April 20, 2009

Feedback, please: A Grand Unified Suite?

The Dear Adobe blog asks, “Why does Adobe have 14,000 different applications?,” then makes a modest proposal:

So here it is. The Worst Idea Ever. Combine ‘em all. All of them…. What I want is to open a .adobe file in my Adobe.app, click a “Mode” dropdown, select Photoshop, and get my photoshop windows. Edit all my layers with bitmappy precision. Then, when I need to edit something in vector, I don’t use the pathetic excuse for vector tools in Photoshop mode, I switch to Illustrator mode, and all my bitmappy layers suddenly work as Illustrator objects…

Outrageous! Impossible! And yet, maybe not crazy at all. Read on if interested.

The kind of document-centric computing these guys describe differs greatly from what we have today:

  • In application-centric computing, you move your data from app to app. In the real world, this would be like schlepping a woodworking project from shop to shop to perform different tasks.
  • In document-centric computing, you keep your data in front of you, and the computer interface pivots around the data. Using the woodworking metaphor, a document-centric approach would be like putting the project on a bench and moving tools to & from the work area as needed.

In the app-centric world, switching between work environments can be a slow and jarring process. Because people often prefer to stay in one app, they naturally ask for “just one more thing” in each tool. (How about improving vector editing in Photoshop? How about more color correction tools inside InDesign? etc.) Each app grows bigger & more ponderous by adding features you could probably already get in another tool. It’s a recipe for bloat and inconsistency.

Document-centric computing holds immediate, obvious appeal:

  • We know that people lose time switching between apps. Even if a small amount each time, it adds up.
    • Instead of taking time to move data around, let the tools come to you.
  • The apps currently provide multiple, overlapping ways of moving content from place to place, each with its own pros and cons (i.e. there’s often no one Right Way). Worse, many people don’t even know about or remember to use powerful options (e.g. exporting PSDs from Illustrator).
    • A document-centric approach should automatically pick that one Right Way–and if one doesn’t exist, the burden falls on Adobe to create one.
  • Done right, a document-centric approach should force more interface consistency among the apps.
    • It’s one thing to get away with different shortcuts, behaviors, etc. when moving among apps. When everything is meant to look and feel like one entity, however, the bar gets set much higher.

There are, of course, a million obstacles to getting there. Just offhand:

  • People already complain about each app being overwhelming & “bloated” with functionality they don’t need. Oh yeah, you want something to cry about? Let’s slam all the apps into one giant Japanese-robot-Frankenstein. We can ship a smokestack & tank treads for the sides of your computer as it runs the behemoth.
  • Okay, okay–that’s crazy, so let’s “just rewrite” everything as editing modules that come and go on demand. Sounds nice, but…
  • Remember OpenDoc? (Oh yes, you knew it had to come up…) The mid-’90s were all about the document-centric dream. Developers were going to stop building monolithic apps & start building modules. Short story: it didn’t work, even for brand new apps.
    • Even if we could now avoid all the technical roadblocks, it’s easy to question the concept. Did people really want to pop open a spreadsheet view inside of an image editor, or do sound editing in a page layout app? Yes, there are times when you want to link in an external library (e.g. an HTML rendering engine), but maybe the concept wasn’t as generally useful as once thought–at least, not enough to justify the overhead.
  • Even getting multiple apps to read/write a single file format (e.g. the new FXG) is a major effort, involving huge amounts of testing as data gets mapped from one data/compositing model (e.g. PSD) to another (e.g. AI).

So… what, then? We just give up & leave things as they are? It’s not the worst possibility, and obviously people get their work done today–but don’t you think we can do better?

The CS4 applications feature “N-up” (2-up, 4-up, etc.) window management & application frames (details) that help manage documents & app interface. What if we leveraged these to provide the feel of being in one “CreativeSuite.app(.exe),” where each application is a module? Photoshop would be the image-editing mode of Illustrator; Illustrator would be the vector-editing mode of InDesign; etc. Here’s a little walk-through of how it might work.

How would this differ from what exists today?

  • A single application frame would be shared among the apps, with application interface coming & going inside the frame as needed.
  • While editing in one app, you’d retain a view of your document open in another app/window. This would help preserve context during editing. While working in Illustrator, for example, you could see the vectors in your PSD being updated. You could choose to edit a bitmap in Flash, see both your FLA and your PSD on screen, and see the changes made in Photoshop appear in Flash.

Would this offer a compelling difference relative to what exists today?

What if we went further, making the jump between apps feel more like editing a symbol in Flash or Illustrator (screenshot)? Let’s say you wanted to create some vectors inside a PSD file. By clicking on the appropriate tool, you could have your PSD remain on screen (but not directly editable) while Illustrator came forward and put you into vector drawing mode. Or you could double-click a bitmap in InDesign or Dreamweaver, then have the image remain on screen while Photoshop comes forward and continues to show the surrounding layout. Here’s another mockup.

What do you think? Would either of these approaches mean a big step forward in your work? Would you rather Adobe focused its attention elsewhere? Comments are most welcome, and I’ve created a quick 5-question survey to help gauge interest.

Thanks,

J.

PS–To set expectations properly, I should note that I’m just gathering info & ideas, not offering a preview of what’s coming from Adobe. Also, I’m on the road today, so I apologize for any lag in approving comments.

Posted by John Nack at 10:57 AM on April 20, 2009

Comments

  • Arpan — 12:22 PM on April 20, 2009

    One problem with this approach is vendor-lock-in. (although for Adobe this would be an advantage)
    What about other developers, would their be a plugin architecture which would allow other developers to replace the Adobe apps for a specific symbol type?

  • Jim Pogozelski — 12:25 PM on April 20, 2009

    I didn’t expect the Healing Brush when it first came out. It changed alot for me — for the better. Same with Smart Objects. And AI and ID’s object styles. Smaller innovations would be more useful than Grand Unified Everything (bug testing would take a decade). Like me, people at this blog and dearadobe complain about bloat because that’s what forums are for. I don’t write when something is great because I’m too busy being productive.
    In application-centric computing, you move your data from app to app, this would be like schlepping a woodworking project from shop to shop to perform different tasks.
    First of all, I’m alays surprise how people in the software business assume their stuff is hard to use. Adobe apps are, in general, not that difficult, and even using the word “schlepping” in a sentence does not make switching apps a chore at all.
    The CS4 applications feature “N-up” (2-up, 4-up, etc.) window management & application frames (details) that help manage documents & app interface.
    I must admit this is about the only use of a “applcation frame” that would be good. Flash’s required frame is a public nuisance because I can’t see/grab from other open apps at will. I always have to minimize Flash first! But your all-in-one n-up would achieve what I like to do with multiple app windows in one place. But overall it wouldn’t change much — I’d still be switching modes (instead of app windows) so how would it be more efficient than now?
    Now, I’ve got to get back to putting some PS-retouched photos in AE with my AI logo on top so I can save down to FLV for the FL Demo I’m making. Then I just heard I have to make a bunch of slicks in ID that are related, too. Adobe’s aquisition of MM already made it all possible.

