September 8, 2006

Old Tech

My workhorse of an iMac is desperately in need of an uprgade. It’s a sturdy iMac G4 flat panel that’s seen me through many projects. My computer runs sluggishly at best, and I often have to quit all applications that aren’t of immediate use. I’ve come to the realization that if you wait too long to upgrade, then you might as well wait a little longer for Apple to throw in a new processor or update one of the desktop lines. I was set on getting an iMac because it perfectly fits my needs. The iMac is a far cry from the entry-level machine it used to be; now the higher end iMac comprises a powerful computer well fit for web work. I used to scoff at the iMacs in favor of Apple’s towers, but I’m doing less and less print work these days so that extra power (and price!) have been rendered unnecessary. This makes it all too easy to spend half a morning pricing out a shiny new 24” iMac (which is now all but purchased).

The thing that troubles me most is how my drive to purchase a new computer is almost directly tied to Adobe products. If there is a new version of Photoshop or, much more likely, a version that has become too unwieldy to run on my current system, then it’s time to go shopping. Of course, I don’t need to upgrade, and I resist as long as I’m able, but between dealing with files from newer versions or needing to take advantage of new features, there comes a time when you inevitably have to upgrade. It would be nice for Adobe to start from scratch with the next CS release. Since they are already going universal, they could do a re-write and optimize the hell out of the program’s performance. Yeah yeah, I know it’s not that easy. It’s just wishful thinking. But Adobe has fallen deep into the “feature pit”; adding more and more features with each release, and thereby muddying up existing features. Perhaps a more a la carte Photoshop would suit me better. Start with a baseline version, and sell feature packages for different types of work. I guess it would be a big pill for companies to swallow if Adobe came out with a new Photoshop touting “now with 80% less!” If they were to go that route, they would probably have to start it off as a whole new product, rather than a re-imagined Photoshop. So it goes.

Pardon the Friday afternoon tangent: I’ve never been what you’d call a “Mac Expert”, but just in the same way we learn the intricacies of web development and CSS quirks with workarounds, I learned how to cope with Mac OS 9 (and earlier). When an application crashed in OS 9, I would panic and restart the instant I was able to. In OS X, I force quit stuff just to prove I can. Interestingly enough, some of the people I work with now have never made a site using tables. Ever. They learned how to make sites with semantic markup and CSS from the ground floor. I’m not even that old, but this perfectly illustrates to me just how fast technology moves.

Commentary (47):

1. Shane Guymon says… sep 8, 2006 | 4:01 pm

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I was able to join the MAC computer club. I had worked with them at school, and at work, but my home computer because of financial reasons was a $400.00 Dell that I’ve had at my home for almost four years now.

The MAC I do have came to me in a work trade-off, I created a website for someone in return for a “Power mac G4 Quick Silver.” and I have uploaded the lates Adobe Suite, and it is running beautifully.

I wish I was able to say that I learned how to create websites without using a table, I think all schools should take that route. then we can all leave tables behind.

2. Shaun Inman says… sep 8, 2006 | 4:07 pm
Start with a baseline version, and sell feature packages for different types of work.

So basically what you’re asking for is a Thin Mint Photoshop with your choice of Pepper? Would you like files with that?

3. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 8, 2006 | 4:12 pm

Shaun: Oh, you think of everything in Mint terms now :D

It’s kinda like Homer in the “Flaming Moe’s” episode of The Simpsons: “All work and Moe play makes Moe a Moe Moe”.

4. bearskinrug says… sep 8, 2006 | 4:18 pm

I have never used “File Browser” in Photoshop, which is odd, because it seems like it would be pretty handy…

except everything runs to slow to be able to browse images effectively…

So… that’s not a Photoshop Pepper I’ll need. Cross that off the list.

5. Jeff Croft says… sep 8, 2006 | 4:18 pm
They learned how to make sites with semantic markup and CSS from the ground floor

I’ve noticed this, too, and I’ve been trying to keep it in mind as I’m working on a CSS book. I’ve noticed that most book out there tend to take a “where you used to do such-and-such, you now should do so-and-so approach.”

For the most part, I’m trying to avoid that and just take more of a “this is the way you do it” approach, usually not even mentioning the “old way.”

6. Ryan says… sep 8, 2006 | 4:19 pm

The Intel Macs will blow you away. Very, very fast and snappy.

The DarthBook is a real workhorse and up to most any task. I think you’ll quickly find the same with your new iMac.

7. Chris Griffin says… sep 8, 2006 | 4:19 pm

You are doing better than me, I’m working from a 12” Powerbook G4 hooked up to a 17” Dell monitor. I haven’t quite reach design baller status as you have.

