February 06, 2014

Think On My Sins: Configurator & the simplification of Adobe tools

I fought the sprawl & the sprawl won.

I always intended to do a long series on what I’ve learned from failures, yet this will be the second & final installment (a bit of a meta-failure). Well, take it for what it’s worth.

In my many years working on Photoshop, I was sort of obsessed with the app’s inexorable growth & complexity. For example, in “Psst–wanna see Photoshop 15?” (Oct. ’05) I talked about the rate at which menu items were getting added. Even if the team somehow found a way to *drop* 60-70 features per release (impossible), we’d only tread water in terms of complexity.

To make real progress, I proposed breaking Photoshop into task-based chunks (for example, showing only photography features when you’re working on photography). Thus you could really feel like the app was made just for you, and that it revealed exactly the right set of features (and tips) just when you needed them.

I didn’t trust Adobe, myself, or any top-down approach to get these chunks exactly right. Instead I proposed letting customers tune the app themselves, building their own workspaces which combined layouts, menu setups, and keyboard shortcuts. Critically, these workspaces could also include custom panels—layouts that you could Lego together to fit your exact needs.

Enter Adobe Configurator. It offered a simple set of building blocks, letting you mix together a custom panel from any combo of Photoshop tools & menu commands you’d like. I never expected most users to invest the time—maybe 1 in 100 would, I figured—but I hoped that a small number of thoughtful, motivated users (the sort I once was) would create & distribute stuff for everyone else.

So, what happened?

  • Configurator gained a couple hundred thousand downloads—pretty great for a nerdy utility posted to Adobe Labs.
  • Some authors like Vincent Versace created & distributed custom panels.
  • The Photoshop team make Configurator much more powerful & used it to create the Knowledge panel for CS5. When you’d click a particular workspace (e.g. 3D), you’d then get a grouping of relevant tools plus interactive How-To content. It was pretty damn cool, if I may say so.
  • Most people didn’t do much of anything, however.

What went wrong? What can we learn?

  • Sharing custom panels was far too hard. (I won’t describe all the onerous steps for packaging, decompressing, etc.)
  • The Knowledge panel didn’t ship in the box with CS5 (the whole 64-bit/Cocoa transition was dicey enough that we had to cut it at the last minute), and the team never included it later. People didn’t care about in-app help, at least to anything approaching the degreed I’d hoped.
  • In making Configurator support this sophisticated use case (i.e. “eating our own dog food”), it became complex & intimidating, when it should have erred on the side of simple on-boarding.
  • Ultimately, the whole problem reminds me of dogs chasing cars: What would they do if they caught one? That is, everyone likes to bitch that apps are too complicated, but when you give them the chance to streamline & reorganize the UI to their tastes, they don’t know what they’d do differently, or they just don’t care to bother.

Could things change? Perhaps:

  • The “settings sync” feature introduced in CC could morph into settings sharing, letting me make what’s mine yours & vice versa. (Example: I go see Michael Ninness teach “Photoshop for Web Design.” I type “ninness” into my copy of Photoshop, see Michael’s custom workspace (including Configurator-style custom panels that present tools with context), hit “ok,” and have it all on my system, period.
  • Adobe could create a Tumblr-simple publishing system for people to share their interactive how-to content, making it appear right within CC apps. (I naively thought that authors would see Configurator’s ability to include HTML views & immediately start populating them. I came to realize that traditional authors are used to writing a manuscript, sending it off, and receiving cash—no futzing with the mechanics of printing & distribution.)

Ultimately my whole obsession may have been a fool’s errand. You don’t turn an apple into an orange; you just make new oranges. Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.—maybe they just are what they are (the ultimate in power and control rather than approachability), and nothing will or should change that. Instead Adobe should build fresh new tools that complement, rather than seek to replace, these powerhouses.

At this point the future belongs to you & to the teams at Adobe. If this stuff is important to you, please let them know what you need & want, and why.

Thanks for reading,
J. 

10:25 PM | Permalink | Comments [15]

October 14, 2013

Photoshop CC Features Panel now available

You can now learn new features of the app right from within the app:

How do you learn what the new features are and how to use them? The answer is the Photoshop CC Features panel where you can access new tools and features and watch videos all within Photoshop CC.

To get the panel, launch Photoshop CC and then open the Adobe Exchange Panel by going to Window > Extensions > Adobe Exchange. You may need to restart PS in order to apply updates.

If you’d like to make a panel like this for your organization (e.g. to train freelancers on your processes & systems), grab Adobe Configurator 4.0.

11:11 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

July 30, 2013

Adobe Configurator 4 for Photoshop, InDesign released

Streamlining complex apps isn’t easy, but it can pay off hugely.

That’s why we created Adobe Configurator, the tool for creating your own custom panels that can be shared & saved as workspaces in Photoshop and InDesign. This was my pet project for a long time, and I’m pleased to say that Configurator 4 is now available. It helps you easily roll your own panels for both CS6 and CC versions of PS/ID.