  • shoaf — 12:40 PM on April 20, 2009

    I personally think that keeping all you document editing in one window is much closer to the document-centric approach you mentioned early in the article.
    Even with as much work as it would be to set up the n-up panes (with vectors in one pane, pixels in another, and page composition in yet another), that’s still not a whole lot different than the way we work now. Sure, we wouldn’t need to take some of the current steps to move data from one app to another, but if you’re going to all the trouble of making things document-centric, I think you need to go all the way.

  • Joseph S. — 12:55 PM on April 20, 2009

    The example meant to “feel more like editing a symbol in Flash or Illustrator” is great. I commonly get further into documents in the same way of editing in Flash and Illustrator. If PS was leveraging a similar way of editing vector smart objects my work would become easier and faster, as I like to use vector smart objects often, and opening AI to edit can become cumbersome.

  • David — 1:01 PM on April 20, 2009

    You know what I want and can’t afford? The Adobe Master Suite. Thing is, I don’t need a lot of advanced features in each of the applications – just perhaps Photoshop. So my mega app would include something like the Elements version of the apps all tied together in one app. Call it the Periodic Table or something!
    I think meshing all of the apps into a mega app with different modes would be awkward, as not all apps call for the same interfaces. If the interfaces would change significantly as you drilled into different objects, then the UI “jumps around.”
    If switching apps is too time consuming, there are probably ways to decrease it — like making each app a DLL called by the same parent program or something. That would be just about as quick as the mega-app I would think, since you’d probably end up putting the different app’s function in different code bases anyway.
    Anyway – how about that Elements version of the Master Suite? Make something affordable for the non-pro, serious hobbiest crowd.
    D.

  • Leonard Ritter — 1:08 PM on April 20, 2009

    I have been thinking about something similar lately for audio data. I believe your suggestion is the right direction: have multiple applications offer different views on the same data, and update each one accordingly, as the data changes.

  • Thomas — 2:31 PM on April 20, 2009

    That approach makes absolutely sense for merging two or three Applications in Apple Final Cut Suite – into one damn single app.
    But back to CS.
    Marry PremierePro with AfterEffects and make Users happy.
    The existence of both and their mutual, contrary and counterproductive weaknesses are quite sicken.
    Just a liiiitle example of thousands: Ae is not capable of playing back a video file (no fx applied) without buffering into RAM first, ehm? cmon!
    And then Adobe moves the Ae timeline to Flash!!??
    What kind of giant step for the Videographers you may think is that…?
    and for the other apps, we’d be blessed with the fact if ID, PS, AI user interface, workflow and commands would not harmonize the Ike and Turner way…
    And here’s now for the biggest egg.
    I always complained about the fact that there are two, practically same, co-exsisting Apps: PS and Pse
    What the Heck? Pushing Sales?
    2 weeks ago i had a task of retouching several houndreds of videos in Photoshop.
    I thought taking the advanteg and possibilities importing video clips into PS, but the nightmare started as PS suprised me with the Message: “Video import is restricted to 500 Frames” after importing the first clip.
    What the hell?
    And before the working nightmare started, i’ve called support an they told me to purchase freaking Pse which does not have these limitations. And that made completely mad. I’ve had flashbacks about taking the next plane right away and break Adobes doors.
    So, what’s your deep and honest opinion against a fusion of PS and Pse in a HUMAN LOGICAL way. I’m not interested in Business and Sales terms.
    By the way: Grid Iron “Flow” should be the new Bridge (we had that discussion once), I use Bridge only for seeking my bloody video files for Final Crap Pro and never used it for anything CS else.
    sorry if i may offend you and ranting around in your blog, but many screwed things in CS give me no other option than turning mad.
    have a nice one.

  • J. Peterson — 3:24 PM on April 20, 2009

    Of all the attempts at document-centered models, ClarisWorks (RIP) came the closest to actually pulling it off. The key was the developers started with a blank slate with the end goal of producing such an environment. Retrofitting existing apps into that model gets Real Messy Real Quick, as OpenDoc and the various Microsoft variants demonstrated.
    Can you imagine reconciling all of the keyboard shortcuts? You’d need a Space-cadet keyboard. (“Group vector elements is control-meta-super-hyper-shift G”)

  • Thomas — 3:31 PM on April 20, 2009

    Ah! I was meant to write marrying PS and PS Extended not Pse (Elements)!
    There you have it: too many separate applications causing bloats, not the fusion of them.

  • Dreamweaver Course — 4:08 PM on April 20, 2009

    If other vendors could “drop-in” modules this might be great – then again it might become a support nightmare. Good, thought provoking article.

  • Richard Morey — 4:38 PM on April 20, 2009

    I think that Adobe would be well served to modularize their applications. For example a “vector” editor that can be used to create elements for what would historically have been Photoshop or Flash or Illustrator. Similarly, a “bitmap” editor, a text editor, a video editor, a sound editor. I primarily use Flash, Photoshop and Illustrator but objects never move between the apps as easily and “unchanged” as Adobe says they will. I’d rather have a single base app that I can add modules to.

  • Valter — 4:42 PM on April 20, 2009

    I think there are some great ideas here “global live editing” would be very very nice and the “N window” mode i think could be very sweet to work in multiple screens. I already do something akin with spaces at work…
    One thing to consider, photoshop already has some of this flair in it with the bridge integration. Something like that could be used for the cross-app edition.
    Best regards.

  • DJ Fitz — 5:45 PM on April 20, 2009

    One big problem with moving to a document-based, component-object model has to do with printing. One of the biggest missing features of OpenDoc was that it never was able to solve the problem of a unified printing model. For example, Adobe documents may have embedded content that knows nothing about its custom print functionality. Special PDF/PostScript output, color separations, trapping, ink management, etc. This basically makes pro press printing unworkable in a general way. There were many other problems with OpenDoc but this one is most apropos to Adobe apps. It’s interesting to see that there is still interest in this problem, but there are so many issues that aren’t apparent until you go into the document model rathole. I would be interested to see more academic interest in document architectures, basically to have many minds working towards a body of knowledge on the subject. This would contribute to getting a more complete understanding of the issues and challenges involved.

  • Ryan Summers — 9:33 PM on April 20, 2009

    Every chance I get, I try to pass along this post from Stu Maschwitz’s blog on his theory of unifying Bridge,Premiere and After Effects into one mega-suite: http://tinyurl.com/d38wmf

  • Joel Eby — 9:40 PM on April 20, 2009

    Isn’t an OS just a “master program” that houses chore-specific “modules” (applications?) Why would we need an OS within an OS? :)
    The range of possible combinations of tasks (i.e., illustration + photo editing; or, Flash animation + html site construction) is too specific for any one person to be able to justify grouping them up for the sake of them all programs/all users.
    Within any one application, however, things could certainly get more modular. I thought Photoshop was a perfect program, until I started using After Effects and realized that in many ways, it was set up for making *still compositions* better than Photoshop. It let me drop and stack effects on items without limitation, because its effects were modular – I could put 3 different dropshadows on the same object, or place an object’s stroke *underneath* its glow – my mind was *blown*. Why wasn’t Photoshop like this??
    There is one application that does modular computing really well – Ableton Live. It’s an extremely lightweight shell for making music –- it loads up lightning-quick –- and every task is added modularly into its appropriate spot.
    Photoshop layers could very well be set up just like Live’s tracks. Each layer would have a chain of effects, re-sortable, re-tweakable, and only loaded up if I needed them.
    At most, I could see combining Illustrator and Photoshop. (And maybe Fireworks). But that’s it.
    Grouping all the functions of the entire CS suite into a box full of modules, for all possible tasks, just doesn’t make any sense to me. Who would ever need to edit a multi-page print document in the same project as an AE video effect?

