April 07, 2009

Do you use PICT?

Do you read/write the old PICT file format in Photoshop? We’re not aware of current workflows that have any dependency on the format, but if you have one, please speak up ASAP.
As we move Photoshop forward, we need to keep pruning dead branches off the tree (rather than spend time rewriting them for Cocoa, 64-bit, etc.). We’d like to drop PICT support unless there’s a good reason to keep it around.
[Update: Thanks for the quick & copious feedback. I got a kick out of reader Gordon Williams's suggestion that the Photoshop team put old features "On Notice," Colbert-style.]
[Update 2: Based on your feedback, the plan is that in the future, Photoshop will keep reading, but will no longer write, PICT files.]

Posted by John Nack at 1:15 PM on April 07, 2009

Comments

  • Peter — 1:53 PM on April 07, 2009

    I don’t think I have ever used it or got a file in that format, so I certainly wouldn’t miss it. As an alternative to dropping it completely, you might want to consider open sourcing it to rely on the community to update it if need be. This is of course assuming that it is currently implemented as a plug-in module without too much confidential stuff in it.
    But as you are no doubt aware, dropping support for file formats is a dangerous thing since it means that file formats will no longer be readable. It’s not just a matter of “I can’t open my first computerized drawing ever any more” but one of losing access to cultural heritage.
    [Yep, it's a real problem, and one I've experienced & discussed. --J.]
    I think rather than dropping support for file formats that are no longer used, the corresponding code should be migrated into some kind of a new utility not unlike the DNG converter that would convert older or no longer supported file formats into, say, PSD files (or a new type of open standard).
    [Let me put it this way: What would you give up to get that functionality? (I know you can't answer in terms of the future PS feature set because we haven't shared details on it.) It's all a zero-sum game, and time spent on something like this means time not spent making Photoshop better. --J.]
    The code should be architectured in a way that minimizes platform dependencies so that updating it to a new platform or operating system only has to be done in one place to minimize the required maintainance efforts. I mean, there are tons of free file converters that support pretty much every format ever invented, but for how long? I think it takes the action of a company like Adobe to be able to ensure that we will still be able to access our data in the future.

  • Rob Fahrni — 2:08 PM on April 07, 2009

    John,
    Do you have a way for folks to hook into your Save/Save As… commands? So a third party could fill the need if necessary?
    [That would certainly be possible, though it's hard to imagine someone actually putting in the work. --J.]
    It’s nice to see you trim old dead/unused code.

  • Rosyna — 2:08 PM on April 07, 2009

    PICT is dead. Even Mac OS X poorly supports it. The newer, more awesomer graphic APIs (ImageIO) don’t even support PICT.
    So PICT should STFU and DIAF.

  • oscar — 2:10 PM on April 07, 2009

    Not only do I never use PICT, but I find the file menu so overloaded I’ve removed never-used plugins (like Scitex) to try and bring it down to a manageable size.

  • Michael Critz — 2:11 PM on April 07, 2009

    Mac users can save PICT format from Preview.app if it came to it. I say dump PICT from Photoshop!

  • Michael Critz — 2:12 PM on April 07, 2009

    Mac users can save PICT format from Preview.app if it came to it. I say dump PICT from Photoshop!

  • Mark Thomas — 2:17 PM on April 07, 2009

    I haven’t used the PICT format in ages, and at any rate the Preview app in OS X can open and write PICT images. Seems like the feature could disappear from PS and not too many people would notice. Just put a note about it in the Read Me telling them to use Preview to convert their PICTs. Automator can be used to batch convert PICTs through Preview. Go for it. The time is right.

  • Martin Schaefer — 2:47 PM on April 07, 2009

    The old PICT format is still being supported by Adobe Director and I know a lot of Director developers still maintaining legacy projects that use PICT files.

  • shoaf — 3:01 PM on April 07, 2009

    It’s been years since I’ve even seen a PICT. Dump it.

