Tag Archives: public

Adobe Releases Photoshop CS6 In Public Beta

The splash screen for the Photoshop CS6 pre-release, codenamed “Superstition.”

Adobe announced today the immediate availability of Photoshop CS6 as a public beta. Photoshop is expected to be one of the primary products in Creative Suite 6 (CS6) and in the past Adobe has released other Creative Suite products in public beta. The only version of Photoshop released as a public beta until now was Photoshop CS3.

Photoshop CS6 (and presumably other CS6 applications) will be paired with an Adobe ID rather than computer hardware, thus ending the old activation/deactivation method for license management. Fouled-up activations have always been difficult for users to deal with and often keep software from running at all without a call to Adobe customer service, so to do away with activation altogether is a nice improvement.

The change that I’ve seen leaked most is Photoshop CS6’s new dark user interface. Photoshop CS6 now has more in common visually with After Effects, Premiere and other video apps than the design apps including Illustrator and InDesign. You can actually change the user interface’s color in the Preferences menu to one of four shades of gray. I have usually preferred the old light gray, but I come from a background in design and that’s what I’ve been used to. I’ve used my Adobe video applications more in the past couple years though and now I’m keeping Photoshop CS6 with the default dark backgrounds. It looks more professional and the grays don’t compete with images, though technically none of the options will give your images a color cast.

The Photoshop team has made performance improvements in recent versions (the OpenGL support in CS4 comes to mind) but Photoshop CS6’s main performance improvement is the new Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine. Photoshop CS6 uses the MGE to accelerate filters and effects including Liquify, Lighting Effects and warping effects. I’ve worked with these tools in prerelease builds of Photoshop CS6 and they work smoothly most of the time. I hope public beta users have the same experience.

Note that some of Adobe’s video applications employ a “Mercury Playback Engine” for much-improved video performance with NVIDIA CUDA video cards. This is not the same thing as the Mercury Graphics Engine, and the MGE works with a variety of video cards.

Content-Aware technology has been behind many of Photoshop’s recent jaw-dropping features, and Adobe has expanded it into two new tools in Photoshop CS6:

  • Content-Aware Patch marries Content-Aware technology with the existing Patch tool. There’s now a Patch menu in the tool’s options, and selecting “Content-Aware” will help you patch regions more accurately.
  • Content-Aware Move is similar to the Content-Aware Patch feature but it behaves like the Patch tool’s opposite. Rather than select a region and fill it with another region, the Content-Aware Move tool lets you select a region and move it to another place on the image. It works beautifully when moving objects and backgrounds to other places on the image: backgrounds become seamless, usually without any extra work required.

There are a bunch of little improvements in Photoshop CS6 as well. According to Zorana Gee, Senior Photoshop Product Manager, the newest version of Photoshop has 62% more new features than CS5 and 65 enhancements requested by users. These include:

  • Multiple layers can be selected and then locked, labeled or have their blend modes changed at the same time.
  • Layer opacity can now be set to zero by typing “00.”
  • Layer > Rasterize > Layer Style has been added to rasterize layer styles in one step. Previously, users had to create a new layer and merge the two layers together.
  • Brushes can now be as large as 5,000 pixels.
  • The Eyedropper tool can now select layers current and below, and can also ignore adjustment layers.
  • Layer effects are now rearranged in the Layer Effects menus so they match the order they are blended together.
  • Windows users can now right-click on a document tab and open a new or existing file.
  • The hexadecimal field in the Color Picker dialog box will now accept a hash mark, which is useful when copying and pasting hex color values.
  • A new menu command, Type > Paste Lorem Ipsum, will generate placeholder text.
  • The Blur Gallery, which provides a new UI for tweaking blurs and also two new panels, Blur Tools and Blur Effects, for adding bokeh and other details. Note that this only applies to the three new blur filters—Field Blur, Iris Blur and Tilt-Shift.
  • Photoshop CS6 now auto-saves files and has an auto-recovery system.

The press release is on the next page. To download Photoshop CS6, visit Adobe Labs. Macintosh users will need OS X Snow Leopard or Lion; Windows users will need Windows XP or Windows 7.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Enters Public Beta


The alternate splash screen for Lightroom 4 with its “Sprocket” codename.