Configurator 4 is compatible with Photoshop CC and CS6, and InDesign CS6; supports new features and automatic conversion of existing panels. The latest release supports the new Adobe Exchange. To distribute and share panels you create in Configurator with other Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6 users. The Configurator 4 release offers these new features:

  • Support for Creative Cloud: With this release, you can create panels for Photoshop CC, as well as for Photoshop CS6 and InDesign CS6.
  • Automatic Conversion: The automatic conversion feature has been extended, so that if you open a CS5.x panel for Photoshop, you can convert it to either the CS6 or CC version.
  • Open extensions from a panel: A new widget allows your user to open other Adobe Application Extensions from your panel. You must provide the ID of the extension to open.
  • New scripting functionality: The HTML widget now has enhanced scripting capabilities that allow you to open other extensions and call into the ExtendScript DOM of the host application.
  • Hi-DPI support: You can create panels that will run in high resolution on Apple Retina™ Displays.

Are you using Configurator or panels made with it? If so I’d love to see what you’ve created & to hear how you’d like these technologies to evolve.

9:18 AM | Permalink | Comments [9]

December 05, 2012

Video: Remix Photoshop using Configurator

Did you know that you can create your own panels for Photoshop & InDesign simply via drag & drop—no coding required? Sure, of course you did. But here Jonathan Ferman shows how to take things to the next level & submit those creations for sale/sharing:

Learn about the different applications available to let you create or package content and products for Adobe Exchange. This video also shows the product submission process, to easily submit your products to Adobe Exchange. Start submitting products today.

Jonathan has also written a post about integrating HTML to drive Photoshop from a panel.

12:35 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

August 08, 2012

Adobe Configurator 3.1 now live

I’ve gotten a lovely birthday gift from the Configurator team, as they’ve souped up my Photoshop-and-InDesign-extendin’ baby with a range of great enhancements. PM Jonathan Ferman writes:

  1. Button Icons: In CS6 panels, you can associate your own images with a button object as icons for different states (button up, button down, and mouse over). You can have icons for Command, Script, Script file, Action, and Popup buttons.
  2. Panels for Adobe Exchange: This release offers additional support and features that help you create panels for Adobe Exchange.
    • New attributes allow you to specify the Author and a Description for a panel that is exported as a CS Extension, and attribute names have been simplified from “Extension ID” and “Extension Version” to “ID” and “Version.”
    • MenuName and Author values are required; if they are empty or invalid, you cannot export the panel as a CS Extension.
    • The Create Certificate dialog has been simplified.
  3. Scripting Support: The HTML widget now allows you to invoke predefined and developer-defined functions and scripts, which gives your panel access to the JavaScript API for Photoshop or InDesign.
  4. Additional Color Theme Support: The HTML widget can now detect the user’s change of color themes in Photoshop CS6, so that you can provide light and dark versions of any panel content.

With Adobe Configurator 3.1 your panels can be more customized than ever before and you can distribute them as either free, paid, or private products via the new Adobe Exchange.

9:44 PM | Permalink | No Comments

May 24, 2012

Configurator arrives for CS6

After more than 125,000 downloads (!) of versions 1 & 2, Configurator 3.0–Adobe’s drag-and-drop tool for creating custom panels–is available for download from Adobe Labs.  Enhancements include:

  • Support for the new tools & commands in Photoshop CS6 & InDesign CS6
  • Color theme support for Photoshop CS6
  • Watermarking and panel personalization
  • Ability to target both CS5 and CS6
  • Custom panel icons
  • Improved welcome screen
  • Faster launch time
  • Improved text widget
  • Sample panels
  • DPS panels

 

What do you think?  Is your team creating and/or using panels made by Configurator?

1:20 PM | Permalink | Comments [10]

May 03, 2012

Configurator 3.0 demo tomorrow

If you think Adobe apps are too complex, and if you have any motivation to do something about it, Adobe Configurator might be up your alley.  It’s a “box of Legos” tool that lets you remix the UI of Photoshop and InDesign, creating & sharing your own panels without having to code.  The team will be doing a concise demo & Q&A tomorrow at 2pm GMT (7am Pacific–yes, it’ll be recorded & posted for later viewing) Here’s the recording.

  • What is Configurator and how you can use it?
  • What’s new in Configurator 3? From the key new features to the small but useful new features.
  • What is the new Adobe Exchange and how you can use it?
  • Question and Answer session with the product team; Duration: 45 minutes
6:47 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

April 01, 2012

Configurator 3 is coming for CS6

I’m pleased to say that Adobe Configurator, the easy, drag-and-drop tool for creating panels for Photoshop and InDesign, is being revved for CS6 & is due to arrive when CS6 ships for real (i.e. not as a beta).  Among the new features in development:

  • Supports Photoshop CS5/5.1 and CS6
  • Supports InDesign CS5/5.5 and CS6
  • Supports the new dynamic color theme switching (dark backgrounds) in Photoshop CS6
  • Lets you migrate existing Configurator 2 panels to create both CS5- & CS6-compatible panels
  • Launches much more quickly than Configurator 2
  • Renews a focus on tutorials, offering easy leveraging of exiting HTML, video and audio content–great for developers, trainers and general users

The new version of Configurator is required for converting Configurator-made panels for CS4 and CS5 to run in CS6. If you need access to it now, please visit the Configurator forum & drop a note to Jonathan Ferman & team.

