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The archaeology of Photoshop
February 13, 2013 3:48 PM   Subscribe

But like anything, the original Photoshop was a product of its time. Knoll’s foundations grew to support functionality he’d never imagined; as the features piled on, more staff was added. What started as mostly a photography tool turned quickly into a graphic design powerhouse. And when a port to Windows became inevitable, things started to really get messy.

Photoshop is a city for everyone: how Adobe endlessly rebuilds its classic app.
posted by Horace Rumpole (118 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
"If you wanted to do everything Photoshop does, you'd have to do it in the same way Photoshop does," explains Thomas. And a rewrite would likely take a decade, and, thanks to the error-prone nature of building complex software, it might never be completed.
Actually, a senior Adobe software engineer gave a talk (to Google) by that suggested it could be rewritten with far less code, and fewer bugs.
posted by pwnguin at 4:00 PM on February 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


I personally suspect that we may have passed Peak Photoshop.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:07 PM on February 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


"It is cheaper to fly to the US [and buy it there] than buy Adobe software in Australia." (And it ain't cheap in the US, for the record.)
posted by koeselitz at 4:09 PM on February 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


While still retaining backward compatibility?

I love the idea of a trip down memory lane with Photoshop (I've been using it since around version 2) but this wasn't that article. There are only so many ways you can repeat "photoshop is old and bloated and clunky because it has to be, and that's why it's great/crap."
posted by ShutterBun at 4:09 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, his dad could do what I''ve done: stop upgrading. I'm still using Photoshop 7.0 and I've yet to find any feature in the current CSnnn version that justifies the cost.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 4:10 PM on February 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


I do like the idea of layers in software corresponding to layers in archaeology. When I was working with a huge CAD program a while ago my stack traces would be about 70 frames deep. You could see layers in there, each about 10 frames worth: first the start-up stuff originating at main(), then a weird layer with a lot of unresolved symbols that seemed to be related to the custom windowing layer the product used, and so on, down to CAM code preparing to call my library, then 10 frames of my code. It was odd how uncomfortable I felt if I had to step into other people's code from mine, and how relieved I was to get back into my layers.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:13 PM on February 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I personally suspect that we may have passed Peak Photoshop.


I hope that's true, if for no other reason than to keep the "where's the red-eye removal tool?" crowd from cluttering up the discussion.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:14 PM on February 13, 2013


This is awesome. I've wondered recently just how much original code is in long-lived and complex software packages like this, especially as Photoshop has had to migrate between different fundamental OS APIs, from the original Mac, to Win32, to Carbon on OS X, to Cocoa.

I'd be really interested in something like AutoCAD, which was first released in 1982 for DOS, and has been on 16-bit Windows, 32-bit Windows, various Unixes, Mac OS Classic, and Mac OS X throughout the years.
posted by zsazsa at 4:22 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can pick up the source code here. (story)
posted by benito.strauss at 4:26 PM on February 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is software that is old enough to vote. More than that. It's old enough to have a family and a mortgage. And it's still going. We don't know how long it'll survive; what's the lifespan of a virtual tool like that? Microsoft Word goes back to 1983, according to Wikipedia.

It's an open question whether Photoshop - or any of Adobe's other tools - will continue their dominance as we move to tablets. I know a lot of people who use PS for painting are finding that tablet apps like Procreate or Artrage fill pretty much all their Photoshop needs, with bonuses like "fits in your bag".
posted by egypturnash at 4:43 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm still using Photoshop 7.0 and I've yet to find any feature in the current CSnnn version that justifies the cost.

I bought one of the recent Photoshop Elements and had trouble getting it to run on my two year old computer. In the end, I went back to the last working version I had which was 7.0. Man, 7.0 is awesome.
posted by drezdn at 4:48 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Photoshop's not going anywhere for a while. They may lose some casual users but there is no substitute for serious photographic image editing.
posted by scose at 4:49 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


"If you wanted to do everything Photoshop does, you'd have to do it in the same way Photoshop does

Really? I have my doubts.

If nothing else, we could probably break out of having to conceptualize design documents as a collection of raster layers.

I guess a lot of people apparently like it, given Photoshop's popularity (or is it the other way around?), but to my thinking, this is a poor fit for anywhere you'd rather not have to think much about resolution dependence of your artwork or type, or where you'd like to compose complex parameterized objects, or both.
posted by weston at 4:50 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been a PS user since PS3. I've supported it professionally for two decades.

I use Acorn and Pixlemator personally.

I can't remember the last time I launched PS for a personal or work related project.

Photoshop has always been my favorite mac game.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:57 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been in the Excel source code, so I totally understand. Excel’s main date parsing function is over 1000 lines of C – not including helpers. And one of the helpers has the following comment:
//------------------------------------------------------------------------
// I just cleaned up the code. I have no idea what this fn does. Here is
// what the comment said earlier for your reference!
// --> BUG!! - this code is a crime against nature and has absolutely no
// --> redeeming value (other than the amazing fact that it works)
//------------------------------------------------------------------------
Software engineering has changed pretty dramatically in the over-twenty-years I've been in the business, and the one place you can see it best is in code that's been continually updated for that period of time.
posted by Slothrup at 5:03 PM on February 13, 2013 [32 favorites]


Photoshop 4th edition is still popular because it is the last one which can be used to counterfeit American currency. After a talk from the American Secret Service, every edition afterwards recognizes scanned American currency and adds a watermark to it, letting banks know you've made fugazi greenbacks.
posted by Renoroc at 5:05 PM on February 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


weston, I've never been a heavy user, but I was under the impression that "Smart Layers" or some such let you use vector data or scaled raster data while retaining the original properties (so the rasters aren't scaled until your final export).
posted by 23 at 5:09 PM on February 13, 2013


Renoroc: By "still popular" I imagine you mean still popular in the relatively small (??!!) user base of counterfeiters...
posted by el io at 5:09 PM on February 13, 2013


weston: sounds like you're describing Illustrator. People use Photoshop all the time for things that Illustrator is far better suited for.
posted by zsazsa at 5:18 PM on February 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Slothrup, oh, that is an amazingly awesome use of the abbreviation "fn". I'm going to have to steal that.
posted by smcameron at 5:26 PM on February 13, 2013


Y'all are giving me PTSD. Thank god for Lightroom.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:27 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd be really interested in something like AutoCAD, which was first released in 1982 for DOS, and has been on 16-bit Windows, 32-bit Windows, various Unixes, Mac OS Classic, and Mac OS X throughout the years.

Uh, you really wanna know? I have 2013, but use 2009 for most things because I'm lazy and don't want to bother importing all my preferences for 2009 that I have set up into the 2013 where I get no real gain for it, BUT on 2009 I can save or open drawings all the way back to R12, which is like, late 90s. However, AutoDesk will announce periodically that they're ceasing support for whatever version, so if it starts failing or whatever you're on your own. I don't think they care about older than 4 years ago in general.

