Posts in Category "Photoshop"


It’s real.  A big, public beta of Photoshop CS3.  Now, if you own CS2, you can see what’s been keeping us so busy lately.

Now, you can read all about features on other sites – I don’t think this needs to be yet another me too list of features.  And this isn’t the place for reporting bugs or asking questions – use the Labs forums for that, I’ll be there along with some of the other engineers, time allowing (hey, we have to finish this thing).

We are doing this mostly because we wanted to get the Macintosh Universal Binary of the product into your hands as soon as we could.  It really wasn’t possible to do that with an updated CS2, it really did take that much effort, and it really wasn’t ready until recently.  But then, it wouldn’t be fair to do just a beta on the Mac side and not let the Windows users along for the ride.

This is a beta, but I think it’s in pretty darned good shape.  Part of why is that as a development team we broke free of the old waterfall methodology.  If you’re a developer, visit Waterfall 2006.  I find it pretty funny, maybe that’s just me – I’ve been living the waterfall nightmare for so long, the laughter comes from a dark place…

What it means is that we’ve kept the bug count low the entire cycle – especially the nastiest bugs.  Now, your "favorite" long-time bugs and annoyances may or may not be fixed (yes, we do listen, I keep a list, and we get to as many as we can), and after all, this is still a beta, there will be dragons there, but for the most part for something still this far from release, it’s in pretty good shape – and this wasn’t a special, lots-a-pain bug-fix build, but pretty much just pulling out a daily.  Yeah, I know, some of you developers will be going "but we’ve been doing things that way for a long time".  Hey, around here, a lot of the groups fall right back into waterfall at the first sign of trouble.  Nasty.

A couple of notes – due to the platform rules, the Macintosh version when running native on an Intel-based Macintosh will not load and run PPC-only plug-ins.  You’ll have to run under Rosetta to access those old scanner plug-ins. Or better yet, just use the scanner software in stand-alone mode.  Also, brush-sized cursors aren’t working when running Macintosh Intel native yet (they do work in Rosetta).  With a little help from Apple, the replacement for the old framebuffer-fiddling methods are well underway, but they didn’t make the beta.

The new UI can test Windows XP video drivers a little more, so you may want to make sure you have those updated, especially if you see some problems.  I like the new palette panes, but they do take getting used to, so give them a chance.  There are legacy workspaces in there if you really need the floating palettes back.  Vista support is in there, too.

As for performance, you should see start up times that are much lower than for CS2.  We’ve really worked hard on this – there’s more to go, of course, this is just a beta.  Oh, and as for comparing performance between platforms now that they use the same chip and we’re a Universal Binary on the Macintosh, well, I just don’t think such comparisons are valid – there are so many variables involved: number of processors, system memory bandwidth, disk I/O bandwidth, OS scheduling, API performance.  So if you see sites claiming that one platform or the other performs better, take it with a big grain of salt – I do.

So, if you’ve got the time and inclination (and Photoshop CS2) go ahead and grab the beta from Adobe Labs tomorrow and see what we’ve been up to.

[Edit – 12/15/06 9:30amPST – The links still aren’t live on the labs pages yet. It’s being worked on. – Scott]

[Edit – 12/15/06 12:15PST – They’re live now. Visit the forums at Adobe Labs for more help and info.]

Vegas, baby!

Ah, Photoshop World!  A chance to see some of the wacky and wonderful ways people use Photoshop in their work.  And, of course, to listen and watch for the kinds of problems people see in their everyday work.

I’ll be there, and so will several other members of the Photoshop engineering team.  Find me if you can, say hello, wish me a happy 40th birthday (it’s only a few days early), tell me your one biggest annoyance (but keep it to one).  And if you ask, I can show you some of the pictures I took while in the Galapagos in June.


Modifiers.  I have a love-hate relationship with modifiers.  On the one hand, they allow instant access to a lot of functionality in a way that’s easy to manipulate with your non-dominant hand.  On the other hand, they have, in the past, hidden useful functionality in ways that are almost impossible to discover.  This was exasperated with the introduction of Tablet PCs, and their complete lack of useful non-dominant hand input buttons or other devices (which is a very annoying shortcoming of Tablet PCs – c’mon, I may not be able to control a second mouse or whatever with my left hand, but for gosh sakes I can push a darned button!).

