A Fix for Broken Photoshop and Illustrator Tools

For the longest time now, every so often my Photoshop and Illustrator editing tools would just stop working. I could load an image into Photoshop, try to crop it and all it would do is maintain the direct select tool cursor. It wouldn’t crop, draw a marquee or anything else that would alter the size of the image or canvas. I could do some things, like insert text, but I couldn’t erase. I could paint, but not use the healing brush. In Illustrator, the problems were similar. In addition, Illustrator would make a copy of every layer I clicked on. Drag a square with the direct select and you’d get another square dropped in the position you wanted it to be, plus the original in the old spot. The only known fix was to restart the machine and hold out for a few more days. Annoying.

Googling for the solution was useless. Try a search for “Crop tools don’t work in Photoshop” and all you’ll get is a bunch of about.com and ehow.com tutorials on how to use the crop tool. Very annoying. I even bought 4 GB more RAM thinking that would help, but nothing.

However, I have found a solution: disable OpenGL Drawing.

It’s a new feature in CS5 (maybe it was there in CS4, but I think it’s new) that interfaces with the computer’s graphics card. My iMac is brand new and Adobe’s products have never played nicely with Macs and OS X the last few years it seems. Disabling the OpenGL processor in Photoshop’s Preferences > Performance has fixed my problems.

Supposedly, using OpenGL would make for smoother graphics and less resource usage, but I haven’t really noticed the different with it on or off. It’s probably a bug that Adobe blames Apple for and Apple blames Adobe for, no doubt.

The Future is Here. Flash is Not Welcome.

Notice anything odd here?

Screen shot 2009-12-23 at 11.36.06 PM

Compare it to this:

Screen shot 2009-12-23 at 11.35.34 PM

It’s tiny, but I notice it every time I launch this awful program. The “ID” in InDesign’s splash screen is slightly transparent. You can see part of the iTunes store behind that “D”. You can kinda make out an “A” and a “d” in the background. Every Adobe CS4 program has a transparent “periodic element symbol”.

Flash’s “Fl”?  Not so much. Stark, 100% black. Not real sure why InDesign uses a capital “I” and capital “D”, either. Flash just gets a capital “F” and some poor excuse for an “L”. Fireworks gets a capital “F” and “W”. Although, the “W”, like the “D” in InDesign, is physically smaller, it’s still a capital.

What’s worse is that Flash’s splash screen refuses to exist in the background. It just lords over your desktop like your mother after she caught you masturbating in the basement.

Any web designer/developer out there needs to recognize that Flash is already four feet deep in the ground. Microsoft, in their typical Microsoftian way is already racing a year backward with their Silverlight software. I wanted to learn ActionScript more extensively last summer and realized later it was a horrid waste of time. HTML 5 is going to help us move right along with the embedable <movie> and <audio> tags. It’ll be a while, as Microsoft still needs to realize no one wants to use Silverlight, either, and they’re not likely to push <movie> and <audio> into IE anytime soon. They’re still using a diskette as the icon for “Save” for Pete’s sake.

Let’s face it, no one uses Flash except for watching cute puppies on YouTube. If it weren’t for YouTube, no one would use Flash except for looking at band, energy drink and movie websites.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the third nail in the coffin for Flash was Apple. From Wired:

Apple declined to comment, but some iPhone developers speculate Apple opted against a full Flash experience because of technical problems it could raise on the handset, such as battery drainage or sluggish web browsing

“These [smartphone] processors are going to become a lot more powerful now, but I think right now between battery and memory and raw processing power, performance is a major issue,” said Bart Decrem, CEO of Tapulous, developer of the popular iPhone game Tap Tap Revenge. “As an app developer I’m very focused on performance. I can see how Flash may not have the right performance characteristics yet.”

Gee. Ya think? Anyone wondering why you can play YouTube videos on the iPhone doesn’t realize that Flash Video is just a front for Apple’s own QuickTime H.264 rendering engine. Strip away the Flash front and you’ve got a QuickTime file. No problemo there.

Aside from video, the Flash program was evidently developed in one of Adobe’s “offices”. I have reason to believe that the folks at Adobe separate each of their software programs into separate offices in separate counties in California and they all meet once a year to figure out what the box should look like for the Creative Suite. Each office clamoring for their software to be the foremost box, of course.

I have another beef with Flash that makes me irate every time I try to move it. For you Mac users, let’s have an experiment.

  1. Open Flash.
  2. Click outside of Flash, either on another window or your desktop after Flash has loaded.
  3. Now, click on that Flash toolbar and try to move it out of the way.

You can’t. You have to click inside Flash to make it active, then click again in the title bar to make it move. Slick.

I’ve been using Flash for almost 5 years now. I still can’t figure out keyframes and tweening. I don’t use Flash every day, I’m sure I’d get the hang of it, but it’s not exactly helpful. Why it isn’t smart enough to figure out keyframes for me when all I want is for a few things to fade in and out is beyond me. I was a SWiSH user long before I used Flash. Flash scared the crap out of me. Why must it take an hour of programming or tweening to make text bounce or something else equally simple? SWiSH had templates effects built in out of the box. Sorta like, you know, Photoshop filters.

Here’s another test. Try dragging something out of Photoshop and into Flash with an alpha layer (Photoshop document on left, Flash document on right):

Screen shot 2009-12-24 at 12.14.25 AM

Whoa. Bet no one saw that one awful black-to-white box coming. In the process of producing this little gem, it almost crashed Flash and caused OS X to give me the clock cursor for a few seconds. Proof positive that no one on the Flash team at Adobe uses Photoshop and vice-versa.