the topic, I’d like to see the layer locking mechanism moved to each layer – it’s a pain to constantly go back to the top of the panel each time. I’d also like to have the option to make showing and hiding a layer a step in the history…when psds get so complex, it can be really difficult to find a layer you turned off 10 steps ago.
    By the way – thanks for asking in the first place!

  • JesterXL — 5:24 PM on February 05, 2009

    Filtering of Layers == dope.
    I already like SmartObjects, so just provide a better GUI to manage them.
    Anything to make adding custom styles to text, the better. Extremely tedious to do simple text edits in PS compared to Fw or AI.

  • ValkyrieStudio — 5:25 PM on February 05, 2009

    I don’t want to echo another comment, but I wanted to mention that Phil Weber’s idea above about changing the layer styles dialog to resemble Illustrator’s Appearance panel sounds fantastic.
    [Agreed, and we really need a context-sensitive Inspector or Properties panel. –J.]
    It reminds me that the one single feature I miss from ImageReady was being able to adjust layer styles in a panel. Now that we can do adjustment layers without a massive dialog getting in the way, doing the same for layer styles would be invaluable to me.
    Outside of that, I like the idea of a layers panel search field. Since I love keyboard shortcuts, it would be great if we can assign one to focus on this field, ala Spotlight.
    [A keyboard shortcut for the feature would be absolutely mandatory. –J.]
    I’ve noticed over the years the layers panel has needed to fit a lot more information in horizontally – having a layer with both raster and vector masks and layer effects often leaves me with little room to see the layer name without having to widen the panel. I don’t really know if one can compress the thumbnails without sacrificing usability, but if the layer name could wrap to multiple lines like so:
    http://www.valkyriestudio.net/stuff/multiline_layers.jpg
    [The Layers panel is desperately overcrowded/overworked, and that’s another reason PS really needs a dedicated area for displaying/editing properties. We’ve been moving in that direction with Adjustments, Masks, and 3D, but it all needs to be drawn into a single spot so that Layers itself has some room to breathe. –J.]
    Usefulness would depend on a user’s layer thumbnail setting of course, but for some (many?), it would help, and make better use of vertical space.

  • Mordy Golding — 5:46 PM on February 05, 2009

    …or you could use Illustrator for your web design. Object-based editing does make it easier than trying to sort through layers. Sorry – didn’t mean to get off topic, but I just had to stick that in there…
    [But of course you did. ;-) –J.]
    Ok, how about a shy layers function a la After Effects? In fact, if Layer Comps would “remember” shy layer settings, you’d have the ability to display just what you need in your layers panel with one click, no?
    [I like shy layers, but I’ve been hesitant to add another property to display/manage. I’m not sure how many people would wrap their heads around the idea. –J.]
    Showing only type layers or types of layers seems to make little sense to me — I don’t think of separating out my document that way. Also, sorting layers would kinda freak me out, considering it would have to somehow ignore changing the layer stacking order.
    Text styles in PS? Hmmm. Only if you allow us to share them with all other ATE apps (AI, FW, AE, etc)
    [That’s a fine goal, but I wouldn’t make its absence a deal-breaker. –J.]

  • Mike Hoffman — 5:54 PM on February 05, 2009

    I’d like to see some simple interface functions, like “expand all folders” and “collapse all folders.” I’d also like to be able to shift click multiple layers and toggle visibility with a meta-eyeball icon :-)
    [I wonder how that might work. Adding another icon would probably make things confusing. What about Shift-clicking or Cmd-clicking the eyeball? –J.]
    Also, I think it would be really cool to have functionality similar to Illustrator’s appearance panel – to allow the addition of multiple stroke styles to a layer, for example. Yes, I know you can do this with nested SO’s but that is cumbersome for a simple goal like a compund stroke effect.
    [Before going there I’d like to see PS just add support for vector objects with real stroke and fill–nothing messing around with layer effects, etc. First, though, there’s the small matter of rewriting the entire app for Cocoa. –J.]
    mh++

  • jimhere — 6:21 PM on February 05, 2009

    Symbols and Linked files (which almost sort of exist already — I’m always updating placed AIs that way) would be most important to me.
    Then type styles, especially if they can read the same css as the rest of the site.
    Don’t care about a search box for layer names — I’m OK with control-clicking to get places. Folders (many versions ago) took care of most clutter problems. Maybe make control-clicking have an icon for a layer or a folder next to a name so you know where you are in the layer tree…
    Layer Sorting would completely freak me out… it would group all type layers (for example) together? Would it be easy to get back to my stacking order?
    Line up PS’s “Layer Styles” better with AIs “Appearances” and Flash’s “Filters” and ID’s “Object Styles” better They’re all similar but not really.
    Thanks for asking.

  • q — 7:08 PM on February 05, 2009

    In total agreement with 95% of the additional suggestions in the comments above. Just make sure they’re options that the user would have to decide to turn on.
    [Why? Wouldn’t that just greatly reduce the number of people who find & benefit from these tools? Are you concerned about clutter on the Layers panel? It should be possible to park the new controls in an area that could be switched off. –J.]

  • Peter Garland — 7:32 PM on February 05, 2009

    What comes to mind is to rework the new document dialogue box. You could start with options for doc complexity (simple, moderate, complex), number of screens in use (and resolutions) with save settings for auto config. Then Ps would go to work creating the ideal layers format for your particular workstation. For complex docs, 2 or 3 monitors should be a given, in which case Ps could rearrange layers on screen 2 or 3 in groups spread around the screen, not in a column. It would help me if the layers layout was more visually intuitive, didn’t require much typing etc.
    Love the symbols concept – very visual.

  • Kathi Kolb — 8:26 PM on February 05, 2009

    Good ideas. But I also get the idea that this is kinda what Adobe was starting to get to with the changes they made in CS4. I haven’t bought CS4 yet because I hear there are bugs to work out, but the idea is that they are trying to make layer handling in Photoshop more comprehensible, and I have a feeling that in CS5, we may see some of the suggestions here – or similar ones – incorporated. I especially like the idea of being able to search my layers. And to have a separate layers index, with metadata on the layer itself, date of creation & modification listed, etc.

  • Lance Sells — 8:32 PM on February 05, 2009

    I would love to see a “Batch Rename” feature to easily number, add prefixes and suffixes to everything. Same thing as what is in Bridge but for Photoshop. That would be very, very helpful for me. Another thing to bring over from Bridge would be selects.
    Paul Smith – If you want to type in the name of your group/layer instead of double-clicking use the hotkeys to make a new group/layer. Groups aren’t hotkeyed by default but layers are.

  • Tangent — 9:08 PM on February 05, 2009

    It would be ideal that Photoshop can support 9-slice scaling similar to that in Fireworks or Flash. Many times I find myself having to recreate/resize a lot of round corner shapes for buttons, some of which could be painful.

