June 05, 2008

Future Photoshop UI changes

So, what’s Adobe up to interface-wise in the next versions of Creative Suite applications?


We’ve been working hard to make the interfaces of the various apps more consistent.  Because the Adobe Fireworks and Dreamweaver betas are available on Adobe Labs, you can now see some of the interface changes that will appear in the next version of Photoshop as well.  I’d like to address some of the concerns and questions I hear bubbling up.  In particular, I hope to put Mac users’ minds at ease about a few things.


First, I want to lay my Mac bona fides on the table.  I’ve been using the platform since Sept. 1984, and I really sweat the little details and conventions.  (That’s one reason I’ve raved about NetNewsWire, Panic’s Transmit, and other great Mac apps.)  I use Safari instead of Firefox in part because FF’s use of Windows-style buttons & form elements feels alien on my system.  So yeah, I care deeply about this stuff.


As the CS3 product cycle was wrapping up, Adobe’s user interface designers started showing their ideas for subsequent releases.  Lots of things (tabbed documents, improved panel management, more usable workspaces, etc.) seemed like slam dunks.  On the other hand, the designs all featured a prominent "application frame"–a window containing both UI elements & documents–on both Mac and Windows.


I think my initial reaction can be boiled down to three letters: "WTF?"


"Are you telling me," I asked, "that we’re going to put a huge, battleship-gray box into the background on the Mac, as it is on Windows?  Why would we do that?"


The designers pointed out that the app frame has a number of advantages:


  • It facilitates N-up (2-up, 3-up, etc.) document layouts that adapt as you adjust the interface.  Think "live window tiling"–great for comparing, compositing, etc.
  • It makes it easier to move the entire application and its contents, including from one monitor to another.
  • It prevents documents from getting obscured by panels (palettes).
  • It blocks out the contents of the desktop, minimizing visual clutter.  (A number of Mac users have requested this option for many years.  I’ve known quite a few people who open a small blank document, hit F to put it into full-screen mode, and then put it into the background to hide the desktop.  Willingness to live with that kind of hack demonstrates some genuine desire for a real fix.)


On the Mac (unlike on Windows, where an app frame has always been present), using the app frame is optional.  It’s a one-click enable/disable via Window->Application Frame.  On either platform you can also float documents above the app frame, mixing them with docked windows if you’d like.  Whether on Mac or Windows, you can resize application windows by dragging any side, not just the lower-right corner.


I’ve recorded a quick demo that shows the app frame enabled & disabled; documents in & out of tabs; and some of the N-up layout options available with or without the app frame enabled:


After I’d used the app frame for a little while–well, what do you know?  I like it, and not because they pay me to say so.  It’s easy to flip the frame on and off, but I find that I like the way it reduces distractions.  Your mileage may vary, and that’s why we made using it an option.


The app frame has brought to light the questions of what is & is not considered "Mac-like."  This inspired me to do a little investigation into the state of Mac software.


It’s interesting to note that showpiece Mac apps like Scrivener and NetNewsWire feature the ability to run in full-screen mode, blocking out the desktop and other distractions.  Panic’s Coda Web development tool is among those combining interface and content into a single window.


What about Apple’s own applications, as they would be presumably be the definition of Mac-like, right?  I noticed a couple of things:


  • The pro video apps (Final Cut Pro, Motion, Color, DVD Studio Pro) configure their windows/panels to take over one’s screen completely.
  • Aperture and iPhoto put all the UI into a window & optionally take over the screen in a dedicated full-screen mode.
  • The iLife and iWork apps (Keynote, Pages, iWeb) all feature a UI approach that marries together content & interface in a single window.  (For reference, here’s a little gallery of all these apps.)


And so, I’d argue, putting UI + content into a single, manageable window (as the CS4 app frame does) isn’t "un-Mac-like" at all.  Despite my initial freak-out (the one being echoed by others when seeing an application frame in Fireworks), you could argue that the application frame makes Adobe tools more Mac-like–if "Mac-like" means "Apple application-like."


I’ve also heard comments about the new Adobe apps’ custom interface elements and their ability to resize windows by dragging them from any side, not just from the lower-right corner (as required in most Mac apps).  On Daring Fireball John Gruber characterized this capability as "just like in Windows."  Digging a bit more, I fired up Final Cut Pro 6.0 and made some discoveries:


  • You can drag-resize panels and document windows from any side, not just from the lower-right corner.
  • The close/minimize/zoom buttons are extremely small; they always appear monochrome (instead of respecting the OS appearance preference of Blue vs. Graphite); and they don’t show a dot in the close box of files with unsaved changes.
  • The UI is full of unique elements that don’t appear elsewhere in the OS–e.g., custom scrollbars sitting next to OS-standard ones.


I then took a look at Motion.  Again scrollbars are custom (though different from Final Cut’s), remaining monochrome regardless of OS appearance preference.  Application windows can be resized individually and together from any side, though with more apparent limitations than in FCP.  Things are similar in DVD Studio Pro, where you can resize what amounts to an app frame from any side.


Instead of "just like in Windows," "just like in Apple’s own apps" might be a better way to put it.  In any case, whether the convention exists elsewhere is beside the point.  The point is, Is it useful?


As I wrote earlier, I believe Adobe teams need to work hard to make their products feel like polished, native citizens on each OS.  Deviation from the norm for its own sake is unhelpful.  Having said that, OS conventions should support innovation, not stifle it.  If we can improve functionality (e.g. enabling more flexible document resizing) without imposing any burden (extra UI chrome, etc.), why shouldn’t we?


Our job is about functionality, not ideology.  Whatever works best, wins.  Obviously the Apple development teams feel free to depart from strict adherence to the baseline OS when they feel that doing so would benefit their customers.  I’d argue that Adobe teams should have similar latitude.

Now, at the end of the day, will we ship with the application frame visible by default on the Mac?  I don’t know; maybe not.  We want people to feel invited–not forced–to use the new functionality.  No matter how much I write here–and thanks for reading this far–some Mac users are going to have the "WTF" reaction to the application frame.  Hopefully they, and you, will keep an open mind until you’ve gotten to try it out.  I think you’ll find–as I did–that there’s a lot to like.

Posted by John Nack at 4:42 PM on June 05, 2008


  • John Nack — 4:43 PM on June 05, 2008

    Addendum: Specific concerns I’ve heard about the new UI:
    The design is too gray!  Where’s the color?  Well, do you want to look at Adobe’s design or at yours?  Seriously.  There’s a saying attributed to Alan Cooper: "No matter how cool your interface, it would be better if there were less of it."  Not polluting users’ color perception is a serious issue, and if I’m not mistaken, the "Graphite" (monochrome) option for OS X came about in large part due to pressure from Adobe UI designers concerned about gratuitous and persistent use of color in the UI.  The close/minimize/zoom buttons turn color on rollover.
    The application bar consumes too much space.  On Windows this seems to be less of an issue, as on wider monitors the application menus & the app bar content reflow to occupy one line if possible.  On the Mac, where menus are always at the top of the screen (as opposed to inside the document window), you can turn off the application bar if you’d like. You can also make it float, in which case it takes up less space horizontally.
    The application frame is hard to resize.  This area has been buggy during development, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that what’s in the Fireworks beta isn’t functioning as designed.

    Miscellaneous other UI notes, as long as we’re on the subject:
    Panel (palette) management is improved in a number of ways.  Panels can float in minimized, iconic form (individually or in groups), offering much more flexibility than you’d get with the old Photoshop palette well.  More than one docked iconic panel can be open at once, and auto-reveal of panels is optional.
    The number of screen modes in Photoshop has been set back to three (instead of four, as in CS3).  The application frame takes the place of the "maximized" mode introduced last time.
    Setting the background color in screen modes will be much more discoverable.

  • brice — 5:06 PM on June 05, 2008

    so does that mean the various applications in the suite will behave more in the same way?
    [Yes, that’s the goal. It’s an evolutionary process. –J.]
    ie in photoshop you can click and hold the word “opacity” and adjust its value, whereas in Illustrator you have to use the the drop-down box and adjust the slider that way.
    [We intend to get onto a single, best-of-breed set of widgets that enable things like the “scrubby sliders” you mention. They’re on the roadmap, but not for the upcoming release. (We’re peeling the onion, though.)
    btw, application frame FTW, good job on the UI
    Also will Mac users be able to switch the blend modes / fonts using the mouse wheel, as on Windows? (or is that a limitation of the OS)
    [I’m not sure. Historically it hasn’t been possible to put focus on a Mac control, then move through it via the keyboard (as you can do on Windows). In Safari and maybe other apps, however, I see that you can highlight a control, then navigate via the keyboard. I’m not sure when that support was introduced, or in what context. –J.]

  • Klaus Nordby — 5:17 PM on June 05, 2008

    I’m on Windows, so the Mac concerns do not concern me (though I always thought the absence of an app frame on the Mac to be very much in the platform’s disfavor). But I’ve now briefly tested the CS4 versions of DW and FW and I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHO THE HELL THOUGHT THAT ALL-CAPS PANEL NAMES WAS A GOOD UI DESIGN IDEA? Actually, I don’t want to know what weird mind committed that design crime at all — I JUST DON’T WANT ANYTHING IN ANY UI TO SHOUT AT ME. Please, please, PLEASE drop those horrid all-caps in the release versions of the CS4 apps! They’re an abomination — a LOUD abomination.
    [As long as I’m being candid today, I’ll admit I had a similar reaction, though I quickly got used to them. I did insist that the user research team look into whether the all caps treatment compromises readability. In user testing they found that it didn’t. –J.]

  • meekish — 5:23 PM on June 05, 2008

    I’ve always been annoyed by the fact that app windows in OS X can only be resized from the bottom-right corner. I think deviating from the Apple convention here is a definite win.
    I also think that the larger application bar looks hot. The whole overhaul looks hot. The Adobe UI design team is doing a splendid job.
    [Cool, glad to hear it. –J.]

  • Steven Garrity — 5:26 PM on June 05, 2008

    Will documents inside the frame be considered stand-alone windows for window-management features like Expose?
    [No, although we’d like to make that work. Last I heard we’d inquired with Apple & that’s not something Exposé supports. (You can’t use it to display/shuffle the contents of tabs in Safari, either.) If the capability becomes available, we’ll work on supporting it. –J.]

  • Gio — 5:31 PM on June 05, 2008

    Love the new UI!

  • emgee — 5:34 PM on June 05, 2008

    Thanks for the heads up and rational.
    I think someone out to create a pool, which would be wordcount of Gruber’s reply to this piece. I’ve got $5 on 6 words, and $5 on 8,412 words.
    [Heh; I think he’s pretty busy with WWDC coming up, but I suppose we’ll see. –J.]

  • Trevor Kay — 5:50 PM on June 05, 2008

    Please bring back the dot in the close button for unsaved documents. Mac users are used to this behaviour and an * on a tab and the title bar isn’t clear enough. Both Safari and Final Cut Pro have reasons for not using it (In Safari you aren’t editing the HTML document you have loaded and in Final Cut Pro the window controls are way too small for it to be noticeable).
    [We’re looking into the issue for floating docs. Documents in the app frame don’t have the those controls; hence the asterisk to indicate document “dirtiness.” –J.]

  • Andre Da Costa — 5:50 PM on June 05, 2008

    John, I think I get the subliminal message behind the animal and beetle sketches. ;)
    [Oh yeah? You’re way ahead of me, then. ;-) I just got sick of using the standard demo assets and stumbled across some of my old sketches from college. –J.]

  • Kristian — 5:56 PM on June 05, 2008

    I believe you can tab exposé in the Shiira browser.
    Maybe this’ll help you enable tab exposé in CS4?

  • dd — 6:11 PM on June 05, 2008

    biggest thanks for adobe and photoshop team for making all these ui changes as _options_. and please don’t block or remove old-way photoshop ui functions in future versions.
    i really try to be open minded and promise to stay in new paradigm at least for a first day, but somehow i’m almost sure that separate windows is much more intuitive workflow for me (i really think that macosx is far more windows OS that ms windows :) and the application bar is very alien-looking (thanks so much it’s possible to hide it too).
    also – i really hope it’s some kind of hacked skin you’re using for macosx widgets since flat-big circles for window close-minimize-maximize are horrible. please- at least make some option to be able to have default standard macosx controls. what’s the point except for visual effect to change these? (ok, i admit – reinventing conventions to add features should be considered, but what’s with these buttons?).

  • dd — 6:18 PM on June 05, 2008

    p.s. as for comparing finalcut studio window’ closing widgets- i’d point it’s a big difference when non standard control is used to indicate closing a panel (either in final cut or in photoshop – for panels) or when closing real window/document (which photoshop has for an open file) however neither finalcut nor motion has single separate window for currently open document like photoshop, word, textmate, etc does..

  • Klaus Nordby — 6:28 PM on June 05, 2008

    Thanks for your candor, John. You wrote: “In user testing they found that it didn’t.” I don’t buy that at all. Aside from the ghastly SHOUTING effect, it’s been universally know for hundreds of years among typographers that capitals reduces legibility and slows down the reading pace. I’d like to know what “reasons” the UI folks have given you, in order to FOIST THIS SENSELESS SHOUTING UPON US? I find it so bad — so offensive, so inconsiderate — that this UI issue alone will rather make me think twice about upgrading to CS4. And I’m usually a upgrade-fiend. It’s simply unbelievable that such an UI design howler can be committed by Adobe.

  • Jonathan — 7:02 PM on June 05, 2008

    Apple-like =/= Apple
    I can’t think of any third party applications that have successfully pulled off an alternate “window skin” and I honestly don’t feel like this interface will work well. Apple’s reasoning behind these looks isn’t for the way it looks, it’s so that the UI isn’t a distraction. That’s why the buttons are smaller (note how CS4’s close, minimize and resize buttons are the same size and contrast more than the Apple defaults). Your intentions are good, but the implementation is bad. Your window buttons look out of place and draw more attention to the differing UI.
    The other issue is that when Apple creates their custom UI for an application, it’s familiar. Final Cut Pro’s UI is a blend of what we remember from Classic and an Aqua interface. Your UI does neither. Instead of trying to reinvent the UI, you should try to come up with something that’s familiar to the user. It’s far less distracting that way.

  • Anauel — 7:05 PM on June 05, 2008

    It is comforting to know that there’s someone that’s thinking about all these details. Ps has always been a great application, just saying I didn’t know about this blog until recently (thanks to Mr. Gruber).

  • Daniel Lizio-Katzen — 7:09 PM on June 05, 2008

    My one request, is please, PLEASE, don’t change the keyboard shortcuts. Just the fact that ctrl-click doesn’t work the same in CS3 as it did in previous versions is frustrating, especially for someone who has been using PS since version 2.

  • henry Maddocks — 7:11 PM on June 05, 2008

    Why don’t you just admit you’ve run out of feature ideas and call PS finished?

  • Trevor Kay — 7:12 PM on June 05, 2008

    While we are asking for features :P Can someone at Adobe please enable drag and drop support from anywhere to document. I’d love to be able to just drag a file from the Desktop or an image from Safari, etc into a Photoshop document and have it become a new layer.

  • George Wiel — 7:14 PM on June 05, 2008

    I know this post is about Phtoshop but while were on sweating the little details and Mac UI conventions at Adobe: how about implementing the standard command-period key command to dismiss dialog boxes in Fireworks. Fireworks CS 3 has the excuse of being a prettied up Macromedia product. But FW CS4 has the same UI defect in the “Image Size” and “Canvas Size” dialog boxes. I use these about every 90 seconds so a key command (a la PS) for those dialog boxes would also be welcome.

  • Jon — 7:22 PM on June 05, 2008

    I love the idea of an app frame, but always hate it when it comes time to actually get work done.
    Also, if it’s not too diffacult, please allow the resizing from only the lower right. I hate that when I go to move apps on windows, I end up resizing the damn windows.

  • Radu Dutzan — 7:23 PM on June 05, 2008

    Great. You (and the video) actually made me change my mind on The Frame.
    If I could only ask one thing of the visual appearance, it would be that in areas where it’d be appropiate, you add some partial (and optional) translucency, so the desktop picture can be seen. But even without that, I’m liking the new UI very much.

  • msr — 7:24 PM on June 05, 2008

    I will never pay Adobe a dime for the sh*t that is the Photoshop interface you’re planning to come out with. “Apple does it!” finger pointing is not an excuse to put out a horrible interface. First off, Apple does it because they are APPLE. Did Adobe create the Aqua interface? Nope. Apple can do what they want because they obviously know what they are doing. Adobe doesn’t. And you prove that every time you try to make a custom interface. Not only do you do a terrible job code-wise (I’ve heard tons of complaints about Dreamweaver or Fireworks CS3) but it looks like crap. Have fun losing market share. You have more competition now than ever.

  • Super Nintendo Chalmers — 7:33 PM on June 05, 2008

    Here’s a wacky idea — Command-, for preferences.

  • Bryan — 7:46 PM on June 05, 2008

    Basing your design decisions on Apple’s pro apps is a big mistake.
    For example, Final Cut and Final Cut Pro are too stupid to order numbers correctly. Name movie clips with numbers 1-10 and then add an 11th clip. It puts it right after the first clip so that the order goes: 1, 11, 2, 3, …
    Most of these apps were bought, not originally developed by Apple. Therefore, there’s lots of legacy code and decisions that’s absolutely horrible.
    I cast my vote for NO application frame. It’s one of the absolute worst things about using Windows.

  • Eric — 7:47 PM on June 05, 2008

    While I think it’s great that the suite’s UI is finally being so thoughtfully revised, your claim that the application frame will be optional worries me a bit. The LAST thing most of these apps need are more options — the most Mac-like move of all would be to fine-tune ONE interface to relative perfection and make it the standard.

  • Rob Marquardt — 7:51 PM on June 05, 2008

    It really seems like a solution in search of a problem on the Mac side of things. If apps in the background are a distraction, I can throw Photoshop into its own space and switch between them (and am still able to use Expose).
    Most of the time, I’m comparing what I’m working on in PS with images open in those other apps (Illustrator, Preview, etc). It’s fortunate that the app frame can be turned off.

  • Eric Price — 7:52 PM on June 05, 2008

    Oh, and P.S. — you will make the day of thousands of designers if you get your engineers to enable copying and pasting in Photoshop’s hexadecimal color text field like all the other suite apps. SO basic, and it’s been broken for SO long.

  • Charles — 7:53 PM on June 05, 2008

    I once asked one of the Apple developers about the difference in UI on apps like Motion, I asked if they could “Aquafy” the standard UI pieces like OpenSave dialogs that operate separately from the full screen gray interface. They insisted that there was a second set of “advanced” UI guidelines for pro apps like Motion. I don’t buy it, those apps look more like Windows-centric apps like Combustion, and of course Motion started on another platform before being ported. Sometimes a bad UI is just a bad port.
    But what concerns me more about the Photoshop UI is items that are neither Mac-like nor Windows-like, but are entirely Adobe inventions. I spend an inordinate amount of tech support time explaining novel UI widgets like fly-out menus, because they’re unique to Adobe apps and unfamiliar. Mac people say they’re un-Maclike, Windows people say they’re un-Windowslike. I wouldn’t object so much if they were totally brilliant unique UI inventions (like the Maya hotbox) but these PS widgets seem unique just for the sake of uniqueness. I see that as an obstacle to use, not an enhancement.

  • m — 7:53 PM on June 05, 2008

    I want my apps to ‘fit in’ to my platform of choice, not subvert it. Making your apps platform neutral doesn’t enhance my user experience.
    I think a big part of the concern is the idea that Adobe is trying to foist their platform on top of our platform of choice, neutralizing rather than enhancing what we feel are the advantages of our platform.
    On the Mac, the fact that I can’t toggle the front window in PS using cmd-` drives me nuts. The fact that I can’t hide PS altogether using cmd-H drives me nuts. And so on. I feel like I am constantly fighting a company that wants to pretend they own the space their apps play in. You don’t. I use several apps, not just Adobe apps, and I hate that I have to remember ‘oh, I’m using and Adobe app now’. It’s just a bad experience.
    As a well respected UI guy once advised me, “standard is better than better”.

