Dan Margulis Applied Color Theory

Four Suggested Rules for Software Design

On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part I
Posted by: Dan Margulis
Thu Oct 16, 2008 8:01 am (PDT)

While out of the country, I was monitoring traffic from list members about the CS4 release. I wasn't motivated to join in, for the same reason that I've never commented on the overall merits of CS3. I wrote or posted extended reviews of each of the seven whole-number versions between Photoshop 3 and CS2. With no more books on the horizon and the column winding down, there was no further incentive for me to look at beta versions, and there are more productive ways to spend my time than writing reviews of software, even Photoshop.

I still feel the same way. I don't want to speak about Photoshop CS4 as a whole. Like every other release it has certain nice new features and certain disappointments. Instead, I would like to focus on one specific issue, with a view to making FUTURE releases better than they otherwise might be. I do this because in one area in which Photoshop has historically been better than other software products, it has recently slipped badly. For reasons of length, my comments are split into two posts.

Up until roughly Photoshop CS2, while some releases were better than others, the overall updating pattern was satisfactory. That is, the product was always stable, speed and performance continually improved, and care was taken that it would not unduly difficult for users to migrate to the new version.

These factors are not to be taken for granted.

*Anybody who suffered through the release of Quark 4, Illustrator 9, or the final deathrattles of GoLive is grateful for Photoshop's consistent stability.

*I've just "upgraded" to the most recent version of Microsoft Excel, running in native mode on a powerful Intel Mac. It is somewhat disconcerting to find that performance is worse than in a five-year-old version running in emulation mode on an old G4. That has never happened with Photoshop.

*When applications are mature, rather than devote time to developing useful new features, which among other things require talent and run the risk of being found not to work properly just when the product is about to ship, the developer resorts to jacking around with the interface, making useless changes that are then fobbed off as making the product more efficient. The archetype of this type of "upgrade" was Illustrator 7. There were so many random, stupid changes in the interface that many users (including me) trashed it in disgust, not wishing to spend the time to relearn the program. By contrast, a Photoshop 4 user confronted with Photoshop CS would have to spend some time learning functions that didn't previously exist, but he would have no trouble figuring out to use the ones he was already familiar with, in spite of a slightly retooled look.

From CS2 afterward, Photoshop has continued to shine in the first two categories. With the notorious exception of Bridge, which as I understand it is not really a product of the Photoshop development team, the application itself has remained solid. And every version has continued to be faster than the one previous. CS4's performance, particularly in image display, is significantly better than CS3's.

It's that third category that's gone seriously downhill. Instead of making meaningful improvements in the core product, the Photoshop team has branched out on various tangents. And it has followed the lead of others in eschewing serious improvements in favor of renamings of commands that don't need to be renamed, reassignment of functions that doesn't need to be reassigned, and repackaging of existing capabilities without adding new features. When I see Photoshop CS4, I think Illustrator 7.

Foresight is not always 20/20. When new capabilities are added, one doesn't always know how they will be used or what flaws in the concept may be. When something like layers, or adjustment layers, or Camera Raw, or Bridge is introduced, we cannot expect perfection. The development team has to be given leeway to improve the presentation based on user experiences, even if the basic idea doesn't change. Renaming, reworking, or redesigning something one, two or possibly even three releases after it has been introduced cannot be faulted.

That a function has stabilized, however, is a powerful indication that there's nothing grossly wrong with it. If the developers want to add significant new functionality, that's great. If all they want to do is to rework the same capabilities into a different-looking package, that's not great. It should be seen as what it is, an attempt to justify the "upgrade" that, in fact, reduces its value.

I would like to suggest that the following four simple rules should be adopted not just by the Photoshop team, but by every Adobe product and, for that matter, every other software company in our field.

1. Any component that has existed under its present name for at least three versions may not be re-named unless its basic functionality has radically changed.

2. The physical location of any component that has existed unchanged for at least three versions may not be moved significantly, absent an overwhelming, irrefutable reason. "Compatibility" with other products is not a valid reason.

3. Any keyboard shortcut that has existed unchanged for at least three versions may not be changed, absent an overwhelming, irrefutable reason. "Compatibility" with other products is not a valid reason.

4. Any parts of the interface that have been stable for at least three versions may not be drastically redesigned unless accompanied by significant new capabilities.

Abiding by these simple concepts should be the mark of the skilled, and client-sensitive, development team. Failure to abide by them identifies the lazy, the corporate politician, and the incompetent. We've seen in recent releases some violations of these principles, but nothing like the torrent of pointless changes found in CS4.

I. COMPULSIVE RENAMING.
To verify what is 15 years old, I opened my version of Photoshop 3 (1994). My favorite command, then as now, was Image: Adjust>Curves.

Some versions later, I forget which, some rocket scientist decided to change Adjust to AdjustMENT. Why this was thought to be any improvement is unclear. The added value to the user was nil. It was not particularly inconvenient, either, because most people understood that Adjust and Adjustment were the same thing. Not all, mind you. I got several questions from unsophisticated users who were trying to follow early editions of PP and couldn't find curves. Plus, lots of books and documentation had to be rewritten, and most Actions or scripts that referenced the old name would not work when it was changed.

In CS, I think, some other brain surgeon decided the term needed to be AdjustmentS. Same derisive comments apply. Why would anyone care whether the thing is called Adjust or Adjustment or Adjustments? Just pick one, stick with it, and don't hassle us with pointless name changes. Many of these Adjustments or whatever they are called were very fine commands in 1992 but quite pitiful by the standards of what could be done with them today. If Adobe is so overstaffed that it can assign people to make changes to this name and all the documentation that goes with it, why can't they assign them to upgrade the Hue/Saturation interface of Camera Raw (which is better than Photoshop's H/S) and add it as an Adjust, or Adjustment, or Adjustments?

If this sort of silliness happens once in a while, nobody is going to get too bothered. But here's the rundown on CS4:

*After six years of being called "Shadow/Highlight", it was deemed necessary to change the name to "Shadows/Highlights". As usual, no benefit whatever to the user, but make-work for those preparing documentation or needing to update their Actions. As with Adjust/Adjustment/Adjustments, it suggests a question. If Adobe has so many people available with nothing better to do than rename stuff and rewrite documentation, why can't they let them program (Shadow/Shadows)/(Highlight/Highlights) to work on an adjustment layer?

*People have had to rotate images since the beginning of time. The various subcommands that accomplish this are, in Photoshop 3, given the sensible name Rotate. Some versions later, it was felt necessary to rename it to Rotate Canvas. In Photoshop CS4 it is now Image Rotation. Furthermore, its location has been significantly changed, in violation of Rule #2 above. No benefit whatsoever to the user. And, unlike Shadows/Highlights, this one has the potential for confusion. Don't think so? Then consider the next one.

*Photoshop CS4 introduces a new correction command, Image: Auto Tone. Being interested in color correction myself, I tried it out on a random image, and the result was impressive. I immediately assembled a suite of test images to find out exactly what it did. The result? Auto Tone is the command that has been known for 20 years as Auto Levels--but it isn't even in the same menu location that Auto Levels has been for 20 years.

Auto Levels is referenced and recommended in every textbook, including mine. Yes, it's primitive, but it has value. What's wrong with leaving it with the name and location it's had since since before some Photoshop professionals were born? Other than Karnak the Magnificent, what user, looking for Auto Levels (under Image: Adjust/Adjustment/Adjustments) will be able to divine that he should be looking somewhere else for a command called Auto Tone?

If Adobe has so many people with a lot of time on their hands, why can't they just leave the name and location alone, and instead give Auto Levels Luminosity and Color sliders, which would greatly increase the utility of the command?

II. HIDE AND GO SEEK.
Photoshop users should not be forced to hunt for familiar routines. The moving, let alone the renaming, of Auto Levels, should not have been permitted, and would not have been permitted by my suggested rules.

We first saw this pattern in CS2. The Assign Profile and Convert to Profile commands, after almost a decade under Image: Mode, wer abruptly moved to the Edit: menu bar. No added value to the user. It takes an unreasonably long time for users to adjust to such a move. If Adobe has so many idle personnel that it can assign them to make this move and deal with the documentation, then it certainly should have enough to add the profile editing that has been so obviously needed in Photoshop since 1998.