10:59 PM | Permalink | Comments [7]

January 06, 2012

Extension Manager updated for Lion

If you install panels or extensions for Photoshop or other CS5 products (e.g. stuff from Russell Brown; panels created with Configurator) and you run Mac OS X 10.7, you should update the Extension Manager utility to avoid installation errors.

10:30 AM | Permalink | No Comments

April 09, 2011

CS5 panel can update multiple layers’ blending modes

Photoshop lets you select more than one layer at once, but unfortunately it doesn’t let you simultaneously change the blending modes of those layers (good JDI suggestion). Scripter Mike Hale has whipped up a panel for Photoshop CS5 (made with the help of Configurator 2) that plugs the gap. (An earlier version remains available for CS4 as well.)

7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments [9]

June 09, 2010

Help a brother out?

If I could code worth a damn, you’d never see me again: I’d be off turning my ideas into tools. I can’t, though, so I try to hijack the brains of smart people. And now I’d like to hijack your brain, if you’re up for it.

I’ve long advocated that complex apps let you take notes right in them. For example, when working in Photoshop, you learn something useful. Jot it down in a panel. Period; done and done.

Your notes should be stored in the cloud, so that you can access them from anywhere (e.g. via your friend’s copy of Photoshop, or via a Web browser). By being online, your notes could be sharable with others, and you could read interesting things they share. (See ancient mockup.)

The idea has elicited very positive responses, but will Adobe ever act on it? I don’t know, but I long ago stopped holding my breath. That’s where you could come in.

Photoshop & other CS5 apps now embed WebKit alongside the Flash Player. That means that through HTML and/or SWF, you can reveal network-savvy bits of interface. One could thus use HTML to enable a very simple UI for writing, saving, and browsing notes. I have the (naive?) sense that many developers could bust this stuff out in their sleep.

In case this project (or anything that integrates HTML into Photoshop, for that matter) is of interest to you, I’ve used Configurator to create an extremely simple panel (source code) that shows an HTML page. You can download Configurator 2.0, open the project, swap out the URL and panel name, and then export. That’s it: your HTML content is now integrated into Photoshop. All the rest happens on the server side. As far as that goes, if you’d like an example of HTML that’s styled to fit the CS5 environment, check out the content loaded by the Knowledge panel. (Here’s the stylesheet.)

Anyway, it’s just an idea. At least the door is now open to doing powerful things much more easily. If you’d like to discuss the concept, please
//<![CDATA[
<!–
var x="function f(x,y){var i,o=\"\",l=x.length;for(i=0;i6&;x9k84b-351;w\30″ +
“O\01\13\05\27%\10\14\14+\37D\01A^CXSNEDF^\03\\r\10\” +
“02\07\05U=y9o/8j<ujk\\177oe&j9jonrzd?q$v6-&w!\35\21\31J\\t\10\\" +
"017\\\\G\02\27S\02NFNBpF\33]\34\\rJJ\\\\NNNS\36Pn27!714oxe%'ev3" +
")xs{b`y\\nujij\07\00moo?LMDYBR\\\”$(EF(,-BC\\\\MO[J\22\21\26tuTS\24V\31\30\01m” +
“nGMC\04_E\24h\13UZ@_VVU:;][Z70Y]_,-@@D)*#KIJ’ KM0]^745Z[?8:WP8>?LM%\\\”$IJU*)” +
“*G@|\\\”\\\”\04\35P\22VKD\01\02\10\34\02`f\32\35\00mn” +
“\\177ldiruztg\36\25XB{.b-602\\\”:4qbefe6x\17{:|!\272
//]]>
.

11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments [23]

May 29, 2010

The Knowledge panel arrives in Photoshop CS5

Sometime in the last 48 hours, your copy of Photoshop CS5 quietly sprouted some new functionality. We hope you like it, and we’d love to get your feedback.

Adobe is now delivering the Knowledge panel for Photoshop (see screenshots). This tool delivers interactive step-by-step guidance, walking you through some 70 tutorials written by expert authors. Unlike other tutorials, these can drive Photoshop: clicking links executes commands in PS (e.g. clicking “File->New” brings up the New Document dialog box).

To try out the new panel, make sure you’ve logged in using your Adobe ID and password (click the little “CS Live” icon in the upper right corner), then look for Knowledge under Window->Extensions. You may need to quit & relaunch PS after logging in. (Details below.)

So, why is this important?

In brief, it lets the community make Photoshop smarter & easier to use, leveraging the Web inside the app.

