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We’re Back!: The Photoshop Team Returns from Adobe MAX

The halls were a bit quieter last week because a few Photoshop product managers and expert instructors – Russell Brown, Zorana Gee, Steve Guilhamet, Julieanne Kost and Bryan O’Neil Hughes spent a week long stint in southern California at the annual Adobe MAX conference. They just returned home and Bryan agreed to be our “man on the street” and report back on all that they experienced. Since he sits right down the hall, I decided to ask him a few questions that might help those who couldn’t hang in Los Angeles, absorb all the buzz around Adobe’s news announcements and better understand its ties to Photoshop.

Isn’t Adobe MAX a developer show? What was the Photoshop team doing there?

Bryan: Historically MAX was more focused upon developers; in fact we inherited the show from Macromedia, so it was specifically more focused on Flash developers. Today, MAX is as diverse as Adobe’s portfolio, offering three distinct tracks: Design, Develop and Envision. Photoshop plays a part in each of those and it’s great to see the interest and enthusiasm from this community. The first year I presented, we only had a couple of sessions, now we have nearly two dozen! Further, “Photoshop” now means more than just those core sessions, as we have labs and sessions on Lightroom and Touch applications, as well.

There were a lot of news announcements at Adobe MAX – what will our fans care about?

Bryan: I can honestly say that all the news was very exciting, and that really echoed throughout the halls post keynote. As a product manager, I’m thrilled for what the acquisition of TypeKit means to our business and for Adobe – getting back to fonts in a meaningful and modern way will compliment a common piece of almost all of our professional tools.

All of the tablet applications bring the Adobe name and magic to an entirely new platform – while some are appearing first on Android and others first on iOS – we’re at various stages of reinforcing what people have come to expect from us…cross-platform solutions that deliver power and magic. Proto really got my attention, not because I DO comp websites…but because I CAN (now). The whole notion of turning the touch interface into intelligent, integrated, scaleable instructions for our pro products really resonates with people. As the product manager of a pro product, I love to see integration like that.

John Nack has been working hard with some incredible engineers to bring a fresh new set of tools to the tablet with Photoshop Touch (some of which are inspired by Photoshop, some share similar functionality; others are entirely new!).

On the Photoshop side, I’m incredibly excited to announce the immediate (and FREE) availability of a really exciting plug-in called Tutorial Builder. This jaw-dropping technology essentially builds an HTML tutorial in the background…all you have to do is use Photoshop! As if that weren’t incredible enough, the HTML it generates, when served from an external device, can even call commands in Photoshop (as it leverages the new Photoshop SDK).

What does the Photoshop Touch news mean for the Photoshop community?

Bryan: Photoshop Touch brings a level of power to the tablet that we haven’t seen yet; from selections to layers to integration with its big brother, people are definitely excited to learn more. Russell Brown has a great video to show some of what’s possible.

What do you like the most about Photoshop Touch?

Bryan: Scribble select, while very evocative of Quick Select, works especially well in a touch-driven environment – selections on a tablet have historically been imprecise, so that’s an exciting step forward and a great example of the technology doing the heavy lifting. The animation of layers, which we first showed as part of another project at Photoshop World 2011 in Orlando definitely proved there was an interest in this. It was nice to see the Photoshop Touch team pick that up, as people really will enjoy an animated visualization of their layer stack. More than anything though, I celebrate the fact that the team approaches the project and use as “fun”…that’s the common ground with all tablets and an important thing to remember when setting expectations of these ever-evolving, touch-driven devices and applications.

Did you really rock out with Weezer and meet Rainn Wilson (aka – Dwight from the Office)?

Bryan: So, MAX isn’t just about “geeking out” on technology…

MAX sneaks had something for everyone. Engineers gave sneak previews of technology (which may or may not make it into future versions of our software). This year Rainn Wilson from the Office brought his sarcasm to the stage as the emcee at that event and was especially impressed with some of the technology we showed running in Photoshop. He kept the room laughing throughout each demo and it was great to see his reactions to Adobe innovation.

Followed by the sneaks was the MAX bash – the special guest this year was Weezer. We got to eat off of some of the best food trucks in LA and Weezer played a full concert for attendees. As it happens, the lead singer of Weezer, Rivers Cuomo, is a big fan of Photoshop Elements.

I’m sure the others would agree, MAX is an incredibly fun event, but a tricky one to describe…thousands of passionate instructors, designers, developers and artists all bumping into one another – the most exciting moments are often found in hallway conversations and looking over someone’s shoulder at another cool demo. I hope I gave back half what I get from the event and am already looking forward to 2012!

What’s probably of interest to those reading, all of the sessions – including one I led on Hidden Gems in Photoshop CS5 – are available as high-definition recordings!

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