I only did one website in tables before I became a enlightened by the web standards movement.

8. Pat Brumfield says… sep 8, 2006 | 4:19 pm
Start with a baseline version, and sell feature packages for different types of work.

I’ve long thought this is the route Adobe should (will?) go. And not just with photoshop, but imagine if there were one main adobe “control panel”, and then you purchased seperate modules to complete the type of work you needed. It seems like Photoshop, ImageReady, Illustrator, and InDesign are (on some levels) becoming so close to each other in terms of feature sets (especially photoshop-imageready and illustrator-indesign) that it would make sense to consolidate them.

But i suppose you’re right, I really have no idea what kind of development that would entail…

9. Joshua Blankenship says… sep 8, 2006 | 4:24 pm

Photoshop’s so feature-heavy it astounds me the app even runs. I probably use 20% of it on any given workday and depending on what I’m doing (photo processing, image creation, web work) it’s quite literally three different programs.

If not a baseline version, at least some way to turn certain features on and off (and conserve memory) would be nice. But I’d prefer a ground-up rebuild.

10. John says… sep 8, 2006 | 5:01 pm

Gosh. I’ve been wanting an iMac G4, 17 or 20” screen. Are you selling yours? I wish Apple had kept that style and loaded it with the Core Duo.

Having made webpages for years using conventional html, I’m looking at redoing my websites with CSS.

11. Steve Cochrane says… sep 8, 2006 | 5:01 pm

I think what Photoshop needs is a serious competitor.

There’s really no other way around it, because new features are sexy selling points where as refinements to the existing features aren’t as marketable, and selling a stripped down product means they’d have to cut the retail cost. Not going to happen because there’s nothing else out there and we all still buy Photoshop anyway.

That being said, I do really like Photoshop :) Things could be much, much worse.

12. Wilson Miner says… sep 8, 2006 | 5:01 pm

Every time I use Photoshop, I long for a version that does about 80% less.

13. Greg says… sep 8, 2006 | 5:18 pm

Every time I use Photoshop, I long for a version that does about 80% less.

That’s been available for years, it’s called Photoshop 4.0.

14. suthsc says… sep 8, 2006 | 6:44 pm

As an aside, if you haven’t actually pulled the trigger on the new machine yet, it might be a good idea to wait just a bit longer. The next version of OSX should be out in the spring… If you can hold off that long..

15. Jason Beaird says… sep 8, 2006 | 7:15 pm

On the subject of Photoshop and tables… I haven’t used the slice tool nearly as much as I used to “back in the day”. Sure, it can be used for good just as well as it can for evil, but every time I go to use it I feel dirty.

16. Sven says… sep 9, 2006 | 8:02 am

Don’t forget Photoshop is not Universal yet and actually run slower on a MacIntel than on a G4 or G5 !

For web design purpose it is not a big deal as long as you add as much RAM as you can (since Rosetta double the amount of RAM a non binary app needs). Photoshop will take a bit longer to launch but since you launch it only once or twice a day.

Unlike you, I am not conviced that less features in Photoshop would be better. These features may be futile neverless usefull and don’t affect the global performances if you don’t use them.

Now that Adobe needs to port their applications development to Xcode there is a chance we get fully optimised versions for Mac OS X. My dream beign a 100% Mac version taking fully advantage of Apple technologies like core image.

17. Bruno Miranda says… sep 9, 2006 | 11:24 am

After using photoshop on my new Mac Pro, I concluded that it does not run slower than on a G4. Perhaps if you are used to using photoshop on a dual Power Mac G5 you would see a speed decrese until not release the universal.

18. Jonathan E says… sep 9, 2006 | 12:12 pm

Jason I completely understand your hesitance to upgrade. I recently wrote about how I want a MacBook Pro, but the fact that they haven’t upgraded them to the Intel Core 2 Duos yet is making me pretty timid.

Those new 24” iMacs do look pretty sweet, and if I wasn’t so stuck on having a laptop I’d probably grab one of those instead.

19. J Phill says… sep 9, 2006 | 12:26 pm

I am a newly converted Mac user and the difference between running Photoshop on my old Dell and the iMac is like night and day. I will also cosign the want for an 80% less Photoshop.

