Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bay Area + Bridge?

We’re planning some customer visits, so if you’re located in the Bay Area and might like to chat face-to-face about Adobe Bridge, drop me a line.  We’d like to learn more about how people use the app across a variety of workflows, and to discuss the app–past, present, and future.  Whether or not the timing works out for this set of visits (we’re targeting the week of the 27th), it would be good to be in touch.




Smoked "J"

Okay, this has nothing to do with anything, really, but you may find it amusing.


I’ve been eagerly awaiting Apple’s next batch of MacBook Pros (my current 17" is nearly 2 years old), and tomorrow they’re due to announce new hardware.  In particular I’ve been awaiting the next batch of GPUs, and I’m eager to see whether they go farther with multi-touch technology.  (For CS4 we worked with Apple to enable the new gestures on MacBook Pro/Air models to let you zoom, pan, and rotate images in Photoshop and Bridge, and I can’t show off this support with my current rig.)


Anyway, I awoke this morning to discover that the letter "J" (aka the thing I now have to keep on a text file for copy and paste) had stopped working.  No warning, no other affected keys–and no J (kind of a big deal for me, for obvious reasons).  I’ve had keys occasionally get stuck in the past, but in this case lifting the key and cleaning underneath had no effect.  In fact, the key popped off entirely, leaving me with this somewhat disconcerting sight of a glowing stump.


Now I have to explain to my boss that no, really, it’s completely coincidental that my machine broke right before the new ones are announced–I swear.  (Mm, yeah, good luck with that…)


Next month’s Adobe MAX conference is shaping up to be a great show.  These sessions seemed worth a mention:


  • Russell Brown has adjusted his popular-and long-running ADIM (Art Directors Invitational Master Class) to coincide with MAX.  It’s "the essential two-day, hands-on instructional course that brings top art directors, designers, illustrators, and photographers together to learn advanced tips and techniques using Adobe products."  ADIM takes place Sunday & Monday, Nov. 16-17th, and plenty of details are on Russell’s site.
  • Dr. Woohoo will be presenting three sessions talking about using Flex+AIR to automate CS3/4.  (Here’s some background on that subject if you’re interested.)
  • I’ll be covering Photoshop CS4 on Wednesday the 19th 2-3pm, and Bryan Hughes will be giving his PS session 3:30-4:30 that day.  You can find other Photoshop-related sessions by clicking the "By Session" tab, then choosing Photoshop from the product drop-down.

See CS4, LR2 in person at Adobe HQ

If you’ll be in the San Jose area next Tuesday, Oct. 14, you’re welcome to join us for the next meeting of the area Photoshop User Group.  Info, pizza, and drinks are on the house, and event details are below.


Bryan O’Neil Hughes, from Adobe Systems, will show presentations on the new Lightroom 2 and the even newer Photoshop CS4. We’ll have pizza and drinks at 6:30, and the meeting will start at 7:00, in the Park Conference Room of Adobe Systems’ East Tower, 321 Park Avenue, San Jose. To park underneath the Adobe building, use the Almaden Avenue entrance, under the East Tower. If the security guard at the parking entrance asks for an Adobe contact, use Bryan O’Neil Hughes’s name. He’s our contact there (as well as a Photoshop Product Manager). Please RSVP via Evite, and feel free to forward this invitation to anyone you know who might be interested. If you would like to be on our email list, send a note to See you there, Dan Clark and Tom Upton

Last chance to move up from PS7

With the CS3 product cycle, Adobe instituted a "3 versions back" policy on upgrades.  That is, you can upgrade to the current version of Adobe tools from any version up to three versions back.  In the case of CS3 that meant Photoshop 7, CS, and CS2.  With CS4 it’s of course CS through CS3.  The upshot is that if you want to upgrade from Photoshop 7, the window is closing, and you’ve got until October 15 to do so.

Hughes You Can Use & More

Despite my being "the Rachael Ray of Photoshop PMs" (chatty & overexposed), I’m hardly the only one helping to steer things around here.  Just last week my fellow PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes was talking with hundreds of journalists, photographers, and partners at Photokina, alongside Tom Hogarty from Lightroom and our boss, VP Kevin Connor.  Meanwhile Photoshop PM Zorana Gee was on tour in Japan, demonstrating Photoshop to several hundred local journalists–even drawing some audible oohs & aahs from a normally very reserved bunch.


Bits you might find interesting from Photokina:


  • Bryan spent about 10 minutes demoing CS4 to Dave Etchells of Imaging Resource.  It’s a nice tight overview that shows off things like the ability to select, then hide part of a 3D model (in this case to paint the interior of a car).
  • He also sat down with Thorsten Wulff for a brief interview.
  • Elsewhere on the show floor, Kevin chatted with the guys from Calumet Photographic about Photoshop and Lightroom.

Grim corporate design humor o' the day

My wife now has the distinction of being (an obviously unwilling) part of the largest bank failure in US history.  (As their ads would say, “Woohoo!”)  The Design Fail blog predicts the natural evolution of the Washington Mutual logo and brand.


Meanwhile Adobe HQ apparently features what appear to be gallows up on the roof.  Talk about some killer Halloween spirit.  (Too bad I could never talk building management into using all those LEDs up there to spell out Jenny Holzer’s messages.  Now that would unnerve people.)

Photoshop GPU advice

In the wake of various sneak peeks, I’m seeing a fair number of questions about what kinds of graphics cards (GPUs) will be required or recommended for running Photoshop going forward.


We’ll have more to say once the new version is announced, but very generally I can say
you’ll want at least 128MB RAM on a card that’s Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0 compatible.  Of course, more brawn is always welcome, and if you anticipate working with numerous large documents and/or 3D, having 512MB RAM on your card is a good idea.