  • Jin Kim — 7:59 PM on June 05, 2008

    I’ve been eagerly testing out the Fireworks and Dreamweaver betas. Much kudos to Adobe for making them available and allowing open discussion/feedback here and on the beta forums.
    I am still skeptical of one of the UI direction that you’ve discussed in the past post (re: integration of Flash in Photoshop UI) and will reserve my final judgement until I see the final release.
    Mac applications, as you have mentioned, have generally been heading towards application frame or single window paradigm and I think that there are many advantages to the approach. The previous attempts to bring those advantages to applications by having various windows and palettes snap to each other did not quite work (including in Apple’s own pro applications) and I’m glad to see that Adobe has just gone for the real thing instead.
    What I don’t understand though is when you’ve departed from established UI convention of the platform. For example, what’s with putting tools into the title bar? You already have a toolbar in your applications. Why not use it instead of creating yet another toolbar inside the title bar? On Windows where it is the convention of the platform to be able to place the application/window menu bar next to tool bars it makes sense. On Mac, though?
    To me the basic conventions of the platform that should be respected. I don’t think the new functionalities placed in the title bar warrants a break not b/c the conventional way is “the only way to do it” but because they break user’s mental model as he/she moves from one application to next AND there’s a clear and conventional way to accomplish the same functionality.

  • Roger — 8:11 PM on June 05, 2008

    Ok, a couple of things. 1) Your YouTube video shows … I guess the next version of Photoshop? So when’s the public beta? 2) All UI changes are fine as long as they are options.
    As mature as Photoshop is, if it were up to me I’d make any UI changes optional for the user. I’d make any upgrades to tools optional. I would not replace a tool with a new one, I’d just add the new one.
    Photoshop is like a Swiss Army knife. It amazes me how many approaches people can come up with to solve a problem with Photoshop. Changes that don’t grasp that users may be solving a problem every day based on the way the UI appears in say CS2 or how a tool functions in CS3 will aggravate many. Overall I believe Adobe has played fair with most of this (although I remember the changes to the layer palette a couple of versions ago frustrated me for weeks). So just be careful what you do with that magic wand too, there’s some guy out there using it to make Leonard De Vinci master pieces.

  • thicksab — 8:11 PM on June 05, 2008

    Isn’t a bit strange to use Coda as an example, when Coda actually uses standard controls and windows, and this bizarre frame doesn’t?

  • Justin Bell — 8:19 PM on June 05, 2008

    Here’s my problem with all this apparent consistency, including the element table style icons: Not all of us use every piece of software in your suits. I know it all makes sense to you guys when you look at your big array of apps, but many of use only use one or two of your apps most of the time, so all this is lost on us and just comes across as a bit arrogant. It’s like you’re creating your own mini universe. As for Apple breaking there own interface guidelines — why is that a good excuse for you guys to do the same? I don’t mean to say that your new UI ideas are bad, but I think you need to keep some of these points in mind and stop letting your marketing department have such a big say in things.

  • jimhere — 8:25 PM on June 05, 2008

    I’ve used the Fireworks (and Dreamweaver) beta, and I don’t feel too bad about the UI (as I did for CS3). The option to release the so-called application frame is all one needs.
    But what’s that double row of tools under the main menu bar? In your screenshot there’s the menu (File Edit etc), then some sort of new, I don’t know, other bar (with n-up, I guess), then the familiar Options Bar. I suppose that’s just an extra 32 pixels, but couldn’t all them controls have been tucked somewhere else (there’s so much unused space to it’s right)? Of course, the old ‘palette well’ would fit nicely there so we wouldn’t have to use any of the right side for panels. And I’m a little worried about what you guys consider “ESSENTIALS’ at upper right. That is too stylized.
    For the good stuff, the silly CS3 panel frames are now nicely re-drawn with squared tabs and groovy upper-left close buttons in palette-mode (no baffling x’s). I like the gray everywhere (not sure why some want colored icons). Most important, it does not look like the over-stylized Elements and Lightroom. This still feels Pro (to me).
    So the lesson to you is, release a public beta of Fireworks first so people get used to it before out precious Photoshop is changed.

  • Peter Witham — 8:58 PM on June 05, 2008

    Personally…I really like the new interface in DW and FW CS4. And I can see the new Photoshop working for me just fine!
    The one thing that really stood out for me on the DW BETA is you truly do see the document more than an interface and that’s really the way anyone should be thinking in any application (just don’t do anything as dire as the Vista blur it because we can transpareny window chrome crap).
    I am actually looking forward to the new CS4 suite based on what I’ve seen and read, and to be up front I was way under impressed with CS3 so you must be doing something right as far as I’m concerned.
    Peter Witham

  • A. Dias — 9:04 PM on June 05, 2008

    Kudos for the app frame and the ability to lay various images in the frame in many different ways. Way to go!

  • Tristan Carr — 9:05 PM on June 05, 2008

    I have been hoping Adobe would make this change. It definitely feels more mac-like to me.

  • John North — 9:07 PM on June 05, 2008

    I’m sorry, but most of those examples of suck. Scrivener and NetNewsWire? Please, not even remotely similar. Aperture, iPhoto? Both are library-centric, not document-centric, unlike Photoshop. Final Cut Studio? The workflow is completely and utterly different.
    Just stand up for the decision instead of pretending that it is adhering to common behavior. It’s new and weird to long-time users–that’d be fine if you didn’t pretend it wasn’t. Don’t make it an issue, and for the love of God don’t make it the default.
    In particular, the line saying “just like Apple’s own apps” is a total weasel cop-out. Adobe established the conventions of how Photoshop works, not Apple.

  • Steven — 9:12 PM on June 05, 2008

    It would be great if you could have several groups of guides and name them.
    Particularly useful for webdesign where you have more than one template per website.

  • A. Dias — 9:14 PM on June 05, 2008

    Clearly the complainers re app frame are not photographers. Photographers want a neutral background, not the random colored/patterned desktop, populated with a myriad of icons scattered there in any day’s work. The CS3 solution to set a gray background is limiting as it does not allow tiling, overlapping, etc. Again, well done!

  • JK — 9:37 PM on June 05, 2008

    For an EXCELLENT example of application frame with complete customization…one of the best UIs I’ve ever used…go download a demo and check it out…
    [Heh–you know, I’ve liked modo when I’ve used it, but it’s a great example of how it’s impossible to make everyone happy: in this same thread someone else refers to their UI as “just a freak-show mess.” So it goes. –J.]

  • Mike Howe — 9:58 PM on June 05, 2008

    Thanks for caring about the Mac UI John. Its all looking good IMHO apart from the inclusion of UI elements/tools/essentials in the title bar of the app frame – WTF!
    Also I see that the scroll bars are still using the aqua blue so what’s the justification for the ‘graying’ of the red/orange/green window controls?
    [I agree that the distinction there is a little funky, and we’ve asked the UI and engineering folks to reexamine the issue. When they started, I don’t believe there was a way to ask the OS about the state of the Blue/Graphite setting (though it’s possible I misheard something); hence they went with monochrome all the time. My belief is that those controls should respect the user-defined preference, provided that’s something we can read. –J.]

  • Rohan — 10:05 PM on June 05, 2008

    My one request, is please, PLEASE, don’t change the keyboard shortcuts.

    A recently saw a post somewhere that had a really good suggestion… When faced with old shortcuts that don’t follow the platform standards, the first time the user uses a shortcut, put up a dialog and ask them if they were expecting the old shortcut, or the standard platform one.
    Existing users used to old shortcuts are happy. New users who expect the software to do the right thing are happy.

  • Phil Brown — 10:07 PM on June 05, 2008

    Wow…I mean, just wow. Of course, I’m referring to some of the responses, not to what John posted.
    OPTIONAL, added functionality and people are complaining?
    John didn’t justify the changes by saying “we’re following Apple’s lead in deviating from the UI” he said that changes have been made that Adobe feels are useful, functional and improvements and then pointed out that Adobe isn’t the only company to do this (because as has already been seen, anything that doesn’t appear to be 100% Apple or come from Apple draws derision and criticism from some corners of the net no matter what).
    Many apps, including from Apple, deviate from the UI where it’s considered appropriate. That’s all, and that’s fine.
    People don’t like change – DOS is great some of the time, but how many of us want to lose the option of a GUI? Me, I enjoy being able to open a shell and use that when the GUI is in the way. So having options is great.
    Far too many people run on the basis of “I don’t like it, no one should!”.

  • Mark Thomas — 10:30 PM on June 05, 2008

    Let me just say that as a GUI purist — that is, someone who prefers apps to follow OS guidelines as much as possible — I actually prefer the new CS4 look to the utter weirdness that is Lightroom. Still, I’d prefer it if Adobe would focus more on improving core functionality than relatively superficial GUI changes. For instance, Photoshop should always operate in 32-bits per channel mode and auto-downsample when saving to JPEG (e.g. don’t throw up an alert). I’d rather have full “high color” (or whatever you want to call it) support than a non-standard GUI. It’s starting to look like Adobe is, by attempting to unify the CS4 GUIs, actually making the whole situation far more complex than it needs to be. Luxology’s modo springs to mind. Rather than solving the problem of a complex GUI, Luxology increased modo’s complexity ten fold by making the whole thing customizable and schizo. Now it’s just a freak-show mess. So please be careful. The simplest solution tends to be the right one. In other words, the simplest, most logical thing to do would be to conform the CS4 apps to follow the GUI guidelines of each host OS. I get the feeling that this whole unified GUI approach is being done to make it so that only one GUI has to be designed and supported rather than two (or three if Linux ever figures into the game in a meaningful way). To me, that approach signals some disrespect for the OS. And maybe there’s reason for that. We all know — Apple included — that the future of apps is the web, so maybe Adobe’s taking the right approach by pretending the OS doesn’t exist anymore, thus abstracting its GUIs from what lies beneath, in other words. I’m curious to know what the real thinking behind the new GUI is.

  • Andrew Knott — 10:48 PM on June 05, 2008

    I care less about the look of UI elements. I care about performance. The UI performance (window resizing, refresh etc) in all the CS3 apps is awful. I’d also like to see your apps work with spaces. Please?
    [Apple has fixed a bunch of issues with Spaces in 10.5.3, but there’s more work to be done. –J.]

  • Gio — 11:00 PM on June 05, 2008

    The application frame change is great. Using both platforms, I’ve always loathed the desktop showing through and resizing is limited to dragging the bottom right corner. Do what’s right for Photoshop and its users – not what feels “Mac like”. In any case, don’t agonize too much – everyone knows Adobe favours the Mac and treats Windows as an afterthought.

  • stu — 11:08 PM on June 05, 2008

    Just to let you know, the video seems to be down.

  • Nic Barajas — 11:18 PM on June 05, 2008

    Here’s one request, though: Please respect the double-click preference for minimizing of apps. I used the Fireworks CS4 beta and was unhappy when the application minimized with an errant double-click.

  • John_B — 11:26 PM on June 05, 2008

    That Adobe doesn’t “get” that ALL CAPS is the worst faux pas a design oriented company could possibly make… Wow! Too frickin’ amazing!
    [Ever looked at iTunes? –J.]
    Honestly, before you go live with that as a “feature”, you might want to check with someone on your InDesign team (or someone who used to work on PageMaker if anyone is left).

  • R Hunt — 11:28 PM on June 05, 2008

    On the subject of PS UI… the inability to page the selection of an Adobe palette list menu with the arrow keys is an annoying behavior of the app. For a while I thought this was a standard behavior on the Mac platform, but after some short research (check Safari) realized that its not. It’s ONE MORE example (many others are listed above) of Adobe breaking OS standards seemingly just for the hell of it.
    [That has nothing to do with it. Rather, it’s a question of focus. The arrows apply to selected objects on your document. Would you want to try to move an object up a couple of pixels, only to end up changing layers or scrolling a list? I seriously doubt it. –J.]
    A lot of the rational for these decisions seems to be “at first I thought it was weird too, but then I just got used to it”. Is that seriously how your design process works? Human beings are capable of “just getting used to” all sort of horrible situations… that doesn’t make it good.
    I am of the philosophy that standards should be upheld. Where there’s no clear standard, and you have a really clever solution to the problem, then by all means, have at it, but otherwise stop mucking things up.

  • Tarwin Stroh-Spijer — 11:32 PM on June 05, 2008

    This makes me wonderfully happy. It almost makes me comfortable enough to move over to OSX (from Windows). Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Alex Dahl — 11:36 PM on June 05, 2008

    As always, thanks for the info. I do like the concept app frame, but Adobe doesn’t seem to be taking the best approach. First off, pointing to lousy design in Apple’s pro apps isn’t justification for Adobe’s lousy design.
    [Just for the record, I didn’t say that anything about Apple’s app designs is lousy–just different (and in some ways more capable) than what is supported elsewhere in the OS. –J.]
    Additionally, I found several details that reveal how the new UI hasn’t been thought through.
    You mention that color in the UI is distracting. True, which is why I use graphite—don’t replace standard graphics that already have solved the problem. I see that CS4’s drop-down menus and scroll bars still use system graphics. Does Adobe feel color window controls are a problem, but color scroll bars are not? The amazing thing is that right next to the custom gray window controls, a bright blue app icon has been added.
    [There’s an option to display that icon in monochrome mode, as there always has been. –J.]
    There’s no need for ugly custom window controls, and no need for distracting icons in the app frame.
    In a document frame that does not have focus, there is no indication of what the active tab is. See http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/images/PS_app_frame_floating.jpg — it is clear that Beetle.JPG in the front window is active. But in the app frame, is Untitled-2, hairy-coo.jpg, or Untitled-1 the active tab? There’s no way to tell.
    [We’re still working on that area. –J.]
    A tiny asterisk as the only indication of unsaved changes is incredibly poor design. You imply in a comment above that this is the only possibility for the app frame. But in your post, you cited the success of Coda’s one-window workflow. How about you look at how Panic handled this issue in Coda?
    [Will do. –J.]
    I will not believe the argument that large UI changes like the app frame have been thoughtfully considered while smaller but important details go unaddressed.
    [I know that makes intuitive sense, but it’s not how the code is written. It’s not a zero-sum game, where the same person who could make one change (e.g. enabling deletion of multiple selected channels–which we’ll enable, btw) could make another. –J.]
    I encourage Adobe to forge new UI ground, but to do so in a way that actually works. Coda is a fantastic study: it has many unique UI features, but is still well put-together and doesn’t break conventions. Photoshop matches the first description, but not the second or third.

  • LKM — 11:44 PM on June 05, 2008

    John, you will find that nobody complains about the UI for Lightroom; that’s because for non-document-centric applications, single-window UIs are okay. For apps like Photoshop though, not so much. Having said that, I’m happy to have the option to run the app in a single-window UI; I’m sure it could come in handy at some point.
    Still, it’s ovious to me that the Windows version of Photoshop hurts the Mac version due to your perceived need to be consistent between the two. I think consistency with the OS is more important than consistency between different OS versions of the application; for a reasonably good example of this, see Microsoft Word.

  • James Duncan Davidson — 11:59 PM on June 05, 2008

    I’ll hold judgement on the fine details of the UI shown here as, after all, it’s a non-released interface and as you guys get time on it, you’ll dial it in as needed. But, as I was going back and forth between Lightroom and Photoshop earlier tonight, the visual shift between the single-window Lightroom and the multi-window with toolbars and other stuff interface of Photoshop was really smacking me in the face for some reason. I can’t place my fingers on the fine details, but Lightroom felt modern, Photoshop felt, um, totally old school. Even though Lightroom breaks so many Apple UI conventions, it still feels a lot more modern, Mac-like, and up to date.
    So, for whatever that’s worth, I’m glad you guys are putting in time to modernize up. Kick the tires. Be brave.

  • ray — 12:04 AM on June 06, 2008

    Occasionally I use Photoshop under Windows, and having everything trapped inside an “application frame” drives me bonkers. I often want to place reference images and working files and such on a second monitor, and the application frame gets in the way.
    Secondly, if you insist on rolling your own UI widgetry, please, please, please tune it for performance. Apps that bypass the OS’s offerings in favor of their own custom windows and controls never feel quite as snappy or responsive. (Lightroom, I’m looking at you.) On cutting edge beast machines, resizing windows should be absolutely instantaneous and fluid. There should be zero perceptible lag on basic UI interaction.

  • thorsten wulff — 12:06 AM on June 06, 2008

    A CS4 app frame is okay with me, being your mac and usability geek as they come… I used a 50% grey background forever on my macs for exactly this reason. I even stopped using dropshadows in PS because OSX every window had one. My only gripe with the CS3 interface were the closeness of the little double triangle in the palettes upper right corner to the options expansion below, I never click the right one ;))

  • Philip Littlewood — 12:09 AM on June 06, 2008

    I am 100% in favour of the App Frame. I hate the fact that the desktop background can be seen. Lets be honest the point is mute because Adobe are giving the option to disable it if you don’t like it.
    Also fantastic for enabling dragging from all sides of windows.

  • Bjoern — 12:21 AM on June 06, 2008

    I generally like that Adobe is actively trying to develop and enhance the interface of its CS applications. I think that there are still lots of issues with Photoshops interface, most of them coupled with functions (e.g. Layer Effects – extremely useful, but could be better still if could add the same layer effect several times to the same layer, multiple borders etc., workarounds exist, though).
    As a User Interface Designer I don’t think using an application frame is a bad thing. Lots of good things can come of it. I generally like what I see. I definitely have proposed similar concept in my designs, too.
    One thing, though, I really would like: I always, always work in the “full screen mode with menu bar”. The thing I really like about that mode is that you don’t have any scrollbars (actually, they appear on the next screen, which is not nice, but not too bad either – cheaters! ;)) Who uses scrollbars to pan an image anyway? I always pan using SPACE… So it would be nice, if the scrollbars could be optional.

  • Bjoern — 12:25 AM on June 06, 2008

    one more thing: instead of wasting so much space with the window title bar for your functions I think you could easily integrate these functions into the toolbar (maybe to the right or something like that…)
    That would save some space…

  • Guntis — 12:39 AM on June 06, 2008

    1) Please use the default standard Mac OS X window controls (Close/Minimize/Zoom). These large matte gray dots look utterly ugly. I can’t understand how the company who makes apps for the designers can come up with something so ugly. Apple have put at least some gloss on theirs. But Apple’s video Pro apps really are not the best example to follow. Better take a look at Aperture or Logic. But remember that these apps are primarily one-window (one-document) apps. Logic prefers to work with one project at a time (always asks to close previous project), Aperture is meant to use only one image library at a time. Photoshop isn’t. So better use the default OS X controls. I can always enable Graphite theme if I want gray buttons. Please don’t ruin UI.
    2) It’s good that application bar is an option. The first thing I’ll do on CS4 will be to disable it and forget that it ever existed. Photoshop CS3 had quite good interface, and I really don’t like the latest development trends in CS4. Photoshop CS3 interface could be polished in some parts, but it was close to perfect. I really don’t like that I’m forced on Mac to click Close button on the right side of the palette tab to close it – it’s Windows style. Why not on the left using the same tab close widget as in Safari? It’s about consistent UI, not mixture of Mac and Windows.
    3) Why do all Adobe apps use non-standard shortcut(s) for application preferences? Please, please, please – Command+, for Preferences.

