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Every time a new version of Photoshop or Lightroom comes out, we (the community of users) get a number of features that make our lives more fun, or make us more productive, or sometimes both.

But, of course, every time a new version of either one comes out, there are always those cries of “Why didn’t Adobe add [fill in the blank]” or, “I can’t believe we still don’t have [fill in the blank].” Unfortunately (for me anyway), I’m usually one of the ones whining the loudest about a feature that didn’t make it, or a feature that was changed (which is why Adobe often cringes when I call).

But my buddy Terry White and I were talking recently, and Terry floated an idea that I honestly believe would change all this, and finally give us exactly what we want in the next versions of Photoshop and Lightroom, and InDesign, and so on.

There’s only one major hurdle; Adobe would have to agree to it.

The only reason I’m even posting this idea, is because if there’s a company out there today that might consider it; it would be today’s Adobe, (which is a very different company than it was just a few years ago).

This is such a major departure from how things have always been done, that it has the power to change the way software is developed from this point on, and if Adobe pulled it off, the rewards for Adobe (and their stockholders) would be off the charts. Everybody would always upgrade to the new version because we’d all finally be get exactly what we want.

Here’s the plan:

Adobe sends an email to their registered user base asking them to tell Adobe exactly what features they want to see in the next version of Photoshop (or Lightroom, etc.), and then:

Adobe’s engineers have to agree to include ALL of the Top 10 most popular features in the next release. Period.

Only after they’ve added the top 10 most-requested features, can they then look at adding any of the 11 through 20 most popular features, or any pet projects (new ideas, new concepts, etc.) that they’ve been brewing up on their own.

Now, you might be thinking, “That’s impossible,” or “It can’t be done” but everybody was saying stuff like that before Thomas Knoll wrote the first version of Photoshop (he wrote it in one weekend, by the way). It’s only impossible until somebody does it.

Now, these Top 10 Features have to be somewhat reasonable; in other words, a feature couldn’t be, “Lower the price to $49,” or “Make it only use 20 MB of drive space” but it could be something like “Make it load 25% faster.” If that wound up being the #1 thing on the list, then Adobe would have to throw enough engineering muscle behind it so it did just that, because after all, “That’s the #1 thing our customers told us they want!”

How could they go wrong? How could they not sell a record-breaking number of upgrades, because the top 10 features would ALL be included in the next version.

Also, it’s entirely possible that the #1 thing Photoshop users want is something that would incredibly simple to add. But if you don’t ask—you’ll never know.

Now, just for fun, I’m going to do my own totally un-scientific “Photoshop Feature Wishlist Survey” and I need your input. Go ahead and post the features you’d like to see in the next Photoshop, and I’ll compile them into an online survey that we’ll post here next week. Then, you can come back by, click on the feature from the list you want the most, and we’ll see what “We” wind up choosing as our Top 10 Most-Wanted features.

I’ll make sure Adobe sees it (and will take the accompanying heat that opening up a can of worms like this usually causes me), and although this is totally just for fun, at least Adobe will get an idea of what at least some of us really want. If the #1 thing isn’t on their list, maybe now it will be.

The Power of 10

I’ll get the ball rolling with a few things I’d love to see in the next Photoshop:

  • I want to see all filters get a User Interface makeover, so they’re more like the Smart Sharpen filter, with a very large preview, the ability to save your favorite settings to a pop-up menu, and basic and advanced modes to hide features most folks won’t ever use.
  • I want a “Do the last step again” keyboard shortcut, that will do whatever I just did again. If I add the Shift key, I want it to do my two last steps again. If I add the Option (Alt) key, it does my last three steps again. It’s like an instant, temporary action, built on the fly as I work.
  • I want a better color picker; one where I can click on it, and a list pops down of my favorite colors and I can choose a new color with just one click and hold; and not have to bring up a separate dialog, or keep a palette open.
  • I want to be able to build my own toolbar, with only the tools I want visible, and I want to configure the size and shape the way I want it.
  • I want a set of real painting tools like those found in Corel Painter.
  • I want some of the best “Kai’s PowerTools” filters updated and integrated into Photoshop using Photoshop’s user interface (rather than Kai’s).
  • I want the Info palette readout built right into both Curve and Levels, so I don’t have to have two palettes open to do one job.
  • I want InDesign CS2′s pop-out panel design for managing my palettes.
  • I want Before/After’s like Lightroom built into Photoshop
  • I want Adobe to buy or license a really good noise reduction plug-in from a third-party developer (like Noise Ninja, or Noiseware Professional, etc.) and replace the one in Photoshop with it.
  • I want Adobe to hire an absolute kick-butt high-end designer to go and replace every default Layer Style Preset, every default Action, every default shape, and every default brush with brand new, kick-butt, really usable ones.
  • I want Adobe to make ALL of Photoshop work like Camera Raw and Lightroom, where you never have to wait for a progress bar, and all your edits are applied at one time; when you’re done with all your edits, so you work at full speed all the time.
  • I want the last setting you used in Layer Styles to still be in place when you go back (in other words; I want them to be “Sticky.”)
  • I want better filters. I want a Clouds filter that actually looks like clouds. I want a Glass filter that makes things really look like glass. I want a Dust & Scratches filter that really removes Dust & Scratches, and I want a Fibers filter that looks like real Fibers.
  • I want a better looking startup splash screen. I know that sounds silly, but I do.

I could go on and on, but know that I would gladly and wholeheartedly give up getting any or all of these, if it’s not what the Photoshop community chose as their “Top 10 Most-Wanted” features.

So, that’s the plan: post your own ideas here; I’ll add the most popular ones to an online survey to go live next week, and then you can vote on your favorite ones, and if nothing else, at least we’ll see what we here all want. So let’s get to it! :)