For what it’s worth, I’ve been demoing by tossing around an enormous image on a 2-year-old ATI Radeon 1600 card (256MB) in a MacBook Pro, and it does just fine.  If your GPU doesn’t meet Photoshop’s requirements, you won’t lose any features you have today, but certain new things won’t be enabled.  As I say, we can get into more details soon.

PS World keynote features more sneaks

Adobe’s Terry White traveled to Photoshop World and recorded a video podcast of the keynote presentation, during which Adobe VP Johnny Loiacono and I offered some sneak peeks of the next version of Photoshop, as well as a few Adobe Labs projects expected to follow closely behind the new release. [Via]  Photographer, artist, and author John Paul Caponigro summarized the demos, and the Photoshop-specific content starts around the 16-minute mark, running 20 minutes or so.

Obscure shortcut tips o' the day

At Photoshop World this week, an attendee asked me why, after switching from Windows to Mac, she was having trouble changing layer blending modes via the keyboard.  It turned out the choice of OS had nothing to do with it.  Rather, she was missing a subtlety in how these shortcuts work: their target depends on which tool is active.


  • With the Move tool (V) selected, you can:
    • change a layer’s blending mode by hitting Shift-plus/minus, cycling forward/backward through the available options;
    • apply a specific mode via Shift-Opt/Alt-letter (e.g. Shift-Opt-O for Overlay);
    • change layer opacity by hitting number keys: "5" sets it to 50%, "6" to 60%, etc., while "55" sets it to 55%, "66" to 66%, and so on.  (Insert joke about "666" erasing your hard drive.)
  • With other tools selected (Brush, Eraser, Gradient, Clone Stamp–anything that can be applied with its own blending and opacity options), these shortcuts apply to the tool options instead of to the layer.  Therefore you can quickly alter your brush opacity by tapping the number keys, but to change the opacity of the layer, you’ll have to switch to the Move tool.
  • For completeness I should point out that you could also switch to another tool that doesn’t have it’s own blending options, such as Crop, and have the shortcuts apply to the layer.  Really, though, it’s easier to say that Move = layer, and brush = brush where these shortcuts are concerned.


Hopefully that’s of some value/interest.  For reference, here (bottom of the page) is a list of the specific blending mode shortcuts.  For further geekery I recommend scoring a copy of the Photoshop Power Shortcuts book on which I collaborated with Michael Ninness.  Skim it and you’ll quickly see why finding shortcuts for new functions in PS is, ah, non-trivial.

"Dear Adobe…"

Dear Adobe is a site devoted to rants & raves (but mostly rants) directed at the Big Red A.  You can "Submit Your Gripe" and vote others’ contributions up or down.  Although much of this stuff is hard to hear (in part because some of it echoes what’s said privately at Adobe), the site is a valuable exercise.  It has driven lots of conversation here: I count 30+ emails from yesterday alone, and that was just among Photoshop team members.  We’re listening, and in response to a request from Adobe VP Dave Story, site creator Erik Frick quickly created a Top 25 list (thanks, Erik).


Some thoughts, in no meaningful order:


  • About the CS3 installers and updater: We know. Painfully. We could blame it on trying to mash together Macromedia & Adobe in one rev while moving to Mac Intel and Vista simultaneously, but at the end of the day things never should have happened as they did.  That’s as much as I personally can say about it.


  • Just because it would be unprofessional of me or others to rant about this or that aspect of the company in public, don’t for a second think it’s not happening behind closed doors.  As I remind my teammates, "I swear because I care"–and I care a lot, at high volume.  It is, to borrow a phrase, "an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about."


  • Similarly, it may look like all we do it ladle on more features (more coats of paint on a creaking house).  What’s not apparent is that we–Photoshop at least–are devoting a large chunk of our resources to architectural work that will yield greater speed, stability, and extensibility.  I’ll share some more specifics on that soon.


  • Russell Williams wrote, "Of course the top engineering item, ‘Stop creating new features and make
    your software fast, stable and straightforward,’ really means ‘stop creating
    new features except for the ones that really help me.’" Everyone likes to complain about "bloat" while asking for just one or two "wafer-thin" features.  Apps will inexorably grow more powerful, and it’s extraordinarily difficult to remove features, but we are taking real steps to make things better.


  • Re: "Consistent interfaces. Sweat the details. Designers notice how much you fake this crap."  That’s nice.  Have you noticed how much more aligned things became in CS3, and how much further that’s been taken in the CS4 betas now revealed?  We’re actively making things more consistent, and that will necessarily entail change, pain, and thus bitching.  So it goes.


  • Re: "Please allow cross-platform upgrades! Thanks to you, I can’t switch from PC to Mac :-("  Sure you can.  (How is word not getting out about this?)


  • I’m told that the requirement to close your browser during CS3 installation is related to a desire not to overwrite a color settings file that could be in use by Firefox.  I agree that it sucks, but at least you know the rationale.


  • In response to "You f___ing f___ers should be in jail just for calling that software," Caleb Belohlavek wrote, "Anyone who uses the f-bomb as an adjective and an noun together is tops in my book."  He also celebrated, "God help me, your the MILF of the software world. And I love you for it."  (I would have thought that some of our apps are GGILFs by now…)

[Via Joe Lencioni & others]

Recent motion graphics action

  • Guinness keeps producing terrific spots, now painting with light.  (How much do you want to get a bunch of friends together to try this?)
  • Luchador tennis!  Architecture in Helsinki’s new video gets animated using embroidery.
  • The titles for We’re Here to Help play with the visual language of government forms (with results groovier than that description would suggest). 

I can has monster laptop?

