July 02, 2010
“CSS is the new Photoshop” (?)
Shawn Blanc hit on a great, if perhaps deliberately overstated, phrase on Monday that pegs an important trend: Cascading Style Sheets can create a great deal of artwork now, without reliance on bitmap graphics. He points to impressive iOS icons from Louis Harboe among other examples.
He’s not alone: Håkon Wium Lie from Opera predicts that CSS3 could eliminate half the images used on the Web. You can use various graphical tools to generate things like CSS gradients and rounded corners. As people can do more and more in code, it makes sense to ask whether even to use Photoshop in designing Web content.
I think Adobe should be freaking out a bit, but in a constructive way.
Of course, this is far easier said than done. As I noted the other day, “Almost no one would look inside, say, an EPS file and harrumph, ‘Well, that’s not how I’d write PostScript’–but they absolutely do that with HTML.” Over the last 15 years, innumerable smart people have tried and failed to make WYSIWYG HTML design tools whose output got respect. And yet it strikes me as unreasonable to say, “Spend a bunch of time perfecting your design in PS/AI, then throw it all away and start again!”
As for Photoshop, we could either teach the app to speak HTML natively (via live HTML layers), or we could translate Photoshop-native artwork into HTML (e.g. “copy this button/text as HTML/CSS”). It’s not yet clear to me, however, how such code would smoothly integrate into one’s projects.
At the moment I have more questions than answers. If you have ideas on the subject, please lay ‘em on us.
[Note: Ideas need not include, "Put your heads in the sand and say that people simply have to switch from Photoshop/Illustrator to Fireworks." FW is a great app, but that suggestion is a non-starter.]