The Creative Cloud Chronicles: The Spotlight Is On Photoshop

By Chris Dickman, Founding Editor,

Earlier Chronicles
What's New Since the June Launch? Part 2
What's New Since the June Launch?
Adobe is Not Microsoft
The Chilling Wind of Big Brother
Oh Say Can You CC?
Freeing the Captive Consumer
The Forecast is Mostly Cloudy
Behance, Adobe Edge Reflow and Dreamweaver
Adobe MAX 2013 aka The Creativity Conference
Adobe Muse Gets Another Boost
Reflow Joins the Adobe Edge Lineup
Creative Cloud is Here to Stay
Creative Cloud Connection Arrives
Say Hello to Acrobat XI
Adobe Launches Edge Tools and Services
The Digital Publishing Suite Arrives
A Cloud of Confusion
Are You Special?

Since the June launch of the CC versions of the applications that traditionally had formed part of the Creative Suite we've seen a number of updates but Photoshop hasn't really received much attention. All that changed last week when Adobe announced its Photoshop Photography Program, followed up with a significant upgrade to Photoshop CC.

The Photoshop Photography Program
The new subscription improves on the previous $19.99 per month offer by dropping the price to $9.99 and including Photoshop CC, Bridge CC, Lightroom 5, the standard 20GB of cloud storage and a Behance membership with ProSite. The latter is a nice touch, since the ability to create a professional presence on Behance normally costs $99 per year alone.

The $9.99 rate will be available for subscription sometime in September and is not an introductory one but ongoing, although of course Adobe is free to raise the rate in the future. And it would seem that such an increase will arrive in the near future, since he $9.99 rate is available only until the end of this year. While the earlier $19.99 offer, which remains available, is open to anyone, you'll need to be a registered user of Photoshop CS3 or later to quality for the Photography Program. All in all, it seems like a pretty good deal for dedicated amateur or professional photographers, although it should be noted that there is still no "exit strategy" available — once you stop subscribing, you'll be on your own if your need to open and edit files created with Creative Cloud tools. And of course your ProSite will vanish, as well.

There's a bit more information available in the Adobe FAQ, which indicates September 17 will be the day this becomes available. It's also interesting to observe Adobe employee Mike Chambers respond to questions about the new offering in this discussion.

Photoshop CC Version 14.1
The first upgrade to Photoshop since its launch as a Creative Cloud-only application in June is well timed, since it follows in the footsteps of last week's Photoshop Photography Program. The Program was Adobe's response to photographers, many of whom felt left out of the move to Creative Cloud. The new subscription improved on the previous $19.99 per month offer for Photoshop by dropping the price to $9.99 and including Photoshop CC, Bridge CC, Lightroom 5, the standard 20GB of cloud storage and a Behance membership with ProSite.

The enhancements in Photoshop CC 14.1 are not however geared just to photographers. In fact, the most significant addition will be of interest primarily to those designing for the web or mobile apps. What Adobe calls its Generator technology was demoed during the May MAX Conference. It's positioned as a customizable platform and has now been released as an open source project, along with the first practical embodiment of its capabilities, image assets generation. It's no secret that Adobe would like those who have traditionally used Fireworks for creating web designs and comps to move on to Photoshop and this is exactly what this is designed to do.

Using it is pretty straightforward: go to File > Generate > Image Assets and then rename layers and layer groups that you'll want to export as JPEG, GIF or PNG. You can employ tagging to control the nature of the resulting images, to do such things as simultaneously create images for regular and retina screens. Handy enough but what makes this a bit more interesting is that these images are updated in real time. And those using Edge Reflow CC can apparently import such assets with a single click. The clip below shows Generator in action with Edge Reflow, followed by an example of how it can be customized for more exotic uses. In this case The Engine Co. wrote a plugin for its Loom gaming engine that allowed game designers to change the UI of a game in Photoshop while the game was being played, which is quite a neat trick. It will be interesting to see how Adobe and third-party developers tap the capabilities of Generator in the coming months. In the meantime, detailed information on the process of generating image assets from Photoshop layers is available here.

Intriguing as it is, there is quite a bit more to Photoshop CC 14.1 than just Generator. Notable are the improvements to camera shake reduction, including user interface improvements, an option to disable artifact suppression, HiDPI preview support for retina displays and improved performance on large screens. Isolation mode, which was introduced with Photoshop CC, has received some attention. The idea here is that Isolation lets you quickly isolate layers that you want to work on to reduce screen clutter, by only displaying those in the Layers panel but it seems this must have confused some users, given the nature of the changes. What else? Okay, here are the main ones: increased stability while saving files to network locations; Photoshop-Behance integration is now available for several languages; native read-only PSDX file format support has been added; there are new controls to modify the range and fuzziness for Shadows, Highlights, and Midtones; performance and stability has been improved while using content-aware features; clicking a selected anchor point now selects that anchor point and deselects other anchor points; 32-bit support has been added for 24 more filters; there's a new option to select All Layers/Active Layers for the Path and Direct Selection tools; and a new option in the Properties panel flyout menu has been added to control the display of the panel during shape layer creation.

Granted, most of these aren't earth-shattering but on the other hand it's only been three months since Photoshop CC was released, which provided significant new functionality. So at this point it would seem as if Adobe is validating one of prime benefits it claims for Creative Cloud membership, which is the rollout of regular updates.

Adobe Exchange Panel Updated to 1.1
Okay, nothing specific to Photoshop here but it's worthy of note that the Adobe Exchange Panel has been given a boost. Not familiar with this? We're shocked, shocked I tell you. This little fellow provides a way to search, discover and install plugins, extensions and other content for your apps, some free and some not, and it's an increasingly important aspect of the Creative Cloud experience. The update includes the usual unspecified bug fixes in addition to a larger default view and more significantly support for non zxp support. Whazzat, you say? Until now those wishing to submit products to Adobe Exchange had to package them into a zxp format using tools such as Adobe Exchange Packager. But this wasn't much fun. Now content creators can submit their work in native file formats, which Adobe hopes will trigger "a massive increase in the amount of content available on Adobe Exchange." Which is to say that the program has been something of a failure up to now, which is a shame, since the concept is sound. Hopefully this will indeed lead to many new Adobe Exchange content submissions.

How do you get the update? Adobe says: "First open the Adobe Exchange Panel by going to Window > Extensions > Adobe Exchange from within a compatible CC app. If you haven’t already, you need to apply the CSXS update to enable the Adobe Exchange Panel first – Details here. Install/update Adobe Extension Manager CC to version 7.1 using the Adobe Creative Cloud desktop app or get the installer here. In the Adobe Exchange Panel Click the Update button."

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