Lenovo has just trotted out the ThinkPad W700, a new portable (luggable?) machine geared towards pro photographers and graphic artists.  This warlock features:


  • Quad-core processor
  • Up to 8GB (!) of RAM
  • Up to three internal hard drives
  • Integrated screen calibrator
  • Mini Wacom tablet (!)
  • Both SD and CompactFlash card slots
  • 17" monitor with 24-bit Dream Color (2.3 million colors)
  • HDMI video output [Thanks to Bob Rose for the correction]
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700


Adobe’s Robert McDaniels remarks, "With a 17min battery life and a mere 4" thick and 48lbs case, it also doubles as a space heater, pumping out 52K BTUs per min."  Reminds me of the similarly girthy ThinkPad I named "Battlepig" when I started on the Photoshop team.  I’m pretty fond of the Mac 17-inchers I’ve been rocking ever since then, but I’d love to see Apple answer the challenge (especially from the integrated tablet).  Engadget features more info and a video demo. [Via Tobias Hoellrich, from whom I snatched the subject line as well]


Apropos of absolutely nothing Adobe-related, happy 08-08-08!  I’m especially into the date as I was born at 10:08 on this day 33 years ago.  I celebrated my birthday on 8-8-88 watching the first Chicago Cubs night game on TV.  (It being the Cubbies, they got rained out.)  I’m told the series of 8’s is auspicious, so I wish you happiness, good fortune, and delightful pixel-wrangling.  And with that, I’m closing the computer to have some good times with the family here in Illinois.


I recently got word that I’ve been selected to receive an incredibly nice honor–induction into the Photoshop Hall of Fame.  I’ve hesitated to mention it for fear of sounding like a shameless little self promoter; on the other hand, it would be worse to seem ungrateful, so to all the folks at the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, thanks so much!  I am honored indeed.


I do feel kind of sheepish about this–not through any false modesty, but because there are dozens of incredibly talented, hard-working folks who’ve logged many more years than I have on the Photoshop team, and who right now continue to gut it out in all kinds of unglamorous ways.  I can flap my gums all day, but it’s their work that really makes the difference.  They deserve the credit and exposure, so maybe I can get cranking on some profiles so that you can get to know more of the peeps behind PS.  In the meantime, thanks, guys, for letting me represent you.




PS–Here’s a trippy little twist: having returned to O’Hare this morning to pick up luggage we’d abandoned at midnight (following an epic and awful rain-delayed flight with infant), I walked up behind none other than NAPP chiefs Scott Kelby and Dave Moser.  I got to thank them in person for the honor and to wish them good shooting as they teach Chicago Bears bigwigs about sports photography.

Photoshop Express adds new features

The peeps behind the Photoshop Express online image editor have been keeping busy, adding drag-and-drop upload, more printing and editing options, and more. According to Macworld,


A couple of the new updates use Adobe’s AIR technology. The Photoshop Express Uploader enables photo uploading from the desktop of any Internet-connected computer. AIR is also behind a feature that “bridges the real-time, dynamic capabilities of the Web with the computing power and data capabilities of the desktop computer,” according to Adobe.


Another handy feature is the ability to drag and drop photos directly from your photo application into Photoshop Express. Users can now also print photos through Shutterfly.


Dynamic slideshows can now have music created exclusively for Photoshop Express. For organizing, the addition of tags allows for easy viewing and searching by name, party, venue, subject and anything else you find useful.


A one-click Resize tool with presets for mobile, Web, e-mail or online Profiles is now available and you can now download photos from anyone’s public album and keep a collection of their favorites.


All of the new features are available immediately by logging into the Photoshop Express Web site.


Thursday Illustrations: Human mirrors & more

Photoshop of Horrors

The Daily Show has always put Photoshop to great use*, but now they take things further in response to the Iranian missile manipulation incident. (And who knew that CNN was now demoing the Clone Stamp?) From last night’s episode, in two parts:

See also lots o’ good riffs on Boing Boing. (Shouldn’t it really be a Persian LOLcat, though?) [Update: Engadget readers show off their gags. [Via Adam Jerugim]]
* Personal fave from years back: A photo showed American Special Forces guys teaching Afghan kids baseball while the kids’ somewhat confused dads looked on. TDS modified the image to show a guy in the stands holding a banner that read, “ESPN: Execute Some Pashtuns Now.”

A quick housekeeping note

Just a thought: If you’re not into the links I share here, that’s fine.  Please don’t feel compelled to take time out of your day (and mine) to write in and say so.  Just ignore the stuff, as plenty of others seem to find it interesting.  (I don’t know why this gets under my skin so much, but I’m amazed that people devote energy to writing "You suck."  It’s like the "F You" bits in Catcher in the Rye.  They’re gonna write it on my tombstone.)

Incidentally, in the last seven days I’ve posted a very long post about the future of Photoshop; news about Apple fixes that affect CS apps and Flash Player speed-ups, insight into the Lightroom UI, and more. It’s not *all* just stuff I steal from Kottke et al. >;-P

[Update: Thanks for all the kind comments. The flow of ephemera will continue, though I’ll look into whether our blog server can support multiple RSS feeds per blog. That way I could separate the links from the more strictly Photoshop-/Adobe-related content, and you could subscribe to one, both, or neither. –J.]

On Democracy & Hockey Pucks

Our friend Scott Kelby has been posting some interesting surveys to determine what his readers would like to see in future versions of Photoshop.  Now I’ve replied to some of those thoughts in a guest blog post on his site.


Also, on the extremely off chance you aren’t already hearing enough from me, Harris Fogel of Mac Edition Radio has posted the interview we recorded back at Photoshop World.  (The secret to my maintaining this blog?  Gross dereliction of other work duties.)

Mac 10.5.4 update improves CS3 support

Good news: Apple has just released the 10.5.4 update to OS X Leopard, fixing some incompatibilities with Creative Suite applications:


  • A problem introduced in the 10.5.3 update that could cause file corruption with files saved from Photoshop and other applications, has been fixed.
  • Navigation Services issues that could cause InDesign to crash have been addressed.  InDesign evangelist Tim Cole has provided more details, and the InDesign team has released their own ID 5.0.3 update today (Mac|Win; InCopy Mac|Win).