  • Michael — 9:49 PM on February 05, 2009

    I agree with a few of the above.
    – When a new group or layer is created the “name” text box should be focused so I can start typing the layer name by default. — If you don’t want to name it, add option modifier.
    [The problem is that if you then tried to use the keyboard to change tools, you’d end up renaming the layer. Maybe instead we could add a keyboard shortcut for renaming layers. Of course, it’s not like there’s an oversupply of unused shortcut combos lying around. –J.]
    – It would be nice to apply styles or add styles to layers and not have it expand the styles. — this is big. I always collapse the layer immediately after. It’s a hassle.
    Here’s some new changes to default behavior ideas.
    – When on the move tool control-clicking in the image to go directly to the layer, make sure this layer is in focus even if it’s in a group. I need to see it in the layer panel without needing to scroll the layers panel.
    [It’s a reasonable suggestion, though I can see this behavior driving people nuts as well. Ideally there’s be a further modifier that could be applied to clicking, but as far as I know they’re all taken. (Finding a combo for drag-resizing brushes was tricky.) –J.]
    – When double clicking on the layer or group name I feel the layer or group properties dialog box should be the default as it is much easier to see the small type, (there’s also the option to add the label right away). A click and a click hold would be the way to change name right there in the panel.
    New ideas:
    – Layer name search is a great idea.
    – Layer sorting could also work well but would need a way to go back to default sort. I guess this could done maybe in the layers comp panel.
    – How about filtering by labels. I often label layers to help with viewing groups. With label filtering one could hide layers. Although I think there needs to be a visual cue though so when looking in the layers you know some layers are filtered in a hidden state.
    Linked files or smart objects. I was hoping this would finally be an option in CS4. I asked Mark Hamburg for this feature in 1997. I would prefer to choose that an external file is linked file rather than using smart objects. I’m an old Live Picture user. Is there a benefit to link objects? You bet. For example I have 5 photoshop documents all link to 2 external files. I can edit the externals. Now when I open my 5 master files everything updates to the updated external files. This could work very similar to Illustrator or Indesign workflows. For high end retouchers this would be a hugh time saver.
    That’s all I can think of for now but I’ll post more as I think of them.
    Thanks John. Let me know if you have any questions.
    Mike

  • Joshua Dickens — 10:14 PM on February 05, 2009

    I filled out the survey, but thought I’d post my comments here as well.
    I think a hotkey triggered layer filter would be awesome (think quicksilver/spotlight). I use textmate, and something like hitting cmd-shift-T to quickly jump to a particular symbol would be great.
    I use layer comps religiously, but I’d love to have ‘nested’ layercomps that apply to smart objects as well. So instead of creating multiple disconnected copies of smart objects and show/hide them across layer comps, I could have one smart object, and choose which of *its* layer comps was active within the main psd’s current layer comp. I think some variation of making layer comps work better with smart objects would make both features much more useful.
    Also useful would be a way to ‘delete hidden layers’ that aren’t used in *any* of my layer comps. I use layer comps to iterate through designs, creating layers as I go. I then delete layer comps that are throw aways; inevitably there’s a lot of cruft left behind that I have to manually clean up, which can get tedious.

  • DrWatson — 12:33 AM on February 06, 2009

    This may sound like I’m afraid of anything new, but:
    – Please don’t add another field to the layer panel. It’s already crowded,
    [The controls would go into an area that could be hidden if desired. –J.]
    panels are already _very_ big (and tend to get bigger, take the masks and corrections panels for example — although the corrections panel might get even bigger for better control… but that’s OT now ;).
    Additinally, this sounds a bit like inventing the wheel again. Look at InDesign for a moment. See “Quick Apply”? If Photoshop woul adopt that, I think this would be a nice possibility to include search for (and focus on) layers — and much more!
    [I could fill a little book with stories of our frustrated efforts to bring something like Quick Apply to PS. –J.]
    – Please, never EVER change layers order. Sorting by layer type? What’s that good for? The order of layers is so important to understand the structure of a psd. Besides, if we’re talking of very complex psds, there are plenty of text layers, plenty of vector masks… does it benefit me if all 15 text layers show up in order, followed by all smart objects, and so on? Maybe I just got the idea totally wrong ;)
    [To me it’s the most potentially problematic idea on the list, as sorting would immediately introduce tension with the idea of stack being tied to compositing order. I thought it would be good to gauge others’ thoughts, though. –J.]
    However, text styles would be a great idea. Not a huge thing though (it’s about bending pixels, not layout, this Photoshop, isn’t it?).
    Any improvement of smart object handling is welcomed – though I don’t have a specific idea how to ;) Maybe the idea of “linked files” would be a bit easier to understand.
    Another (little) suggestion: Instead of increasing the size of layer thumbnails, what about an option to display a considerably larger, floating/pop-up preview of that layer thumbnail when hovering above the thumbnail? This could help to identify a layer that you didn’t name properly (layer 1 copy 11…) or that contains just little strokes that can’t be seen even with large thumbnails…
    [As it happens, in CS4 we added that sort of rollover thumbnail for 3D textures. It’s worth considering for regular layer thumbnails. I’ll make sure it gets onto the discussion list. –J.]

  • Doug Nelson — 1:02 AM on February 06, 2009

    A layer option of “hidden” might prove useful, along with helper commands like “hide invisible” and “unhide all”. This would allow uncluttering without destroying potentially important content.
    I’ve often thought the simplest thing to uncomplicate complex layer stacks would be a “force rename” preference, where the user isn’t allowed to accept “layer 3″ as a name, but must type something in.
    Perhaps the greatest barrier to easy control of huge layer counts is the layer panel itself. Instead of just big, little or no icons, it should allow layers to be represented by a single icon, so that a hundred layers could be shown in the default size layers panel. Granted, they’d have to be in rows or columns, but I think that would be a tiny learning curve (think Swatches or Styles panel, maybe with mouseover popups).
    Or, taken yet another step further, break the layers panel into two panels, one with the visual representation of the layer (or layer columns) and the other with the attributes (similar to the Adjustments panel). Blend mode, visibility, advanced blending, layer styles, even a thumbnail preview could all be offloaded to the new panel.
    Another idea I occassionally toy with is “logical layers”, sort of like the image stacks in LR. One layer could have X number of iterations, all derived from the first. This could provide some horizontal utility to the layers panel, along with its current vertical nature. Only one logical layer (or SmartLayer if you must) could be visible at one time, but any of them could be dragged out to become its own layer. Logical layers could be scrolled through via the left/right arrows, with screen update.

  • Pierre Labbe — 1:06 AM on February 06, 2009

    An idea: the opportunity to share Smarts Objects between documents.
    And why not, the possibility of creating a library for SO.
    Pierre

  • AdobeGripes — 1:54 AM on February 06, 2009

    Apply actions to multiple layers, in After Effects I can select several layers and hit cmd+D to duplicate, cmd+j seems to only work on one layer in PS. Same for changing blend modes etc.
    [With each version from CS2 onward, the team has enabled more things to run on multiple selected layers. Unfortunately because PS didn’t have layers until v3, going back and adding that support is harder than it looks. In any case, I’m keeping a running list of additional commands to potentially enable, and duplicating/changing opacity are certainly among the top ones. –J.]