20. Steve says… sep 9, 2006 | 8:39 pm

I love my G4 PowerBook, but it crashed on me the night before a huge client presentation - bad logic board. So off I went to the Apple store to get it fixed and had to buy a temp machine as a replacement. I got a new Mac Book, the Intel ones. CRAP. It ran all Adobe products really slow, and got to be that I wasn’t able to have Illy and Photoshop and Dreamweaver open at once. When I got my 1 year old PowerBook back, I ran the machines sidce by side and my year old machine blew the doors off the Intel. Come to find out that it’s really Adobe’s fault for not releasing a universal set of programs yet. CS2 runs in Rosetta still which slows it the hell down.

Moral of the story… wait on the new machine until Adobe catches up with the rest of the world. Get some new RAM in the mean time, clear out your Hard Drive in the meantime… but for God’s sake, don’t go Intel yet!

21. Chris C. says… sep 10, 2006 | 9:13 am

I remember when I would upgrade my PC because id software required it.

As for chopping up Photoshop I can see the benefit and its appealing but, which bits would you take in the web dev package? How often has a designer created something completely new by using a tool that’s not really meant for this or that project?

As for getting the new iMac, go for it. Don’t bother waiting. You run the risk of waiting forever or caving and buying the day before the new ultra zoom spiffy iMac comes out.

22. Julian Schrader says… sep 10, 2006 | 9:57 am

I recently got a MacBook Pro 17” and I’m very satisfied with it. Photoshop and the other CS2 apps do need a while to start, but once they’re running, it’s great. I used both a PowerMac G4 and a PowerMac G5 (Dual 2,7GHz) and in my eyes there isn’t any noticeable speed decrease other than while starting a given application in rosetta.

PS: I bumped up RAM as much as I could – the MacBook Pro runs with 2GB.

23. Stuart Frisby says… sep 10, 2006 | 10:54 am

You’ll love the iMac, it’s a great machine. I’m still using a 1st rev G5 iMac (sans isight, etc.) and to me it still feels very speedy. I’ve had a good play with the intel iMacs though, and the difference is huge. huge!

As for working with people who have only ever used CSS, its a growing trend. Hell, I’m only 21 and when I talk about ‘the old days’ of the web I sound like a damn interweb pensioner.

Oh well, when were all sat in our rocking chairs bemoaning the death of the internet we knew and loved we’ll be able to look back fondly on the days when we had a cause to fight for.

24. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 10, 2006 | 10:59 am

I definitely won’t be waiting for Leopard. That was my original intention when I thought that it would be coming out this fall (and sort of coinciding nicely with a new iMac release). But, I just don’t think my day-to-day sanity can wait. I have my iMac maxed out with RAM and everything else as is. I think it’s just time. I realize the Adobe apps don’t run as fast on Intel chips yet, but I imagine an Intel Dual Core iMac with 3GB of RAM will probably still beat out my G4. Even if it’s about the same, at least I will be able to run other things comfortably at the same time.

I do indeed plan to sell my iMac once I buy a new one. A cursory look on eBay makes me think I could fetch between $800-$900. Much better than I had thought!

Chris C.: “How often has a designer created something completely new by using a tool that’s not really meant for this or that project?”

That’s hardly a good reason for such a bloated mess of software. If Adobe keeps going down the road they are, it will only be that much more wide open for a slimmed-down competitor to pop-up and carve out a nice little niche.

25. Adam Spooner says… sep 10, 2006 | 12:29 pm

I’ll jump in the boat if there’s still room. Adobe should really probe their users in the making of CS3. I use about 15-20% of Photoshop’s capabilities, and it’s the same 15-20% everytime. Filters? I stopped using those “back in the day.” IMHO they could cut down on a lot of bloat, especially in PS. Though I’ve found myself using Illustrator almost always now for web work. I still use PS evey once in a while for touching up photos.

As for the new iMacs… I ordered a new 20” (sorry, I’m not cool enough to pay for the 24”) right after work the day they were released. I have strong superstitions that they were getting the 64-bit Core 2 Duos out in time for the September 12th announcement. We all know they’re announcing the new iPods and iTunes Movie Store, but wouldn’t it be cool if they announced the release of Leopard as well? Why else would they wait until the 15th to ship my new iMac? I know…wishful thinking. =)

PS - The ‘F’ key on my iBook just broke in typing this comment. =(

26. Chris says… sep 10, 2006 | 1:04 pm

Jason: That’s hardly a good reason for such a bloated mess of software. If Adobe keeps going down the road they are, it will only be that much more wide open for a slimmed-down competitor to pop-up and carve out a nice little niche.

Well, I have my hoping pants on for an alternative. But, which feature is a must have and which isn’t? Do we keep all the blurs, or just Gaussian?

27. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 10, 2006 | 1:59 pm

Chris: To be honest, I’m not sure what to take and what to leave. For me, it has more to do with not only what I use or don’t use, but also how that maps to the resources the different features consume.