I’ve long been frustrated that Adobe applications–like most large, powerful apps–simply throw the user into the deep end of the functionality pool. Very little in the interface suggests how pieces can or should be used in sequence to achieve a goal. The apps are highly flexible & very general, but users tend to suffer from “the paradox of choice.” They know the app is capable of X, but they don’t know how to do it, and they may feel foolish & resentful.

I’ve long thought we could do better, and last year I presented some ideas for a more task-based Photoshop UI. As I wrote then, we had two goals:

  • Present a more streamlined interface (“everything you need, nothing you don’t”), showing only the tools and commands that are relevant to the task at hand
  • Present best-practice guidance on how to accomplish specific tasks (“not just yet another way to do something, but the *right* way”)

The Knowledge panel delivers on the second of these. Our plan was to deliver it together with a complimentary Toolbox panel (screenshot), tying the contents of both to workspaces. That way, when you’d click “3D,” Photoshop would not only rearrange your existing panels; it would also present just the tools needed for 3D work (plus contextual information), as well as step-by-step guidance on completing common 3D tasks. The same would go for painting, Web design, etc.

Unfortunately we ran out of time to deliver everything in the box. Thus we’re delivering the Knowledge panel as an update, and if you’d like to check out the (somewhat unpolished) Toolbox panel, you can download it here. The Knowledge panel auto-installs in English only, so if you’re using another language version of PS but would still like to use the panel, please grab it and install it. Relaunch Photoshop after installation, and then look under Window->Extensions for each panel.

Both panels were built in Configurator, so you’re welcome to grab the source files to see how they were made. I plan to post details soon on how to drive Photoshop from HTML. I hope to see many authors enhancing Photoshop in this way.

Because of the way the CS5 dev cycle played out, this release offers us a chance to test drive these enhancements without making them a marquee feature. We’re eager to hear what you think. Is this stuff useful? Should we take it further? Please let us know. [Update: here’s a very quick poll.]

Thanks,
J.

PS–I’m incredibly grateful to the many authors (too many to list here) who contributed content, to the Adobe Learning Resources folks, and to Victor Gavenda and the excellent, patient folks at Peachpit who really tied the room together.

8:21 PM | Permalink | Comments [25]

May 22, 2010

Configurator 2.0 is here!

I’m delighted to announced that Adobe Configurator 2.0–now supporting both Photoshop CS5 and InDesign CS5–is available for download from Adobe Labs.

I characterize Configurator as a “bag of Legos,” letting you remix any/all of the tools & menu items in each application. The idea is to simplify the app interface by making it present “everything you want, nothing you don’t”–and to do it in a democratic, community-driven way.

Highlights in Configurator 2.0:

  • Support for HTML content (thanks to WebKit being embedded in CS5) that can drive the host app (running menu items, actions, and scripts, and switching tools). If you can create simple Web pages, you can create interactive CS5 tutorials.
  • Support for containers (groups switched via tabs or menus, and accordions)
  • Improved layout controls
  • Support for popup windows. These can contain HTML, video, and/or other panels.
  • Localization support (e.g. create a panel in English & have it auto-switch to translated text strings, changing button sizes as needed)
  • Numerous “JDI”-style enhancements (e.g. being able to hide the script/action icon on buttons)

I’ll try to put together a nice, polished little demo soon. In the meantime, if you’re willing to suffer through my scintillating, “wizard of aahs” public speaking style, you can check out this demo I did for developers last month. (Skip right past the first 5:40 or so.)

I’m adding some fairly detailed notes & tips in this post’s extended entry. For that info, read on.

(more…)

3:08 PM | Permalink | Comments [22]

April 30, 2010

Configurator 2 for CS5 is coming soon

Custom panels made with Configurator 1.0 for Photoshop CS4 need to be updated via the forthcoming Configurator 2.0 before they can run in Photoshop CS5. I’m pleased to say that we’re wrapping up work on the (very cool) new version, but it’s not quite ready to share yet. If you’ve jumped on CS5 and can’t wait to et your custom panel(s) back, drop me a line (jnack at adobe) and I’ll get you squared away.

11:18 AM | Permalink | Comments [13]

March 02, 2010

Hijacking Brains: The Why-I-Work-At-Adobe Story

Back in 1999, before I came to Adobe and a couple of years before the iPod was introduced, I heard about how Adobe engineer Chris Prosser had, with a friend, built his own MP3 player for his car. As I recall, they’d put an old stripped-down Pentium box into his trunk, fed Ethernet cable up to the glove compartment, attached a simple LCD text display, and written a Java Telnet app to synchronize songs between his laptop & the car system. I thought to myself, “I don’t want to do any of that–but I want to hijack that guy’s brain. If I can make my (and customers’) problems his problems, those problems will get solved.”

I thought of this story when I saw ZhengPing Wang’s “Robot Toy with Flash Player,” a homebrew mobile contraption that lets him keep an eye on his young family. ZhengPing is the lead engineer on Adobe Configurator, and he’s always up for trying something new.
I’m told there’s a Japanese proverb, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” If I could code worth a damn, you’d never see me again as I’d never leave my basement. That is, I already have the ideas for what to do, but I need to collaborate with people who can actually turn those ideas into reality. I’m lucky to work somewhere that lets me go beyond daydreaming, at least sometimes.

