In the Wake of Adobe Announcements

by Don Burnett

CS3 Disappointment

Well it’s been an exciting week for Adobe announcements. I was looking forward to the Creative Suite 3 announcements. I was a little disappointed when Adobe offered a beta copy only to people who have CS2 right now. It’s obvious they are only concerned with keeping their current customers and promoting it to those using CS2 now. This is a little short sighted because I know tons of people who have and still use older versions of Photoshop and have never updated to any of the CS products. You might find this shocking but I know artists who have been using Photoshop since version 4.x and they still only use version 6.0 or 7.0.

Why is this? Most like the UI in the older versions and know how to use it and just do not want to update to changed UI. When I ask these people why they still use old software versions. I hear things like “they just changed the UI, and there has been no serious functionality changes that I would use in anything newer that they have offered.”

So, when I decided to evaluate Photoshop CS3 with the two day non-registered evaluation, I spent time looking at why I might buy this version of Photoshop based on these comments.

I did a direct feature comparision from Version 7.0 to CS3 and here’s what I found. Let’s say they are still very much the same product. There is improved animation/video support and better support for digital photography, but really I am not seeing that much in the way of changes to Photoshop or how it works.

Maybe it’s the old story don’t argue with success, but I wouldn’t mind seeing new features and functionality and new ways of working with layers and filters, in more inspiring realtime ways.

One of the things, I, for instance like about the new Microsoft Office is that when you see some feature it gives you an animated example of how something will change and changes can happen in realtime including realtime undos. I don’t understand why Photoshop doesn’t do this in a more realtime way, as CPU power is there to allow for these things. Also support of graphics cards with GPUs to improve rendering times should be there (not just multiple CPU and core support).

I may be old fashioned here, but, I did not see anything cutting edge or new here or something that was new that wasn’t being done somewhere else in another program already. I guess for the price, I expect more (especially with free gems out there like Paint.Net which runs all as managed code and is available for free and has full HD Photo support).

You may ask why mess with success? Well considering it’s 2007 I think Adobe should go back and take a fresh look at Photoshop and creating an interface and featureset implementation that is worthy of a 2007 product launch. Photoshop is a grand old program now and very mature, but is beginning to look a little aged. I challenge Adobe in the next version to start totally from scratch, redesign Photoshop’s interface add more realtime features and feedback and make it the program it deserves to be.

This has been my main beef with Macromedia studio apps, is they are beginning to have to much legacy bloat still on their coat tails. I got tired of Dreamweaver updates when all they did was change the UI, but not add new features like ASP.NET 2.0 support even years after it was released.

It’s not enough to rework the interface a little bit (just enough to issue a new beginners book or training system) and not give new function and features.

I honestly can’t see a good reason to buy CS3 as a new user of it, but maybe they are only interested in keeping their base.  I am sure I’ll end up working yet another company however that will buy it because it’s a “standard” and require use of it. Even though for everyday use there are other less expensive products that are on par with it.

My message to Adobe: Sometimes folks who set standards need to really go back and remember why things they did in the past became a standard ( with revolutionary feature set). Adobe you need to go back and find that innovation again. Take a risk, re-invent things and how they work. It’s time. You won’t loose base if you can make it easier and more functional and more instantaneous and realtime.

APOLLO

Okay after having said that about CS3, I am happy to report I love the alpha of the Apollo runtime. I love that it’s cross platform and you can integrate all those Flash, Flex, and HTML functionality into a real Rich Internet Application as a full cross-platform application that works on the Mac and PC. I wish they had also added Linux support, but maybe that will still happen.

Apollo applications are great, small and do some incredible things. I was really excited about one of the sample applications called maptacular that integrates an HTML application (Google maps) in a mashup with VCARDs in a full desktop application.

Apollo is very very cool.

I do have some reservations about the development environment. I have never been a fan of Eclipse (a now open source IDE, which was based on an old IBM IDE). I would very much like to see Adobe open Apollo and Flex development to other IDEs. If they did this I would be more likely to embrace it more wholeheartedly. You might ask why I feel this way. Well it’s mostly not so great experiences with Eclipse in the past and the fact that it’s very Java centric. Adobe might find that there are more than a few developers who feel this way. The SDK certainly can be used elsewhere, so why not extend and embrace or create their own.

Will I be using Apollo very much? I am not sure, it’s certainly cool technology. Most of my time is spent in Microsoft development environments these days, and with WPF I don’t have to have a runtime installed to create an XML markup based UI that just runs in Windows environments.

To OZ and back…

I have heard there are several developers working on MXML to XAML and XAML to MXML markup translators to make markup more transportable between these environments. I am looking forward to seeing betas come out because I think this will make everything a more connected world. I hear these will include webservices and data access support too. Mighty cool huh?

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