March 07, 2011

A candid look at Photoshop CS5 development

From planning to chaos (“We’re screwed”) to literal tears of joy, Photoshop team members talk about the single toughest cycle in the app’s long history. Just watching it is an emotional roller coaster for me, bringing back first heartburn & then the great pride and gratitude I have to have been associated with this team. I think you’ll find it time well spent.

My own minor footnotes:

  • Having our names on the splash screen is a big deal to the team, going way back. After my name first appeared there, my mom carried a printout for years until it finally disintegrated in the depths of her purse.
  • Many of the engineers in the video have long associations with Apple, some having worked there. Russell Williams, who talks about Carbon vs. Cocoa, was a Mac OS system architect before joining Adobe.
  • At one point during conversion, the splash screen was literally drawing upside down. You can’t make these things up.
  • Designer Neven Mrgan got after Photoshop for its disparate range of UI sliders. That’s one of the things we intended to rectify via the too-ambitious “AHOD” process described in the video. Such controls include a great deal of subtle, custom behavior upon which customers depend, and it just wasn’t feasible to swap them all out in one release.
  • In case you’re wondering, AHOD wasn’t a rewrite effort that would make Photoshop magically twice as fast, etc. Rather, it was aimed at architectural changes that would make the codebase more efficient to develop. Such work remains underway, just not in a do-or-die, one-cycle shot.
  • Posted by John Nack at 3:27 PM on March 07, 2011
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