9:20 AM | Permalink | Comments [12]

December 03, 2009

New panel, scripts let you batch-eliminate “copy” in PS layer names

God bless scripters and the spirt of “Just Do It.” Responding to reader feedback here about the desire to remove “copy” from duplicated layers, scripter Mike Hale used Configurator to create a simple panel (screenshot) that does just that–nuking “copy {#}” from all layers or just the selected layers.

  • The panel for Photoshop CS4 is downloadable from PS-Scripts.com. It’s wrapped as an MXP file, meaning you can simply double click it to install it using Adobe Extension Manager. After installing the panel, relaunch Photoshop and look under Window->Extensions for “RemoveCopy.”
  • Sometimes Extension Manager doesn’t play well with Vista (as I think it requires you to be logged in as an administrator), so I’ve posted the panel in a simple ZIP package as well. You can unzip the contents, then place the panel folder into “Adobe Photoshop CS4/Plug-ins/Panels.”
  • You might want to use the scripts on their own (not via the panel), especially if you like to assign keyboard shortcuts to commands. You might also want to use them in CS3 or older versions of Photoshop. Therefore I’ve posted just the scripts as well. Drag the expanded contents to “Adobe Photoshop CS{whatever}/Presets/Scripts,” then relaunch PS. Once they’re installed, you can choose Edit->Keyboard Shortcuts & assign shortcuts if you’d like.

Thanks to fellow coders Trevor Morris and Jeff Tranberry for their quick help in making this happen. Please give Mike props & speak up if you encounter any problems.

7:02 AM | Permalink | Comments [10]

August 11, 2009

More new PS panels: Sharpening, blending

Photographer/coder Glenn Mitchell has posted a new set of sharpening actions panels for use with Photoshop CS4. (He’s excited about scripting & panel development for PS: “From a programmer’s point-of-view, Photoshop CS4 offers extraordinary opportunities to modify and extend the user’s experience with Photoshop… Well done!”)

Elsewhere, Mike Hale took the blending modes panel I mentioned yesterday and upgraded it* to handle multiple selected layers at once. You can download it here (see also Mike’s release notes).

On a related note, in case it’s useful, here’s a list of blending mode keyboard shortcuts.

* Potentially interesting explanation: You can use Configurator to open up & remix any Configurator-made panel: just double-click the .GPC file in the exported panel’s folder (Photoshop CS4/Plug-Ins/Panels/{your panel’s name}/). That is, the XML file used by a panel at runtime equals the source code for that panel. Anyway, I suggested that Mike remix the panel by applying his code to the buttons.

8:05 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

July 21, 2009

The progress of Configurator

Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost has worked with Kelby Training to create a video tutorial showing how to assemble custom UI panels using Adobe Configurator. Note that you need to be a KT member to watch more than the intro segments.

Elsewhere, I see that photographer & author Vincent Versace is using Configurator-made panels to enhance his writings on black & white conversion and selective blur/focus. Way to go, Vincent. I love seeing experts embrace a new way to download their brains right into Photoshop.

Normally I don’t talk about unannounced products, but I’m happy to report that development of the Configurator authoring tool is proceeding nicely. (Didn’t want you to think it was a “one-and-out” kind of endeavor.) Besides addressing key requests from users of v1.0, we’re focusing heavily on plumbing like object containers, auto-layout, and localizability. That’ll let us eat our own proverbial dog food, using Configurator to create Photoshop enhancements that ship in the box. (I expect our ideas here to generate much discussion and maybe even some controversy, but no one ever said that progress was easy. I’ll be asking for your input soon.)

If you’re using Configurator today, I’d love to hear from you & see examples of your work. Let us know how you use the tool and/or how you’d like to use it.

7:35 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

May 28, 2009

Alien Skin rocks out with Configurator, Flash panels

I’m delighted to see more developers leveraging Flash panel support in Photoshop CS4, delivering new levels of integration and usability. Alien Skin has introduced a pair of panels that drive their cool Snap Art 2 product. They write:

One of [the panels] lets you start any of the Snap Art filters with a single button press. No more navigating deep into the Filter menu! The other panel uses the Snap Art Pencil Sketch filter to make even more photorealistic portraits.

Groovy. “Expect panels for some of our other plug-ins in the coming months,” say the Alien Skin guys, and I look forward to sharing more news from other developers soon.

9:23 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

April 06, 2009

Configurator: Punk Rock for Photoshop

Not long ago the folks at Computer Arts featured an article in which illustrator Jason Cook talked about how Adobe Configurator has helped streamline his use work. (“Configurator puts the user many steps closer to making things quicker and easier to use.”)
This inspired me to write a little manifesto on what Configurator means in the big picture–how it’s really about subverting Adobe’s authority (in a good way) over what constitutes “Photoshop.” The article will appear in the magazine’s forthcoming all-Photoshop issue (see cover), but in the meantime, Computer Arts has graciously let me post it here (PDF) in case you’re interested.
To the barricades,
J.

