Thought o' the day on features & polish

“People pay for features because it’s easier to justify the expense. People adore polish because it makes the product feel good, and that adoration will carry you farther in the long run than features.”
— Key Photoshop/Lightroom engineer Mark Hamburg
I was drawn to Photoshop–first to use it, and much later to help develop it–because of the high level of fit & finish I saw in the application. I’ve worked on Photoshop not because I think it’s perfect, but because I’m hung up on the imperfections. (Why work on something that’s already perfect?) At root I’m a frustrated, middling Web designer who just wanted the damn software to be better.

9 thoughts on “Thought o' the day on features & polish

  1. I’d be completely happy if Adobe embraced the X.5 editions again.
    An edition completely dedicated for bug, polishing and speed improvements.
    What I’d really like to see is Algorithm Driven IDE for Photoshop.

  2. Without wanting to come off a complete dick – do you not find it discouraging that the imperfections, lack of polish, and design laziness in Photoshop and the Adobe suite in general get worse over time instead of better?
    [Some things get better, some get worse. The laziness is on the part of those who only point out failings, who jeer from the sidelines. I’m in here trying to make things better, and I have to deal with geniuses coming by and crapping on me. Good times; really encourages others to actively engage with customers. –J.]
    Take your pick of evidence from There are countless imperfections, old and new.
    We’re ALL hung up on the imperfections. That’s why we’re desperate for alternative software.

  3. Interesting post when Photoshop has so many UI flaws these days
    [I see you (and your fake name/address) were eating Point-Misser’s Pizza today. –J.]

  4. I’d like to see two things from Adobe – one probably more realistic than the other. The first “crazy” thing I’d like to see is for Adobe to modularize their software into what could be one “IDE”. A pixel editor (currently Photoshop), a vector editor (currently Illustrator), an animator (current Flash), a video editor (currently Premiere), a sound editor (currently Soundbooth and/or Audition). Basically “create” five core products that do one thing very well and that can be used in conjunction with the other pieces and put together as an end user sees fit / needs. More realistically I’d like to see Adobe create minor releases that fix bugs, tweak UI’s, increase speed, etc. with a fairly regular / predictable cycle, whatever that may be, so rather than CS6, the next versions would be “CS5.1, 5.2, 5.3”, etc.

  5. Ok I forgot about a “type editor” module – perhaps two different modules, one for single page / image based text and another module for multiple pages. Or perhaps that multiple page editor is just a container manager that lets you create multiple documents of whatever you want (from the previously mentioned modules) and put them together into a document.

  6. Hello John! From Brazil!
    One thing I’d like to see in future versions of Photoshop is a 3-Way Wheel based Color Balance. Just like video color grading softwares. It’s so much practical than the actual color balance feature of Photoshop… and it seems to produce better results too!

  7. Pointing out failings is all that people outside of the Adobe corporation can do. Unless you want us to drop by the offices and recode your stuff? What are you asking for here? We file bugs, we complain about broken things. I’d understand your criticism if Adobe was open source and people could in fact help in any other way. We can’t.
    We don’t point out successes in things like UI’s because, well when you pay a grand for software you expect it to work right and not piss you off when you use it. UI’s that behave as expected on the host OS are fundamental. You don’t praise because the fundamentals are sound. You expect them to be sound. You get really annoyed when they aren’t.
    I appreciate there are guys like yourself trying to make things better. And you have my thanks. You have a tough time of it. My point is that, despite this, more and more basic problems emerge with every release. The UI implementation on most Adobe applications is shockingly poor. Mainly because, at some point, a decision was made to forego OS native stuff and instead imitate native controls and system inputs instead of using native controls and inputs. We as a community can argue whether that was a good idea indefinitely, I’m sure there’s a cost benefit for Adobe’s development department; but the result is poor feeling, inconsistent, and broken UIs – creating user frustration. The mimic must be perfect, uncanny valley is not enough.
    As for encouraging Adobe staff to engage with customers: that’s something any company ought to be doing as a matter of course if they wants to create software that makes customers happy. It’s not going above and beyond the call of duty, it’s simple business sense. Companies can choose to do that, or not. On their own head be it if they don’t understand the market they’re in. Which, I am more and more convinced, Adobe (the corporation) do not. That’s not the same as saying Adobe (individual staff) don’t get it – some clearly do. You’re one.

  8. I love Adobe products in general. Though it’s not most intuitive, but once you manage to get the hold of one product, you’ll be up and running with another in several hours of poking around.
    Support and “developer deep” products are off amazing stupidity for some reason. I mean how hard can it be to make proper documentation for let’s say actionscript? NASA has manuals for their rockets and I bet they are easier to understand.

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