  • Marcus Andersson — 2:54 AM on February 06, 2009

    Something that has bugged me (and my colleagues) for ages when it comes to layers in photoshop (which I haven’t seen mentioned) is the limitation on the number of times a group can be… eh.. grouped. That limit right now is five times. That is a group in a group in a group in a group in a group. Maybe one more group.. kinda lost track there:)
    Anyhoo, when working with a complex design containing hundreds and hundreds of layers (not unusual for me to get up to at least 400-500 layers) having such a limitation can really be a problem. But even with simpler designs it has been known to rear it’s ugly limiting head when I try to organise my documents.
    [As I recall, each level of nesting imposes additional performance costs. That’s why Chris C. imposed a 5-level limit some versions ago. I’ll talk to him about raising that limit now. –J.]
    Of all the things you mentioned the one thing that excites me the most is having the ability to link layers (smart objects?) to other psd documents. Being able to cut up a complex design and work on different parts separately and then have a master document where everything is put together would be a very powerful tool when working with complex setups.
    -marcus, kindly

  • Jørn Støylen — 3:11 AM on February 06, 2009

    Quick Apply should be implemented across the board. Heck, it should be in EVERY application (not just Adobe’s) above a certain level of complexity. It’s absolutely brilliant. So I don’t care if you fill ten more books with tales of frustrated efforts. Do it! ;-)

  • Björn — 6:20 AM on February 06, 2009

    I have to say I LOVE and have been waiting for the linked files feature since the introduction of smart objects. It’s seems to be such a logical step!
    To give a bit of context to my comment let me say I’m a user interface designer and use photoshop to produce UI design for all kinds of applications, from very complex 3D animation software (think along the lines of 3D Studio MAX or Maya) to “simple” web shop systems. Maybe about 30% of my work is web apps. For these design I always end up with highly complex photoshop files that easily grow to sizes like 40 MB (with a resolution of 1024×768!).
    I’m still using PS CS3 since there was no incentive for me to upgrade to CS4. No useful features and the performance (apart from zooming and panning) didn’t increase enough for us to upgrade our ~25 CS3 licenses in our company.
    So here are a few of my ideas:
    Please up the number of folders you can nest into each other. Right now I think you can nest about 6 levels deep and I often get to these limits which then causes me to not group layers that should be grouped and thus makes the layer browser less structured. I guess there are performance issues involved…
    Expose layer comps in smart objects: It would be cool if you could switch layer comps of a smart object instance without opening it, and without affecting other instances of the smart object. A simple example would that you have a smart object “checkbox” and you can switch it from “checked” to “unchecked” by switching between layer comps of that smart objects. I can easily think of more complex use cases as well!
    Another idea would be to have groups of layers that are very much like smart objects. But when you open them to edit, instead of opening in as a seperate document, simply expand them in the layer panel and let me edit them in-place, right in the document I’m using the smart object in! That would rock!
    Along these lines another feature would be very helpful as well: Extract Smart Object. All I want is that I can reverse the process of “Convert to Smart Object”. Quite often, I want to get the contents of a smart object back into my document in the same place the smart object is. The process now is very tedious: I open the smart object. Duplicate the layers into my original document and then move them to the correct position by hand, matching them with the smart object. After that I delete the smart object. This complicated workflow often prevents me from converting something into a smart object that I otherwise would!
    Text Styles gets a big YAY from me!
    I also second the idea of enabling photoshop to render text as it is rendered in browsers or at least in the OS. There must be some way to fake that?
    Anyway, I’ve big hopes for CS5!

  • Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain — 7:06 AM on February 06, 2009

    This post totally got my attention. I’ve been wanting many of these features for awhile now.
    Layer panel search/filtering: I’d LOVE this… and have wanted to use it many times in the past. Love the idea of tagging items too.
    Layer sorting: I can see this being useful, but I don’t think I’d use it nearly as much as filtering.
    Symbols: A seperate panel for this would definitely take some stress off the layers panel.
    Linked files: Another good idea and something that I have often wished for. With almost every web project, small things will change to global elements across many psd’s which makes for a lot of redundant changes. If we could treat some areas like “embeds” (similar to how InDesign can import InDesign documents) this would be killer.
    Type styles: Another HUGE feature here. I’ve wanted this for quite awhile. Usually for the small little niggly things like link styles, and such.
    Other Stuff
    Tables: Many web apps use tabular data, and mocking these up can be a real pain. Something similar to what InDesign has would be great.
    [I’ll tell you my secret ambition: Embed AIR in PS (superseding embedded Flash) so that it’s possible to place live SWF or HTML objects on the canvas. That way you could put the full power of the Flash and WebKit rendering engines to work to generate/modify intelligent artwork (everything from dynamically updated tables to interactive drawing tools). Someday… –J.]
    Fireworks input library – Quick access to form input items would be quite handy.
    Improved grid / guide / column support: I love how InDesign allows you to quickly create a 7 column document with 20pt gutters. No manually dragging guides to create your grid, only to realize 30 min later that a 9 column grid would have been better.

  • Enrique de la Huelga — 7:39 AM on February 06, 2009

    Now that PS is using OpenGL to improve redraw and rotate the screen, as well as getting more robust with 3D, how about a kind of exploded isometric view that would pull back from a complex file so you could scroll up and down the stack?

  • KS — 7:49 AM on February 06, 2009

    I agree with a lot that has been said. The layer styles shouldn’t have anything to do with the layers. The Styles Panel is where copy/paste styles should reside.
    Real vector support and not pixelated vectors would be huge.
    Expanding/collapsing all folders.
    Making editing the layer name easier to click on.
    The Info panel has yet to prove it’s use to me (but I could just not know what it’s capable of), but maybe we could use it to display object style or meta info on mouseover?
    Illustrator has the feature that selects objects with similar appearance. Great idea!
    Quicksearch like AE would be awesome.
    But if we’re getting into make PS like AI and AE, then I am still pushing for a UNIVERSAL Color Management System from Adobe. Maybe even roll Kuler into a full fledge CS Color Managament App! Kuler and everything color-related from Illustrator (Color Panel, Color Guide, Edit Color window, Recolor Artwork window, especially the swatch groups) would be merged and organized, and the swatch files could be used and shared in ANY Adobe program. Or, even roll all of that into Bridge?!
    I know this is all extremely difficult, (I’ve seen Cocoa – yikes) but I think the community would be ECSTATIC and I think it’s bigger than just Photoshop here. What do you think John?
    [Heh–we’ll never want for good ideas for potential changes. The Cocoa thing means that a lot of worthy ideas will have to be benched for a while, but we continue to look for little tweaks that would have a big impact. (When I first started on PS, I remember an equally strong reaction coming from the Healing Brush (big Buck Rogers math) and renaming layers right in the panel (something that saves you zero clicks, but which just feels much more natural)). –J.]

  • Jerry — 8:27 AM on February 06, 2009

    Slightly off topic from PSD layering, but also in the category of reducing clutter in Photoshop:
    Windows 7 introduces a “hide fonts” feature to the OS, so the tons of Arabic, etc, fonts that the system needs (But I don’t) are hidden to the user.
    Photoshop CS4 doesn’t seem to support this, so I still have 20 or so random OS fonts that I don’t want to see in the font chooser. I’d love to see PS respect this setting.
    Heck, I’d also like PS to use the OS open/save dialogs too. As it stands, NOTEPAD has a nicer open/save dialog than Photoshop.

  • Alex Lawrence-Richards — 9:18 AM on February 06, 2009

    I think it’d be really great if Photoshop had a feature to “package” the PSD, so that it’d take the fonts used in the PSD and put it all in a relevant folder much like you can do in InDesign when you package a file.
    We send a ton of our PSDs to vendors for graphical production and I just think this would help speed up our workflow here.

  • Joe Tringali — 9:31 AM on February 06, 2009

    How about auto naming the layers with a tool context or time stamp. Also a roll over feature like a web site. When you hover your curser over the layer the object on the screen grays out. These should be features you could turn on or off.

  • Michael Lande — 10:03 AM on February 06, 2009

    - How about the ability to expand or collapse all groups/layers
    – Maybe add an option to pull the layers panel to allow for more than one column wide. We’re stuck with the maximum height of our first or second display.
    – This could be tricky but add the ability to use the keyboard to move up and down through the layers panel. For example in OS X Finder, arrow up and down to move up and down through folder command right arrow expands folder …
    [You can already navigate via the keyboard: Opt/Alt plus left/right bracket keys move you up and down. Adding Shift selects up and down.
    The problem with using arrow keys for the purpose is that they already target the document, and things get subtle/frustrating when a change in focus = a change in functionality. Put another way, people would be PO’d if they’d selected the Move tool, then clicked a layer to select it, then hit the arrows and changed layer selection instead of nudging the contents of the layer. The behaviors get tweaky when they start depending on the order of operations. –J.]
    That’s it for now.
    Thanks.

