Check out Fresco, Adobe’s new tablet drawing app

People have been trying to combine the power of vector & raster drawing/editing for decades. (Anybody else remember Creature House Expression, published by Fractal & then acquired by Microsoft? Congrats on also being old! 🙃) It’s a tough line to walk, and the forthcoming Adobe Fresco app is far from Adobe’s first bite at the apple (I remember you, Fireworks).

Back in 2010, I transitioned off of Photoshop proper & laid out a plan by which different mobile apps/modules (painting, drawing, photo library) would come together to populate a share, object-centric canvas. Rather than build the monolithic (and now forgotten) Photoshop Touch that we eventually shipped, I’d advocated for letting Adobe Ideas form the drawing module, Lightroom Mobile form the library, and a new Photoshop-derived painting/bitmap editor form the imaging module. We could do the whole thing on a new imaging stack optimized around mobile GPUs.

Obviously that went about as well as conceptually related 90’s-era attempts at OpenDoc et al.—not because it’s hard to combine disparate code modules (though it is!), but because it’s really hard to herd cats across teams, and I am not Steve Fucking Jobs.

Sadly, I’ve learned, org charts do matter, insofar as they represent alignment of incentives & rewards—or lack thereof. “If you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk together.” And everyone prefers “innovate” vs. “integrate,” and then for bonus points they can stay busy for years paying down the resulting technical debt. “…Profit!”

But who knows—maybe this time crossing the streams will work. Or, see you again in 5-10 years the next time I write this post. 😌


3 thoughts on “Check out Fresco, Adobe’s new tablet drawing app

  1. When Adobe acquired Dreamweaver from Macromedia, they also acquired Fireworks. Adobe did not create Fireworks, they merely acquired it.

    Regrettably, Adobe leveraged the one aspect of Fireworks which should have been trashed (exporting table based HTML) and did not focus on two of the features which Fireworks possessed that were superior. One of these two features was the ability to use vector based layers in the developmental process of RGB rasterized images. The other was that Fireworks was far better at exporting optimized RGB for the web than either Image Ready or Photoshop were.

    Based on the interactions which I had between the time that the Macromedia assets were acquired and when they were first packaged together with Photoshop in a suite package, I got the impression that the Adobe tech people did not attempt to more than dabble around with the vector and raster side of Fireworks. I got the impression that it was seen as being a very peripheral product and Adobe focused on its slicing and dicing for obsolete HTML export.

  2. I’ve cited countless times your idea of a single, modular environment (actually, as a Photoshop panels developer I was really looking forward to it). When Affinity came out with the StudioLink technology few weeks ago, I thought “damn, they have been finally listening to JNack!” 🙂

    1. Hah—thanks, Davide! As it happens I was chatting yesterday with a former Adobe designer who’s now at Unity, and we talked about the original vision of Photoshop 3D being to provide a general way of live-compositing feeds from other engines. And who knows, maybe it’ll happen yet. (I have a glimmer of reason for hope…)

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