  • maurice — 1:00 AM on June 06, 2008

    what I would like to see: scrollable input boxes! (like in macrabbit’s CSS-edit). Scrolling changes the value in the input box. Very nice way of adjusting something. That would be nice, that and Illustrator bug fixes (think Snow Illustrator ;-) )

  • Philip Littlewood — 1:01 AM on June 06, 2008

    To John North
    Why do you have to be so aggressive and confrontational. Whether you agree with the guys reasoning or not you surely must respect that he is explaining and demoing things and justifying the reasons. When was the last time you saw Apple do that.

  • maurice — 1:06 AM on June 06, 2008

    what I would like to see: scrollable input boxes! (like in macrabbit’s CSS-edit). Scrolling changes the value in the input box. Very nice way of adjusting something. That would be nice, that and Illustrator bug fixes (think Snow Illustrator ;-) )

  • El Aura — 1:08 AM on June 06, 2008

    To add my votes:
    – Expose
    – Library vs. document centric (your comparisons look like false excuses, like comparing apples and oranges)

  • Caspar Fairhall — 1:11 AM on June 06, 2008

    You make an interesting case, John, and it’s well argued. Thank you for taking the time and the effort to address the issue.
    I don’t agree though, because there are important differences between applications such as those in Final Cut Studio and the Adobe CS suite. A key difference, from my point of view, is that I tend to need that ‘background cluuter’ as you call it — which means of course open Finder windows and windows from other apps that I’m using in tandem. These are very useful for drag and drop operations, which I for one use a great deal when working (for example) between Photoshop, Illustrator and FireWorks. The monolithic window simply gets in the way. In trying the FireWorks beta, I’ve found that the fact that the entire interface is restricted when shrinking a window to do this is a real pain. The idea of having to work with a number of apps constrained in this way is disturbing.
    You mention users who choose to go to full screen mode when working in Photoshop by hitting ‘F’. I do this too, at times, mainly to better see a large file at 100% magnification. It’s not a hack: surely that’s precisely why that mode was included in Photoshop in the first place. The key point is that it’s easy to enter and it’s easy to exit. That’s the key point. With the monolithic windows, while we’re not locked in, it’s a real nuisance to drag the tools out of the main window and resize the document each time. (By the way, I do like the tabs: they’re great.)
    I find the experience so disruptive and unpleasant that despite the many improvements (especially in text handling) I probably won’t be upgrading unless it’s changed, or at the very least changed to simple permanent preference setting that I can disable. After all, the current suite of software is very good.

  • Jens Tenhaeff — 1:26 AM on June 06, 2008

    Tabbed windows are a great idea for a content-reading app like a web browser. For a content-creating app like InDesign or Photoshop? Not so much. How am I supposed to drag stuff from one document into the other in this mode?

  • João Lúcio — 1:39 AM on June 06, 2008

    Just don’t compare Photoshop or other Adobe apps to Final Cut/Motion (not a frame but several windows put together) or iLife/iWork apps (short menu bars with few options and… panels for other tasks that are not contained in the applications’ main window). We use Mac because we like to have our windows/panels independent. That’s what enables me to put two document windows side by side or in different displays, to compare or get info from one to another. Try to do that with an app frame…
    The switch on/off better work well. I don’t want to have to switch it off everytime I open a document or if I do some other stuff in the app. I don’t need it and don’t want to be anoied by it.

  • Jimmi — 1:39 AM on June 06, 2008

    Thank God this is only an option.
    A lot of graphic designers like me are constantly moving between InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Mail, the Finder and others.
    I certainly wouldn’t enjoy a big grey wall between me and my others apps.

  • Zaph — 1:50 AM on June 06, 2008

    Also, I don’t know about you, but I’ve used multiple monitors for the longest time, and an app frame does not work well with that workflow.
    In Dreamweaver, I’d just like to see some integration between the Files window and the Finder (putting a big box behind it so we forget about it is not a solution ).

  • Zaph — 1:56 AM on June 06, 2008

    And will Photoshop be getting the new rows and rows of integrated interface toolbars like DW? Someone else recently said it reminded them of the screenshot that a journalist (David Pogue?) had posted of Word with ALL of the toolbars turned on. Are we really heading back down that route? Taking direction from 10 year old Microsoft UIs (that sucked 10 years ago)?

  • Jon Hicks — 1:56 AM on June 06, 2008

    I for one much prefer this new window style – what I don’t like about it are the elements left over from CS3 like the ‘original/preview’ bar in Fireworks – these stand out like a sore thumb in this new slick UI.
    [I can’t speak for the FW team, but broadly speaking the whole effort is evolutionary. That is, we’re working to make all the widgets and controls consistent, but of course they grew up independently in multiple product teams/companies over many years. More and more things will fall into line, but unfortunately it’s not a one-shot deal. –J.]

  • Oliver — 2:05 AM on June 06, 2008

    One of the strengths of the Mac’s document-centric model is being able to stack and mix different applications’ own windows, eg. Photoshop document, text-editor-window, browser window for previewing, another Photoshop document. And if I want to see them all at the same time I just hit Exposé (Interestingly Photoshop is the only application on my Mac that has some glitches under Exposé and Spaces, take that as you will). I’m not just working with one document, like say in iTunes or iPhoto, I need to be able to mix and switch between several, different sources. How on earth could I do such a thing in an application frame? So if you say this UI is optional, please make sure the other UI-mode does not get deprecated over time and stops getting new features…
    And another argument of yours is “if we can get new, useful features on top of existing features, why not?”. And I agree, entirely. But some paragraphs later you say that Mac OS X’s unique “changed-document” controls (the pointy close box) aren’t possible inside an application frame… and THAT is exactly the point. I have nothing against good custom UIs at all. They’re great as long as they serve a purpose (for example the neutral/gray controls for designers). BUT they have to behave EXACTLY as expected, and that’s where Photoshop CS3 falls short: Exposé glitches, Spaces in general, those irritating close boxes on the wrong side, etc.
    So why should we trust Adobe to get a better platform citizen when they are trying to introduce even more custom UI controls without fixing the existing UI glitches for so long? And as long as you’re bringing up Apple as an example: they’re pro-interface works as expected, even when they introduce new features and sport a new look.

  • Sergey Todorov — 2:10 AM on June 06, 2008

    The new UI looks great. As a user of Photoshop on Windows for 7-8 years, I have recently moved to Mac, and I must say that I keep Photoshop in its own Space just so I can have a solid-color backdrop behind my documents to reduce distraction.
    I dig details around the UI as well – the new palette tabs look gorgeous, minimalistic and functional. Not so crazy about the close / minimize / zoom buttons – I think they are rather large, but that’s just nitpicking.
    For people who are not fond of the “grayness” of the interface – I think it suits Photoshop great. It’s a pro app, where distractions kept to a minimum should be a welcome feature.
    As for those who criticize that you have deviated from the accepted “Mac-style” – I think your answer if very to the point. Functionality over ideology. Apple is obviously willing to break its own conventions when it comes up to pro applications and so should you.

  • Stuart Wilkes — 2:19 AM on June 06, 2008

    I don’t have a problem with the UI changes that have been revealed given that they’re optional apart from the custom window open/close/minimise widgets. What on earth is up with those? The Mac standard ones are either coloured – which I prefer – or grey if you chose the graphite theme. They’re one of the most pervasive UI bits in the OS and it really, really bugs me when anyone, whether that’s Apple or a third party, like with Disco, uses custom ones.
    It’s great to see Adobe are thinking hard about how to improve the interface of Photoshop whilst considering platform differences, but this particular change feels like change for change’s sake with no real benefit.

  • garbage — 2:21 AM on June 06, 2008

    “hence the asterisk to indicate document “dirtiness.””
    Thats just garbage, I want the genius OS standard way, not the SHODDY HACKED ON AFTER THOUGH windows way of telling me if a document has been edited.

  • Jens Tenhaeff — 2:26 AM on June 06, 2008

    Tabbed windows may be a great idea for a content-reading app like a web browser. For content-creating apps like InDesign or Photoshop? Not so much. How am I supposed to drag stuff from one document into the other in this mode? Via yet another keyboard shortcut that usurps the place of an OS-key-combo?

  • Jonathan — 2:29 AM on June 06, 2008

    I like the “new” interface. It’s definitely an improvement, and I didn’t expect less from Adobe. I’m a graphic designer and as much as I love my desktop backgrounds, I want as little disctraction as possible when I’m working. The application frame and the “greyish” look do exactly that.

  • Craig Grannell — 2:33 AM on June 06, 2008

    I ran a piece on Cult of Mac recently about the UI, which had some recoil in horror and others say Adobe hasn’t gone far enough. The defence of the application frame by comparing to Apple breaking its own UI conventions isn’t really good enough. As it currently stands, the Fireworks beta UI is dreadful on a number of counts. It’s horrendously buggy (and, yes, I know it’s beta, but I’d currently say it’s borderline unusable, which is rare for even early betas), and some of the conventions are simply too broken.
    Even when Apple’s going off on one, it doesn’t shove a load of tools into the toolbar. Adobe’s new UI has custom close/minimise/zoom buttons—why? And if it’s doing its own UI, why aren’t these custom buttons used throughout? Inconsistency with the OS is one thing, but inconsistency within the application itself is bad. Regarding the resizing, I don’t have a problem with that, but Adobe should leave the standard resize drag-handle in place, because otherwise users’ cognitive resources are better spent understanding how an application can help them achieve their goals, not figuring out how to do basic tasks with user-interface components.
    The funny thing about this is that it’s almost certain to finally push many designers away from Adobe products. A lot of Mac users I know are already looking for ways to jump ship, and even some Windows users are looking at the UI and thinking “just no”. While I appreciate the intent regarding innovation, it just strikes me that Adobe’s not really got a handle anymore on what makes a thoroughly successful and polished UI. Perhaps the final releases will change that, but experience proves that most Adobe products don’t change a great deal from public betas to shipping.

  • Charlie — 2:34 AM on June 06, 2008

    It looks great!

  • Jonny Bonny — 2:35 AM on June 06, 2008

    I will reserve my judgment until I have tried it. Looks interesting though.

  • dc — 3:30 AM on June 06, 2008

    Simple, more Mac-like compromise: Why not just add the tab bar in the current full-screen mode? That seems reasonable and useful.

  • Olly — 3:31 AM on June 06, 2008

    I think I like that.
    I’d be interested to see how this works across multiple monitors.
    On Windows, I’m still using PS CS2, with my documents and main tool palette on one monitor, and all the other palettes arranged across the other.
    I can’t visualise how well this would work with the newer interface. It seems better suited to one large screen to me.

  • Simon — 3:33 AM on June 06, 2008

    Looking around at Apple’s apps in order to make excuses for doing things one way or the other seems self-serving. Many of the comparisons you make are moot. Take Final Cut Pro and Motion for example. These are project-based apps. You don’t use these apps to edit several files at a time. Instead, you’ll open a project and work on it for long periods, perhaps even for weeks at a time. Logic (the pro app I’m most familiar with) is a case in point.
    Photoshop is very different. A designer might open and close dozens of documents an hour and having several open at a time is the norm. Sure, many Photoshop users will sit in front of the same document for hours at a time, may be even only working on one document for an entire week. However the the application is still very much document centric.
    For this reason, the comparisons with library-based apps such as iPhoto, Aperture as well as project-based apps like Motion, Final Cut etc. are moot. The comparisons with Pages and other document-based applications are much more relevant and Adobe should take great pains to stick to Apple’s and Microsoft’s UI guidelines for document-based applications on both platforms.
    Any arguments about Adobe wishing to streamline its development process, i.e. to unify it to make their developer’s lives easier (which I suspect a lot of this may actually be about at its core) is irrelevant. Adobe should be primarily concerned with taking maximum advantage of the underlying platforms for the sake of their users, even if that means having to maintain two code bases. Anything else is doing a disservice to your customers and users.
    So, the places to start would be:
    – Cmd-H hides an application on Mac OS X. Many of your users actually use other applications outside of CS3 and may like to hide your applications once in a while. Co-opting Cmd-H comes across as extremely self-centered. I know the reason is historical, but as an OS X user I frankly don’t care.
    – Get your apps working with Spaces. Finger-pointing at Apple doesn’t help your customers – your apps are still dysfunctional. Things may have now been solved with 10.5.3 (for the most part) but don’t let this happen again. When Apple releases a new OS version get on it right away. Test in advance even! I bet all of your apps worked with Vista from day one. Of the dozens of apps I use, those from the two biggest vendors are the only ones that had problems with Spaces: Microsoft Office 2008 and CS3. I can’t come up with any reasonable explanation for this given the huge development and test resources available other than these companies simply don’t care. And given the expense of Adobe’s products I certainly hope this isn’t true.
    Making an application Mac-like would involve re-thinking the whole UI. What annoys me in Photoshop and Illustrator most of all are the endless nested modal dialogs. Why is the color picker dialog modal? Changing a gradient’s colors requires navigating through three or four levels of modal dialogs. It’s so Windows, it’s so 1995, and it really sucks from a usability point of view.
    Being Mac-like isn’t about application frames etc. If you looked at the apps you mentioned more closely you’d realize that the big differentiator of good Mac apps to their mediocre Windows brethren is that they raise very few modal dialogs and when they absolutely have to the newer apps use window-attached sheets.
    Suggestion: move all commonly-used functions and parameters from the decrepit modal dialogs to context-sensitive, non-modal inspectors a la Pages, OmniGraffle etc. If any functions must remain in dialogs then make them document-specific sheets.
    Any musings on making PS more usable with an application frame are irrelevant in the face of the serious usability issues posed by Photoshop’s modal-dialog-based UI.

  • Guntis — 3:53 AM on June 06, 2008

    Regarding custom scrollbars you mention in http://www.jnack.com/adobe/photoshop/ui/FCP_scrollbars.gif – I think much better example is the latest version of Logic – they look more Aqua, and those ends are for one-minesion zoom purposes. I can zoom vertically OR horizontally (independently!) by dragging scroll bar slider longer or shorter. Not for Photoshop.

  • Guntis — 3:59 AM on June 06, 2008

    Regarding custom scrollbars you mention in http://www.jnack.com/adobe/photoshop/ui/FCP_scrollbars.gif – I think much better example is the latest version of Logic – I can see that Apple itself tries to come back to the Aqua guidelines in their latest Pro apps. They look more Aqua-style again, and those ends are for one-dimension zoom purposes. I can zoom vertically OR horizontally (independently!) by dragging scroll bar slider longer or shorter. Not for Photoshop.

  • Samo — 4:01 AM on June 06, 2008

    Photoshop is the new Blender. ;o)
    Seriously, though. Photoshop is a very specialized application, it can go WAY off the usualy OS X/Vista app design as long as it makes it more productive. The professional users should be able to adapt. It would make little sense to make everyone suffer just because some people are stuck in 1997 still.

  • Olly — 4:07 AM on June 06, 2008

    I think I like that.
    I’d be interested to see how this works across multiple monitors.
    On Windows, I’m still using PS CS2, with my documents and main tool palette on one monitor, and all the other palettes arranged across the other.
    I can’t visualise how well this would work with the newer interface. It seems better suited to one large screen to me.

  • Guntis — 4:12 AM on June 06, 2008

    Here are some good observations: http://cultofmac.com/adobe-fireworks-mac-os-x-beta-ui-hell/2026
    100% agree.

  • Matthew Buchanan — 4:19 AM on June 06, 2008

    Mark me down as a thumbs-down for the uppercase palette names. I prefer to turn smoothing off under 12 pixels because it aids in the rendering of fonts like Verdana in Safari, but I do like the way that Apple’s apps smooth their Lucida Grande interface type no matter what the size. Please consider overriding the system setting and turn smoothing on for the interface, or make this an option.
    For the commenters who want shortcut keys for Image and Canvas size, you can set these yourself in the Keyboard Shortcuts… menu option. What you can’t set (and what there again appears to be no support for in the FW CS4 beta) is Command-` to cycle through the app’s open windows when the app frame is enabled. Please make this configurable.
    I’m so far enjoying the FW CS4 beta and have no issue with the app frame apart from the above. If you’re not certain whether to ship it on or off by default, why not ask the user once on initial startup for their preference. Likewise Command-H for hide app.

  • Peter — 4:24 AM on June 06, 2008

    I haven’t had time to play with the DW/FW betas. Does the new app frame still allow panels to be docked to screen edges (as opposed to only the frame window)?
    Overall, I like new concept, especially since there is an option to disable the app frame whenever it makes sense, so there is really nothing to lose. I particularly like the new tabbed groupable document windows, that’s something I always liked in Microsoft’s Visual Studio. However, I find the design of the new frame disputable, especially the bright blue Photoshop icon and the non-standard maximize/minimize/close widgets.
    I’d love to see a function to disable the app frame window on Windows from time to time and have Photoshop behave just like on a Mac. Now that you are adding the frame to the Mac version, why not give an option to switch it off on Windows?
    Here are a few issues with the CS3 panel system which I’d love to see resolved in the final version of the new UI:

    It was impossible to dock panels to the edges of secondary monitors. They always remain floating.
    The tool bar and the animation timeline panel cannot not be docked horizontally, only vertically. The toolbar has no horizontal mode in Photoshop, but it does in other Creative Suite application. In InDesign, the horizontal toolbar doesn’t behave like a regular one and refuses to be docked horizontally, regular tool bars can’t be docked vertically below the tool bar.
    It is impossible to put regular panel icons below the tool bar, thus wasting an entire dock columng just for the tools, especially when it is in two-column mode, or very short, like in InCopy. This has led me to always working with my toolbar floating.
    The full-screen mode main menu popup arrow in Photoshop’s tool bar has become way too small in CS3. It always used to be in my opinion. A key command to pop up the menu at the mouse cursor position like a regular right-click context menu would help tremendously, not just in full screen mode.
    But generally I found the grab area of floating panels too small, I usually Alt/Option drag the tabs (or the application icon in case of the tool bars) to move the entire panel group since aming for that tiny title bar takes too long.
    The “auto-hide panels” preference sometimes does not work when the application frame is placed on a secondary monitor (at least on Windows).
    Panels that display actual document content (such as the timelines in Photoshop and Flash, or the measurement log) have no option that lets you turn them into regular windows that can be maximized on a secondary monitor. Such a feature would also allow having the panels open for multiple documents at once and then comparing them or doing drag & drop.

    Hope that was useful, sorry for the lengthy post.

  • Asbjørn — 4:28 AM on June 06, 2008

    On Windows Vista you should not use a custom application frame. (see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa974173.aspx ) It has zero benefits, but lots of problems. You lose the window shadow, which looks distracting with other windows on screen. You also lose the glass windows frame, which makes Adobe apps look horribly out of place. Please get rid of that custom frame.

  • Erik Kambestad Veland — 5:17 AM on June 06, 2008

    Just admit it, Adobe wishes they had wrote their own Operating System don’t they?
    Screw this NIH mentality and conform to true and tested guidelines. I don’t want to get jarred into a different alien environment from switching from one app to another. Play nice with your ecosystems and stop trying to reinvent the wheel.
    I’m not a kid Adobe, I know how to switch on Graphite in the Apperance UI. I don’t need you to reinvent my buttons simply because they weren’t conservative enough for you.
    I’ve used Photoshop since 1.0 and the Mac for even longer. This smacks of arrogance and disregards for your user base all the way!
    Shame on you for buying into their arguments and finger-pointing at Apple!