  • Alex — 10:01 PM on April 20, 2009

    Photoshop does a heck of a lot of what Illustrator does. Illustrator does a heck of a lot of what Photoshop does. InDesign does some of what either of the other does.
    This overlap seems unnecessary. Why not make them all one program? The big problem here, obviously, is bloat. The nicest solution, in my opinion, would be to make it one shell which loads the components as needed. It should be instantaneous to start up, being at first merely a reader of whatever file you open. As you pick editing tools, their portions load. For different styles (such as the formerly-Illustrator style vs. the formerly-Photoshop style), you could set one style as the default (whichever is most popular would be the default by default), or you could assign separate buttons or keyboard shortcuts to them if you need them individually.
    If you wanted to get real fancy, you’d add scripting support with a really fast scripting language (Google v8? WebKit’s SquirrelFish? FireFox’s tracing compiler? Your own ActionScript implementation?). If you are really really clever, you’d make the entire UI be set up through this scripting language, making it possible for people to literally completely customize the UI, or even run without UI.
    All of the applications should, naturally, share a single data format, but there’d be a few different “mediums,” much like you might have in physical-world creativity; for instance, you may have “sound,” “video,” (Premiere Pro and After Effects) “composition,” (equivalent of Photoshop and Illustrator combined) and “print” (InDesign, multi-page output) output forms. Some of these could use and even include and be a superset of the others, such as video, which could include sound and composition, and print, which could include compositions.
    This is, of course, assuming a perfect world, which never happens (especially when code is involved). My guess is that, if this is indeed a good idea (I could be sprouting nonsense, as it is 12:00am at the moment) this would take several years to accomplish, and it would require major rewriting of many components. So it isn’t likely. But I can dream, can’t I?

  • Bob Hopfner — 10:13 PM on April 20, 2009

    I already work this way in as much as anyone can. I work in ID and when I have a vector or bitmap I drag them in and load up the cursor. When I need to edit that vector image I right click on that element and Edit and up pops AI, same thing or bitmap files. It’d be nice to have a document open and it’s links open in other tabs with data specific pallettes.
    Unifing apps would be the natural evolution of Adobe’s Creative Suite.

  • Kontra — 10:53 PM on April 20, 2009

    As you sow so shall you reap, regarding OpenDoc, since you so vociferously opposed it at the time.
    [A. Be careful throwing around accusations: I didn’t work at Adobe until years after OpenDoc was dead and buried. B. I don’t recall hearing of anyone at Adobe opposing it, vociferously or otherwise. C. The technology died for plenty of reasons unrelated to Adobe (see the Wikipedia article). D. This perma-victim crap really does get old. –J.]

  • Charles — 11:12 PM on April 20, 2009

    I don’t accept the model of document-centric vs. application centric. It seems to me that this is another disguised version of the Mac vs. PC war. Or more specifically, should apps be integrated like Microsoft Office (PC centric), or should they be integrated by common file formats that any separate apps can integrate with (the hallmark of early Mac apps). Windows users like document-centric because their GUI is pinned to documents, Mac users like app-centric because their menus are pinned to the app. Do we really need to fight this war yet again? This argument is headed in a wholly unproductive direction.
    IMHO the Adobe apps were successful for a couple of reasons:
    1. Task-centric user-centric interface. The GUI used real-world metaphors (pencil, brush, etc.) that were familiar to users from their real-world tasks. This brought the computer task closer to the user, rather than bringing the user into the computer world.
    2. Results-oriented files. This was a godsend for graphic artists, we could craft our work closely to output specifications, in whatever the final media was (imagesetter, inkjet, laser printer, screen, etc.) and we could get a consistent graphic appearance in whatever media the images ended up in. It is hard to convey how the workflow changed when we could integrate .eps files that could run an imagesetter to the ultimate level PostScript was capable of, down to those 1/2540th of an inch pixels on film, and those tricky halftone screens that drove us color-separators nuts.
    Now the problem is, there isn’t one universal task, and one universal output result. So if you’re going to change the integration of the GUI, you’re basically going to bias it towards one working style and not another. IMHO if you leave the apps less integrated by task, leaving the integration via files, you retain more flexibility. Each app is centered around tools, we’re using the pen tool to lay down vectors in AI, we’re using an airbrush to spray bitmaps in PS, etc. and there is no one universal tool, just as there is no one universal task. Yes, we do “schlep” a project from one tool to another, even in a real woodworking shop, where we move from the table saw to the sander etc.
    Well anyway, I haven’t really thought this through, but I have been thinking about it quite a bit, since I’m working on resurrecting an old presentation (in Macromedia Director 2.0 I think) I made for Apple back around 1986 or so, discussing the ways integrated apps worked for graphic artists. They used a lot of it as the basis of their ill-fated “Heliocar” ad campaign. Yeah, I may be a stick-in-the-mud, I personally don’t think the GUI has evolved much since then, or that it needs to evolve radically. Hell, I hate the new CS4 GUI and even though I have CS4, I still mostly use CS3. My clients are even worse, they still mostly use CS2. IMHO, at this point, nothing is really improving the GUI in subsequent releases, it’s different but not better. “Improving” the GUI is not what is needed anymore. Improving the ability of users to bring their work away from computer-geeky GUIs and towards their work styles and ideas is more important. This is a long subject, alas, and every true artist is convinced his own work style is the only true way to work. So let’s just not even go there, OK?

  • DrWatson — 12:11 AM on April 21, 2009

    Honestly, sounds like hell on earth to me. This “unified everything super app” actually _limits_ users instead of simplifying their everyday work. Why? Because of the myriads of possibilities the suite gives to the users and the very special needs of every single user. You wouldn’t ever find “the one right way” to do it. OK, this sounds like “it might get hard, so stop trying anyway”. But instead of one “unfied app that does it all”, I think there would be less gigantic, more realistic (and helpful) steps to happiness.
    “Unified” is the key word. Even if it’s hard to unify the look, feel and behaviour of all Adobe apps, that’s what all engineers should work for (I’m sure they do, but looking at Illustrator, there’s WAY more work to do ;). Make same functions work the same. I don’t need AI to pop up when I’m trying to edit vector art. I need the vector tool to act like I was in Illustrator. I need “Align” work in Illustrator just like it does in InDesign (which it doesn’t). I need magnetic guides behave in the same way in every app (which, you guessed it, is not the case — Ctrl-key to override guides temporarily does work in InDesign, not so in Illustrator). I need dialogues to look the same, if they are telling me the same thing.For all this, I don’t need one gigantic app eating up 40 gigs on harddrive and another 8 gigs in RAM. I need (or let’s put it right: I wish with all my art) several specialist apps, that concentrate on what they’re best at, but share all the things they have in common. To me as a user (with no idea of programming and engineering) it seems like every Adobe app is inventing the wheel over and over again, which results in functions looking similar, working similar, but not identical. Modules, yes. But not modules that add together for one big app, but that are shared whenever possible. I think, there are already lots of modules shared between Adobe apps, but it feels like there could/should be lots more.