  • Carey Dissmore — 3:02 PM on April 07, 2009

    Um. Lots and LOTS and lots of video folks have used PICT files with or without Alpha channels for years. Use them in FCP, Media 100, Avid to name but three. Use them a lot in After Effects. Even if their use has fallen out of favor there is just way too much legacy stuff that needs supporting for at least another 4 or 5 years to be safe. Please keep PICT support alive that long.
    [Are these legacy projects or newly created ones? If the latter, why are people using such an old format? If the former, you'll still be able to open those projects in those apps, and you'll be able to convert PICT files using CS4 or other apps. --J.]

  • Martin Braun — 3:04 PM on April 07, 2009

    I do not care whether Photoshop can open and save PICT or not. But I would appreciate it if EPS with PICT Preview aka “Macintosh-EPS” is not the default format when saving EPS in Photoshop on a Mac. It’s a crazy choice. It’s not platform independent. Stop it!

  • axl — 3:09 PM on April 07, 2009

    Have not used it in years. Drop it I say. Anything that gets a cocoa, 64bit PS out!

  • Ben Hansen — 3:57 PM on April 07, 2009

    accessing PICT resources (inside of applications) is something that cannot be done using preview. not sure last time i actually needed to do that but theres my two cents.

  • Fazal Majid — 4:47 PM on April 07, 2009

    I haven’t used PICT since 1996 or so, and won’t mind its disappearance. If PS CS5 is still going to have an installer instead of proper drag-and-drop installation, please put in an option to not install the file format plugins for oddball legacy formats (i.e. anything other than TIFF, JPEG, GIF, DNG or RAW).
    [So, you're asking for a drag-and-drop installation experience which would provide *less* control over what gets installed, and at the same time you're asking for more control--right? And by the way, I trust you'll go beat up the Final Cut Studio app teams for using an improper (i.e. non drag-and-drop) installer. --J.]

  • Charles — 8:17 PM on April 07, 2009

    Yes, I routinely encounter legacy files in PICT. Dropping legacy file support is always a bad thing (especially when it’s so easy, like the simple PICT format).
    [It's actually more complicated than that. Apple has dropped support for QuickDraw in 64-bit, so Photoshop has to drop QuickDraw and move to Quartz. That's fine (and was already underway regardless of Cocoa), but what should we now do with QuickDraw PICTs? Do you really want us spending our time re-implementing & testing support for something based on end-of-life'd technology? Yes, we could do it, but we want to spend the team's time wisely. --J.]
    And BTW Oscar, no complaining about the Scitex plugin please. Support for the Scitex CT format began long ago when John Knoll wrote a CT file import plugin as a personal favor for me, way back when I was working with Scitex CT files on one of the first Iris inkjet printers. When you’re running a monstrously expensive piece of Scitex imagesetting equipment, it is absolutely essential to have Photoshop support its native format. John’s plugin was a godsend. I don’t know how any Scitex shop could live without Photoshop CT support.

  • Rob — 11:13 PM on April 07, 2009

    Haven’t used it for years. Drop the support and use the time to improve Photoshop!

  • Joost — 1:41 AM on April 08, 2009

    PS needs to be able to read all image files -including PICT-. Dropping the option to write a PICT image won’t be any problem.

  • JacK Barron — 2:26 AM on April 08, 2009

    Dump it. It’s not even recognized by Irfan View, which is my swiss knife for all image formats. In addition, any file format using more than 3 letters should be send back to hell (yes ! I dislike it a lot ! Remove that last “d” in indesign files !)

  • Jonathan — 2:40 AM on April 08, 2009

    Haven’t seen a PICT in years. I’m glad the Photoshop team is thinking about making the software slimmer, that’s always appreciated. I think there will always be ways for people who have to deal with the PICT format, it doesn’t necessarily have to be Photoshop.

  • Richard Costin — 4:04 AM on April 08, 2009

    On a similar subject, native .sgi and .pic (the softimage file format) would be a huge bonus for visual effects people without using old plugins. Thanks.

  • Mark Thomas — 4:13 AM on April 08, 2009

    Maybe the first step should be to keep the PICT import ability, but remove the ability to export PICT. Then, for CS6 or 7 ditch Export.
    It’s funny about people who still use PICTs. The only reason they do is because of habit and because they still can. At a certain point you have to just force their hand. People complained about the original iMac ditching the floppy drive, but it was very obviously the right move. You gotta evolve.
    Always be closing. Always be closing!

