Configurator 2.0 is here!

I’m delighted to announced that Adobe Configurator 2.0–now supporting both Photoshop CS5 and InDesign CS5–is available for download from Adobe Labs.

I characterize Configurator as a “bag of Legos,” letting you remix any/all of the tools & menu items in each application. The idea is to simplify the app interface by making it present “everything you want, nothing you don’t”–and to do it in a democratic, community-driven way.

Highlights in Configurator 2.0:

  • Support for HTML content (thanks to WebKit being embedded in CS5) that can drive the host app (running menu items, actions, and scripts, and switching tools). If you can create simple Web pages, you can create interactive CS5 tutorials.
  • Support for containers (groups switched via tabs or menus, and accordions)
  • Improved layout controls
  • Support for popup windows. These can contain HTML, video, and/or other panels.
  • Localization support (e.g. create a panel in English & have it auto-switch to translated text strings, changing button sizes as needed)
  • Numerous “JDI”-style enhancements (e.g. being able to hide the script/action icon on buttons)

I’ll try to put together a nice, polished little demo soon. In the meantime, if you’re willing to suffer through my scintillating, “wizard of aahs” public speaking style, you can check out this demo I did for developers last month. (Skip right past the first 5:40 or so.)

I’m adding some fairly detailed notes & tips in this post’s extended entry. For that info, read on.

The Configurator 2.0 User Guide (PDF) is available online and by clicking the “?” icon in the app. Here are details I find interesting:

  • Because of very significant architectural changes between CS4 and CS5, it’s not possible to use CS4/Configurator 1.0 panels directly in CS5, nor is it possible to target CS4 using Configurator 2.0. You can, however, simply open a C1/CS4 panel in C2, then export it for CS5. Therefore if you’re creating a panel that you want to run in both versions of Photoshop, you’ll need to use both versions of Configurator to author it.
  • Interactive HTML:
    • To create HTML links that drive Photoshop, you use simple syntax that specifies the path to the command, action, etc. To call the command File->New, for example, you’d use the syntax “a href=adobe://photoshop.cs5/Main/File/New.” That is, you don’t have to write any code; you just specify a path.
    • Enabling Web-hosted HTML content to drive applications is incredibly powerful, but security was obviously a big concern. Therefore you can call tools and commands in Photoshop via HTML, but you can’t specify parameters, and you can’t specify arbitrary chunks of script to execute. You can call scripts that the user has installed (i.e. stuff they’ve trusted you enough to have put onto their machines), but the script can’t live online.
    • In my demo I mentioned a Knowledge panel that we had planned to ship inside CS5. We still plan to make it available (more details shortly), but if you want to kick the tires early, here’s the source file. (Export it to run it in Photoshop.)
  • Sharing panels:
    • If you want to share your authoring files so that others can edit your panel, make sure to ZIP up the source .GPC file along with the “.assets” folder that sits next to it. The assets folder contains text strings such as URLs.
    • When you export a panel you’d like to give to others, you can either create an Extension Manager file (.ZXP), or you can simply distribute the generated files.
      • Making the ZXP file is easy: just double-click the MXI file that Configurator exports alongside the other panel assets.
      • Even though a ZXP is just a glorified ZIP file, when posting them online I tend to wrap them in one more layer of ZIP-ness to avoid MIME type problems.
      • The only downside to ZXP/Extension Manager is that on Vista & Windows 7, if a recipient isn’t running in administrator mode, they’ll get a permissions error when double clicking the file. The workaround is for users to right-click the Extension Manager icon, click Properties, select the Compatibility tab and check the “Run this program as an administrator” checkbox. Of course, at that point it might be simpler just to have people grab the ZIP file and place its contents into the “Adobe Photoshop CS5/Plug-ins/Panels” directory.
  • The localization support is esoteric but pretty cool. Here’s a sample file that shows the way text strings & button sizes change when you switch among languages (via the Current Locale popup menu). You can specify your own text strings and URLs in each language, and you can even use the Panel Loader widget to pull in separate sub-panels in various languages (e.g. if you want three buttons per line in English but just two per line in German).

If you create some cool panels, please let us know via the comments, and please let me know if you have any questions.

22 thoughts on “Configurator 2.0 is here!

  1. Thanks, John. I didn’t realize how much I’d come to rely on my Configurator panel in CS4 till I couldn’t have it for a few weeks in CS5. Now there is peace in the kingdom.

  2. Damn reading the word “legos” is annoying to those of us not in the US. It’s like saying “Adobes” or “Microsofts”.
    “Proper Use of the LEGO Trademark on a Web Site
    If the LEGO trademark is used at all, it should always be used as an adjective, not as a noun. For example, say “MODELS BUILT OF LEGO BRICKS”. Never say “MODELS BUILT OF LEGOs”.”
    [You know what’s funny? I almost inserted a footnote saying “Okay, LEGO, pedants,” but then I thought that would just waste everyone’s time–as your apparently robot spam-job has done. I love the little bricks and WILL CALL THEM WHAT I WANT. –J.]

  3. Really nice, and a huge improvement. But, unless I’ve missed something, I still can’t drag in a foreground/background colour selector like the one at the bottom of the Photoshop toolbar – which means I can’t get a huge amount of mileage out of it. Maybe in 2.1? 🙂

  4. Sorry, but this comment just cracks me up. In another of John’s posts, I mention how often people supplant ‘Acrobat’ with ‘Adobe’. Or using Photoshop as a verb.
    Recently, I had someone ask how to Photoshop their Adobe files so they could read them in Microsoft. It turns out they wanted to scan some printed documents, and have them open as editable documents in Word.
    So, I am betting Adobe gets their fill of incorrect use of marks.

