Monthly Archives: October 2011

A clever iPad-based Halloween costume

“NASA engineer Mark Rober,” writes CNET, “used some red sauce and two iPad 2s in order to pretend, at whatever Halloween convention he might be attending, that he has a vast, open, and bloody wound through the core of his torso.” Nice:

I was just telling our 3-year-old Finn that a kid we know dressed up as an iPod a few years ago. Finn looked at me blankly until I said, “er, iPhone–he dressed as an iPhone.” (“iPod” may as well have been “phonograph” in his little world view.)

Sneak Peek: InDesign liquid layout

Remember how I’m always going on about Adobe helping make HTML more capable of doing rich, print-style layouts? How might that benefit people? PM Kiyo Toma gives a sneak preview of how InDesign’s evolving to create lightweight, dynamic HTML layouts for tablets and other devices:

HTML & CSS are only growing in importance to digital publishing (e.g. see Amazon’s Kindle Format 8), and I’m excited to see InDesign expanding its HTML-creation chops.

Saturday: iPad Photo Workflow & Portfolio Design

If you’ll happen to be in New York on Saturday, check out this session at PhotoPlus (8:45-11:45 AM) from our friends Dan Marcolina & Matthew Richmond.

Dan plans to deconstruct some of his favorite interactive photo experiences including “World Without Photoshop” and the “iObsessed Companion“. He’ll show you how to create a portfolio for the App store by using Adobe Indesign and the new Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. (Here’s their iPad portfolio, Printeractivideo.) He’ll also explain the cross devices benefits of authoring with the unique, in the cloud, toolset called SlideRocket. As a bonus he’ll share some insights from producing the Book iPhone Obsessed, photo editing experiments with apps that includes the use QR Codes for triggering mobile formatted portfolios of work.

Matthew plans to show:

  • PhotoSmith and Lightroom workflow
  • A handful of mobile/tablet-friendly Web gallery solutions
    • Some mainstream options
    • Some just good frameworks/snippets for those crafting HTML (example)
  • Some non-Adobe photo portfolio apps & solutions for iPad
  • Eye-Fi card to iPad/iPhone workflow
  • How to build full-bleed Photo ePub files for iPad/iBooks
    • Essentially it’s CSS & HTML, hacking away at a example file. Not for the faint of heart but really cool.

Research: Auto-selecting good stills from a video

A couple of years ago, Esquire shot a magazine cover using not a still camera but a high-res RED video camera. What was groundbreaking becomes commonplace, and as video capture resolution increases, so does the possibility of using stills as photos.
To make that easier, Adobe engineers & University of Washington researchers are collaborating on a method of automatically finding the best candid shots in a video clip. Check it out:

Very cool–though I continue to suspect there’s a market for auto-selecting the most ridiculous, unflattering images of one’s friends…

Adobe Reader comes to iOS and Android

Why not just use the OS default reader for PDFs? Security, for one:

Key among the new features in Adobe Reader 10.1 for Mobile is support for accessing files secured by Adobe LiveCycle Rights Management…

Whether you’re working in private industry and reviewing confidential information like price lists on your Android tablet, or you’re a government employee and are viewing sensitive information via your mobile phone, Adobe Reader 10.1 for mobile and LiveCycle Rights Management allow you to securely access these documents.

Adobe Reader is a free download via the Apple App Store and Android Market. [Via]

iOS 5 for tots: Quick pro/con

I want Robert Shaw from Jaws to describe my morning as he would a shark attack: “Up comes a reminder on the iPad and the Netflix stops streamin’, and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’…” Yeah, it got ugly. (Sorry, other conference call participants.)

Good news, though: You can now go into Settings->Notifications, find the Calendar app, and set the notification type from Alert (which interrupts the video) to Banner.  Now our guys can watch their morning Mighty Machines without going ballistic when it pauses.

On the downside, here’s an intriguing little bit of usability research: Finn is often generating four-finger “swipes” (new in iOS 5 for switching apps) when simply trying to drag on the screen. While coloring in lines in the aforementioned Harold, he’d push hard and his little knuckles would register as multitouch swipes.  Thus he’d start switching apps, bringing up the list of apps, etc.  Who knew?