  • Mark — 5:56 AM on April 08, 2009

    Drop it like a bad habit, please! I believe Graphic Converter will handle just about anything the old Debabelizer could or you would ever want to as far as image formats so. So there are OSX programs to fill this now dead need.
    If someone has legacy projects then let them keep older versions of PS on older hardware for just that sort of thing. One place I was at had LivePicture on an old PowerPC Mac for just that purpose. So keep an old computer around if you want old PICTs in your old AE projects.

  • jimhere — 6:53 AM on April 08, 2009

    I say loose it.
    Of course I’ll be asked to open up some old file from the 90s the day after it’s gone… Did someone say Preview could then convert it?

  • Rob W — 6:55 AM on April 08, 2009

    I just had a project for an avionics company that needed some video footage as PICT sequences. As much as I complained about that format they insisted. I guess removing it will get some of these companies that still rely on really old tools to update their workflow.

  • Kevin Stohlmeyer — 6:56 AM on April 08, 2009

    Hi John,
    I say dump it. PICT used to be used quite a bit, but I now consider it dated tech. If people really need to access a PICT file, they can keep a copy of CS4 around to access and translate it into a current format. Keep moving forward

  • Pedro Estarque — 8:57 AM on April 08, 2009

    I think it’s safe to ditch it. Last time I remember having dealt with PICT was with “Movie to Image Sequence” from QuickTime long long ago, and even that defaults to PNG now.

  • Daniel — 9:05 AM on April 08, 2009

    It will be best to keep PICT only for importing, there are tons of legacy PICT files out there. Toss it for exporting, no one needs to really export it much, keeping it to import is important.

  • Michael Madsen — 9:10 AM on April 08, 2009

    Dump it … there’s no excuse to keep bogging down PS with support for legacy formats that one in a thousand users encounters every once in a while. There’s plenty of other apps you can keep at hand for converting or opening these files….

  • Larry Gottschalk — 9:13 AM on April 08, 2009

    Kill it. We used it heavily from maybe 1989-1998 (?) in our old imaging service bureau. It was definitely the de facto standard for a good period of time. I cannot recall exactly when we phased away from it.
    Conclusively though: we have not used it nor needed to access anything in the format for the better part of a decade now.

  • Fazal Majid — 10:16 AM on April 08, 2009

    [So, you're asking for a drag-and-drop installation experience which would provide *less* control over what gets installed, and at the same time you're asking for more control--right? And by the way, I trust you'll go beat up the Final Cut Studio app teams for using an improper (i.e. non drag-and-drop) installer. --J.]
    I’d prefer drag-and-drop installation. The situation today is the worst of both worlds – neither simple as drag-and-drop installation, while at the same time not providing control over what gets installed. If you are going to follow the installer route, at least give us some control to make up for the hassle. The current level of granularity at the app level is too coarse.
    Suggestions for functions to be made optional:
    – localizations
    – the embedded Opera in Bridge
    – Digimarc
    – CMYK support (photographers couldn’t care less)
    One approach you could adopt to provide backward compatibility for PICT without postponing the transition to Quartz and 64-bit would be to provide an automation action to recursively find and batch-convert PICT files using the previous installed version of Photoshop or Illustrator, since most people who are dealing with the legacy format probably already have an installed version of CS, and you don’t delete the old version when installing a new one.
    As for Apple and Final Cut Pro Studio, I don’t have it, but I agree, Apple is often the most egregious at flouting its own interface guidelines.

  • Prague_Hotel — 10:40 AM on April 08, 2009

    Are there any photoshop tutorials on this site? By the way, has anyone also used ToonBoom studio by chance? What is it like?

  • Trevor Morris — 10:49 AM on April 08, 2009

    Nope. In fact, I’ve never used the PICT format.