Speaking of which, AutoDesk also owns Revit, which is mostly taking over for AutoCAD in the building industry. You can't save backwards at all on Revit, but newer versions of the program will convert projects created in older versions. Of course, then you can't take it back.
posted by LionIndex at 5:28 PM on February 13, 2013


That's PSD!
posted by cjorgensen at 5:28 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Working back and forth between illustrator (nice vector tools, obv, but also easy and eventually intuitive ctrl-clicking to select things) and photoshop (filters, nuance, better implementation of pressure sensitive tablet, but not nearly as easy to drill into the item you can plainly see needs editing plus BRUTALLY frustrating vector tools) makes me think there must be another big step we can take to get us where clearly everyone (me) wants to go.
posted by SharkParty at 5:46 PM on February 13, 2013


Which I guess is Fireworks.
posted by SharkParty at 5:48 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I use Photoshop a lot (but not as much as Illustrator) and have used it since 3.0. After using CS3 for the last few years, I upgraded to CS6 about six weeks ago. LOTS of decent changes but, man, it's muuuuch slower opening and closing. This is the first time I've looked at Photoshop and thought "man, what a pig."

And speaking of saving backwards - InDesign (also Adobe) takes the cake, I think. I recently finished an 8-month 400 page book project in InDesign CS3. Literally one day after completion, my workhorse laptop finally gave up the ghost. Since I needed a new computer, and the end of the year was days away, I decided to upgrade my CS Suite at the same time.

Now there are some project revisions being discussed. Can I just fire up my files in CS6 and make the changes? Of course not - my client has CS3 and can't use the new file system. Not only that, IF I tried to backsave from CS6 to CS3, I'd have to literally save from 6 to 5, open in 5 and save to 4, and open in 4 and save to 3 because of the file system changes that have occurred in the last 3 suites. That's crazy when you think a basic Creative Suite starts around $1200.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:52 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


there is no substitute for serious photographic image editing.

Sure, but there's a substitute for any one of the last ten versions of Photoshop: any of the other nine versions.

Adobe's got to keep people showing up to buy the latest version, so the software is a balloon that they can never stop blowing up. That means inevitably each new version has more inessential features consuming more system resources. I've got CS6 and I'm running CS4 because I find it crashes a lot less, and it doesn't lack any features that I want or need.

At this point the upgrades are a lot more expensive than they are compelling; that doesn't bode well.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:53 PM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a big fan of Apple's program Aperture. It has lovely code for making natural looking adjustments to exposure and warmth in real time. It works like magic if you shot the original in RAW mode on a camera with a good sensor.

I stil break out Photoshop for more advanced stuff like swapping peoples' heads, putting the jokes on LOLCat pictures, painting out old girlfriends etc.
posted by w0mbat at 5:59 PM on February 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


You know, his dad could do what I''ve done: stop upgrading. I'm still using Photoshop 7.0 and I've yet to find any feature in the current CSnnn version that justifies the cost.

Same here. I keep an .exe of the Photoshop 7 installer accessible for my uncle who relies heavily on photoshop for making home appraisals. He uses it to make black and white sketches of floor plans with dimensions, it sounds crazy, and I've tried to get him on something dedicated like Sketchup, but you wouldn't believe how fast he is with the keyboard shortcuts and the scripts to create contact sheets of comps.

There's no compelling reason to upgrade for many users, even very dedicated ones.
posted by odinsdream at 6:02 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Photoshop news from Greece. Fucking assholes don't even have the decency to do a good job.
posted by phaedon at 6:03 PM on February 13, 2013


The sci-fi author Vernor Vinge noted that layers of software run on top of layers on top of layers, etc. Extrapolating this layering thousands of years into the future, he figured there would be a need for programmer-archeologists.
posted by Triplanetary at 6:04 PM on February 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


weston: sounds like you're describing Illustrator. People use Photoshop all the time for things that Illustrator is far better suited for.

Amen. Working with Illustrator in a design shop for a few years was what essentially convinced me that Photoshop's widespread use is a bit of an unfortunate accident.

That, and working with Fireworks.

Working back and forth between illustrator and photoshop makes me think there must be another big step we can take... Which I guess is Fireworks.

If Adobe doesn't kill it. The rumors are not good.

Of course, those rumors have been around since they bought Macromedia, so who knows. But until they show some willingness to cannibalize Photoshop's brand/marketshare, I think the safe thing to assume is that eventually, they'll get tired of supporting what is more or less a niche competitor to one of their other more popular products, even if FW has some pretty strong advantages over PS for web/app/screen design.
posted by weston at 6:11 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nooooo not Fireworks I love Fireworks
posted by louche mustachio at 6:21 PM on February 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Knoll explains, "it doesn't actually store the adjusted pixels anywhere, just the adjustments." That means Lightroom has to keep track of "processing versions," to make sure that when you open a RAW file five years from now, into a fancy version of Lightroom with all-new algorithms, it'll look exactly the same.

As a programmer, this is the stuff of nightmares.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:28 PM on February 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Triplanetary - I think we will see data recovery grow into a sort of digital archeology soon. There will be so many old and obsolete formats that people have valuable data on. Digital preservation and archiving is, I think, already a significant field - digital formats are quite ephemeral, although people for some reason have the idea that they have made really permanent copies of things when they digitize them. To keep digital photos usable for decades, you are probably going to have to transfer them to new disk drives every few years. Or trust the cloud providers to do that for you, which also is not really a sure bet.
posted by thelonius at 6:28 PM on February 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Photoshop hasn't added a "must have" feature since smart objects and refine mask.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:35 PM on February 13, 2013


Tangentially, since there seem to be a lot of programmers in this thread and pwnguin already posted a software engineering talk from Adobe: they funded a very interesting programming tool that decouples algorithms from parallelization strategies: Halide.
posted by scose at 6:43 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


People use Photoshop all the time for things that Illustrator is far better suited for.

Well the thing is they're both so dang expensive. Naturally people would rather pay only one big pile of cash instead of two.

I used Illustrator 7 for a good while a long time ago and loved it. I wish I still had my disk; even back then it was quick and responsive and just worked. I'd hate to think what it's like now.
posted by JHarris at 6:52 PM on February 13, 2013


There's no compelling reason to upgrade for many users, even very dedicated ones.

Except for the security related issues rife in products like this. Make you a deal: I won't bug you to upgrade if you never, ever come cry to me about how your PC has been turned into a scorched wasteland because of some random vulnerability in a 10 year old Adobe DLL.
posted by kjs3 at 7:00 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah I miss the good old days of PS 0.87b. John gave me a copy, it still ran on System 7 I think. MacApp was an amazing framework. John was pretty cool too. I remember when he used to hang out on a Photoshop forum on AOL (!!!!) probably back around the early days of v2. I mentioned that there wasn't an import plugin for Scitex CT files. He asked me to send him one and the next day he sent me a plugin.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:01 PM on February 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm one of the tiny fraction of people that still clings to Corel Draw / Photo-paint / Paint Shop Pro. Equally as powerful, but far easier workflow (seriously, how is any newbie supposed to guess what the little open circle at the bottom of the layer toolbar does).

Photoshop gives me the same sense of market-disappointment MS Word does. It's been 20 years; shouldn't we have better tools by now?
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:03 PM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


The holy grail is to give Photoshop computer vision.