28. Chris says… sep 10, 2006 | 2:11 pm
the resources the different features consume.

By that you mean all of them? :) I think for the time being we should just be thankful that Photoshop doesn’t include Illustrator and InDesign. Eventually they’ll have to come to a point when there’s no new feature to add and they have to just fix what’s already there.

If Microsoft can make a more secure Windows then Adobe has to be capable of a more efficient Photoshop.

29. Tom says… sep 11, 2006 | 12:49 pm

I was, at one point, dead set against the Intel macs, but work demands dictated I abandon my Powerbook as a primary machine.

My 20-inch imac is more than capable of running several CS2 app, Dreamweaver,, Adium, Safari, Firefox, Process, Yojimbo, M$ Word, all simultaneously. (I maxed the memory out at 2 gigs, complimented by the best video card they offered with the generation previous to current, in case you’re curious about specs)

Let me assuage any doubts you might have by saying your 24-incher will slay with ease most of what you can throw at it (save some of your beefier photoshop filters). And as an added bonus, if you run Bootcamp, Half-Life 2 will run splendidly ;)

30. Jeff L says… sep 11, 2006 | 1:20 pm

Photoshop with 80% less?

Isn’t that Photoshop Elements?

31. Aaron Kelly says… sep 11, 2006 | 1:55 pm

I never thought I would use an iMac for work, and now I’m about two years into using a 20” G5 at my current employer. Love it. I recently replaced my old G4 tower with the 20” Intel, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The only difference with non-universal apps is the load time, as mentioned earlier, but once they’re up and running it’s just fine.

32. Jough Dempsey says… sep 11, 2006 | 4:09 pm

Yes, Photoshop Elements is the product that you want, but I don’t know if there’s a Mac version or not.

Someone wrote above that they don’t use filters, whereas I use filters all the time in Photoshop, especially the Unsharp Mask. I wouldn’t use Photoshop without some of the more common filters, and I have plug-in filters for doing other specialized things like adding frames around things or curling a page, etc.

So everyone thinks that they could do with 20% of the Photoshop they have, but then different people are going to use a different 20%. I wonder if there are any features that NO ONE uses. That would be interesting to find out.

Either way, a modular system where you can install or not install various aspects of the package would solve the problem for everyone, especially if 100% of the installation equaled 100% feature parity with the previous bloated version.

As one who is looking to make the Switch from Windows to Mac (now that you can pretty much run windows apps alongside native Mac apps) I’m also wondering if I should wait for Leopard or not.

One thing I don’t like about the iMac is that it’s basically a less portable laptop. Everything is built-in so if you want to upgrade your display you have to get a new computer. What do you do if you like to run two displays and want to get a matching pair?

The Mac Pro is also too much computer for most desktop needs. They could really use something with the power of an iMac but in a mid-tower case.

33. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 11, 2006 | 5:05 pm

There is a Mac version of Adobe Photoshop Elements, but it’s not what I’m looking for (because it’s the wrong 20%). As the Adobe site says: “Everything you need to edit, organize, and show your photos”.

34. sundayreader says… sep 11, 2006 | 6:04 pm

Adobe does have a sweet web-developer image-editing software solution. It’s called Fireworks (bought along with Flash and Dreamweaver from Macromedia).

35. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 11, 2006 | 6:10 pm

I used to use Fireworks back when I was in school. It’s great for layout work, but it just can’t touch Photoshop for photo/image manipulation.

36. Jan Garcia says… sep 12, 2006 | 5:45 pm

I have to say that I still use Fireworks for many quick web graphics. Even for fast layouts (Maybe because it’s what I started with and still can’t let go). I would recommend it for anyone who does icons, banners, etc. But, yes, Photoshop is still my tool for photo editing.

37. Jared says… sep 14, 2006 | 11:20 am

I’m in the same boat. I’ve been using a dual 800 G4 with 384MB of RAM for 5 years now. I finally upgraded the RAM, but I still need to upgrade the OS and pretty much all of my apps.

38. Binusha says… sep 14, 2006 | 9:32 pm

I am thinking along the same lines. I have a 12inch powerbook and using Photoshop on is starting to be a challenge especially with the 1078x768 resolution.

But have to say for portability its a great machine, I sit around in coffee shops and do web design. But trying to sell it and get a decent price for it seems remarkably hard these days. I did the stupid mistake of getting a ipod 60 gig 2 weeks ago and guess what now we have 80gig for the same price. How to keep up with the changes not sure? But I think what would be nice is Apple does end up supporting the powerbooks down the track. I wonder about this quite a lot. Is it worth while keeping things and holding on to it.