  • Dave — 10:55 AM on April 08, 2009

    I don’t use PICT personally and probably haven’t since Mac OS 9 but what about others? One man’s PICT is another man’s PDF. What happens in 10 years time when you dig through your old projects and need to open a PICT? Good luck finding an old Mac. David Pogue of NYT had a great article on data rot and I think that applies here.
    Dropping any format from the world’s leading image manipulation application is treading down a slippery slope.
    [Guess what? We've quietly dropped things recently, such as MacPaint & other extremely old formats. Sometimes you have to clean out the attic. It's just part of life. --J.]
    For everyone mentioning 3rd party applications filling the void, how long is that going last? “Hey Adobe dropped PICT… maybe we should too.”
    I thought Apple’s 64-bit implementation would allow 32-bit apps to run alongside 64-bit.
    [It does. --J.]
    Does the Photoshop package have to be all 64-bit?
    [If you want to run in 64-bit mode, then everything inside has to be 64-bit. (We have to do special contortions to deal with there being no 64-bit version of QuickTime.) --J.]
    If you want to drop it, make a 32-bit “import” application and have Photoshop use it to seamlessly convert those old 32-bit formats and bring them in using that application. No code changes necessary. No one gets pissed off.
    [I think what you're suggesting is that if Photoshop is launched in 32-bit mode, we allow old code to run. I'm not sure whether that's possible in this case, but I'll check. That *is* exactly the approach we're taking with certain old plug-ins (e.g. Extract, which went off to Shady Acres in CS4). --J.]
    Isn’t Carbon actually “built” on top of Cocoa? So it’s not going anywhere anytime soon…

  • gordophoto — 11:38 AM on April 08, 2009

    Maybe the branches you want to prune should be put on notice, and folks will have a heads up to adjust their workflow accordingly. http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/DTX7SrlUA6iDZWUMPnuyqg?feat=directlink
    ;)

  • Richard Earney — 12:08 PM on April 08, 2009

    Don’t think I have used it for 3 years at least.
    And when I did it was an image sequence from QT Pre, but I could have used something else!

  • T. Schmidt — 12:22 PM on April 08, 2009

    I’m sure there’s a small app or a third party plug-in to do the job, so I wouldn’t mind.
    Martin Braun is right, no platform dependency please.

  • jimhere — 12:52 PM on April 08, 2009

    Screenshots on Macs used to be PICTs. Then in osX they were variously jpg, pdf and now png. It would be *nice* to open old screenshots of PS3 or AI6, but not necessary. Of course, some screenshot-derived images have been used in olde Quark layouts etc. And scans may even have been spit out as PICTs (yikes). But I do know I haven’t used it since the turn of the century.
    (If only there was a shareware app to scour your machine, find old files, and somehow convert them to new formats.)

  • Dmitri — 1:20 PM on April 08, 2009

    I am a photographer (weddings,wildlife) and been using photoshop for ages. I think the last time I used PICT maybe in 90s. I don’t think I know anyone these days who use this format anymore.
    PS. great blog! if you ever need any images for your articles, let me know and I’d be happy to provide a few :)
    Dmitri

  • Klaus Nordby — 1:49 PM on April 08, 2009

    It behoves each user of old legacy formats to keep the necessary old apps around. For instance, I have heaps of old XyWrite DOS word processor files — and therefore also keep a copy of XyWrite on one of my still-DOS-capable machines: I think that executable dates from 1988. And I don’t consider it the job of, say, Microsoft Word to keep supporting such an obscure file format forever. Ditto goes for Adobe and PICT. Lose it and move on.

  • Dave — 8:19 PM on April 08, 2009

    Isn’t Carbon actually “built” on top of Cocoa? So it’s not going anywhere anytime soon…
    Oops I wrote that backwards… should be Cocoa is built on top of Carbon.