  • Mark Thomas — 2:14 AM on April 21, 2009

    I think that in order to make this work you’d need to completely disguise the fact that you were moving in an out of different apps, but still have them be modular so that if somebody needed page design but not vector editing, he could just buy the module he needed. Then, as his needs grew, he could add modules and slowly build his own version of the suite. But you don’t want modality. Making CS6 (or whatever) modal along the lines of Lightroom would be no better than jumping between apps the way we do today. Nor would it make sense to have a set of tools in a palette, each one representing a specific app, because that, again, would still be modal. The only way to do this would be to change the Creative Suite into a Studio with no seams or barriers. The closest to such a thing I’ve seen would probably be Commotion which was like a hybrid Photoshop/Premiere/AfterEffects app in which you could paint directly on movie footage in layers, over time. This is how a Creative Studio should behave. The Creative Studio would be explicitly layer based, with each layer representing a specific kind of data. You could draw vectors on top of movie footage simply by creating a vector layer above the movie layer, with no limits to the number of each type of layer. This would be a great opportunity to really refine the way layers work too. They work now, but even seasoned Photoshop experts still several times a day end up trying to paint on the wrong layer, because it’s not always obvious at a glance which layer an object resides on.
    Anyway, it can absolutely be done, but if it’s modal it will fail.

  • Andrew Ingram — 2:14 AM on April 21, 2009

    I think a “grand unified suite” is the wrong way to go. The problem is that it makes the assumption that Adobe has a solution for everything. I prefer apps that are “good citizens”, they’re completely independent of one-another but can share data easily and fluidly. I really dislike Adobe Bridge because it ties you into the adobe suite, it doesn’t cater for people who say like using Apple Aperture for taking photos, Fireworks for doing web imagery and Pixelmator for doing brush work.
    I want Photoshop (and everything else Adobe) to be simple apps that can be installed like any other (by dragging a .app into the applications folder for example). These programs are merely tools for editing files, there is absolutely no justification for them taking 30 minutes to install.
    If the computing world decides to attempt a document-oriented approach it should be via a standardised method of interoperability. Ambitious, but it’s something the that’ll have to tackled at some point if we ever want to see all the cool computer stuff from sci-fi.

  • Daemon — 2:14 AM on April 21, 2009

    No.
    a) Technically impossible. There are development teams for each App. You cannot just merge their brains together.
    b) Cost. Cost of such an App would be immense. The sales and marketing department would just kill any person who comes up with an all-in-one software that costs $10.000.
    c) Different uses. Believe it or not, Photoshop and Illustrator have a VERY small intersection between them. It is true that some things can be done in PS as well as in AI, but those things are only 1% of the overall software’s capability.
    For me, better jumping between software is more important than merging software. Double click on vector Smartobject in PS takes you to AI. That is AWESOME. Same thing should be propagated all over the suite, and that will create an illusion that you are working in one software.

  • Gaspy — 2:30 AM on April 21, 2009

    You know, to this day I prefer CorelDraw instead of the Illustrator+InDesign combo. Combining the two into one powerful app makes sense.
    As others mentioned, I never understood why Premiere and After Effects are separate products, since you need both anyway for any serious work.
    Fireworks was Macromedia’s attempt to marry bitmap and vector, so a Photoshop+Illustrator would make sense.
    I think Adobe made many steps in the right direction by unifying the UI and allowing for good import/export options, as well as the option in Dw to edit a something in Flash or Fireworks.
    That kind of integration would be a realistic way to go further – separate apps, but tightly integrated so that jumping from one to the other is easy (I think OLE has enabled that quite some time ago, allowing me to select a bitmap in CorelDraw and edit in Photopaint and go back easily — maybe something smarter can be done today)

  • Sandee Cohen — 4:09 AM on April 21, 2009

    John,
    No, I don’t like the idea of a SuperApp.
    I worry if my little MacBook Pro could really handle all those apps running in one huge app.
    But what I wouldn’t mind is some of what you’re proposing built into Bridge.
    I already think of Bridge as the “Adobe Finder/Explorer alternative.”
    Let’s call this approach a “Super Bridge.” Without the Super Bridge (SB) open, all the Adobe apps would behave approximately as they do today.
    But with SB open, any open Adobe app would send data to the SB. As you work on a PSD file, the ID layout (or layouts) that the file is used in would be previewed. And changes to the PSD file would be updated in real time.
    This would happen with or without ID running. (Sort of like GridIron Flow, but more integrated.)
    The SB would also have a Tool Deck. Choosing a Pen from the Tool Deck would then give you the ability to choose which program’s Pen tool. Of course, all the Pen features would be identical when you use the Pen from the SB.
    But here’s the big difference. If you chose the Pen from the application, not the Tool Deck, the Pen tool would work only in that application. And special legacy features (such as Photoshop’s rubber band feature for the Pen) would be available.
    This would allow the tools to behave more uniformly without bloating them with features they application would never need.
    The SB would also be configured by the user to exclude certain apps that the user never needs. Therefore if I never use Fireworks (a terrible thought) the FW Pen could be excluded from SB.
    When the Bridge was first introduced I felt it was the first step in a platform-agnostic work environment. A SB would go even further.

  • Kirk Nelson — 6:23 AM on April 21, 2009

    yeah sure. and while we’re dreaming, let’s solve the obvious bloat problem by letting users select which modules to add to the base environment. I need Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamwevar, InDesign. But I don’t need Premiere, AfterEffects, or ColdFusion.
    This could even be refined down further within the modules: Photoshop:image editing toolset, Photoshop:3D Toolset. etc.
    ultimately, this trend would make the different module names obsolete and the user would end up just with a feature by feature, custom built, Adobe SuperApp.

  • Jonathan Gala — 6:37 AM on April 21, 2009

    I am more interested in this idea than I expected, but I ask you: please consider performance first. You can already get reasonably close to this using Smart Objects, if you already have the apps you need running. For many users, the overhead in RAM and computing, and the increased startup time getting the mega-app running, might make the whole thing counterproductive.
    I’d prefer a kind of mixed approach centered around expanding the smart object model. When editing a vector in PS, you could optionally (via right click?) edit in Illustrator and re-save as a smart object (any already imported smart objects would just automatically switch apps). In InDesign, any embedded image, if a layered file, could be converted into a smart object (right click again?), and flat file imports could have the option of finding an existing layered source smart object, or re-saving as a new one.
    Overall I think the modularity of the apps is an asset, considering that performance is still a very real factor (see note). Run what you need. But I absolutely applaud the idea of recognizing that single files can have elements that play to the strengths of multiple apps, and finding ways to bring the best set of tools in the suite to bear on them. But performance concerns, not to mention the age-old confusion issues with modal controls and interfaces, are huge, huge factors here. For me, losses on those fronts would far outweigh solving whatever obstacles the current smart object model presents.
    *Performance note: I’m sorry to rant, but I am using CS3 on a 2.2 GHz MacBook Pro with 4GB RAM, and in Fireworks, it often takes a full second or more for the properties inspector to update after selecting an object. Even in a new or small file. Every day I change the color of the canvas rather than the object I’ve selected, because the palette hadn’t updated modes yet. Rage. Raaage!

