Adobe. Some love, some hate. But it goes without saying that Photoshop and the rest of Adobe’s software catalog is industry standard. There’s a good chance most designers have at least had to use some flavor of the Creative Suite, even if you primarily use other software.
I was never much of a Macromedia user, but I heard much consternation in the design world when Adobe bought out Macromedia. Turns out there were legions of Freehand users who were staving off the switch to Adobe Illustrator as long as possible. Seems there were plenty of excellent features in Freehand that have yet to be ported over to Illustrator. And perhaps never will. I also discovered that some of the so-called missing features were actually just a case of mistaken identity. Either named differently, under a different menu, or located in a palette or a palette sub-menu.
As someone who is always looking for a better mousetrap, I regularly demo as much graphics software as I can. Not only might I find a better tool, but sometimes one finds tools and concepts that might have never crossed your mind—things you use once and never want to go without.
Having used both a ‘free rotate’ tool as well as a keyboard shortcut for brush resizing in another graphics software tool (Alias Sketchbook) I wanted to see these included in the next version of Photoshop. I was using CS3 at the time. To my surprise, when eagerly drooling over the feature list for Photoshop CS4 I saw both of these features included. I can’t say with any certainty that my voice was heard by Adobe. And no, I do not have any insider connections to fast track these types of things (I wish!). But I did do something that every Adobe user out there should be doing on a regular basis: I submitted a feature request.
I do this constantly, along with submitting bug reports. I have the URL bookmarked in my browser so I can go there directly when the bug or idea pops up. I started doing this after browsing the official Adobe user forums a few years back. One of the Adobe gurus mentioned on an unrelated thread that Adobe may monitor the forums, but bug reports and feature requests must be submitted via the official Adobe feedback form to get into the Adobe system.
Every single bug report I have filed has been followed up personally by an Adobe bug report team member. It hasn’t always been quick, but they have all been followed up, and once they do contact you the conversations via email progress quite quickly. Feature requests I have never received a reply from, but as mentioned above I have seen features which I have requested added to future versions of the software.
Here’s the interesting part: Adobe does listen. And the more feedback they get, the more likely they are to take heed. A short while back an ‘Adobe gripes’ website came out (Dear Adobe) which got a little buzz, and also got Adobe’s ear. What’s interesting to me is that users will take the time to post to a gripe site, or blog about how much Illustrator sucks because it’s missing feature X from FreeHand, or post to Twitter about something that’s broken. The same amount of energy required to do this would much more effectively be used telling Adobe directly on their feedback form.
I’m sure there are a lot of factors, including not even being aware of the feedback form or the feeling that nobody is really listening at the other end. I can’t speak from experience about the feedback despite seeing the features I requested included in Photoshop CS4, but I can confirm that Adobe does follow up on bugs and the team is actively interested in hearing about them and fixing those issues.
So I am asking our readers to do the same. Bookmark that feedback form. Use it. Submit bugs, ask for new features. Let Adobe know, get what you want. Use your blog, your tweets, your forums to gripe—but also urge others to take action and send feedback to Adobe. They have a way for us to do this; let’s use it.
I’m also thinking that the Go Media reader community might be a great place to organize some mass feature requests. Keep an eye out in the near future for some polls where we can find some top issues we communally want to see added to Adobe software, and work as a whole to requests these features. Until then, do your part and tell Adobe what you’re thinking. They want to know.