  • Gio — 10:17 AM on February 06, 2009

    I’ve often wondered why a smart object needs to contain an actual copy of the raw file, rather than simply a link to the original wherever it is in the file system, the ACR instructions, and the PSD file’s rendered preview.

  • Anders Skovgaard-Petersen — 11:12 AM on February 06, 2009

    Great ideas above.
    Expanding on the “hidden”/”hide all” idea: How about adopting the “shy layers” from AE?

  • Brian — 11:29 AM on February 06, 2009

    Alias of layers for organizational purposes (almost like Flash instance) would rock, I’ve wanted this for a long time. Rather than have to click 10 “eyes” to show/hide layers, everything a version requires would be under one group, without adding to file size.

  • KS — 11:33 AM on February 06, 2009

    So, you’re saying my idea is good then? :]
    [Sure. Gotta be patient, though. –J.]

  • Michael Lande — 12:30 PM on February 06, 2009

    - add an option to allow the layer panel to view as two or more columns wide.
    – add an option to expand all/collapse all layers/groups.
    – This could be tricky, add keyboard navigation though the layers panel, similar to OS X Finder, arrow up and down through the panel and key to expand/collapse groups.

  • Finn Margrie — 2:06 PM on February 06, 2009

    I think that an interesting addition would be allowing multiple layer effects to be added to a single layer, multiple strokes for example, or a couple of drop shadows.
    Also, adjustment layers are great, but I want to be able to apply any effect to and layer then go back and edit it later. So If I blur a layer, I have to have the original, and the blurred layer, then I think it’s too blurred, so I make another copy of the original and change that – creating more and more layers.
    An easy way of flattening layer effects would come in handy too. So I could apply fx to the fx without creating a new layer then ‘merge down’.
    An easy way to make perfect black and white images would be useful as well. De-saturate, black and white & HSL adjustments just don’t work right!
    Thanks,
    Finn

  • Rod Wynne-Powell — 2:30 PM on February 06, 2009

    John,
    The idea of searching for Layer names sadly is a non-runner for the simple reason, that although we all espouse the idea/practice of layer naming, we invariably only name a smaller percentage than would be necessary for this to work. A lot of naming is done after the event, as we build the image and realise the need for differentiation or when creating files for training purposes.
    What can be handy is collapsing temporary groups of layers to say a double line with a tag such as can be found in FileMaker layouts, and for this collapse to only indicate a contraction, and have no impact on the image whatsoever. It would simply be less vertical height than a folder icon that represents the container for a Group.
    When producing layered files for students, colour coding is handy, but so far is poorly implemented and clunky, but as a means of showing constructs is very useful. I have files that I have colour coded to show how an image builds, so use the spectral order, Red,Orange,Yellow, Green, etc.
    Now, if one could select three layers, or a group and apply a colour to all in one hit, I’d be well-chuffed, but despite making the request in the past, this remains unheeded, if one colour codes three layers, it can only be done one at a time.
    Another approach is for colour coding to be dynamic based upon Layer Comps, so, you create a series of Layer Comps and designate a colour and this is then reflected in the Layers panel.
    I can see a use for temporarily isolating Type layers, so that one could for instance create an image which contained all the text which within the image might well be a mixture of colours and white, but for the purposes of printing in black and white, all the text could be pulled to black, against for example a faded overall grey. However, I cannot see any creative purpose for the collecting of other layer types.
    Linked files is again something I can see possible needs for; what springs to mind is creating a low res. montage using say Smart Object as an FPO, and then in a Links panel being able to simply re-link to hi res. files for the final. Effectively that was something Live Picture did, but managed to screw up the interface yet make some of the tools look as if they were the same as those in Photoshop. xRes similarly used Photoshop style icons that then worked completely differently making for confusion where none need be. I was on their prerelease scheme whilst it was still in the hands of Fauve and the very last beta was scrapped by Macromedia and the whole ethos of the program was lost as it tried to be a Web program for which it was ill-suited, yet in the direction Fauve were going actually showed great promise for a proxy driven program. Even Collage had a few nice touches, but that simply disappeared as well.
    I really see type in Photoshop being the realm of Display Type, so your Style idea would seem less suited to this role, except in so much as linked designs for several images, where altering the style in one could be carried through to others in the series, as opposed to type layers within a single file.
    Although in CS4 we now do have the means add feathering and opacity to vectors, I do still hanker for more than one greyscale mask.
    I would like to see more development of Paths and Guides within Photoshop, and with how the panels work within the screen interface. I see the idea of inter relating Guide creation from Paths to be an area that could be investigated. I would like to see Guides visible on individual layers, and I would like to be able to copy guides from one document to another, and also be able to have templates including guides, so I could open a new document with guides already in place. To my simple mind, being able to create guides from paths would make such a task fairly straightforward.
    Since you have introduced the third dimension, I could envisage ways of pulling a guide in the z-axis to allow for images to better transform in space than than flat.
    As an aside, I tried to revolve a path in Illustrator to create a solid shape (wine glass, bottle, can), and tried to then bring that nominally 3D shape into Photoshop, and could find no way to do it, was I simply not doing things correctly when I failed, or is not possible. I had wanted to map an image onto that newly created 3D object.
    As I must have bored you to death with my concerns over the interface in relation to panels, I’ll just say “opportunities for workflow improvements exist in this area”.
    I’ll now see whether I can fill in your survey.
    Rod

  • Nir Sullam — 2:50 PM on February 06, 2009

    Add a non editable layer whcih will serve as a snapshot of the layers below and it will update automatically -so if I want to save a sharpenned JPEG of it – I don’t have to use the ALT+Merge (or somethong like it) and sharpen it every time.

  • Russell Dickerson — 3:28 PM on February 06, 2009

    I don’t have CS4 yet, so I might be missing a cool feature, but here goes. I didn’t see this mentioned, but where filtering might not help me (since I often forget to name layers) an idea *like* it would.
    As an illustrator, I often have hundreds of layers, (i.e., an armored man with many various armored parts), and finding the right one to adjust can take time. If there was a “slider” layer preview window that you can drag back and forth (like the CoolIris Firefox plugin, for example), with a single window preview just sliding all the layer previews back and forth, that would help me immensely. Just a flick of the pen (or mouse I suppose) to move it left or right.
    [So, this would be kind of like a vertical Cover Flow? We’ve talked about such a thing, and as part of the whole Cocoa-rework thing, we’re spending a lot of time modernizing aspects of the Photoshop architecture. That’ll open the door to offering alternate views of the layer stack, though it’ll take time to get there. –J.]
    Then I could quickly slide through that one little window, find the right one, and carry on, as opposed to scrolling through all the layers. I think once selected the layer palette could just move to it, it would be just a preview and not an editing screen per se.

  • Dave W — 3:33 PM on February 06, 2009

    This may exist somehow, but don’t think so – Vector masks that are linked to a master path – so if you edit the path, multiple layers masked with that path will update with the path.

  • Russell Dickerson — 6:21 PM on February 06, 2009

    Cover Flow is definitely the right example, and as a small image set at the top of the layers palette I bet that would work well. I tend not to flatten as much because often individual elements need different effects.
    I’ll be with Photoshop for the long haul so maybe we’ll see it in a future version. Thanks!

