Making the Imagined Real

This story is part of a series of weekly posts that will give you a closer look at the people and technology that were showcased as part of MAX Sneaks. Read our other features on Time of Day, Live Mobile Dev, Visual Speech Editor and Gap Stop.

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Pushing the boundaries. Exploring what’s possible. Making the imagined, real. That’s what motivates Anirudh Sasikumar, senior computer scientist in Adobe’s Web Platform and Authoring group.

“Developing software is a way to create something that’s in my mind, but make it real,” he says, “And the potential for it to be anything, that’s a key attraction. If you can imagine it, you can do it to a certain extent on the screen — that’s freedom.”

Anirudh joined Adobe in 2007, initially as a technical evangelist and eventually migrated to product development for Flash Builder. Today, he’s focused on pushing the boundaries of Web technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript — a passion that led him to showcase a technology demo called PSD Web Editing as part of the Sneaks presentations at Adobe MAX 2014.

PSD Web Editing is a proof-of-concept demonstration that showcases the ability to import, manipulate and save the layered information of a Photoshop file completely inside the Web browser. During the demonstration, Anirudh proved that he could quickly and easily import a file, manipulate layers, change blending, apply editing tools and save the file — without ever opening a native Photoshop application.

It’s possible, he explains, because HTML5’s capabilities have advanced alongside the availability of more versatile APIs for importing and rendering data, and browser makers are creating ever more powerful runtimes.

In fact, it was his exploration of these new APIs that inspired the original idea for his PSD Web Editing demo. Anirudh realized that the APIs in the browser for reading data had reached a point of maturity and speed that could be useful for importing and working with binary Photoshop files inside the browser.

“I was wondering if a layered Photoshop file could be worked with inside the browser, purely in JavaScript. And a lot people said it wouldn’t be possible,” he explains, “It was something that even I was very skeptical of. … It was a big gamble. JavaScript might be too slow; the browsers could be too slow to do all the work. But it turned out that it is really, really fast now, and you can do amazing things provided you write clean code using modern APIs.”

Although he doesn’t see his technology replacing the need for full, native Applications, Anirudh is excited for the kinds of collaboration capabilities that are opening up for digital creatives and designers as Web technology improves.

“If you have a nice subset of photo editing features that are instant and work really well without delay, you can imagine a graphic artist or a photographer jumping online with their client, quickly making some changes and annotations alongside a live chat window as they discuss the design real time. I think it could even be tweaked for web specific design workflows. It’s like a minimal version of Photoshop that’s geared for collaboration.”