Category Archives: JDI

Terminators, Flavawagons, Grandfalloons, & more: A podcast with me

“From Kierkegaard to breadsticks…”
unfrozen-caveman-lawyerI had a ball talking Photoshop development, craftsmanship, the Mac community, and more with developers Brent Simmons & Chris Parrish in their new podcast, The Record.
You can hear about me living in a halfway house, sleeping in a van, imbecile marketroids typing with their fists, and more (my God, look at the length of those show notes!). I hope you have as much fun listening as I did rambling.


Demo: New hidden gems in Photoshop CC

Julieanne shows off some of those numerous new JDIs I mentioned:

Take a close look at several feature enhancements and refinements made to scripted patterns including placing patterns along a path, rendering unique trees for concept, architectural and fine art images and scripted border designs. Learn how to unlock the background into a layer with a single click, choose recent colors from the swatches panel and add and change color readouts for multiple color samplers at once.

New Photoshop enhancements, live-coded for your pleasure

At last week’s Photoshop world, a small group of engineers tried something new & fun: applying small bits of polish & picking off little annoyances in the app, all coded live at the show. After taking suggestions via Twitter and Facebook, the engineers whipped up the following:

  • On a background layer, one click on the lock icon unlocks the layer
  • Set custom background color in New Document dialog
  • Set the background color in File -> New
  • Curves adjustments support negative numbers
  • See recent colors in the Swatches panel
  • Add more than 4 color samplers in Info panel
  • Change all color samplers in Info palette at the same time

Look for these tweaks to arrive in Photoshop CC later this year. In the meantime, Adobe’s video team is soliciting JDI requests. Let ’em know what you’d like to see!

JDI swatches

JDI color


Tab through layers to rename them in CS6

All the juice is in the last 10 seconds:

As you might expect, Shift-Tab also works, letting you rename a layer, then rename the one above it.
On a related note, Illustrator CS6 now lets you rename layers inline in the Layers panel (i.e. you don’t have to look away to a little dialog box). The same change was the second biggest applause-getter in Photoshop 7, right behind the (then-new) Healing Brush. Details count.

Make Cmd-J duplicate multiple layers

My personal “JDI” list of Photoshop tweaks includes a request to make the Cmd-J/Ctrl-J keyboard shortcut duplicate multiple layers (and/or layer sets) at once. That change hasn’t been made yet, but scripter David Jensen has a solution: Install a script that dupes layers, then assign Cmd-J to it. It’s very easy to do:

  1. Download this script and drop it into your Photoshop CS5/Presets/Scripts folder. (I’ve only tried it in CS5, but I’d imagine it works in previous versions, too.)
  2. Choose Edit->Keyboard Shortcuts, then choose File->Scripts->Duplicate Layers and assign Cmd-J.

CS5 optionally omits "Copy" on duplicated layers

In response to your feedback, we’ve added an option (screenshot) to the Layers panel flyout menu, making it possible to have Photoshop stop adding the word “copy” to layer names when duplicating layers. The preference is off by default to avoid breaking actions that rely on “copy.”
Even for people who never discover the new option, we’ve changed the app’s behavior to stop adding “copy” to the names of layers inside duplicated layer sets. (That was just lame & needs no governing preference.)
I’ve heard suggestions that Photoshop include more nuanced preferences to govern layer naming, so that duplicated layer names could include a sequence number or letter defined by the user. Those are good ideas, but they were beyond the scope of changes we could make in CS5.

"Sticky" layer styles in Photoshop CS5

We used to hear complaints about the default settings in Photoshop’s various layer effects, especially about strokes always starting out red. In CS4 we changed the stroke default to black, but that was just a stopgap measure that didn’t address the fundamental problem: No matter what we might pick, people want effects to start with whatever values they happen to prefer.

For CS5 we thought about making layer styles sticky. That is, after you applied an effect with a particular set of values (e.g. Drop Shadow at 50% opacity), the next time you applied that effect, the dialog would start out using the last-used values. Sometimes that behavior works well, but just as often it can be confusing and annoying.

We therefore opted to add a pair of buttons (see screenshot) to each effect–one to establish the default values you prefer (“Make Default”), and one to restore the “factory settings” for the effect (“Reset to Default”). The wording of the latter isn’t quite as clear as I’d like, but hopefully it’ll make sense to people.

