Fairly Quick Thoughts About Photoshop CS4s New User Interface


Photoshop—the image app that does all the things the free alternatives do, plus those extra few things we just need—is scheduled for a fall update dubbed CS4. Judging by the above screenshot by John Nack, the entire suite is getting a massive UI overhaul. I have comments on that.

First up, an observation. Ever since Photoshop 4, each consecutive version has gotten slower while computers have gotten faster. While there’s been UI improvements, it seems to have been at the cost of performance. I would wager that if Adobe simply tweaked and sped up the CS3 interface, they could re-package it, rebrand it CS4 and sell it again with absolutely no new features. I’ll wager that, and that it would sell it like hotcakes. Alas, somehow I don’t get that vibe from the above glimpse.

So, some quick thoughts:

  • There’s a very large application bar right at the top, which takes up quite a lot of space and looks very non-standard. Either that’s one usability blunder of galactic proportions, or the bar holds some extremely important features. Let’s explore. The zoom factor, the hand tool and the zoom tool are also available in the tools menu and are hence redundant. We’re left with the app icon, which one must wonder what does, since we’ve already started the app. After that, there’s a “to-Bridge” icon, some window-tiling pulldowns and a huge looking “ESSENTIALS” bar towards the right. Wait, those aren’t useful? That’s just clutter!
  • The redundant app-bar buttons are like those extra buttons Dell and Logitech place on their keyboards; buttons like “Shopping” or “Mail”—who needs’em? No-one! That’s who! In fact, we gladly pay extra for less buttons.
  • Honestly, what are “ESSENTIALS” in Photoshop? Are they essential enough to spell in all-caps? Can I customize them? Personally I’d call “Gaussian Blur” essential, but somehow I expect to find stuff like “Version Cue” or maybe Adobes online photo store inhabiting that menu instead.
  • It’s nice to see Mac finally getting a fullscreen feature, even if it’s pseudo-fullscreen and not stemming from Apple. As some readers may remember, I’ve been barking up that tree for ages.
  • The Photoshop icon is still square and says “Ps”, but now it’s dark blue on lightblue. Is that maybe because this is not the “Pro” version which, one might assume, will don the royal darkblue cape?
  • The bulk of the panel interface looks trimmed up and nice. Points if it’s faster too.
  • Does anyone use Bridge? Personally, I need a Bridge kind of app—but one that’s fast enough that it can actually compete with a third-party imageviewer and be more than just an excuse for a coffee break—welcome though that may be.
  • Window-tiling looks useful for those 10% of the time when we need it.

Nack touts: “Our job is about functionality, not ideology”. I’ll tout: “Your job is functionality, not building a fucking slow as molasses but flexible interface with a redraw rate comparable to that of an Etch-A-Sketch”.
It seems iTunes is no longer the only application that suffers from Real Player syndrome.

5 thoughts on “Fairly Quick Thoughts About Photoshop CS4s New User Interface”

  1. Ahahaha 😀 Etch-a-sketch. How horribly true.

  2. But PS on Mac already has fullscreen; I’m not sure I understand what you mean?

  3. adam says:

    The only thing that excites me about CS4 is the GPU acceleration. We can only hope that will bring photoshop up out of etch-a-sketch 😉

  4. Adam, unfortunately I think the core graphics group and the UI group are a bunch of hardcore optimization geeks and a bunch of web-designers astray, respectively.

  5. Strange, Ps CS3 actually runs must faster on my Asus Notebook than CS2 ever did. I figured they did some major performance optimizations or somthing

Comments are closed.