Photoshop vids of interest

  • And Now For Something Completely Different: Photoshop ninja/uncannable rhyme animal Deke McClelland puts his skills to the test, dropping 101 Photoshop Tips in 5 Minutes.  As he says, "It’s bold, it’s brash, it’s ridiculous. It’s a podcast with serious issues. Enjoy."  The KBSC geek (and occasional Nada Surf fan) in me certainly did.
  • "Have we created an unattainable image of perfection?" explores The Photoshop Effect and the Photoshop guns hired to tune up celebrities.  (The video has racked up nearly 900,000 views in just 10 days.) [Via Steve Johnson]
  • Photoshop gets used in a music video–not just in the production, but in the video itself.  (Hey, gotta love the use of those CS3 video layers.)

Quick Tips: Shuffling presets, flattening Bridge

A couple people have written recently to request features in Photoshop and Bridge, not knowing that what they’re seeking is already there:


  • A digital painter named Gracie Rafferty asked for the ability to reorder brushes.  To do so, choose Edit->Preset Manager, then rock out.  The same goes for gradients, patterns, swatches, etc.  You can delete individual items by Opt/Alt-clicking them, which also works in the Brushes palette.
  • Eric James Wood would like to move from iView to Bridge and asked for a way to see the contents of multiple folders at once.  That’s possible in Bridge CS3, but the UI is quite subtle. Open up the Filter panel in Bridge, then click the little "no folders" icon at the top of it. That’ll instruct Bridge to show you the contents of the current folder & all the folders nested within it.  From there you can select, rate, rename, hand off to Photoshop, etc.–everything you’d do with files that live in the same folder.

Use Bridge to extract metadata

I’ve gotten a few inquiries lately about whether it’s possible to extract metadata from images and other files using Adobe Bridge.  Short answer: Absolutely.  Try John Hake’s workflow automation scripts, one of which (Metadata_BR.jsx) extracts metadata from selected files and generates Comma Separated Value (CSV) reports.


To do more with Bridge automation, check out this Flash-enabled JPEG export script, and download the Bridge SDK to write your own scripts. [Via David Franzen]

Mo' betta colors, from Firefox & HP

(Dang, now I have that Ice-T song "Colors" in my head)


  • HP’s new monitor eats your mere 16.7-million-color display for breakfast.  For $3,499, the 30-bit (10 bits per RGB channel) DreamColor LP2480zx promises up to a billion colors per pixel.  The display is aimed especially at people doing cinema post production & was produced in collaboration with DreamWorks Animation SKG.
  • Firefox 3 is the latest web browser to support the colour managed display of photos with embedded ICC profiles, points out Rob Galbraith.  "That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s turned off by default. Here’s how to turn it on."  (For why all this matters, see previous.)

PS–The topic of color also makes me think of some cute profanity.

Come break Photoshop (in a good way)

The Photoshop team is recruiting for a color-savvy Quality Engineer:


Are you a specialist in digital imaging science? Do you possess an in-depth knowledge of color management? Are you eager to bring your experience and analytical skills to a dynamic testing environment?


The Photoshop team is looking for an eager Quality Engineer who specializes in the area of digital imaging science and possesses an in-depth knowledge of color management. You need to exhibit potential in the areas of understanding QE methodologies and approaches, which encompasses scripting and automation capabilities. You must also be able to work independently to complete deliverables and tasks on time, have excellent communication skills and work well in a team environment with members of all functional groups.


Be prepared to detail your expertise and experience, answer some technical questions, describe details of imaging science and be able to speak to your color management background.


For more info see the PDF, and if you’re interested in applying for the position, please send your info to recruiter Juliya Alvarez.

File-saving issues on Mac OS 10.5.3

I’ve been getting quite a few inquiries about problems saving files from Photoshop directly to
network drives when using the recently released Mac OS 10.5.3. (I’m told the issue can affect InDesign and maybe other apps as well.)

The short story is that we’ve been working closely with Apple to troubleshoot the issue and have identified the cause. Apple is working on a fix, and we expect they’ll release it in the next System Update.

The slightly longer story is that saving directly to a network is a generally bad idea.  Here’s what I’ve heard from a contact in engineering:

Directly writing to a network filing system adds a level of complexity, which includes timing issues, network noise, performance, and other potential issues. We’ve occasionally run into bugs with different configurations/combinations, but as there are too many variants for us to reliably test and certify all the clients, servers, hardware and software, we recommend the safer course of working with files locally and then copying them up to a file server when you’re done. While directly reading/writing to network file systems should work in theory, and while we do some limited testing in the most popular configurations to verify that it does, we can not certify that it will work reliably in your configuration.

I know that’s not what you may want to hear, but it’s a long-standing advisory.  Saving files locally, then transferring them, offers better performance as well as greater reliability.

Good intentions gone awry

Note to self: "Blog first & ask questions later" is a really bad approach.


On Saturday I posted a blog entry in which I tried to clarify some details of what we’ve been developing in Photoshop.  Unfortunately, looking back, it’s clear I did a poor job of communicating what I intended.  In particular I regret the way I went about pointing out some errors I’d seen in stories.


Let me give you a little context about how things unfolded.  A few weeks ago I demonstrated some "potential future Photoshop technology" (more on what that means in a minute) during Adobe’s meeting with financial analysts.  Some folks at NVIDIA saw that demo and asked whether we’d mind repeating it at a press gathering they’d scheduled for last Thursday.  We said sure, and I got busy testing everything on a system they supplied.


On Friday I saw Theo Valich’s story on TG Daily covering the demo.  One detail jumped out at me: "The package is expected to be released on October 1."  As anyone who’s dealt with Adobe will tell you, we very rarely share details about when most products are expected to ship.  In fact, during my demo I’d noted a number of times that I was just showing some possible future technology, not announcing a new version, timing, etc.