  • Sebastien — 6:28 PM on February 06, 2009

    Ok I didn’t red all of the above. But as a graphic designer something I would like is format copying of the text when I copy text from PS and paste it in an InDesign document. You can set it at “no style” but keep the formatting.
    What would be even better is that if there are text layer within the PS document to just ask if we would like them to be converted into InDesign text frame.
    I know that you can do it in illustrator.

  • Joe Lencioni — 8:42 PM on February 06, 2009

    I think that searching is a great idea, but I would hate to see it limited to the names of layers–it really needs to search the actual text in the layers, including rendered text. Probably the biggest issue would be constantly indexing all of the rendered text without making the application laggy. Perhaps you could bring over some OCR technology from Acrobat and run it in the background.
    And while you are at it, why not let PS search everything from one box, almost like a command line interface? There could be a shortcut key combo to pop up the search box (like Launchy) and then you type in your search and it gives you the results as you type. You could give it different operators to search different portions of PS (e.g. if you wanted to search your layers, you could do “layers:burr”) and you could use the underlying technology to put little search boxes throughout the application. This could be a killer feature, simply because PS is so complex of a program. Sometimes I find myself searching through the menus just for that one thing that I was thinking of but couldn’t quite remember where it went off to.
    If this happens, it would also be nice to be able to easily set up aliases for things. For instance, if I think if “Image Size” as “Resize” it would be nice to be able to bring up the search box and type in “resize” to bring up the image size dialog box.

  • Claudius Coenen — 2:32 AM on February 07, 2009

    (2-Part-Idea ahead)
    1st: Give us Keys! The possibility to show, hide, select layers with easily assignable shortcuts.
    I’m thinking of something like strategy-games do:
    Pressing Ctrl+1 .. Ctrl+0 assign a new group, then pressing 1 .. 0 calls that group back.
    Of course, the 1..0 keys are already taken, but you get the idea.
    The point is, that it’s quick. You don’t have to record an action, assign a shortcut to tha action…
    Then a “toggle visibility” key (if it doesn’t exist yet).
    2nd: More semantics!
    Having a sematical grouping mechanism would beat all hell out of regular layer groups, for sometimes the regular group is too limited by stacking-order.
    So you have three Layer-palettes:
    – Layers for stacking and content
    – Layer-Comps for arrangements of layers
    – “Layer-Clusters” (or whatever) for semantically grouping / Quickgrouping (from idea 1).

  • Bjoern — 2:36 AM on February 07, 2009

    I have to say I LOVE and have been waiting for the linked files feature since the introduction of smart objects. It’s seems to be such a logical step!
    To give a bit of context to my comment let me say I’m a user interface designer and use photoshop to produce UI design for all kinds of applications, from very complex 3D animation software (think along the lines of 3D Studio MAX or Maya) to “simple” web shop systems. Maybe about 30% of my work is web apps. For these design I always end up with highly complex photoshop files that easily grow to sizes like 40 MB (with a resolution of 1024×768!).
    I’m still using PS CS3 since there was no incentive for me to upgrade to CS4. No useful features and the performance (apart from zooming and panning) didn’t increase enough for us to upgrade our ~25 CS3 licenses in our company.
    So here are a few of my ideas:
    Please up the number of folders you can nest into each other. Right now I think you can nest about 6 levels deep and I often get to these limits which then causes me to not group layers that should be grouped and thus makes the layer browser less structured. I guess there are performance issues involved…
    Expose layer comps in smart objects: It would be cool if you could switch layer comps of a smart object instance without opening it, and without affecting other instances of the smart object. A simple example would that you have a smart object “checkbox” and you can switch it from “checked” to “unchecked” by switching between layer comps of that smart objects. I can easily think of more complex use cases as well!
    Another idea would be to have groups of layers that are very much like smart objects. But when you open them to edit, instead of opening in as a seperate document, simply expand them in the layer panel and let me edit them in-place, right in the document I’m using the smart object in! That would rock!
    Along these lines another feature would be very helpful as well: Extract Smart Object. All I want is that I can reverse the process of “Convert to Smart Object”. Quite often, I want to get the contents of a smart object back into my document in the same place the smart object is. The process now is very tedious: I open the smart object. Duplicate the layers into my original document and then move them to the correct position by hand, matching them with the smart object. After that I delete the smart object. This complicated workflow often prevents me from converting something into a smart object that I otherwise would!
    Text Styles gets a big YAY from me!
    I also second the idea of enabling photoshop to render text as it is rendered in browsers or at least in the OS. There must be some way to fake that?
    Anyway, I’ve big hopes for CS5!
    [That’s cool, and I appreciate this (and all the other) feedback. We’ll do our best to make as many improvements as possible in CS5, but I do have to warn you that we’re not kidding when we talk about the scale of the work needed to bring Photoshop to Cocoa. It’s a big, big effort. Therefore we’re looking carefully at good bang-for-the-buck changes. –J.]

  • Julian — 3:32 AM on February 07, 2009

    I use a combo of groups/layer comps to make “pages” of web designs.
    I always get really frustrated when after my doc is all pretty and organized, I have to delete or add a layer and the all the comps go haywire.
    I’d like a layer comp to know that everything in one certain group will be shown for one page, and update automatically and not freak out when I delete or add to that group.

  • T. Schmidt — 4:53 AM on February 07, 2009

    I’d like to have a dialog that allows me to search/select/delete Layers, Channels and Paths by different criteria such as empty, identical, etc. One Tab for Channels, one for Layers and one for Paths. You could also replace each instance with a different layer ie (replace every … Layer with Layer 1).

  • Klaus Nordby — 8:45 AM on February 07, 2009

    Wow, what a great posting from you, John — thanks! And heaps of meaty feedback & ideas from everybody else.
    — I’ve wanted *real* Place Linked external files forever, and I greatly dislike the current embed-only approach, as it leads to vast file bloat, so that one certainly gets my vote.
    — If Place Linked external files was well implemented, wouldn’t that pretty much obviate the need for any further Symbols stuff?
    [There’s certainly overlap, but in most apps symbols are embedded within the file. Embedding would necessarily remain an option.
    There are lots of details to think through here: displaying what’s in a given doc, displaying a shared symbols library (shared among local docs, users over a network, etc.), listing files linked to/embedded within a doc, replacing links/symbols (including those pointing to outside files that have gone missing), and so on.
    None of this is *all* that challenging, but it’s worth getting right. That’s why we haven’t more heavily promoted the linking/object replacement stuff that’s in PS now. I’d like us to add a better front end first. (The details can be critically important, and use of Illustrator’s symbols languished for years until they finished off the last ~10% of the implementation.) –J.]
    — I’ve been puzzled why we’ve not yet seen any form of InDesign’s excellent Quick Apply feature in PS (or other apps), so your remark about this having been tried but been highly problematic to implement at least cleared up my puzzlement.
    — Type Styles, yes! Even a very rudimentary implementation of that would be so much better than the current local-formatting-only approach. I spend as much time in InDesign as I do in PS, and I’m pretty fanatical about using Styles for almost everything there, as it makes global fine-tuning such a breeze.
    — Ditto goes for *real* Layer Styles, i.e., any change would update every instance of it anywhere in one (or more?) documents. Yes!
    [It’s certainly worth thinking about whether we should try to kill both those birds with one stone. I notice that AI (and I think ID) separates out type styles from graphical styles. I’m not sure whether that’s intentional or just an artifact of how things grew. –J.]
    — And closely related, a slightly new idea for PS, although very old hat in InDesign & Illustrator: Color Styles — named colors which would update every applied instance globally, a potentially huge quality & efficiency booster.
    — The “vertical Cover Flow” idea, or something similar and 3D-ish, could greatly help me with managing PSD files with umpteen layers, so — yes!
    — Layer sorting? Nah. :-)

  • Dom — 8:42 AM on February 08, 2009

    Definitely would love to see type styles added. Perhaps with some sort of CSS support that would let you define type styles with CSS directly in Photoshop.
    A way to output the CSS for type from a Photoshop layer in a way that you could copy and paste it in your web document would be a real time saver as well.