It gets worse in CS4. The addition of Auto Tone/Auto Levels to the Image: menu forces down certain other items three steps down, which is not unduly difficult to adjust to-- except that the rest of the menu is randomly scrambled. Image: Rotate Image is gratuitously renamed, but it's also moved up, above items that it previously fell below. So is Image Size. Apply Image, which is one of the most commonly used commands, goes almost all the way to the bottom of a lengthy menu, having spent the last 20 years near the top. This is *not* easy to adjust to. If Adobe has such a staff surplus that it can assign people to make such a move, it can certainly fix Apply Image so that it works properly in LAB.

Shuffling long-established commands has less than no benefit to the user. Any hypothetical gain in productivity in the future would be outweighed a thousandfold by the loss of productivity in adjusting to the change. Apply Image has been found above Rotate and Image Size for 15+ years. Since there is no change in functionality, the move would be prohibited by my suggested rules.

III. THE UNKINDEST SHORTCUT OF ALL.
For 15+ years, the keyboard shortcut to access either individual channels, or individual channel curves if a dialog is open, has been Command-1 for the first channel (red, L, or cyan), Command-2 for the second, (green, A, or magenta) etc. These are likely the most commonly used shortcuts by retouchers. Being aware that the Photoshop team contemplated changing them, at Photoshop World I attempted to count how many times I used these shortcuts in front of an audience during my three presentations. The answer: about a thousand times. I'd estimate that in my work, I use them upwards of 250,000 times per year. That's around 5 million executions of these keystrokes over my career.

This change is galling for several reasons, all of which suggest that the person(s) implementing them have never made serious use of the program. First, the bland suggestion that we should just "relearn" the new keystrokes after performing the old ones several million times. This is roughly like reversing the left- and right-click buttons on the mouse and suggesting that users should "just relearn".

Second, the "new" keystrokes are not executable by anyone with hands smaller than those of a gorilla. For the last 15 years, the single most common keyboard shortcut for CMYK retouchers has been Command-4, to show the critical black channel. This has now been changed to Command-6. It is physically painful to twist the wrist into this position. Execute this shortcut tens of times per day--as retouchers commonly do--and carpal tunnel syndrome would be the inevitable result. Even RGB users now have to use Command-6s and Command-7s when alpha channels are in use.

Third, for more than 15 years the shortcut to access the first channel in Photoshop proper has been the same as for the curves dialog either within or without an adjustment layer. In CS4, insanely, they are now three separate shortcuts.

Fourth, there is no indication of an appreciation of how important these shortcuts are. All the silly stuff discussed in Section I and II is just that--silly stuff. Annoying and time- consuming to have to adjust to, and irritating in the sense that Adobe chooses to work on cosmetics when there is so much substance that *could* be improved upon.

It can, however, be lived with. The channel shortcuts are different. They are too critical to production to lose. Shortcuts that are physically too difficult to execute are the same as no shortcuts at all. Losing these shortcuts is therefore a dealbreaker. It would be nearly impossible for CS4 to include as many new features as would be necessary to compensate for the loss. I don't know whether they could be changed through the Edit: Keyboard Shortcuts menu, I suspect not. I have heard rumors that in the shipping release there may be a mechanism whereby users can restore the traditional shortcuts by means of a plugin. If so, that would be welcome and would likely change some peoples' minds on whether to purchase the update.

The fact remains, however, that Adobe was irresponsible even to consider such a change. There can NEVER be a justification for removing a feature as important as this one, unless it is so glaringly obvious that no reasonable person could disagree.

The stated reason for changing these shortcuts falls far short. An Adobe evangelist writes as follows: "And while we're on the topic of keyboard shortcuts, we know that changing them can be painful, but certain shortcuts 'had' to change in PSCS4. Some changes were made to bring Photoshop in alignment with the other creative suite applications, for example, Cmd (Mac / Ctrl (Win) + 1 sets the zoom level to 100% brings PSCS4 into alignment with Illustrator, InDesign, and Flash)."

The above sentence is hard to parse because of the presence of the quote marks around "had". The writer may have been expressing disgust with the change. If so, I fully agree. If the sentence is read without the quote marks, it is an insult to every Photoshop user. Adobe didn't *have* to do anything, and shouldn't have. Unifying command structure across Adobe applications regardless of how "painful" it is may seem like a compelling argument to some beancounter in the marketing department, but it is not relevant to the existing user base. Using it as a justification for damaging changes in longstanding features is not acceptable.

Remember, I am only suggesting placing off limits things that have been unchanged for more than five years--and even then, only if the change is for change's sake, without affecting capabilities. The reasoning is this:

*If Adobe Pamplemousse has been doing things one way for more than five years and Photoshop has not, then if somebody really feels the need, Photoshop can be changed AFAIC.

*If Photoshop has been doing things one way for more than five years and Adobe Oxbelch has not, then, if the move is felt to be absolutely essential, Adobe Oxbelch should be changed to emulate Photoshop and not vice versa.

*If Photoshop has been doing things one way for more than five years and Adobe Snickerdoodle has been doing things a different way for more than five years, then what dimwit thinks that there's a problem that needs fixing?

If somebody truly feels that every feature needs to be equalized across applications, then the appropriate action is to create two sets: one to be called Adobe Standard, and one Traditional, or whatever. If options can be added to InDesign for the benefit of those familiar with Quark, certainly they can be added to Photoshop for the benefit of those familiar with Photoshop.

In the second half, a discussion of the remake of the adjustment layers interface.
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Re: On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part I
Posted by: "Jeremy Schultz"
Thu Oct 16, 2008 8:39 am (PDT)

Some responses to what Dan has said in Part I. I am in relative agreement with him, though for whatever reason I?m not as bothered by some of the changed names and menu items than he is. Yeah, it takes a moment to realize what has changed and if I was head of Adobe I would have scuttled such odd changes that really don?t help the user at all, but I?ve been using CS4 for a couple months and those particular changes don?t seem to bother me much. I haven?t yet hit a menu or name change that drives me mad.

What?s much worse, and I consider something of a travesty, are the changing of the keyboard shortcuts. Dan is right‹handling the new keyboard shortcuts for channels and Curves are great if you have six fingers. Moreover, the commands needed are different depending on where you are in the interface. I still haven?t gotten used to them and I am always hitting the wrong commands for what I want. I don?t really get the change, even though I know it?s supposed to be for consistency. It makes no sense to me though, because the opportunity for consistency has passed‹these applications have been developed and matured separately, and now to jam them all in the same mold in terms of usability ends up ruining some very important learned behaviors for all users. I too have heard that there will be a plug-in to restore these keyboard commands (someone on this list said this) but my beta version does not have it. Even if the shipping product does, how many people will have the know-how and the urgency to dig up some obscure plug-in and install it in the proper folder? It would have made a lot more sense if these commands could have been changed in the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box. But they?re not, I?ve checked.

I?m looking forward to reading and commenting on Part II.

Jeremy Schultz
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Re: On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part I
Posted by: "Alex Kent"
Thu Oct 16, 2008 8:59 am (PDT)

i confirmed that there is a plugin to restore old shortcuts to Photoshop CS4.
 
yes it was available for the beta (yours included, presuming you had access to the adobe prerelease downloads), you just had to download and look in the Optional Plugins set. for the final version it may not be on the install dvd, which i think is a mistake, but it'll certainly be available as a download from adobe.com.

i think some of the new shortcuts are awkward (and i'm annoyed that there doesn't appear to be any way to keyboard select point on a curve any more) but i do see why they've done it. making the keyboard shortcuts more similar to the majority of other applications on the market makes photoshop easier to use for new users. thus, it's a good thing.

for those of us with hardened muscle memory who simply can't adjust, they offer the plugin.

it's a bit awkward to find, but even it's availability introduces problems: having inconsistent keyboard shortcuts across different installs of CS4 isn't going to help anyone.

alex kent.
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Re: On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part I
Posted by: "Jeremy Schultz"
Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:41 am (PDT)

Thanks for the details Alex, I?ll have to keep looking for this plug-in. I?m in the beta program but the particular build I?m using now is actually a review copy given to me by Adobe PR.

It sounds like this plug-in is a trick to find, I hope it is on the install DVD and easy to find. If it?s a download then there will be a lot less people using it and, perhaps, a lot more annoyed users who believe they?re stuck with the new commands.

