Photoshop for Designers

Sometimes less is more. That’s a cliché, but it’s true — especially when it comes to tools. You wouldn’t use a chainsaw to make fine furniture, just like you might not want to drive a Ferrari on your daily commute. Sometimes it’s better to have a tool specifically focused on the task at hand, rather than the most powerful.

That’s why designers are getting excited about Project Recess — an interface inside Photoshop that provides a custom-tailored experience for product and user experience (UX) designers. Revealed at Adobe MAX 2014 as part of the Sneaks presentations, Project Recess uses Web technologies (HTML5, CSS and JavaScript) to provide an efficient interface for Photoshop built around a designer’s typical workflow. It also adds features and capabilities for solving new design changes, such as the proliferation of devices and screens.

“There’s a bigger need for design that works well across devices,” says Zorana Gee, Photoshop senior product manager, “it’s rare for a designer to create an image or interface that only exists in a single device, or a single medium. The design has to work across multiple places, so we’ve been doing a ton of work to improve the way we facilitate that.”

As part of her MAX presentation, Zorana showed the audience how designers can quickly navigate Project Recess’s minimal UI, using contextual panels and a streamlined toolbar, to complete a typical design task like creating a button with fewer mouse clicks and dialogues — more than twice as fast as using the traditional Photoshop interface.

“Many of our customers only use a small portion of the [full Photoshop] application, yet there are certain things they do all the time, every day,” Zorana explains, “With Project Recess we wanted to allow designers to focus on the design, instead of tinkering with the tool and it’s preferences.”

Of course, working quickly and simply doesn’t mean designers have to sacrifice the power and flexibility of Photoshop. “It’s all built on the power of Photoshop. Although you can work in the streamlined interface of Project Recess, you call always jump back into core Photoshop to access the full range of features and capabilities,” Zorana adds.

What’s more, since Project Recess is built with Web technologies, new features and capabilities can be added outside of the traditional release schedule of Photoshop. “It allows us to be more responsive, more experimental and more iterative with our implementation,” Zorana explains, “And because it’s written with common Web languages, anybody who’s experienced with HTML5, CSS and JavaScript has the potential to take this and create their own custom interfaces. For example, we’re planning to put the source code for Project Recess on GitHub, so anybody can take a look at what we’ve done, and create something unique for themselves.”

To stay up to date with the latest on Project Recess, follow Zorana and team @psdesign on Twitter.