July 30, 2008

Photoshop.next UI hints on CNET

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk ad nauseam about the need to better manage Photoshop’s complexity.  We need to give you the power to make the app “everything you want, nothing you don’t.”  Last week Stephen Shankland from CNET asked what kind of progress we’re making, especially in the context of the more task-based interface of Ligthroom.  I disclosed some details that appear in his article:

 

Adobe is taking a page from the Lightroom specialization playbook for Photoshop by trying to make it more customizable to specific users and tasks. But in contrast with Lightroom, company is trying to do so without sacrificing the software’s general-purpose nature, said John Nack, [principal] product manager for Photoshop.

 

“We want to make it possible to be everything you want and nothing you don’t,” Nack said. “One of the tough things has been dealing with the enormous breadth of Photoshop. We end up presenting same interface to architects as we do to Web designers as radiologists as prepress folks.”

 

To achieve that goal, Photoshop’s interface will become more open-ended and even programmable, he said.

 

“You’ll see some of the things we’ve learned about Lightroom–making things browsable and less modal–come into Photoshop,” Nack said. In other words, it’ll be easier to shift Photoshop from one task to another.

 

With a “Configurator” application that should be released by Adobe Labs within a month or two of release the next version of Photoshop, Adobe will let users create and share their own Photoshop control panels written in Adobe’s Flash programming language, Nack added. “Our goal is to make it possible for expert users to reconfigure the environment on a task-by-task basis and share those workspaces with other people. You don’t have to write code. You can knock together an interface and make it sharable.”

 

As I’ve written previously, using Flash in the Suite isn’t about slathering the UI in a bunch of blinky banner ads; rather, it’s about giving people an easy way to connect, tune, & extend their work environments.  The AIR-based Configurator app is just one way to build these UI elements–one that lets you Lego-together functionality without writing code, then easily share the output.  The tool isn’t ready to take a bow yet, but it’s coming along really nicely & I’m looking forward to showing what it can do.

 

[Related/previous: Future Photoshop UI changes]

Posted by John Nack at 11:24 AM on July 30, 2008

Comments

  • Andrew Meit — 10:58 AM on July 30, 2008

    One side effect of offering these tools is being able to make the ui more accessible for us visually impaired; at least am hoping that will be the case. I have been waiting and wanting this for over 10 yrs. Thank you!

  • jimhere — 11:06 AM on July 30, 2008

    As long as there’s still an “all” UI. It’s not for you to decide whether I’m an architect or a web designer, or something in between.
    [Right–that’s exactly what I’m saying: you should have the power to decide what tools you need and want, and what you don’t. –J.]
    Kuler, an Adobe product, still crashes sometimes, (even on my new mac)… Hopefully opening your color palette won’t crash Photoshop CS 5.

  • Jason The Saj — 11:37 AM on July 30, 2008

    Let me give you a BRILLIANT idea….
    Comparison view!
    Let me explain one of my most common wastes of time in Photoshop. It’s called I want to apply an effect, but I am not sure how much. Sure I can use unsharp mask and toggle the view. That helps…
    But for things like hue/saturation/etc. I’d love be able to set the values to one level. Record for comparison, then change the levels. Than be able to compare all three (original and the two different effect settings).
    I’d also love a crop to size method. (Currently, I’ll create a 4×6, 5×7, or 8×10 rectangle object. Set it’s transparency to 25% and move it around create a mask and then delete the object.
    Now I have print ready size. It’d be nice to have better options in PS.
    (I just ordered Lightroom 2.0, so I am hoping it has better options as well.)

  • Jesper — 12:53 PM on July 30, 2008

    As long as you make it so I can reconfigure the toolbox too.
    [In the near term the plan is not to let existing palettes/panels (including Tools) be reconfigured, but rather to let you create your own panels that remix other parts of the UI (mainly tools & menu items). The upshot is that you could easily bang out your own toolbar(s), then optionally hide the standard one. –J.]
    I use maybe a third of what’s there, and I’ll admit I’m using more than I did two years ago, but I’m just not going to use several of the tools that are there, and it’s a bummer to have several places occupied by tools I don’t use, and several tools I do use occupying the same button!
    I hope Adobe will ship several “role” configurations. If you know a radiologist doesn’t need what a web designer does, you could fairly easily strip away these things in their respective role.
    [Good idea; we’ll plan to do that. –J.]
    Another step to take this would be to make role profiles of a sort, where some plugins just wouldn’t be loaded by default in a role, taking advantage of that radiologists probably don’t need to save in KML or Pixar, and shortening launch time.
    [We already “lazy-load” things like those plug-ins; you never load them unless and until you need them. Even so there’s this eternal perception that your experience/performance is harmed by the existence of features used by others. By and large that’s not the reality, but I understand the perception. –j.]

  • Adam W. — 3:16 PM on July 30, 2008

    All of this flexibility sounds great, but it also needs to be paired with a method to push/pull workspaces from a centralized server.
    [One thing at a time, young grasshopper. ;-) (Of course, Flash panels could easily give you the ability to upload, download, and browse content.) –J.]
    Otherwise you’d end up managing workspaces at the office/studio/home/laptop and each would be different. The one thing that default palate layouts have is consistency: A tool might not be in the optimum location for my workflow, but at least I know it’ll always be in the same spot regardless of the computer I happen to be sitting at.
    [Just as with keyboard shortcuts, menu configurations, and palette/panel layouts today, you always have the defaults & can get back to them in one or two clicks. –J.]

  • David — 11:13 PM on July 30, 2008

    The custom UI stuff sounds neat, but I am more interested in how the custom UI can drive the program. All I’ve seen so far are color palettes/pickers.
    [We’ll post good examples in the future, as will many developers. –J.]
    Will the custom UI elements get more access to the features of Photoshop than scripts currently have?
    [No, they interact with Photoshop (and the other apps) by way of the app scripting DOM. If there are things you’d like to see improved, please let us know. –J.]

  • Jesper — 4:27 PM on July 31, 2008

    “[We already “lazy-load” things like those plug-ins; you never load them unless and until you need them. Even so there’s this eternal perception that your experience/performance is harmed by the existence of features used by others. By and large that’s not the reality, but I understand the perception. –j.]”
    That may be true “by and large”, but the three latest times I’ve set up Photoshop, I’ve consistently let it launch fully three times (to make sure any “upgrade” bits have been fully flipped), timed the fourth launch, restarted, timed a fifth launch, disabled the plugins I feel unnecessary, restarted and timed a sixth launch. The fourth and fifth launch have minor differences since the caches have been primed by preceding launches (I use this to establish a healthy value for that margin), but the sixth launch is *noticeably* swifter according to clock time, not seldom reaching into “twice as fast” territory.
    Photoshop launch time is mostly an issue for the relics (it rarely exceeds 20 seconds even when the machine is loaded). As long as Photoshop one way or another keeps the bits I have no use for out of its memory footprint, I take no issue with new features being added, or time spent improving them.
    I loved the answers I got for my UI questions. I was mostly out to confirm that Adobe isn’t just going to take an “out of the box or roll your own” approach, without designing and usability testing good alternate layouts. The people that could gain the most from the customized workspaces are also sometimes the people who *feel* they could justify “playing Photoshop UI construction kit” the least, even if it’s time well spent.

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