November 09, 2007

Clarification on “Johnny Cash”

Ooh, I’ve been Slashdotted.  I wondered why the blog had gotten more visitors before 7AM than it usually gets all day.  Thanks for all the comments.

I need to clarify a couple of things.  A commenter on the Slashdot story said, “Well, Adobe just told you themselves that the Photoshop UI sucks.”  Er, no.  Two things:

  1. “Adobe” didn’t say anything; I said something (see disclaimer about these opinions being my own, etc.).  Yes, I sometimes get lazy and conflate myself with the team/product/company, but I’m really just the Simple Unfrozen Caveman Web Designer they happened to hire to work on Photoshop.  But more importantly…
  2. I didn’t say that the Photoshop UI sucks.  I said that it’s not good enough (which is to say, it’s never “good enough”).  If the UI sucked, I somehow doubt that millions of people would rely on it every day for mission-critical work.  And, incidentally, every time we survey customers, we find that the number reporting themselves “satisfied” or “very satisfied” comes in above 90%.

It’s my job to be somewhat hard on the product, pushing like mad to eke out every improvement possible.  Without dissatisfaction, why change?  I hate the idea that “good enough is good enough,” that we can and should just putter around the edges.  To remain groundbreaking, Photoshop has to mess with success.

Okay, second part: I don’t want people to be disappointed if the next Photoshop interface doesn’t look like some Martian voodoo lovechild driven by foot pedals & ocular implants.  Yes, we’re working (as we have been) to open the door to some really nice improvements, but change takes time.  I believe we can deliver a better experience without breaking the interface people already know & like.  Just don’t be mad if the next version of PS doesn’t cook you breakfast.  (That’s for CS5. ;-))

Posted by John Nack at 8:53 AM on November 09, 2007


  • JS — 10:03 AM on November 09, 2007

    This discussion is somewhat depressing. You’re telegraphing that Photoshop is about to take away pretty much all of the useful features in the name of ‘simplifying’ the UI. Then the functionality will likely be put back in the form of extensions for sale. Likely, these will be cleverly arranged so that you need to buy more than one of them to get all the features needed to perform useful work. Also likely, the base application that remains won’t have a price that corresponds to the reduced functionality! Why sell the customer one program when you can sell them six?
    [I don’t remember saying any of those things. –J.]

  • jimhere — 10:53 AM on November 09, 2007

    Each version of Photoshop has adapted to my needs (and those of people I know who also use it). So good work on not going too crazy with the UI, and my sympathies for Slashdot publishing speculation and rumours (Fake Steve would know how to deal with ’em if they really existed as humans).

  • Jake — 12:36 PM on November 09, 2007

    That’s not at all what the redesign sounds like. It sounds like they’re going to preserve all the functionality that currently exists, keeping the back-end identical, reskinning how you interact with the control so that the whole app has a cohesive look and feel. That’s step 1.
    Step 2 is to make the app customizable so that controls that you never use, have no intention of ever using, just don’t appear any more. The app still ships with everything, but it lets the user trim off the fat that they don’t want to see. So someone who is an avid amateur photographer will make a profile with just a few filters, the selection tool for cropping, airbrush tool and the levels tool, so this way it’s just what he’s used to working with, and nothing else. Then he can upload that profile to a website and call it “Barebones photo editing profile” and other people who want to just edit photos can download it, pop it on and they get a trimmed down UI that suits their needs.
    And you could have multiple profiles, one that’s great for creating multi-level original artwork, and another that’s great for photo retouching, and another that your 5-year old daughter uses to “make pretty pictures” and consists of just a few brushes and a big palette.
    That sounds SWEET to me, and it doesn’t sound like they’ll make you buy anything. But what do I know, I just read the blog posts.

  • Steve Paxton — 12:57 PM on November 09, 2007

    I am looking forward to the next version of Photoshop. Lightroom has added a huge amount of horsepower to my workflow and I have grown to love the GUI. I would love to see Photoshop’s interface move in that direction.

  • KB — 1:29 PM on November 09, 2007

    John John John…….remember,
    Think twice, say once.
    They’re always ready to pounce, LOL

  • James Darknell — 1:39 PM on November 09, 2007

    It figures, John posts an exciting entry about improving the Photoshop interface, and now he’s going to get 10,000 comments complaining that Adobe is ruining Photoshop. Obviously, theres a lack of faith. I, for one, am excited to see it improved. Since I spend about 30 or so hours a week in that one program, I’m always excited to see better ways to do things. Thanks John!!

  • John Ward — 3:03 PM on November 09, 2007

    John Nack wrote: “…Just don’t be mad if the next version of PS doesn’t cook you breakfast. (That’s for CS5. ;-))”
    Which version will serve me food from the Olive Garden?
    Sorry. Given your past work experience, I couldn’t resist.
    [Good memory. We’d need to localize the app into the Northern Indiana dialect (“This here’s a ‘Terra-MI-sue’: an I-talian ladyfinger, soaked in EXpresso…”). Happy times, I tell you. ;-) –J.]

  • Eric — 6:15 PM on November 09, 2007

    Panic in the streets! Cats and Dogs living together (made easier with blended layers), Microsoft releasing Windows 7 on time, Steve Jobs eating a barbecue ribs Kansas City style. Slashdot not creating controversy…
    Over the years, we’ve watched Adobe improve Photoshop. I have yet to see any really stupid moves in all that time. How could people possibly think that is going to start now? CS3 ought to tell them there’s a crack team on the job that isn’t going to all of a sudden go Microsoft. I can’t wait for CS4!
    Human nature such as it is will always yield all sorts of wacky nonsense, conspiracy theories and FUD. Nobody in their right mind could possibly think Adobe would screw up Photoshop, right?
    Goose. Golden Egg. Nuff said.