Jeremy Schultz
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Re: On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part I
Posted by: "merlot3000"
Thu Oct 16, 2008 11:14 am (PDT)

*I've just "upgraded" to the most recent version of Microsoft Excel, running in native mode
on a powerful Intel Mac. It is somewhat disconcerting to find that performance is worse
than in a five-year-old version running in emulation mode on an old G4. That has never
happened with Photoshop.

For a pleasant surprise it is worth checking out, buying, and then using the iWork suite from Apple. "Numbers" is a replacement for Excel and if one wondered how a spreadsheet application can be improved and easier to use, Numbers is it. Once I did that I started using "Pages", a replacement for MS Word, and once again I found it to be a replacement for Word but not only that it has enough functionality in it for me to eliminate the need for something like InDesign which I have avoided due to the fear of a learning curve/time investment and also the high price tag. And yep, there is "Keynote" as a replacement for Powerpoint and it does have the expected ease of use and slickness expected of Apple. And the price tag? USD 79.00.

David Barrack
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On CS4: Four Suggested Rules
Posted by: "Richard Chang"
Thu Oct 16, 2008 1:23 pm (PDT)

Dan:

It may be practical to consider that you, and the rest of the folks who use Photoshop to make their livings, are not a growing market. You're generally not buying software; instead you are opting for an upgrade, and not upgrading for every version.

It is quite possible that Adobe is looking for more market. Gee whiz, and features laden menus that don't get used, may be more marketable than common sense. The new, young technofile may be more inclined to accept the changed Photoshop, now and in future "upgrades". As more users who don't make their livings with an application come on board, there is less reason to consider client sensitive software development.

It has been my opinion that Adobe is now the principal arbiter of photography. We used to have Kodak, Fuji, Nikon & Canon, Leica, Hasselblad and some other significant film based players who defined what we considered professional in photography. Many of those companies have been replaced by Adobe. The old guard ruled for almost 100 years. Adobe is just getting started. I'm sure they'd suggest that you be patient.

Richard Chang
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Re: On CS4: Four Suggested Rules
Posted by: Michael Jahn
Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:00 pm (PDT)

On Thu, Oct 16, 2008 at 1:17 PM, Richard Chang wrote:

It has been my opinion that Adobe is now the principal arbiter of
photography. We used to have Kodak, Fuji, Nikon & Canon, Leica,
Hasselblad and some other significant film based players who defined
what we considered professional in photography. Many of those
companies have been replaced by Adobe. The old guard ruled for
almost 100 years. Adobe is just getting started. I'm sure they'd
suggest that you be patient.

I would agree - if you think this is bad, just wait.

Just log into Adobe Photoshop express.

https://www.photoshop.com/express/landing.html

That is the demographic Adobe wants to please enough to get them to buy Photoshop for the first time, and Adobe stockholders will be thrilled if that happens

I was horrified in 1989 when i heard that my typesetter dumped Atex for Quark.

I looked at the H&J tools with horror (Hyphenation and Justification) - these are the things that calculate how far words should be from each other, the spaces between the letters, where a sentence jumps to the next line and such...)

I was buffdled. I was deeply concerned. While there are tools that come close in InDesign, anyone who ever set type will tell you it is a toy compared to what we had with Atex, CCI, EIT or Penta systems.

And today, no one cares, less than .01% of the population knows what kerning means (vs tracking) and gues what - we are nowing headed that same direction with color. I laughed when I heard my neice explain how she complained that CS3 was expensive (student pricing was 349.00 for EVERYTHING) - I explained that the first Mac I purchased was $30,000 (the Mac, the HUGE 17 inch SONY TRINITRON that weighed as much as my CAR and all the applications and FONTS that i needed and the SIMM RAM - and Quark version 1 Illustrator 88 - and no Photoshop version 1 yet, i was stuck with SuperMac Pixel Paint - and we made film and ran it on press. it was crap, it was hard, it took forever to send over localtalk...

It is MUCH better than it was then, and it was nice, but now we need see if we can hold onto - and continue - with CS2 -- LOL!

--
Michael Jahn
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Re: On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Parts I & II
Posted by: "Andrew Webb"
Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:00 pm (PDT)

John Nack has an interesting post on this very subject today, includiing this snippet about the channel-switching command-1,2,3:

"We have, however, created a solution: you can download a file containing a plug-in (Mac)/registry entries (Windows) that remap the channel keys. That is, you give up using Cmd-~ to switch among open documents, and you lose Cmd-1 for zooming to 100%, but tilde will go back to selecting the composite channel and 1, 2, 3, etc. will go back to selecting/targeting the first, second, third, etc. channels. The Mac plug-in just needs to be dropped into your Photoshop plug-ins directory, and on Windows you can enable/disable the behavior by double-clicking the reg entries."

rest of the post is here:

<http: //blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2008/10/shortcut_changes_in_cs4.html>

/andrew webb
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On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part II
Posted by: "Dan Margulis"
Thu Oct 16, 2008 8:04 am (PDT)

IV. FIXING THINGS THAT AIN'T BROKE.
The Curves dialog existed in a single, simple form for 15 years. The ability to input numbers from the keyboard was added in 1998, but the basic dialog didn't change. In Photoshop CS3 (2007), in violation of my suggested rules, the curves dialog was redesigned without adding new capabilities. It's prettier now, no doubt. In terms of effectiveness, it's a downgrade.

Something designed as long ago as the curves dialog is unlikely to be perfect, but that it survived as long as it did indicates that there wasn't any serious problem with it either. Like many other dialogs, some of its ramifications are not immediately evident to non-expert users. Consequently, it's possible that even a programmer with the best of intentions may inadvertently make things worse.

That's what happened. Instead of having one large and one small curve option, we got the least common denominator: a single medium size that is less useful than either. The saving and loading of existing curves is more cumbersome. Plus, there are a couple of obvious oversights. Having the curve itself be in the color of its channel rather than the traditional black seems harmless enough, and it *is* harmless--in RGB. In CMYK, the yellow curve is now nearly invisible.

Plus, in the course of incorporating a needless change in how to choose the orientation of curves (with radio buttons to choose whether we have a 0-100 or 0-255 scale, rather than the historical way of clicking on the gradient below the curve grid) nobody thought to uncouple the scale from the orientation, which would have been quite useful. Many people wish to use a 0-100 scale with a darkness-to-the-left orientation and many others want 0-255 with darkness to the right. Granted, some work would have to be done with the Info palette at the same time, but still, this would be the sort of improvement that justifies a redesign. Instead, the dialog was redesigned in a way that was hard to learn, that gave us no new capabilities, and in fact was worse than before, yet was used in advertising material as a justification for people to buy CS3. I would prefer, and I know a number of retouchers who feel the same way, that this dialog be replaced in CS5 with the traditional one. If Adobe has so many people without anything else constructive to do that it can assign them to redo the curves dialog without adding anything of substance, they could certainly have been assigned instead to add channel curves to Camera Raw, which *would* be of substance.

Other list members have commented on the improved overall interface when CS4 displays multiple images. These changes comply with my rules, because they correct certain deficiencies that were introduced in Photoshop CS3. One could also argue that being able to shift between (and selectively close) multiple images via tabs is a new capability and therefore justifies a change even in a longstanding interface. However, for the sake of this discussion, it's best that we assume that there is *no* new capability, just as, for the sake of discussion, we will assume that the CS4 method is superior to anything seen previously.

My suggested rules allow the CS4 changes--but they would not have allowed what happened in CS3. That was a classic example of make-work: redesign for the sake of redesign, drastically changing a long-standing interface with no valid reason and no new capabilities. And, like the CS3 curves dialog, the new way was worse than the 15-year-old way. It took a lot of time to adjust to. It wasn't bad for people with a large amount of monitor space, but for, say, Photoshop instructors, who often have to work with what amounts to a 17-inch screen, it was a step downhill. Adobe recognized this; the offending parts have been replaced in CS4.

Now, what was the cost of getting it right? CS4 displays and manipulates images much faster than any previous version. The question is, how much more efficient is this new interface as such (not just its speed and display quality; those things were going to happen anyway), than the version found in CS2? A good guess would be several seconds to a minute each working day. That has to be weighed against the time investment not just of learning and adjusting to the CS4 interface, but also of the considerable time wasted learning and then unlearning the inferior CS3 method. CS3, after all, was the one in which the decision to change things was taken. That the first try at improving something that doesn't need fixing may be a failure is part of the cost of change, even if the second try gets it right.