  • Matt Radel — 6:38 AM on April 21, 2009

    I’ll agree with the bid above for an elements style master suite.
    Perhaps the modular approach could be applied to the functionality of each app – kind of building on the specific workspace idea in CS4. You could essentially choose a configuration (maybe from a handful of choices) and turn off the 50% + functionality that you don’t need. I’d prefer to have a lighter weight Photoshop that screams vs. a mega app…I just think that’s a recipe for disaster.

  • Jerry Miller — 7:12 AM on April 21, 2009

    If the file were an extension of IDML or some similar file-type that could be edited as plain text,I would be the first in line to buy this. Would this “idea” also include Flash files?

  • Steve — 7:22 AM on April 21, 2009

    I second Dr. Watson’s comments.

  • Pedro Estarque — 9:43 AM on April 21, 2009

    Maybe we don’t need to only blast Photoshop into a million pieces but perhaps the entire suit and let the user build it from the ground on a needed basis. It would make whole periodic table icons thing almost prophetical :)
    If done right, the Grand Unified Suit could be leaner and faster, allowing users to only load the modules they use and having the best tool for the job at hand, instead of a slimmed down version where programs’ features overlap.
    If done wrong, you’d have a mammoth that loads everything you could possible ever need even though you only wanted to make a curves adjustment.
    But one thing is for sure, it would take a remarkable GUI to handle it all. And to me, the App Frame is not the answer. The ability to see through in a Grand Unified Suit with global live editing would be amazing. Conversely, imprisoning the user in a single do it all huge grey background app would be like a ritalin overdose in pre MultiFinder days.
    I’m much more found of the idea of symbols within the app and context sensitive pallets. The means to work in standard screen mode must be retained for those who dislike full screen mode. I have no problem with rearrangeable pallets containing useful information eventually taking over the screen, but a grey background simply in the name of attention focusing is quite annoying. One man’s distraction is another’s wasted real-estate.

  • James — 9:44 AM on April 21, 2009

    Just some off-the-cuff thinking here.
    Do we need to think in terms of “apps?” For a moment get out of app-think and look at the tools you use, instead.
    Whipping out ALL of the tools you need to paint a house (paint, brushes, ladder, dropcloths, etc.) is foolish when you just want to touch up a spot at eye-level on the wall. All you need then is the brush and paint.
    However, we typically have to whip out “the entire toolset” (i.e., all of Photoshop) when all we may need is to convert an image to black and white.
    Perhaps if we instead looked at “just the tools we need,” then we can see a less bloated system of palettes devoted to the selected graphic element.
    So you select a bitmap graphic and bitmap tools appear; you choose a vector object and vector tools appear; you select text and text palettes are available.
    You no longer have Illustrator’s way of handling text (click and type), or InDesign’s way of text (make a box, then type), or Photoshop’s less-friendly text mode… it’s just one palette with text-related tools collected for use.
    It’s a wonderful vision, rife with possible gotchas I haven’t even conceived of, and “my favorite tool” going away, or at least hiding in a new slot until I find it. But if it alleviates demand on the system, allows me to “buy and use” the palette tools I need (much as I buy software programs), and get my work done more efficiently, it’s worth looking into.
    This way, Adobe sells the tools as purpose-driven palettes rather than product-driven brand-name packages, so it might take some serious rethinking on their business model as well. Maybe give away Bridge for free file management to consumers, and sell the former apps as “added value tools” that plug into Bridge as their central graphics browser … so I buy and activate “the Photoshop toolset” and lo! I can work with my pictures. Then I get “the Illustrator toolset” and I can do that much more. Adobe could even break out the tools into logical groupings by function rather than former brand name, like “the text tools,” “special effects tools,” or “video tools.”
    Hey, it’s just a thought, but then, new ideas are almost always scary.

  • Chris — 9:56 AM on April 21, 2009

    My dad told me a long time ago, that any job is easier when you have the right tools for the job. Tools don’t necessarily make a better product, but they sure make the job easier and faster and can give you a better finished piece.
    Do I want all my Adobe apps in one? No.
    I want Photoshop to stay the master of all photos. And a little vector is OK. I want Illy to be master of all beziers. InDesign can bring it all together.
    But one app that tries to do it all is gonna fail. It’ll take too long to load. Be too cumbersome to use. Difficult for anyone to master let alone use daily. I think of the saying “A jack of all trades is a master of none.”
    Each Adobe app should be the BEST for what it’s geared for. A little overlap is OK. But if I were a professional photographer, why would I want or need Flash or video editing features crammed into Photoshop?
    The analogy of “schlepping some woodwork to different shops” doesn’t quite hit it. Any good piece of woodworking requires you use many tools. A saw, a lathe, a bandsaw, a belt sander, etc. Each tool is totally specialized for what it does, and dispatches work quickly and precisely. Try building a cabinet with a dremel drill. (OK a ShopSmith might do it well). Without specialized tools, you are more hampered by the one-tool-for-all approach.
    But back to my preference- app switching on a decent fast computer is instantaneous. Plus, I don’t do video editing, so would I need the modules for video, or flash, or web sites? No. So why would I want an app with all of that built in?
    I vote to keep apps separate.

  • Gilles D — 11:09 AM on April 21, 2009

    I work in “software research” at a large software firm.
    I now see going around and asking “should we make {some huge change}” as being virtually pointless.
    The opportunities and problems that casual observers will identify are very, very rarely ones that a quiet white board session with 3 or 4 people won’t identify as well.
    What the casual observer will almost never uncover, however, is how the world might change if the proposed project is undertaken, or how the software will ideally respond to that new universe it itself will be creating.
    Not to say that it’s not appreciated that you approach us and ask our opinion. Just that all the observations, both pro and con, those of encouragement and warnings, are inevitably not forward looking enough to imagine the reverberations coming from the impact of those changes.
    Take a team of two or three people. Physically separate them from the rest of the developers. Give them all the source code they need, and just barely not-enough-time to get a functional prototype together.
    Whether they get something working or not, it’s an absolute guarantee that you’ll learn many many times more from such an exercise than from polling the public (even one as self-selected and technologically savvy as the ones who read your blog).
    Good luck, sounds like it would be a tremendously interesting experiment!

