I've been a silent member of the list for a while, so this is my first
post. I'm sorry about the rant, but Adobe CS is driving me nuts.
My motivation for making this post today was a huge a mount of
frustration built up through the strange behavior of keyboard modifiers
in Indesign CS. Some of the points surrounding this relate to previous
topics to many topics posted to the list. I speaking both as an
interaction designer and visual design profession who uses Adobe CS
Firstly, whilst the Adobe CS suite in general is doing a good job of
evolving and integrating new features that address new usage models and
new types of users, I not sure how to what extent it is in turn
compromising supporting the existing user base and user models. Having
used Photoshop for well over 10 years and Illustrator for nearly as
long, I've always been very happy with the evolution of these
applications with a good balance between reinforcing the old
interaction methods and introducing new one for new features. Indesign,
being the newest member of the Illustrator/Photoshop design suite is
the main culprit is spoiling this pattern but the other applications
are not free from criticism. Speaking as someone who works within the
professional graphic design side of the industry, I think my feelings
are the majority of this group.
My main gripe (but I have many) surrounds keyboard modifiers. In
Indesign CS, in particular, they are so badly implemented and
inconsistent in their behavior throughout the application that it is
almost worthless having tried to implement them in first place.
To give examples:
i) the 'space bar' doesn't work to pan the view when the 'zoom'
(magnifying glass is selected) is the chosen tool.
ii) if any tool but the open or closed arrow is selected, pushing
'command' to temporally modify the cursor to the open or closed arrow
selects the object underneath the intended selection — what it should
do when the open or closed arrow is selected.
...I could go on.
For the traditional base of 'pro' users of Adobe products — i.e. one
button mouse Mac users — keyboard modifiers and commands are essential
to using the applications productively and rapidly (and dare I say it,
make us faster that 2 button mouse users.)
I know this could get into the old multi-button vs. one button mouse
argument, but personally (until the mouse evolves into something
different) I feel it is a user preference and most applications that
have a somewhat universal user base, across Mac and PC need to support
both. Even CAD programs. And there are some people (like myself) that
can't use most two or more button mouse effectively as we're
My experience has led me to believe that advanced users (want to) move
away from menus, palettes and tool bars anyway. They are too time
consuming to bother accessing throughout a sustained interaction and
they require more muscle memory to remember where things are. In turn,
causes fumbling interaction as monitor size varies (a problem if you
use multiple computers) and requires a greater learning curve as
features move/are added between versions. Professional design equals
big monitor size equals high resolution equals lots of pixel to travel
across and the creation of more complex mouse target areas. Key
commands, while less accessible model reduces inevitable the hand,
wrist and neck pain.
With design based tasks, it is important to keep as close to the
'design' you're working on, with the least amount of extraneous visual
information around. Keyboard modifiers and commands help a visual
designer do this. GUI based Menus and palettes don't.
I am well aware that this is a model for users that are very savvy and
doesn't help the average entry level user and is certainly not a
particularly useful model for most applications and approaches to
software design. But Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign are not 'most
applications', even though they have 10 of millions of users each, they
are specialist tools. Regardless of the current discussions within the
UI community for designing software that is scalable from basic through
to advanced users, there is still a need for specialist tools and
software. And we need to create more optimized tools (basic or
I believe certain tools don't need the same design paradigms behind
them that truly universal interactive environments, like operating
systems, do need. My suspicion is that the Adobe CS suite is suffering
from trying to appeal and be accessible to many types of users and
failing to keep the existing user base satisfied. Please give up the
'effect' and 'appearance' thing in Illustrator (it is, and should be a
vector based program.) Please don't focus on users who just want to
convert a tiff to a jpeg. Please don't panda to people that think
PowerPoint is a design tool. Please don't continue to try to make CS
products accessible for non-visual design professionals — no-one would
consider making Alias, UG or Final Cut accessible to anyone.
While I understand the that application as complex as Photoshop with
such a broad user based means it's realistic to make to goal to make 10
people being happy (I've worked on similar projects so I know this),
dare I suggest that it would be better that these users fall within the
established, loyal user base rather than a potential new set. A bird in
the hand is worth two in the bush after all.