  • Eric Peacock — 10:14 PM on April 08, 2009

    As I understand it, PICT usage is largely Apples’ responsibility due to Classic/OS 9 screen caps, etc. defaulting to it. Im my experience people used PICT without thinking about it – it was never a format that we all flocked to because it made our lives easier.
    I don’t know any designer or production person who consciously used PICT as a working format, but when it was a default we’d end up with PICT files somewhere in our pipeline. I’ve been converting it to other formats for years in our file archives, the same way I weed out invisible Classic icon files, Type 1 fonts, etc. So it’s around in older things, but yes as everyone has pointed out, OS X walked away from it as a default.
    I suspect it’s supported only because Quicktime is still running on Carbon foundations and QuickDraw hooks – Apple hasn’t made any noticeable improvements or additions to PICT at all which I’m sure they would have if they felt like they needed it now. Snow Leopard will probably ditch it completely and GraphicConverter will be the goto for it in the future.
    The thing about PICT that nobody has mentioned is that it was a “wrapper” format – you could have JPEG, bitmap or vector content within it (correct me if I’m wrong on this). That, to me makes it a little harder to simply drop because there is a bit more to it as a format. Most of the folks I work with still don’t grasp what a wrapper format is – I get requests for a “mov” or an “avi” all the time when in fact I need to know what really needsto be inside those wrappers.
    And as has been pointed out, Illustrator CS4 still defaults to saving a PICT or “Macintosh” resource as a preview when saving an EPS. This has driven me nuts since AI 10.
    Sure previews for EPS aren’t required, but you haven’t had to deal with a vendor who calls asking you to re-send a file because they don’t see the PICT preview in their Windows-based software because I forgot to switch the preview to TIFF (“print it – it’ll be fine”). This doesn’t happen often but my point is that the format is around even in current working files, even though it’s not crucial, and not everyone understands that they can ignore it.
    It feels like it should ease out a bit more gently than MacPaint (which died long before PICT). Just be up front about it – which you’re doing, but not everyone reads this blog.
    How to do that, I’m not entirely sure. Most folks won’t read a note about legacy formats being removed and that those formats aren’t going to matter when they open their new CS5 box, but some might get confused or bug support about an irrelevant warning about an old file not being supported.
    In the end I think it’s really Apple who has to shut the door on it. Knowing them it’ll get mentioned in a knowledge base document starting with Snow Leopard. Apple should make a non QuickDraw converter for it, not Adobe. PhotoCD (.PCD) has been dead for a while and surprise, surprise we’ve had a client toss us one of those to use for a historical project. Good thing iPhoto did the conversion, because Photoshop didn’t.
    Thanks for talking about this sort of thing, John.

  • Mark Thomas — 5:36 AM on April 09, 2009

    >> Cocoa is built on top of Carbon.
    Cocoa is not built on top of Carbon. Cocoa is a modern version of the object-oriented NeXTstep APIs which were the programming environment for the NeXT operating system from which Mac OS X is derived. Carbon is, in fact, a kind of hacked add-on to Cocoa which serves one purpose: to make it possible to port software from the classic Mac OS to Mac OS X without having to rewrite it. Apple isn’t totally killing Carbon yet, but by cancelling support for 64-bits in Carbon, it’s definitely being handed its hat. Once Carbon is phased out completely, purity will at long last be restored to OS X.
    This needs to happen. Just as Adobe needs to take action to wean people off PICT once and for all, Apple needs to wean developers (even some of its own developers!) off of Carbon.

  • Greg — 6:22 AM on April 09, 2009

    @ Fazal
    “- CMYK support (photographers couldn’t care less)”
    Might want to tone that down a bit. How about “I’m a photographer and I couldn’t care less”. The Photoshop ship left the “photographer’s app” harbor years and years ago. Its a whole lot bigger than that. If you ask me I think that any commercial photographer who doesn’t have a firm understanding of the CMYK color space and its implications isn’t completely on top of their game. CMYK is a reality and lots and lots of Photoshop users work with it everyday.
    PICT on the other hand, whatever… drop it.

  • Cory Wiegersma — 6:25 AM on April 09, 2009

    Every once in awhile I do use the PICT format when I am taking screenshots of old Macs, which is something I do far too often for my own good. However, I have Photoshop 4 installed on an old machine just for converting those.

  • Ramón G Castañeda — 8:29 AM on April 09, 2009

    It would never occur to me to save anything in PICT format these days, but on a rare occasion I may need to open a very old image saved as PICT.

  • Mark Thomas — 9:26 AM on April 09, 2009

    >> The thing about PICT that nobody has mentioned is that it was a “wrapper” format – you could have JPEG, bitmap or vector content within it (correct me if I’m wrong on this).
    This sounds right to me. I seem to recall not only MacPaint saving to PICT format, but also MacDraw, which was vectors.