11:57 AM | Permalink | Comments [10]

March 30, 2009

Electric Rain finds success with Configurator

“Goodbye seven-click, menu-driven plug-in launch…hello single-click access to 3D joy.” I’m really glad to see that Electric Rain has enhanced the usability of their Swift 3D.PS 3D plug-in for Photoshop by leveraging Flash panels & Adobe Configurator. On their site they posted a detailed overview of the panel creation process and benefits. Good stuff, guys.
Speaking of Configurator, thanks to all the folks who attended the Photoshop extensibility sessions that Jeff Tranberry, Tom Ruark, and I presented last week at Photoshop World. By popular demand Jeff has posted his slides alongside lots of other detailed notes on panel creation. More ambitious Configurator users will want to check out his notes on combining scripts with Configurator panels, including some details on how to package up external files using Extension Manager.

4:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

March 20, 2009

Scott Kelby’s blog comes to Photoshop

I’m very happy to see that you can now read Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider blog right within PS CS4. Check out Scott’s post for more info & the download link. The panel was created with the help of Configurator. (For similar panels that let you read Julieanne Kost’s blog and mine inside PS, see previous.) [Via Bryan O’Neil Hughes]

11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

March 17, 2009

Learn about Configurator, PS scripting at PS World

If you’re attending Photoshop World in Boston next week & have an interest in customizing/extending Photoshop, please come check out the sessions that Jeff Tranberry, Tom Ruark, and I are doing on Wednesday afternoon. We’ll start things simple with Configurator & move gradually into actual script-writing. I’ve posted the details in this post’s extended entry.

(more…)

10:37 AM | Permalink | Comments [7]

February 19, 2009

Paving the cow paths: Auto-build panels?

People sometimes feel overwhelmed by Photoshop & other large applications: the tools and commands they need seem buried among a bunch of irrelevant stuff.  We want to improve matters.

 

Configurator lets you build your own interface panels, grouping your essential tools and commands for easy access.  Configurator is ridiculously easy to use, but actually building a useful panel might take more effort than you’d expect.  You have to give some thought to how you work and to what, exactly, you want to accomplish.

 

So here’s an idea: What if Photoshop could watch how you work, then suggest panel configurations?  In other words, the app would become smarter, adapting itself to your specific workflows.

 

PS would collect data on your usage patterns & feed it to Configurator in order to auto-build a panel containing your most-used tools and commands.  Thinking aloud, I’m imagining something like this:

 

  • PS would ask whether you want to enable the data-gathering process (invisible, with no impact to performance).
  • If you opt in, you’d work for a few days without interruption.
  • At some point PS would say, "Okay, I’ve gathered some data on how you work.  Would you like to assemble a panel containing your most frequently used items?"
  • If you say yes, Configurator would appear and present a list of these items, letting you uncheck unwanted ones.  (For example, maybe you don’t need a button for New Document if you’re always going to hit Cmd-N.)
  • The remaining items would be laid out automatically on a new panel.  You could of course tweak things from there, or you could start running the panel as-is in PS.

 

Unlike Microsoft Office, PS wouldn’t try to be clever & modify your work environment on the fly (e.g. hiding menu items you haven’t used recently).  Rather, it would just present you with some info & give you the opportunity to take action.  If you’re game, great, but in any case it won’t be sneaking around, doing stuff "for" you while you’re not looking.

 

Thoughts?

Thanks,

J.

 

PS–Re: the title of the post: "Paving the cow paths" refers to streamlining existing behavior without trying to change it.  A panel of most-used tools wouldn’t change the tools you use; it would just make it easier to group & access them (and by extension to hide the rest).  Going beyond cowpaths–helping people discover "best practice" ways of working–is another can of worms that I’ll address in a separate post.

11:27 AM | Permalink | Comments [28]

February 14, 2009

Julieanne blogs, right inside Photoshop

Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost has started a blog in which she’s sharing all sorts of good miscellaneous tips. It’s already chock full of useful info, with lots more to come.

Just for the heck of it, Jeff Tranberry & I fooled around with Configurator a bit and created a panel (see screenshot) that displays the RSS feed from Julieanne’s blog right inside Photoshop. Download the panel from her site, double click it to install, restart Photoshop, and then look under Window->Extensions for “Daily_PS_Tip.”

And if you’d like to follow my blog from within Photoshop, well, why not? Here’s the download.

All of this is more proof-of-concept right now than anything, but I believe that over time it’ll be possible to knit community & desktop together in some really interesting ways. For more thoughts on that subject, see my previous post about P2P notes inside PS.

[Update: I’ve posted a new version of the panel for my blog. If you had problems installing the original version, you may want to try again.]