So, again accepting for the sake of argument that the CS4 method of displaying images beats anything we've had in the past, are we really better off overall than if they had just left the traditional interface alone? My answer is no. Even conceding that there has been an improvement, *all things considered* the user base would have been better served if this part of CS2's interface had been retained. It will take 20 years or so for the added efficiency to make up for the time spent adjusting to not one, but two new methods of doing things, one of which was poor. And that's even ignoring the point made so many times before: if less time was spent redesigning for the sake of redesign, then more time would be available for something really useful, such as adding Lighten/Darken sliders to filters, or allowing various kinds of masks to load automatically when commands are invoked.

The most maddening example of this redesign for the sake of redesign, however, is neither of the above examples. Adjustment layers have been around since Photoshop 4 in 1996, and the interface has been stable during that time. Now, without adding capabilities, the whole thing is redone from scratch. The look of several adjustment dialogs has been overhauled. A new adjustment (Vibrance, from Camera Raw) has been added, and also the useful capability to adjust the attributes of layer masks, including reversible blurring. But neither of these should affect the overall interface.

The user has to relearn the entire adjustment layer experience--in order to duplicate capabilities we already have. We now have to cope with dialogs that don't match the non- adjustment dialogs, a new way of opening and closing the dialogs, and new shortcuts. With that much redesigning going on of a complicated interface, errors are practically inevitable. For example, the new curves adjustment dialog makes it unduly cumbersome to place a point by Command-clicking, whereas the basic (non-adjustment layer) curves dialog operates traditionally. The valuable Shift-Command-click to place a point in ALL channels is apparently gone in the adjustment dialog, but lives on in the basic one.

Worse, any serious retoucher going to use both the basic and the adjustment curves dialogs on a daily basis. Even forgetting for a moment that they neither look nor act alike, even the things that one would expect that they share are fouled up. Traditionally, if we want to access the first curve (red, A, cyan), we did the simple and obvious Command-1 in either basic or adjustment curves--the same Command-1 that would access the channel itself if we wanted to look at it. Now, it's Command-3 to show the channel. In the basic curves dialog, it's Command-OPTION-3. But in the adjustment curves dialog, it's SHIFT-option-3. It is common, in my experience, for programming teams to make errors in judgment that cause reviewers to get angry. Then again, there are some displays of such breathtaking incompetence that one can only shake one's head in wonder, and think evil thoughts about the quality of the developer's Human Resources department.

I've worked with the final beta version a fair amount, but not enough to give a final conclusion as to each change. As indicated above, it seems to me that the new image display interface (discounting, as we should, the additional speed and display quality, which was going to happen anyway) is better than the traditional way and much better than the CS3 way. However, my tentative conclusion is that from a productivity POV the new adjustment-layer method is significantly worse than what it replaces and that most users would be better off if it were discarded in CS5 and the former interface restored or at least made optional.

But that assessment is really beside the point, which is that this ambitious project should never have been undertaken in the first place. Even if it gave us marginally more productivity, it would take a long, long time to make up for the time spent learning it. If Adobe has people who can be devoted to making the adjustments interface prettier without making it better, then it certainly has some who can be assigned to update the adjustments themselves. Hue/Saturation, Color Balance, Channel Mixer and Selective Color are bread-and-butter commands but they are all very old. By 1996 standards they were all good, but today there are obvious ways to make them more powerful. The purpose of Photoshop is to process images quickly and effectively. Better commands help us do that. Prettier interfaces do not.

V. IN DEFENSE OF GOOD INTENTIONS.
1) Dealing with criticism and suggestions from users is a universal issue; some companies do it much better than others. Historically, the response of the Photoshop engineering team to such criticism and suggestions has been below average in comparison to other software developers. In the last few years, though, and in the last couple particularly, responsiveness IMHO has improved dramatically. On several occasions, representatives of the Photoshop team have gone well beyond what their job requires in trying to understand what people are complaining about and in seeing whether there is a way to accommodate them. There are two individuals in particular who should be singled out for their patience and dedication. I do not wish to give them the kiss of death by mentioning their names, nor do I wish to inadvertently shortchange anybody else. so they will remain unidentified except to say that they have not been with Adobe for an especially long time. I happen to know that these people (and probably some others) worked hard on the QC of the new adjustments package and did things that indicated they were listening seriously to user feedback. While any company would do this to a certain extent, here it was done to an *impressive* extent. Everybody should appreciate this effort, and I certainly do.

2) From time to time software developers are guilty of putting things in or taking them out of their programs with less than exemplary motivations, such as incorporating spyware or features deliberately designed to disable a competitor. The keyboard shortcut changes are an example: they were changed as a marketing measure in blatant disregard of the user base's needs. There was nothing of the kind with respect to the adjustment layers change AFAIK. The people who planned it, I believe, honestly thought that they were going to give users a better experience.

3) Shortly after this is posted there will doubtless appear a slew of denunciations stating that I am against all progress, hate Adobe, am responsible for the war in Iraq, etc. I want to restate that these comments are limited to significant alterations of long-standing interfaces and commands without the addition of significant new capabilities. Most software development does *not* fall into this category, and I write this only because it is troubling that Photoshop appears to be doing it more and more. Examples of what I am NOT talking about are these:

a) Bridge has many interface modifications in CS4. in addition to having apparently, after two lemon releases, finally become stable. No problem. It's a young feature and young features often need improvements that weren't evident when they were first designed. When Bridge stays constant for three successive versions, THEN it should be left alone unless significant new features are added.

b) The Select: Color Range command *has* been constant for a number of versions. However, significant new functionality is added in CS4. At least minor changes to the interface are needed, but even if the development team had decided to redesign it from scratch, that would be fine with me.

c) Edit: Convert to Profile has also been constant for several versions. New options are added in CS4, therefore new capabilities, therefore the interface can change. There is also a more organized way of choosing profiles. Whether this reorganization consititutes a new capability is a question that need not be answered because the development team sensibly allows us, as an option, to use the "old" Convert to Profile dialog instead.

VI. SUMMARY.
Depending on how you count versions, Photoshop CS4 is the dozenth or so major update of the program. When an application is that mature, producing meaningful updates gets difficult. Few obviously stupid things remain to be fixed; any "killer" new features were probably introduced several versions ago; as new features must nevertheless be added to justify upgrades, the application gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger. When it does, it becomes harder and harder to debug, and more and more likely to run slower, and more and more likely to have flaws when released. Plus, the more successful a product has been, the more people within the company want to horn in to influence its development. Yet in spite of these obviously increased difficulties, management invariably demands that upgrades (I use the term loosely) be produced on the same schedule as ten years ago--if not faster.

With all these pressures, it is very understandable that developers fall into the horse-with-the-interface-rather-than-improve-the-product trap. It's easy, it can be done on a deadline, and it's unlikely to introduce severe bugs that might delay the release date. And, just as a retoucher who works an image with a color cast starts to lose the ability to detect the cast visually and needs to rely on the Info palette, the more time a software designer spends looking at a new design, the easier it is to convince himself that it's a Good Thing--which is why I recommend reference to the four rules above.

So, I suggest that not just Photoshop, and not just Adobe generally, but all software companies adopt them. If the company itself won't do so, then the individuals doing the work should. Before embarking on a cosmetic remake of something that has existed for a long time, they should ask themselves: is this *really* in the best interest of the users I am supposed to be serving? Admittedly, most of the time the result will be an improvement, but sometimes, as we have seen, the old way is deceptively good, so much so that the revision is a downgrade, as in the cases of the CS3 curves dialog, the CS3 image display interface, and the CS4 adjustment layer changes. And, even assuming there is a slight improvement, will it be worth the effort for the user to spend the time adjusting to it?

The real reason for reticence about redesign, however, is this: what better things could I be developing for the product, if I wasn't spending the time diddling with it?

