I need to vent. Indulge me.
Photoshop CS5 for Mac is the worst case of half-baked software development that I have seen in a long time. Honestly, I can only assume its release was driven by marketing rather than engineers and architects. Much as I was looking forward to it, I wish they'd held back another year and done the job right.
Lloyd Chambers has written at great length, eloquently and accurately, on the myriad shortcomings of CS5; I refer you to his website. This is as good a place to start as any, but it's worth perusing the most recent six months of his blog entries for the assortment of important and informative articles he has written on the mess that Adobe has handed us.
Allow me to touch on the highlights that particularly vex me. First, almost everything that was outdated, wrong, or broken in CS4 is still in the same state in CS5. Saving multi-layer PSD files is horribly, painfully slow. For some reason it got a lot worse between CS3 and CS4, and it's stayed lousy. The many filters and other components that didn't work on 16-bit files in CS4 still don't work. Photoshop remains a mish-mash of 8-bit and 16-bit functions (by comparison, the efficient and affordable Picture Windows has been fully 16-bit since, well, forever.)
Photomerge still occasionally gets panoramic images assembled wrong, which means the user interface plug-in (PhotomergeUI) is a necessity for me. It was downgraded to an optional plug-in in CS4; now it doesn't work at all in 64-bit CS5. In fact, an appallingly large fraction of my third-party plug-ins will not run in 64-bit Photoshop, including the three I use on probably 80% of the photographs I work with.
It has been half a year since the release of CS5. I don't know what kind of coordination Adobe does with the third-party developers. I don't know why they didn't write a "compatibility box" within 64-bit Photoshop to allow use of the existing plug-ins, including the myriad important legacy ones that experienced printers use that are no longer under development and so will never be upgraded to 64-bit. Difficult? Yes. I sincerely doubt it was impossible.
Adobe didn't just drop the ball; they tripped over it and then kicked it into the sewer.
Is there a workaround? Sort of. Launch CS5 in 32-bit mode and you'll be able to use PhotomergeUI and all your other critical 32-bit plug-ins. Doing so, you lose a huge chunk of performance, almost a factor of two on computation-limited tasks. Worse, it doesn't let you access the large memory space that becomes available once the 32-bit barrier is broken. Worst, it won't even access memory as well as CS3 and CS4 did; CS5 (32) is back to being limited to 2 GB of RAM.
Where have all the filters gone? Long time passing...On the left is the filter menu from Photoshop CS4 and CS5 run in 32-bit mode. Launch CS5 in 64-bit mode (middle shot) and a whole mess of your third-party filters will be gone. Open up a 16-bit file (right) and even more filters are gone; Adobe still hasn't completed recoding them from their 8-bit form. It's been, what, three generations now?
Where has all the memory gone? Long time ago...Photoshop CS3 and CS4 could directly access 3GB of RAM and make effective use of RAM above that. CS5 in 32-bit mode returns to the primitive memory model of yore.
Remarkably, 32-bit CS5 performs just about as well as CS4; apparently Adobe tightened up a lot of the code. But it's still running probably two thirds as fast as it would if it could indirectly access higher RAM like CS3/4. Even on my MacBook Pro, with its meager 6 GB of RAM, there's a serious performance hit running in CS5's 32-bit mode. On my 12 GB iMac the difference is huge; the "diglloydMedium" benchmark runs 3–4 times more slowly in CS5's 32-bit mode than 64-bit mode.
And meanwhile, my workflow is totally screwed up. At the moment, I'm mostly avoiding using CS5 while I figure this out; that's how many problems it's creating for me.
Okay, done venting. I admit that part of this is the disappointment of a kid who was promised a pony for Christmas and there's only a bicycle under the tree. Once I become adjusted to the situation, I'll may decide it's a really nice bicycle and have some very good things to say about it in future columns. But, right now, not so happy.
Ctein's regular weekly column appears on TOP on Thursday mornings.
Note: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. More...
Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by ILTim: "I'm a tool engineer working in high-end 3D CAD programs all day, and this feels a bit similar. Our cad programs range from $7,000 to $30,000 per user, plus a few grand a year in maintenance fees. Some of these vendors are focused only on marketable improvements that the sales team can use, neglecting bugs and poorly performing features that the professionals use day in and day out. It gets old being a user of a system like that, and after migrating to a new system due to a change in employers, I'd never take another job that required me to go back to that old cad system. The one I'm on now innovates regularly, but maintains incredible legacy support for deprecated features and does a truly admirable job with bug fixes. As I advance in my career, these experiences are going to drive the purchasing decisions of my employers, and the company that chased sales via added fluff will never get a dime. Never mind the bashing I give them to colleagues.
"Adobe is not creating Photoshop CS software to sell, they are creating productive, satisfied, and enthusiastic customers by providing them with tools, who in turn create a vibrant marketplace for Adobe. They can ride the brand name for a while, but ultimately by not serving the customers they will find themselves on a crash course.
"I've considered CS for years, but its been too darned expensive. Additionally, there is a lot I don't need there, and I've gotten the impression of stagnation. Then to top it off, the upgrade fees are not trivial.
"I've recently traded in PS Elements for GIMP, Picasa, and other free tools. I'm going to try hard to make them work because the developers are showing more promise than Adobe. Then, of course, there is that whole bloatware issue, the DLM (download manager), the trojan toolbars that come with acrobat reader and flash...I'm very unsatisfied with Adobe lately."