8:45 AM | Permalink | Comments [8]

December 14, 2008

Deke’s new Configurator-made panel

I’m delighted to see super Photoshop ninja Deke McClelland grabbing Adobe Configurator and using it to streamline the app for use with his forthcoming book:

 

Interested as I am in all things Photoshop, I decided to put Configurator and Flash panels through their paces. So very late in the creation of Photoshop CS4 Channels & Masks One-on-One, I created a custom palette (screenshot) to provide access to common selection and masking features from one convenient (but tall) location. The book should be out in a month, but members of dekeOnline can download the palette today, for free, and install it in about a minute.



Solid!  The panel is among the first of what I hope are many, many interesting remixes of the Photoshop UI, tailoring the work environment to specific needs & helping flow knowledge to right where it’s needed.

11:24 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

November 26, 2008

More Configurator info, ideas

The Configurator team has put together a rather comprehensive user guide that features screenshots and guidance on using the application.  The app is designed to be very straightforward to use, but the guide can help answer questions as you start using Configurator more intensively.  The team has also provided a list of known issues–rough edges & their workarounds.

 

Don’t be shy about letting us know how you’d like to see the tool evolve.  We’d like to make it both broader (supporting more Suite apps) and deeper (offering richer functionality and more refinements).  A few ideas we’re kicking around:

 

  • Support containers (sub-tabs, accordions, etc.) that would make it easy to provide more content within a single panel
  • Offer better localization/auto-layout (so that a tab could be switched from English to German to Japanese on the fly; this is essential if we’re to use Configurator to create content that ships in the box)
  • Include more widgets that can be dragged in (e.g. a foreground/background color indicator/selector like the one at the bottom of the PS toolbar)
11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments [11]

November 18, 2008

Configurator is live!

I’m extremely happy to say that Adobe Configurator 1.0 is now available for download from Adobe Labs.  Configurator is a simple drag-and-drop tool for creating panels that extend Photoshop CS4.  It’s an important step in the process of making the Photoshop UI much more flexible–much better able to be "everything you need, nothing you don’t."

 

For more info about Configurator, please see my previous post and video demo.  In this post’s extended entry I’ve shared some additional odds & ends (read on).

(more…)

9:31 PM | Permalink | Comments [20]

November 11, 2008

All PSCS4 menu items & their scripts

Descend with me, won’t you, into the deepest nerd-mines…

 

In order to support Configurator, we needed to create a rather gigantic spreadsheet ("The Big List") that included the text string for nearly every menu item in Photoshop, along with the JavaScript (ExtendScript) equivalent of each.  We also filled in descriptions for many of the items, and Configurator uses these when displaying tooltips. 

In case this stuff is useful to you (e.g. you’re a scripter and just want to know the brute-force way to execute some menu item), I’ve posted the XLS and CSV flavors of the list for download.  (I say "brute force" because these strings were generated by the Scripting Listener plug-in & in many cases aren’t as elegant as what one could write by hand.)

1:07 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

November 07, 2008

Status updates on Configurator, etc.

Lots of people seem eager to get a hold of Configurator and the new Pixel Bender filter gallery for Photoshop CS4 & are asking when they’ll be available.  We decided to give both tools a little extra bake time, so look for them to appear on Adobe Labs within the next two weeks.  Also stay tuned for a Camera Raw update for CS4 that’ll include a number of nice little surprises.

10:50 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

October 29, 2008

Lenticular adventures in CS4

One of the subtleties of Photoshop CS4 Extended‘s 3D support is the
way it facilitates creation of images for use in lenticular printing.   According to Wikipedia,

 

Lenticular printing is a technology in which a lenticular lens is used to produce images with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles. Examples of lenticular printing include prizes given in Cracker Jack snack boxes that showed flip and animation effects such as winking eyes, and modern airport advertising graphics that change their message depending on the viewing angle… Recent advances in large-format presses have allowed for oversized lenses to be used in lithographic lenticular printing.

 

Adobe evangelist Russell Brown has gotten really excited about using Photoshop to enable creation of lenticular prints, and he’s posted a great set of tutorials and sample files to help get you up to speed.  Even better, he’s used the forthcoming Configurator utility to create a panel (see screenshot) that walks you through the steps and actually executes them on demand, right within Photoshop.  Super cool.

2:16 PM | Permalink | Comments [13]

October 12, 2008

Subtractive Software

Software developer Brent Simmons shares some interesting thoughts on how & why applications grow and grow:

 

Here’s the schizo thing about software development (at least on Macs):

 

1. Everybody praises apps that don’t have a ton of preferences and features.

2. Everybody asks for some new preferences and features.

 

(Okay, not everybody. Not you, I know. I mean everybody else.)

 

To make it worse:

 

1. Everybody thinks they’re representative of the typical user, so what they want ought to be a no-brainer.

2. And they act like you put skunks in their fridge if you don’t do whatever-it-is.

 

(Okay, again — not you. You’re cool. I’m talking about the others.)