  • earth — 11:28 AM on April 21, 2009

    Your obo/2 mockup is it, John.
    That right there should be the pulsing heart of the Creative Suite. Without having read that proposal on Dear Adobe before, i too had been pondering the potential. I remember having the notion the first time i saw the waste of space that is the current cs4 application frame. I thought, oh so now that PS is open, then once i open ID or Br, they’ll appear in the frame. I mean, there must be some reason all those pixels are being wasted. Right?
    So, yes. Bring everything together. Finally get around to integrating the entire suite. It’s here, and we all know it’s not going anywhere. I want to see you folks make all the pieces of the puzzle fit perfectly together, at last. Color management, type engines, user preferences, versioning, histories, all of it.
    Going for a N-up workflow is worth remembering to do, but it’s really only a piece of the document-centric puzzle. Why waste the years and countless hours taking a small step when you can just make the leap! I have unquestionable faith that all the teams could pull this off. You have all the technology you need to facilitate whatever it is you set your minds to.
    The really cool thing about it, is that if you go for complete integration, you’ll have a much easier time making that wiki layer which you want and we all need. And I keep thinking about some torrent code in there somewhere which will allow us all to share that layer more easily.

  • Alex — 12:36 PM on April 21, 2009

    John, up to now I have always told you what is in my heart, and how much I love Adobe and photoshop and basically I have always said you guys are on the right track. This is a bad idea. Period. No argument, just it is just something to do, have you run out of things to do.? Let’s just leave it the way it is going.

  • Jim Monaco — 1:37 PM on April 21, 2009

    This is a very good idea, John. I don’t know how you’re going to sell the products if they’re all one, but if you can pull this off, I’m sure you’ll think of something. Back when Microsoft came out with their 6 flavors of Vista, I wrote in some useless feedback form that they ought to package every feature right in and offer preset configurations with the option to activate or deactivate bloating chunks of functionality at will, rather than locking users to one limited set of functionality or stuffing everything into one “Ultimate” install. While I never heard back from M$, it’s nice to see my favorite software company coming up with the same idea at the senior pm level.
    The idea of combining multiple apps into one interface works best, in my opinion, when it is done relatively seamlessly. While I think there’s many compelling points to your 2-up approach, that doesn’t go far enough into integration to be really compelling. I can already do these kinds of integrations if I resize my app windows and place them side-by-side (thanks to things like smart objects). To integrate the products in a worth-the-time way, I feel that you’d need something seamless, like your last suggestion; I edit a vector, I get the vector editing toolset. I edit a paragraph, I get the page layout toolset.
    By integrating all of these tools into one package, you actually eliminate “workflow” to a large degree. You reduce the process down to just using the tools in an app, and they always work the same way and you don’t have to move to other software when you hit a feature limitation.
    But…there’s a few problems with this, too. One, which M$ has run into a bit, has to do with initiation. It’s hard to push document-driven applications in the directions you want them to go. For example, how would I initiate a multi-page spread in the Super Adobe App? Or a vector drawing? How do I steer the App and make it reveal the right set of tools *not* for what I am working on, but for what I am going to work on next? You can try to guess what options I want, but there’s quite a fair chance that you’ll leave a lot of people looking for the button to make it do this and that.
    The other is that your user (sadly) doesn’t want a complete, brilliant, well-thought-out, fully flexible toolkit. What percentage of time does the average user spend using X number of Adobe apps? I’ll bet my hat it’s not (total time)/X. So what happens when a heavy Photoshop user wants to drop in a simple vector mask and discovers that they need to know how to use Illustrator? It’s a remarkably different application.
    This is something your could probably enable through a preference of some kind, but definitely something to keep in mind; we aren’t equally skilled in all Adobe apps.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas with us!
    ~Jim

  • Stuart Wilkes — 2:15 PM on April 21, 2009

    Anything that makes moving your work flow between parts of CS sounds great. But please – enough with the application frame idea. I hate it. All my colleagues hate it. It’s the first preference to be switched off on any CS4 instal at our company.
    At least that and tabbed documents can be turned of in CS4 if they don’t fit how you work. There’s already plenty of bugs that have been introduced in CS4’s interface. I do understand that some of these are because there are limitations on the host operating systems, but forcing an Adobe general UI means that both Windows and Mac versions are less than ideally tuned to each operating system. I can only imagine the mess that a unified app approach would cause.
    Please – lets keep the good suggestions here – the ability to easily edit parts of documents in other apps, but let each app be what it wants to be. There’s already a huge amount of complexity in the suite – let’s have leaner and meaner separate tools that work together well, not some awful swiss army knife app.

  • Phillip Kerman — 3:20 PM on April 21, 2009

    good luck with that. I mean, sure, I’ve had times when I’m bopping around multiple applications thinking “why not combine” but that really only applies to a few features here or there. With all due respect, before making one uber-product why not make all the individual products great? Once you have that, then think about optimizing the overlap.
    Look at what software people really love–it’s not the monolithic bloated monsters… it’s the awesome fast apps that do one thing and do that one thing very well.

  • Guy who knows something about Adobe's innards — 5:24 PM on April 21, 2009

    The master app thing is a great idea and has to more or less happen, anyway. Here’s why:
    The reality is that most of Adobe’s codebase is bordering on 15-20 years old or older. So for those of you pining for faster or lighter apps, keep in mind that the instability and speed issues is a result of 20 years of spaghetti code, not “feature bloat”.
    It’s all going to have to be re-written sooner or later. When that happens, they’re not going to write the type engine 7 times again… they’re going to write it once and re-use it. Same with vector, raster, printing, etc.
    So the ability to do a master app is pretty much there, anyway. They could build in the ability to buy new modules in-app for up-selling. Issues could be fixed in one place, etc. And, if the apps were running on a codebase that was less than 2 decades old, maybe it would actually be somewhat fast and stable.
    Adobe is tempting fate with every release they put out without starting over from scratch. CS4 is not only a sales bomb, but is a mostly terrible product. Photoshop has a bunch of mostly useless new crap. Illustrator is broken in some really important ways. Fireworks is really, really, *really* broken. I don’t even use Fireworks CS4 because I can’t do my job with it. Flash player ships by default in developer mode so I get errors on every web page. Interface inconsistencies abound. Photoshop has better type support than Illustrator and InDesign is the only app that fully supports Adobe’s own OpenType technology, (which is over a decade old now). It’s really getting to be a joke.
    Random aside: maybe combining everything into one app will also eliminate some of the terrible cross-product integration stuff that makes no sense… like I can make web pages in InDesign now. Great.
    The idea of having a common document window that all the apps share and load around sounds like the worst possible combination of your ideas. I have -zero- confidence that Adobe could pull that off without a ground-up rewrite. The engineers can’t even get each of the apps stable on their own. QA has been steadily slipping over the last three releases, too, so I have no doubt such a monstrosity would ship in a generally unusable form.
    Start. Over. A wise man once told me, “You can’t polish a turd.” Adobe needs to stop trying.

  • thinsoldier — 7:25 PM on April 21, 2009

    For the record, I and at least 4 other people have made almost this same adobe.exe suggestion in the comments of this blog over the last couple years.
    http://www.jnack.com/adobe/photoshop/obo/1.html
    This workflow is pretty much what a lot of 3d texture artists are already used to. It works. Do it. ASAP.
    Oh, and let the cowboy.ai file be “linked” into the psd so as not to increase the filesize of the psd any further.