  • john renfrew — 2:41 PM on February 08, 2009

    support for some ideas above
    modifier key to keep shape rounded corners when resize is pretty much a YES please
    support for the best behaviour from layer in other Adobe product – my current favourite a shortcut to lock all other layers in illustrator which sdtops me wrecking stuff by accident
    how about a new laye rtype that responds to touch interface with random parameters, which can then be extracted in a metadata kind of way to encourage complete freeform creativity
    bring the illustrator gradient functionality to PS for pixels please
    layer comps to include smart layer changes too

  • Nathan — 4:25 AM on February 09, 2009

    A simple one – when duplicating a layer folder, only append “copy” on to the name of the folder – not the layers and nested folders within.

  • Rob — 7:04 AM on February 09, 2009

    Something similar to keyline view? And how about a way to edit SOs in place (like Flash) so you don’t lose the context while editing.
    [The problem there is this: how do we show the contents of the SO in context if they’ve had a transform applied? Enabling direct manipulation of transformed data is a big hairy problem, which is specifically why SOs impose a layer of indirection.
    None of that is to say it’s a bad request by any stretch–just one that’s really tough to make work as expected in all (or even close to all cases). I notice that Fireworks does the Flash-style thing if you’ve applied a simple transform (scaling, rotation) to a symbol, but not if you’ve applied skewing, etc. –J.]
    Would be extremely handy if PS filters could be converted to native Flash filters instead of being flattened or recreated by hand.
    [That’s up to the Flash team, but yes, agreed. –J.]
    Consistency across color spaces between all of CS – and adopt the “customize tools panel” feature from Flash (but make the interface for it usable).
    [You should check out Configurator. And FWIW asking for “consistency” without specifying details doesn’t do a ton of good. –J.]
    Also make the most popular modes the default – not grayscale color and inch measurements!
    [Who says that inches aren’t a better unit of measure for more people? Whatever the numbers, there’s no way to pick a default that’ll please everyone. I do wish there were an easier, more obvious place to set the default, however. That sounds like an easy thing to add. –J.]

  • Phil — 8:40 AM on February 09, 2009

    I’ve been thinking that the ability to add tags to layers would be a huge benefit.
    [This is now possible in CS4 (see previous post. The problem is that we haven’t yet shipped UI in the box that lets you take advantage of these capabilities. –J.]
    Sorting, searching or doing various grouped tasks based on those tags would really help speed up my work processes. Also, the ability to do more edits on multiple layers at once would be very helpful. Edits such as opacity and blending mode.
    [Indeed. We’ll try to keep picking high-value tweaks off the list. Opacity and blending are at the top of my list for multi-selection-related changes. –J.]

  • Mike — 12:08 PM on February 09, 2009

    I’d love an indicator in the history palette of when the document was last saved – when working with images that are 4GB plus, saving is a huge chunk of time. Knowing when you last saved would be a bonus.

  • imajez — 5:56 PM on February 09, 2009

    Lots of things I would like already suggested, so I’ll just suggest a minor tweak to the bottom of the Actions + layers’ panel and any other similar panel.
    Please move all the buttons a smidgen to the left, bar the trash icon. It’s so very easy to drag to the trash instead of the new/duplicate icon next to it. I tend to use Ctrl/Cmd+j to duplicate a layer but many others like to use the mouse
    Now if you do trash a layer you can easily undo the mistake, so not the worst problem in world. But, if you do the same thing in the Actions’ panel, then you are stuffed if it is an action you have just created [and say duplicating to do variations]. Saving/loading Actions is a bit of a clumsy affair and so very easy to not save. I often simply close and reopen PS, to make sure Actions remain put whilst writing new ones as PS always seems more likely to crash if you don’t and then you’ve lost your action and have to reload it/rewrite it.

  • jeffrey Tranberry — 8:45 AM on February 10, 2009

    Grouping does take a toll on performance and is the reason for the current limitation of 5 deep. This may be something we can change/improve in the future.
    WRT putting the focus on newly created groups for renaming, we actually implemented this during the CS2 prerelease when we added multiple layer select and host of other layers panel improvements. Users overwhelming hated it because of the focus issue John mentioned above.
    In the Animation (Timeline) panel in Photoshop Extended, there’s a feature called “Favorite Layers” which lets you specify a subset of layers to display in the Animation panel. You can then toggle between “All Layers” and your “Favorite Layers.”

  • jeffrey Tranberry — 8:59 AM on February 10, 2009

    For people requesting to hide layers via a keyboard shortcut, there is a command Layers->Hide/Show Layers that you can assign a keyboard shortcut to. We don’t assign one by default. If you have a selection of layers where some layers are hidden and other visible, the command will prefer hide. Choosing the command again will show all layers.

  • PeterK — 9:02 AM on February 10, 2009

    Designer then decides he/she can’t be bothered to look for them and instead sends a flattened Photoshop document because he/she knows prepress won’t have to worry about missing files then. Except for the fact that we have to do colour corrections to their images, so now we have the issue of recreating layers, and trying to figure out how to lighten that drop shadow that has been flattened onto a background without messing up said background. Please, until Adobe takes more steps to idiot-proof the hell that is the prepress/imaging industry, don’t give designers another avenue to make our lives more miserable and cost our companies even more money, materials, and ultimately jobs.

  • imajes — 7:18 PM on February 10, 2009

    I’ve been wondering about how best to manage large no.s of layers and the thing that stuck me as being particularly useful would be the ability to open a group to fill entire palette and all layers in heirachy to the side and above disappear from view. This is commonly used in file browsers to reduce clutter when drilling down through a folder heirachy, though a basic breadcrumb trail at top of panel would be needed to go back. It could be as simple as the no’s 1-6 to represent the [current] depths of heirachy, with the current location being the last no. shown.
    “Windows 7 introduces a “hide fonts” feature to the OS, so the tons of Arabic, etc, fonts that the system needs (But I don’t) are hidden to the user. Photoshop CS4 doesn’t seem to support this, so I still have 20 or so random OS fonts that I don’t want to see in the font chooser. I’d love to see PS respect this setting.”
    These unusable fonts also stop you scolling down with arrow keys when moving through various fonts to see how some selected text looks in each font.
    “I’d love an indicator in the history palette of when the document was last saved ”
    Very simple and very useful. And often asked for.

  • imajez — 7:43 AM on February 11, 2009

    How about if when clicking on new group button if all layers you had selected would automatically go into the new group. Though maybe only if you used a modifier key.
    [Just hit Cmd-G. –J.]
    And please make the name of group be live so you can rename straightaway without having to double click, just like with new layers, new actions…
    [No way, for the reasons Jeff mentioned in the comments. Tried it, people hated it. –J.]

  • PeterK — 7:51 AM on February 11, 2009

    It looks like a whole paragraph is missing from my comment. In short, my vote would be a big NO to adding support for linked-anything in Photoshop because there are enough problems already with missing files in prepress/imaging workflows. If a new feature can cause headaches by it’s poor implementation by a user, you can be sure it will be done, and in the end the companies that have to deal with crap designs down the production line lose lots of money because of them. This is my biggest gripe with Adobe and it’s software. Any idiot can pick it up, use it, abuse it and there’s no education required, or consequence felt by the ignorant users who call themselves “designers.”