  5. You know what I’ve always wanted? When I open the styles menus I would love it if it would remeber I NEVER want a 5×5 drop shadow, and I prefer a 1×1 so it would always be set there and I always want my stroke to start out as a 1px inside black not an outside 3px red… I know about creating styles but this is different.
    [This should make you happy. –J.]

  6. I forgot to mention I’ve only had my CS5 for a week so maybe I can do this now? (proud photoshop user since ver3 1995)

  7. Is it possible now to assign custom images to commands like “New”? (Or assign a script snippet to an image.)
    That was the only thing I really missed from v1.0.

  8. On the Lego/Legos issue, this is very much a “two countries divided by a common language” thing. In Britain we don’t use the brand name in that way, just like in the US you talk about vacuum cleaners rather than hoovers. And from the other perspective this often feels quaint, crazy, or just plain wrong.
    The bottom line is that these are simple linguistic differences, and neither one is really “right” or “wrong”. As with spelling, we just have to learn to put up with each other.
    LegoLover, you’d be better off making a joke about this sort of difference than trying to take the higher ground. Tolerance doesn’t forbid a bit of healthy teasing.
    John, it’s not a matter of pedantry. It’s a culture clash. Admittedly not really relevant to the topic at hand, but I’m sure LegoLover’s irritation is genuine. Why not take it as a learning experience – you found out another difference with your (overcharged) friends from across the pond.
    (Sorry I couldn’t resist that dig at the European pricing issue!)

  9. I’ve just watched the demo video. Apparently, with the HTML feature, it is possible to make icons for menu items and arrange them in a toolbar. Cool.

  10. When do you plan on fixing scrolling when using a Magic Mouse in Photoshop CS5? It’s laughably chuggy, CS4 was fine if I remember rightly.

  11. While glad C2 is out. I have to start wondering why Adobe is releasing so many things as beta considering that C1 was beta. It is also like Adobe is saying “Just kidding!”
    [It wasn’t. The whole “this is just a preview” thing is just a stupid administrative affectation that lets us host the downloads on Labs (which is supposed to be reserved for technology previews, not finished work). –J.]
    “We put this out but don’t think it is good enough to put out.” You seem to be doing this more and more. Ala Google, we will put it out as beta and maybe in 5 or 10 years we will de-beta it.
    It is either ready to go or it isn’t.
    [It’s ready, and for CS4 it was ready before. –J.]
    On the other hand if Adobe is saying this is beta because we are working on adding other applications to it and so until it supports all Adobe apps it is beta and this is beta 2 then I can handle that.
    Just strange with all of the betas.

  12. As a sort of off topic comment. There seems to be a bug in the saving user configurations. When I get all of my palettes they way I want them and then save them. Every time I come back in to Photoshop my bottom palettes are minimized at the bottom of that part of the screen.
    Basically I have everything as single buttons except for color swatches which is on the top, then adjustments below that and finally layers docked with channels.
    When I come back in to Photoshop 64-bit (did not try it with 32-bit) the swatches palette is the only one of the palettes that is fully open, the others are minimized below it at the bottom of the page.
    Fix please. Contact me if you want screen shots.

  13. Sounds like Adobe needs to put up a new site for finished product add-ons and get them out of the labs section.
    Thank you for clarifying things concerning beta and finished.

  14. I converted three CS4 Configurator panels to CS5. As I made changes incorporating some of the widgets, I keep track of any problems I had, as I went along, with screenshots and a brief description. Some of the problems were user error but some I think are legitament bugs. The file is in PDF format. Would you like me to send you a copy.

  15. Regarding language and LEGO bricks.
    I think we need to look at Newspeak for a clarification regarding this and correct use of language.
    In “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell provides six rules for writers: “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print”.
    “Never use a long word where a short one will do”.
    “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out”.
    “Never use the passive voice where you can use the active”.
    “Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent”.
    “Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous”.

  16. This is so great – Beta or Not- AMAZING really, and totally user friendly, down to the export and then throttle it up.
    [Thanks, Gary. –J.]
    Should it run on AIR2 beta mac ? , or just AIR 1.5.3.
    [I’m running it in AIR 2 without any issues. –J.]

  17. With CF1 and CS4 I could leave a panel opened and things worked perfectly. With CF2 and CS5 64 bit if I leave the panel open it takes much longer to switch between layers in the layers panel. If I minimize the panel things work normally. This is driving me nuts trying to find a solution.

  18. This is great . I am the pipeline supervisor at a large vfx facility . This will go a long way to standardizing our artist’s work in an elegant way .
    One request for Configurator is to be able to provide arguments . For example , we require that all of our artist work in at least 16 bit . If when I call File->New , I could enforce all of that , it would be great . For now , I will try and have wrapper java scripts for all of this .
    Thank You

  19. I agree with the others that stated their disappointment that Configurator 2.0 doesn’t support CS4, considering that we just switched from CS2 to CS4 about 18 months ago, and our company can’t afford to keep upgrading so often. I have made a panel that has become very useful in our production workflow and would love to see a lot of these features in a Configurator 1.1, or as I said 2.0 working in CS4.

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