New JDI video + podcast

Continuing a popular series, Photoshop PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes shows off another handful of the small but hopefully welcome changes we’ve been making in Photoshop:

Bryan and I sat down with Deke McClelland & Colleen Wheeler to chat about these changes and more in a new episode of Martini Hour.
For previously posted info, see the JDI category I just set up on the blog. The embedded video above is kind of small, so you may want to view it in fullscreen mode or via its Facebook page.

Sneak peek: Some Photoshop "JDI" improvements

Last summer the Photoshop team asked for your help in identifying candidates for “JDI” (“Just Do It”) work, aiming to pick off little irritants & to polish the little things that matter. You replied with tons of great ideas & comments, and I’m pleased to say the team has been working away. Here you can see Photoshop PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes show off a few of the the tweaks that you’ll likely see in “a future version*” of Photoshop:


* I know this kind of caveat & hand-waving always seem a little contrived (“C’mon, dude, we all know what version you’re talking about”), but nothing is done until it’s shipping, and there really is a chance that details can change. Very occasionally we have to pull out an improvement if we find that it introduced other problems, taking additional time to get the details right. I’m just saying, you never know.

"FedEx days"

Here’s kind of an interesting take on feature development:

Mr. PINK*: Human beings have a natural urge for autonomy. […] There’s an Australian software company called Atlassian, and they do something once a quarter where they say to their software developers: You can work on anything you want, any way you want, with whomever you want, you just have to show the results to the rest of the company at the end of 24 hours.

They call these things “FedEx days,” because you have to deliver something overnight. That one day of intense autonomy has produced a whole array of software fixes, a whole array of ideas for new products, a whole array of upgrades for existing products.

Building on the After Effects team’s approach, the Photoshop team has introduced “JDI days” this cycle, and we’ll have some great results to share with you. There’s always an ocean of “wouldn’t it be great if…”/”just one more thing…” ideas, and obviously we have to balance addressing those with big, sustained efforts (e.g. Carbon->Cocoa, 64-bit). Still, we’ve found that codifying the JDI process has worked quite well so far.

*Note: Played by Daniel Pink, author of Drive, not by Steve Buscemi.

Doing the right thing with Cmd-H

Here’s another little glimpse into the future:
As I’ve written previously, when OS X took over long-standing Photoshop shortcuts, it created a tricky situation: break Photoshop users’ habits/flow by changing PS to match the OS, or deviate from the new OS conventions?
In Photoshop CS4 we changed Cmd-` (Cmd-~) to cycle among open documents, matching the standard Mac convention (while continuing to honor the Windows-standard convention, Ctrl-Tab, as well). As expected, it’s been a painful move for some customers*, but sometimes that’s necessary.
With regard to Cmd-H, Photoshop’s keyboard shortcut editor has long made it possible to assign Cmd-H to hiding the app. Doing so takes just a few seconds, yet many people are unaware of this or unwilling to invest the time. Therefore our plan is that in the future, the dialog you see above will pop up once (on Mac only) the first time you hit Cmd-H, asking which behavior you prefer. Special thanks to John Gruber (who independently suggested this solution) for offering the team some timely words of encouragement.
Yes, in terms of these little tweaks, there’s always much more to be done, but we made some good progress in CS4 and plan to make even more in the future. I thought you’d like to see a little proof of that commitment.
* It’s possible to switch shortcuts back by dropping in a plug-in/running a registry entry (here’s the download). In the future we plan to make it easier to control this preference inside Photoshop.

Photoshop Podcasts: 64-bit, Martinis, & Meth

A pair of new podcasts with Photoshop team members are now online.

First, Photoshop Architect Russell Williams sat down with Photoshop Creative:

Host Simon Skellon and Russell discuss the development of Photoshop as it pertains to Adobe’s work culture and technological advancements, including the transition from Carbon to Cocoa and 64-bit support for Mac. Williams describes his role at Adobe and notes that designing a program as massive as Photoshop requires finding a balance between fixing bugs and creating new technology.

Williams and Skellon also discuss some of the most important additions to PS over the history of the program including Layers, the History panel and the Healing Brush tool, as well as upcoming additions from JDI. Williams concludes by noting that the program’s wide range of use is so massive it takes an incredibly diverse team to successfully design the program, and explains, “There is always something to learn in Photoshop.”

Elsewhere, “Adobe’s own patient and talented Jeff Tranberry, Senior Quality Product Specialist,” joined Deke & Colleen for Martini Hour:

Some of you may recall that Jeff was the one who (despite trying to have an evening out with friends) helped Deke write his free Channels & Masks Configurator panel, which houses all the tools you need to do the tasks delineated in his Photoshop CS4 Channels & Masks One-on-One book.