Great. Skynet will imprison all humans and then spent years color correcting us to perfection.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:08 PM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


...a senior Adobe software engineer gave a talk (to Google) by that suggested [Photoshop] could be rewritten with far less code, and fewer bugs.
I'm just a schmuck who hasn't yet read the article or watched the video, but I've been on a few software projects that were conceived as modern rewrites of older systems (with less code and fewer bugs) and they never worked out that way, not to the extent everyone hoped and planned.

When you take a high-level survey of your old software system, your brain soaking in that flush of can-do optimism, your old system looks very crufty. When you're in the middle of a long boring slog through your update project, poring over the old code with a microscope, you realize an awful lot of the "cruft" is actually features, features that may be terribly messy to implement because they must interface with other systems that you don't control, features that some of your users count on every day, even though you'll never get them to admit as much beforehand.
posted by Western Infidels at 7:15 PM on February 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Going from Photoshop 2.5 to 3.0 (layers!) on a then-smokin' Quadra 650 made for some great desktop publishing times. I still love it with CS5 and a MacBook Air.

Seetharaman Narayanan rules.
posted by porn in the woods at 7:18 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


blah blah blah I will never upgrade blah blah blah

Oh dear god. My last job used Photoshop 7, Illustrator 10 and Acrobat 5. Yes, this was this year. I begged and pleaded to at least upgrade to CS3. (Turns out the version I was using was pirated anyway, and it beats me who decided that if you're going to steal it it's best to steal the ten year old version.) You have NO IDEA how much better they've gotten until you're had to go backwards. Some of the incremental improvements are invisible until you have to suddenly lose ALL the increments. Especially in Illustrator and Acrobat. Go back five years on either of these and it's like going back to flints and steel.

That said, if I could get PS 7 to load in 10.6 on my Intel Mac I'd still totally use it, it's the very definition of good enough and Gimp is just too new and too weird to my deeply ingrained PS habits.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:34 PM on February 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seconding Corel Draw/Photo Paint. It is much easier to use, and while it may not have quite all the power or the features, it has most of the ones you need.
posted by blue shadows at 7:38 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm happy to see the love for CorelDraw. I made the switch to Illustrator after using CorelDraw through CorelDraw 11. I only switched because all my clients insisted on AI files, and I cussed Illustrator for a few months, at least. Even though Illustrator is very powerful and capable, I still think CorelDraw is a better program.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:48 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Western Infidels: "I'm just a schmuck who hasn't yet read the article or watched the video, but I've been on a few software projects that were conceived as modern rewrites of older systems (with less code and fewer bugs) and they never worked out that way, not to the extent everyone hoped and planned."

You should give it a chance. There's concrete example halfway through. The basic idea proffered is that Photoshop has two main components: image processing pipelines and algorithms, and GUIs to allow users to tweak their parameters.

Presumably there's lot of code driving the creation of all those dialogs, that could be expressed as a DSL and interpreter. The interpreter figures out the proper layout, spacing and alignment, while the DSL is written something not Turing complete. He then goes on to quantify the old way of doing things versus the new way, via code analysis (1/3 of the code is event handling, and that 1/3 is responsible for half the known bugs) and via line of code counts (old way: 6000 lines of code, new way: ~2010). Basically, when you're using MVC, something needs to push updates on your models to all the subscribing views, and I gather his framework automates that part.

The end result is that it's used in all the products now. You find a couple of these kinds of wins, and you're talking about a dramatically smaller, less buggy code base. He reports that Adobe has adopted this separation in their products, and has ripped out 20-25 dialogs and replaced them with the declarative approach, I assume they've gone further in that direction since 2008. It probably would have gone faster, if not for the knee-jerk reaction like the one you expressed to people proposing re-writing like a third of a program.
posted by pwnguin at 8:00 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I use CS5 at work and have CS4 at home. I don't like the bloat, but I would be lost without the newer features. I have 7.0 running on an old Mac, and while it's a reliable workhorse that can run well on the old machine, I keep trying to use features that were not there when they programmed 7.0. I will say this, though - for simple edits on my CS4 laptop, I'll sometimes just go to pixlr.com because I'll be done before CS4 even has a chance to start up.

But Adobe doesn't have a choice. They have to keep plugging ahead. Everything has to work like it did before or companies will not upgrade. New features must constantly be added or users will not upgrade. Now they're heading toward Creative Cloud. If they can't keep people interested in upgrading, that's dead in the water. So we are doomed to feature bloat.
posted by azpenguin at 8:00 PM on February 13, 2013


and still nobody can do real-looking digital watercolor yet.
posted by jfuller at 8:01 PM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


thelonius: " I think we will see data recovery grow into a sort of digital archeology soon. ."


This already happens in a hundred thousand tiny little ways, every day. People move on and custom data specs get lost to time. cron jobs become like Pratchettian golems, laboring away unseen and unsupervised until they break. When that happens, it's an enormous panicked rush: Who knows how to send the ACH data? Who sends it? Who does it go to? Where do the SPEED transaction files get stored for audits? The AP people are in a panic and our ISP is threatening to cut off service because we haven't paid in 180 days! When did payments stop? Why didn't the last AP clerk transfer that information? Who knows!?

All. The. Time.
posted by boo_radley at 8:22 PM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


May we have a moment of silence for Aldus Freehand? That tool was infinitely more intuitive than Illustrator, to me, anyway. That said, I use Illustrator. (Anyone know how I can open an on .fh7 file on a PC?)
posted by maxwelton at 8:56 PM on February 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


and still nobody can do real-looking digital watercolor yet.

Painter allows you to make a special watercolor layer, and add virtual watercolors to it. Then the program performs an impressive calculus, visible to the user, of how the colors should all flow together, with little feathery paths growing like pigment in a petrie dish.

Then it shows you the results it's come up with, which invariably look terrible. So yeah, you're right, nobody can do real-looking digital watercolor yet.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 9:01 PM on February 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


A lot of people bitch about the constant upgrade cycle with Adobe; and I'll admit it gets frustrating at times; considering the cost. However, a lot of designers who claim to never use the new features (and I've known some that don't) are anachronisms that mostly have no business being in design these days. At the very least, I don't want to work with them. I have, and they're stuck both in their design senses and their abilities.

Now, before someone objects; yes, most of the features in newer versions of adobe products can be done in older versions. However, the thing that people miss out on are all the time savers and workflow improvements that the new versions implement. Are some of the new feature dogs? Well, yes, but most make a big difference if you bother to learn them. I always make a point to hunt down tutorials of the new features each version release (Lynda.com is pretty good for that).

The refine tool alone from CS4 to CS5 was *huge*. It changed the workflow of one of my reoccurring tasks from a 2 hour task to a 20 minute task.

weston: sounds like you're describing Illustrator. People use Photoshop all the time for things that Illustrator is far better suited for.

Amen. Working with Illustrator in a design shop for a few years was what essentially convinced me that Photoshop's widespread use is a bit of an unfortunate accident.