  • Carey Dissmore — 11:20 AM on April 09, 2009

    [Are these legacy projects or newly created ones? If the latter, why are people using such an old format? If the former, you'll still be able to open those projects in those apps, and you'll be able to convert PICT files using CS4 or other apps. --J.]
    Hi John,
    I did a search of my system RAIDS and found that my most recently created PICT files were created on February 13th. I’d say that’s pretty recent.
    Here’s the thing, it’s not that I or other users couldn’t get by without PICT files…we can.
    It’s just that PICT has been sort of a defacto standard (on the Mac) for what seems like eons.
    PICT’s ability to carry an alpha channel and be a simple uncompressed file format made it sort of a standard that I and many others regarded as a ‘safe bet’.
    If PICT files have been ‘on notice’ for years, I certainly didn’t get the memo. Just because Mac OS screencaps, etc. are now PNG (yes, I noticed that) didn’t immediately lead me to connect those dots.
    Now, I’ve read this whole thread of comments to this point and I can appreciate some of the issues you’re confronting as you move to 64-bit. So my minimal request is that you continue to support the OPENing of PICT files within future versions of Photoshop.
    I guess this could also be a memo to the AE team:
    What we’d want is some way to get legacy PICTS (and of course alpha support) into new, shiny 64-bit versions of Photoshop and AE with some sort of easy/automatic lossless conversion that doesn’t hamper progress by forcing one to run the app 32 bit mode!
    And I guess I now got the ‘memo’ to quit using PICT. Fine.
    Like I said, there are other ways to go, but it’s an old format and habit that have simply worked for a lot of stuff to date.
    I think it’s pretty important to do a much better job of circulating the ‘abandon PICT’ memo to users, because there’s still a fair number of people using them out there simply due to not sensing a need, or reason to switch.

  • Mark Katz — 12:40 PM on April 09, 2009

    I still use the PICT format to save images with Alpha channels. I use this format when I need an image to be used in “Green Screen” software. In my case, it is Triprism’s TEPS X.
    If there is another way to save the file, please let me know about it.

  • Fazal Majid — 1:45 PM on April 09, 2009

    #Greg – I am not suggesting Photoshop drop CMYK support, I was mentioning it as an example of a feature that could optionally be omitted from installation to reduce Photoshop’s footprint.
    Those of us who use SSDs as boot/app drives tend to look at every extra byte with a jaundiced eye. I doubt that is even feasible, however, as CMYK is probably baked in throughout the app.
    Another approach would be to provide a plug-in manager to selectively disable plugins. You can manage them directy by prefixing the plugin name with a tilde in the plugins folder, but that tends to confuse the Installer/updater, at least on CS3.
    The problem with PICT is that it isn’t a well-documented format with open-source implementations, being instead a wrapper/serialization format for replaying QuickDraw commands and as such fading away with QuickDraw’s demise. It was the dominant vector format for non-professional (i.e. non-EPS) apps on the Mac, and as such more of a concern for Illustrator than Photoshop per se.

  • PromoMotion — 3:07 PM on April 09, 2009

    I absolutely use PICT format; still have a ton of elements saved in the format. I think a lot of us who were early photoshop users and early After Effects users gravitated towards PICT due to the built in compression. Plenty of other formats I would prefer to see go away first.

  • Brian Johns — 10:47 PM on April 09, 2009

    I’m a huge proponent of supporting opening but not saving of PICTs. As your first commenter so eloquently stated, dropping support for a file format potentially cuts off a whole family of content. I’m all for weening people off things and I understand the baggage that comes along with supporting old things, but PICT seems like one of those formats that would have a ton of legacy files saved in it from the “good ole days” that I might want to open again.

  • ph1x — 9:40 AM on April 10, 2009

    PICT is definitely dead. Im sure the same doom will follow EPS and GIF and I hope Quark himself.

  • ph1x — 9:44 AM on April 10, 2009

    PICT is definitely dead. Im sure the same doom will follow EPS and GIF and I hope Quark himself.