Throughout the next day and a half, I kept getting Google Alerts linking to articles that repeated and amplified the news, occasionally misstating various details.  I started getting mail from colleagues to the effect of, "You said what??"


At that point, watching the story morph and replicate, I decided to try to nip things in the bud by sharing some clarifications.  Given that we were in the middle of a long holiday weekend, I opted to act quickly–too quickly.  I ended up overreacting, and whereas I should have dropped a line to at least some of the various media outlets, I called them out here.  The irony is that I was complaining about people blogging too quickly without checking all their facts, and in the process I was blogging too quickly without checking my facts!


On Sunday I got a quick & courteous note from Jonathan Fingas of Electronista thanking me for the clarifications & noting that they’d updated their story.  Similarly I heard from staff at Gizmodo & TG Daily noting that they’d made updates.  I greatly appreciate that, and in the future I’ll find a much better way of pointing out needed changes.


As for the content of my post, I know there’s been some lingering confusion, so let me try to clarify a few points for the record:


  • I didn’t say whether the next version of Photoshop would or would not be called CS4.  Instead, I was simply trying to point out that what I was showing was a technology demonstration that was independent of a particular version.
  • Similarly, I didn’t say that GPU-enabled features would or would not ship in the next version of Photoshop.  Think, "I can neither confirm nor deny…"  When developing any product, details are always subject to change, and it’s always possible that some unforeseen roadblock will appear.  That’s why we try so hard to wrap a lot of caution tape around any future-looking statements: we’re excited to be showing you some of what we’re building, and we hope you are, too, but we want to manage expectations & not over-promise anything. Make sense?
  • Lastly, I didn’t say that the next version Photoshop would or would not ship on a particular date.  My (badly made) point was that nothing had been announced, so the fact that a date of "October 1" kept getting repeated should be taken with the appropriate grain of salt.


In short, I just meant to say that we weren’t promising any particular features at any particular time–nothing more, nothing less.  Hopefully needless to say, we’ll work as hard as we can to bring you the good stuff sooner rather than later.

Adobe product tryouts unavailable in June

According to an FAQ on,


During the month of June 2008, certain product trials that are launched for the first time (regardless of when they were installed) will function for only one day instead of 30 days, due to an error in a line of code that counts down the remaining days in a trial. You will not experience this issue if you have launched your trial before June 1, 2008, or do not launch it until July 1 or thereafter.


Therefore product trials are unavailable for download from at the moment.  Customer Service says, "If you tried to use an Adobe trial in June and it expired after one day, please visit for more information."

Interested in testing the next Adobe Bridge?

The Bridge folks are looking for more input & testing coverage on the next version of the software, so they’ve asked me to pass along the following note:


Bridge Customers,

We are looking for a few interested Adobe Bridge users to join our Prerelease Program. We need customers who use Bridge in their workflow regularly and want to provide constructive feedback to the Bridge team on monthly prerelease builds of Bridge. If you are interested, please complete the prerelease request form.  Be sure to select ‘Adobe Bridge’ from the product list.

Note: A non-disclosure agreement will be required and space is limited, so unfortunately we won’t be able to accept all who apply.

Thanks for your interest in Adobe Bridge!

"Oct. 1" (aka, "Just make something up")

It seems that news of the demo I did the other day (a repeat of what we’d shown publicly three weeks earlier) is bouncing all around the online tech press.  People are excited that the Photoshop team is exploring ways to make the app feel faster and smoother, and that’s all good.  What’s irritating, though, is just how much bogus info is getting invented, passed around, and swallowed without question.


Gizmodo is repeating info found on a site called TG Daily, stating that "Photoshop CS4" (a term that I’ve never heard anyone from Adobe use publicly) "is expected to be released on October 1."  Uhh… expected by whom?  And based on what?


I didn’t say anything about schedule.  In fact, I never said that any of this stuff is promised to go into any particular version of Photoshop.  Rather, as with previous installments, it’s a technology demonstration of some things we’ve got cooking–nothing more.


Doesn’t matter, though: Someone pulled a date apparently out of thin air, and now everyone who can copy & paste is dutifully repeating it.  The fish story grows with the telling, too.  In addition to repeating the date, Electronista is inventing new details (e.g. "CS3 has already had limited support for graphics processing units (GPUs) for certain filters"; sorry, no; "An upcoming wave of video cards with special physics processing will also help, Adobe explains"; nope, didn’t say that; and more).  Where do people get this stuff?  It’s particularly annoying to see made-up info presented as a response from Adobe–to questions that were never asked. (Contacting Adobe PR, or me directly, to confirm some detail isn’t exactly tough.)


I’m not feeling a lot of confidence in the tech press these days.  People just make up whatever they want, creating a bunch of expectations & misperceptions that people like me have to try to unravel.  There’s no disincentive to doing so: the sites still get their ad impressions, and clearly bloggers and readers are all too happy to take what they read at face value.


I don’t know what to tell you, as the quest for ad bucks is eroding journalistic standards across the board.  "Caveat lector," and I’ll keep trying to share actually legitimate information here.




PS–I found this warez link kind of hilarious.  Not only are people inventing product info in order to entice you to download a bunch of unknown executable code onto your machine (something from the Eliot Spitzer Memorial Hall Of Unprotected Terrible Ideas); now they’re actually using Photoshop to design fake Photoshop packaging! (Screenshot here in case the shady server disappears.)