I love illustrator. I really love illustrator. But until they fix their goddamned color picker tool and its implementation with gradients, there are times I'm going to just do it in Photoshop because it's easier. And what kills me is that every other Adobe product from Flash to Fireworks. I thought when they redid the gradient tool in CS4(? I think) they'd address the issues with color picking but it's still just a dog.

And I'm sure this is largely in part that they spend all their time working on Photoshop, because that's what everyone loves. But if they keep neglecting their other tools. There are times I draw out what I need in illustrator then paste it as a shape layer or smart object in photoshop and do my fine tuning there because I can't stand the gradient/color picker implementation. It's a little better than it was, but it's still difficult to use. What I wouldn't give for an eye dropper while IN the color selector in Illustrator!

So you have a situation where Photoshop has a better implementation of the purpose built applications, so people use Photoshop over the purpose built one, then they are encouraged to keep improving Photoshop rather than the tools that really need it.

There is one thing that isn't in Photoshop but is in their other products that I'm just astonished isn't in PS; additional FX per layer. You can only have one dropshadow per layer, and one inner shadow, etc . . . both Fireworks and Illustrator let you apply multiple effects to an object. I'm kind of floored that you can't in Photoshop. Sure, you can fake it by making an additional layer and zeroing out the fill, but it's never quite right.

disclaimer: I've yet to play with CS6
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:03 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the article: "They have a rule in the hiring process: if someone claims to be a Photoshop "expert," they terminate the interview. Photoshop is too big for experts."

From the job description for the designer Adobe is looking for:
"What we are looking for... Expert knowledge of Photoshop, and some facility with other Adobe products."
posted by panaceanot at 9:13 PM on February 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I suggested on John Nack's blog that Photoshop could drop all the ridiculous/antiquated formats that still appear in the save dialog (scitex? targa? really?) I had some vociferous opposition. So yeah, I guess you have to keep everybody happy.
posted by O9scar at 9:15 PM on February 13, 2013


Marshall McLuhan: We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.

The year is 1999. The marketing manager beholds the competitors website and turns to me. Can we do this? I answer truthfully, if we had Photoshop we could do that. The marketing manager disappears and reappears in a puff of smoke and pushes a boxed copy of Photoshop into my hands, "Quickly". I open up the PSD. I shadow and bevel. Over my shoulder I can feel stirring. "Yessss, and how about some glow." "I can do that but is it really what we ..." "GLLLLLLOOOOOWWW."

That's actually not how it happened. Once I had the power of Photoshop in my hands I was the one who became a bevel/shadow/glow monster.
posted by vicx at 9:44 PM on February 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


This Creative Cloud thing sounds pretty nifty.
posted by oulipian at 10:07 PM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


From the article: "They have a rule in the hiring process: if someone claims to be a Photoshop "expert," they terminate the interview. Photoshop is too big for experts."

From the job description for the designer Adobe is looking for:
"What we are looking for... Expert knowledge of Photoshop, and some facility with other Adobe products."


You can also become an Adobe Certified Expert, through Adobe.

In interviews, resumes, etc . . . I've rated my skill in Photoshop as expert for years now. Not because I know every facet of Photoshop, but because there isn't much you can ask me to do in Photoshop that I couldn't do.

Of course, now that I'm saying that I'm sure I'm jinxing myself . . .
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:11 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


FWIW, PS Touch for iPad gives me all the color transform tools and layer tweakery I want and need, reasonably duplicating the desktop functionality, while NONE of the ten or so paint-and-draw tablet apps I have bought have that stuff baked in, apparently because it's non-natural-media-ish.

So while it sure seems like someone could have eaten Adobe's lunch on the tablet, no one did. Which I think tells us a great deal about the effects of Apple's dominance in the space, even if Apple would have preferred a lunch-eating at Adobe's expense.

I may still have a 256-shades-of-grey retail box for PS 1.x or 2.x around here somewheres.
posted by mwhybark at 10:27 PM on February 13, 2013


azpenguin: But Adobe doesn't have a choice. They have to keep plugging ahead. Everything has to work like it did before or companies will not upgrade. New features must constantly be added or users will not upgrade. Now they're heading toward Creative Cloud. If they can't keep people interested in upgrading, that's dead in the water. So we are doomed to feature bloat.

This is interesting because I think Adobe is trying to navigate to a post-bloat future. They are starting with software as service but that doesn't mean it is the destination.

I saw a keynote by Gabe Newell at DICE2013 (Valve Software) where he shares his own experience re-positioning Valve to better accommodate what comes AFTER software as service. Gabe thinks that Photoshop could be FREE to play and that Adobe could make much more money from providing services in and around the participation of players in its marketplace. Valve has been running interesting experiments in electronically mediated markets in the TF2 petri dish, so he has some insights.

Some of Gabes talk is bit ewww! because it represents a distilled "gamification of everything" philosophy but that doesn't mean he isn't on to something.
posted by vicx at 10:32 PM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


What kind of hat would even fit on the color picker eyedrop tool?
posted by radwolf76 at 11:05 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


[insert clever name here] > I love illustrator. I really love illustrator. But until they fix their goddamned color picker tool and its implementation with gradients, there are times I'm going to just do it in Photoshop because it's easier.

Not sure if you mean the eyedropper or the gradient editor.

If you shift-click with AI's eyedropper, it will pick up whatever color is there. I just made a B-W gradient and picked up a bunch of various greys that way.

If you mean the gradient editor, yeah that's funky. It's CHANGED over the years but I'm not sure it's gotten BETTER, I'm still really not sure if I like the 'gradient annotator' they added a few versions ago, even though I use it to tweak gradients every so often.

I love Illustrator too. I've basically been married to it for ten years. I draw comics in it.
posted by egypturnash at 11:28 PM on February 13, 2013


I love love love my creative cloud subscription. Yes it's pricy but I don't have a cable subscription so it kind of evens out.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:32 PM on February 13, 2013


I'm okay with Photoshop and right now learning Illustrator.

Oh, and going back to college for graphic design.

So, you know, all the classes with computer stuff are Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

(what? ten years of banking fuckaround has left me apparently useless as far as any IT job in this or any other town, so fuck it, I'm gonna go for something else entirely.)
posted by mephron at 12:04 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Damnit pwnguin, here I've been perfectly comfortable avoiding C++ since 1998 and in a state of numb acceptance about how my math degree will never have much to do with software development and now I've gone and watched that video and I just... I just don't know anymore.
posted by weston at 12:41 AM on February 14, 2013


He figured out how to transform those images — by treating them as mathematical constructs.

Look, no doubt the people working on Photoshop are very smart people, including its creator, but this sentence says nothing. That's what all computer programs do. Photoshop might be the most successful, but it wasn't the first raster-based graphics editor, and it certainly won't be the last.

This fundamental re-thinking enabled the clone tool, the wand selection tool, and even plug-in filters. Photoshop 1.0 could theoretically open an image the size of a then-modern hard drive (10-15MB) and go to work.

First sentence: No, it didn't! And the reason Display was able to work on the hardware at the time can be figured out from the following sentence: it only kept in memory as much of the image it could hold at any one time.

