Photoshop CS4’s Interface

So, John Nack has previewed the new Photoshop interface, which has been drawing a fair amount of criticism around the ‘net for being “un-Mac-like”. I think the criticism is frankly a lot of gnashing of teeth because it’s different, and very little else. As Nack points out, if you bother looking at some of the best “Mac-like” apps, including applications made by Apple itself, much of the new design draws very similar parallels. It’s a very clean, modern interface, and keeps pace with the trend towards encapsulated applications (the document driven, single window experience). Frankly, I like it, and look forward to it.

Let’s face it: any user who multitasks ends up with a boatload of windows open at any given time, and there have yet to be really any effective ways to manage all the windows. This is becoming increasingly problematic as we find ways to have more and more windows up at any given time (I’m looking at you, Spaces), and so user interfaces have been forced to rethink how they display their data, to better encapsulate that data, so that everything related to a particular document STAYS with that document. Tabbed browsing was the start, but it’s totally logical that this design philosophy would (and should) enter other applications. Some of my favorite applications are ones that integrate data into the session window — a prime example is Scrivener. In Scrivener, the inspector is attached to the document window, rather than sitting in a separate “inspector pane/window”. From a design perspective, this makes it absolutely clear as to which document you are inspecting, which is particularly important if and when you have multiple documents open at once. The application is designed so that everything you need to do to the document can be done from one document window, with multiple files within it. You can even split the window to display attached research files or another page of writing at the same time, or if you decide you really NEED it to be in a separate window, that option is only a right-click away. That is GOOD DESIGN: it avoids juggling through multiple windows just to get your work done.

Detractors who might say it’s not “Mac-like” haven’t been paying attention. While there is, of course, the opportunity to get it wrong, and not make an effective interface, this is true regardless of whether you’re talking about a unified interface or a multi-window one. However, it’s pretty clear all the way down to the interface of the Finder, that we’re shifting towards a single-window-per-need design philosophy (if you don’t believe me, use the “Find…” option in OS X 10.5, or “Create Burn Folder”, or try out iChat with “Collect Chats into Single Window” turned on and tell me it’s not a better way to juggle a dozen conversations).

The key to note in what I’m saying is that it is PER DOCUMENT, or PER NEED. The places that I’ve seen single-window interfaces be successful is where elements that belong together are placed together. A window, in essence, becomes a method to encapsulate the data related to the task or project it was created for. As such, there are going to be times it DOESN’T make sense. Frankly, I’m just glad designers are realizing that there are times that it DOES.

Why Am I Still Up?

Blue Sun

I don’t really have an answer, to be honest. I started mucking around with Photoshop, not doing anything particularly special. It’s pretty simple, but I still think it’s pretty. I’ve spent the entire day in the house, working on getting a few things lined up and organized. So, no coffee, no tea, no chai, no caffeine at all that I can think of… and still I’m up ’til 3:30 (and frankly I’m still not all that tired, though I know I should sleep). While I wouldn’t exactly call it conclusive, I would say that it strongly suggests that my sleep patterns are messed up for some reason other than ingesting several cups of caffeinated beverage in the evening.

I don’t really have much else to say, but I did feel like posting my little goofy star thing. If you want real art, or real photography, there are hundreds and even thousands of sites to point out, but if you feel like looking at little random translucent objects, I’ve got you covered (as do, again, hundreds of other sites).

I’ll probably post something a bit more substantial (whether that includes an image or not is still subject to debate) later in the day. I sort of have a personal goal for myself to post more times this month than any prior month. Since the month is only a little past half over, I don’t think it’s that unreasonable a goal.

Geek et Photo

Despite having the ability to do so, I’ve never really had much use for camera raw. This was mostly because the version of Photoshop I purchased did not yet have the Camera Raw plugin, and it was simply too much of a pain in the ass to jump through hoops to modify or use otherwise. This all changed, however: I picked up a copy of Photoshop CS2 the other week, replete with the latest version of the Camera Raw plugin, plus the oh-so-handy DNG converter (DNG is an open standard raw format… DNG stands for Digital Negative). It’s given me the necessary motivation to dig out my camera again.

I’ve been focusing on portraiture the past few days, as it’s something I feel I need to work on. They’ve frankly been more “candid” than “portrait,” but that’s fine; I needed to work on candids as well. It’s also been a nice way to meet new people, though I doubt any of that will go anywhere (not that I’d mind, some of the girls have been really nice, I’m just being realistic is all). If I get responses back giving the okay, I may post some of them (and yes, I am a stickler about this), once I’ve sufficiently meddled (I never really saw much difference in handling raw versus jpeg until I was able to do so natively, damn some of those bells and whistles are neat).

In other news, UPS has decided to decline my damage claims on my monitors. I’ll be calling the claims company tomorrow, and if that doesn’t go well, I’ll be filing a complaint with the BBB. What’s the point of insuring your items if they’re not going to cover it if there’s damage? (For the record, out of 8 boxes, 6 were damaged. One was crushed in half; another was ripped open on two corners, and the others were partially crushed and dented. This is including the factory-packaging 22″ monitor that had large stickers on the outside of the box saying “Fragile”. The only two that were undamaged were the computer boxes, both of which were filled with ultra dense packing materials and covered in company graphics that screamed “HI, I’M A COMPUTER!”) I packed these boxes myself, I was there when they were picked up, and I can say with 100% certainty that these boxes were intact prior to being handled by UPS, and that they no longer were intact when they were received.