At the moment I am trying to decide whether it is worth while going to purchase a new macbook pro or 2 wait a month or so for intel core 2 to be put into the macbooks and macbook pro. I found its always the case the moment you buy something then there is always something new come out.

39. Jeff Kenny says… sep 16, 2006 | 1:03 am

You can make your own Photoshop that does less. Maybe not 80% less, but definitely less. A ton of bloat comes from the plug-ins/filters. I rarely use any of those - maybe use 10% of them 90% of the time. So I just moved (poor man’s archive) them out of the Plug-Ins folder. Photoshop starts up in probably 1/2 the time it used to and seems to run a bit better - but could just be my perception.

40. AndrewH says… sep 16, 2006 | 11:17 am

When it comes to drawlings, I prefer
Autodesk (not Alias anymore) Sketchbook

Its cheaper ($179) and cleaner (less fluffer nutter) than Photoslop

41. Joerg Beyer says… sep 19, 2006 | 7:30 am

What about the following hypothetical scenario? Adobe says:
() Why should we bring out our apps as universal binary, or why should we move to Xcode? That’s lots of work, many problems, we won’t do our customers a favour, and Rosetta is o.k. for us [subtext: we don’t like to invest, we like to earn] (1st step)
() Why should we continue to make Mac-native software? Mac OS X has Boot Camp, and Parallels make a pretty good virtualization software. Use that. (2nd step)
() No, sorry, our software doesn’t install on a Mac machine. Buy a Win box, that’s best for your business [read: for our business]. So long, and thanks for the fish. (Last step, and curtain)

Let’s see what the future brings. I’m not that optimistic. Psychodiagnostics says: past behavior is a predictor for future behavior. With every iteration, Adobe’s Mac support became more difficult. The keyword nowadays is “Windows only feature”. It’s not that easy to make software of that scale for different platforms, even when, say, 80 or 90 % of the code base is “unified”.
Adobe doesn’t have true competitors in what they do. That’s bad. I would not wait for universal binary versions — it’s not clear whether or not we will ever see that.
Get now what you need to get your work done more easily, that pays for itself.

42. umm, what? says… sep 19, 2006 | 12:17 pm

@Joerg: Adobe’s already said they are committed to doing Universal versions of everything. They’re only a little vague about the exact date.

43. Joerg Beyer says… sep 19, 2006 | 1:26 pm

@ umm, what?
Yes, I heard that, too.
That’s why I called my scenario hypothetical.
It’s as hypothetical as the release date of Adobe’s UBs. Let’s just wait until we have that on our computers. Words are nothing — they change. Even commitments may change, that happens. But to be clear: I don’t say they will not make it. I just say, let’s wait until they really prove they have done it. Just my two cents.

44. mathew says… sep 19, 2006 | 7:17 pm

What are tables?

45. Scott McCrindle says… sep 20, 2006 | 11:39 pm

Hm. I’m struggling with exactly the same issues as I look at the sturdy old Mac G4 @ 400MHz on my desk. The trouble is, it works just fine. Everyday.

And hey, this is web work as you say, so really - I don’t need a Quad-core Intel Zeon Mac Pro. So what do I do?

I could install a much lighter-weight operating system like Ubuntu and enjoy a few more years of flawless performance. Or I could stop foaming at the mouth over the new MacBook and just take the hit. We’ll see…

46. thinsoldier says… sep 21, 2006 | 9:31 am
If not a baseline version, at least some way to turn certain features on and off (and conserve memory) would be nice. But I’d prefer a ground-up rebuild.

Autodesk’s Maya does this quite well.
And you’re like the 30-something-ith person since 2001 I’ve seen have the same ‘central adobe conrol panel’ with modules idea that I have.

Technically it seems to me that ever major feature in photoshop and illustrator in self contained in individual files. I’m sure this is true of the filters. I don’t see why they can’t take all features from illustrator and photoshop and make them dynamically loadable in a single application like how maya handles all it’s many features.

I also think there’s a heck of a lot of vector object/group management ideas they should copy from Maya.

47. thinsoldier says… sep 21, 2006 | 10:28 am
But, which feature is a must have and which isn’t? Do we keep all the blurs, or just Gaussian?

We keep everything.
The user decides which filters/features they never use and those features are unloaded from memory and won’t load next time.

Should the user decide later to re-activate a feature it’s loaded instantly, no need to restart PS.

Maya does this. I don’t see why Photoshop can’t. It’s just a smart way to do things.