  • Richard Harrington — 2:07 PM on April 12, 2009

    PICT is a preferred format for many video apps (like Avid). It is a useful format due to low compression and embedded alpha. Please don’t kill it.

  • Michael — 6:06 AM on April 16, 2009

    I run a book and software publishing company. We don’t create new PICT files in-house, but we have plenty of legacy PICT files and we do get new PICT files from authors. Opening old formats like PICT is a real business need for some of us.

  • Keith Humm — 5:12 PM on April 16, 2009

    We use PICTs here maybe once a month? Never write them, but reading old files is extremely handy.
    It’s not a huge deal for us to run a converter, but that converter really should come with Photoshop – either as a separate utility or as part of the app.

  • Adam Twardoch — 7:07 PM on April 17, 2009

    John,
    I use CS4 apps to do a lot of low-level office document engineering.
    PICT just like WMF or EMF are essential formats in the office world. Microsoft Office natively uses WMF and EMF while iWork uses PICT. The newest office file formats (iWork and Office 2007/2008) are ZIP archives containing XML files along with graphical resources.
    In case of iWork files (such as those created in Pages), the images are often saved in PICT format. For example, if I install MathType 6 for Mac and insert a MathType equation into Pages, and then save the document as a .pages file, after unzipping the .pages file, inside the folder I will have a vector-based PICT file containing the rendering of the equation. There are situations when I would like to open that PICT file, examine it, edit it, perhaps convert it to PDF etc.
    So, PICT just like EMF and WMF are essential.
    Regards,
    Adam Twardoch

  • Scott Chandler — 3:51 PM on April 18, 2009

    I have a number of workflows that still use PICT. Even if that were to change today, I would still have hundred of PICTs (many of them long since archived but still referenced once in a while) that would be essentially unreadable since Preview no longer opens them.

  • Bobby — 5:24 AM on April 21, 2009

    We use pict files on a regular basis. If you were to eliminate the feature, we would be unable to deliver project needs to our vendors. We do lots of video, and it’s my job to deliver the graphics files in required formats. Please don’t do away with picts!

  • Colin Holgate — 6:54 AM on May 04, 2009

    There are two type of PICT, the one that was a container for lots of vector graphics, and the one that is usually a RLE compressed bitmap. Dropping the vector graphics one would be ok, but If you drop PICT, you should also drop support for BMP.
    As for use of PICT in workflow, we’ve used it a lot as a way to show a flat image of a design, that is still possible to pick colors from. Using JPEG won’t do, the colors are all changed. Using PNG would often lead to unintended premultiplied colors being present. It was possible to explain carefully how to do a Save For Web to avoid the PNG issue, but it was much easier just to say to save a flat PICT.
    Now, arguably anyone with PS CS5 will have the improved PNG saving, so as long as you don’t rip out PICT support from CS4, we’ll all survive! Hopefully someone with Director 12 and PS CS5 will still be able to edit bitmap cast members without PS complaining about it being too much like a PICT.

  • Tim Buchheim — 3:48 PM on May 04, 2009

    I love the idea of a Colbert-style “on notice” board. :-)
    Apple put PICT “on notice” years ago, when it deprecated QuickDraw. For those that don’t know, PICT is very closely tied to QuickDraw. A PICT file is essentially a list of stored QuickDraw drawing commands. Currently it’s easy for Photoshop or any other program to use PICT.. you just ask QuickDraw to replay the list of drawing commands. Creating a PICT is as simple as saying “hey QuickDraw, I’m starting a PICT”, then issuing normal QuickDraw drawing commands (eg. “draw a rectangle here”, “draw a line there”) and then letting QuickDraw know when you’re done. It spits out a PICT, ready for saving to disk.
    But when QuickDraw goes away (as it has in the 64-bit runtime) then that easy way of supporting PICT goes away too. The easiest way to deal with it is to have a separate (32-bit) process do these steps, but that gets messy. And doesn’t get around the fact that Apple has been pushing developers for years and years now to stop using QuickDraw.
    re Carbon/Cocoa: Cocoa and Carbon exist side-by-side. Neither is built “on top of” the other. They’re both built on top of some shared frameworks, such as Core Foundation, Core Graphics (aka Quartz), Core Audio, and so on. Current versions of Cocoa make use of a few Carbon functions (most notably for drawing menus) but that’s going away. And even the parts of Carbon used by the current version of Cocoa don’t use QuickDraw anymore. QuickDraw has been dead for years, with only its rotting corpse hanging around to keep ancient applications like Photoshop and Office running. And Apple’s recent actions (such as leaving it out of their 64-bit libraries) have finally killed it for good. (And it’s about time. While QuickDraw was wonderful back in the 80s, it just hasn’t kept up with modern demands.)
    I’d go with a separate “Convert PICT to PDF” utility if people really insist on PDF support. (Or just tell people to use Preview.)