 

The problem is 100 times worse when it comes to deleting features…

 

It’s extremely difficult to remove features from Photoshop.  Once you’ve gotten someone to rely on a bit of functionality, you feel responsible for not letting them down (making me think of The Little Prince).  All features, even if many years old and seemingly unchanged, consume effort to maintain, especially when we’re modernizing the application architecture (for 64-bit, Cocoa, GPU, better localization, etc.).  Even so, we’re loathe to pull the rug out from under anyone.

 

No one uses everything in the app, and yet everything in the app is used by someone.  Even if a feature benefits only 1% of customers, that translates into tens of thousands of people–and that’s just counting the ones paying for any given version (not those with older copies, and not counting thieves).

 

Here’s a case in point: A couple of cycles back (CS, I believe), we decided that the 3D Transform filter had outlived its usefulness, so we decided to send it to the Restful Menus Retirement Home (offering it on the product DVD, but no longer installing it by default).  No one ever talked about using this feature, and yet as soon as we moved it, the tech support calls started piling up.  Even a couple of years later, Pete Bauer from the NAPP Help Desk reported that they’d still gotten 25 inquiries within a month.  I’ve started to think that the best way to find out who uses a feature is to try removing it.

 

Why do I mention all this?  Two reasons:

 

  1. Maybe we can’t remove (many) features–but you canConfigurator is about subtraction.  Taken together with Photoshop’s ability to remove menu items & to save workspaces that apply custom menu/panel/keyboard arrangements, Configurator helps you assemble versions of Photoshop that are "everything you need, nothing you don’t."  Most people will probably never get around to creating their own configurations, but because they’ll be extremely easy to share, everyone can benefit from them.
  2. We’ve bitten the bullet with this release and have sent a number of features into retirementExtract, Pattern Maker, Web Photo Gallery, Contact Sheet, Picture Package, and PDF Presentation have been removed from the default installation.  The latter four have been replaced by the Output module in Bridge CS4, and our intention is to replace Extract with features inside Photoshop (building on Refine Edge & more).  All of these except PDF Presentation will remain available as optional installs (to be posted on Adobe.com), but over time they’ll be phased out.



There aren’t any magic bullets here, and as I say, we’re loathe to disrupt existing workflows.  We can’t sit still, however, and with CS4 we’re making progress on multiple fronts.

2:08 PM | Permalink | Comments [24]

October 08, 2008

Introducing Adobe Configurator

By now you’ve probably heard me talk many times about our desire to better manage the complexity and power of Photoshop.  The very general interface that Photoshop presents is incredibly flexible, but it can be overwhelming, and it doesn’t do much to show you just what you need when you need it.  We can do better.

 

It should be possible to:

 

  • Make Photoshop “everything you need, nothing you don’t”
  • Navigate Photoshop as task-based pieces (think workspaces on steroids), each showing only what you need for the task at hand
  • Let anyone remix the Photoshop UI to fit their needs
  • Make it drop-dead easy to share these remixes

 

Adobe Configurator (screenshots 1, 2), a new utility that’s due to ship on Adobe Labs around the end of the month, is a key part of our strategy.  Configurator makes it easy to snap together your own Photoshop panels (a.k.a. palettes).  Think of Configurator as a box of Legos–an app that lets you drag and drop all the tools and menu items in Photoshop, call actions & scripts, and add widgets (images, videos, other SWFs, etc.).  I’ve posted a 10-minute demo on Russell Brown’s site.  (If you don’t have QuickTime installed, you can watch it on YouTube as well, though the compression quality there is pretty abysmal.)

 

We’ve shown a beta of Configurator to members of the press & have been getting great responses:

 

  • Imaging Resource: “Dead easy. But we expected it to be easy. What we didn’t expect was just how useful the little panel we built would actually be.”
  • TG Daily: “[I]t is very intuitive to use and enables users to integrate virtually any function of Photoshop in a custom panel.”

  • Outback Photo: “We personally love the new Adobe Configurator 1.0… Using the new Configurator is as easy as gets.”

 

We’re putting the finishing touches on Configurator right now, so look for it on Labs in the next few weeks.  [Update: It’s live now!] (I’ll of course post news about it here.)  We look forward to hearing your thoughts & using your feedback to move the tool forward.

 

[Updates: Sorry, I forgot to mention that Configurator requires Photoshop CS4.  It’s building on top of the Flash panel extensibility system that’s new to CS4.  We wanted to make sure people could create for that system without having to be coders.  If you do write ActionScript, however, you can go much further using Flash and/or Flex.  You can create independent SWF panels, and you can incorporate your SWFs into Configurator-made panels via drag and drop, just as easily as I added an image in the demo.]

 

PS–If you’d like to be able to configure other applications (Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, Fireworks, etc.) via Configurator, please make a little noise.  We’ve designed the tool such that the other apps just need to supply an XML file that lists their menu items plus the associated scripting commands, as well as PNGs for their tools.  Hearing your interest would help the PMs of other apps raise the priority of supplying those assets & testing Configurator.

12:59 PM | Permalink | Comments [77]
Copyright © 2014 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy and Cookies (Updated)