  • AJ Kandy — 5:27 AM on June 06, 2008

    John, thanks for this insight into the thinking. Improving a UI always means sacrificing something people are used to, in the hopes that they grasp a new way that is hopefully better. I live in Photoshop 24/7 and things like dealing with palette clutter is my #1 annoyance; after having used single-window software like Mackie Tracktion, the new Logic 8, etc, I can definitely say I prefer that paradigm.
    What makes something Mac-like or not is really a set of behaviours (as another poster mentioned, universal drag-and-drop, a system that doesn’t pop up with notifications every 3 seconds like a child that’s had too much sugar, etc. etc. As long as PS CS4 respects and embraces those conventions and systemwide functions that’ll be fine.
    One thing I can say, as someone who uses PS for web mockups 99% of the time, is that I would love to have more layout-based UI tools, borrowed from AI and ID; things like the ability to create tables, define partial borders on sides of a box, to have InDesign-style rounded corner boxes where the corners stay the same radius when you stretch them…(in fact having that in Illustrator would be cool, too. Nothing says amateur design like squished corner radii)

  • bananaranha — 5:30 AM on June 06, 2008

    consistency, so does that mean the various applications in the suite will behave more in the same way?
    –{Yes, that’s the goal. It’s an evolutionary process. –J.}

    An “evolutionary process”? What’s to evolve? The most common problems are very simple —different widget behavious, confliction shortcuts, etc. They should have been fixed *years* ago.
    Since you [Adobe] don’t seem to mind alienating users with UI changes no one asked for anyway, there’s no reason not to alienate a few of the people used to conflicting old conventions once, and be done with it. Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign should have been streamlined a *long* time ago. By now, even Macromedia apps should have been integrated —it seems FW4 and DW4 are more or less the same mess.
    ie in photoshop you can click and hold the word “opacity” and adjust its value, whereas in Illustrator you have to use the the drop-down box and adjust the slider that way.
    {We intend to get onto a single, best-of-breed set of widgets that enable things like the “scrubby sliders” you mention. They’re on the roadmap, but not for the upcoming release. (We’re peeling the onion, though.)}

    Not for the upcoming release? Well, keep peeling, then. Maybe sometime around 2040.
    Seeing the lackluster set of new PS CS3 features for example, one wonders how the development team spends its time —they even claim they follow “extreme programming”.
    Will documents inside the frame be considered stand-alone windows for window-management features like Expose?
    {No, although we’d like to make that work. Last I heard we’d inquired with Apple & that’s not something Exposé supports. (You can’t use it to display/shuffle the contents of tabs in Safari, either.) If the capability becomes available, we’ll work on supporting it. –J.}

    Well, the Shiira browser does it for tabbed windows. Hell, even VMWare Fusion and Parallels do it for virtualized Windows windows. And you’re developers can’t come up with something to make it work for framed windows?
    I call “lack of interest” and/or “minimal attention to detail”. Whch is insulting, considering how much we have to spend for a copy of Adobe’s CS packages.
    I know that Adobe is the 1000-pound gorilla in its field today —I’m not crazy to thing there are real competitors currently—, but Quark used to be too. And there was a time when Novell Netware was king in it’s field and Lotus had the spreadsheet marked by itself.

  • Iwan Negro — 5:31 AM on June 06, 2008

    Apple unified with leopard their gui. The Pro Apps always had this Cool-Grey colour scheme with some obsolete GUI elements. Aperture introduced an all new Pro Apps GUI design. Which is in my opinion a more worked out, specialised GUI of the basic Leopard one. If you refer to Apples Pro Apps for any kind of GUI Look And Feel you can only take Aperture as a real reference.
    It is great that Adobe takes the basic Leopard/Aperture Look And Feel to refine their own GUI design and bring all this then to Windows instead of doing the vice-versa to the Mac. But wouldn’t it be possible for Adobe and Apple to work more tightly together to create one Pro App look that suits both parties?
    I’m not worried about the application frame at all. I’m rather concerned about functionality, simplicity, accessibility and faster workflows. When adobe can promise that all those aspects will get better with the new gui then do it.
    But for now I’m not that convinced, especially when I use Fireworks CS4 and Dreamweaver CS4. I don’t know what is the policy of adobe when it comes to redo a complete app layout but both apps desperately need one. Some palettes are not logic, cluttered, not understandable or just useless. Also many Main Menu items should be cleaned up and regrouped. Some of the window dialogues need also a refresh.
    I can see much more effort in this point when I look at Flash CS4. Its getting closer to After Effects that has a highly efficient, simple global layout compared to its high complexity. Also take aperture as an example of complex functionality packed into a simple GUI.

  • Chris Snyder — 5:33 AM on June 06, 2008

    Now if only someone on the application packaging team would sweat the details this much. Photoshop’s Mac UI is a sweet dream compared to the install process and OSX integration.
    Does the Open With… menu for images still get plastered with a million different choices? Does the installer still splooge 15 other semi-required apps onto the system? Every time I install Photoshop I feel like I’ve given Adobe license to completely violate my computer.
    I get the feeling that Adobe engineers don’t have a clue about how OSX applications are supposed to work. Like Microsoft, they have a paradigm and a platform and who cares if the rest of the world thinks different(ly)? How many man hours were put into porting the Windows registry to OSX to that all of those components could be hooked together?
    Sorry for the rant, but the price of your app and past missteps on OSX entitle us to some anger.

  • M P — 5:36 AM on June 06, 2008

    To the comments about all caps panel names, please take a look at iTunes. Go ahead, I’ll wait. The “Panel” names there, like LIBRARY, STORE and PLAYLISTS are done in all-caps (or perhaps fake small caps) so there is some precedent. All caps certainly gives less visual cues and differentiation, esp. at small sizes, so not sure whether this is a good move or not.

  • Iwan Negro — 5:37 AM on June 06, 2008

    Apple unified with leopard their gui. The Pro Apps always had this Cool-Grey colour scheme with some obsolete GUI elements. Aperture introduced an all new Pro Apps GUI design. Which is in my opinion a more worked out, specialised GUI of the basic Leopard one. If you refer to Apples Pro Apps for any kind of GUI Look And Feel you can only take Aperture as a real reference.
    It is great that Adobe takes the basic Leopard/Aperture Look And Feel to refine their own GUI design and bring all this then to Windows instead of doing the vice-versa to the Mac. But wouldn’t it be possible for Adobe and Apple to work more tightly together to create one Pro App look that suits both parties?
    I’m not worried about the application frame at all. I’m rather concerned about functionality, simplicity, accessibility and faster workflows. When adobe can promise that all those aspects will get better with the new gui then do it.
    But for now I’m not that convinced, especially when I use Fireworks CS4 and Dreamweaver CS4. I don’t know what is the policy of adobe when it comes to redo a complete app layout but both apps desperately need one. Some palettes are not logic, cluttered, not understandable or just useless. Also many Main Menu items should be cleaned up and regrouped. Some of the window dialogues need also a refresh.
    I can see much more effort in this point when I look at Flash CS4. Its getting closer to After Effects that has a highly efficient, simple global layout compared to its high complexity. Also take aperture as an example of complex functionality packed into a simple GUI.

  • Tim Bedford — 6:05 AM on June 06, 2008

    The Windows style MDI interface, which you are calling an App frame is bad. The only time you see it in Apple application are those that don’t deal with multiple documents at the same time. iMovie, FinalCut, iTunes, etc. Only ever have one document open at a time.
    As soon as you allow the user to open multiple documents placing them all in one window becomes less useable. Documents in the application always take up the same Z-depth in relation to other application’s document windows. This makes drag and drop between applications almost useless. It also inconveniences the organising of documents from various applications so that they are visible all at the same time.
    Photoshop is not a single document application, and it has had a full screen option for a very long time if we wanted to block out distraction. This application frame thing is just insane.

  • Jeroen — 6:11 AM on June 06, 2008

    closing or resizing a palette in Photoshop isn’t very Mac like. I don’t see spheres to click on, but a cross and a line on the opposite side.

  • Matt Radel — 6:26 AM on June 06, 2008

    I’d say that I’m digging the CS4 UI thus far. I am a bit worried about performance (which I can only hope / assume is the next thing on the docket to work on). All the CS4 apps I’ve played with thus far have just felt sluggish, especially when you resize the application frame. But I am happy that you’re ditching the concept of fading out the panels when the application loses focus – that never really worked right on the Mac.
    Also, I’d like to echo the comments about the all caps panel titles. It seems that adobe has taken great care to drive focus to the document you’re working on by making the panels softer with all the grays. But the shouting caps counteracts that effect…and just annoys me. I can’t scan the panel names any faster in CS4 than CS3 either. The caps just make me…uneasy.
    Otherwise, keep up the great work! I can’t wait to see the rest of the lineup – especially Flash.

  • Eric — 6:37 AM on June 06, 2008

    I worried about this, but once I fired up DreamWeaver CS4 I thought it was just fine. I really like that it’s more Adobe-like. I’m almost ready to uninstall DreamWeaver CS3!
    I’ve owned every version of Photoshop back to 2.5(PC, then Mac from version 5).
    I never had any complaints about the UI change decisions Adobe made. But that’s me. I’m a photographer/editor, not a font herder. :-D

  • PeterK — 6:43 AM on June 06, 2008

    “I cast my vote for NO application frame. It’s one of the absolute worst things about using Windows.”
    I think you meant to say one of the best features, since it automatically hides all distracting desktop elements and gives you a neutral grey background behind your images, which is a crucial requirement for anyone doing colour-critical work in Photoshop.

  • David M. Converse — 6:43 AM on June 06, 2008

    Change just for the sake of change is bad. I’d rather see the CS team working on system integration rather than monkeying with the UI AGAIN (64-bit CS4, anyone?)
    If you are going to do UI work, leave Photoshop alone and fix Bridge, which royally sucks and has a bunch of bugs, performance issues, misfeatures, and is overall not very Mac-like at all (and there shouldn’t be an excuse for it, Bridge is fairly new.)
    Fix integration with Spaces, add better AppleScript support, beef up the layer “Blend If” options (how about instead of the split sliders, have boxes where you can type in the blend values and then pick the threshold?) And remember that many of your customers use multiple monitors, where the app frame UI is worthless.

  • Brett — 6:57 AM on June 06, 2008

    Hey jon is that PS icon final? I really like the current one with the white letters.
    The black letters inside the icon looks strange and especially if arranged in the dock next to the other icons with white letters it will look out of place.
    Can you please confirm that the black Ps letters is just for the beta?
    [All the new icons feature dark text on colored squares. I can’t really tell you why, as I have absolutely no say in these matters. –J.]

  • AJ Kandy — 7:15 AM on June 06, 2008

    Oh yeah, two more wish list items:
    – Search inside the Layers palette. There are times you’re looking for a hidden layer that’s nested several folders deep. Being able to search for it and see the result highlighted on-screen would be useful.
    – The ability to define and apply character and paragraph styles like InDesign. This is a HUGE benefit for web mockup creation, where you can define H1, H2, body, etc. styles once and then apply it automatically. Plus, if you decide to modify a style, it will then change all instances where that style occurs automatically…as opposed to having to slog through layer after layer changing it manually.

  • Frank — 7:18 AM on June 06, 2008

    Will there be any change for the Windows version which causes the Photoshop child windows to show up in the Task switcher?
    I really love the Mac version where i can find the open documents with Exposé and it would be very important to me to have the same feature on Windows as well.
    Thanks in advance for your answer.

  • Matthias — 7:30 AM on June 06, 2008

    I just fell in love with the new application frame-style. Working with the CS4 betas was a great joy because the programs look more professional. I find that the new UI is a major improvement to the Adobe products and I’m just wondering some things:
    – does the “overall”-frame style affect the RAM/system power usage of CS4-applications (in comparison to CS3)?
    – will the multiple document layouts also work in my favorite fullscreen-mode in Photoshop?
    I can’t hardly wait for the upcoming Creative Suite because everything I’ve seen is just great.

  • JimHere — 7:41 AM on June 06, 2008

    LKM — John, you will find that nobody complains about the UI for Lightroom…
    I think LR is very stylized — too stylized. THe groovy-ness of it distracts from the work. Hopefully one’s photos will look as good on paper as they might in the LR world of subtle dark bevels, but I prefer a more standard UI. Look at the time they spent on the LR ‘red eye’. PS has a red-eye too (I use curves actually), but much less fussy.

  • Josh T. — 7:41 AM on June 06, 2008

    Been a heavy Mac user my whole life and I _loved_ the new app-frame in fireworks from day one. Keep up the great work!

  • Dustin Wilson — 7:49 AM on June 06, 2008

    I really thank you, John, for providing feedback to all of us.
    The caveats of this interface will and should be beat to death. There’s many problems with the interface, most notably the close, minimize, and zoom buttons on the left. I can throw everything else out, especially after hearing that the grey crap in the back can be turned off. Truthfully, you should just use the Mac’s interface for that. It also provides the user with a notification that the document has been edited. No need for an asterisk. The close button contains a dot instead of an X when the document’s been edited. The controls should be on the right for the Windows users, and show the typical icons they’re used to for it such as the X, the underscore, and the box. Its appearance otherwise is up to you as they can’t seem to figure out how they want the interface to look on that platform anyway.
    I’m unsure what the major focus is on, but if the interface has been changed and programming has been done to force the system to allow the Adobe apps to use this atrocious UI then I don’t believe performance really is that much of a focus here as for things that are available from the system you’ve reinvented the wheel. My major problem with many Adobe applications as of late has to deal with performance, mostly in Photoshop. I find Photoshop CS3 to be mostly unusable. I tend to use CS2 more as it opens faster, runs faster, uses less memory, and doesn’t bring up the beachball of death on even the most mundane of tasks such as selecting a tool. It crashes from time to time and displays at least one ram leak a day in the terminal. I’m not running this application on old hardware. I’m using a Mac Pro Quad 3Ghz with 4GB of memory. Illustrator CS3 has problems of its own, but it doesn’t have the rampant problems Photoshop has. What exactly is being done to make CS4 perform better? I don’t care much about 64bit. Yes it sucks that it won’t be 64bit, but Apple didn’t really make it that easy for you guys to drop ship with Carbon and jump to making your suite of applications out of Cocoa. People need to get over that. You’ve promised it in the next version. The application itself needs to be made to perform better. I can’t afford to make another upgrade purchase and then find that I can’t use it, especially at the prices the suite is running at these days.

  • Dave — 8:03 AM on June 06, 2008

    I have to agree on the ALL CAPS thing. Comparing the screenshot in CS4 you posted with Photoshop CS3, the latter seems a lot cleaner.
    I had to do a double-take to find what I was looking for and I’ve been using Photoshop for years. It’s especially bad in the palettes. Even though I knew where everything “was”, it seemed slower to comprehend. For example, take a stopwatch, tell someone to look for Channels in both and see which they find quicker. I would be bet CS3 wins, even though they’re both the same location.
    It really doesn’t matter in iTunes because even if you took those headers away, you would still know what everything was because the important things you actually do click on (“Music”, “Movies”, “iTunes Store”) aren’t in capitals. I don’t even notice those headers while using it. iTunes also isn’t a professional application, whereas Photoshop is, and I would wager *any* potential slowdown in a professional application is bad, especially an arbitrary design decision that can easily be reversed.

  • Guntis — 8:04 AM on June 06, 2008

    If I may ask just one more request for the upcoming CS4 apps – Mac OS X standard Type palette (Command+T in almost any Apple application). It’s way better than those long long font lists in Adobe apps. I have created font sets based on font type or for the specific languages, I’ve added several fonts to the favorties, etc. I can search for some specific words in the font names and thus filter font list, etc. Nothing of that is available in Adobe font menus. They look really like taken from any Windows application. Mac OS X standard color picker also would be welcome (even as addition to Adobe standard color palettes), but Font palette is badly missing.

  • Brandon Kelly — 8:06 AM on June 06, 2008

    Having the app frame enabled by default or not is definitely a pickle. Perhaps when launching Photoshop CS4 for the first time, the user should be presented a dialog asking which “mode” they’d like to use, and quick instructions on how to change it in the future.
    [Unfortunately I don’t think people would be in a position to make an informed decision until after they’ve tried the app frame, so asking up front is likely just to bewilder them. I hate it the feeling of software (or anything) putting a gun to my head and saying, “Blabbity blabbity foo; *yes* or *no*?” –J.]

  • Kyle — 8:33 AM on June 06, 2008

    thumbs :) the way on a Mac that various (CS3, etc.) documents are loaded in a “desktop” rather than “application” (aka window frame) context just seems goofy and counter-productive. I can’t think of workflow benefit to that behavior.

  • david — 8:42 AM on June 06, 2008

    Having read the explanation for the new interface and the comments, one thing that strikes me is this: Mac-like isn’t nearly as easy to describe as it was in the days of OS 9 and earlier. The program toolbar, tabs, the inspector, and the drawer, are all examples of the major changes that have come about in the last 10 years.
    I suspect that there are at least two strong motivators for much of these changes: large displays and multiple displays. A third may well be virtual workspaces. When I got two 22 inch displays for my desktop last year I realized that the traditional unmoving Mac menubar was no longer the advantage that it once was. Getting to the menubar and menu I wanted turned out to be an aerobic workout. Getting commands out of the menu and out onto the screen is a huge advantage (not to mention a consistent use of keyboard shortcuts).
    At this time I can’t say that I like the Adobe interface – hate the grey. But I’m withholding my thumbs down for now because I can’t say yet whether the changes make for better usage or not. But judging them Mac-like or no just isn’t possible anymore.

  • Eric — 8:57 AM on June 06, 2008

    One more comment.
    For those objecting to all caps. Your objection is web-based. Those of use who cut our teeth on dead trees (sounds painful now that I think of it) all caps uses sparingly and in the right context works great. To say otherwise only shows a lack of experience.

  • Rick McCleary — 9:02 AM on June 06, 2008

    Wow. 110 posts in less than 24 hours. Think ya hit a nerve?
    [Nah: it’s no CS3 icons…! –J.]
    Once the everyone gets past how the chairs are arranged, they’ll enjoy the cruise. I, for one, like the new arrangement. Gives me a better view of the scenery. And, if I want to sit in the back row, I can.

  • David Broudy — 9:05 AM on June 06, 2008

    Well, I too yelped angrily when I saw the app frame in CS4 apps. I’m still on the fence as it seems like change for the sake of change, but at least it can be turned off. Adobe might save some face and needless support calls on release by making this thing OFF by default on the OS X builds because I can guarantee there will be much more angry yelping from the masses :)
    You have no idea how badly I hate this on Windows. No idea. None.

  • Eduardo Moura — 9:23 AM on June 06, 2008

    John, first of all thanks for the informations about my favorite app :)
    I’m anxious to put my hands on the beta versions of Photoshop and InDesign CS4 –if it is ever available anyway. Actually, I couldn’t help thinking about it as I was trying Dreamweaver CS4.
    As a Windows user of Ps since version 3.0, the only thing I felt uncomfortable with at first was the absence of a proper tittle bar. But soon I realized the advantages of that approach, as it saves a precious vertical space. I liked the flatness of the UI as a whole. Send my congrats to the interface team, I can’t wait to play with it :)
    What really left me curious were those two new buttons above the Hand button at the Toolbox… something tells me you can’t talk about it, right?
    By the way, nice sketches!

  • German Bauer — 9:38 AM on June 06, 2008

    The new UI is light years ahead in terms of usability, I would never want to go back to the old ways of futzing with palettes constantly. The drag and drop targeting when configuring your workspace has also been nicely fine-tuned.
    That said, the visual design is sorely lacking and I find the all caps tab captions to be a lot less scan-able then normal case.

  • Mihai — 9:47 AM on June 06, 2008

    1. It is not only about readability, it is also about estetics. It’s ugly! (ok, this is in the eyes of the beholder, but why should I live with someone’s else taste pushed on me?
    2. Did someone think about international use?
    a. Many languages don’t have the uppercase concept (Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew). So whatever the idea is, it is not carried over to these languages.
    b. It might affect readability for non-Americans. Americans start by writing all caps in the first years of school. Europeans (and most others) don’t.

  • John_B — 9:47 AM on June 06, 2008

    That Adobe doesn’t “get” that ALL CAPS is the worst faux pas a design oriented company could possibly make…

    [Ever looked at iTunes? –J.]