  • Marky — 6:23 PM on November 09, 2007

    I’m worried because I don’t think that the current Photoshop is bloated at all – its really straightforward to learn at any level. Its still as easy to pick up the stuff as it was in Photoshop 4! There is not the mess of unecessary palettes introduced into Indesign and Illustrator. Its customizable too, I can already customize the workspace and access these with a flick of a keyboard shortcut.
    So whats the problem? if it ain’t broke… Maybe there is some new functionality which requires so much space, that for it to function things need to be dropped?
    Maybe it is too cynical to suspect that its commercially motivated “we need to do something,there’s got to be a new version in two years”. After all the fantastic work on this mother of all applications over the last 15 years we are left with no serious alternative lets face it, no way to say “ok I’ll check the competition”
    Thomas’ focus and work on RAW is interesting.

  • jimhere — 4:44 AM on November 10, 2007

    Marky is right. Listen to real users, not UI gurus or reviewers (like slashdot) who are industry, er, “experts”.
    And for all the criticisms we post, thanks for still writing…

  • kermit — 6:15 AM on November 10, 2007

    there’s always room for improvement, but like all apps at a certain point you start adding stuff just to sell the next version. The result is an app with features that nobody uses. As from photoshop 5 it started to be too much. People just upgrade to be compatible with the next OS.

  • John Dowdell — 8:35 AM on November 10, 2007

    … I notice you avoided the question of whether you’ll make Photoshop quit smoking cigarettes…. ;-)
    [It never listens, which is why we Photoshop out–er, “digitally remove”–evidence of the behavior. –J.]
    (It was funny how so many commercial reporters made your original blogpost into ever-changing “news” just by putting a new frame around it. On the positive side, lots of people *care* about the tool.)

  • Marky — 2:01 PM on November 10, 2007

    In response to Kermits post – In all fairness there have been some important moves forward since Photoshop 5 – Vectors, Smart objects, 16 bit functionality, RAW, Healing technology, Liquify/Warp. Type was very odd in 5. All these things it was either difficult, or in some cases impossible to do before. There have also been some important filter additions – graduated blurs, Vanishing point.
    Customisable workspaces yes fantastic, but other interface fiddling, pretty well window dressing in my opinion. Give us more functional improvements – a proper channel operations dialog? scripting/actions interface?
    [Would you elaborate on these last couple of points? What in particular would you like to see? –Thx, J.]

  • mary willey — 5:43 PM on November 10, 2007

    Hopefully these improvements are not along the lines of the new printing “improvements” you decided to slip into CS3!!! Instead of messing with the interface how about working on improving the features like adding more Painter X like natural media features.

  • eobet — 1:35 PM on November 13, 2007

    Well, imo, the Illustrator UI sucks, at least. I mean, five different tools to edit the same thing (points)? That’s terribly counter productive!
    Also, not allowing transparency in the gradient editor is simply madness (or have I missed something? Please tell me that it isn’t so)!
    PS. If you forget to confirm that you are a human on this site, and then do confirm it, but then forget to (again) input your name, the site hides the required human confirmation input box and prevents you from ever making a correct post, so you have to start over…

  • Marky — 4:42 PM on November 14, 2007

    Ok back to Photoshop – First one is something I’ve tried to request a few times before – some kind of channel operations interface to replace or update the old Apply Image and Calculations dialogs. An updated Channel mixer maybe allowing you to import data from other files and modes as well. An interface for example that I could just choose the A channel from LAB and multiply it against the G channel? Directly, no need for a manual conversion before I do it. This is mainly used by people like me for creating greyscale masks, so Alpha channel, layer mask, or selection as the result viewable in real time. This idea presented in a easy to use scrubby slider kind of way and people could see their complex graduated selections forming before their eyes. To minimise the destruction of powerful moves The whole thing could work behind the scenes in 16 bit maybe, means converting upwards before launch but it could be an option.
    Scripting actions interface – A revised actions panel, maybe introducing simple conditional steps, embedded action sets, Open and save steps, made easier to understand for beginners with some kind of Graphic representation of the moves involved. I also made some suggestions on Actions the Adobe forum recently. These two fall partly into the”Making the difficult stuff more accessible” category, which I know will appeal!

  • Bernard Languillier — 7:31 PM on November 14, 2007

    One way to solve the problem might be to start a PS install/update with a wizard asking the user his basic profile:
    – photographer,
    – designer,
    – …
    and what else he might want to do besides his basic profile’s typical work.
    In a way, it would be like those install apps that let the user decide what needs to be installed, except that it would work in terms of defining the content of the most easily accessible layer of the GUI.
    The only important thing is to let the user define which capabilities should be readily accessible while others might require more interactions.
    Easy to do with menus,… potentially more complex with standalone items like the layer panel,…
    There is a lot to say on this…

  • Guntis — 5:56 AM on April 03, 2008

    Photoshop CS3 is already ok, but Illustrator is real pain. Node editing is the worst thing I’ve seen. In Corel it’s one tool. Click or double-click or Alt-click. It has buttons to change corner point to smooth or balanced point. Nothing like that in Illustrator. And for simple transparency I have to create mask, while in CorelDRAW I can draw transparency vector and place transparency nodes on it. For me Illustrator is the weekest link in the chain…

  • berto batungbakal — 1:30 AM on July 29, 2008

    hey john!!!! what a geat invent!!! u rily make me overwhelmed…. with you i cant manage my multimedia task…. iloveyou john… more powers to you and the rest of the company…. XOXO

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