I know What I want!

Adobe, what's wrong? You gettin' lazy?

heads up: this is a pretty old post, it may be outdated.

attn: John Nack


Black Stroke!

Oh, and by the way, lest I forget: yes, we’re changing the default stroke color to black. Just thought you’d want to know.

-Photoshop Insider » It's Guest Blog Wednesday Featuring: Photoshop Senior Product Manager, John Nack

Thank god! That red stroke is just plain annoying.

(Yes, that is a forum topic about the stupid red stroke default on a site dedicated to people who typically complain about broadband speeds. That choice is clearly unpopular.)

The quote ends an article that is an interesting read if you're curious about the direction Photoshop is developing.

It's written by one of the top dogs in the Adobe world, John Nack (sorry couldn't find a wikipedia page), who has a blog of his own, which is interesting reading in its own right.

Nack's article argues that Photoshop developers know what users want better than themselves. He uses the classic example of the history palette and history brush coming out of the comparatively simple user request for multiple undos.

Adobe, what's wrong? You sick?

Yet, he also protests Adobe's finite set of resources,

Much to my eternal frustration (and probably yours), we’ll never have enough time to implement even 10% of the good ideas that come our way.

…and that his team puts in a lot of backend work which doesn't immediately benefit the average user.

These things take a while. (I’m reminded of the line, “It might look like I’m doing nothing, but at the cellular level, I’m really quite busy.”)

I'm perfectly willing to grant that Adobe can't hire every developer in the world. I also grant that backend coding is a lot of hard work. And, I certainly am not going to argue that, "what customers say they want and what they actually need often differ." (By the way Mr. Nack, that "cellular level" line is used to refer to lazy people who actually are doing nothing.)

Yet, Adobe should be leading the image editing development sphere, not slowly adopting it's technology. 64-bit apps are not a new thing, Apple's Aperture has had the ability to leverage the GPU from it's first launch, Carbon is on it's way out, and Photoshop is facing all sorts of problems because Adobe hasn't ported it over yet.

What happened to the desire to lead the way? Remember when the Healing Brush was introduced in Photoshop 7? That was an awesome new feature. It also came with the shiny new file browser.

...Which is where we start to get into trouble, the file browser was poorly implemented, and its successor, Bridge, is still slow. And, It's not like a file browser is a radical new idea. It's a pretty basic thing that Adobe has only managed to get right with Lightroom.

It seems like every creative I know is on a Mac or, like most people I know, switching to one. I can't remember the last time I even saw Photoshop on a Windows box. If you're spending so much time under the hood, why can't Photoshop CS4 be 64-bit on the Mac?

Some Cough Medicine

My complaint is this: Adobe, I don't care what resources aren't available to you. You're the top dog in this market by a long shot. If you don't have resources, get them. Not having competition seems to have made you lazy, and operating at the cellular level isn't enough.

Enough with the excuses, you've proven that you can produce a great 64-bit, Cocoa, app that intelligently employs Smart Layers, utilizes the GPU, has a fast file browser, and is capable of implementing user feedback. Lightroom.

Your ability to improve upon user feedback is important, keep that up. Yet, the following disturbs me a bit:

It’s interesting that faster performance didn’t rate higher on the list. [of top ten requests] On the one hand, I’d like to take this as a good sign that our work in CS3 to speed up Photoshop’s launch time, take advantage of multi-core systems, etc. has paid off & that people are happy. On the other, there’s no such thing as “too fast,” and quicker performance is the best possible feature: there’s nothing to learn. Therefore I think all the muscle we’re pouring into R&D to leverage graphics hardware acceleration & 64-bit computing will make folks happy.

Mr. Nack, I do indeed want Photoshop to be as fast as possible. It does need to go 64-bit, it should be able to use the GPU, it should be a Cocoa app. But I expect all of this to happen without a cost to the user. Adobe via Mr. Nack seems to be resistant to adopting all of these technologies.

I hesitate to say that Photoshop is 'fast enough,' but if you're creating a list of priorities, speed isn't in the top 10. Lightroom's technologies are (7 of the 10 features in the top 10 list). A real noise filter is.

Oh sure, I want speed. I want the 3.5 gig RAM limit removed (you need 64-bit for that), but these are all things that I expect from any company that is keeping pace with technology. I also expect that once you've developed technology for one application, it can appear across all of your apps. Don't sacrifice one expectation in the name of another. They both need to happen concurrently.

Go back to surprising us with cool new features. Stay ahead of the curve instead of slightly behind. We want more surprises like the Healing Brush. We don't want to be told why waiting to get what we want is a good thing.

Adobe, you're doing better now than you ever have before. Just because you have a virtual monopoly, you don't get to slack off. There are companies biting at your heels.

Things aren't that bad…

Sure, that top 10 list wasn't a scientific sampling. Yea, it was probably weighted down by non-profesional users of Photoshop. Still, it's sampling of the market, and Adobe attention is warranted.

Photoshop is still best in class software. I still prefer Lightroom for my photo workflow needs. Adobe's efforts with Flash are highly appreciated. InDesign is my goto app for all layout work. I'll even use Bridge in a pinch.

Adobe products are fantastic, but I'm discouraged. I feel like Adobe needs a Canon.


It seems that Adobe's Acrobat Reader 9, which has just hit the wild, is a good example of Adobe getting lazy.