An all-new Photoshop wouldn't be... Photoshop.

YES IT WOULD. It would be because Adobe would call it PHOTOSHOP. Rewrites happen to other software, some of it much more complex than, yes, even Photoshop. It's a program, not a sacred idol or a way of life. I'm not saying it'd be easy, but if it still relies in places on MacApp then something is screwy.

And a rewrite would likely take a decade, and, thanks to the error-prone nature of building complex software, it might never be completed.

Oh well, guess it can't be helped then! And nothing else can ever be helped either, because difficulty!

Look at Apple’s recent rewrites. Final Cut X, an all-new take on the revered Final Cut Pro, outraged video editing professionals — many of whom are now jumping ship to rival products. It wasn't just about what the app could do, either. It was how it did so — how it looked and felt.

I am not a video editing professional, but I took an interest when that particular storm hit, and the impression I had gotten was that those professionals hated it because it was grossly less capable.

I'm trying to direct my annoyance upon reading this at Adobe instead of the author of the article, but I really didn't like it very much. It seemed too simplistic, too accommodating to people who turn their brains off the moment you use a word like byte.

From the article: "They have a rule in the hiring process: if someone claims to be a Photoshop "expert," they terminate the interview. Photoshop is too big for experts."

This kind of arbitrary, a priori rejection is part of why looking for work SUCKS.
posted by JHarris at 12:54 AM on February 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was wondering the other day whether anyone's gone back and looked at all the features that were missing in FCPX at launch and how many are still missing today, because I think most if not all of them have now been integrated. Also, a subtext of the resentment of traditional video editors was, I think, that it was designed for another type of professional video maker who were more likely to want to edit footage down very quickly and post to the web rather than delivering tapes to TV companies. Though I've heard it's quite good for reality shows for that very reason.

Part of me wants Logic Pro X to use the same magnetic timeline, though I must admit that almost all of the rest of me really doesn't.

But, Adobe.

In a blaze of what was, even for me, an embarrassing online tantrum last week, I found out about Adobe getting rid of the upgrade path (you can now only upgrade from the last major revision, which is about two years) a month after my copy of CS4 became un-upgradeable whilst needing to upgrade. After (literally) passing through all the stages of grief, on reaching acceptance I realised that the most practical thing for me to do was to subscribe to Creative Cloud. Woo!

It's really strange. On the one hand it looks like I'll be experiencing every bug they release in real time (you know those annoying upgrade-Adobe-Reader nag screens - one of those for everything), on the other their main option seems to be an all-you-can-eat buffet where you have to take every item back on your plate.

So it's an insane quantity of stuff. They're redefining Indesign (a program which everyone I know who uses it does so to make physical books) as something to make iPad apps with. You can make apps for other platforms, but you have to pay £250 a month for the privilege.

There's something called Muse, which appears to be designed for creating gigabytes of unnecessary nested tags.

Dreamweaver isn't that much changed since ten years ago, when I realised it was a lot easier to use a proper text editor, FTP client and browser rather than staring at Dreamweaver all day muttering "what... the... fuck..." under my breath. Also, in a way I'm not well-versed enough to express, the program seems to be rooted in a model of making websites (an archpelago of connected .html files rather than a PHP application which generates pages based on input given via the URL) which was out of date the last time I used it.

There are enthusiastic videos made by people whose actual job description appears to be "evangelist". Which is some freaky shit right there, no matter how long it's been going on. The earlier ones were presented by an avuncular fellow in an Adobe polo shirt, while more recently (as they've honed up their cutting edge), there are more Evangelists who look like sales people who have been dressed up in costumes to make them look like hipsters and designers. One fellow presents from a set made up to look like a Seattleite's studio. Unless it's his actual studio, in which case it looks like a set, which is worse.

Of course, the worst thing about them from a non-American point of view is how expensive they are -the introductory offer, which is $30 a month in the States is £30 ($50) in the UK, rising next year to £50 ($70) unless they've put the prices up by then, which is quite likely, don't you think. All their prices are nearly half as much again to non-Americans. Because reasons, apparantly.

They're a really strange company, like all the worst aspects of Apple, Microsoft and Google all rolled into one. And they've successfully maintained their monopoly (how exactly did they get away with buying up and getting rid of FreeHand?), so my entire living depends on their software. I could always retrain as a plumber or something, but I'm quite old.
posted by Grangousier at 1:30 AM on February 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


JHarris - that line was fiction which has me questioning the veracity of the entire article (which is par for the course when dissecting 'news' articles where you have some domain knowledge of the subject, and by extension, the whole sordid field of 'journalism')
posted by panaceanot at 1:41 AM on February 14, 2013


I don't know if Final Cut Pro X has added back the features. I hope they have, because I remember the furor being quite hot.

Me, the last time I used Photoshop Proper was years ago, long before the Creative Suite business. I had Elements for a while, but then my version didn't work on Windows 7, so that was the end of that. Everything I need a raster editor for, I use Paint.NET; if that's not enough, I use GIMP.

Every time GIMP gets brought up in a thread like this some people fall over themselves to say it's not as good as Photoshop. Maybe not, but it seems to be good enough for me.
posted by JHarris at 2:00 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you mean the gradient editor, yeah that's funky. It's CHANGED over the years but I'm not sure it's gotten BETTER, I'm still really not sure if I like the 'gradient annotator' they added a few versions ago, even though I use it to tweak gradients every so often.

What I meant and didn't explain well was you can't get to the color picker from inside the gradient tool, unlike every other adobe program. (I think every other, it's been a while since I've used Flash and I only use Fireworks for wireframing these days). And you can't eyedropper a color from your document from within the gradient tool. This drives me bonkers. I probably have a shitty workflow, but my way of grabbing colors via eye dropper then adjusting via the color picker just works for me. And Flash and Firework maybe aren't exactly the same as photoshop but they let you do a lot of the same things, even if you get to them via different means.

I also wish illustrator would adopt some of Flash's drawing methods. The way you can drag lines into curves and link up lines and shapes is very elegant and freeform. Sometimes it's nice to just be able to do that. I don't think you'd want illustrator to do it by default, but having a free drawing mode would be nice. I wouldn't want to give up my bezier handles, but then again, flash you can do either.

The gradient annotator is very similar to Flash's gradient tools, so I hoped they lifted the whole shebang, but nope, they left out the parts I really wanted to see.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:35 AM on February 14, 2013


Except for the security related issues rife in products like this. Make you a deal: I won't bug you to upgrade if you never, ever come cry to me about how your PC has been turned into a scorched wasteland because of some random vulnerability in a 10 year old Adobe DLL.
You don't get to ignore attack vectors. Photoshop doesn't live on any relevant attack surfaces (not for lack of trying by some).
posted by effugas at 2:49 AM on February 14, 2013


True story: I can't bear to get rid of Ilustrater 10 from my Macbook. The program can't run it on the computer, it's PowerPC based, but that version was just about perfect and to delete it feels wrong.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:56 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Every so often I fantasise about starting some grand, modular, graphic design program project, though reading things like this reminds me of how huge that task actually is. Fireworks provides about 90% of the features that I want for making screen graphics, like a lot of people I just wish I could pick and mix one or two other parts from Photoshop, Flash and Illustrator.