    My point is that Adobe’s customer base is oriented around the graphic arts crowd, and yet you rush headlong into a UI design decision that no graphic arts type worth their salt would make.
    [FWIW, the rationale for the design is that it’s meant to create a visual hierarchy between headers (the panel tabs) and content (the text inside the panels). –J.]
    OK, sure, ALL CAPS is crap-tastic in iTunes (and is probably a holdover from the old SoundJam) but its not like they did it in Aperture or even Pages.
    [Well, they did it in the OS: Try popping into the Open dialog in Leopard, and look at the left-hand nav area. Same goes for all Finder windows, actually. (Uh-oh, must be that treacherous SoundJam code again! ;-)) –J.]
    A better analogy to ALL CAPS in a graphics app would be if GarageBand or Logic music notation mixed up the treble and bass clefs, the kind of mistake even a first year student wouldn’t make.

  • JV — 10:20 AM on June 06, 2008

    Users of Photoshop Elements 6 on the Mac have already been used at the guinea pigs for the app frame, in a variant that bring the worst of both worlds: It’s completely un-Mac like (having palettes attached to the frame) and un-Windows like (the frame automatically takes up the entire screen and CAN’T be resized) and there’s no option to turn it off as is promised for the CS4 apps. Please, please, at least give PSE users the ability to turn it off or at least resize it! I have a 24″ monitor and don’t want it taken over by PSE because I use don’t use it in a vacuum; I use it as a tool for media that go into other apps.

  • yamyam — 10:23 AM on June 06, 2008

    Thats great that you want to change the interface and all, but when the hell is Adobe going to fix free distort on smart objects? Masks on smart objects?
    [This time. –J.]
    All the other countless bugs in photoshop cs3 that make it an un-optimized mess?
    [Not real specific/useful feedback… –J.]

  • John C. Welch — 10:27 AM on June 06, 2008

    Exactly what happens to people using UI scripting on the Mac with this new UI?
    [I imagine you’re talking about the size/position of the close/minimize/zoom buttons. I’ve overlaid a screenshot of them on one from Safari, and there’s about a 1-pixel difference. I don’t expect that to affect scripting tools that target specific coordinates. –J.]
    I mean besides “Damn..sucks to be you”.

  • John_B — 10:41 AM on June 06, 2008

    Well didn’t this get all snarky…

    OK, sure, ALL CAPS is crap-tastic in iTunes (and is probably a holdover from the old SoundJam) but its not like they did it in Aperture or even Pages.

    [Well, they did it in the OS: Try popping into the Open dialog in Leopard, and look at the left-hand nav area. Same goes for all Finder windows, actually. (Uh-oh, must be that treacherous SoundJam code again! ;-)) –J.]

    If what you are refering to is the left pane of Finder (I’m on a Win/HP laptop right now — ugh! — so I can’t check) then its all about the Carbon.
    [Oh my God… please tell me you’re kidding. –J.]
    Since Carbon is right in the Adobe wheelhouse, then ALL CAPS all you want.
    Adobe’s new tagline, submitted for your approval: “We copy our competitions’ mistakes!” (sigh)

  • R Hunt — 11:06 AM on June 06, 2008

    In regards to drop menu paging…
    [That has nothing to do with it. Rather, it’s a question of focus. The arrows apply to selected objects on your document. Would you want to try to move an object up a couple of pixels, only to end up changing layers or scrolling a list? I seriously doubt it. –J.]
    I don’t think I was clear on what I was referring to. In Windows PS, single clicking– say, the layers blending mode drop down menu displays the menu with the current selection active. Using the arrow keys (up and down) allows you to page through the menu items seeing how they effect the composite.
    This same functionality is not consistent on the Mac platform. I would excuse this if it was an annoyance that Apple created, but from what I can tell menu lists behave as expected in various other standard situations.
    [Thanks for the clarification. I addressed this topic in another comment. I don’t know when it became possible to put focus onto a drop down menu on the Mac, or whether that capability is broadly available (e.g. have you seen it working outside of Safari?). To the best of my knowledge. fact that it hasn’t existed historically on the Mac *has* been due to an OS limitation. Obviously there’s now some way to get around that on the Mac, but I don’t know the details. I agree that it’s worth investigating. –J.]
    UI Focus should have nothing to do with it considering that by clicking on the UI element, the obvious area of focus is now the list menu. Once a selection is made and the menu is once again closed, the focus would naturally return to the document layer that is currently selected.
    I believe at some time in the past (possible still) on Windows PS the user would have to click away from the list menu selection even after the menu was closed to regain focus to the editing area. This was pretty annoying, but seemed like a pretty easily solvable scenario.
    BTW, I really think it shows a lot of class to personally answer so many of these comments, especially since people tend to take this stuff so personally. When people spend a good part of their waking lives using your product they can be that way. ;) Thanks.
    [Thanks for saying so. 150+ comments have shown up in the last 24 hours, so I can’t address each of them as I’d like, but I’m trying to jump in where possible/useful. –J.]

  • Robert M — 11:14 AM on June 06, 2008

    Like Olly, I question the application frame for multiple displays. It looks like a great choice for those with massive 30″ displays, but I fear it won’t translate well to two (or more) distinct displays.
    If there will be an easy way to get back to old style behavior, then I won’t object to the app frame — it does have some clear benefits.
    I hope that the UX guys from Macromedia are involved in Adobe’s UI work these days. They did some great work keeping the UIs focussed on productivity and efficiency; my fear is that Adobe (which now lacks any real competition for its products) will not learn the lessons of the company it bought and will instead do fancy chrome for the sake of chrome, because what else are we going to buy? Adobe Creative Suite has become the Microsoft Office of the creative set: the only choice for production work.
    Anyway, thanks for blogging, John. It’s great to see what goes into Photoshop’s product development.

  • Fernando Lins — 11:27 AM on June 06, 2008

    What are you people doing? Do not override the buttons in the title bar or the title bar itself. DO NOT. It’s a system-wide thing, why do you want to change it in _your_ app? Dumb idea.

  • Dan — 11:33 AM on June 06, 2008

    Lightroom’s UI has several fatal flaws. Who decided it was a great idea to make the collapse pane control RIGHT NEXT TO the scrollbar and make it just as large as the scrollbar and make no separation between the two? You’re off one pixel and boom, you collapsed the panel instead of scrolling. The filmstrip mode is also very “dumb” about how it interprets selections (sometimes things affect all images, but if you delete, it only affects the image currently open instead of all selected images). But I use LR all the time and think it’s otherwise a good application.
    These changes feel like Adobe is trying to make an “Adobe” UI for its own platform and honestly it just isn’t doing it for me. Sorry John.

  • Nathan Duran — 11:39 AM on June 06, 2008

    As long as it isn’t all written in Flash and Lua I’m sure I’ll adapt.
    [You’re talking about an implementation detail, and that’s much less helpful than talking about the behaviors & functionality you want to see. –J.]

  • sryo — 11:42 AM on June 06, 2008

    I’m concerned about Fitt’s law, I tried the Dreamweaver beta on windows, and hated the fact that even when maximized I can’t click the close button by going to the top-left corner. This is a screengrab of what I’m saying, the clickable part of the close button is what looks hovered:

  • Doug Nelson — 11:45 AM on June 06, 2008

    As a Windows user, where only relatively recently have apps started approaching any sort of UI consistency, I find this all hilarious.
    Can’t we all just “think different”?
    And my new idea of hell is designing apps for designers.

  • elmimmo — 12:17 PM on June 06, 2008

    Yeah, whatever, I am not an extremist with this things, IF they do not take features away.
    Where the heck is my proxy icon!? (with drag&drop, path drop-down display, etc functionalities, of course)
    [It’s there in floating windows. –J.]
    And why would I want an application icon in the menu bar for? Does it bring any feature whatsoever?
    [It identifies the app–useful when you’re tabbing quickly among apps. (Ironically, as interfaces become more consistent, it becomes harder to tell at a glance which app you’re using; cf. the Adobe video tools.) –J.]

  • Evan Donn — 12:19 PM on June 06, 2008

    I’ve been dreading this new interface direction for nearly two years now – ever since I first tried AE 7. When you mentioned the ability to disable the ‘application frame’ I had a glimmer of hope that I could get some semblance of useable interface back – but a quick check of AE shows that this option isn’t there.
    [Notice that the UI in the Adobe video apps is different than the one used in Photoshop, Fireworks, etc. They use different frameworks and have different goals based on the nature of the work people do in each. –J.]
    The advantages you mention are actually things I find to be serious disadvantages. Every time I open a new palette the interface tries to adapt to it – which usually means reducing the size of my primary workspace, the composition window. Which means I immediately have to start resizing things to get back to where I was before the application ‘helpfully’ rearranged things for me. True, you can pull palettes out of the application frame and float them over it, but then that wipes out ‘advantage’ #3 (“It prevents documents from getting obscured by panels”) because the application frame doesn’t behave like a regular window so undocked palettes always float above it and obscure the document window. In fact, it goes even further in disrupting usability because command-~ now shifts focus but can’t bring the application frame to the foreground, so you can’t toggle between a large palette and your application window.
    This can be an even worse problem for new users. I had a student add a composition to the render queue 16 times before asking what she was doing wrong. Turns out she wasn’t doing anything wrong – the render queue window was docked as a tab in the timeline, and to make it all fit on screen the list of queued items was minimized so small as to be unnoticeable. Even worse the scroll bar for the queue itself had been minimized so far as to be practically invisible and completely unusable. The only way to get access to it was to manually resize the whole interface so that most of it was taken up by the render queue.
    I’ve tried undocking all palettes but then I’m still left with this application frame that I can’t get rid of because if you click the red icon to close it IT QUITS THE WHOLE APP! This again goes against years of mac interface conventions in which windows are independent of the application itself. I know some of apple’s iLife suite have adapted this convention but they’ve thankfully avoided this in their pro apps – it’s very much something I would consider ‘windows-like’.
    [I believe the Apple convention is that if your app has just one window, closing that window quits the app; if it’s a multi-window app, closing the window leaves the app running. –J.]
    After using AE7 I figured it was only a matter of time before this kind of stuff showed up in other Adobe apps, and it sounds like it’s finally getting there with CS4. Even without the app frame this stuff is problematic – for instance, Flash CS3’s palettes constantly try to snap to the edge of the screen, and then resize themselves to take up the whole screen, or snap to the edge of other palettes and resize themselves to the palette they’ve snapped to. This drives me crazy as it means I’m constantly having to re-position things after the app does something with them other than what I told it to.
    Ultimately that’s the thing that really drives me crazy about all of these changes – I’m perfectly capable of telling the app exactly where on screen I want things and how big they should be, etc, but instead of respecting that the application moves things around without me asking it too. If I want n-up views in a window I should be able to tell it to split a view but when I don’t it shouldn’t assume that I do and force me to rearrange my interface every time I open a new palette.
    The worst part of it is that this stuff all worked the way it should for so long – it respected the user’s wishes – and now it doesn’t and it only appears to be getting worse (in terms of this spreading to other apps). With AE it’s got me seriously looking at and working more with alternative apps, but that’s not exactly an option with Flash. If you have to screw around with the interfaces like this can’t you at least give us the option to disable all the ‘helpful’ resizing, docking etc and just work the way they always have?

  • Simon — 2:10 PM on June 06, 2008

    “”I cast my vote for NO application frame. It’s one of the absolute worst things about using Windows.”
    I think you meant to say one of the best features, since it automatically hides all distracting desktop elements and gives you a neutral grey background behind your images, which is a crucial requirement for anyone doing colour-critical work in Photoshop.”
    OH NO DISTRACTING DESKTOP ELEMENTS, I’m not 5 years old shapes and colours don’t tend to distract me
    Maybe you should use a grey background instead of a photo of your dog

  • sr — 2:44 PM on June 06, 2008

    also, why when maximized are we getting borders around the edges, when there were none before? (again this is in windows, i dont see them in os x). Please take advantage of screen edges, since now there won’t be a titlebar, use them in a way that makes clicking on menu items easier. Windows apps do this all the time, for instance the taskbar buttoms seem to be appart from the edge, but if you click the edge, the button gets clicked, same with min/max/close buttons.

  • Daniel — 3:38 PM on June 06, 2008

    The main issue is on the Mac or even on a PC with a large monitor there is a lot of wasted screen real-estate by having the applications bar on top and the the options bar under it. The way to solve it would be to have a preference to incorporate the options bar into the Application Bar. The screen shot demonstrates that idea. This will work also for Illustrator and InDesign and for Flash have the scenes bar that has a few tools on it go in that area, in Dreamweaver the Insert Bar should be in that place, you get the idea. Please do what it takes to make this possible, otherwise the new interface wastes too much screen real estate. Another thing, the way there are some more tools now, there should be an options on the tool bar to have either an extra 4 or extra 8 tools going down that way some of the tools don’t have to be sub tools inside the main tool that you select.

  • El Aura — 4:03 PM on June 06, 2008

    About single-window apps quitting when closing the window:
    A few do (System Preferences, iMovie, iPhoto) others do not, essentially those who can have additional windows (Aperture, iCal, Address Book, iTunes, Activity Monitor, Mail).
    PS does not even fit into that second list not to speak of the first one. An app that has a default content it displays *may* quit when that default content is closed. PS does not have any default content.
    (And besides, any app that takes as long to start up as PS does should better not quit too easily.)
    About all caps:
    Yes, Apple uses them in lot of source lists. They actually work there because they are harder to read, also helped by the light grey, they blend into the background and do not distract. Which is good, because you rarely need to actually read them.
    (And, I have to add, all caps are really much rarer in Europe than in the US, their association with American products almost seems to confirm the stereotype of Americans being too loud.)
    I tend to use Illustrator (or Lineform or Omnigraffle) for any output that does not have predefined size. Illustrator for content whose physical output size is known and Photoshop for anything existing (or defined in) pixels. As the pixels counts get higher and higher, its precise number becomes less important, and so does the need for a pixeleditor (ie, PS).

  • Petra — 5:29 PM on June 06, 2008

    John – what are you doing fussing with UI’s? You should be out drawing – the illustrations (?) are excellent work! When can we see a Flickr gallery?
    [Heh heh–thanks, Petra. ;-) I haven’t gotten to draw much in a long time, and I need to get away from the damn computer more. I’m looking forward to illustrating ridiculous stories for my son once he can hold his head up to look at them. –J.]

  • laurent — 6:55 PM on June 06, 2008

    not a big evolution, it’s dual display ready ?
    About grey, when they will add a color control panel in this UI maybe photoshop will turn on linux ^_^

  • William Szilveszter — 9:42 PM on June 06, 2008

    Your are killing my screen real estate with that added bar on the top now because Ps has to be compacted in its own window. What about us users that frequently click on our desktops (or the open folders) to quickly jump from Ps to Finder when we want to import a new image? We are left out in the cold. Or we have to minimize Ps now. You are just adding niggles and destroying our workflow.
    Have you done usability testing on this? Do you guys even do usability testing? I ask because you say this change (and many others) are in the name of usability… but you can’t manipulate a UI and tell the public it’s all for the sake of usability, and not do any serious testing to see if it actually does make people work faster and with less errors.
    What about the other elements of Ps? Like all the secondary dialogue boxes that pop up (color, contrast, hue, etc.)? Will they get a facelift? What about layer effects? When will these elements see something?
    Would it be a crime if Ps got leaner and meaner? Didn’t need to add new features and just worked on making things more efficient and manageable? I mean seriously though, using true, scientific usability testing, and not having your programmers convince you of the benefits.
    I’m glad it won you over, but is it really better for the end-user? What for what kind of end-user are you marketing these changes for? I can’t see any serious designer having a hard time with his work because his desktop poses to be too much of distraction. Maybe they should clean it up some ;)
    I am thrilled to get a glimpse of the new Ps, but hope that you take the time to make consult with some human factors psychologists before convincing yourself and the higher ups that things are great in the usability department. For those of us that use Ps for hours on end a day, even 1 extra click here or there can slow us down like a traffic jam!

  • David — 9:49 PM on June 06, 2008

    One thing that you definitely shouldn’t look towards Apple on is application design for Windows.
    Apple uses their Aqua theme for Windows instead of using standard Windows UI controls. I’d rather have Luna/Aero, even though I like the Aqua interface when I use a Mac. Microsoft, on the other hand, uses Aqua when designing software for a Mac.
    The title bar and frame should follow the OS standards. The title bar is a tool of the OS, not a tool of the program. I don’t really care what you do with the UI, if you keep the title bar and frame around the app alone.
    The CS4 betas and Apple Windows apps share a couple of problems: Neither have drop shadows in Vista. Neither can be closed when maximized by moving the cursor all the way to the upper right and clicking. Also, in an app that I am using for multi-monitor management, called UltraMon, the custom buttons it puts in title bars don’t show up in Apple and CS4 windows.

  • JS — 10:17 PM on June 06, 2008

    I’ll tell you exactly why I don’t want this on the Mac…it becomes an issue when you work with multiple applications at one time. A faux desktop in front of a real desktop is nonsense. I am forced to use windows at work & this is a constant annoyance. Please keep it optional.

  • Josh Bryant — 11:10 PM on June 06, 2008

    It took a couple days for me to get up the courage to post here … only because it *feels* like a waste of time. Hopefully that’s not the case, but its hard not to feel that way.
    Putting everything into tabs is an interesting idea and its cool to see Adobe experiment with interesting UI conventions. I personally don’t see how it could ever integrate into my workflow … one of the PRIMARY reasons I choose to use a Mac is for its document-centered way of working rather than App centered. If I was *really* concerned about seeing an ugly desktop picture in the background then I’d just change it to a flat color. But I tend to pick desktop pictures that are neutral and stay out of the way anyway, i.e., I don’t use pictures of my kids.
    The main issue I have however is with Adobe’s continued mission to drift as far as they can away from UI conventions. Its strange because even in your original post you talk about how change shouldn’t be made just for change sake … but it has. The custom UI widgets … why? Apple’s own widgets are gorgeous and stay out of the way, especially if you choose to use graphite. On your *own* about page you talk “staying out of the designer’s way” and yet all this custom UI stuff does exactly the opposite. You’re literally going out of your way to get something different and visually jarring in there. So every time you switch to Ps the first thing you notice is the UI, which really shouldn’t be. I just don’t understand Adobe’s resistance to just tying into system provided stuff where appropriate and letting the OS dictate things that the OS should dictate. It would *seem* from a dumb user’s perspective that this would be easy in the long run anyway as it’d be one less thing to worry about.
    CS3 gave me a lot of hope UI wise and it really felt like it was headed in the right direction. There was still A LOT of polish to be done, but it looked as though the suite was progressing nicely and things we’re moving ahead towards consistency with the UI. I had really hoped that CS4 would really focus on polishing the UI and tying into more OS X conventions where it could, not reinventing it going back the other way.
    Just to point out an example … in *every* OS X application that I’ve used (which is a lot) you can use the keys cmd+~ to cycle through windows. This becomes and incredibly important key command working with a document centric OS. Now in most cases where Adobe breaks the OS conventions for keyboard shortcuts, like cmd+h for hide, its trivial to go into the key shortcut preferences and change things (which I have faithfully done every time), but this particular command is IMPOSSIBLE to change. Which means Ps breaks the convention and now I’m left trying to find better ways to cycle through windows … so I turn to Expose … but even Expose support in Ps is broken all the time :( This kind of stuff I had really hoped would begin to be addressed, bringing Ps better in line with the OS and leaving me feeling I was paying/using something that had a lot of thought put into it.
    My main point though, is that Photoshop has started to become a necessary evil for me which REALLY saddens me because its a program I used to be soo passionate about. But even worse than that is the feeling that Adobe just doesn’t care. They don’t care about me, they don’t care about my opinions and they don’t care about my OS choice and conventions. They have a big enough sales base of professionals that won’t whine about this stuff to get away with it, and so users like me have become the *mob* that could either stay or leave. I’m excited to see there’s been a spark in graphics editing software that takes the approach of UI and OS consistency but none of it currently works as good as Ps does … which means I’m kinda stuck until they do.
    The current flow of development seems to be: 1) Work in secret on features that will piss OS X users off, 2) release a beta or screenshots, not to ask their opinion but rather to soften the blow, 3) Blog about it to further humanize it and assure them that Adobe knows best and they don’t. Adobe is right, the user is wrong .. that’s the overwhelming feeling that dominates my thoughts of the CS now.
    My fleeting last hope is that in a couple years these decisions will have gone so crazy that *real* sales numbers will be affected enough to cause Adobe to take a closer look at their strategy and begin caring about creating truly fantastic software for OS X again. It may never happen, but I’d jump inside if it did. Right now, the negative aspects that can creep in from cross-platform development (I’m looking at you MS Office) have really started to poke their head. :'( I want to get passionate about Photoshop again the same way I get passionate about Aperture, Keynote and a host of 3rd party apps that feel like they’ve been designed for me, the OS X user.