Jeff says simply, “I was happy I was able to slip the term “meth lab” into the conversation…”

JDI survey miscellany

I continue to read through the 500 (!) or so free-form survey responses to our JDI query, and as I do so I’m picking out items to which I can reply:

  1. “Please fix the functionality with Exposé + Spaces under OS X!”
    • We work closely with Apple on these issues, and my understanding is that we’ve done what we can from our side. Exposé has certain limitations (e.g. it can’t tile tabbed windows; note the behavior with Safari or Firefox), and Apple is only going to do a limited amount to make Spaces work with Carbon-based apps. Hopefully things will improve as Photoshop migrates to Cocoa.
  2. “Allow Save and Open windows to have independent histories.”
    • Good suggestion. In the meantime, if you’re on OS X and aren’t using Default Folder, I think you’re kind of insane. Hitting Opt-up/down arrows to move among recently used folders is second nature to me, to the point that I can’t believe it’s not on every Mac. As for Windows, I know I’ve used similar utilities in the past, but I don’t know any names offhand. (Suggestions welcome.)
  3. “Should be able to set up a grid of guides based off of pre-entered values so you don’t have to drag out 100 of them by hand.”
    • Check out the GridMaker panel. Maybe this is the sort of thing we should include in the box (polished up, naturally). The advantage of shipping some features as scripts/Flash panels is that others can modify/extend them as needed.

Thanks for all the excellent feedback. The team accomplished a great deal last week, and we look forward to sharing more details soon.

Instant-turnaround feature requests

a.k.a., Stuff that already works as requested.

Thanks for all the great feedback on our JDI initiative. We’ve been combing through 300+ individual sets of suggestions (!), plus many hundred additional responses. I hope to get a chance to comment on more suggestions via blog comments, and maybe via a dedicated post discussing notable ones.

In the meantime, I’m seeing quite a few requests for things that Photoshop already does. On one hand I’m always happy to tell people that they can get what they want right now–no waiting, no fee. On the other, it’s a bit of a bummer that people don’t find features, much less answers, on their own (and we’re talking about people savvy enough to find this blog).

I thought you might find it useful to have some of these requests, plus their solutions, listed here.

  1. “PLEASE PLEASE stop the open doc window resizing when I zoom in or out, just leave it alone.”
    • This has been a preference since the dawn of time: “Zoom Resizes Windows.” For some weird historical reason, by default it’s enabled on Mac & disabled on Windows.
  2. “Allow resizing of the Curves display” [in the CS4 Adjustments panel]
    • It’s the little button at the bottom of the Adjustments panel, second from the left.
  3. “Curves: Let me Cntrl-click to set a point on the curve again! The on-image editing is fine, but old habits die hard.”
    • You’re referring to using the Adjustments panel instead of the Curves dialog box. Using either one you can Cmd-click/Ctrl-click with either the Eyedropper tool or the on-image adjustment tool.
  4. “Adjustment layers that can limit to groups: right now they affect everything below them. Be cool to drop them in a group and have it only affect that group.”
    • That capability has been there since layer sets/layer groups were introduced: put the adjustment layer into the group, then set the group’s blending mode to Normal. (By default it’s set to “Pass Through.”)
  5. “Ability to remove tools from Toolbar, like the 3D tools.” Also: “Unhide the tools. The pop-out tools is a hold over from when monitors were 640×480.”
  6. “Where is ContactSheet II in PhotoshopCS4? I want it back!”
    • It’s right here: Mac, Win.
  7. “Merge visible into new layer, instead of having to create a new layer, hold down option key, and then choose merge visible.”
    • Hit Shift-Cmd-Opt-E/Shift-Ctrl-Alt-E. (Update: Sorry, made a typo the first time around.)
  8. “Change the default layer stroke color to something usable (Black?)”
    • Haven’t tried CS4, then, eh? What we really need, though, is either to make the Layer Styles dialog sticky (so that the next drop shadow you create starts with the last one’s settings), or to let you set your own default values (your preferred starting point for each adjustment–e.g. global light off).
  9. “Close all other tabs” command, similar to browsers”
    • Cmd-Opt-W/Ctrl-Alt-W; also File->Close All.
  10. “Add smudge tool (with strength slider) to brush presets.”
    • Brush presets don’t record the values in the Options Bar, which would include the Strength slider. You can create a tool preset (via that icon at the left of the Options Bar–the one you never click) that does the trick, however. (Think of tool presets as a higher level of brush preset: they capture everything the brush preset would–brush tip shape, dynamics, etc.–plus whatever’s in the Options Bar.)
  11. “Enable the Save For Web dialog to allow for exporting just selected slices.”
    • The feature is there: Inside the S4W window, select the slices you want & hit Save. In the subsequent dialog (save location/options), choose “Selected Slices” from the “Slices” menu at bottom (screenshot).

