May 3, 2006

Vote early, vote often!

A lot of Photoshop users wonder where Adobe gets feedback for feature development in new versions of Photoshop. There are a variety of ways; from the Feature Requests section of the Adobe User to User Forums (here’s the Mac forum and here’s the Windows forum for Photoshop and here’s the Bridge Forum). Adobe does focus group studies and also has a team of advanced Photoshop users from outside of Adobe called the “Alpha Testers”. But anybody can offer their best feature requests by using a simple web form, the Adobe feature request form.

The cynics among you may think that the request form feedback just falls into a black hole. It doesn’t. The user feedback from this form as well as all the other sources of feature requests are tallied to discover trends, most asked for features and interesting or otherwise brilliant ideas submitted by regular users of Photoshop – or any of the Adobe products.

Will posting a feature request guarantee you’ll get that feature in the next version of Photoshop? No, but if enough users all ask for the same sort of feature addition it will go a long way towards making the marketing and product development team working on Photoshop sit up and take notice. That’s why I say vote early and often because, in general, new features are added to Photoshop based upon the volume of requests (as well as their validity) by general Photoshop users.

There are some key pointers to remember when asking for new features: first and foremost, don’t ask for something that’s already in Photoshop. That’s very poor form and makes you look silly.

Second, the people who read the requests are human and being mean or otherwise real far south of civil won’t get your request read (let alone acted upon).

Third, it’s been my experience that Photoshop engineers have REALLY short attention spans. Use bullet points and simple language when outlining a feature. Don’t ask for more than one feature at a sitting and make your case as elegantly and efficiently as possible.

Fourth, have patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Photoshop. Due to a wide range of variabilities, some things just take a long time to get implemented. But don’t let that stop you from asking. Some things are simple to add while others take enormous effort. If it’s easy to put in, makes sense and adds to the power of Photoshop, the engineers will eventually get around to fulfilling those feature requests that make Photoshop better.

Why did I post this today? Well…Adobe has taken the unusual step of telegraphing exactly when the next version, Photoshop CS3, is due – the 2nd quarter of 2007. Working backwards, one might speculate that work is being done -RIGHT NOW- on that version, right? So, when is the best time to be offering your wants and wishes for the next version of Photoshop? RIGHT NOW would be a REAL GOOD time.

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