That question is particularly germane to Photoshop, at least in this century. I think everyone understands that when a product is this mature, there will be an emphasis on adding features that can broaden the user base and not just improve things for current users. That said, from the standpoint of the traditional tasks that it is supposed to address, Photoshop is currently a stagnant product and has been for several versions. If the keyboard shortcut issue is addressed, I, like other users, face the choice of whether to purchase CS4. If I do it, the main reasons are technical: speed, better display, a Bridge that finally works, and the ability to open raw files from more cameras. Those things are all good, of course, but it would somehow feel a lot more appropriate if the main reason for purchasing a new version of Photoshop was that it manipulated images better.

Because improvement of existing Photoshop features has basically ground to a halt in the last few versions, there is now a largish backlog of things that might be done, many of which are mentioned higher up. We've seen on our list and others, particularly Scott Kelby's blog, lots of similar improvements being suggested. Not everybody's preference is the same, amd not everybody can get the features they personally hope for. One thing seems clear, though. If Adobe were to voluntarily ban itself from jacking around with the interface when no significant capability is added, we would all see a lot more of the features we're interested in.

We'd have to invest time in learning those new features, for sure. That's too bad, because there is so much worthwhile information out there that most of us are already pressed for time to study stuff. Nevertheless, if Photoshop really offers something new and better, most of us are willing to take the time to learn how to use it. Having to spend a lot of a time relearning how to do something that we already know how to do is a different story, and that, ultimately, is the story of Photoshop CS4.

Dan Margulis
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Re: On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part II
Posted by: "Jeremy Schultz"
Thu Oct 16, 2008 8:59 am (PDT)

Part II is also a good post, though I would take it one further and include the Masks panel as something that is an interface addition without much substance. A couple weeks ago, I wrote a ?first impressions? story on CreativePro.com regarding my experiences with the beta, and the Masks panel was something I called out for not offering many new features for users, if any‹it?s basically a panel for accessing features that already existed in Photoshop. There are a couple new features such as nondestructive feathering of masks, but only a couple.

I am told by Adobe that the Adjustments panel is something that users were wanting to have, but it seems to me like it?s designed for beginners or intermediate users‹same with the Masks panel. The Adjustments panel offers icons to access adjustment layers, presets for adjustment layers, and immediate access to the sliders and such to modify these adjustments. I personally have never needed these elements all in one place, and I?ve not needed presets before and don?t expect to‹every image is different and I apply unique settings to them, as I?m sure we all do. Such ?canned? adjustments are useful if you?re correcting in a hurry or if you?re new to Photoshop. I don?t understand why these beginner features aren?t included just in the entry-level Photoshop CS4 and not Photoshop Extended CS4, which is supposed to be for power users.

I myself am holding off on judging CS4 because I?m using a beta version that I don?t think is the final build. I should be getting the final product in the next week or so. However, it sounds like things are not going to be changed like I had hoped. I think some of these developers should learn from the usability strategies necessary in good web design‹products, whether they?re websites or apps like Photoshop, can?t just ignore users? learned behaviors.

PS‹Dan commented a couple times on the improved image handling and performance, and it is impressive. The application feels faster and more fluid, which I like. But there?s one thing that sometimes drives me crazy about it. If you?ve seen any demos of Photoshop CS4, one trick that people like to show is how you can drag and ?toss? an image with the Hand tool, and it will drift by. It looks very cool and I know people ooh and ahh about it when they see it. But when you?re using CS4 in the workplace, and drag the image to retouch a critical spot and instead you watch the spot slide right out of your window‹consider then whether this feature is one of those things that looks cool but isn?t particularly useful.

Jeremy Schultz
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Re: On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part II
Posted by: "David Lawrence"
Thu Oct 16, 2008 8:59 am (PDT)

Dan,

I read carefully and with marked interest both of your posts regarding the upcoming upgrade/downgrade of Adobe Photoshop. One phrase so overwhelmed me that I yearn to use it repeatedly in many aspects of my daily life.

"Breathtaking Incompetence!"

Thank you,

David

David L. Lawrence
Graphic Artist
PixelPurfect.com
Indianapolis, Indiana 46278
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Re: Digest Number 2873
Posted by: "Jeff Schewe"
Fri Oct 17, 2008 12:01 pm (PDT)

On 10/17/08 Dan Margulis wrote:

Instead of having one large and one small curve option, we got the
least common denominator: a single medium size that is less useful than
either.

Uh, Dan, you realize you CAN have two sizes of the Curve dlog in the panel, right? The little icon on the lower left of the dlog is a sizer for the panel. When in the large size, it has the exact same grid size as the Curves "Adjustments" dlog...

The saving and loading of existing curves is more cumbersome

Uh, as far as I can tell, the saving and loading of curves is the same?via the fly out menu. Is this not the case you YOUR version?

I've worked with the final beta version a fair amount, but not enough to give
a final conclusion as to each change.

Maybe you need to burrow down on the changes a bit more? A superficial run through of the differences may not actually offer enough feedback to make an accurate assessment. Just a thought...

Regards,
Jeff Schewe
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REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested Rul
Posted by: "Jeff Schewe"
Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:28 pm (PDT)

Folks,

My apologies for having missed the Subject line when replying to Dan's post: "Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part II". I hate it when people forget to use the correct Subject line in replies, and hate it even more when I do it myself...me culpa! (sorry Dan!)

As somebody who has been using CS4 pretty solidly for production since early summer (prior to that it was just testing) I'll have to say that change for the sake of change is not particularly useful, but the changes brought about with CS4 with the non-modal Adjustments panel (as well as the non-destructive masking panel) actually do aid in a more productive workflow–once you get over the fact that the usability is indeed different. I don't particularly like changes in shotrcuts...but while one can debate the merits of UI consistency, I've found actually working with new things in a production environment (and not always fighting the differences) is the best way to adapt (and adopt).

Again, sorry for screwing up the subject line...

Jeff Schewe
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REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested Rul
Posted by: "dbernaerdt"
Sat Oct 18, 2008 1:34 am (PDT)

Jeff,

Uh, Dan, you realize you CAN have two sizes of the Curve dlog in
the panel, right? The little icon on the lower left of the dlog is
a sizer for the panel. When in the large size, it has the exact
same grid size as the Curves "Adjustments" dlog...

Can you please clarify? In CS2, there was an icon in the lower right corner of the Curves dialogue box that changed the overall size of the box. Compact (useful when using the laptop) and expanded when using a more reasonable sized display. I don't see similar functionality in CS3 (Mac & Win, v10.0.1)

Uh, as far as I can tell, the saving and loading of curves is the
same?via the fly out menu. Is this not the case you YOUR version?

Much of my production is done on a Windows machine and loading an existing curve was as easy as pressing "Alt + L" when in the curves dialogue box. No mousing, just a quick shortcut. Now it requires two clicks. Not a big deal if you're working on a few images/day, but an inconvenience when dealing with dozens or hundreds/day.

Maybe you need to burrow down on the changes a bit more? A superficial run
through of the differences may not actually offer enough feedback to make an
accurate assessment. Just a thought...

I'm sure the majority of users barely noticed the elimination of the "Save" and "Load" buttons, but it's irritated me enough to keep CS2 around.

Darren Bernaerdt
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Re: On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part I
Posted by: "Dan Margulis"
Sat Oct 18, 2008 6:26 am (PDT)

Jeremy writes,

Some responses to what Dan has said in Part I. I am in relative agreement
with him, though for whatever reason I?m not as bothered by some of the
changed names and menu items than he is. Yeah, it takes a moment to realize
what has changed and if I was head of Adobe I would have scuttled such odd
changes that really don?t help the user at all, but I?ve been using CS4 for
a couple months and those particular changes don?t seem to bother me much. I
haven?t yet hit a menu or name change that drives me mad.

Just to be clear, they don't drive me mad and I am not bothered particularly by them as such. I have no difficulty understanding that what used to be known as Shadow/Highlight is now known as Shadows/Highlights, although it is certainly annoying that I have to update a lot of documentation to reflect the needless name change.

I raised the issue only because it is symptomatic of what is wrong with these last few versions and has come to a head in CS4. That is, like other software vendors before them, the Photoshop team has fallen into the trap of continually redesigning the product without actually improving it. The other, more serious changes should be seen as what they were: attempting to justify an upgrade by diddling with the interface rather than by actually adding functionality to the program. It was for that reason that I proposed the sensible rule of freezing those parts of the interface that are more than five years old UNLESS some significant new capabilities--not just a pretty new look--are added.