As always, I pine for Apple to introduce multi-user support in iOS.  Now in the kids’ profile I’ll add “disabling global swipe gestures” to “making it harder to exit the app via the Home button,” “disallow scary stuff on YouTube,” etc.

Update: Double who-knew: BubCap home button covers “are just rigid enough to keep toddlers from pressing the home button, yet flexible enough that adults can activate the button with a firm push.” [Via Iván Cavero Belaunde]

A beautifully simple iPad app for kids

The Micronaxx (ages 3.5 & 2) spent the weekend transfixed by Harold & the Purple Crayon, a narrated version of the classic children’s book. I’ve previously shied away from elaborate, high-concept kids book-apps, figuring they distract instead of encouraging imagination. In this case, though, simplicity is key, and the lovely hidden little treats (e.g. a little crab that pops out of the sand, or–yes–a burping porcupine) are delightful.


Adobe demos amazing deblurring tech (new video)

Last week over a million people (!) watched a handheld recording of this demo. Here’s a far clearer version*:

And here’s a before/after image (click for higher resolution):

Now, here’s the thing: This is just a technology demo, not a pre-announced feature. It’s very exciting, but much hard work remains to be done. Check out details right from the researchers via the team blog. [Update: Yes, it’s real. See the researchers’ update at the bottom of the post.]
* Downside of this version: Bachman Turner Overdrive. Upside: Rainn Wilson.

Video: A Deep Dive into Photoshop CS5 Hidden Gems

At Adobe MAX, Photoshop PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes presented a 1-hour deep dive into the hidden gems of Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CS5 Extended:

Discover how to go places creatively that were impossible in Photoshop before CS5. Hughes will reveal many new techniques and enhancements to help keep your skills sharp and current.

Bryan has also posted a recap of MAX, thoughts on the new Adobe Touch apps, and more over on the blog.

Photoshop User Group talks video, Tuesday in SJ

If you’re shooting video with a DSLR (or if you’d like to be), come check out this session (Tuesday, Oct. 18 starting at 6:30pm) at Adobe’s San Jose HQ:

Michael Lewis is a Quality Assurance Engineer at Adobe Systems, Inc.  He is currently a member of the Adobe Premiere Pro team, but began his career at Adobe on the Adobe Photoshop team.  While he enjoys working for a company that is continually at the forefront of digital imaging, he can still be found on weekends shooting with his favorite Super 8mm film camera.

Daniel Brown worked for Adobe Systems Inc. in the role of “Senior Evangelist” on the Photoshop, Premiere, and After Effects teams applying his experience “in the trenches” to product development, demonstrations, and communication with customers at industry events worldwide.In 2001, Daniel got his first taste of both diving and, simultaneously, underwater photography and has been hooked ever since. He’s been a lecturer at numerous Digital Shootout events and regularly contributes to Stephen Frink’s week-long “Digital Immersion” classes in Key Largo, Florida.

For RSVP details, etc., please see the Evite (linked above).

Friday demo/Q&A: Perspective drawing in Illustrator CS5

My neighbor is an industrial designer & can’t stop raving about perspective drawing in Illustrator CS5. If that’s up your 3-point alley, check out this session Friday at noon Pacific:

Whether you are drawing street scenes, architecture, product concepts, packaging, or even infographics, being able to craft art in perspective consistently, and accurately, is a must-have skill. In this session we’ll learn how Illustrator CS5 makes this possible with the new Perspective Drawing tools. Learn how to map 2D vector art to existing perspectives, draw in perspective, and get the skinny on some tricks to help you work.

CSS shaders: Hell yeah.

“Flash’ll be dead soon,” I thought. “Web browsers will add animation support, plus live filters, and let me mix it all together on a page.”

That was back in 1999.

HTML animation is progressing, but it still lacks much of the richness that Flash Player can provide. So, what can we do about it?

Adobe’s contributing technology & expertise to enable CSS shaders. CSS shaders “define a filter effects extensibility mechanism and provide rich, easily animated visual effects to all HTML5 content.” They work particularly well with CSS animations and CSS transitions, but they even work on video & SVG animations. Check it out:


So, yeah: Adobe’s using Flash-derived technology to make HTML5 more competitive with Flash.

