Adobe "Thermo": Photoshop -> RIA

In my pre-Adobe job, I lost countless hours turning complex Photoshop PSD files into something ready to animate in Flash.  In fact, the pain of that process is largely what drove me to work at Adobe, trying to devise something more efficient.  Flash CS3 marks a giant step forward in its ability to suck in PSDs & turn them into layers and symbols.  That’s great, but what if you’re a designer working with Adobe Flex to build rich Internet apps?  The hand-off right now isn’t so seamless.

The need to turn designs into interactive apps quickly is what’s driving development of a new Adobe application code-named “Thermo” and sneak-peeked at Adobe MAX.  To borrow Sean Corfield’s nice summary:

The much anticipated “Thermo” was next. As expected, this is a designer-focused application for creating Flex applications. Starting with a Photoshop PSD file, Thermo imported this and converted it to MXML. Design elements can then be selected and with a simple right-click they can be converted from artwork to Flex controls. The automatic inference of design-time data sets so you could test UI interactions with “real” data was very impressive. You really cannot appreciate the impact this had on the audience – it drew a huge amount of applause and loud cheers! [Via]

To see the tool in action, check out Aral Balkan’s videos & notes from the keynote.

Update: Here’s perspective from Adobe Chief Software Architect Kevin Lynch:

[Thermo is] for people who are using tools like Illustrator or Photoshop and have a background in interface design and want to create a great experience for someone. But they are primarily a designer… [T]he designer can not only draw what the application looks like, but they can also add the interactivity for how it works.  The magic of what we’re showing with Thermo right now is that you can select elements that are just pictures on the drawing and you can say this actually represents a list box, or this represents a text edit field and we put the logic to convert the picture into a work component.

0 thoughts on “Adobe "Thermo": Photoshop -> RIA

  1. Is Thermo going to be a standalone app like Dreamweaver or Photoshop? If so, is it going to be part of CS3/CS4?
    Or is it a set of controls and commands that will be added to Photoshop?
    [I have no real info about how Thermo may be brought to market. (In fact, all sneak peeks have to be taken with a helping of salt as they don’t represent committments to ship things in a particular way, or at all.) So, I have to defer to the people responsible for that effort for further comment. –J.]

  2. So it’s like the PSD importer in Flash then? Sounds like the same thing to me but for Flex.
    [PSD conversion is the hook that most attracted me, for obvious reasons, but watch the vids for more info. The Thermo environment is geared towards making it easy to turn static graphics into interactive components very quickly. –J.]

  3. Dear John let me to contradict with your “New Flash CS3” PSD import feature, i tried it more than 20 times and the results are not that good, so i am still using the old way to import each image file separately
    [Hmm–sorry to hear that. Would you elaborate on the problems you encountered, so that we can fix them or add new capabilities next time? –J.]

  4. there’s a huge limitation in psd import in cs3 which makes whole concept almost useless in my workflow: if i import jpg/png/etc and later modify it, it’s enough to click ‘update’ button to sync. so that might be called “an integration”. however import psd option isn’t much better than ancient psd2fla plugin: after the import of psd the links to source psd layers are lost and later changes/updates are a pain.
    so- way better solution imho is simple a photoshop action to trim each layer and export to separate image file, then recombine in flash manually. yes, it’s slower since you have to reposition each for the first time, but it saves nerves on last-minute changes later 🙂

  5. A dev gizmo for designers? Groovey.
    I’m glad to see someone at Adobe is finally admitting some of us are allowed to cross into other “suites” of interest. The goofey CS3Print and CS3Web versions made it seem like there was to be No Crossover — it’s either InDesign or FireWorks! Also, Designers MUST pass off to developers! (insert klingon accent)
    Then this Thermo thing comes along. Might make the marketing people think about what the products actually do next time. (just to justify the marketing people’s brilliant plan, I did buy the ‘master collection’ because there was so little cross over in available ‘suites’. At least now I can video-ize my flash movies, with a print tie in that still fits the look). Inconceivable, eh?