Dan Margulis
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Re: On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part I
Posted by: "John M. Henry"
Sat Oct 18, 2008 10:04 am (PDT)

A major factor is the self imposed deadline of 18 months for a each new version of CS. This mean no matter what you will have new product out the door. No matter if it works, makes sense or is better. Adobe needs the upgrade fees. All programs in suite have to be in the same time line.

Dan they adopted your rules long ago, just in reverse. The meeting goes like this; what can we do improve Photoshop? Short list of user requests. Ok now we have to do more than that or who will buy it, so get real what have we not changed in 3 or more versions?

Bingo! Explains it all.

John M. Henry
Mitchell Printing & Mailing, Inc.
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Re: On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part I
Posted by: Michael Jahn
Sat Oct 18, 2008 10:04 am (PDT)

I agree with Dan that this is frustrating and seemingly needless (sometimes). I am not sure what the team at Adobe might change without actually adding new features to the TIFF or "Photoshop Native" File Format Specifcation (which I "thought" would eventually fit 'inside" the PDF file specification).

We have the notion of type and tools for type in Photoshop - things you might actually see in a page layout application. As CS4 moves to CS5, I would expect this all gets glommed more toward InDesig-o-ILLO-Photo-Bat, where some tools that are 'shared' can live in more or less the same toolbar or menu "location" - this might explain why things seem to "move" from one version to the next, as Adobe is listening to users who want a common standard interface accross the suite.

I must say that this "now where did they put it" thing occurs in my main axe, Adobe Acrobat - and while the majority of users are not concerned about "prepress PDF" issues, several items seem to get 'moved' without my really understanding why.

In one oddity, like in Acrobat 7 Professional, the "Output Preview" tool can actually be accessed in two different locations;

In Acrobat 7, under the Tools Menu, select Print Production, cascade select Output Preview

also In Acrobat 7, under the Advanced Menu, select Output Preview

It seems to have settled down now, in Acrobat 8, under the Advanced Menu, select Output Preview

Disapointingly, it is not available in Acrobat 9 Reader which was supposed to be an important feature that would enable Acrobat 9 to be our first "PDF/X Compliant" viewer.

So, I concur with Dan on this - I see several changes that are in the catagory of "who really cares" (renaming an item) to "now why on earth did they change a perfectly good tool"( CS4 adjustment layer changes) - and I will probably stick with the CS2 version (again) as they have not given me anything that I can't live without (as I am neither a Retoucher or Photograher, but someone who needs to build visual aids to explain to software engineers what I need a tool to actually 'do')

Michael Jahn
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Re: 2873 / CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part II
Posted by: "Alex Kent"
Sat Oct 18, 2008 6:26 am (PDT)

which version of PS are we talking about here ?

i understood this thread was about the changes between CS3 and the recently released CS4.

as Jeff said, the new non-modal curves dialog in CS4 does allow two sizes. and, as it happens, CS3 only allowed one size of Curves dialog (the larger 256px size).

here is a screen shot of the two palette sizes in CS4: http://homepage.mac.com/alexkent/screenshots/cs4curves2sizes.jpg

with regard to how useful / useless this change is; moving the shortcuts is annoying, but as has been reported there is a solution in the form of a plugin. the Huge win that no one seems to notice is that the adjustments dialog is non-modal. ever want to change an adjustment layer's opacity or blending mode without closing and re-opening the adjustment ? well now you can. this is just one example but there are many workflow wins here.

alex kent.
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "Dan Margulis"
Sat Oct 18, 2008 8:16 am (PDT)

Jeff Schewe writes,

Uh, Dan, you realize you CAN have two sizes of the Curve dlog in the panel,
right?

I realize you can have it in the adjustment layer dialog of CS4, yes, but AFAIK you can *not* have it in Photoshop CS3, which is what I was discussing. Previous versions, you could have two sizes, which is one of several reasons that most of the retouchers I hang around with consider that the CS3 curves dialog is worse than what it replaced.

Uh, as far as I can tell, the saving and loading of curves is the same–via
the fly out menu. Is this not the case you YOUR version?

No. In my copy of CS3 there is a flyout menu that is not the same as in previous versions. This "improvement" enabled me to do in three steps what took me one in previous versions. See Darren's similar complaint about the change.

Maybe you need to burrow down on the changes a bit more? A superficial run
through of the differences may not actually offer enough feedback to make an
accurate assessment. Just a thought...

Possibly so, but in return may I suggest that a superficial read of a single paragraph and assuming that it's about CS4 without noticing the one before that says it's about CS3 may not offer sufficient feedback either. But to review...

The reason I mentioned the CS3 changes in the curves dialog was as a prelude to the discussion of the CS4 adjustment layer changes, because the two are very similar. In each case, a section of the interface that was more than ten years old and not doing anybody any harm was redesigned with considerable effort but WITHOUT adding any new functionality at all.

Consequently, nothing can be done with either that couldn't be done with the previous interfaces--no change of any substance, only cosmetic changes that the user has to relearn in order to get back to where he was in the first place. Nevertheless, in each case the redesign is used to justify the upgrade--that is, your friends offer us the same product in a different package and say that it's now worth upgrading because you will be more productive.

The conceptual difficulty with this diddle-with-the-interface-but-don't-add-functionality approach is, first, that while the redesign may in fact make the interface better, there's also a fairly good chance it will make it *worse* than before. That clearly happened with the curves dialog change in CS3, and IMHO it has also happened with the adjustment layers changes in CS4. Second, even if the change was for the better, any gains in productivity may be offset if it takes the user too long to learn the new way.

But the REALLY big loss is in considering what better might have been accomplished with the time spent dorking with the interface. For example, in the time spent redesigning the curves dialog somebody could instead have added real curves to Camera Raw, which would significantly improve the product and not just make it look prettier.

In mentioning how many other companies have fallen into this trap, I described the jack-around-with-the-interface-without-adding-anything-of-substance approach as being the mark of the lazy, the corporate politician, and the incompetent. If your friends would like to identify themselves as *not* belonging to one of these three groups, I'd suggest you try to talk them into taking the pledge: we will not mess around with things that are 3+ versions old *unless* we are going to give the users something seriously new in return.

If they do take that pledge, we'll get a better Photoshop in CS5, not just a better-looking one.

But, returning to burrowing down to the actual changes in the CS4 adjustment curves (as opposed to the changes in CS3) I did make two specific statements that perhaps you are in a position to correct.

*Using the CS4 adjustment curve, I have been able to figure out how to access the traditional Command-click shortcut that places a point in the curve corresponding to the tonality of the image where the cursor is currently. I have *not* been able to find the corresponding Shift-Command-click that places a similar point in *each* channel. That's a pretty critical omission, if indeed it is not there. Have you been able to find it?

*I stated that in previous versions of Photoshop, if you wanted to activate the (say) red channel, you would use a certain keyboard shortcut. If you wanted to activate the red curve in the basic (non-adjustment) curves dialog you would use the same shortcut. And if you wanted to activate the red curve on an adjustment layer you would still use the very same shortcut. Do you agree? If so, I also stated that in CS4, which we are informed will allow us to work more efficiently, this single shortcut is replaced by three different shortcuts--even to the point that the adjustment curve, which looks like the basic curve, doesn't share the same shortcut. Does it work this way in your version, too?

Dan Margulis
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "Rick McCleary"
Sun Oct 19, 2008 7:00 am (PDT)

Dan Margulis writes,

*Using the CS4 adjustment curve, I have been able to figure out how to access the
traditional Command-click shortcut that places a point in the curve corresponding to
the tonality of the image where the cursor is currently. I have *not* been able to find the
corresponding Shift-Command-click that places a similar point in *each* channel.
That's a pretty critical omission, if indeed it is not there. Have you been able to find it?

*I stated that in previous versions of Photoshop, if you wanted to activate the (say) red
channel, you would use a certain keyboard shortcut. If you wanted to activate the red
curve in the basic (non-adjustment) curves dialog you would use the same shortcut.
And if you wanted to activate the red curve on an adjustment layer you would still use the
very same shortcut. Do you agree? If so, I also stated that in CS4, which we are informed
will allow us to work more efficiently, this single shortcut is replaced by three different
shortcuts--even to the point that the adjustment curve, which looks like the basic
curve, doesn't share the same shortcut. Does it work this way in your version, too?