Crazy, right? Not at all: this increases your ability to present visually rich experiences, and that increases Adobe’s ability to sell you tools for creating those experiences.  The different playback technologies are just means to those ends.

Adobe has collaborated with Apple & Opera and has now submitted the spec to the W3C. The code is checked into WebKit under consideration for inclusion in WebKit, with this demo recorded using a build of Chromium. In addition Microsoft has added support for SVG filters in the IE10 platform preview. [Update: IE10 supports SVG filters, but it doesn’t support Filter Effects on HTML or CSS shaders.] For details, sample code, etc., check out this post from Vincent Hardy.

Exciting times.

Download b3 of Adobe's HTML5 animation tool, Edge

Features introduced in Edge Preview 3:

Preview 3 introduces interactivity capabilities for Edge, the most requested functionality thus far. The first set of interactivity features include looping, hyperlinks, access to the Edge animation framework API, and the ability to handle HTML DOM events – all within Edge.

Actions — The core of Edge’s interactivity capabilities, Actions are functions that can be added to handle a single event.

  • The Actions Editor uses a popup interface that lets you enter JavaScript code for a function.
  • A built-in code snippet library is available for commonly used functions like go to, stop, hyperlink, etc.
  • Add your own JavaScript code to add new flexibility to your compositions.
  • Where actions can be attached:
    • Elements to handle click events
    • Stage to access composition-level events such as “loaded”
    • Timeline to access playback events such as “complete”
    • Triggers to allow time-based actions to be applied in the timeline
    • Objects other than triggers allow you to select multiple events you wish to handle, each with its own action.

Labels — Insert labels on the timeline as reference points in your code, to enable functionality like playing or seeking to that point in the timeline.

See Adobe Labs for a list of additional enhancements, and to give your feedback as the app progresses.

Dreams deferred, and realized.

I dreamt all last night, as I have many previous nights, about hanging out with Steve Jobs. As usual it was fascinating, combative, funny, and enlightening. As usual I wish I could remember more details.  And as usual, I woke up, and it was just a dream.
I never did get to meet Steve. I’d see him in the grocery store or at a conference, but I never wanted to bother him. I thought I might meet him at the D3 conference, but no joy, and I made this little self-deprecating graphic to amuse my wife & friend (click to enlarge):

So it goes.
To all us perfectionists–would-be “unreasonable men”–Steve’s example was a beacon: it said that sweating “the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill [1]” would matter. People would care.
When OS X 10.4 was announced, some Mac engineers visited Adobe to show the new features.  One pointed at Dashboard’s analog-style clock: “Do you have any idea how hard it was,” he asked, “to make the quartz movement of the second hand measure up to Steve’s standard??”
Ironically, it was Steve’s example that caused me to pass on joining Apple. Back in ’06 Intel-based Macs had just shipped, and Mac customers were stuck with Photoshop running slowly in emulation mode. I spent all summer waging a crazy, unreasonable battle to launch the first (and so far only) public beta of Photoshop, bringing native performance to hundreds of thousands of Mac customers six months earlier than we could have otherwise. Yeah, working at Apple sounded great, but nothing was more important than seeing our mission through. The Photoshop team was willing to be crazy ones, and I couldn’t walk away from them. It remains my proudest achievement here.
I’ll close with the one mail I ever got from Steve. During the whole Flash/iPad controversy last year, many at Adobe questioned the wisdom of building iPad apps, or whether we’d even be allowed to ship them. I opted to bypass the bureaucracy & just ask the man himself. He replied,

“We’d love some kick-ass Adobe apps on the iPad… Hope this helps.”

It very much did, and I promised we would. The best tribute, the best thank-you I can devise for a great creator is to go out and create.
And so, back to that work.

Adobe's founders remember Steve Jobs

From John Warnock & Chuck Geschke:

“We met Steve Jobs about 3 months after we started Adobe. He called us and said: ‘I hear you guys are doing great things – can we meet?’ He came over to our tiny office in Mountain View and saw the early stages of PostScript. He got the concept immediately and we started about 5 months of negotiations over our first contract. Apple invested $2.5 million into Adobe and gave us an advance on royalties. This allowed us to help Apple build the first LaserWriter. Without Steve’s vision and incredible willingness to take risk, Adobe would not be what it is today. We owe an enormous debt to Steve and his vision.
“We have always had great admiration and respect for Steve. The world is a better place because of him, and his absence will leave a huge hole in the world of technology.”