Interesting news & video visualizations

  • Spectra is an interactive 3D news presentation from MSNBC.  Although I’m not convinced that putting news onto flying postcards will boost anyone’s concentration or retention, I dig the aesthetics and the attention to detail.  I couldn’t get the Web cam access to work with Flash Player 10 on my system, and the inability to click on stories of interest is annoying, but maybe you’ll have better luck.  Here’s the direct link.
  • Steven Wood’s Tag Galaxy uses the Papervision3D library for Flash to explore Flickr photos via virtual planetary systems.
  • I’ve mentioned the very cool, very fast, and free PicLens browser plug-in a number of times.  In addition to working with Flickr, Google Images, etc., it’s been upgraded to search YouTube.  Check out the video demo.
  • TimeTube visualizes YouTube content via a timeline, list view, flipbook and map view. [Via]

Secure copyrights & metadata permanence

The subject of copyright is always high in photographers’ minds, especially in light of Orphan Works legislation & rampant image “borrowing” online. Consequently there’s an ongoing burning desire for secure metadata that can’t be stripped away from images.


Last summer I posted a guest blog entry from Russell Williams on why Photoshop doesn’t provide secure metadata.  Now Adobe metadata expert Gunar Penikis has posted about the Economics of Trust and Permanent Metadata.  If this subject is of interest to you, check out Gunar’s thoughts & the comments that follow (and feel free to add your own perspective).

Who builds Photoshop, and the frequency of updates

Via Daring Fireball I caught this little blurb from Panic‘s Cabel Sasser:


A company like Adobe, which has hundreds of engineers working on
Photoshop, releases ONE version every two or three years, and maybe a
single bug fix release in the interim. For the most part, we’re all
cool with that, myself included! 🙂


I’m glad to hear the last bit, especially as I love Panic’s Transmit and Unison software–models of simplicity and refinement.  The rest is kind of funny, though: in reality we have only a couple dozen engineers working on Photoshop.  (If you added in every person who tests Photoshop and Bridge, localizes them, builds the installers, manages the process, etc., you could get to more than a hundred people–but only with some effort.)  Relative to our feature set and code base, the team runs very lean.


As for the shipping schedule, it’s been 18-24 months between major releases for quite some time.  I don’t mean to take a casual comment in a forum overly seriously.  It’s just that I’ve been thinking about the Photoshop (and Suite) shipping schedule, wondering whether it’s too long, too short, or both.


On the one hand, the richer Suite apps get and the more of them there are, the more time people would like to settle into using them.  It’s generally easier to absorb upgrading a number of applications at once, then living with them for a while, than it was to handle continual unsynchronized updates (the pre-Suites world).  Through this lens, 18 months looks short.


On the other hand, we’re increasingly living in a world where "software is a relationship, not an artifact" (as I think Tim O’Reilly put it).  An application like Google Maps or Photoshop Express could be updated seamlessly, simultaneously for all users, every hour if desired.  Through that lens, 18 months looks awfully long.


I’d like to get to a point where we can have it both ways.  I’d like the core team to be able to go off and spend several years retooling essential pieces of plumbing, making changes that won’t become visible for a few versions.  At the same time, I want to wake up in the morning and have Photoshop be smarter & more feature-rich than when I went to bed.  Some things should be updated every 5 years; others, every five minutes.


Obviously this isn’t the kind of change a team makes overnight, but we’re getting there.  Building on what we’ve got percolating, functionality like peer-to-peer help will become possible.  More on that foundation soon.


PS–Re: people banging on Panic for more frequent updates to their inexpensive tools, I’m reminded of an observation attributed to Edward Tufte: "The sense of entitlement increases as the price of the service or product decreases."

Chris Cox starts a performance blog

If it’s in Photoshop and it goes fast, there’s a very good chance that Chris Cox has had something to do with it.  Chris is, among a great many other things, the go-to guy for optimizing many functions in the app.  (At various times we’ve known there’s some kind of crazy-exotic Apple hardware in Chris’s office–something that would emerge many months later as the G5, etc.–and that he’s busily tuning the app for it but can’t tell us any of the details.)  In any case, he has started a blog on C++ performance.  If that’s up your alley, I recommend subscribing to the feed.


[Semi-irrelevant personal aside: After so many years of consulting Chris to learn about HDR imaging, color management, GPUs vs. CPUs, and so on, I’m taking some pleasure in sharing my meager (yet superior) knowledge of CSS with him, hipping him to groovy tools like Xyle scope.  I’ve gotta enjoy the moment while it lasts!]

Area Man's Bacon Saved by Time Capsule

Hats off to all the Apple folks responsible for Time Machine: I’m pleased to report that restoring my Mac from the data stored on my Time Capsule went off without a hitch. Performing a synch with the drive was easy, and after a couple of hours everything was just where I left it–right down to my Dock icons, desktop picture, and app preferences. (James Duncan Davidson provides more detail on a similar (albeit planned) experience.) I was especially pleased to see that all my NetNewsWire clippings & tabs came back in place.
I’ve encountered only a little strangeness so far:

  • In Adobe Contribute, my local drafts are present, but the app preferences seem to have gotten partially lost. I’ll pass my info along to the CT team. I did lose some material I’d worked on over the weekend (as Saturday night’s Time Machine backup failed for unspecified reasons), but the rest of the drafts look recoverable.
  • Photoshop held onto my serial number, but it asked to be reactivated (which transpired successfully)
  • Update: iTunes lost my authorization info. Hopefully I haven’t now burned another authorization. Also, Ambrosia’s iSeek and Snapz Pro have lost their registration info. QuickTime Pro seems unaffected.

Thanks to everyone who provided suggestions below. The Letterbox add-on for Apple Mail seems to do a great job enabling Entourage-style three-pane viewing, but I haven’t tried it extensively. I’m really torn about leaving my old friend Entourage, especially as Mail apparently doesn’t offer the ability to accept/decline meetings sent through the Exchange server. Efficient incremental backups sound pretty appealing, however.
I’m now going to try using Time Machine with a Drobo. It seems that it’ll be possible to store a large photo collection (which wouldn’t fit onto the laptop drive) alongside the Time Machine data file. If anything interesting develops, I’ll pass along the info.

