Monthly Archives: October 2008

Shortcut changes in PSCS4

By and large, keyboard shortcut changes suck.  Mature tools are like musical instruments, and you don’t go moving the piano keys or cello strings without a great need to do so.  It’s painful.  We know.

 

Sometimes, though, a little pain enables much better things.  In the CS4 release, we have made some improvements that result in a few shortcuts needing to change.  First, the improvements:

 

  1. Photoshop is now consistent with both Mac & Windows shortcuts for switching among open documents.  The Mac-standard Cmd-~ (technically Cmd-`) now cycles from one open document to the next.  Adding Shift cycles in reverse order.  These shortcuts work on both Mac & Windows.  In addition, Photoshop continues to support Ctrl-Tab/Shift-Ctrl-Tab on both platforms, just as it always has, for the same function.
  2. The app is now consistent with other Suite tools (Illustrator, InDesign, Flash) in setting the zoom level to 100% via Cmd-1/Ctrl-1. (PS will continue to support the existing Cmd-Opt-0 as a duplicate shortcut.)
  3. You can drag-resize any brush cursor by holding down Ctrl-Opt (Mac)/Alt-right click (Win), then dragging.  Add Cmd (Mac)/Shift (Win) to the combo to adjust brush hardness instead of size.
  4. People doing video work in Photoshop strongly requested single-key shortcuts for moving among frames.  You can switch these on/off via the "Enable Timeline Shortcut Keys" command that lives in the Animation panel fly-out menu.
  5. Photoshop supports what we call spring-loaded shortcuts, enabling you to jump from any tool to any other temporarily.

 

Some of these enhancements necessitate some other changes.  This all gets pretty esoteric, so I’m putting the nerdery into this post’s extended entry.  Read on for that.

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Bay Area + Bridge?

We’re planning some customer visits, so if you’re located in the Bay Area and might like to chat face-to-face about Adobe Bridge, drop me a line.  We’d like to learn more about how people use the app across a variety of workflows, and to discuss the app–past, present, and future.  Whether or not the timing works out for this set of visits (we’re targeting the week of the 27th), it would be good to be in touch.

 

Thanks,

J.

PSCS4 extensibility: Flash, 64-bit

Now that Photoshop CS4 is shipping, let’s talk extensibility.

 

Plug-Ins:

 

  • By and large, your existing plug-ins should work just fine with CS4.  Photoshop PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes reports that when it comes to PS on the Mac and PS on Windows running in 32-bit mode, "Our in-house testing proved early on that with very rare exceptions, ‘if it worked in CS3, it works in CS4.’" Developers like onOne and Digital Anarchy have already issued statements of CS4 compatibility, and I expect more to follow.
  • If you’re running Photoshop in 64-bit mode on Windows (Vista 64 or XP64), you’ll need updated, 64-bit-native versions of your plug-ins.  (The 64-bit version of Photoshop can’t host 32-bit processes, and vice versa.)  We’ve been providing documentation to plug-in vendors for many months, and the 64-bit-savvy CS4 SDK is publicly available for download.  I expect vendors to be trying to gauge the level of interest in 64-bit versions of their tools, so if you’re in that camp, you might want to give them some friendly encouragement.
  • Photoshop on Windows consists of two binaries (one 32-bit, one 64-bit) which can be installed in parallel as completely separate applications.  This means you can use the 32-bit version to run older plug-ins while waiting for them to go 64-bit-native.

 

Flash Panels:

 

  • Support for running SWFs as panels represents a development renaissance for Photoshop & the Creative Suite.  It’s never been possible to create panels for Photoshop in the past*, and developing for other apps meant learning different APIs and writing different code for each.  Now you can create cross-platform, cross-application, non-modal, vector-based, network-aware extensions using Flash or Flex.  This is going to kick serious ass, and the Photoshop Developer Center now features the Photoshop Panel Developer’s Guide.  Look for more examples and documentation soon.

 

If you’re a developer and have questions, feel free to drop Bryan a line so that he can point you in the right direction.

*Unless you were a really clever developer like the guys at Nik Software–and they’re the first to say “Oh yeah, that was awful”; now it’s possible in an easy, reliable way.

InDesign + Flash goodness

As noted recently, one of my longest-held wishes has been for Flash (the authoring tool) to play better with other apps, enabling much richer exchange of documents.  Now, thanks to the new XFL format introduced in CS4, we’re seeing that vision become more real.  In a new segment on Adobe TV, Flash evangelist Paul Burnett demonstrates how InDesign works with Flash. 

In a nutshell, you can choose to export your pages as either SWF (ready to go right into a Web page with animation, no tweaking required) or XFL (ready to go into the Flash authoring environment with content intact*).  The beauty is that InDesign can offer rich direct-to-Web publishing without trying to replicate every conceivable authoring option. (Oh, and members of the InDesign team helped build the rich new text support in Flash Player 10, enabling higher fidelity hand-off between the apps.) [Via]

 

Next up, look for demos of After Effects leveraging XFL export to bring projects to Flash.

 

* One subtle detail is that Flash Player 10 now supports basic color management–more than a little important when you’re working across media and want to keep your images looking good.  I plan to share more details about this support soon.