  • LKM — 4:07 AM on June 07, 2008

    I’ve written a blog post about why I think MDIs are a bad idea on Macs:
    [Thanks for the feedback. I don’t see a way to add comments on your side, so I’m typing them here:
    First, to some extent I think you need to tease apart the presence of an app frame from the concept of tabbed documents. Photoshop and other Adobe apps have used an MDI approach on Windows for many years, but only in CS4 do they add tabbed documents. Similarly, in CS4 you can use tabbed documents without using an app frame.
    “MDIs don’t support multiple screens.” In the Adobe design they do. You can drag documents outside of the application frame if you’d like. The app frame also makes it easier to move one or more documents, along with user interface elements, to another monitor
    “MDIs often make it hard to compare several documents belonging to the same application, or to view them side-by-side.” The Adobe approach was designed specifically to make “N-up” viewing easier. Document windows resize in relation to one another and the rest of the interface.
    “MDIs make it hard to drag from one document to another inside the same application.” Besides the tiling/N-up options I mention, the Adobe apps will support “spring-loaded” tabs, enabling you to drag content from the canvas of one doc to the tab of another, pause, and have the other doc come forward to accept the drop.
    “Some implementations of MDI make it hard to remove palettes from the main window.” That may be, but it isn’t true of what Adobe’s up to.
    “Having an MDI means you always waste space with a ton of application chrome around your documents.” I know what you mean, but I’m not so sure I agree. An application frame (at least as implemented by Adobe) makes is possible to resize the entire app UI (and optionally its document windows) all at once. You can treat the whole app as a self-contained pod. Particularly on large monitors, or in multi-monitor layouts, this facilitates putting applications side by side. (Without the app frame, palettes/panels in Adobe tools naturally seek out the edges of the monitor, which may in fact be farther apart than is convenient.)
    “MDIs break Spaces.” Doesn’t that suggest that Spaces should be improved? I don’t think that a shortcoming in a 1.0 implementation of Spaces invalidates the general UI concepts of tabs and app frames. Rather, it suggests that Spaces should be made smarter.
    “MDIs (including tabbed browsers) break Exposé.” Again, doesn’t this suggest that Exposé should be made smarter? I happen to love Exposé, and our engineers have discussed the issues with Apple. Last I heard (a couple of months back), Exposé doesn’t provide a mechanism to reveal the contents of tabbed documents.
    “Apple… is probably partially to blame for the recent third-party enthusiasm for MDI apps on the Mac.” Actually it’s more a function of a lot of people really coming to like tabbed documents, esp. in Web browsers. Don’t blame Apple; instead, encourage them to make great features like Spaces and Exposé even greater by letting them handle tabbed docs gracefully.

  • John C. Welch — 6:06 AM on June 07, 2008

    No john, I mean UI Scripting. You know, writing scripts to manipulate the UI for when the application dictionary is missing functionality, etc. It’s rather popular amongst AppleScripters. As far as the UI controls go, even a pixel smaller ends up being a huge pain in the ass when you’re talking about smallish target areas to begin with.
    Oh, I missed something. At what point did “Well, everyone ELSE is doing it” become a reason for completely rewriting all the UI code for an application? I mean, I know a lot of potheads who will be thrilled that “Well, all my friends are doing it” is now a valid reason for silly, but still, I would have liked to have known when it happened.
    [1) We’re not rewriting all the UI code for the application. We’re adding some new options in response to long-standing challenges related to managing open documents. (We *will* have to rewrite a huge portion of the UI code thanks to the mandated Carbon->Cocoa transition, but that’s unrelated, and it doesn’t automatically yield any user-visible changes or improvements.)
    2), We’re not making UI changes *because* of what Apple is doing with their pro apps; we’re making them because we think they benefit customers. I mention Apple’s decisions simply to illustrate the point that despite the desires of some Mac partisans, the Mac OS isn’t a monoculture (that damn different thinking again). UI conventions should support innovation, not stifle it. –J.]
    Oh, and that asterix “file dirty thing”? Could you all make that any smaller? I mean, it might be visible on something smaller than a 30″ monitor.
    [I happen to agree that the asterisk (as opposed to this guy) is pretty subtle, but I’m not the UI designer. In any case, as soon as we made it larger we’d get crucified for loud, garish design–something then broadened into a critique of American culture. (Didn’t you know that Karl Rove and Dick Cheney pull the strings around here?)
    As for the little “dirty” dot in the red close box, we’ll look into adding it, but please don’t tell me it’s an easy, obvious UI affordance. –J.]

  • Brad — 7:29 AM on June 07, 2008

    What’s nice about Keynote and Pages is that they employ tabbed inspector palettes that an be opened placed anywhere.
    Sadly, it sounds like PS is going to take on similar UI attributes as LightRoom – with all controls/parameters jumbled in a long scrollable linear list. That’s not an extensible methodology that scales very well.
    [Have you used CS3? You certainly don’t have to keep your panels in a list. You can dock them together in the drawers at left and right, or you can float them. New in CS4 is the ability to minimize the floating groups, letting you position them where you’d like (e.g. on other monitors, or a la the old palette well).
    I’m a big fan of inspector panels, but the downside to the ones I see in Pages and Keynote (at least the ’06 versions on my machine) is inflexibility: the contents are mutually exclusive (e.g. you can’t be looking at both text attributes & chart attributes at once). You can of course assemble your panels into that kind of UI block using Adobe tools, but *forcing* you to choose between showing one control & showing another would be unacceptable in a pro app. (Note that Aperture and Motion use the long scrolling list approach.) I think the CS UI now offers the best of both worlds (which is of course not to say that it’s perfect; what is?).
    As long as we’re on the subject, it’s also worth noting that the inspectors in Keynote & Pages aren’t actually what I’d call inspectors, as they’re not sensitive to what’s selected. I expect an inspector to automatically display the relevant parameters for the selected object. Why show charting options for a text object? –J.]
    The art of good UI design is being able to effortlessly hide and still make easily available often needed functions. Scrolling through a long list is a step backward.
    I have a custom web gallery module in LightRomm that has around 150 parameters to set. Scrolling through that list is a pain!
    [Try Ctrl-clicking (right-clicking on those on Win) the section header (Appearance, etc.) and choosing Solo Mode. That will cause LR to display only one section at a time. –J.]

  • DMac — 8:57 AM on June 07, 2008

    I don’t want to comment on the proposed changes to the various Adobe UIs. I do want to comment on the validity or appropriateness of your overall comments.
    First, it may just be me, but you come across as a marketing hype-maker when you make these posts. Why? Well, because you rarely, if ever, criticize anything. Why should we believe your “I am a Mac guy” and “I sweat the details” comments when you don’t criticize any of the proposed ideas. You feign objectivity, but never act in that manner. The result of which is an aire of pure marketing hype disguised in some sort of “fair and balanced” garbage.
    [First, apparently you don’t read this blog often. I’ve offered quite a bit of frank criticism of Photoshop. Second, I don’t know quite what you want me to say. Am I supposed to tell you all about how I suck, how we never get anything right, how I’m surrounded by evil and incompetence? You want self-immolation? Keep on moving. –J.]
    Second, you comparison with some of Apple’s own “pro apps” is rather superficial and displays a real lack of knowledge of the history of those apps (that is very relevant to this “discussion”). If you were more knowledgeable about Apple’s pro apps, you wouldn’t have used them as a comparison, save maybe Motion or Aperture, as they aren’t examples of Apple-grown apps (and hence made to consistently follow Apple’s GUI guidelines).
    [I mentioned every Apple app on my system, including iPhoto, Pages, Keynote, Motion, and Aperture. –J.]
    Most of the pro apps were bought from different third party developers. This includes Shake, Final Cut Pro, Color, and DVD Studio Pro. In most cases, these apps are huge. It was quite a chore just to get them ported/modified to work well on OS X (yes, many were already OS X apps but very non-standard). In particular, the GUIs of these apps have had the least changes. Apple probably has way fewer software engineers working on these apps than Adobe does (not even counting the Adobe staff working on the Windoze versions).
    [Apple has owned Final Cut for *NINE YEARS*. They’ve had plenty of time to do whatever they want with the UI. If my goal were to bang on Apple about un-Mac-like UIs, I would have picked on Color and Shake. I specifically chose not to do so. –J.]
    So, to make comparisons, or rationalize upcoming interface changes based on Apple’s pro apps is not really a valid thing.
    And, please, if you have any respect for the intelligence of your readers, don’t say things like “they didn’t pay me to say this” kind of bullshit (sorry, but that’s the best word for that… maybe). If you were truly critical of some things at Adobe (and hence truly more objective), then you wouldn’t have to say these kinds of things… Geesh.
    Otherwise, thanks for the preview.
    [Don’t thank me for anything, please. If you’re going to take time out of your Saturday to say that I’m a lying, bought-and-paid-for corporate whore, *just say so*. –J.]

  • Raymie — 9:35 AM on June 07, 2008

    It’s called Firefox 3 for Mac UI elements.

  • Ariz — 11:32 AM on June 07, 2008

    I feel sorry for you John, all these faceless angry arrogant demanding people whining at you and barely ever praising in balance with what they LIKE or what you have done well.
    You are doing a good job. Just do what you and your staff think is right for the creative suite after listening to us with a discerning ear for good ideas. Don’t succumb to too much “praise hunting” changes, you will never be able to please everyone.
    People who have complaints are often sadly more vocal than those who are pleased with a product or service. I think your UI plans will be silently appreciated by many people (particularly windows migrants to OSX now that Vista hasn’t had a great reception.) and probably will silently rival in numbers the whiners here who don’t want to move with the times or try and learn new ways of doing things on their computer for more than a day.
    [Thanks for the moral support, Ariz. I do occasionally think of Teddy Roosevelt & the man in the arena. –J.]
    I really like the idea of the (optional) application frame and the tab like system. I get distracted by things in the desktop background or I might accidentally miss the resize corner by a pixel and it will change me to an app running in the background which is annoying. So this is good. People using excuses like “but I need to see my windows in the background to switch to them” is a bit silly when they could just enable expose to be triggered when the mouse touches a screen corner and they can pick the other application in a second. Not to mention the many other application switching methods OSX has. Allot of the people here seem to be just fixed into ways of doing things and refuse to at least try new things.
    As long as its optional and doesn’t add to much bloat it should be fine.
    One thing id personally love to see also is UI brightness sliders in all of the CS apps. Not just a certain few if it’s possible, or at least, dark/neutral grey across them all like many of the pro Apple apps. It makes them easier to work with for long periods of time I find instead of blinding white!
    [CS4 is darker than CS3. Some apps (the video products, Illustrator, Bridge) offer a background slider, but Photoshop doesn’t yet. We know people want it, but we can’t just darken the surrounding UI without handling widgets (popups, sliders, etc.) appropriately; otherwise they’ll stick out like sore thumbs. We have a plan to get there, but it wasn’t in the cards for the upcoming release. –J.]

  • Allerbe — 12:43 PM on June 07, 2008

    I’ve been using Quantel, Irix, Linux, Mac and Windows, and while the Mac is my platform of preference, I’ve always hated the way panels keep getting in the way, and other programs clutter the screen.
    If Photoshop is going to go through a similar change After Effects has gone through, all I can say is: thanks Adobe, it’s about time…

  • Brad — 12:49 PM on June 07, 2008

    >>> [Have you used CS3? You certainly don’t have to keep your panels in a list. You can dock them together in the drawers at left and right, or you can float them. New in CS4 is the ability to minimize the floating groups, letting you position them where you’d like (e.g. on other monitors, or a la the old palette well).
    I think I was misunderstood. I *love* CS3. Was under the impression from your post, though, that CS4 and beyond would adopt a “put it all in one window” approach, similar to LightRoom.
    [As an option, yes, you can put your panels and documents into a single resizable window. –J.]
    With the result being tons of adjustments being kept in one huge scrollable list.
    [No, there’s no broad change to what panels contain, at least in Photoshop. –J.]
    I’m glad that won’t be the case. Even in optional “Mac” classic mode, right?

  • Klaus Nordby — 1:38 PM on June 07, 2008

    John wrote: “[Ever looked at iTunes? –J.]”
    What makes you think that’s an argument of any sort regarding the all-caps issue? It’s utterly irrelevant.
    “This here is equally obviously a soft-spoken, easy-to-read sentence.”
    [But we’re not talking about sentences; we’re talking about headings. –J.]
    The uppercase/lowercase issue is just Sensible Typography 101 — which no one with eyes and minds could really disagree about.
    [Are you saying that use of upper case is never acceptable? I trust you’re familiar with small caps used in typography. –J.]
    I predict that while, alas, this insanity may seemingly prevail in CS4, in CS5 other design folks at Adobe will be in charge — and they will undo this insanity.

  • imajez — 1:57 PM on June 07, 2008

    I read your piece on the new UI and the first thought was I thought I hope John has a heavy duty kevlar jacket to hand as there’s going to be some serious moaning, despite the new feature being optional. And to repeat again, OPTIONAL – means you can use old way if you want, so why even bother to whinge?
    I’ll start with a compliment, hurrah for going back to the 3 screen modes as the extra one added last time was simply pointless.
    As for the tabbed option, I requested such a thing as an option on the Adobe forums years ago, so I’m certainly going to be in favour as long as the tabs do not take up too much vertical real estate and having a saved/not saved indicatoron a tab is is very useful feedback especially if it got redder the longer you left it [optional of course]. No reason why the tabs cannot be same thicknes as the current file name bar. The fancier tiling implementation looks very interesting.
    Having read through 140+ posts, two things are very obvious, Mac [only] users seem to hate change and secondly a lot of people people don’t actually know how to use their computer as well as they think. Some of the complainers’ issues would be solved simply by learning shortcuts like Cmmd+Tab. Easier and more effective than Expose most of the time too. Another post had a link to an anti MDI diatribe and I didn’t recognize some of the problems mentioned, as in reality they don’t actually exist. Why? Simply because MDI does’t quite work as assumed in the rant.
    As someone who uses PS on a Mac and a PC, they are in reality very few differences between the programme versions. And the very few differences there are, are negatives on the Mac platform [IMHO]. I can’t think of a difference that is not better on a PC, though I’m sure someone will find one I’ve forgotten :-).
    For example – one John mentioned is not being able to skip through blending modes [or dialogue boxes when closing] using arrow key [tab], which a huuuuge time saver. Another one is the lack of visual feedback when you drag layers beneath bottom layer to delete or say duplicate when using mouse. In fact I mentioned something about how this particular feedback had changed in CS3 a while ago and John didn’t quite get what I meant, I just realised he uses a Mac, which lacks this handy feature.
    Seeing the desktop whilst in PS or DWm or Illustrator….. is very annoying [for me] esp. as I like to use all apps full screen to hide clutter/distractions. My other gripe with the ‘transparent ‘programme concept [as I describe it] is that it is so very *&^%(*& difficult to tell where you are at times as the only difference between some apps on a 2560×1200 destop is a bit of text 80-100px wide.
    In this example I’m actually in Dreamweaver, but In foreground is a file open in PS and background is filled with my web browser.
    And on a dual monitor the Mac OS sucks big time as the File Menu is disassociated from the programme on the 2nd monitor. Windows is sooooo much better in this respect. In fact I absolutely loathe using a dual monitor Mac as it is so rubbish and clunky compared to a Windows machine. I like to use many apps with one on each screen as it’s very efficient way of working, whereas on a Mac dialogue boxes appear on wrong screen, toolbars don’t work properly and Adobe pallette docks are stuck on File menu screen, not to mention LR’s full screen mode fills one screen and not entire desktop. This is how I have LR set up on my PC [Dual Monitor, capture of entire desktop]. LR is also tweaked to stretch panel for more finesse and to keep image on left screen and not split in middle by bezels.
    ‘Full’ screen on a Mac gives me a much smaller area to work in. 50% less – not good.
    And anyone who knows both systems thoroughly, would probably admit both Windows + Macs have superior and negative points. Just different ones, personally, I’d like a computer with the good bits from both, though both have copied from the other plenty of times in the past, though Apple always try to disguise it.

  • Klaus Nordby — 3:37 PM on June 07, 2008

    “[Are you saying that use of upper case is never acceptable? I trust you’re familiar with small caps used in typography. –J.]”
    You trust rightly, sir, and I use them all the time (but only if my font has proper small caps) — where they serve a real purpose. Regular capitals do of course have their uses, too, but they do have a “loud” quality and their legibility *is* lower than small caps, so one should have Good Reasons for using them. In the CS4 UI, there are no discernible Good Reasons for them — and they SHOUT. Even SINGLE words shout, to wit:

  • Klaus Nordby — 3:47 PM on June 07, 2008

    Since I’m griping so LOUDLY (pardon my uppercase French) about this CS4 uppercase UI issue, I want to state that I from the very start really liked the CS3 UI design changes — as best exemplified by the jewel in the CS3 crown, InDesign (the PS CS3 UI is rather flawed by comparison). So I’m not just a grumpy ol’ man, opposing all changes. The CS3 UI is a superb UI design, whereas the CS4 UI design is . . .

  • Robert M — 4:07 PM on June 07, 2008

    In a comment, you noted: “[I believe the Apple convention is that if your app has just one window, closing that window quits the app; if it’s a multi-window app, closing the window leaves the app running. –J.]”
    Unfortunately, as in many aspects of Apple’s UI choices this decade, they’re not very consistent about it. iPhoto, PhotoBook and Dictionary quit; iCal and Address Book do not. And Aperture doesn’t even allow you to click the red close gem; it’s greyed out!