Product testing, the hard way

I hope never to verify the effectiveness of an airbag using my face, or the completeness of my life insurance at the cost of my life. I guess I won’t get a pass on testing the promise of my new Time Capsule, however.
Today the hard drive on my inordinately hard-working MacBook Pro bit the dust. I’d had no signs of trouble whatsoever, but I admit the machine did take a spill from several feet up a few months ago. (Let’s just say the Slingbox is working out better than the idea of perching a laptop on a music stand.) That jolt didn’t cause it to skip a beat, however–not even to disrupt the show that was streaming.
This morning, however, my apps started running really slowly, with the Mac beachballing so hard that I finally had to hold down the power button. After that, no más: just an endless gray startup screen. The guys at the local Mac “genius bar” (not geniuses, but not bad) confirmed that this critter is toast.
Thus far the Time Capsule (acquired in the nick of time, evidently) has been a bit of a mixed bag. For my tastes it’s a little off the mark from “As simple as possible, but no simpler”–omitting the second half of that phrase. I haven’t found a way to set backups to be nightly, not hourly, so I have to do them manually. (Otherwise the system would presumably be trying to copy my multi-gigabyte Entourage data file over wireless every hour–not a good use of CPU and bandwidth.) I also don’t see a way to store a superset of data on the Time Capsule (i.e. keeping a large image collection there but not on my local Mac). Overcoming the latter obstacle may not be that hard, as it seems possible to mount the disk as a normal server, but I haven’t had a chance to test it out. And finally, like just about every Apple networking system I’ve tried (AirTunes, Apple TV, iChat AV, etc.), the Time Capsule doesn’t get along with my Cisco VPN connection, meaning I have to shut it down before connecting.
All of these little beefs will melt away, of course, if the TC saves my bacon. I guess we’ll see once I get a new HD or a new machine. (This post comes to you from my wife’s MacBook.) I’m really curious to see whether it’ll be possible to restore things like the list of tabs and clippings I have in NetNewsWire, as that plus my Adobe Contribute drafts constitute all my pending blogfodder. (Without all that stuff, expect a dry period here for a while.)
Crossing fingers,

SF Photoshop User Group kicks off this week

I’m pleased to see that this Tuesday marks the first San Francisco meeting of the San Francisco Bay Area Photoshop Users Group.  According to the Evite, here’s what’s planned:

Photoshop Power Users with Kelly McCathran: In this session we will wow you with some new hot features and double wow you with some little known and under utilized tools… Adobe Bridge: Batch renaming multiple files; The Image Processor to batch convert to different file formats; Photomerge for building Panoramics. Creating and Batching Actions; Vanishing Point Filter; Placing Smart Objects; Image Warping; Patch & Spot Healing Brush Tools; Red Eye Removal Tool; History palette and painting with snapshots; Layer Masks; Setting the best Preferences Tips & Tricks as well as Keyboard Shortcuts.

Kelly McCathran is the Service Provider Evangelist for Adobe.  Her mission is to maintain relationships with the top print shops in North America. To fulfill that roll, she is the primary contact for printers to get the support, training and information they need to successfully work with Adobe’s line of products. In addition Kelly is a Certified Technical Trainer and an Adobe Certified Expert in InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, GoLive and PageMaker. Kelly has traveled North America and abroad teaching applications to the largest print shops in the world.

The meeting starts at 5:30pm at the Adobe SF office (601 Townsend St.).  If you plan to attend, please RSVP to so that they can get the right amount of pizza and drinks.

Notes on tuning Photoshop performance

At the Photoshop World show a couple of weeks ago, PS co-architect Russell Williams & performance testing lead Adam Jerugim presented a session on tuning application performance to a packed house (see photo).  Adam has now passed along their presentation slides (6.5MB PDF), including notes.

Related topics:

Lasers, big hair, & other motion graphics goodness

New Photoshop scripting tutorials

If you know some JavaScript and have thought of applying your skills to Photoshop automation, you might check out Trevor Morris’s Intro to Scripting Photoshop and follow-up practical example.

Trevor, who both offers a set of free scripts & does scripting for hire, is right that scripting is a very powerful yet underused part of the Photoshop story.  It’s a key part of the moduarlity & customizability I always mention as a key area for us to develop in the future, and we’ll keep working to make it easier & more powerful.

Photoshop team script wrangler Jeff Tranberry reports that he’s posted the class materials from the "Photoshop for Geeks" session he & Tom Ruark presented at Photoshop World.  He also reports that the very useful Dr. Brown’s Services set of scripts have been updated to v1.9.4 and are available for download. [Via]

Turning 1,000

This little milestone may be of interest only to me, but I’m kind of amazed to be writing my 1,000th post on this blog.  In the 969 days since I’ve started this journey, quite a lot has gone down.  Needless to say, if you weren’t reading this, I wouldn’t bother writing it, so thanks for all the encouragement.  I’ve felt like looking back over the effort to date & thought it would be fun to dig up some of the meatier posts.

Since August 2005 I’ve gotten to announce an unprecedented public beta of Photoshop; introduce Lightroom (twice); welcome a competitor and lots of new friends; mourn the loss of others; fan and then help defuse controversy; celebrate new integration; share some tips (e.g. Photoshop Text; Killer B&W); momentarily crack the TechMeme Leaderboard; and more.  Oh, and somehow in there I became the #1 search term for "cs3 serials," giving me a chance to throw Yiddish & Spanish at pirates ;-).

I’m proudest of getting to share some perspective on the challenges of developing Photoshop, hopefully giving some insight into the problems we wrestle every day (which are, of course, what make the job fun).  I’ve gotten to wax on many times about the sheer size of Photoshop & what it means we must do:

Somewhat related, I’ve tried to illuminate reasons why [cue the Stones’ choir] You Can’t Always Get What You (Think You) Want:

With the help of some friends, I’ve gotten to to share some techier bits:

Readers have provided timely, concrete feedback on some specific ideas (e.g. User-powered help and kuler inside Photoshop), providing data we can use to push to get things built.  You’ve offered a wealth of opinions on how to move applications forward:

And then periodically I get to muse a little aloud:

That’s probably more than enough nostalgia for one evening, so I’ll wrap it up. Thanks again for having me.  Feedback on where you’d like to see all this go is always welcome.