  • Mark Thomas — 8:36 PM on April 21, 2009

    One bonus of just calling it something like Adobe Studio is that we’d no longer have to be quietly annoyed by people referring to Photoshop as “Adobe,” e.g. My Adobe stopped working..

  • cm — 10:12 PM on April 21, 2009

    i hate to be cynical here but does that mean it (the grand suit), when an error is encountered during the initial installation, no parts will be installed, just no install period?

  • Benoît — 11:45 PM on April 21, 2009

    I did not had a chance to read the other comments but… honnestly I would like to see prototypes to make an informed comment. The document-centric approach is exciting but it’s hard to picture how it would work in practice and whether it would not suffer from some serious problem.
    I know that, oftentimes, in LR I cry for one more tool from PS… and (now that we have the absolutely indispensable basics) I’m torned between asking for all of these one tool and concern with bloatware.
    Side note: one of the big challenges in such changes oftentimes are the vested interest of a company and politics within a company. So many congrats for even coming public with this idea (and I realize it’s just a thought at this stage, not a promise).

  • Seb — 1:40 AM on April 22, 2009

    With all due respect, before making one uber-product why not make all the individual products great? Once you have that, then think about optimizing the overlap.
    This. I mean, it’s certainly not your thing, but I am just so steaming to read this when Photoshop already feels like a flimsky ‘fake’ application on Mac OS X that has numerous bugs, performance issues, and an interface that competes with Java swing for the most lame attempt at being native ever. If you want to do this, scrap the PS codebase and start over; or don’t and wait for a natively coded competitor to arrive on the scene with sufficient features and watch Photoshop slowly vanishes.
    Combining the ID, PS, and AI codebases? That’d make for an amazingly comical behemoth.

  • Jonas Hummelstrand — 1:57 AM on April 22, 2009

    I second Ryan’s earlier comment, you must check out this Adobe/video centric idea of Premiere Pro and After Effects working as modules around something like Bridge, just like Autodesk’s Flame does it (for $50,000)
    http://prolost.com/blog/2008/10/1/what-should-adobe-do-with-premiere-pro.html

  • Thomas — 3:49 AM on April 22, 2009

    My biggest problem beneath all that is the problem that Adobes development cycles are shorter than ever.
    I’d rather wait in a 2 year cycle till a next major upgrade of CS.
    I believe Developers would have much more time to refine the apps b4 giving them out somewhat “Half Baked”.
    I saying that because i’m working in a huge State of the Art Ad-Agency where alone over 250 creative people (600 overall workers) STILL working in CS1/CS2 and other 14.000 outdated Adobe apps!!??
    I felt embarrased as i’ve heard that but at the other hand i can understand the IT and the management that there is no reason for them to throw thousands of thousands of dollars out of the window every YEAR! I don’t think that it has something to do with ignorance.
    Pretty scary for my opinion.

  • Michael Madsen — 4:15 AM on April 22, 2009

    Hi John – with all due respect, this is the worst idea since the german invasion of russia in ’41, and the outcome likely to be equally disastrous…. I don’t buy the woodwork analogy – fact is, that the suite components is already divided into “toolsets” that’re logically formed around perfoming specific tasks – i’m consider myself an advanced poweruser of Photoshop – yet on a day to day basis – 90 % of the time I only use a handfull of tools.
    Im sure you’re all aware of the MS studies indicating that 90 % of the users only use about 10 % of the tools in the entire office suite.
    Historically, the trend does not favor centralized one-size-fits all tools, but specialized tools well designed for specific tasks.
    No, what we need is for the developers at Adobe to stop making new features and fix the plethora of longstanding issues with the suite components. Lets start by making a truly unified suite where I don’t see three or four slightly different versions of the same tools in different suite components.
    We need total coherence both GUI wise and on a shared library basis. Then, perhaps, in a timeframe of 5-10 years it’ll be possible to slowly approch a modular suite of tighly integrated building blocks, where you can enable some of the same shared services, say a brush or typography engine, in custom build suite tools. Its an interesting thought but embarking on a project to united the exciting suite components as is into at super-app is highly undesirable, and complete and utter madness. There’s no chance in hell it’ll work.

  • Jens — 4:36 AM on April 22, 2009

    The german company ,Ragtime’ has a very similar approach for ther office Suite (www.ragtime.de) – and I have to say, that it works great for me.
    Another example is http://www.xara.com – the “xara web designer” and “xara xtreme” use the same interface / application for layout, illustration and photo editing – works also very well.
    So: GREAT IDEA

  • Steven P. — 5:28 AM on April 22, 2009

    It’s impossible for Adobe to make this perfect One-In-All-App. Adobes engineering isn’t good enough anymore. Read all the previous complaints about the single apps. How will you create »great«?

  • Steven P. — 5:34 AM on April 22, 2009

    I also would like to leave a positive comment for you: Keep selling the CS-Suite as it is. Add some modules from version to version (stitcher, color-picker, new installer?) and keep getting the money (keep the double price in Europe). It works now, it will work in the future. You are the Gorilla, Adobe :-)

  • FrankEEE — 6:12 AM on April 22, 2009

    yep i like this unification idea. for instance since the introduction of smart objects i do not understand the photoshop support for vector at at all anymore. only problem i see is with dreamweaver and its pathetic user interface – golive was the interface i so hoped for.
    anyway it’s gonna be hard to even get DW up to Adobe’s GUI standards leave alone integrate it with anything else.

  • Lucas — 7:08 AM on April 22, 2009

    A brilliant idea!
    This would be the next step in the creative suite evolution!
    Thinking further you would now have the Adobe.app with the Plugins like:
    Photoshop, Illustrator… but also Mini-Plugins like “Flash Action Script Editor” or “Flex Action Script Editor” so the user could create his own unique, perfectly fitting enviroment in which he can do his work.
    Users could buy sets of plugins (like Design Pro or Webdesign Standard) or just one plugin in a builtin store application, handtailoring for their very needs.
    I like this idea. Its great!

  • El Aura — 7:59 AM on April 22, 2009

    To me a PS document is pixel-based, ie, everything in it is defined relative to a pixel canvas. And an InDesign document is millimetre-based, ie, everything is in is defined in millimetres. You cannot easily switch between two such modes. But vector drawings can sit atop both kinds of canvases.
    As such, hiving off all vector related functionality into a module accessible from PS and ID might make some sense. The problem is the GUI, it might make more sense to have a handful of vector functions in ID but without switching to the full Illustrator GUI.
    Under the hood, things could be fully integrated, but some tasks are more efficient with an Illustrator GUI and some with an InDesign GUI. And allowing the user to switch between two GUIs would create orphaned content (content not accessible via the new GUI).