In some ways, they are a necessary evil – we’ve already essentially used the entire keyboard for shortcuts, the menu system is already complicated enough without being overloaded with more command variants, and while we’ve been on a general kick to make sure all previously hidden modifier only behavior is exposed in the UI somewhere, if you’re really in a groove you don’t want to have to track your mouse all the way over to the options bar just to add a chunk onto a selection.  Pointer locality is an important part of usability (even if we do sometimes fall short – a subject for later).  Heck, I’ve always meant to either find or implement some sort of floating window modifier substitute widget in my copious free time.

We’re in such desperate straights for additional modifier keys that we treat the space bar as one (which has caused more than one funky issue in the past, with keyboard and locale switching).  I’ve joked in the past that we need Emacs style prefix keys, but I really was only joking, as nobody would get those.  It doesn’t help that when you’re trying to squeak in a feature at the 11th hour, and it’s already too late to modify the documentation, that attaching behavior to a modifier doesn’t make a liar out of the screen shots.  But it also doesn’t make for a discoverable feature.

We have tried to fix this in general by exposing what was modifier behavior only in the user interface – particularly in the options bar.  We’ve also tried to rectify this a little bit for the Macintosh folks by adding the tool hint text to the Info palette in Photoshop CS2.  Windows users will recognize that this is the same text that was in the status bar previously (there were other reasons for getting rid of the status bar, plus I’m a stickler for trying to maintain platform parity).  Unfortunately, the Info palette is underneath the Navigator palette by default.  So, bring that Info palette to the front (the tool hint text is enabled by default – check out the Info palette options from the palette flyout menu for more stuff) and watch the tool hint text while you use different tools.

Yes, of course that doesn’t explain everything.  Like it misses explaining what hitting a modifier before the first mouse click with one of the lasso tools does (it is different than what happens with the modifiers after the first click with one of the lasso tools).  In that case, the cursor should give some hint of what will happen.

It also doesn’t help when you’re not trying to do something with a tool.  Like with the Option/Alt key in most dialogs (hint: watch the button labels).  Or in Photoshop 6, 7 and CS, holding the shift key while modifying a linked type layer will operate on all of the type layers (in Photoshop CS2, you can just multi-select the type layers).

Now, most if this is documented in the manual I’m sure you’ve read (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).  But there’s always the undocumented ones, too, like holding the shift key on Windows when dragging the Photoshop CS2 application window (I’m going to make you try it instead of describing it – and no, it’s not perfect, but it really helps in multi-monitor situations).

Remember, nothing goes boom when you press a modifier.  And there are times when us engineers really want to put in useful functionality when it’s too late to modify the UI.  So don’t forget to give your local friendly modifiers a try.


Finding (out about) Photoshop

As an engineer, I don’t necessarily get to use Photoshop every day. I think it’s important for me to try to experience the program as a user as much as possible, and to try and honestly compare it to some of the other software I use from a user perspective as well. To that end, I do try and set up time to put Photoshop to use.

Because that time is not as much as I’d like, I also try to keep tabs on the Photoshop community, to see what buzz there is. If there’s something that people are discovering, I’ll try and use that same part of the program in some way – while I probably know some of the engineering details about a large part of the program, that may not always translate into being able to help people out.

To that end, the site I’m probably most frequently visiting these days is Photoshop News – it’s a nice, concise summary of top issues, with links off to other sites that I probably wouldn’t find on my own. I stick the RSS feed off in my Firefox (what browser did you think I would use? I’m a cross platform kind of guy…) bookmarks toolbar, so I just have to occasionally pull down the menu to see what new stories have made it up there. I also add Rob Galbraith DPI as an RSS feed (what did we ever do without RSS?). And then, of course, the User-to-User forums, when I have time. Unfortunately, that seems less and less these days, though I’m trying to get back there more often now.

I also try and get to a Photoshop user conference whenever I can. I encourage others on the team to do so as well. Nothing is quite so instructive as watching someone demo on a big screen and catching when the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ come out. Or seeing where the glitches in the various demos occur (and writing them down for fixing). But while I wish that being at a Photoshop conference could be a daily activity, it isn’t…

I’m sure I’ve missed some interesting places for Photoshop news. Let me know about them – I probably don’t have time to add too many to my daily routine, but who knows?