  • Jamie Reid — 8:08 PM on May 04, 2009

    A number of indie/shareware games on the Mac use PICT for textures. Some of them support any Quicktime-supported format, but some don’t.
    All my intermediate work is stored as .PSDs, though, so I don’t care that much if it’s deprecated. Would be nice if there was at least a read-only PICT option.

  • Ryan — 8:44 PM on May 04, 2009

    As much as I hate to admit it, a quick search with Spotlight revealed that I used PICT in a project as recently as 2003 (just before moving from OS 9 to OS X actually). Have avoided them since OS X in favour of newer, better supported formats.
    However, there are some very new PICT images on my computer — in the form of about a hundred PICT Clipart images installed with Microsoft Office 2008! Unbelievable!

  • aaron breckenridge — 10:42 AM on May 05, 2009

    Ryan,
    Wow, thanks for the tip about MS Office. Word opens these just fine, even when Apple has left the format in the dust.

  • Geoff — 9:47 PM on May 05, 2009

    I have a lot of content in pict files backed up on CDs that I hope to someday compile into a texture and stock photo library. Please don’t make me have to buy DeBabelizer or some other obscure graphics converter tool in order to use old file formats. What’s the harm in leaving in old formats? It’s not like HD space or RAM is getting more expensive.

  • Chad — 7:56 PM on May 07, 2009

    Hmm…I think I used the PICT format 20 years ago on a Mac Classic.
    Even if it wasn’t that long ago, it seems like it. No worries here, most of the graphics I work with are for the web or Mac applications.

  • barnaby hall — 8:58 AM on November 05, 2009

    This discussion is WAY above my tiny head. My principal concern, as a photographer who has used Photoshop quite successfully -in a primitive analogue kind of a way for some time- is how to avoid the horrendous frustration of compatibility and unexpected change. Recently my trusty PowerBook G4 “broke” and was diagnosed with lower RAM slot failure (apparently a known issue that is currently being thrashed out by infuriated Apple clients and Apple).
    I was advised to get important files out fast and buy a new laptop. Reluctantly I did this. I was assured that migration of all my previous software etc would be seamless, painless and that I would be delighted with the end result. It would be as if nothing ever happened. Hmm.
    The result of this, so far, is that I am unable to use my Epson printer and photoshop CS (the first one) is not functioning at all well. I´m sure it will be resolved eventually however I am angry to find that until then my expensive new MacBook pro with Snow Leopard is only good for internet and I´m forced to use my lame old G4 to print or work in Photoshop. I have nothing against progress and change at all. BUT I don´t think one should “forced ” into it just when one has finally found a comfortable and efficient style of working.
    I realize this has nothing to do with this discussion thread but I ´m venting wherever I can. Forgive me.

  • Destination Wedding Photography — 11:36 PM on December 08, 2009

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  • Ben Gurney — 12:10 PM on July 08, 2010

    I use pict files all the time. I know it’s an old format but it works great in After Effects, Flash, Premiere, and Final Cut Pro. I always know it’s going to be RGB, and the file sizes are small. I am disappointed that it was removed, but I guess I need to change.

  • victoria — 2:00 PM on April 27, 2011

    I use PICT FILES for a lot of my Graphic as an overlay, because they are not as big as a PSD so less space and work fast in my programs to zoom adjust photos. Can you please tell me an alternate way to get this IF PICT FILES are no longer available.

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