Oh, and one more thing: despite it having netted me a great portrait, I think I’ll never blog about icons again! ;-P

Going Green in Design, Tuesday at Adobe

This coming Tuesday evening (April 8), we’re hosting another meeting of the San José Photoshop User Group.  Instead of just talking about the normal ins and outs of software, three speakers will be talking about adopting environmentally sound work practices in the graphics industry.  If you’re in our neck of the woods, feel free to swing by (6:30-9pm).  Details are below.

This will not be a typical user group meeting, but it’s certainly a topical subject. We’ll begin with a general talk about working green in the graphics industry and cover the issues involved. These include the carbon footprint of using the Internet, printing to read and to judge color, keeping devices on and plugged in, printing too many pieces with chemically toxic inks and coated papers, commuting to work alone, etc.

We’ll also talk about the power of the consumer and the end user to affect change by rethinking how they work and by either influencing their managers or, if they are the buyers, by choosing green vendors. We’ll show a tool that will be available to AIGA members that calculates the carbon footprint of a project and offers different combinations to reduce the damage.

We’ll have three speakers. The first is Phil Nail of His company has done a lot of research on the environmental damage of using computers and the internet. He offers web hosting solutions that are entirely powered by the sun. Son Do, from Rods and Cones, will talk about waste reduction by using applications correctly in a color-managed environment, and also with softproofing. Peter Montgomery of Moquin Press will talk about what an environmentally responsible printer can do and why it’s important to use them. He’ll offer suggestions on what to ask to select the right printer. If there’s time, we’ll do a sidebar on book publishing through a company like Blurb that uses digital presses and enables a customer to print only the number of books or brochures needed.

We’ll have pizza and drinks at 6:30, and the meeting will start at 7:00, in the Park Conference Room of Adobe Systems’ East Tower, 321 Park Avenue, San Jose. To park underneath the Adobe building, use the Almaden Avenue entrance, under the East Tower. If the security guard at the parking entrance asks for an Adobe contact, use Bryan O’Neil Hughes’s name. He’s our contact there (as well as a Photoshop Product Manager).  If you’d like to be on our email list, send a note to dan at

See you there,
Dan Clark and Tom Upton

Photoshop Express revises terms of service

In response to customer feedback about terms of service, the Photoshop Express team has made some changes.  Here’s the note I received from them this afternoon:

We have revised the terms of service for Photoshop Express beta. Revisions were made in context of user feedback. The original terms of service implied things we would never do with the content within Photoshop Express.  Thus, revisions were made to clarify our intent:

  • Adobe’s Rights – Adobe has retained only those limited rights that allow us to operate the service and to enable you to do all the things the service offers.  If you decide to terminate your Photoshop Express account, Adobe’s rights also will be terminated. We don’t claim ownership of your content and won’t sell your images.
  • Shared Content – We clearly state the rights you’re granting other users when you choose to publicly share Your Content.

The terms of service will not take effect until April 10th, in order to give you time to review and choose to continue using the Photoshop Express beta under these new terms.

Thank you for your feedback on Photoshop Express beta. We value your input and support in improving the service for all users.

Photoshop Express off to a rocking start

When you show up as an answer in Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me‘s lightning round, people must be starting to take notice. 🙂

Adobe’s Photoshop Express service tore out of the gate last week:

  • 1 million+ visitors to the PX homepage on the first day
  • More than 3 million images uploaded to PX on the first day (3.5 terabytes of data!)

Adobe VP Doug Mack says, "This was way more than the team expected for the beta launch (pretty exciting).  With all this activity all at once, the service slowed down, but it’s now back to running nicely as things have normalized.   If you found it slow, you may want to come back and check it out this week."

Doug reports that on day 1, "Service ramped up so fast that account verification emails and sharing emails were literally flying out of the service.  As the email traffic ramped from literally ‘zero’ to ‘full tilt’ in just a matter of hours (basically starting at 9am EDT), many email services and spam filters thought we were spammers and some gray listed us.  We worked with them so they knew we were legit and had it sorted out by lunchtime."

In case you signed up but didn’t get a new account verification email, please try going back to the site; try logging in with the account you set up; and choose the option to have the email resent.  You’ll get an email with a new key to activate the account.

One other thing to note: Even though the beta is listed as US-only (due to the incomplete state of the server infrastructure), the service is being used around the world.  Doug writes:

  • We’ve been seeing a high level of activity around the clock.  We have not seen things go quiet through the middle of the night at all.
  • Either we have some serious photo-loving insomniacs in the US, or people are ignoring the "US Only" beta period and we are already global, like it or not.
  • Just a reminder that the beta is US only.  And while anyone around the world is welcome to try the beta, the experience will be nothing like that of when we expand to beta globally (as right now, they are accessing US-based servers)

A note about PS Express terms of use

Amidst all the positive, enthusiastic responses to the launch of Photoshop Express, I’ve seen some concerns about the terms of use.  This item in particular draws attention:

8. Use of Your Content. Adobe does not claim ownership of Your Content. However, with respect to Your Content that you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Services, you grant Adobe a worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other Materials or works in any format or medium now known or later developed.

This afternoon I got the following note from the Photoshop Express team:

We’ve heard your concerns about the terms of service for Photoshop Express beta.  We reviewed the terms in context of your comments – and we agree that it currently implies things we would never do with the content.  Therefore, our legal team is making it a priority to post revised terms that are more appropriate for Photoshop Express users.  We will alert you once we have posted new terms.  Thank you for your feedback on Photoshop Express beta and we appreciate your input.

I’ll post an update when I know more. [Update: See the revised terms of service.]