Drive the Creative Suite through AIR

I’m pleased to announce that SwitchBoard, a technology for driving the Creative Suite family of products using applications running on Adobe AIR, is now available from Adobe Labs.  As Dr. Woohoo explains, "SwitchBoard is a Flex library that allows you to extend an AIR app by giving you access to the ExtendScript DOMs for the Creative Suite apps.  Your AIR app can now easily establish two-way communication with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Bridge."  According to the Labs page,


Adobe AIR developers can create applications that participate as first class citizens in creative workflows. Each SwitchBoard solution consists of an AIR application written for SwitchBoard, JavaScripts, and the SwitchBoard service that delivers the scripts to the Creative Suite applications. AIR developers only need to include a Flex library called SwitchBoard.swc in their projects in order to send and receive scripts to and from Creative Suite applications.


SwitchBoard brings together the power of the automation in the Creative Suite applications with the potential for third parties to extend the creative process with new applications produced using AIR. The result is an extensible, powerful, cross-platform environment that can quickly adapt to today’s rapidly changing creative workflows.


Thanks to resident brainiac Bernd Paradies for making it happen.  With the ability to create desktop-based Flash interfaces for the Suite, I’m looking forward to seeing what developers can devise, and I look forward to sharing some examples here soon.  (Oh, and Bernd has more good tricks up his sleeve, too.)

0 thoughts on “Drive the Creative Suite through AIR

  1. Would be nicer if we could write AS3 directly and if you own licenses of CS 3 products you get swc’s of each product to use.
    Actually would be good if all scripting in any adobe product or platform is AS3 :).

  2. This are good news. I really like your fresh technologies because the users have so much more possibilities to advance their workflows. I’ve tried SwitchBoard and it’s quite brilliant. I can’t hardly wait for the upcoming improvements on the Creative Suite.

  3. I think we need some greek text here. Does this mean I can smack an indesign snippet into illustrator, overhaul it, and bring it directly into photoshop?

  4. I can’t help feeling that Flash UIs are the wrong way to go; why not make the UI be built like Dashboard widgets using HTML, CSS and Javascript?
    [As it happens, AIR is about more than Flash, and you can build AIR apps using HTML/CSS/JS, just as you describe. We’d like to enable that same flexibility inside the Suite apps, too, but getting there will take some time. –J.]
    Maybe in this external application instance Flash makes sense, but for the non-modal palettes I’d rather use ScriptUI.
    By the way, it’s great to see Adobe adding features like operator overloading to Javascript; little things like this make larger scripting tasks more elegant and manageable.

  5. OK, I think I may get it. Does this mean you can write little apps that pull tools from different creative suite apps? Say I wanted photoshop’s brushes with Indesign’s layout tools? Or Illustrator’s vector-foo in Photoshop? Does this mean that each creative suite application is effectively a collection of code libraries available for third-party mashup artists? Hm. Interesting move. I’m looking forward to seeing some implementations.
    [This is a perpetually interesting topic.
    10-15 years ago, OpenDoc, OLE, etc. were all going to take over the world. They didn’t, despite the promise of enabling developers to make everything as tiny modules that would get reassembled as needed. Even back then companies weren’t eager to cut their established apps into hundreds of pieces that they’d need to glue back together again.
    On the other hand, I do believe that separating interface from underlying functionality is an important step, and it’s something we’re tackling with Photoshop. The process is a long one. Even so, you’ll be hearing more from me about application remixing in the not-so-distant future.
    As regards SwitchBoard in particular, it does help open the door to sort of “meta” applications that sit on top of the Suite, letting you call upon the pieces you need across applications. –J.]

  6. I’d really love to just see an Actionscript PSD library that would allow me to work with PSD files from within Flex/AIR directly.
    I’m curious as to how/if any limitations on AIRs integration within the native operating system is affected by this, as I see that as a limitation still, even with full scripting access to the CS4 suite.

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