True, plenty of apps let people write their own tools, but it never seems to be supported as a primary goal. You can basically do it in Flash already, but jsfl is pretty flaky and making UI isn't standardised. Just stuff like, the gradient transform tool in Flash, + a tool to edit gradient handles in-situ, + a properties panel to edit gradient numbers directly. Or a transform tool that I can rotate relative to the object before scaling it. Also, why are drop shadow and glow two different things still?

Oh oh. And if I can use a channel map as input to filters that would be super awesome too (say, blur amount based on brightness at x,y). Wistful sigh.
posted by lucidium at 3:42 AM on February 14, 2013


Pixelmator. Does 90% of what Photoshop does, has a cleaner, smarter interface and its $30.

Maybe it's not for the super-pro, for instance, there's an extra click involved when you want to save to photoshop format. But it works for me.

On another note, I've been brought into the FCPX fold. They've had seven updates in the last year. It's pretty capable now. Is it perfect? Of course not, but then Avid has been a piece of shit as long as I can remember. So X is definitely the future. I just wish I could get other editors to come along for the ride.
posted by fungible at 4:39 AM on February 14, 2013


I've been using Photoshop and Illustrator in tandem damn near since the Earth cooled, with Illustrator being my primary tool. One thing Adobe got right long ago was the way you can move art between the two so seamlessly.

On the issue of upgrades...My habit is to avoid upgrading until I absolutely have no option. What usually pushes me over the edge is not the pile-on of new (and generally worthless) features, but, rather, the pending upgrade of my Mac's OS. Currently, I'm running CS5 (not 5.5. I refused to pony-up large bucks for a fucking .5 update) on OSX 10.6.8. If I make the leap to 10.8, CS5 might work perfectly...or it might not. I've read reports that go both ways. But, just as I don't see anything new in CS6 that appeals to me, I don't really see a need for 10.8 either. I just may be done with all updates, period.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:49 AM on February 14, 2013


The refine tool alone from CS4 to CS5 was *huge*. It changed the workflow of one of my reoccurring tasks from a 2 hour task to a 20 minute task.

Indeed. CS6 saves me a ton of time as well compared to older versions of Photoshop. I would be very frustrated to go back. CS6 loads for me in about a second and is very quick so I don't see any bloat whatsoever.
posted by juiceCake at 4:51 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh the line about ending the interview if someone calls themselves an expert is just the kind of story companies tell to make themselves feel more idealistic.
posted by smackfu at 4:51 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


> True story: I can't bear to get rid of Ilustrater 10 from my Macbook. The program can't run it on the computer,
> it's PowerPC based, but that version was just about perfect and to delete it feels wrong.

That gets my hackintosh corpuscles in an uproar. If you had illustrator 10 running on OSX running on an emulated PowerPC on some other actual hardware, what OSX version would it need to be?
posted by jfuller at 5:07 AM on February 14, 2013


"So CS6 isn't for Thomas Knoll. It's not for my dad. It's not for me. It's not really for anybody. It's just for everybody."
Well, no. Photoshop isn't for everybody, Photoshop is for Adobe.

They actually could rewrite it and make it faster/better but they aren't doing it for the same reason that no other company has stepped in and made a Photoshop-beater; it'll be expensive and it'll take a long time and when there's no competition there's no business case for it.

Adobe will continue to release new versions with only 3-4 new features regularly, and continue to charge a ridiculous amount for them, and continue to disallow them to save PSD files that older versions of Photoshop can open, until they're forced to do something else by the market.
posted by dickasso at 5:13 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except for the security related issues rife in products like this. Make you a deal: I won't bug you to upgrade if you never, ever come cry to me about how your PC has been turned into a scorched wasteland because of some random vulnerability in a 10 year old Adobe DLL.

Why do you think I host the installer for my uncle?
posted by odinsdream at 5:29 AM on February 14, 2013


This already happens in a hundred thousand tiny little ways, every day. People move on and custom data specs get lost to time. cron jobs become like Pratchettian golems, laboring away unseen and unsupervised until they break. When that happens, it's an enormous panicked rush: Who knows how to send the ACH data? Who sends it? Who does it go to? Where do the SPEED transaction files get stored for audits? The AP people are in a panic and our ISP is threatening to cut off service because we haven't paid in 180 days! When did payments stop? Why didn't the last AP clerk transfer that information? Who knows!?

All. The. Time.


Oh my god yes. It's like this scene in Margin Call, except instead of CDOs it's cron jobs and batch files hastily written by an intern years ago.
posted by odinsdream at 5:35 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Illustrator will be the first Adobe graphics product to be swallowed by a modern, collaborative, touch-ready alternative. And then it'll be Photoshop.
posted by romanb at 5:47 AM on February 14, 2013


I'm a big fan of Apple's program Aperture. It has lovely code for making natural looking adjustments to exposure and warmth in real time. It works like magic if you shot the original in RAW mode on a camera with a good sensor.
I use Aperture to sort my raws. However exporting those raws to a lossless format like TIFF still introduced JPEG-like artifacts, which has led me to cutting it out of large parts of my workflow. If you compare this image with this reprocessing then aside from the slight rotation and cropping differences and better colour balance, you'll see the sky background around the stars are coloured the same way as those stars in blocks, and I traced that issue to Aperture. I was very unhappy with these artifacts being introduced in converting to a lossless format.
I still use it for more ordinary photography though, I admit.
posted by edd at 6:00 AM on February 14, 2013


Illustrator will be the first Adobe graphics product to be swallowed by a modern, collaborative, touch-ready alternative.

oh, I dunno. Having bought every vector-based drawing and design app I could find for the iPad, I can definitively state that there are unresolved usability issues that appear to be inherent to vectors and touch UI, the most important of which were contextual clicks to define the drag behavior of a selected or defined point. It was kind of a bummer to figure this out.
posted by mwhybark at 6:07 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


On the subject of their 'Creative Cloud' subscription plan, here's a great video of the CEO of Adobe dodging, in the most weaselly, mealy-mouthed way imaginable, a question about pricing for Australian customers.

Personally, I detest the whole subscription thing, and this makes me want to run. I guess Adobe doesn't care because they think there's no place else for people to run to.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:33 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sure I could get by (web designer) with the version of PS I had 5 or 6 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago, but I have a graphic designer in my office who has to HAS to HAS TO have the latest version of all things Adobe, and our boss shrugs and springs for it, so I get upgraded too every year or so to keep me compatible with his source files. I'm also someone who uses Dreamweaver daily and many years ago simply learned to work around its design view weirdnesses that contribute little and just take it for granted as a pointlessly fancy html/text editor and FTP client in one. Whee.
posted by aught at 6:37 AM on February 14, 2013


oh, I dunno. Having bought every vector-based drawing and design app I could find for the iPad, I can definitively state that there are unresolved usability issues that appear to be inherent to vectors and touch UI, the most important of which were contextual clicks to define the drag behavior of a selected or defined point. It was kind of a bummer to figure this out.