  • DMac — 10:19 PM on June 07, 2008

    Thanks for responding to my post. I apologize for coming across as overly harsh, and unclear in my comments. My intent was not to flame you. Really. I certainly did misstate some things. I honestly tried to qualify my remarks (though obviously not well enough) by my inadequate disclaimer “it may just be me.”
    Yes, I don’t read this blog very often. I may have read it 5 times, or so (no value judgment implied).
    I have no basis or knowledge to say whether or not you’re “bought and paid for,” but the fact remains that there are certain restrictions and appearances inherent in blogging under the adobe.com domain, as opposed to a non-Adobe-owned domain. I just noticed your “legal” disclaimer, for what it’s worth. Additional disclaimers, whether stated or implied, in your individual posts just come across as a little defensive (for lack of a better term right now) and aren’t really needed…
    I guess I took issue with your pro apps comments because I don’t see them as really deliberate attempts to go against Apple’s standard GUI guidelines (which have deteriorated or seemingly become rather arbitrary since OS X has come to be). In other words, I don’t believe that Final Cut Pro, in particular, would have been designed (GUI-wise) like it exists, if it had been originally made by Apple. Yes, Apple has had FCP for about nine years, and hasn’t overhauled the GUI, having made only minor tweaks. I still say that this is due, in part (perhaps, a small part), to a lack of resources and other priorities (like under-the-hood changes). Perhaps the most important reason that FCP’s interface hasn’t been changed much is simply because users got used to it. Any similarity of Motion’s quirkiness to FCP could be explained (unfortunately, perhaps) with much the same reasoning. Again, the point here is that much of the GUI design of the pro apps has stayed “bad” due to maintaining a stable/non-changing interface for the users, not necessarily out of a deliberate (or good) design choice. This is subtle and I may still not be expressing the point well enough.
    Because much of the Apple pro apps GUI design has remained static (and irregular when compared with Apple’s GUI guidelines), it is in part due to a lack of real deliberate (and well-considered) design/planning. This is why I found your comparison weak when trying to understand, or justify, the upcoming changes to CS4 app’s GUI.
    To me, you don’t need a comparison with Apple’s pro apps, nor would I think it a good idea. The CS4 designers are making deliberate choices and providing compelling reasoning why, as you said, functionality is more important than ideology (though, I see no real problem with anything you’ve presented about CS4 GUI design). So, I think it actually may weaken your case, and somewhat diminish the work of the designers, to compare CS4 design choices with Apple’s pro apps.
    So, like I said, I do thank you for the preview of CS4 GUI design changes. And, I agree that “irregular” or unusual GUI designs are necessary, and beneficial, for certain applications.
    If I had a bone to grind with Adobe, it would be about the “dumbass” move that was made in cancelling the Mac version of FrameMaker (without an adequate replacement), and the fact that many of Adobe’s apps have more features in the Windows versions than in the Mac versions (even some years after some of those features had been bought as Windows-only apps/technology). ;-)
    Again, sorry for the invective-seeming and unclear comments.
    P.S. – I barely touched on the topic. Please forgive my superficiality (it would take a couple of days to properly present a better set of comments).

  • James — 2:02 AM on June 08, 2008

    Don’t try and be to clever with the new UI John. This new UI is a windows solution. Not a Mac solution.
    What we, as Mac users need is not a clumsy windows UI – but a UI that takes advantage of the Mac itself.
    We need you guys to fix Exposé… for comparing…
    It worked perfectly well in CS2. Im not sure what the hell happened to Photoshop and Exposé in CS3.
    [Could you be more specific? I use Exposé all the time in Photoshop CS3 and have had no problems with it. Are you referring to how it deals with the full-screen modes? –J.]
    Like so many other readers, your Creative apps have become a necessary evil. Im sorry to say that John – but you guy are missing the basics.
    Make it fast, make it Mac. Thats it.

  • T. Schmidt — 7:09 AM on June 08, 2008

    Full of anxiety after your other UI novelties I expeted a giant rainbow all across the screen, but what did I see? Grey. Looks promosing. That’s a good direction with the Tabs! Screw the apple way of only resizing a window on the bottom side. I’m glad about your last paragraph (inviting), we’ll see how much Adobe will stick to it and allows us to turn things off.
    However it concerns me, that CS3 came with malfunctioning features such as the terrible auto pop-back-up panels when coming close to the screen or scolling or the new useless window mode. I really hope you do some excessive testing and actually listen to the users, when they point out such problems, as I’m sure they must occur. If you want to make everybody happy, just give the pro users enough power via options, (ie let us decide about ALL shortcuts including Ctrl/Tilde+Tab and let us kill UI transparency, a certain screen mode or behaviour if we like), so we can deal with the problems ourselves that you might not see yet). I hope you do it right this time.
    I would also appreciate to be able to shortcut the dock off, without fearing to have it pop up. Since Apple doesn’t seem to care, eventhough there are already dozens of small apps that just block the dock, I guess we have to hope for each app to offer the ability. Comes in handy when drawing. Good drawings by the way.
    Don’t underestimate this one: Please kille the ALLCAPS, you don’t use words like “YO” and “BIATCH” in your help file either. That’s for YouTube comments, not for a designer app. Typographers will hate you, don’t ruin innovative UI additions with lack of taste just because some testers didn’t protest. What’s the reason for them anyway? By giving us the possibility to change them, you can make everyone happy again. It’s the best way to go.

  • elmimmo — 9:44 AM on June 08, 2008

    >> (me:) Where the heck is my proxy icon!?
    > [It’s there in floating windows. –J.]
    Mm… a nice way of putting “we got rid of it if along with its features, if you go for the new UI”.
    Anyhow, isn’t the new UI rather similar to the “maximized screen mode” in CS3, but with a tab bar? Doesn’t that leave the maximized screen mode obsolete/redundant?
    [Yes, which I pointed out in the addendum, above. We’re back to having three screen modes. –J.]
    Unless I am not missing something, why not move this new feature to that mode? (i.e. you access it by pressing F) Or does it add something that clashes with what maximize mode tries to provide?
    [You shouldn’t have to go into full-screen mode to have a managed workspace. The app frame is more flexible than that. –J.]

  • Freeagent — 11:06 AM on June 08, 2008

    Just want to voice my total agreement with Klaus Nordby above: All caps is a typographic blunder of the highest magnitude. Please don’t do it. And mind you, this is from someone who simply loved the CS3 icons right from the start…
    Otherwise, it looks great, and I’m really looking forward to it!

  • Bob Frost — 12:43 PM on June 08, 2008

    Having just read most of the above comments, my first thoughts were what a load of (caps lock) **** (undo caps lock).
    Reading some of this stuff, you might have thought that when Eve offered Adam a bite of her Apple, he sat right down and wrote the MacOS, and that what Moses really had on his tablets of stone were the MacGUI commandments!
    Man got where he/she is in the world today by being adaptable. The message of natural evolution is ‘adapt or perish’. The more adaptable will survive, and the less adaptable will perish.
    Here endeth the Sermon for today.
    [Cf. “Think Different”: “A garden of pure ideology.” –J.]

  • Kaleberg — 6:37 PM on June 08, 2008

    So, will you still be able to open photos as documents in windows and move the windows around, or is the single window tiled/tabbed only? The video suggests that you are going non-window, so I’ll ask if I can put a Seamonkey window or one of my own application windows into one of the halves or tabs? I’m always shrinking PS windows and shoving them around so I can look at other stuff in other applications while I edit.
    One man’s distraction is another man’s workflow.
    Already I’m thinking up workarounds. Can you do two up and specify one of the panels as see-through? I could just slide my other app window there, at least until the other app gets religion. Let’s face it, anyone with more than two windows with more than five tabs open in each in their browser has serious neurological problems.
    I moved to CS3 to get Intel support, but lately I’ve been rethinking Adobe anyway. The applications are great, probably too great for an amateur like me, and there are lots of new competitors moving up from the bottom to nibble at PS and Illustrator. Some years back I wrote a review of MS Office on Amazon praising it as magnificent bloatware. I used to live in MS Word, but I use it once every few weeks now.
    Adobe knows its user base, or at least I presume it does. Maybe they its user base has just gotten too broad, and they need to cut back.

  • Pedro Estarque — 7:10 PM on June 08, 2008

    at John_B:
    OK, sure, ALL CAPS is crap-tastic in iTunes (and is probably a holdover from the old SoundJam…
    If what you are refering to is the left pane of Finder (I’m on a Win/HP laptop right now — ugh! — so I can’t check) then its all about the Carbon.
    You should google before you post.
    iTunes and Finder got the “all caps facelift” just recently.
    Design decisions like this have nothing to do with the frameworks you choose.

  • Dani — 4:03 AM on June 09, 2008

    The most important point in developping the new UI is, that it is consistent over all CS-apps.

  • Alex — 9:24 AM on June 09, 2008

    I understand Adobe is going through some growing pains here, but I think you start loosing focus.
    Maintaining an old UI seems to be more important then having a good UI.
    You don’t want to loose age-old costumers (we don’t want to loose you either).
    I always have the feeling you are just patching things. And please don’t let the Macromedia spirit die, I still want apps to be passionate about.
    So, my advice/plea: restart

  • Adriano — 5:17 PM on June 09, 2008

    After reading through most of the comments on this posting, I must say that many of the feedback seems to be personal, bitchy and negative rather than constructive. (Although there are some users who have provided rationale for their arguments and they should be congratulated)
    Regardless of the proposed changes, at least John is trying to communicate with users in advance and has provided many lengthy and detailed justifications for the changes. And yes, you are allowed to disagree, that’s why he has enabled comments and responded to many comments directly.
    So at the end of all this, one would have to ask, what incentive is their for Product Managers to seek feedback and comments if most of it is just bile?
    And would you rather hear about the changes via a CS4 Factsheet PDF written by a Marketer in 6 months time or someone interested in advancing the debate and receiving constructive criticism?
    Sometimes innovation means getting things wrong, but open honest communication should always be seen as a positive, particularly in this industry which is often dominated by secretive, proprietary firms (Apple, Microsoft, IBM, etc).

  • elmimmo — 12:47 AM on June 10, 2008

    > [The icon in the title bar identifies the app–useful when you’re tabbing quickly among apps. (Ironically, as interfaces become more consistent, it becomes harder to tell at a glance which app you’re using; cf. the Adobe video tools.) –J.]
    John, with all due respects. There’s no news on that aspect. Interfaces have been pretty consistent on the Mac forever. Photoshop has had the same windows frames as pretty much any other app on a 95% of cases, and Adobe found it fit to go with the flow.
    Besides, it says Photoshop in that big gray bar at the top of your screen.
    If it is bringing no needed features get rid of that superfluous flashy icon, please.

  • Otto Van De Steene — 4:10 AM on June 10, 2008

    I think the interface will be better like the one we find in CS3. Thanks to new OSX features like Spaces and Expose it is not necessary anymore to be able to access the desktop that fast anymore.
    Nevertheless I ask myself the next series of interface questions:
    – Will there be a full screen with menu bar modus in Indesign too? (big misser for Indesign CS3)
    – When we could put it in the old way again, no problems would occure…
    I heard some comments about the gray interface:
    When designing things, the things you are designing are of the most importance, not the interface to design it. Thats why I like the dark& grey interface. Thats why my OSX is always set to graphite. Thats why all apple pro apps look dark & grey.

  • Victor Nystad — 12:41 AM on June 11, 2008

    I’ve been a mac user for almost two decades, and if it’s one thing that’s always annoyed me it’s all the floating windows everywhere. The application frame is terrific and I love it. I tend to use Fireworks more than Photoshop these days, and from what I’ve seen so far in the Fireworks CS4 beta I think you’ve done a great job with the GUI. A fresh breath :-)

  • Charis Tsevis — 3:08 AM on June 11, 2008

    I like the new UI. Seriously!
    I am inviting all the users to try it a bit and then judge.
    Thanks for the inside info, John.

  • Mike — 3:37 AM on June 11, 2008

    So it’s only taken Adobe 20 years to catch up with Emacs. Welcome to the future. :)
    Now, if only CS4 had a Lisp scripting engine…

  • thinsoldier — 3:48 PM on June 11, 2008

    Finally someone at Adobe looked up the meanings of the words:
    * visual clutter
    * user friendly
    * option
    Congratulations for having the same idea I had back in the 90’s.
    If you’d like to save yourself 5 years of waiting to have another good idea you can just e-mail me.

  • thin — 4:50 PM on June 11, 2008

    “it’s been universally know for hundreds of years among typographers that capitals reduces legibility and slows down the reading pace.”
    These aren’t paragraphs. They’re window titles. When I’m scanning the screen looking for something I’d be quite pleased if that small 1 or 2 word something SHOUTED to grab my attention.
    “Today’s problems cannot be solved if we still think the way we thought when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
    “I can’t think of any third party applications that have successfully pulled off an alternate “window skin” and I honestly don’t feel like this interface will work well.”
    * Z-Brush 3.1
    * Luxology Modo (Winner of an Apple design award or something)
    * Winamp
    * Adobe After Effects 6
    * Fruity Loops
    * Alias Sketchbook Pro (Photoshop has a lot to learn about being Wacom-friendly)
    I’ve got to agree with not changing the keyboard shortcuts. You’ve already given us all the flexibility we need to make our own shortcuts. Leave the defaults alone and provide recommended presets we can switch to if we someday choose to. “OPTION! More than just a key on your keyboard.”®
    “Why don’t you just admit you’ve run out of feature ideas and call PS finished?”
    They haven’t run out. They’ve just grown so big that it’s hard and potentially costly to think outside the box. Also, they might not be willing to try out products from competing companies to see other directions they should be pursuing and even if they did they’re too high and mighty to steal a great idea when they see one.
    “Can someone at Adobe please enable drag and drop support from anywhere to document. I’d love to be able to just drag a file from the Desktop or an image from Safari, etc into a Photoshop document and have it become a new layer.”
    I think that’s already possible if you drop it into a document (in windows) and (in windows) you can drop a file into the grey background to open it. Hopefully that’s possible on the Mac now as well thanks to the single app window option.
    Request: When closing an unsaved document the keyboard shortcuts for Save/Don’t save are D and S. I don’t know if you noticed this but D and S are RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. This is not a good thing for people familiar with windows (Y & N I think) and especially not a good thing for people with big fingers! Please add an OPTION to change that.
    “the most Mac-like move of all would be to fine-tune ONE interface to relative perfection and make it the standard.”… and then tell me where to find a plain text configuration file where I can change AS MANY OPTIONS AS POSSIBLE. I don’t give a damn where the options are. I don’t give a damn about defaults. As long as I have options I’m happy. “about:config” anyone?
    “But what concerns me more about the Photoshop UI is items that are neither Mac-like nor Windows-like, but are entirely Adobe inventions.”
    Windows sucks and OS X sucks and GNOME and KDE suck.
    Adobe’s UI is good for the things we do with Adobe apps.
    Z-brush’s UI is good for the things we do with it (could be better).
    The same with any application so advanced, powerful and productive that it needs to do things differently in order to help the user accomplish the formerly impossible.
    “I want my apps to ‘fit in’ to my platform of choice, not subvert it. Making your apps platform neutral doesn’t enhance my user experience.”
    Shut up. I use 4 platforms: XP, OS X, KDE, GNOME. Soon to be 5 (Vista).
    Neutral and consistent is awesomeness.
    Still waiting on that Linux port Adobe. You could at least put some effort into making your apps wine-friendly or something.
    “On the Mac, the fact that I can’t toggle the front window in PS using cmd-` drives me nuts.” I have to agree with this one both CMD+` and CTRL+TAB should work.
    “the inability to page the selection of an Adobe palette list menu with the arrow keys is an annoying behavior of the app. For a while I thought this was a standard behavior on the Mac platform, but after some short research (check Safari) realized that its not.”
    Safari uses custom widgets just like most other browsers (firefox, opera, others). This is because CSS is supposed to give you the ability to make anything on a web page look like….anything, really. OS Native widgets simply don’t offer anywhere near the flexibility necessary to support the CSS standard.

  • Pak-Kei Mak — 3:24 PM on June 12, 2008

    Hello John,
    I designed a software called Trillian, and when we decided to release a Mac version with a balance between respecting OSX’s UI elements and custom controls, we pretty much got the same types of criticisms.
    I had written a few posts in my blog to defend the design as well, in similar notes, mainly around the points that Apple has offended its own guidelines in mostly all of its own softwares, and custom controls are needed in places where one size doesn’t fit all.
    I would want to think in reason but not politics, but it is hard not to think how making any ‘innovations’ in UI for OS X always need a seal of approval from Apple.
    This is an interesting read indeed. On the bright side, it is encouraging to see you guys think flexibly to realize that Photoshop does require a special way of window management.
    ~ Pak-Kei.

  • Justin Bell — 8:46 AM on June 15, 2008

    Some have mentioned that designers prefer a neural background. Well, you can always change your desktop to grey, or use “Light” in the background and set it to any colour you want. There is also “Camouflage” that sits in the left of the OS X menu bar and can hide everything on your desktop when you need to at the click of a menu button.
    This way, you can also do the same things with other apps. No need for each app to have it’s own way of doing the same function. That is what leads to annoying and inconsistent interfaces. That’s what’s so great about OS X — if you do things by the book, then 3rd part apps can do quite a lot of things easily and reliably that benefit all applications even if they were never designed with that functionality in mind.

  • Zaph — 8:45 AM on June 16, 2008

    iTunes and Dw/Ps are not good comparisons for the CAPS. Not because one set are pro apps and one is not. It’s the context. The headers for sections in all caps in iTunes and a single layer that never overlaps with each other. They stay as distinct, complete words.
    In the DW (and other Adobe apps) GUI, these are used for the titles in tabbed, stackable palettes. With lower case, you see more letters when they are abbreviated, and they are more easily readable.
    | Databas \ Server Be \ Compon |
    has more easily understandable *information* in it than
    The first is far more readable and actionable, the second requires much more deciphering by the brain, and the eye.

  • Mark Thomas — 9:08 AM on June 16, 2008

    Here’s the thing about modo. Because the GUI is highly customizable, people who enjoy spending lots of time tweaking the GUI tend to love it. But it’s a two edged sword. For people who don’t enjoy spending lots of time tweaking GUIs — people who want the GUI to be carefully thought out and familiar — modo is a disaster. Luxology has placed the burden of providing a good GUI upon the user, and at least some of modo’s legendary stability and bug problems are almost certainly related to the extremely complex nature of its custom GUI code. So far as Photoshop CS4 is concerned, I don’t mind the dark look or the option of a windowed interface per se, but if it’s going to have a non-standard GUI, it had better not do so at the expense of stability or usability. At least offer the option of making Photoshop look and feel like a normal Mac app. Modo, for all its customizability, is nevertheless not customizable enough to be made to look and feel like a real Mac app, which is a shame and a lost opportunity, not to mention arrogant.

  • imajez — 2:25 AM on June 18, 2008

    “On the subject of PS UI… the inability to page the selection of an Adobe palette list menu with the arrow keys is an annoying behavior of the app. For a while I thought this was a standard behavior on the Mac platform, but after some short research (check Safari) realized that its not. It’s ONE MORE example (many others are listed above) of Adobe breaking OS standards seemingly just for the hell of it. – R. Hunt
    [That has nothing to do with it. Rather, it’s a question of focus. The arrows apply to selected objects on your document. Would you want to try to move an object up a couple of pixels, only to end up changing layers or scrolling a list? I seriously doubt it. –J.]”
    You can do exactly what R. Hunt requests on the PC version of PS. And it so much easier to skip through blending modes say. Also the font selection can work exactly like asked for on the Mac and PC.

  • Oliver Michalak — 7:05 AM on June 18, 2008

    So much time wasted on re-designing the user interface and trying to establish new concepts on what has already been developed by the OS vendor, this makes me sad. Seems to me no new features come along for ages now that Adobe puts its resources in developing its own UI ontop of the OS. Just _one_ example: how you want to _support_ multiple monitor setups, for which multiple document support and stackable palettes worked totally fine with CS – with which I stick for the time being. Please go back to the roots and create new features and no “new” UI concepts (like you already have done with the latest software revisions now for several years again and again and again…)

  • imajez — 11:12 AM on June 18, 2008

    Why don’t people wait until they’ve used an interface, before criticising it?
    Sometimes it the little things that really aid productivity. The only UI change that I’ve not like in PS was the dropping of the pallette well. I found it much better than icons down the side from a clutter and usuability point of view.
    And as for the Apple interface being something that all developers should aspire to mentality. Why? It’s not as if OSX is exactly consistent in how things work and may chang at any time if Adobe want to do so. Plus a shocking bit of news, some Windows attributes are actually way better. I use dual monitors and OSX is awful compared to XP in the way programmes handle this way of working, especially full screen modes, albeit not PS since full screen images stopped staying inside palettes.

  • foljs — 4:09 PM on June 20, 2008

    @Bob Frost — 12:43 PM on June 08,
    Man got where he/she is in the world today by being adaptable. The message of natural evolution is ‘adapt or perish’. The more adaptable will survive, and the less adaptable will perish.
    Hmm… you’ve got it backwards.
    Adaptable means “being able to adapt to some environment”.
    This is exactly what we, who complain, ask Adobe to do. Adapt to the friggin’ OS X environment.
    It’s the software that has to adapt or perish. Users will always be there, and we’re higher on the food chain anyway.

