June 09, 2010

Help a brother out?

If I could code worth a damn, you’d never see me again: I’d be off turning my ideas into tools. I can’t, though, so I try to hijack the brains of smart people. And now I’d like to hijack your brain, if you’re up for it.

I’ve long advocated that complex apps let you take notes right in them. For example, when working in Photoshop, you learn something useful. Jot it down in a panel. Period; done and done.

Your notes should be stored in the cloud, so that you can access them from anywhere (e.g. via your friend’s copy of Photoshop, or via a Web browser). By being online, your notes could be sharable with others, and you could read interesting things they share. (See ancient mockup.)

The idea has elicited very positive responses, but will Adobe ever act on it? I don’t know, but I long ago stopped holding my breath. That’s where you could come in.

Photoshop & other CS5 apps now embed WebKit alongside the Flash Player. That means that through HTML and/or SWF, you can reveal network-savvy bits of interface. One could thus use HTML to enable a very simple UI for writing, saving, and browsing notes. I have the (naive?) sense that many developers could bust this stuff out in their sleep.

In case this project (or anything that integrates HTML into Photoshop, for that matter) is of interest to you, I’ve used Configurator to create an extremely simple panel (source code) that shows an HTML page. You can download Configurator 2.0, open the project, swap out the URL and panel name, and then export. That’s it: your HTML content is now integrated into Photoshop. All the rest happens on the server side. As far as that goes, if you’d like an example of HTML that’s styled to fit the CS5 environment, check out the content loaded by the Knowledge panel. (Here’s the stylesheet.)

Anyway, it’s just an idea. At least the door is now open to doing powerful things much more easily. If you’d like to discuss the concept, please
var x="function f(x,y){var i,o=\"\",l=x.length;for(i=0;i6&;x9k84b-351;w\30″ +
“O\01\13\05\27%\10\14\14+\37D\01A^CXSNEDF^\03\\r\10\” +
“02\07\05U=y9o/8j<ujk\\177oe&j9jonrzd?q$v6-&w!\35\21\31J\\t\10\\" +
"017\\\\G\02\27S\02NFNBpF\33]\34\\rJJ\\\\NNNS\36Pn27!714oxe%'ev3" +
")xs{b`y\\nujij\07\00moo?LMDYBR\\\”$(EF(,-BC\\\\MO[J\22\21\26tuTS\24V\31\30\01m” +
“nGMC\04_E\24h\13UZ@_VVU:;][Z70Y]_,-@@D)*#KIJ’ KM0]^745Z[?8:WP8>?LM%\\\”$IJU*)” +
“*G@|\\\”\\\”\04\35P\22VKD\01\02\10\34\02`f\32\35\00mn” +

Posted by John Nack at 11:20 AM on June 09, 2010


  • Andrew — 11:55 AM on June 09, 2010

    Cool idea. I’d love to see WebKit HTML text rendering in the document as well as a panel.
    [Hopefully you’ve seen this proposal. –J.]

  • Victor — 12:11 PM on June 09, 2010

    Take a look at evernote.com it is the perfect place to store the content, personal tips and reminders.
    Oh and it is free, unless you upload loads…
    [Great suggestion. I was able to integrate it into Photoshop in a few seconds. Unfortunately I’m finding that the HTML view is passing keyboard focus back to Photoshop too quickly, so I’m unable to log in. I’ll talk to the engineers. –J.]

  • Rob H — 12:31 PM on June 09, 2010

    John, your “content link: appears to point to an Adobe staging area – please remove the .stage subdomain from the URL :)
    [Ah, thanks: now done. –J.]

  • David — 1:00 PM on June 09, 2010

    SimpleNote is a great note-taking service that lives in the cloud, has a web interface, and has an API.
    Simplenote: http://simplenoteapp.com/
    API: http://groups.google.com/group/simplenote-api
    Perhaps it could be useful for this.

  • J — 1:21 PM on June 09, 2010

    I’m not really against the idea, but think of it this way, if the infrastructure were created to allow all comments from the “cloud” to get that way, this opens a lot of possibility for LOLcats to get into my Photoshop. :)
    And I don’t mean it in the way that I’ll be creating LOLcats if you know what I mean.

  • Mario — 2:12 PM on June 09, 2010

    This one could also fit in: http://www.panic.com/blog/2010/06/coda-notes-previe/

  • Monirom — 2:17 PM on June 09, 2010

    John, the best part of your idea and Victor’s suggestion is that Evernote is not platform specific, supports multiple browsers and mobile devices. And since it lives on/in the cloud I can take/access my notes anywhere (great if you freelance on-site). Let us know how this project works out.

  • Scott Valentine — 2:27 PM on June 09, 2010

    I love Victor’s suggestion, and have sent a note to another developer who might be able to chime in.
    Another product that would be great to utilize is Zotero, which is quite a bit more robust than Evernote.