  • PeterK — 7:51 AM on February 11, 2009

    It looks like a whole paragraph is missing from my comment. In short, my vote would be a big NO to adding support for linked-anything in Photoshop because there are enough problems already with missing files in prepress/imaging workflows. If a new feature can cause headaches by it’s poor implementation by a user, you can be sure it will be done, and in the end the companies that have deal with crap designs down the production line lose lots of money because of them. This is my biggest gripe with Adobe and it’s software. Any idiot can pick it up, use it, abuse it and there’s no education required, or consequence felt by the ignorant users who call themselves “designers.”

  • Klaus Nordby — 9:36 AM on February 11, 2009

    I want to counter PeterK’s against-linking stance.
    Just because *some* people can and will do stupid things which will cause headaches for other people is NOT good enough of a reason why the rest of us should be held back in getting features (e.g. linking) we sorely need and are quite capable of using sensibly. As someone has wisely said: “Nothing can be foolproof — because the fools are so damn clever.”
    [Well said. –J.]

  • Vincent — 10:40 AM on February 12, 2009

    Have an option to get rid of the Copy tag when duplicating a layer/folder.
    Let’s say I have a folder called “Root” which includes a subfolder called “Subfolder”, which contains a couple of layers. Duplicating the “Root” folder should make a new one called “Root Copy” but it should *NOT* add the “Copy” tag to the “Subfolder” and whatever layers/folders contained in it.
    I think it’s all about optimizing the workflow.
    There is more chance I want it to be named the same way when duplicating an object. If I really want to name it differently, then I’ll do it myself. Having to go in each subfolders to remove the Copy is a nuissance. It is counter-productive.
    The word “Copy” should only on the first level of the duplicated item, and not the sub-levels.
    [Good points. I’m taking this up with the team. –J.]

  • Vincent — 10:45 AM on February 12, 2009

    It would be great to have a structure that enables more than 5 levels of subfolders.
    Also, make the re-ordering of layers on the 5th level working. It doesn’t work at the moment. You can’t re-arrange the order of layers in the 5th level, only 4th and previous.
    [Not sure I follow you on the last point. I just tried it in Mac CS4 and it worked fine. –J.]

  • Brian Perry — 12:06 PM on February 12, 2009

    Love the layer management stuff. I’d like to bang the drum for enhanced text underlining, including support for dashed, dotted, and controlling thickness.
    I’d like the stroke layer style to be able to apply brushes, so I can set a 3px outside dotted or grunge stroke on an object.

  • Eric — 8:25 PM on February 12, 2009

    A few things i wished we had for the projet i have worked on that was really pushing layer use to it’s limit.. but i’m aware it’s far from being very common use:
    – More level of nesting (wich obviously would bring problems with layer palette display.. see next point!
    – More character for naming, or better than that a mecanism that would let change the layer info display.
    By exemple, if i had a layer named: idxxx-typex-verylongname
    The display could show a icon depending on typex (so as to convay more information). I’m thinking alot of the way List component are working in flash. [I’m aware of the new feature that let add metadata to layer]
    Or: A very fast way to get layer info and preview icon in a folder or package? that could be parsed in a Flash palette for custom layer display management. (before flash palette technology was introduced, i had figured out aa way to select a specific layer in photoshop with a mix of scripting/flash local connection and applescript connection… but i was saddly just a one way road (see also the next point:)
    – A better “lock-edit” mecanism so that layer editing could be binded to a CVS system or other content management system. As far as i remember, in CS2 (with sdk oor using scripting listener), i was not able to find events that would have helped to implement such mecanism. [the problem i had as that complex master document layers where imported in composition document. The change in master document where to be reported in the composition, but there was not easy way to automatically detect wich layer was modified (without having the details) and automate the update on a per layer basis (again, it’s related to the next point as automating this step was bringing the problem of bounding box change, repositionning of layer in the final composition).
    – A user or scripted recorded rregistration point (by group?). So that if you have a composition document and you forgot to import a layer you can just bring the layer back and click on something like “snap layer regpoint to layer x regpoint”.
    A way to extract path information (scripting or sdk) without having to explicitely select the corresponding layer.

  • Nat — 8:27 PM on February 12, 2009

    Make command-clicking on objects consistent. Currently, if I command-click on an object that isn’t in a folder, PS selects that layer. I love this feature, and it is incredibly useful. BUT, when the layer I am trying to select is in a folder, PS selects the folder instead. I absolutely HATE this. In complex documents, it is hard to remember which layers are in folders and which aren’t, so having an action have a different result based on whether or not a layer is in a folder makes no sense, and only wastes my time as I have to undo my actions when I accidentally drag an entire folder around.

  • Eric — 9:08 PM on February 12, 2009

    [As I recall, each level of nesting imposes additional performance costs. That’s why Chris C. imposed a 5-level limit some versions ago. I’ll talk to him about raising that limit now. –J.]
    I havent read that note before posting.
    I had a bit different use case in mind where i would have needed more level of nesting, but really just on a logical level, without display effects/mask attached to it.
    Ex.
    World (plain folder)
    US (plain folder)
    New York (plain folder)
    Bank (GroupLayer) [limit of 5 apply.. we are at level 2]
    Look (drawing layer)
    Geometry (plain folder)
    Could be just an option in group layer??

  • Jim Monaco — 6:10 AM on February 13, 2009

    @Nat regarding Cmd-clicking objects in the canvas to select their layers… It turns out, Photoshop already has the feature you mentioned; it’s just a matter of how to get at it.
    Pull out your move tool and look up at your tool options across the top. You’ll see the Move icon, a checkbox labeled Auto-Select, and then a pull-down menu that is set to “group” by default. That pull-down secretly controls the cmd-click behavior (I say secretly because even though it’s in plain sight, there’s nothing to indicate why it says “group” there, or what it will do if you change it).
    From the pull-down, select “layer” and you’ll be back in business–PS will actually expand the group your layer is in and select the layer itself.
    -Jim

  • PeterK. — 1:03 PM on February 17, 2009

    “Nothing can be foolproof — because the fools are so damn clever.”
    [Well said. –J.]
    Why, because it would be so much harder to try to make something foolproof rather than slap on another half-baked feature that sounds good in the marketing materials? No doubt this is exactly the type of feature that designers *would* think is a good idea, because why on earth would they build a file properly using linked images in Illustrator, when they can do an entire design as a raster image in Photoshop? (I have no doubt you are speaking from the designer’s standpoint. The fact that you and John so easily dismiss a problem that probably costs the industry untold millions in productivity makes that apparent.)
    Of course, linking images in proper layout software where images can be resized without degradation has been made less relevant with smart objects in Photoshop. Now we’re starting to see more and more features incorporated into Photoshop that just duplicate what should already be done in vector software in the first place. If you can do it all in Photoshop, I suppose that’s somewhat friendlier to some designer who only knows how to use Photoshop, but then at some point there is so much overlap, it blurs the lines between what software should be used for what purpose. There are already enough designers who complain that the intricate logos they designed at 300 “dpi” in Photoshop don’t look sharp enough. Then guess who fixes it on who’s dime? (hint: not the designer)
    You can make something foolproof, if you put in the right checks and balances. To suggest otherwise is to take the lazy way out.