  • Andreas Lanjerud — 1:39 PM on June 22, 2008

    Thank you for making this OPTIONAL. The way Photoshop works in CS3 Mac is one of the reasons I work on a Mac! I could never be as efficient in what I do, if I had that grey full-size ugly window thingy in my way, since I use multiply windows from different software visible at the same time.

  • Mark Lee Smith — 2:01 PM on June 22, 2008

    I’m not sure if his has been commented on already: didn’t Apple acquire many of it’s applications from 3rd parties.. including some of it’s pro applications?
    Forgive me if I’m mistaken, but using applications which didn’t originate in Apple to support a design that breaks just about every UI convention in the book (nothing new here) isn’t exactly honest.
    [As I noted a couple of times above, if I’d wanted to criticize Apple based on their acquired apps, I would have focused on Color and Shake–neither of which remotely resembles a traditional Mac app. I didn’t. Instead I talked about a whole bunch of apps they built from scratch (iPhoto, Aperture, Keynote, etc.) and some they acquired many years ago (e.g. Final Cut Pro). –J.]
    In either case, two wrongs don’t make a left. Apple screws up, so Adobe does?
    [I didn’t say that Apple screwed up. I said that they evidently looked at the OS conventions and decided to build upon them, rather than to be limited by them. I’m asking that Adobe be granted that same latitude.
    I also pointed out that offering single windows in which UI controls and documents live together is plainly a trend that Apple & other Mac developers have embraced. –J.]

  • Nico Rohrbach — 2:25 PM on June 22, 2008

    I’m a big fan of Adobe, but now, for the first time in History I consider a switch. A switch away from Adobe’s Software and this huge Interface mess. I really hope Adobe wakes up, before it’s to late.
    [You’d give up Adobe tools because you so hate the presence of options that you aren’t required to use, and that you might actually come to like (but haven’t yet tried)? Isn’t that a bit reactionary? (And what is it with Mac users to whom “Think Different” is anathema?) –J.]

  • Chris — 5:40 PM on June 22, 2008

    Firs Adobe spews out Icons designed by a blogger using Word Press, now this.
    I’ve always disliked the PC version of Photoshop, since it’s in a window and now you guy vomit this onto the Mac.
    I really don’t like the single layer bar at the top and now you guys have decided to DOUBLE it and WASTE more of MY screen space.
    I’ve been using Photoshop since version 2 and I can’t hold this back;
    [You stay classy, San Diego. –J.]

  • Erik K Veland — 6:11 PM on June 22, 2008

    Can we please see a screenshot of the OPTIONAL (everyone loves caps, no?) non-MDI version that looks and feels like a Mac app including standard Close/Minimise/Zoom-to-fit buttons?

  • Erik K Veland — 7:36 PM on June 22, 2008

    “And what is it with Mac users to whom “Think Different” is anathema?”
    Contentious much? Not all Mac users are the same. Your arguments remind me of the childish rants of those perpetrated by Haxial in their “defense” of their non-standard GUI:
    More gems like “threads are evil foul demons” and “Drag & Drop is overused and overrated” from the infamous Adam Hinkley here:

  • rado — 11:48 PM on June 22, 2008

    in mac photoshop, why is the window-cycle shortcut in windows, not like in os x?! O_O control+tab vs command+`
    [Here you go. –J.]

  • Phil Brown — 12:53 AM on June 23, 2008

    Erik…what part of the word “optional” fails to parse for you?
    You’re being given more choice – a choice that some people have been asking for and for which there is even some support on this blog from various people. If you don’t like it, don’t choose it.
    And John didn’t aim that at all Mac users, he aimed it at those for whom change and difference seem to be four-lettered words.
    If we never thought of new options, we wouldn’t even have computers, let alone be worried about the UI…

  • Jon Delman — 9:52 AM on June 23, 2008

    I am happy to see Adobe making some useful UI changes to the CS4 family of apps. The tabbed approach seems very useful.
    Has anyone heard anything in regards to smart objects? In particular, the hope that the newest version will allow for using smart objects across multiple documents.

  • Mike — 11:22 AM on June 23, 2008

    I use Flash CS3 at work on Windows XP, and I can give you at least 20 bugs with the whole new palette system you guys came up with. Bottom line, it looks cool, but it acts weird. I think the user loses.
    Would you be interested in them? If so, what is the best way to report them?

  • Mark Thomas — 3:48 AM on June 24, 2008

    All the new icons feature dark text on colored squares. I can’t really tell you why, as I have absolutely no say in these matters. –J.]
    Wow. I didn’t think it would be possible to make the icons any worse, but by God Adobe has done it! It’s really impressive in a way. For CS5 I suggest the letters be removed completely. Just colored boxes. That would be super awesome.

  • Mark Thomas — 4:29 AM on June 24, 2008

    Gentlemen. Please listen. This is all part of Adobe’s master plan to subvert the OS completely. They’re wagering that the Internet will eventually kill the operating system as we know it, and Adobe hopes to be able to then swoop in with Air and their weird GUIs and turn the world into one big CPU-crushing Adobe-built Flash app from hell. Adobe hates Apple. They hate Microsoft. They hate being subservient to OS vendors. Like a great, greedy, ugly hoard of cockroaches, they hope to outlast the OS apocalypse and still be standing when the dust settles so they can take over. It won’t work, of course. They’re making a laughable, Godawful mess of their most valuable assets. In ten years, people will look back and recognize that Adobe’s long dead abomination, Flash, was the thing that started their downfall into irrelevance. We’re witnessing the second act of a great and glorious comedy of errors.
    Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen . . . .

  • Tazmikella Ilnezhara — 1:15 AM on July 03, 2008

    You had me at “optional”.
    That said, times they are’a changin’, and Adobe might want to consider taking better inventory of their stock so as to see that an application frame (“window”) is the least of all places that minds need to be directing their energies. The PS feature set has outgrown the current interface paradigm and is in dire need of a design investment that usurps a mere app-frame.
    You said it, if Apple colors outside the lines then by all means Adobe should too-just do it for the right reasons, this list of evidence supporting the advent of a unity-window-frame is embarrassing to witness. If only PS would evolve as intelligently as tools like Motion and Logic Pro-in a users dreams! The beauty of these applications is that they evolve as humans and their relationships with technology evolves-meanwhile Adobe is busy study the merits of turning PS into Safari.

  • Mac Apps — 1:48 PM on July 23, 2008

    Why should PS Elements 6 for Mac be the only program that adobe ruins? They’ve stripped away the close/minimize/zoom buttons which now makes using Elements a real pain in the you-know-what, and they’ve even removed the ‘open image’ button. Then they topped it all off by painting the whole interface a semi-mono toned dark battleship/mortuary gray… Definitely the ugliest interface in computer application history. If you weren’t depressed before you used the program, you WILL be afterward. So now they want to mess around with Photoshop? This is the only company that likes to take good programs and make them worse. Shame on you adobe. If this is the direction that adobe is going then our wallet will NOT be opened to them anymore. I guess we should be thanking adobe for these things though, I mean look at all the money we’ll be saving no longer supporting and buying their programs.

  • daves — 8:49 PM on July 26, 2008

    My G-d, this thing is AWFUL!
    Who do we complain to to have John Nack fired????
    [I told you they were going to write it on my tombstone. (Nice use of a fake email address, too–always the sign of a sincere interlocutor.) –J.]

  • Lvynne — 11:32 PM on August 11, 2008

    Say that it really messes up space but what I can say is do we have a choice, eh? Photoshop is still itself, it still delivers what it should do. How ’bout you folks buy a large LCD screen? And for years this program’s UI has evolved and all we have adapted. (Duh, and it’s an option.) And I guess you’ll still all be buying CS4. It’s the best there is regardless of the UI. Create your own programs if you’re such a genius. And there is still internet etiquette!

  • skyler — 11:59 AM on August 25, 2008

    I think the consistent widgets problem should be pushed way ahead.
    Why can I sample a color from another window in Photoshop, but in other CS apps it doesn’t even appear in the help files?
    I would love if the whole thing became like Lightroom, with all the different functionalities in different modules, rather than different apps, but I know that is never going to happen, so as long as everyone is ranting here, please make all apps behave and look consistent sooner than later.
    It needs to be pointed out that people use your software as much out of monopoly as it’s being “good”.
    As an example, I’d rather edit 2D vector graphics in Modo 3D (but practically I can’t, obviously) than in Illustrator. It’s just so much more intuitive. How can a 3D app that’s only a couple years old be more fluid and intuitive (for a task it wasn’t specifically designed for) than a specialized app that’s had over 10 years to get it right?
    All that said, life for designers wouldn’t be able to continue without Photoshop, so keep up the good work.
    It doesn’t look easy to satisfy everyone.

  • Gary Graphic — 12:55 PM on September 03, 2008

    My dream is that someday Photoshop will support ‘command ~’ for switching between open documents on the Mac.
    [As I noted earlier, it will, in CS4. As further noted, this will please one group of people while irritating another. There’s no way to make everyone happy automatically. (And yes, we’ll offer a choice.) –J.]

  • What The — 5:14 PM on September 10, 2008

    Although I have posted my fair share of posts critical of Adobe in the past I have always respected your willingness to run this blog and post comments good and bad. The post by davis is uncalled for (unless you fiddled with his wife … and even then it is a little over the top!)

  • Brian Sexton — 11:56 PM on September 16, 2008

    I just started playing with the Fireworks CS4 beta and I only have two days to do so (despite being told initially that I had 30 days, when I actually start the application it says I have only two), so I do not know if I will have enough time to get used to the new interface with the beta, but I am afraid I am thus far not liking it. Maybe it will grow on me, but so far, it looks like a step backward—like the interface of countless 3D applications or open source applications that don’t have UI designers to make things both pretty and functional. I am sure there is more there to like below the surface, but I find it interesting that my initial reaction is rather opposite of my reaction to CS3 interface changes, which was quickly favorable.
    Everything looks very boxy and the tabs do not even look like tabs. Those two things together make the new interface look more like an old-style Web application than a local application.
    I think, however, that my biggest interface gripe is simply the fact that Adobe keeps messing with the overall interface system at all when tool interfaces remain incomplete. For example, Flash CS3 (and perhaps Flash 8 before it) offers a rectangle primitive tool with corners that can be adjusted both numerically and either individually or linked, both before and after creation. Fireworks CS4 introduces number and unit-type roundness controls for rectangles in its interface, but they still fall short of the rectangle primitive controls in the previous version or two of Flash. I would like to see such controls across the whole suite as appropriate. As far as I am concerned, if I can set a value by pulling a handle, rotating a shape around a point, etc.—whether I am modifying a shape, a gradient, etc.—I should be able to view and change that value in the interface.

  • Pemulwuy — 9:43 PM on September 23, 2008

    Interesting to hear about some of the thinking behind the interface. Appreciated. Going MDI (multiple document interface=’single-window app’) as an option is fine, as long as SDI behaviour isn’t compromised.
    Hopefully CS4 apps work properly with Spaces!
    Re some of your arguments and the gallery: iWork apps (Keynote/Pages/Numbers) aren’t MDI … each document has its own window, the windows just have more in the menu bars+drawers than oldskool Apple practice. The inspector palette/s float. There is no app container or frame for multiple docs and palettes. The gray background is there when you zoom out, just like an image in CS3.
    Less significantly, iPhoto isn’t hard-core MDI either, you can open any number of photos to edit in their own window, likewise iTunes with playlists. Fortunately! That’s enough comment in an old blog, I’ll catch up with your new stuff! Thanks again.

  • Ryan — 8:45 AM on October 21, 2008

    this is a HUGE pain in the ass. The UI in CS4 has changed to an unacceptable format, for me.
    I want the UI Title bar to be there, as it is now you cannot resize the photoshop window from the top down.. what the HELL? this is verging on the mac OS uselessness of resizing the window by the bottom right corner only.

  • sryo — 10:34 AM on October 22, 2008

    There are 2 realy annoying thins in the new UI:
    1) neither the menu buttons, nor the app icon / minimize / restore / close buttons are in the edges, making them harder to click.
    [I don’t quite follow. Is this something new? And what other apps put these buttons at the edge of the screen? I just tabbed through all my open apps and don’t see than any of them do so. –J.]
    2) why are there duplicate buttons for the hand, zoom, and rotate? removing them from the tool pallette would be a huge win in vertical real state space.
    [I’m not sure that saving 48 pixels would be a “huge win.” In any case, I believe the designers were trying to make them more discoverable & to provide quick access up top. I personally would much rather use the application bar real estate for other things (a strip of workspace names, a customizable area, etc.), but that didn’t work out for this rev. –J.]

  • sryo — 8:02 AM on October 23, 2008

    On Windows, all application windows, when maximized have their min/max/close buttons positioned in a way thay if you click on the edge of the screen, it clicks the button. It’s always worked that way, for Adobe applications, and for any other application (including the ones that don´t have a native UI, like winamp, Windows Media player, Safari, Google Chrome, etc).

  • Bob — 2:34 PM on October 29, 2008

    Today I got my CS4 upgrade.
    The install took hours, but in the end it was all there. 2DVDs necessary for this.
    And then the usual dissapointment begins. I really start to dislike Adobe more on each version.
    Since Version 10 ( Illustrator) there are no books anymore. Oke but there were helpfiles on the disk.
    Now from CS4 there are no more help files . manuals on the disk or installed, this help button leads to a website. Now we know that since nearly 20 years Adobe is one of the main suppliers of media production and graphic software, the inventor of postscript. So you would expect the manuals to be visually oriented, cause we , the users , are mostly visual oriented people. because we are graphic professionals… SO WHY DO YOU MAKE THE MANUALS COMPLETELY TEXT ORIENTED????
    I really hate this.
    Now the user interface has an overhaul, maybe this time it is better ( lucky us ) but WHY is this software SO SLOW and so FULL with BUGS and features and plugins I do not want or need.
    It is that I am convicted to using Adobe software, cause many of my clients provide me ( I run a graphic service bureau / printshop )with adobe files, otherwise I would never upgrade anymore.
    The arrogance of Adobe ( and Microsoft and Apple for that matter) annoyes me every time I see the startup screen with all these patent notices.

  • james — 12:19 PM on November 12, 2008

    At first I didn’t really get the big deal of the application frame. Now I get it – and love it. Since I use two monitors I can now shift all of the pallettes to the smaller monitor and use the large one for full screen editing. WOW!
    [Cool. :-) –J.]

  • jimhere — 1:59 PM on December 04, 2008

    Do you know if the Flash App Frame can be un-done (like all the other apps)? It’s the one app I can’t see my other work against on the monitor… Dragging everything out of the App Frame does work, but closing the resulting tiny Frame remnant quits the app. Plus any New or Open document goes in there by default.
    (I’ve got no answers on the Flash Forums)
    [Sorry, no: to the best of my knowledge there’s no way to turn off the frame in Flash. –J.]

  • sabiondo — 5:53 AM on January 26, 2009

    Impossible to work with CS4, i have the original, and the performance is horrible, slow and pulling. And i dont know how to deactivate the tabs, and how to prevent that the files were opened in tabs, and i have deactivated this options in Edition > Preferences > Interface.
    Sorry but this new tabs system is good for navigators and Operative Systems, not for design…, for me is very
    uncomfortable and unpleasant.
    Please, FIX the problem of the PERFORMANCE, and FIX the problem of the tabs system.

  • Jay — 9:57 PM on March 12, 2009

    ALL CAPS IS NEVER A GOOD IDEA FOR ANYTHING YOU HAVE TO CONSISTENTLY LOOK AT AND CHOOSE BETWEEN, in response to your earlier posts – there have been countless well regarded studies that I hae read, last year, 20 years ago, yesterday….they continually point to the same conclusion – anyone of experienced literacy stops reading letters, and sees words via recognition of it’s shape (requiring small letters to make the unique shapes of words). That is why people are initially distrubed, or why it gets their attention – because it is unfamiliar and harder to read…
    You say adobe did their own study of this?
    why reinvent the wheel, even worse, why attempt to and get the wrong answer, i hope they don’t stick with it because their study says they should without reading the 100’s of others that disagree for reasons above

  • john reese — 4:58 PM on May 19, 2009

    I’m going to re-visit this thread.
    “It prevents documents from getting obscured by panels (palettes).”
    One of my biggest problems lately is not being able to get to my panels because my docs are in the way! :(

  • Junior — 4:15 PM on September 20, 2009

    This is one of the main points of contention that I have with CS4. I don’t want my user interface changed with worthless modifications to the functions already present as a part of the operating system!

  • heavyboots — 9:29 PM on October 31, 2009

    Is there ANY WAY to turn this wretched pile of suck off on the Windows versions too? Or Flash CS4 on a Mac, for that matter?
    It is all well and good to provide a feature when people request it. It is another thing entirely to ram it down the gullet of everyone because a few people like it.
    There should be options to disable this stuff in ALL Adobe products on both platforms, frankly. I’ve now been using it in Windows for the last month and I HATE IT WITH A VENGEANCE. This is real-world experience talking.
    – I can never see my desktop.
    – It is a pain to organize multiple windows for me–more so than when they were loose and I could do what I want with them.
    – It simply feels “confining” in a stay-in-this-box-because-we-told-you-to fashion.

  • Jamie — 1:59 AM on December 30, 2009

    This would be pretty cool. I use Safari and photoshop a lot (retouch pictures) and would love this feature.

  • Joey — 8:28 AM on May 02, 2010

    Why have you made that offset between the menu bar and the screen edge?
    It’s so much annoying not being able to unfold menus when moving mouse the screen edge.
    In Cs2 in full screen mode, the menu bar titles where right along the edge, I just moved the mouse to the edge and could roll down the menu.
    Is that Change for change’s sake? Would be really silly that way, hope it can be set?

  • Gary Stanullwich — 3:33 PM on September 13, 2010

    The new PhotoShop Elements is one-half disaster.The UI is TOTALLY the wrong color. Adobe made the UI dark grey with black text (?).
    I’ve been using PhotoShop since version 3. Version 3 had a very nice interface. Light grey with black text.
    Within the PhotoShop Elements 8 software, there’s no way to change that. The user has a VERY hard time seeing the Menus.
    What idiot came up with this ????????????????
    Gary Stanullwich

  • Jonathan Poritsky — 6:25 AM on November 12, 2010

    Two and a half years later and Apple’s interface schizophrenia still rings true. This post was an eye opener for me back when it was published, and only now, waiting for a Final Cut Studio update, did I realize how out of control some of their control schemas have become. With Lion coming next year, the OS 9 holdovers will have to change, and in the end it looks like the “application frame” won out; the forthcoming Fullscreen emphasis all but puts the nail in the “keep the desktop visible” coffin. I wrote a bunch of thoughts on the matter quoting this article. Early in 2011 we’ll see where Apple wants to take their Pro Apps, we hope.


  • Andrew — 3:59 AM on February 09, 2011

    Wow. I don’t know if I’m just retarded or what, but I’ve spent several hours searching the internet and I’ve asked at least 20 people if there was a way to do something like application frame in the Adobe Suite and in MS Office. Being a youngin’, I’ve grown up with the web, and I’m just used to all of my content being inside one block. To me, it just makes sense, because that’s how the web works.

    When buying laptops last year, I actually made the decision to get an Acer instead of a Macbook because I simply cannot get work done with all those windows floating around like crazy, and since I’m in the graphic design program at school, it’s not like I can just avoid the Adobe Suite.

    I think perhaps advertising this ability in a more public way would be a good thing, because the number one complaint I hear at school about the Mac labs is that everyone always loses toolbars and whatnot because they get hidden behind stuff. If it took me this long to find, I doubt anyone will be able to easily find it while looking in the app.

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