June 04, 2009

Feedback, please: Photoshop JDI — “Just Do It”

Every version of Photoshop needs to turn heads with exciting, breakthrough technology. Aiming high, however, can’t mean forgetting the “small” stuff*. Each version has to deliver lots of small, solid, impactful changes.

With that in mind, next week the Photoshop team is going to try something new: By and large we’re going to take a break from working on big, long-term projects (Cocoa conversion, etc.), and instead all the engineers will focus on fixing small, irritating things about the program. It’s a short, intensive run at low-hanging fruit.

We’re targeting the kind of stuff that makes you (or us) say, “Man, if only someone took a little time to change X, things would be so much smoother.” They’re the kind of changes that you see listed in our “CS4: Sweating the Details” post.

So, what would you like to see the team do?

We’ve pulled together a list of 30 or so candidate ideas for you to rate. There are of course hundreds, if not thousands, of feature requests on record, and rather than trying to list everything, we’ve tried to whittle down to a reasonable set. You’re of course welcome to write in your own suggestions (and don’t feel like you have to rate everything).

For this exercise it’s good to think in terms of very focused changes. Many times things that seem simple are complicated, but we’ll sort through the ideas & determine which is which. Example suggestions:

  • More helpful:
    • “Make the layer styles dialog remember last-used settings, or let me set the default values”
    • “Give the Info panel a readout for current zoom level”
    • “Let me rotate guides”
    • “Let me adjust color temperature in Photoshop just like in Camera Raw”
  • Less helpful:
    • “Let me save all my history states in files” (huge, kind of impossible)
    • “Make Photoshop work like Lightroom” (too vague)
      • Better: “Provide rule-of-thirds overlays when cropping”
    • “Bring back dialogs for adjustment layers” (out of step with the app’s bigger direction)
    • “Quit changing keyboard shortcuts”/”Make everything consistent” (obviously running counter to one another, and both vague & absolutist)
      • Better: “Change X shortcut in PS [and maybe other apps]”

Thanks, and looking forward to hearing your thoughts (via comments here and/or the survey),


* As I’ve noted previously, when I started on Photoshop, PS7 had just shipped. The two biggest applause grabbers were the Healing Brush (crazy Buck Rogers image science) and being able to rename a layer inline in the Layers palette (a completely humble change, one that saved literally zero clicks, but one that just felt totally right). It takes both kinds.

PS–In the spirit of sharing, here are the survey responses that have arrived so far.

PPS–Props to the After Effects team for establishing the “JDI” process at Adobe, something they’ve used to make tons of small enhancements.

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