Is Photoshop Changing Its Spots?|
Mike Pasini, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, March 20, 2009 - 12:11 EDT)
The Adjustment panel in CS4 is a clue to the kind of interface the application needs.
In our interview with Adobe Senior Engineer Jerry Harris we learned not just what GPU processing is bringing to image editing but what Photoshop's designers were thinking about the user interface.
The issue was moving from the keyboard as an interface to something less industrial like the Wii controller. Natural media for the electronic age.
Yesterday, Adobe Senior Product Manager John Nack posted an entry in his blog titled "Adjustments & the Future of the Photoshop UI." In that entry, he discussed the traditional user interface of the program and how something like the new Adjustments panel signals a move toward a different model.
But in this case, it isn't what you do with your fingers. It's what you do with your mind.
Nack cited three presumptions about working on an image worth highlighting. It's better, he said, to 1) be able to undo anything you do, 2) see a panel of relevant controls rather than have to find them on pulldown, fly-out menus and 3) be able to do anything at any time rather than be restricted to certain operations active in the present mode.
"So, in an ideal world," he summed up, "Photoshop would apply filters, adjustments, and transformations non-destructively by default, and it would let you browse and adjust the parameters through a non-modal interface."
And while the new Adjustments panel (not to mention Masks and 3D) is a very good illustration of just that, Nack admitted this is an approach that's more of a work in progress.
He cited the richness possible in a PSD file with its "deeply nested layers, Smart Objects within Smart Objects, placed raw data/vector art/3D files/video layers, re-editable filters & layer effects, advanced blending options, and so on" which outstrips the Layer's panel ability to display and control that richness. And he proposed a properties inspector, somewhat like Illustrator and Fireworks has, to paradoxically "display more info and yet fewer panels on screen."
But that's getting a bit ahead of the task at hand, he noted, which is moving Photoshop from Carbon to Cocoa. No simple task.
Still it's not too early to think about Photoshop's spots. What they are now, what they need to be (especially with non-destructive editing) and how some features of the CS4 edition point to what they might become.
Nack and his fellow Photoshop product manager, Bryan O'Neil Hughes plan to continue this discussion in Nack's blog. And they want your feedback.