I am generally very pleased with most of the changes in CS4. After a week of using them, I wondered how I ever got along without the non-modal adjustment panels.

However, the change in how we navigate within the curves dialog via keyboard shortcuts is a real problem. Yes, if forced to, we could all "get used" to the keyboard shortcuts. But this change is way more fundamental--and damaging--than moving a menu item. It's like reconfiguring the pedals in a car by putting the accelerator on the left, the brake on the right, and the clutch on the passenger's side.

I'm interested in the answers to Dan's questions quoted above. I certainly hope there is a command-shift-click equivalent to place a point on each curve. And Dan, you said you have discovered how to access the standard command-click to place a point on the active channel. Care to share how?

Rick McCleary
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "Dan Margulis"
Sun Oct 19, 2008 2:44 pm (PDT)

Rick McCleary writes,

I'm interested in the answers to Dan's questions quoted above. I certainly hope there is
a
command-shift-click equivalent to place a point on each curve. And Dan, you said you
have discovered how to access the standard command-click to place a point on the
active channel. Care to share how?

Here is how I understand the adjustment curves, based on the final beta. It is important to realize that although the behavior of the adjustment curves dialog is new, that of the *basic* curves dialog is not. So we have to remember which dialog we're using, even though they basically look the same. That is, if we have a curves adjustment open, it behaves one way, but if we pop a curve onto its layer mask, it doesn't. Presumably this adds efficiency to the workflow by keeping us awake, and also improves our domestic relationships, since we will be so busy cursing out Adobe every time we forget which curve dialog we're in that we won't have time to be angry with our significant others.

GUIDE TO THE MOVING CIRCLE.
It is often necessary to estimate the range of a certain object or area so that its contrast can be maximized via a curve. Since the beginning of time, this has been done (with curves dialog open) by clicking and holding while sweeping across said object or area. This activates a moving circle that moves up and down the curve, reflecting the values beneath the cursor. When finished, release the mouse and the circle goes away.

This is still the way the basic curves dialog works, but the adjustment curves dialog now works like so:

1) Move the mouse outside of the image and into the dialog. In order to save us the effort of clicking and holding over a vague area, we now have to navigate to a precisely defined one, to wit, a small icon in the upper left of the adjustment dialog.

2) Click the mouse.

3) Return to the image and observe that the circle is now visible, permanently, without the onerous necessity of holding the mouse button down. Just mouse around the area you wish to measure, and the curve indicates values as before.

4) When finished, move back to the curves dialog, find the small icon again, and click again, and return to the image. Otherwise, the moving circle will stay active and drive you nuts.

5) Remember that if the next curve you call up is of the basic, nonadjustment variety, you have to go back to the old, inefficient workflow of click-hold-move, without the valuable two trips to the dialog.

GUIDE TO AUTOMATED PLACING OF POINTS.
Clicking a point into a channel curve by Command-clicking the corresponding area of the image has been available since the beginning of time. It is a critical part of curvewriting. Shift-Command-click, to place a point in *each* channel, is used somewhat less often, but is still vital in something like the Man from Mars Method, or when attempting to color- balance an image with a serious cast.

This is still the way the basic curves dialog works, but the adjustment curves dialog now works like so:

1) Move the mouse outside of the image and into the dialog. In order to save us the effort of Shift-Command-clicking a vague area, we now have to navigate to a precisely defined one, to wit, a small icon in the upper left of the adjustment dialog.

2) Click the mouse. This gives Photoshop the vital information that you would like Command-click to place a point in the curve, as otherwise it might suppose you intended to use Command-click for some other useful purpose, such as launching a missile in the direction of San Jose.

3) Return to the image and observe that there is now a distracting moving circle in the curves dialog.

4) Navigate to the place that you would have, in the old, inefficient workflow, Command-clicked.

5) Command-click.

6) Move back to the curves dialog, find the small icon again, and click again, and return to the image. Otherwise, the moving circle will stay active and drive you nuts.

7) Remember that if the next curve you call up is of the basic, nonadjustment variety, you have to go back to the old, inefficient workflow of Command-click, without the valuable two trips to the dialog, between which you have to Command-click anyway.

8) If you needed to SHIFT-Command-click because you wanted to place a point in all channels, you are SOL, at least in my version.

*********************************

Warning with respect to the last: for all I know the missing Shift-Command-click is a bug in the final beta, that's why I asked Jeff if he knew whether it is supposed to be there. We did receive a post this morning that was rejected because no name was attached (reminder to list members: we don't accept anonymous posts. Occasionally we accept posts without signatures provided that there is a clear and legible first and last name in the return address, but not if we have nothing to identify the poster), saying that it DOES work. However, the poster was a PC user and I use Macs, also there is some possibility that he was referring to the basic curves and not the adjustment curves dialog. In the basic curves dialog, of course, it does work.

Dan Margulis
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "mdjager"
Mon Oct 20, 2008 12:20 am (PDT)

Rick McCleary writes,

I'm interested in the answers to Dan's questions quoted above. I
certainly hope there is a command-shift-click equivalent to
place a point on each curve. And Dan, you said you have discovered how to
access the standard command-click to place a point on the active
channel. Care to share how?

The above feature, or lack thereof, is enough for me to pass on this 'improved' version of Photoshop. And that's a big deal for me because I've never passed on a new release of Photoshop before!

Although in fairness to Adobe I think I understand what makes them tick. The bottom line is sales, without which there would be no Photoshop, or Adobe for that matter. And what drives sales is Marketing. And what drives the people in marketing, people like me who buy their products. The desire to find out what will prompt me to go to the store and buy their latest version of Photoshop is their business, or rather their investors business.

And maybe that's where the true problem lies. People like me.

In past years I would eagerly anticipate each new version of Photoshop. And when it arrived I would digest all the reviews and news of the 'New and Improved' version with all the anticipation of a five year-old on Christmas morning. The more 'neat-o' things they could pack into the program the better! It never took any real prodding to convince me that if I didn't get this new version I wouldn't possibly be able to call myself a professional... even though I wasn't really a professional anyway.

In the past, I myself didn't really know what was a necessary function vs. fluff. I fell for all the marketing hype everytime. And, at that time, if some marketing exec. from Adobe had asked my opinion about what I wanted to see in future versions I would have replied, More Stuff!

Then something funny happened.

As I became more serious about photography, and in particular color correction (thanks Dan), I slowly became less and less infatuated with all the 'stuff' included in Photoshop. My present toolset has now become quite small in comparison to all the stuff that the program actually offers.

I would now love it if Adobe would come out with a 'New and Improved' version of Photoshop called Photoshop Basic. It would offer Curves, Layers, Channels, USM, and maybe the pen tool. They could market it to Non-Professionals and sell it for $199. This version would only have to be upgraded... well, Never!

Ahh, but there in lies the problem. It wouldn't take long and Adobe would cease to exist. Their remaining assests would be bought by some other company who had a better understanding of marketing and who would redesign the whole program and then do their absolute best to get me to buy their New and Improved 'Microsoft Photoshop' version.

And then all our problems would be solved!

Murray DeJager
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "Edward Troy"
Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:43 am (PDT)

I didn?t have the beta, but the shipping version does seem to allow command click and shift-command click. Command alone gives you a single point on the RGB curve, shift command gives a point on the red, green, and blue, but not the RGB. Seems to be the same as CS3. Works on both legacy and adjustments.
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Re: 2873 / CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part II
Posted by: Jacob Rus
Mon Oct 20, 2008 12:20 am (PDT)

Alex Kent wrote:

the Huge win that no one seems to notice is that the adjustments
dialog is non-modal. ever want to change an adjustment layer's
opacity or blending mode without closing and re-opening the
adjustment ? well now you can.

That is fantastic indeed. Just out of curiosity: if it's now non-modal, can more than one such dialog be open at once? That would be a bigger win still.

–Jacob Rus
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "Jeremy Schultz"
Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:25 am (PDT)

Murray wrote,

I would now love it if Adobe would come out with a 'New and Improved'
version of Photoshop called Photoshop Basic. It would offer Curves,
Layers, Channels, USM, and maybe the pen tool. They could market it
to Non-Professionals and sell it for $199. This version would only
have to be upgraded... well, Never!

There are two products already out there that come close to this idea. Photoshop Elements is a cheap version of Photoshop and as I recall it has all these features except maybe the Channels panel. I just got the new version, I?ll have to check it out and report.