Quick notes on Camera Raw 5

Tom Hogarty has posted some brief notes about Camera Raw 5, now shipping as part of Photoshop CS4.  He writes,

 

One important note is that the new camera support added in the last Camera Raw update for CS3 is not currently available in Camera Raw 5.0. We’ll be providing a Camera Raw 5.1 update next week that will include additional camera support.

Camera Raw 5 offers:

 

  • Local adjustment brush
  • Graduated Filter
  • "Post Crop" Vignetting
  • Opacity for the cloning/healing tool
  • Improved Auto Adjustment
  • Support for the new Camera Profiles that are still in beta form

 

Oh, and Thomas Knoll & co. just might have a couple of additional tricks up their sleeves–things one might see in an update due soon.  (I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…)

New Adobe XD pub, thoughts on CS4 UI

The Adobe XD (Experience Design) team has launched INSPIRE, a new online publication in which team members can share thoughts on how, why, and what they design; gather feedback; and more.  Among the good bits:

 

 

(Apropos of nothing, both designers are among a similarly named group of "me Julies," which seems like it should be British slang if it isn’t already.)

Smoked "J"

Okay, this has nothing to do with anything, really, but you may find it amusing.

 

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Apple’s next batch of MacBook Pros (my current 17" is nearly 2 years old), and tomorrow they’re due to announce new hardware.  In particular I’ve been awaiting the next batch of GPUs, and I’m eager to see whether they go farther with multi-touch technology.  (For CS4 we worked with Apple to enable the new gestures on MacBook Pro/Air models to let you zoom, pan, and rotate images in Photoshop and Bridge, and I can’t show off this support with my current rig.)

 

Anyway, I awoke this morning to discover that the letter "J" (aka the thing I now have to keep on a text file for copy and paste) had stopped working.  No warning, no other affected keys–and no J (kind of a big deal for me, for obvious reasons).  I’ve had keys occasionally get stuck in the past, but in this case lifting the key and cleaning underneath had no effect.  In fact, the key popped off entirely, leaving me with this somewhat disconcerting sight of a glowing stump.

 

Now I have to explain to my boss that no, really, it’s completely coincidental that my machine broke right before the new ones are announced–I swear.  (Mm, yeah, good luck with that…)

Subtractive Software

Software developer Brent Simmons shares some interesting thoughts on how & why applications grow and grow:

 

Here’s the schizo thing about software development (at least on Macs):

 

1. Everybody praises apps that don’t have a ton of preferences and features.

2. Everybody asks for some new preferences and features.

 

(Okay, not everybody. Not you, I know. I mean everybody else.)

 

To make it worse:

 

1. Everybody thinks they’re representative of the typical user, so what they want ought to be a no-brainer.

2. And they act like you put skunks in their fridge if you don’t do whatever-it-is.

 

(Okay, again — not you. You’re cool. I’m talking about the others.)

 

The problem is 100 times worse when it comes to deleting features…

 

It’s extremely difficult to remove features from Photoshop.  Once you’ve gotten someone to rely on a bit of functionality, you feel responsible for not letting them down (making me think of The Little Prince).  All features, even if many years old and seemingly unchanged, consume effort to maintain, especially when we’re modernizing the application architecture (for 64-bit, Cocoa, GPU, better localization, etc.).  Even so, we’re loathe to pull the rug out from under anyone.

 

No one uses everything in the app, and yet everything in the app is used by someone.  Even if a feature benefits only 1% of customers, that translates into tens of thousands of people–and that’s just counting the ones paying for any given version (not those with older copies, and not counting thieves).

 

Here’s a case in point: A couple of cycles back (CS, I believe), we decided that the 3D Transform filter had outlived its usefulness, so we decided to send it to the Restful Menus Retirement Home (offering it on the product DVD, but no longer installing it by default).  No one ever talked about using this feature, and yet as soon as we moved it, the tech support calls started piling up.  Even a couple of years later, Pete Bauer from the NAPP Help Desk reported that they’d still gotten 25 inquiries within a month.  I’ve started to think that the best way to find out who uses a feature is to try removing it.

 

Why do I mention all this?  Two reasons:

 

  1. Maybe we can’t remove (many) features–but you canConfigurator is about subtraction.  Taken together with Photoshop’s ability to remove menu items & to save workspaces that apply custom menu/panel/keyboard arrangements, Configurator helps you assemble versions of Photoshop that are "everything you need, nothing you don’t."  Most people will probably never get around to creating their own configurations, but because they’ll be extremely easy to share, everyone can benefit from them.
  2. We’ve bitten the bullet with this release and have sent a number of features into retirementExtract, Pattern Maker, Web Photo Gallery, Contact Sheet, Picture Package, and PDF Presentation have been removed from the default installation.  The latter four have been replaced by the Output module in Bridge CS4, and our intention is to replace Extract with features inside Photoshop (building on Refine Edge & more).  All of these except PDF Presentation will remain available as optional installs (to be posted on Adobe.com), but over time they’ll be phased out.

There aren’t any magic bullets here, and as I say, we’re loathe to disrupt existing workflows.  We can’t sit still, however, and with CS4 we’re making progress on multiple fronts.