Last week, Adobe announced Photoshop Lightroom 4 and released the photo management software as a public beta available on Adobe Labs. Lightroom has enjoyed a public beta for each of its four iterations and it’s one reason the product has been popular among photographers. “Giving early customer access to new versions of Lightroom has helped our team deliver an outstanding battle-tested product that really stands up to the demands of photographers worldwide,” said Winston Hendrickson, vice president of Digital Imaging Products for Adobe.

The new features in Lightroom 4 are ready to be tried and tested, including:

  • A Map Module that includes location tagging controls and a standard map that places photos in the locations they were shot
  • Video format support for trimming and extracting frames from video clips, applying adjustments to clips and sharing video to Facebook and Flickr
  • Simplified basic adjustment controls
  • Soft proofing features in the Develop module
  • More local adjustment controls such as Noise Reduction and Moiré
  • Templates and tools for creating photo books in the new Book module
  • An email engine within Lightroom for sending mail directly from the application

I saw a quick demo and what I found most interesting were the new Map and Book modules. The Map module provides a really striking visual representation of the photographer’s journey around the world, though it’s probably a bit depressing for the user who doesn’t jet around the world very often. The bookmaking features are intriguing to me, and the Book module exports to PDF or publication at Blurb.com, an online publisher.

There are also many smaller features, including “fast load data” in DNG files for faster load times in Lightroom 4. You can also have a lossy (less than top quality) comp for fast loading. Another nice addition is soft proofing and gamut warnings for screen and print profiles. I’ll be curious to try these but I know it’s traditionally hard to get precise color management exactly right. One more note for holdouts on Windows XP: Lightroom will require Windows Vista and newer with version 4.

Adobe’s press release on the Lightroom 4 announcement is here.

BOOK REVIEW: Confessions of a Public Speaker

confessions-of-a-public-speaker_c5cc2bde-8c6f-46d5-996e-9d92d7c17d32

I don’t normally review books on public speaking, but my contact at O’Reilly suggested I take a look at Scott Berkun’s Confessions of a Public Speaker and I enjoyed it very much. I do some speaking on design and branding, most recently a presentation on OpenType for my local InDesign User Group, and I have been interested in improving my speaking skills. This book focuses on speakers who present to large and small audiences—not really those who present to clients—and is uniquely entertaining and illuminating.

Scott Berkun is a wonderfully intriguing author, speaker and tech insider who is perfect for Confessions of a Public Speaker. He’s extremely candid—he even reveals how much he makes, which few people in any profession are comfortable doing—and has unique viewpoints on everything from “15 minutes of fame” to speaker’s fees to Americans’ place in the scheme of worldly wealth. He’s also a wickedly funny writer and I’d recommend the book if only for its humor.

Confessions of a Public Speaker also is a strong resource for speakers and presenters of all kinds. I do think the book is written for people speaking in front of audiences but some of the material is also helpful for those presenting to clients or coworkers, or even teaching others in general. The anecdotes Scott uses throughout the book are beautiful gems; one of my favorites is the the story of him taking a driving lesson from his brother to start out the chapter “The clutch is your friend.” It makes for a good lesson for public speakers as well.

The combination of dynamic writing, experience, compelling anecdotes and a focus on the presentation makes Confessions of a Public Speaker an exceptional book, and one that I’m happy to give a perfect rating for. The book may not be too technical or throw around much speaking lingo, but what it does do is even better.

Confessions of a Public Speaker
Scott Berkun
Published by O’Reilly
US$24.99
Rating: 10/10

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Enters Public Beta

Adobe announced today that Photoshop Lightroom, its photo management and editing application, is now available as a public beta of version 3. This is the next major upgrade for this application and all three versions have been preceded by a public beta. I was able to attend a demo of the version 3 beta by Tom Hogarty (Lightroom Senior Product Manager) and also gained some insight in their approach to this public beta process.