The other product is Photoshop (not Extended). I don?t know why Adobe doesn?t do a better job of making PS and PS Extended more differentiated. Photoshop could very well be pared down of features and made into a lean, fast $200 app.

Jeremy Schultz
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "ricardo"
Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:25 pm (PDT)

Dan

After following your instructions below on the curves adjustment layer, I found that the command-shift does work.

Here is my configuration:

Mac OS Leopard 10.5.5
2.8 / 8 core, 4GIG ram
3T HD
CS4 final public release.

Best

Ricardo Aguiar
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upgrading
Posted by: "RJay Hansen"
Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:06 am (PDT)

Here's a Macworld article that seems pertinent to the current discussionabout upgrades:
http://tinyurl.com/6c8pdl

RJay
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Re: upgrading
Posted by: Michael Jahn
Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:03 pm (PDT)

Thanks RJay !

Wow - I loved this part;

"When I open up Photoshop 3.0, it's there and ready to go in four seconds flat, and when I have opened CS2 my fingernails will have grown a quarter inch before the app appears,"

--
Michael Jahn
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Re: upgrading
Posted by: "Russell Brown"
Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:13 pm (PDT)

Agreed!

Thanks RJay.

Russ Brown
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "mdjager"
Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:03 pm (PDT)

Jeremy Schultz wrote:

There are two products already out there that come close to this idea.
Photoshop Elements is a cheap version of Photoshop and as I recall it
has all these features except maybe the Channels panel. I just got
the new version, I?ll have to check it out and report.

Close, but no cigar! Without Channels, well that's like saying Lightroom is all you really need.

Murray DeJager
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "Russell Brown"
Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:13 pm (PDT)

HeHe! I read your post with interest, Murray! It seems we have similar Life Experience when it comes to Photoshop!

My first version-skip was CS3 as I could see no benefit in it for me. I posted recently how I was very disappointed with what I could see in CS4 and that I would again skip a version, sticking with CS2. Now, after reading Dan's very thorough posts (thanks again Dan!) I am even more confident of my decision to wait for something better.

Actually, having missed CS3, until I read Dan's post I was blissfully unaware of the little nasties that I was spared from in that version. One of the most important things I've learned from reading Dan's books is that pretty much everything is already there to do what is needed for colour correction and the improvements that would actually be beneficial are time and time again ignored.

I'm not going to waste money buying and time learning a new version which offers no real benefit to me and as Dan has shown, will actually make my work more difficult in many respects.

I did note earlier however, it does come in a very pretty box! Maybe for a reduced cost, Adobe could send just the packaging to me and I could proudly display it on my shelf and feel fashionable and Very Important without the pain!

Russ Brown
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "onno de jong"
Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:03 am (PDT)

Wasn't Intel support released with CS3? That was my rationale for upgrading at the time.

the synergy of www.circularcreation.com/
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "Jeff Suckow" 0
Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:03 am (PDT)

The major problem is the fact that the upgrade to the raw module is tied to the upgrade to Photoshop. It's the only reason I upgraded to CS3.

It's not that I care about the new the features of the module, but I do upgrade my cameras often and the need to import directly in Photoshop is important for the workflow.

I don't mind paying for the upgrade to RAW but I wish I could use it with earlier versions of Photoshop CS or just pay to use a new camera with the older modules.

Jeff Suckow
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "Andrew Webb"
Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:15 am (PDT)

This is not correct. You can convert to DNG and open the files in older versions of Camera Raw.

<http: //www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=3940>
 
Andrew Webb

Creative Director
Serious Retouching & Color
303.682.9119/303.819.0480
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "Russell Brown"
Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:15 am (PDT)

Hi Jeff,

Did you know that you can convert first to the DNG format, the upgrades of which for new cameras are freely available, then open the DNG files in ACR/Photoshop?

Is it possible for this to fit in with your workflow? It may save you from further upgrades.

Russ Brown
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Re: CS upgrade and raw module
Posted by: "Jeff Suckow"
Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:22 am (PDT)

Thanks Russ and Andrew.

It was the way I did it before upgrading to CS3.

I just preferred skipping the extra time for the conversion from RAW to DNG (especially when I have many photos and time is critical).

In my opinion, Adobe does not add new camera models to older RAW modules as an extra means of pressure to upgrade.

Jeff Suckow
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Re: CS upgrade and raw module
Posted by: "Paul Marriner"
Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:32 pm (PDT)

Jeff, this may be of little interest, but you might consider Lightroom. It offers <all?> the features of the latest ACR but is usually cheaper (and less aggravating!) to upgrade than PS. It's well supported for new camera models. Once you've made your "raw" corrections in Lightroom, one can export to CS3 for additional diddling. In a way it's like being able to purchase ACR separately (I'd really like to be able to upgrade Bridge and ACR separately).

In my case, because I use the Creative Suite software, and haven't been impressed with the general upgrade to all programs, I intend to skip CS4. However, I'll still be able to use my upgraded Lightroom with new cameras.

Paul Marriner
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Re: REWas-Digest Number 2873-Should have been On CS4: Four Suggested
Posted by: "mdjager"
Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:13 pm (PDT)

Russell Brown" wrote:

I did note earlier however, it does come in a very pretty box! Maybe
for a reduced cost, Adobe could send just the packaging to me and I
could proudly display it on my shelf and feel fashionable and Very
Important without the pain!

Hi Russ,

That kinda reminds me of when CS3 first came out, I remember reading alot of posts from users that the icons Adobe came up with to represent the programs were ugly! And for a while there it seemed like a whole new industry was born just to provide alternatives that one could download. So for a lot of users it would seem that just 'prettier' icons would be reason enough to pay for an upgrade.

So all you really have to do is get a hold of the new icons for your desktop and you're in business!

Murray DeJager
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Sticking with CS2, Intel Performance (was: well, a whole bunch of cr
Posted by: "Pylant, Brian"
Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:15 am (PDT)

My first version-skip was CS3 as I could see no benefit in it for me.
I posted recently how I was very disappointed with what I could see in
CS4 and that I would again skip a version, sticking with CS2

At home for my freelance work I have also stuck with CS2, as CS3 has zero features that I need.

EXCEPT...

CS2 runs fine on my old 933 G4, but terribly on the Intel-based iMac. If anyone has any tips for improving CS2 performance on the Intel machines I'd love to hear about it. Please feel free to email me off-list if you like, as this is now headed decidedly off-topic for the list.

Thanks!

BRIAN PYLANT
Manager, Electronic Prepress

Disc Makers
7905 North Route 130
Pennsauken, NJ 08110
Toll free: 1-800-468-9353 ext. 5539
www.discmakers.com
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On CS4: Four Suggested Rules, Part II
Posted by: "Davide Barranca"
Fri Oct 24, 2008 2:51 pm (PDT)

This has now beenchanged to Command-6. It is physically painful to twist the wrist
into this position.Execute this shortcut tens of times per day--as retouchers commonly
do--and carpal
tunnel syndrome would be the inevitable result

Well, it's maybe less common, but I usually look for changes I made in a hue/saturation adj. layer scrolling all the colors, via command+1 to 6. Now they become option+2 to 8, which is probably closer to a Liszt piano song fingering than to a Photoshop shortcut - with the immoral extra handicap that option is also farther than command...

Besides that, in CS3 Hue/Sat, when you pick no matter what color (it doesn't work with the master channel), then you click in the picture and, without releasing, you move around, then the "affected color" sliders move as well, letting you know whether for instance your greens become more close to cyans than to yellow. In CS4, AFAIK, that is not possible - if you attempt to click and drag you're actually changing the saturation of the picked hue.

Well... it's not possible in adjustment layers, if you command+U a bitmap layer, the good old Hue/Sat appears and everything's like before. Please note that in the old dialog there still is the little hand-with-arrows (which is appealing for a lot of inexperienced users, as I've seen), it's simply disabled until you click it - that's the way it should be in every dialog in the new Adjustments panel IMHO.

Personally, I don't care too much about software make-ups, even for the sake of themselves - but they should at least not compromise functionality, and Adjustments panel is really worth the long Dan's post.

By the way it seems we now have plenty of new things to fill with the extra space of today 16:9 monitors - panels and palettes (CS4 counts 23 ones!)

Regards,

Davide Barranca
Bologna, Italy