  • Jesse Mellon — 1:58 PM on February 18, 2009

    I love the idea of live filtering on layer names, although I’ll bet many folks name their layers retroactively.
    I’ll echo someone else’s comment about being able to share guides between documents. I’m also all for giving users options for additional levels of layer nesting, and for type styling.
    The other big time-saver for me would be a way to flip stack order (this would be particularly helpful with type layers; I’m constantly comping web pages, and I like my layer stack to match the order the type appears on the comp, which is usually top-to-bottom). Maybe a contextual “flip” on selected layers would do the trick.
    Finally, I agree that only folders, and not their contents, should be appended with “copy” when copied. I spend a lot of time removing “copy.”

  • steve Mebs — 3:07 PM on February 23, 2009

    Your ideas for helping out the layers palette would be great! I usually know where all my layers are, but it’s easy to get lost when opening someone else’s file.
    I often get frustrated by slices. For example if I have a large background for a website in my design, I have to save a separate .psd file out for the background so I can keep the slice. If slices could be turned on and off like layers that would be great. So I could add a layer group with my background slices, then turn it off, and add another layer group with the rest of my slices that overlap the background slice(s).
    I get annoyed often in PS when I’m trying to reset where the rulers are ‘zeroed’… when I hit tab to hide the panels and I put the cursor into the top left corner to grab the ruler, and the tools show again. Only happens in Full Screen with Menu Bar mode of course.
    Paragraph and Text styles would be awesome! Maybe they could even be toggled to export into CSS afterwards??
    Thanks for letting the design community chime in! Appreciate it.

  • Jared Bell — 9:06 AM on February 24, 2009

    Similar to the multiple slice layers suggested by Steve above, I would be handy if there were an alternative altogether to using slicing, seeing as the tabular method of creating websites isn’t relevant any more.
    If there were say, a layer based method of exporting graphics from specifically named saved selections of any shape or size, there would be fewer complications/limitations with the grid created by adding slices to a document that will be turned into a complex css site.
    In addition to exporting specific selected shapes of any complexity, having the ability to add a faux transparent layer behind objects that will have transparency (either png or gif), for example rounded corners or edges, would allow for easier and more repeatable exports of web graphics without having to disable all layers just so you can have transparency in it.
    Thanks for the opening to provide feedback on an application with such an everyday importance.

  • Peter Van den Wyngaert — 7:39 AM on March 02, 2009

    I’m a very intense user of Layer Styles and since their introduction I have been missing a way to rearrange the order of the individual styles (on one single layer that is). I usually end up with duplicating a layer when I need to have the Pattern Overlay on top of the Color or Gradient Overlay for example.
    In another example: I want to choose whether the Drop Shadow is more important than the Outer Glow, and not let Photoshop stick to it’s default logic for that to give the Outer Glow a priority (which is a strange logic after all, since it’s down the current ladder).
    Coming up with complex Blend Mode settings in order to solve the above issues, is still limited, and could simply be fixed by allowing the rearrangement of the individual styling options, and let the user take over the logic of how to apply the styles.

    It’s also not the first time that I wanted to add multiple Gradient Overlays to a single layer, so that addition would also be a big welcome. Just think of a plus sign behind the Layer Styles item list to duplicate a certain style option (or having an add button somewhere, which shows a listing of the elements).

  • Faisal — 8:50 AM on March 06, 2009

    I like this but if you can provide pictures it will be more helpful

  • Iwan — 1:38 PM on April 22, 2009

    from a web designer view:
    i have many layer because i have many objects on my website. creating an interface and filling it with content just generates many objects. i currently use fireworks and the ammount of layers is not much of a problem. this is due to two features missing in photoshop:
    – direct selection of items on the canvas and non destructive editing (in this case vector instead of pixel).
    – wth pages (or states) you don’t have to make 20 layer groups (with many sub groups) each one representing an interaction state of your website.
    currently most photoshop webdesigner work rather in their layer palette than on their working canvas.

  • Adrian — 10:10 AM on May 11, 2009

    I would love to have the ability to step select through layers, hidden or not, to create an action for outputting vast amounts of product images that have slight variations on layers. It would save days of work.

  • Jed Hunsaker — 12:49 PM on May 11, 2009

    On top of layer duplication, I would also like to cut, copy and paste layers as objects, maintaining layer styles and masks, all with the appropriate keyboard shortcuts: ctrl+x, ctrl+c and ctrl+v.
    I would also like to be able to map ctrl+up and ctrl+down to respectively create a layer from the selection and merge the selected layers with the background.
    Lastly, I want ctrl+pgup and ctrl+pgdown to move layers forward or backwards.

  • Harry Teasley — 1:34 PM on May 11, 2009

    I filled in the survey, but to make it a comment as well:
    If you want to go down this rabbit hole, I say go all the way, and treat layers as nodes a la Maya, with a Hypergraph-like interface for ultimate control. Every layer is a node that has various outputs, and every layer can have its own data, and accept inputs from other layers.
    The luminosity value of one layer can be output as the opacity info of another layer (which is essentially what happens with layer masks). The RGBA output of one layer can be the input of several other layers: thus, you get instancing (what John calls “symbols”). The red channel output of one layer can be the green channel input of another layer, or whatever other freaky thing you want.
    The Hypergraph looks like a flowchart: rectangles have arrows out of them, that go to other rectangles. Some rectangles have multiple arrows out that all go to the same rectangle, some go to different ones. You can select the arrow and delete it, to break connections.
    If there were a Hypergraph-like interface to the way layers relate, it would be amazingly powerful.

  • haleOnEarth — 8:03 PM on May 11, 2009

    The ability to hoist groups at any level would be a welcome aid for focusing on certain tasks/areas of projects. In order to clarify the concept of hoisting, take for example, OmniOutliner. Following are a couple of exerpts taken from The Omni Group’s site:

    “Hoist temporarily makes the selected row the root of the outline. The rows description is added to the title of the window. You can hoist several times in the same document. Unhoist removes one level of hoisting, while unhoist all removes all levels of hoisting in the document.”
    "Hoisting takes the selected row and temporarily makes it the root of the outline. The children of the row that you hoist will then be visible as the top level of the outline window. This is handy when you’re working with a large outline and you want to temporarily focus on a small part of the outline. You can edit everything under the hoisted row, and when you’re done you can unhoist to see the full outline again"

    Translated into Photoshopese:
    Hoist temporarily makes the selected group/sub-group, etc, the root of the layers palette. The layer group’s name is added to the (top) title of the Layers Palette. You can hoist several times (hoisting further subgroups) in the same group. Unhoist removes one level (group | subgroup)of hoisting, while unhoist all removes all levels of hoisting in the layers palette, returning the view to show all groups and layers at the ‘root level’.

  • Alan Gilbertson — 7:38 PM on August 16, 2009

    Click-drag down multiple layer eyeballs to toggle visibility, as in Illustrator or InDesign, would be a tiny but huge feature that hopefully wouldn’t take a major overhaul to implement.
    Text styles, especially if they included exposing OpenType alternates and features, would also be huge.
    Mostly, though, if the app gets slicker under the hood and performs faster, a lot of folks would be happy. (PS CS4 loads under 64-bit Win7 on my MacBook Pro in about 3 – 4 seconds. THAT is huge.)

  • Elliot Geno — 10:31 AM on May 20, 2010

    As for symbols in Photoshop? YES PLEASE! Smart object are only half way there.
    Use the Flash library setup. It is more than perfect. Its almost too good.
    Plus from a perspective of getting users to learn the Flash platform, if you get them used to using it in Photoshop, they will be very comfortable with Flash!

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