Photoshop Boss: Time to Trim Down

When a software product manager says their applicationis interface needs to go on a diet, odds are it really needs some trimming. Adobe Photoshop Senior Product Manager John Nack thinks the venerable image editing application has reached that point, and itis time for a change.

"The once-little app has proven almost endlessly adaptable to new needs and workflows, but all that morphing has a price," Mr. Nack said. "In many cases weive traded simplicity for power, and not all the pieces look like part of a cohesive whole. In fact, I sometimes joke that looking at some parts of the app is like counting the rings in a tree: you can gauge when certain features arrived by the dimensions & style of the dialog."

He added "No one wants to work with -- or work on -- some shambling, bloated monster of a program."

Mr. Nackis observations arenit hollow: He says Adobe is already working on bringing Photoshopis interface and feature set under control. Splitting features between Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop CS3 Extended was a first step, but thereis more to come.

Now Adobe needs to work on making Photoshop even more configurable, building on features like workspaces and customizable menus and shortcuts. "We need to be much bolder, though," he said, "and Iive been dropping totally unsubtle hints about this for ages."

Future versions of Photoshop may bring us features like task-oriented workspaces that display certain tools depending on what type of project a user is working on. He also thinks its time to start removing outmoded functionality while refining current features.

Mr. Nack didnit say just how long it will take before we start to see these changes in action, but they are on the way.

"Weive been toiling away beneath the surface, setting the groundwork for change," he said. "There are no magic bullets, but I feel that for the first time in my 5-plus years working on this team, weire within striking distance of some big things."