Using a brick next to a screen to draw or design has usability issues that go far beyond contextual menus and clicks. While I fully agree that we're not there yet, especially not on the iPad, some of these issues have been resolved in other kinds of software, and there are some clever ways to bring up those and other features. That said, you can use a stylus on just about any touch device, or a mouse on new Windows tablets and PC's.
posted by romanb at 7:37 AM on February 14, 2013


Damn, I miss FreeHand.
posted by litlnemo at 7:59 AM on February 14, 2013


It's kind of sad, but nowadays you'll find design workplaces that are so trapped in Photoshop that they act like you're practicing dark arts when they see that you prefer Illustrator for a lot of things. Listen, acolyte, that you may know the arcane doings of The Pathfinder, the key to your ascension!

If I were a tattoo-gettin' man, I think it might be a tattoo with visible bezier curves and handles.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:07 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not saying it'd be easy, but if it still relies in places on MacApp then something is screwy.

Back in the twilight of MacOS 9, I was tasked with writing a printer driver. Even though this was a PowerPC machine, the printing subsystem still relied heavily on 68k code, running in emulation and written in Pascal and assembly. I can only imagine the legacy horrors still lurking in the bowels of the OS after subsequent 14 more years.

So there I was, in the year 1999, learning 68k assembly code. For extra fun, my print driver's C++ code needed to boot up the JVM and run a Java GUI. Then that internship ended, I vowed never to use a Mac again, and lived happily ever after.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:37 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The things I could type here... the many, many stories. In a world of Photoshop "experts", I can honestly say that I was amongst the first few. And I'll tell you what - the single most capable Photoshop user in the world now works at Apple.

Very few product names become verbs. Once they get that status, it's difficult to unseat them.

Wang. WordStar. Photoshop.

That said, it's possible. But at this point, yeah, Photoshop is trying to be too many things to too many people, and the stuff that's been grafted on - 3D, video editing, data analysis - is all fairly weak. The things that the program REALLY needs - to be easier to use, a cleaned-up Curves control, data processing architecture to make it work more like After Effects - that stuff ain't happening, because the folks with the control over it don't have much of a wide understanding of the history of the industry, or that particular area of software.

Yeah, the stories I could tell...

Some other time, perhaps. Or not.
posted by dbiedny at 9:12 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Forget Photoshop, can someone do something about Flash? Using that program is like landing on the planet of the insane.
posted by freakazoid at 9:21 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and the idea that Pixelmator does 90% of what Photoshop can do is utter rubbish. The lack of numerical color correction tools means that you can't do real color work with it, the implementation of Unsharp Mask is a joke, and lacking channel-based tools renders it impotent for professional work. You want to save money, get Photoshop Elements, the single biggest bargain in the Adobe bin, it'll run circles around Pixekmater for under $100.
posted by dbiedny at 9:23 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh gravy granules, Flash Pro kills me. My favourite recent addition is the "Deco tool", aka the "accidentally select instead of brush and crash Flash button." It does go well with all of the other Crash Flash features though, like using the motion editor too vigorously, or entering text into the properties panel when it's not in the right mood.
posted by lucidium at 9:31 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm still using Photoshop 7.0 and I've yet to find any feature in the current CSnnn version that justifies the cost.

I'm going to go clone tool some kids off my lawn.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 10:07 AM on February 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Using a brick next to a screen to draw or design has usability issues that go far beyond contextual menus and clicks. While I fully agree that we're not there yet, especially not on the iPad, some of these issues have been resolved in other kinds of software, and there are some clever ways to bring up those and other features. That said, you can use a stylus on just about any touch device, or a mouse on new Windows tablets and PC's.

Well, sure, which is why I use a stylus for input much of the time when in a graphics application on the (Mac) PC. I have a 12" Cintiq, so I do actually have the direct-draw experience under my belt, and it's helpful. I worked with a mouse or regular tablet for years and years prior to that, though, so I'm happy either way and don't actually find the brick an impediment. I used to call it drawing with a soap bar.

As you note, though, we're not there yet. Being a hopeful fool, I sprung for a Jot Touch on ship availability, and it too has rough edges as I certainly should have expected. Even in the apps written toward the idea of bluetooth stylii, there was no implementation of contextual click selects, the sensitivity of the pressure input was limited and in certain apps only assignable to stroke density rather than to stroke width, and of course the use of hard plastic for the contact disc caused a certain subset of users to scratch their tablet screen when hard grit was trapped between the disc and the screen.

I think in all likelyhood these issues won't be resolved until a second generation of touch-input devices. Although given that two-finger and three-finger (hell, maybe more) multitouch gestures are available in iOS, I suppose one could implement a flyout menu at point of contact if you, oh, touch the drawing surface with the pinky of the hand that holds the stylus. That solution would still require a pointer-based selection, though, which interrupts the click-drag flow.

I suppose I should set aside an afternoon to do another sweep though the various apps to see what usability improvements have been backfilled for bluetooth stylus users, as it's been well over six months.
posted by mwhybark at 10:15 AM on February 14, 2013


I am hopefully optimistic that GIMP will become a serious threat once 2.10 is released. It has serious shortcomings for sure, but the main thing I'm dying for is a stable release that supports higher bit depths. Working in Lab, HSV or CMYK directly, instead of grayscale separations would be nice, but the decompose/recompose function works well enough, and using it has helped me develop an intuitive understanding of how various colour spaces work. That and PS doesn't even have the option of seamlessly decomposing/recompose in HSL/HSV, which is super useful for things like compositing with an unevenly lit chroma key backdrop.

One thing that really kills me about Photoshop is the curves dialogue. You'd think such an important tool would be a priority for Adobe. If you haven't used the one in GIMP 2.8, go install it now. Play around with it. See how the curves for each channel display over top one another, how the histogram can be linear or log, how the window can be axis-independently resized, how the channel value shows up as a vertical line instead of a dot on the curve when you have the cursor on the image. Now consider the tragedy that you can't use that same beautiful dialogue in 16-bit Lab mode. If this comes in 2.10, even without Lab or CMYK modes and has reliable colour space conversion across bit depths, as has been promised, I'm going to leave PS and not look back.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:15 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Adobe has disabled the activation server for CS2 products, including Acrobat 7, because of a technical issue. These products were released more than seven years ago, do not run on many modern operating systems, and are no longer supported.

Adobe strongly advises against running unsupported and outdated software. The serial numbers below should only be used by customers who legitimately purchased CS2 or Acrobat 7 and need to maintain their current use of these products.



CS2 was pretty good, so I mean...
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:21 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


CS2 still runs pretty well on 64-bit Windows 7, too. Illustrator drops your desktop out of Aero schemes, and CS2 has always been obnoxious by randomly forgetting your workspace layout, but those are about the only things that bug me about it.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:42 AM on February 14, 2013


> Adobe strongly advises against running unsupported and outdated software.

Heh, I'll bet they do! Guess I just won't know whether there was any advantage for AI CS2 over current Inkscape.

