[This article originally ran in the May/June issue of Photoshop User Magazine. It got such a great response, we decided to share it here as well!]
Bryan Oâ€™Neil Hughes, Senior Product Manager for both Photoshop & Bridge, pictured above, takes us behind the scenes at Adobe to show us the making of the latest version of Photoshop
As Iâ€™m writing this, weâ€™ve just released a free public beta of Photoshop CS6. This is only the second time that weâ€™ve given the world an opportunity to â€œkick the tiresâ€ before we ship. I could give you some great tutorials and help you understand just how to use the incredible feature-set to its fullestâ€”but then so could a lot of people. In fact, immediately following this article, youâ€™ll find an entire section dedicated to all the new features in Photoshop CS6. Since youâ€™re reading Photoshop User, you already know that NAPP and major conferences like the twice-annual Photoshop World are great places to learn from the best (and even hacks like me), so I wanted to try something different. I figured Iâ€™d give you a unique insight into how we came up with Photoshop CS6 and what goes into a release of Photoshop. I feltthought the best way to approach this was in an interview format andto address all the commonmost popular questions I get about how we build a releaseâ€”I get these types of questions a lot.
Coming off of Photoshop CS5, our most successful release to date, we were all wondering, â€œHow on earth are we going to top that?â€ Thankfully, with the 64-bit transition behind us, we had the most precious commodity that a software development team can ask forâ€”time.
So, where do you start when itâ€™s time to work on the next version of Photoshop?
Planning a release is equal parts doing what you need to do (OS changes, performance tuning, integration with other products, camera support, etc.); what your customers want you to do (both the large requests and the small ones); what the team wants to do (emerging technology from our labs, licensed technology, pet projects, and a bucket of â€œthings weâ€™d really like to fixâ€); and all of what you started but didnâ€™t finish in the prior release. With a very diverse and vocal user base worldwide, ideas are never the problem. The toughest part about scoping a release is choosing where to place our bets and acknowledging that some wonâ€™t pan out, so prioritizing features ends up being extremely important. For every feature that we green light, there are dozens weâ€™d love toâ€”it all comes down to time.
Do you worry that youâ€™ll ever run out of ways to improve Photoshop?
Never. When I started on the Photoshop team, digital photography meant drum scans and Photo CDs; the Web was in its infancy; no one brought laptops to meetings because there was no Wi-Fi; and mobile devices were limited to phone calls and werenâ€™t yet the norm. Technology changes every day. Every new feature on a camera or in a computing platform is an opportunity for us. I think of Photoshop as an imaging platform; images (any kind: still, video, 2.5D, 3D) can come from anywhere and go to anywhere. Photoshop is what happens on the way. Photoshop no longer means just the desktop either. Our technology can be found on the Web and across platforms on phonessmartphones and tablets. I can honestly say that there has never been a more exciting time for Photoshop. Images are everywhere.
Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen
How many people are on the Photoshop team? What do they all do?
There are roughly 100 on the core Photoshop team (individuals devoted solely to Photoshop and Photoshop Extended), which when you consider that the application appears in every suite and is translated into 25 languages, is pretty impressive. While our headquarters is in San Jose, California, and houses the bulk of the team, we have team members in San Diego, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Florida, India, China, and beyond. The core team is broken into several pieces:
Management: Nearly all of us came up through various parts of the organization or played individual roles on other teams at some point.
Engineering: The magicians who write the code. These water-walkers comb through millions of lines of legacy code and push the framework to the absolute limit.
Quality Engineering: The tireless testers who assure that everything works (the new features and the old ones). These talented folks are paid to break Photoshop. Tens of thousands of bugs are logged, tracked, and fixed in a regular cycle.
Automation: These folks straddle coding and testing as they write and run complex scripts that stress-test each fresh build of Photoshopâ€”computers testing computers.
Localization Engineering: The core team is made up of people from all over the world, but these team members are experts in multiple languages and assure that foreign builds are translated correctly and take into account any cultural nuances.
Experience Design: Adobe has a large team of experience designers. We have two dedicated entirely to Photoshop. Matthew Bice and Tim Riot are incredibly hard-working, creative guys and are tasked with an incredibly difficult jobâ€”touching an application used by everyone in their industry and wanting to leave their mark and push the envelope, but being constrained by a very well-established product and more than two decades of legacy code.
Program Management: Steve Snyder singlehandedly wrangles our schedule, milestones, and various check-ins. Steve jumps from meeting to meeting all day and makes sure that we are where we need to be. Steve has tenacity and an obsession with doing things right (he spent more than a decade in Quality Engineering). Getting more than a dozen suite applications out the door at the same time is a very big juggling act. Steve and others are invaluable here.
Evangelists: Julieanne Kost and Russell Brown are legends in their field:. Julieanne is one of Fast Companyâ€™s â€œmost creative people,â€ and Russell is an Emmy Award winner, respectively. Both are in the Photoshop Hall of Fame. Julieanne and Russell travel more than not and share an insatiable curiosity and creativity. They excel at inspiring and teaching, and the team learns a great deal from them about what we can improve and how.
Marketing: Jim Heiser and Allison Goffman are dedicated to the Photoshop team and are very passionate about communicating its abilities in a fresh, exciting, and engaging way.
Customer Advocacy: Cari Gushiken and Jeff Tranberry founded this new team to assure that we listen and respond to our user base all over the world. From problem solving to social media, these two cover a tremendous amount of ground. If youâ€™ve ever found an answer in a forum or seen a video on Facebook or YouTube, one of them was probably involved.
Jim Heiser (marketing), Scott Kelby (NAPP President), Zorana Gee (product management), Bryan Oâ€™Neil Hughes, and Matthew Bice (experience design) visit NAPP for an in-depth discussion about what would become Photoshop CS6
The team comes from every corner of the globe and is educated as much in liberal arts as computer science. Many of our team members (like myself) used Photoshop professionally before coming onto the team; others only touch it at work and wouldnâ€™t call themselves users. None of us would ever say that weâ€™re expertsâ€”thereâ€™s an unwritten rule about that. We all share one common ingredient, passion. That passion created the world standard in digital imaging and it continues to. If you ever find yourself outside of Adobeâ€™s headquarters at night, look for the floor with the most lights onâ€”thatâ€™s W10WT10 (the West Tower, 10th floor)â€”thatâ€™s passion.
PHOTOSHOP CS6 BY THE NUMBERS
- Lines of code: 4.5 Million+
- Icons replaced for new UI: 1,900
- Cursors replaced for new UI: 250
- Menu items removed from CS6: 47
- Features brought back from CS4: 3 (PDF Presentation, Contact Sheet II, and Lighting Effects)
- Languages supported in CS5: 23
- Languages supported in CS6: 26
- Changes to Crop tool: Around two dozen
- Increase in feature changes over CS5: +62%
- JDI features in CS5: 30+
- JDI features in CS6: 65+
Can you explain product managementâ€™s role?