And just on keyboard shortcuts:

  1. “Please, enable user to adjust his own hotkeys. I’m using photoshop since 1.0”
    • Yes, but apparently not one who values this capability enough to have chosen Edit->Keyboard Shortcuts at any point in the last four versions. (Sorry, this sort of thing gets a bit depressing. And please let’s not say, “Well, it wasn’t intuitive or discoverable where you put the command…” Sure it is.)
  2. “Cmd-H should hide Photoshop”
    • That’s debatable. In any case you can (on Mac) choose Edit->Keyboard Shortcuts, then open the Photoshop menu, choose Hide Photoshop, and hit Cmd-H. (JDI-wise, I’ve added a request to have Photoshop ask what to do the first time you hit this command.)
  3. “Bring back Ctrl+1-4 channel shortcuts for good (new are too stretchy)”
  4. “Give an option for the Adjustment Layers Palette to automatically hide, perhaps by hitting some hot key.”
    • A) You can choose “Auto-Collapse Iconic Panels” via preferences.
    • B) You can assign a keyboard shortcut to the Adjustments panel, then use it to hide/show the panel.
  5. “Add a shortcut to show/hide current layer.”
    • You can assign one to Layer->Hide/Show Layers.
  6. “Switch Cmd-Z and Cmd-Opt-Z shortcuts.”
    • Bet you know what I’m gonna say! 🙂

Feedback, please: Photoshop JDI — "Just Do It"

Every version of Photoshop needs to turn heads with exciting, breakthrough technology. Aiming high, however, can’t mean forgetting the “small” stuff*. Each version has to deliver lots of small, solid, impactful changes.

With that in mind, next week the Photoshop team is going to try something new: By and large we’re going to take a break from working on big, long-term projects (Cocoa conversion, etc.), and instead all the engineers will focus on fixing small, irritating things about the program. It’s a short, intensive run at low-hanging fruit.

We’re targeting the kind of stuff that makes you (or us) say, “Man, if only someone took a little time to change X, things would be so much smoother.” They’re the kind of changes that you see listed in our “CS4: Sweating the Details” post.

So, what would you like to see the team do?

We’ve pulled together a list of 30 or so candidate ideas for you to rate. There are of course hundreds, if not thousands, of feature requests on record, and rather than trying to list everything, we’ve tried to whittle down to a reasonable set. You’re of course welcome to write in your own suggestions (and don’t feel like you have to rate everything).

For this exercise it’s good to think in terms of very focused changes. Many times things that seem simple are complicated, but we’ll sort through the ideas & determine which is which. Example suggestions:

  • More helpful:
    • “Make the layer styles dialog remember last-used settings, or let me set the default values”
    • “Give the Info panel a readout for current zoom level”
    • “Let me rotate guides”
    • “Let me adjust color temperature in Photoshop just like in Camera Raw”
  • Less helpful:
    • “Let me save all my history states in files” (huge, kind of impossible)
    • “Make Photoshop work like Lightroom” (too vague)
      • Better: “Provide rule-of-thirds overlays when cropping”
    • “Bring back dialogs for adjustment layers” (out of step with the app’s bigger direction)
    • “Quit changing keyboard shortcuts”/”Make everything consistent” (obviously running counter to one another, and both vague & absolutist)
      • Better: “Change X shortcut in PS [and maybe other apps]”

Thanks, and looking forward to hearing your thoughts (via comments here and/or the survey),


* As I’ve noted previously, when I started on Photoshop, PS7 had just shipped. The two biggest applause grabbers were the Healing Brush (crazy Buck Rogers image science) and being able to rename a layer inline in the Layers palette (a completely humble change, one that saved literally zero clicks, but one that just felt totally right). It takes both kinds.

PS–In the spirit of sharing, here are the survey responses that have arrived so far.

PPS–Props to the After Effects team for establishing the “JDI” process at Adobe, something they’ve used to make tons of small enhancements.