> Illustrator drops your desktop out of Aero schemes

I sho'nuff beat it to that.
posted by jfuller at 10:52 AM on February 14, 2013


Oh, there can be some installation headache with CS2, the answers to which are here.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:03 AM on February 14, 2013


Adobe strongly advises against running unsupported and outdated software.

It would be great if Microsoft has a notice like this for XP in general and then Internet Explorer 6 and 7 specifically or rather, for XP, don't use Explorer, use Firefox or Chrome.
posted by juiceCake at 11:05 AM on February 14, 2013


It would be great if Microsoft has a notice like this for XP in general...

They do and they discontinued support for XP security updates.

...and then Internet Explorer 6 and 7 specifically or rather, for XP, don't use Explorer, use Firefox or Chrome.

They are.
posted by odinsdream at 11:24 AM on February 14, 2013


> They do and they discontinued support for XP security updates.

They've stated when they're going to discontinue them, but it's still over a year off. Checking, I see four XP security updates knocking on my download-me door right now -- KB2778344, KB2780091, KB2799494, and KB2802968, as well as a cumulative security roll-up for IE8.

I will hang onto my XPSP3 machine (and not just for antiquarian interest, like my Apple ][, but for actual use) because XP is so very well understood. We had XP far longer that Microsoft ever intended due to their delays and screwups getting its replacement out there (heh, Vista wasn't it). Recall that their initial attitude to registry editing in XP was No User Servicable Parts Inside. But the knowledge creeped out of Redmond or was discovered independently, to the point where MS bowed to the inevitable and now most troubleshooting KB entries have an official MS-endorsed section on fixing your problem with regedit (prefaced of course by the obligatory You May Bugger Your PC If You Try This At Home warning.)

Win 7 has an analogous no-go zone, namely the ~\winsxs\ directory structure, which gets bigger and bigger and bigger and about which MS's official position is still "Don't even think about hand-pruning \winsxs, the damage is instant and terrible." Eventually despite MS we will find out how to do this--that is, if Win 7 lasts as long as XP did. But if Win 8 is a success that won't happen and XP will remain the best-understood OS from microsoft, assuming you're not Mark Russinovich. With adequate geekly attention to security add-ons (AV, firewall, intrusion detection) XP is emphatically not broken.

This wasn't meant to be topic-drifty so, to bring this back home to PS I'll mention that the somewhat older one I have (CS3 extended) runs fine on Win 7 Ultimate, the later OS just by itself does not force a PS upgrade. (I can only vouch for 32 bit.) Beyond that, my solution to the ever-growing \winsxs problem is to run only portable apps that don't require a Windows installer. Just unzip and run.

There is no portable photoshop, of course; I had to install that one in the "Windows Installer" sense. But that is, so far, the only app I have had to install the old-fashioned way on my Windows 7 machine and give windows a chance to see all its dll files going in and copy them all to \winsxs and embalm them there forever. There is a portable GIMP. There is a portable Inkscape. There is a portable XNview. There are several portable office suites, and so on. (In fact there's a portable MS-brand Office suite floating around, though it's not the most recent version.) Actually portable apps has become a very rich field in the last few years and I think it's a reasonable ambition to hope never to have to install anything in Win 7 or 8 or later except a few legacy apps like PS.
posted by jfuller at 12:32 PM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


More maddening to me than people using PS when they should use illustrator is the opposite: People using illustrator to do work which should be done in photoshop.
posted by maxwelton at 2:43 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are no shoulds. People use what they know, are given, have handy or can afford. Whatever works.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:53 PM on February 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: There are no shoulds.

/cabal handshake
posted by mwhybark at 11:17 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


CS2 still runs pretty well on 64-bit Windows 7, too.

And yet my edition of Photoshop Elements, which I think came out after CS2, won't run on Windows 7. LAME.
posted by JHarris at 1:50 AM on February 15, 2013


There are no shoulds. People use what they know, are given, have handy or can afford. Whatever works.

But there are recommends. I'd recommend creating a logo in a vector editing programming rather than a raster editing program with vector features for example.
posted by juiceCake at 6:58 AM on February 15, 2013


But there are recommends.

Very few people have the money to buy such software or the patience to learn it. Especially when there's "similar" features in Microsoft Word.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:00 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very few people have the money to buy such software or the patience to learn it. Especially when there's "similar" features in Microsoft Word.

Inkscape. It's not as full-featured as Illustrator, but for logo design it works great and is easy to learn. Who uses the drawing tools in Word? Especially when copy/pasting objects from Inkscape works even with Word 2003. You lose some SVG functionality, like blur effects and a full alpha channel, but it's not likely someone creating drawings in word is going to care about something like that. It's super intuitive and well documented.

If Inkscape gets gradient meshes and a proper object manager, Adobe should worry about the future of Illustrator.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:50 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who uses the drawing tools in Word?

People who have Word and have neither the time or patience to find, download, install and learn Inkskape. Some of these people barely know how to choose printer.

Few people want to learn new ways of doing things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:09 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh. I use Photoshop basically daily, but 80% of the time I use it more or less like Illustrator - drawing with vectors. Occasionally I do actually photo editing in there too, but it's not my primary function. I've tried to use Illustrator, and I can make it work the way I want it to, sort of, but I've never gotten to the point where I stop feeling like I am working the tool more than I am working the idea. With Photoshop my workflow is so comfortable that I never think about the tool - even as grievously limited as the tool is I never waste cycles worrying about it or going the wrong way.

I know it's backwards of me, but here I am. I even know that it is a dead end, evolutionarily speaking. Thing is, I don't need to take over the whole world - I just want to live in my happy little Galapagos.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:17 AM on February 15, 2013


There are no shoulds. People use what they know, are given, have handy or can afford. Whatever works.

If you are designing a web page and want it to be pixel perfect (I know, I know), and you present me with a PDF from illustrator, it's not going to be pixel perfect.
posted by maxwelton at 12:57 PM on February 15, 2013


Very few people have the money to buy such software or the patience to learn it. Especially when there's "similar" features in Microsoft Word.

And that's fine. We don't do business with those people or if we do, we educate them on getting a proper logo for print purposes and if they're a serious business, they'll get one done properly. If not, then so be it, we couldn't care less. That said, not a single client has declined having a vector based logo created when presented with the advantages.

As for the money, for what programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. do, they are remarkably well priced. I'm surprised they can afford Word when Libre Office is free...
posted by juiceCake at 2:51 PM on February 15, 2013


People who have Word and have neither the time or patience to find, download, install and learn Inkskape. Some of these people barely know how to choose printer.

Few people want to learn new ways of doing things.


And if companies hire these people to create their web sites, logos, training material, promotional materials, etc., it will show.
posted by juiceCake at 2:55 PM on February 15, 2013


effugas: You don't get to ignore attack vectors. Photoshop doesn't live on any relevant attack surfaces (not for lack of trying by some).

Perhaps you and I have different definitions for this concept, Dan, but an exploit that works by opening a TIFF or PNG image is pretty much the attack surface I live on.
posted by kjs3 at 7:45 PM on February 19, 2013


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