  6. About Mohammed’s comment:
    For me it seems like some photoshop layers with Layer Effects (drop shadow, outer glow etc) always look 100% in flash. Even though the readout might be 65% multiply, it looks 100%.
    And importing Illustrator files with symbols often turns the symbol’s glows and other ‘appearances’ into placed bitmaps, just as it did two years ago (back then I’d save from Illustrator to FreeHand to Flash to get gradients and fancy stuff through).
    [Jim, are the bitmap conversions when placing AI files things you could avoid by converting AI->SWF/AI->FH and coming in that way, or are they things that have never worked? If it’s the former, I’d love to pass some test files to the team.
    I’m kind of suspecting the latter, though, as the AI blending model is has traditionally been much more complex than what Flash supports. (I don’t know how much of that might change with the new Hydra support, etc.) Therefore it may be that certain effects can’t be reproduced natively in Flash, leaving you with the choice eithe to rasterize them or to let the appearance change. –J.]

  7. You know what is sad? A zillion comments and complaints about the Photoshop logo and this post gets like 6 comments! This is HA-UGE! I am dumbfounded that there is not more of an uproar about this technology. This is the most exciting news for web designers in 10 years. I showed this to hard-core actionscript and C+ guys and their jaws hit the floor. One of them said he was going to buy stock in Adobe! This technology shifts the development paradigm back in favor of the designer. I can’t wait to hear more about it. Great job, Adobe!
    [Heh–wasn’t it HL Mencken who said that great inventions are protected by the incredulity of the American people? 😉 –J.]

  8. I want to know when is Adobe launching the Beta Version of Thermo.
    Do you know something about it John?
    [Ah–I get this request rather frequently. I’m afraid I don’t know much more about it, but I’m endeavoring to track down the right person on that team for fielding requests from interested testers. –J.]

  9. Is thermo going to have the ability to output designs into pure AS3 code, or is it only doing MXML?
    I would really love to see Adobe release something like a polished version of muSprite

  10. This is quite possibly one of the best ideas ever (for designers). I’ve always thought software like this would be useful, and never expected to be seeing something like this working so soon.
    It’s strange, Because I expected this to be bigger news… But nobody really seems to be talking about it.

  11. Thermo is going to rock the software design world and give Adobe’s platform a leg up! Macromedia Flash 5 had it’s success because it’s simple scripting appealed to designers. But this simple scripting turned off the coders… now with more ways to tap into the Adobe platform, each suited to the person using it and their focus, I see great possibilities for bridging the designer / developer gap! Woo hoo! Go Adobe GO!!!!!

  12. Any news on Thermo yet – I really can’t wait! As a designer I’ve been trying to get to grips with Flash CS3 recently but the coding required to do simple things is just waaay to complicated…
    I wish that programmers would realize that designers just hate coding of any sort and that this puts a serious block on so much creativity. Please coders – it’s not that designers are stupid – actually sometimes we’re quite intelligent – it’s just that we are good at different things.
    It was my impression that Adobe originally developed Flash to be aimed at designers and have a more or less GUI. It seems that more and more the code has been taking over again (especially with the advent of AS3) to the point where I am unable to get anything useful out of it anymore.
    I wonder if this is deliberate on Adobe’s part to generate a gap in the market with disgruntled designers urgently needing some intuitive software for web based content and also application development. … And then hopefully plug that gap in the market just as it reaches critical mass with software like Thermo. I think that the critical mass is about here though and if Adobe don’t get a move on then designers will be forced to find alternatives (Silverlight maybe?)
    I wonder if Thermo will also be released with web development in mind? It looks to me as if this might be the ideal program to take over from the web development side of Flash in some ways. It always annoyed me that to develop websites in Flash one had to try to work around a completely inappropriate linear timeline system, jumping from this place to the next and constantly trying to “fool” it. The web is not linear. It does not play from A to B and nor should the software used to design it.
    What’s needed is a node based system – like a spider diagram in 2 or 3d with visualized connections between them. Is this how Thermo works?
    Right – rant over! Very exciting about Thermo though – when can I buy it?

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