[Looking for the list of Adobe CS3 program abbreviations?]
Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Released
Let’s start off by announcing Adobe has recently made Photoshop CS3 Beta available for download. It’s free as long as you have a valid Photoshop CS2, CS2, Production Studio, Video Bundle, or Web Bundle serial number and the final Photoshop CS3 version hasn’t come out yet. Another caveat: no tech support is available for the beta.
All the details are given on the Photoshop CS3 page, including download instructions and system requirements—at least 320 MB RAM and 64 MB video memory!
New Adobe Creative Suite 3 Program Icons
Adobe has been known to change branding strategies every new version, particularly the logo and icon aspects. Take Photoshop for example. From versions 1.0 to 7.0 there was the ever-present eye in each of the whimsically conjured designs. But this was followed by a more nature-friendly feather concept starting with the two generations belong to the Creative Suite.
For CS3, though, Photoshop and practically every other member of Adobe’s Product line has adopted a drastically different icon scheme (mentioned here), sporting two letters of the product name on a soft-gradient-fill-ed square. The typeface details are in the postscript of this entry. The color of the gradient is the color the product is assigned to on the color wheel. In the case of Photoshop, it’s a nice, deep blue, around #2B75CC (according to ColorZilla).
The Alphabet Soup and The Color Wheel
The Periodic Table of Elements comes to mind—transformed into a color wheel using the polar coordinates filter! (Kidding.) Yes, it’s very disorienting.
The general rule is, the first letter is bigger (capitalized) than the second. Compound words, e.g. PageMaker, use the first letters of the root words with the second letter in small caps. For simple words such as Flash, and yes, Photoshop, the second letter is in lowercase. However, just like the periodic table, not all elements are spelled in the same way (yes, I still remember why tungsten uses W: because it’s also called wolframium). Adobe Illustrator uses “Ai”.
I thought I’d list all of Adobe’s product names their corresponding shorthand here. This is based on the notes at the Flickr image uploaded by ÑdÐ½arriÑ•oÎ· (alternative by luxuryluke). Yes, I plan to update or upgrade this list once we have everything straightened out. Ones marked with asterisks are uncertain:
|Adobe Product Names by Icon Shorthand
AE - After Effects Ai - Illustrator Au - Audition Aw - Authorware Br - Bridge CF - ColdFusion Co - Contribute Cp - Captivate Di - Director Dw - Dreamweaver
En - Encore DVD FB - Flex Builder* FH - FreeHand Fl - Flash FM - FrameMaker Fw - Fireworks Fx - Flex Gl - GoLive IC - InCopy ID - InDesign
JR - JRun/JobReady* LC - LiveCycle LR - LightRoom PM - PageMaker Pr - Premiere Ps - Photoshop RH - RoboHelp Sb - Soundbooth VC - Version Cue*
To mix things up even further, some icons do not follow the letters-only rule and have retained their old logos. This includes Acrobat, Acrobat Distiller Apollo, Connect (formerly Breeze), Device Central, Digital Editions, Extension Manager, Flash Player, Flash Video Encoder*, Reader, Version Cue, and a currently-unidentified icon.
Adobe’s CS3 Icons Are Troubling
People have always been complaining about Adobe’s decisions with its branding strategy, but this will probably be the worst debate we will encounter. I probably won’t mind if only a few key products were modified, but it definitely felt awful seeing all those letters on a color wheel. While shortening words into two letters in typical chemical element fashion became a mini trend not too long ago, John Nack counters wants nothing to do with that.
One last point: if we wanted to design a ‘Periodic Table of the Elements’ we certainly have the capabilities to have done so. Our desktop brand system isn’t a marketing or advertising gimmick that we will toss out on the next rev, it’s a solution to real usability and identity problems and is something we can call wholly our own.
But understanding and recall will be difficult in this context. There seem to be too few distinct colors for all of the Adobe software. And using nomenclature reminiscent of Chemistry and all the memorizing we had to do—instead of our previous way of associating images with respective Adobe programs—is also traumatic. That I thought of listing what all the abbreviations stood for (via ÑdÐ½arriÑ•oÎ· and other people’s contributions) in order to keep track of which one was which is alarming enough.
Here’s another good albeit humorous point: good icons are usually so good that their silhouettes also recognizable. But what do you get when you silhouette Adobe’s new icons? Trouble in the Dock, that’s what. I’m not an Apple geek but people are complaining those blocks are hardly recognizable once they’re zoomed out and tiny. Then again, others argue that because they’re so minimalist, they stand out!
Seriously though, I would have preferred it if Adobe stuck to the graphical look rather than the minimalist. It is always good to have an icon that piques your imagination much like a modern-day muse. “What would Andy Warhol say?”
Worse, Adobe compromised. It was fairly inconsistent before but now it’s all the more obvious now that the Acrobat family kept the old logo, along with a few others.
Others ask: should we waste this much time kvetching about product icons when what we should be for or against is the quality experience an Adobe app gives us?
I did, because Adobe is a role model for all things (bright and) beautiful. They’re the company that has excelled in creating tools that make publishing so much cooler and easier to do. (Where are Corel and Macromedia now? No, this is not the place to insert the GIMP argument.) We don’t buy what others have dubbed as “lazy minimalism.”
See, Jason Santa Maria’s reasoning is just like mine.