Thomas Fitzgerald sums up some general complaints about Photoshop CS4. These are just his opinions; he is not purporting to speak for anyone else. But the idea is that not everyone is happy with some of the very same features others are in love with. Well, no surprise. Any time a major application messes with stuff users have grown to expect, there will be people annoyed and vocal about it, and Thomas is one of them for this particular release.
First, let me say that I don’t think I’m right and he’s wrong – it’s just opinion. Being on the prerelease teams has given me a longer ramp-up to embrace the changes, and probably predisposes me to liking them since I get time to become used to them and really understand why they’re in place.
Many of the changes that are throwing people off have to do with the UI; they don’t like the flick panning, the tools aren’t exactly what they’ve been used to or located in the same place, the panels behave slightly differently, etc. I’m sure John Nack has posted several times on his blog about exactly that, and indeed there have been many conversations behind the scenes where Adobe feels the need to justify their choices. In a general sense, I agree that sometimes folks need to be shaken up because there is good reason to try something new. Photoshop can deal well with this kind of thing because they really are the only serious game in town for broad digital imaging. That’s not to say they always get it right, but I applaud them for striking out.
And Adobe aren’t the only ones to make drastic changes. It used to be that I felt I didn’t get my money’s worth from a version upgrade on any software if it didn’t look entirely new. But now that I understand my own work flow a bit more, it can be disturbing when something radically changes. However, I am always looking for new ways to organize and get things done.
In the end, all I can say is that this time around the new stuff works to my favor, as I’ve been able to integrate it nicely into my work, such as flick panning and the new adjustment panels (link to Jay Kinghorn’s site). I also really like the new N-Up view, where you can have mulitple images open and tiled much more easily. With writing my book, I really needed to be able to work across multiple images at the same time, and working with Smart Objects is a breeze – I can open up the SO source file and see changes immediately with the images side-by-side. Previously, I’d have to flip between images, which made precise changes very time consuming.
I feel CS4 is a worthwhile upgrade if you have a complex work flow, and the hardware to take advantage of the new features. The thing about the changes that have been made is that they will not be “unmade” for future versions (at least, it’s not very likely), so not purchasing now simply due to the changes is a limiting move. Choosing not to purchase because the product is not stable, or no longer meets your needs, well, that would be a good move. But when the next version comes out, folks who don’t like the changes will be faced with abandoning the product altogether, which does not seem viable given the current offerings.