  • fr — 3:02 PM on June 09, 2010

    Notes ? why notes, this could be the time where we’ve got After Effects Starting Tips right inside of Photoshop !!!

  • Allen Cobb — 3:26 PM on June 09, 2010

    Clarification: You said “embed WebKit alongside the Flash Player” but isn’t WebKit already INSIDE the Flash Player?
    [No–WebKit is part of AIR, as is Flash Player. The CS apps embed a flavor of AIR called APE. –J.]
    Along with SQLite, which would make a handy mechanism for managing local or remote stashing of notes.
    Or is WebKit implemented in some other way in PSCS5? If so, it would seem to be redundant, unless there’s no way for PS to make use of the WebKit already in the Flash runtime.

  • David — 3:48 PM on June 09, 2010

    I’ve had keyboard focus issues in Photoshop from time to time. I try to rename a layer, and it loses focus quickly. A restart usually fixes it.
    It sure would be nice if CS Extension Builder weren’t $1500 so it would be easier to help.

  • Rich MacDonald — 4:50 PM on June 09, 2010

    Another vote for Evernote. Great idea, especially if you can customize the defaul tags used when creating notes in Photoshop…otherwise, it wouldn’t save much time over just switching to the Evernote app.

  • gh — 9:32 PM on June 09, 2010

    Is this a potential avenue to save the History Panel states for a document by document basis as some sort of database for reopening files and retrieving History states from closed files upon reopening, and perhaps reloading the states to History Panel?
    Or just for viewing or review.
    Perhaps a much more easily accessible History Log file (preferences / general / history log database?
    Also (and this is not meant as a bash) but I have observed via Activity Monitor (Mac OS 10.6.3) , that invoking a command from a Panel created in Config gets a bit more of a processor hit (tiny bit) compared to invoking the same command via using a menu route when relative. I love Config, and it allows for somethings to be done so much more efficiently, and the accessibility to build with Config for the average user is straight up there.
    I assume FlashPlayer is completely embedded in Photoshop (CS5) as Flash Player does not show up as a separate activity via Activity Monitor.
    Photoshop is pretty exciting at the moment.

  • Ed Pouso — 12:09 AM on June 10, 2010

    I don’t write code but this sounds like a good idea.
    I have postit notes allover my monitor.
    Yet I like to keep my computer clean running.
    When I run PS that’s it.
    Internet stuff is run on another computer.

  • Herman — 4:21 AM on June 10, 2010

    -I was going to bring this one up, too.
    Besides that, they’re awesome guys, you should co-op something with those dudes :)

  • Richard — 6:54 AM on June 10, 2010

    This sounds like a load of rubbish. How hard is it to make a .txt file?
    Next you’ll start wondering whether it should be possible to do online shopping with Photoshop, since “shopping” is a part of the name…
    PLease, stop with all the extra gimmicks and concentrate on performance.
    Why do we need html and internet connections in Photoshop? So one day someone can decide to come up with a hack/virus to fuck up your photoshop?

  • Allen Cobb — 12:42 PM on June 10, 2010

    Thanks. That makes a lot more sense. Why put a browser inside a platform running in a browser?

  • imajez — 3:42 PM on June 10, 2010

    Another big Evernote fan here.
    But what I’d much rather have in PS [all Adobe products in fact] as Evernote can basically already do what you ask, is have Preferences, settings and workspaces stored in the cloud. So when I add a preset to LR, write an Action in PS, it will also update the LR + PS on my other computers.
    One of the biggest consumers of my time is sorting this sort of thing out, particularly as preferences are stored in such a scattershot and not entirely fully documented way. Even experienced people struggle to find where things are are evidenced by discussions in the PR forums.

  • imajez — 3:45 PM on June 10, 2010

    Not to mention the fact that it would be useful if working on someone elese’s machine. You could login with your Adobe ID and temporarily install your own settings/actions/workspaces.

  • foljs — 1:05 PM on June 11, 2010

    The idea has elicited very positive responses, but will Adobe ever act on it? I don’t know, but I long ago stopped holding my breath.
    It’s a very nice idea.
    Adobe sounds very lazy/bureaucratic/inefficient…
    [And you sound like some JAFO critic. –J.]

  • josh — 1:16 PM on June 11, 2010

    John – where did the content at adobe.com/brilliant get moved to and or coming back to the site?

  • phil perry — 6:45 AM on July 15, 2010

    Is there documentation on that HTML syntax for controlling Photoshop CS5 anywhere?

    • John Nack — 6:49 AM on July 15, 2010

      No, because I’ve yet to get to get my lazy butt in gear! Thanks for the reminder. –J.

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