Image quality, performance—and one improvement I love

I saw lots of nice improvements in the Lightroom 3 public beta demo. The two main improvements will be found in general performance and a redesign of image quality algorithms. This second improvement was most apparent in the new Settings > Process Version menu item, which lets you switch between the old algorithms and the new. I believe you can specify which algorithm version you want for all your photos, but Tom spent his time demonstrating the menu item, which can toggle back and forth. The image improvement was noticeable but I want to test it on my own images and see how they respond.

lr3-version

The integration with photo sharing websites like Flickr is very impressive. Flickr and other photo sharing sites are now listed in a Publish Services panel below Collections and Library. One can drag and drop photos right to the panel and Lightroom 3 public beta will do the publishing. Online comments are visible in the Lightroom 3 interface and changes can be made and updated automatically. In the case of Flickr, these nifty features are only available to paying Flickr Pro users—the free Flickr service still works in some ways, but dynamic updating and commenting doesn’t work.

lr3-pubservices

lr3-pubmodify

The one improvement I love the most is the redesign Import window. Of all the interfaces I use in Lightroom 2, I use Import the most and it’s never been up to par with the rest of the well-designed application. Now it has matched it and then some. It’s still its own window but it has the same user interface design as the rest of the application, with photo sources on the left and destinations on the right. It looks very slick and easy to use. Even better, the whole window can collapse into a small interface where you can quickly select a source, destination, metadata and file handling presets. I can’t wait to use it.

lr3-import

lr3-importsm

Editing and presenting improvements

There are also several new features for editing and presenting photography:

    lr3-nr2

  • Sharpening and Noise Reduction have both been improved. This feature set will change a lot during the public beta: Tom mentioned the noise reduction feature will be released with color reduction only and with luminance reduction to follow.
  • Collections are now available in the Develop module.
  • lr3-vignettepriority

  • Post-Crop Vignetting has been expanded and a Grain effect is available to recreate film grain. Post-Crop Vignetting will have a color priority and highlight priority mode in the initial public beta, but user feedback will eventually eliminate one of these.
  • lr3-playback

  • Slideshows can now be published with music and set to sync with the song duration.
  • lr3-video

  • Slideshows can also be exported as a video file. Lightroom 3 public beta offers a few common preset sizes.
  • lr3-watermarkedit

  • Watermarks can now be edited with much greater control in the Watermark Editor. I remember being wowed by the watermark feature in Lightroom 1, but this is even more exciting. At first glance it looks like it could be developed further, but I’ll know more after I start using it.
  • lr3-custompackage

  • Print output has been improved: Custom Packages have much more flexibility and look more like a page layout application than ever before. Contact sheets can have colored backgrounds and more metadata options displayed.
  • lr3-contactsheetpage

I couldn’t really complain at anything I saw during the demo—everything operated very well, and it should be a fun public beta experience.

A “medium rare” public beta

Tom used some vivid metaphors to describe how the Lighroom team is approaching this public beta differently than the one for version 2. The first public beta program was “medium rare”: lengthy and full of development. This made sense since it was for a brand new application. For version 2, the Lightroom team adopted more of a “medium well” public beta program, allowing less time to digest feedback and improve features. It seemed the reason was because Lightroom had already established a strong feature set and the team didn’t expect version 2 to require as much time in beta development.

For the version 3 public beta, Tom and his team are going back to the “medium rare” public beta program and will devote more time to it. It’s unclear how long it will last, but Tom says Lightroom 3 will ship “in 2010″ so at the most we can expect the public beta to last a year.

Changes in system requirements

There will be a few bumps in the system requirements that may exclude some Lightroom 2 users. Windows users will require 2GB of RAM to operate Lightroom 3; on the other hand, it will work with Windows 7. Mac users will have more hurdles to clear: not only is 2GB of RAM also required, but Lightroom 3 will not work with Mac OS X 10.4 (“Tiger”) or with PowerPC processors. It’s been a few years since PowerPC Macs were being sold, but I know there’s still plenty of them out in the field. The Lightroom 3 public beta may convince some of these users to buy an upgrade.

How to sign up

The Lightroom 3 public beta just went live at http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom3/. Participation is easy—just download the software and use it—but be sure to give your feedback when you can. I know the Adobe engineers take the feedback seriously, though they also have their own ideas of what Lightroom 3 should have. Lightroom 2 users should note that catalogs from that application cannot be imported into Lightroom 3 public beta—you’ll need to import your own images into that application.