And from the home page:

“Steve was a unique visionary and his influence as a technology innovator will be sorely missed. This is a sad day for the entire industry, and we offer our deepest sympathy to his family.”— Shantanu Narayen, president and CEO, Adobe Systems

LayerVault: "Simple version control for designers"

The service promises simple cloud backup & versioning of PSDs & other formats:

If the LayerVault guys can crack this particular nut, God bless ’em. Years ago Adobe Version Cue tried integrating check-in & versioning into Creative Suite apps, but designers didn’t bite. Later GridIron Flow arrived with what I thought was brilliant auto-versioning, but I haven’t seen it get wide adoption. It’s just hard to move people beyond the dirt-simple “final,” “finalfinal,” “finalfinal02,” approach they’ve used for 20+ years.

Video: Image search in Photoshop Touch

“Grab two images, cut the background off one, and blend the results.” If I had to boil Photoshop Touch down to one capability or scenario, it’s that.

Acquiring images is therefore critical. That’s why we made it simple to drag & drop in images from Facebook, Creative Cloud, and even Google Images. Here Russell Brown composites some public-domain NASA imagery using different blending modes:

We want to help customers do the right thing (i.e. not rip off others’ work), so we paid particular attention to making it easy to search only for images that have been tagged for reuse. By default PS Touch limits search results to those creators have marked as okay to use.

[By the way, I’m still in LA, working the MAX show all day. I’ll get busy answering PS Touch-related questions when I get home.]

Video: Camera Fill in Photoshop Touch

In building Photoshop Touch we didn’t want to just rehash Photoshop’s feature set; rather, we wanted to take unique advantage of what tablets can do. Photoshop Touch can feed a live stream from your camera into your layer stack (think “PSD layer from camera”):

This brief demo doesn’t show it, but the camera feed will respect the blending mode & opacity of the target layer, and it’ll be clipped to whatever selection is active (for example, select someone’s face using a soft-edged elliptical marquee, then live-fill it with what the camera sees).

Introducing Photoshop Touch

Combine, Edit, Share. I’m delighted to introduce Adobe Photoshop Touch, a new tablet app for creative imaging. With PS Touch we’re bringing Photoshop fun & power not only to new platforms, but to a whole new audience.

Here’s my brief overview:

To see the app in action, check out Russell Brown’s 10-minute feature tour:

So, when can you get it, and what does it cost?

We plan to release Photoshop Touch for Android shortly, after which we plan to bring it to iOS. When we talk about reaching new audiences, we’re not kidding: Photoshop Touch is priced at just $9.99.

So (to anticipate an inevitable question), why Android first? Many Adobe apps (Adobe Carousel, Ideas, Photoshop Express, Eazel, Color Lava, Nav) have already been released on iOS first, and it’s good to support customers across platforms. We’re busily coding for iOS as well, so I wouldn’t make too much of this particular detail. No matter what tablet(s) you use, we can’t wait to get Photoshop Touch into your hands.

One last thought for now: We’re still very, very early in the evolution of mobile devices for creative work, and Photoshop Touch–along with the many other Adobe touch apps announced today–is just a beginning. We’re eager to hear what you think, and I’m looking forward to hearing ideas & questions here and on Twitter (@PhotoshopTouch). (Today I’ll be largely offline, showing the app in person at Adobe MAX, so I apologize in advance if I’m slow to respond.)

Watch this week's Adobe MAX keynotes live online

See what I and many others have been working on, live tomorrow & Tuesday:

Monday, October 3, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PDT)
Creativity unleashed

Join Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch and guests to learn how Adobe is transforming the creative process across mobile devices, personal computers, and the cloud.

Tuesday, October 4, 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PDT)
Creating the very best user experiences

Join us as we explore the best solutions for delivering highly expressive and usable experiences, both in the browser and as apps. We’ll look at a variety of technologies and products, highlighting current opportunities, and peering into the not-so-distant future.