Photoshop set for UI overhaul

Adobe details plans of radical redesign of the Photoshop user interface

Barry Collins
9 Nov 2007

Adobe is set to overhaul the Photoshop interface to make the image editing software more user-friendly.

Photoshop product manager, John Nack, claims the cumulative effect of version updates over the past 20 years has left the software looking bloated. "Photoshop has been accreting power and users for the better part of two decades. The once-little app has proven almost endlessly adaptable to new needs and workflows, but all that morphing has a price," Nack claims on his blog.

"In many cases we've 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 and style of the dialog."

Nack claims Adobe's aim of making Photoshop all things to all men - from web designers to radiologists - has created clutter that the company now plans to sweep away. "We must make Photoshop dramatically more configurable," he says. "We've been chipping away for several cycles, enabling first workspaces, then customisable menus and shortcuts. We need to be much bolder, though, and I've been dropping totally unsubtle hints about this for ages."

As well as making the software more customisable, Nack also wants to make its myriad features easier to find. "Today if a user walks up to Photoshop and says, 'What do I do?' the app kind of shrugs, stubs out a cigarette, and says, 'I dunno - you tell me.' That's not real cool, and we can do better."

And he hints that the changes are set to take place sooner rather than later. "We've been toiling away beneath the surface, setting the groundwork for change. There are no magic bullets, but I feel that for the first time in my 5+ years working on this team, we're within striking distance of some big things - and everyone reading this will play a role in making things better."

Adobe has also confirmed that it plans to release a beta version of its free online photo editing tool, Photoshop Express, before the end of the year.

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