  • Steve — 10:10 AM on April 22, 2009

    An idea:
    You have this nice thing called a PDF, it holds everything. Start there. Acrobat handles pages, start adding application objects to these pages. Adobe gives us Acrobat reader for free, add a free word processor object and now we have a handy little application that can view and create PDFs. Want more functionality? Browse the application object library. Need to manipulate photos? Pay for and install the Elements object. Draw a rectangle in Acrobat and you are asked what kind of an object to add, and then the interface changes to Elements or what ever else you want to use. Need more power? Upgrade to Photoshop. Better yet, buy the core functions of Photoshop for a reduced price and upgrade specific toolkits as needed.
    Get what I’m saying about he interface? It’s like when in Illustrator and you select something inside a group and everything else goes muted. You could layer application objects one on top of the other. Acrobat already handles layers. Hell, Keep the applications stand-alone, make this nesting of objects an additional feature. Start a base PDF in photoshop and decide to add an Illustrator object and when you select it the interface turns to illustrator. Keep a breadcrumbs based navigation on the screen so you can dive between the nested object layers.
    The benefit is being able to see your work in the context of the project. I often create something in photoshop, place it in Indesign and reopen in Photoshop to nudge a layer or something. Usually it take a few of these blind trips to get it right. Nesting the objects would allow individual application control while maintaing a bird’s eye view.

  • Eric — 10:28 AM on April 22, 2009

    Well, I have to agree with the fixing current bugs thing I’m reading here. Almost every time I close Bridge and Photoshop and Dreamweaver and Flash after a long day of work, they all crash instead of just closing. Sometimes, if I don’t switch away to another app to close, or even click on the desktop, they won’t crash. They work fine all day long without a burp. But the simple act of closing them after a long day at work they almost all crash every time. (OS X 10.5.6, Mac Pro with 5 gigs of RAM.)
    Moving to Cocoa I hope will fix these bugs, but in the grand scheme of things, maybe following Apple’s example with Snow Leopard (fix the innards, the rest is pretty much fine as it is) could be a good choice.

  • Daniel Brown — 11:19 AM on April 22, 2009

    Shouldn’t this be “One app to rule them all”?
    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • Ben — 12:17 PM on April 22, 2009

    I second Daemon’s idea regarding smart-objects – I think that approach will solve a lot of the problem you’re trying to solve (How do we make creative workflows more efficient and smart?) Smart Objects help solve this by maintaining a link to the primary creator application – double-click and soon you’re in the contextually correct editing environment. Save your changes and soon you’re back into previous environment working on things that make sense in that environment. Extend this across all Adobe applications and then you have a major workflow change for the better. And possibly make smart objects the basic document format for Adobe apps.

  • Greg Law — 5:43 PM on April 22, 2009

    I like the idea of improving consistency and integration between Adobe apps with similar features or upstream-downstream workflow relationships. ‘Similar’ features wherever possible should become ‘same’ features by merging the best of each. For productivity both the ease of use and power must be carefully balanced.
    Recently, I installed the latest version of Autodesk’s Civil 3D which builds on Autocad and Autocad Map. Its interface (and help system) is extremely well thought out to provide easy access to an immense number of tools. John (and others) I recommend downloading the 30 day trial version of Autocad if you want to see some very serious interface capabilities which can be fully customized if you want. With this sort of interface I can easily see similar Adobe apps integrating seamlessly. It might provide you with some inspiration for improvements.

  • Steve Hanna — 1:50 PM on April 23, 2009

    I have been have been a believer in the docu-centric approach for some time. I am a graphic design student and a tutor. I often get frustrated, because I have to switch back and forth to get things to work the way i need them to. it seems to me if real graphic designers had built the apps to begin with they would have been based on this principle. How many artists do you know that move their canvas over the paintbrush. i think having each group of functions work like a seperate toolbox would benefit all. Also, it would probably slim down the overall resource usage, because only the open toolbox needs to be loaded. I think this model would also work better with the “cloud computing” trend that seems to be poised to replace the current user machine centered model.
    what would really be cool is if they made a document centered suite based in adobe air so it would not be platform dependent. it would be great to be able to use adobe CS on linux without a vm or hacking.

  • GG — 12:09 AM on April 24, 2009

    Cannot believe these are the things you guys question. The everyday designer just hassles around with changes from GoLive to Dreamweaver, from Imageready to whatever (I still don’t know how to do the things I used to be able to really fast) after 10 years experience in one program which just pops out of the equation. It really is way to fast how things change now, and it is not that evolution thing that bothers many, but small things like switching menu entries around from version to version, or huge ones like being forced to give up whole apps at all or else. If you could at least migrate the other needed things to PS? What do I need slicing without hotspots and html output?? Inconsistencies in Keyboard shortcuts or the denial of repairing flaws in an app instead of ever faster giving us the next unwanted CS version and the like really are getting in the light of the creatives. Just look at Mac OS X 10.6. and do the same! consolidate, repair, make things really work, listen to bug reports, take them serious. bring out apps that are fun to work with and don’t forget them afterwards.

  • Chris Perkins — 10:13 AM on April 24, 2009

    John,
    I think we’d all be a lot happier with computers in the 21st century if OpenDoc (as it was envisioned) had been successful. OpenDoc was, and still is, a great idea. And, personally, I feel that computers aren’t going to grow up until something like OpenDoc happens.
    In many ways, the web (or maybe PDF or Flash) is like the display side of OpenDoc. Web pages are somewhat like universal documents that can display anything (video, 3D, spreadsheets, maps) or be anything (web apps, etc.) But the creation and tool side of the OpenDoc equation is completely absent. Which is partly why web development is so primitive.
    One of the problems with OpenDoc is that it is such a major paradigm shift that, to be done rightly, it really needs to be done at the OS level. Or, at least, I used to think so. Now I’m not so sure.
    The constellation of Adobe apps is really a universe in its own right, so maybe you could pull it off.
    Chris

  • photoshopuser — 4:57 AM on April 26, 2009

    It would be just sweet to integrate hue/saturation, color balance, and color correction in the same adjustment panel, so you can define a range of colour, as we do in hue/saturation, and tweak it individually in shadows, mediums, an highlight having the control and precision of the 3 tools combined.

  • Jens B. — 11:28 AM on April 26, 2009

    Gorgeous idea! (But not very new…)
    I dont think that this is a dream of the feature – take a look at maxons cinema 4d. they GUI works for many years like you propose here.
    for me its not a question of “can we do this?” – more of: “when can we do this?” or better: “how fast can we do this!”

  • graphicartist2k5 — 9:40 AM on May 01, 2009

    i’ve thought about something along the lines of this post for a while now, except my idea is to have a “shell” of sorts that could run photoshop, illustrator, indesign, flash, and whatever other adobe creative suite programs all within the shell, along the same lines as how windows uses explorer.exe as its shell to run whatever programs can be run. the main difference with it being adobe’s shell program is that it will only be made for their creative suite applications to run in, and not any other applications, so if you wanted to only run the adobe shell program, and not explorer.exe, then you could theoretically do that, and then you could use the shell program to start up photoshop, illustrator, indesign, flash, and so on, and all those programs would be contained within the shell. of course, this would take a TON of coding and programming on adobe’s part, but i think it could be done.

  • Bobby — 9:06 AM on June 10, 2009

    Why isn’t here a nice little reward for users that purchased a legal copy or registered their software. When you buy the box you have a cool little thing to put in your office. But its better for everyone to buy digital.
    Couldn’t the app launch splash screen change to a cool 3d-hologram-esk version when you register or enter you’re purchased serial number on digital copies? It would be a cool little sub-conscience price every time a app launches.

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