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Adobe Configurator and deprecated Flash-based panel support in Adobe CC products

Sep 18, 2013 6:02 AM

Does Configurator 4.0 (or Configurator 3) support the creation of HTML5-based panels?

 

I received the following email from Adobe: 

 

Photoshop CC, starting in the middle of 2014, will remove support for Flash-based extensions. All other Creative Cloud products have already marked Flash-based panel support as deprecated at this time, meaning no future enhancements or bug fixes will be coming for Flash-based extensions.

 

The current version of Photoshop CC already includes support for a new type of HTML5 based panel. We are currently working on a new version of Adobe Extension Builder designed specifically to support the creation of these HTML5 based panels.  You can download a free preview here: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/extensionbuilder3/.

 

Details about developing HTML5 extensions for Photoshop as well as for other Creative Cloud products are available in the Extension Builder pre-release program here: https://adobeformscentral.com/?f=6V6IgvE0yLQQ7bgadxNXaw .   You can also join the Photoshop developers' prerelease program for details specific to Photoshop.  If you're interested, please let me know and I will get you setup.

 

Will the panels created by Configurator 4.0 work in PS CC after the middle of 2014 when support for Flash-based extensions is removed from Photoshop CC?  For that matter, will the panels created in Configurator 3.0 work in PS CC after the middle of 2014?

 
Replies
  • Pierre Courtejoie
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    Jan 11, 2006
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    Dec 19, 2013 6:39 AM   in reply to AnthonyK

    According to John Nack, configurator is pretty much dead: http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2013/09/build-html5-based-extension-for-p hotoshop-more.html#comments I think it might be wise posting your panels on the Adobe Echange to show that it is useful for you.

     
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    Dec 20, 2013 4:07 AM   in reply to AnthonyK

    Hi Tony,

     

    I'm afriad that supporting HTML5 panels would involve essentially a complete rewrite of Configurator and it's a massive amount of work. If we can see that lots and lots of panels are being created by Configurator then that would hopefully provide justification and revisiting the decision to stop any further work on Configurator. We need to see usage of Configurator and the best way to do that is to submit your panels (free or paid) to Adobe Exchange. You can create an account for free here:

     

    http://adobeexchange.com/producer

     

    Remember you can also sell panels by setting up an account with our payment vendor FastSpring, there is a link in the Account page on Adobe Exchange.

     

    I hope that helps.

     

    Jonathan Ferman | Product Manager

     
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    Feb 2, 2014 2:27 AM   in reply to AnthonyK

    For the life so me, I don't see the sense in the decision to hobble Photoshop by deliberately withdrawing support for configurator based flash panels. I fully understand that configuratior will no longer be maintained or updated but, as it already exists and many people use it, where is the sense in deliberately breaking Photoshop so configurator based panels can no longer be used there? This seems like madness to me!

    Over the last few days, I've been grappling with the learning curve required to use the extension builder, and it's something I'm determined to do, in time.

    I'd like to say that my quest for teaching myself how to use extension builder was something I have a burning desire to do, but in reality that's really not the case at all. I've had no choice in this, simply because I know that if I build my next panel in Configurator, six months down the line that panel will be no use at all, because by then Photoshop will have been deliberately broken, in terms of flash panels, and I'll no longer be able to use them there!

    Let me make it clear, amidst the fog of sparse and foggy tutorials about exstention builder, I see great potential for HTML5 based panels, but for me, and other non-coders out there, it really is just potential, and not something we can simply pick up and use today.

    Configurator, on the other hand, clunky as it is, gives everyone the ability to put really effective and functional panels together in a few minutes, after viewing a few basic tutorials... Panels that can be easily made to access tools, scripts, actions, and (just about) everything else. We can include the download of remote files, server based video, and a whole host of other tricks, via a simple drag-and-drop environment, ideally suited to us creatives, to us lowly non-coders.

    The HTML5 route is fine with me, as long as that includes a configurator based interface (optional, maybe), which enables anyone used to configuratior to use it in the same/a similar way to the way we use configurator.

    The more I think about this, and the more I struggle up my EB learning curve, the more I get this niggling thought that somehow, someone is on a mission here to make Photoshop panel design the sole preserve of 'The Coders', and inaccessible to photoshop creatives who haven't been initiated into such hallowed halls! and who don't know the secret handshake! I appreciate that HTML5 panels are 'Way cool!', but that in itself is no reason to rob Photoshop of the ability to engage with the 'not so cool' technology of configurator panels.

    In many respects, I suppose scripting (which I use in my configurator panels) is a great deal 'cooler' than actions, but no one at Adobe have ever broken (sorry, 'updated') Photoshop so that it can no longer access actions, leaving users with no other option than to use scripts!

    I'm not making an appeal here, I'm saying, categorically, that robbing PS of the ability to talk to configurator panels is a very poor commercial decision, and I truly think it's the first time I've seen a software company wind back the clock in terms of an applications features.

    Yes, let's have HTML5 panels... They sound fantastic... But let's keep the ability to use their less erudite, not so cool configurator counterparts. To do any other is to make many remarkably useful existing panels and extensions unavailable to Photoshop users.

    It's been quoted that the reason for pulling configurator extension support is the fact that not enough has been made of them by the Photoshop community, and not enough of these extensions have been shared or made available to the wider public. That is certainly a valid point, but it has to be pointed out that many configurator panels are machine-specific, and the fact that these panels are not shareable does not mean that their creators are not teaching other photoshop users and students how to make them! The fact of the matter is that all of these extensions and panels can be made useable by all, if we bundle machine-specific presets and resources with them which, once again, we can do via configurator.

     

    Come on, Adobe, don't be so short-sighted here, shuffle maintenance of configurator off into that darkened room where all Labs projects go, but leave the ability for Photoshop to use them!

    I'm currently putting together a watercolour panel which will be very useful for all of my students... Given my current level of EB knowledge, this may never see the light of day.

    With respect,

    Tim Shelbourne.

     
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    Feb 2, 2014 6:21 AM   in reply to AnthonyK

    I agree with AnthonyK that for most of us, our panels are made for our own workflow and not something that we write for the purpose of sharing publicly. I share some of my panels with participants in the automation workshops I've taught - but otherwise just use them myself. Just like my Actions, and even scripts that I've either mashed together myself, or hired script writers to create for me.

     

    Basing useage on the number of publicly shared panels doesn't make sense - basing it on the number of downloads of Configurator and of publicly available panels would be the more accurate way to judge the level of usage. Those downloading Configurator are building panels - very likely to help their own workflow. Those downloading publicly available panels are taking advantage of the panels that others have made and may not be dreating their own.

     

    I don't know anything about whether there is a reason to move from Flash to HTML5 panels for Adobe - but I assume there is, or they wouldn't be doing so. What I would hope is that Adobe can invest the resources, from the billions of dollars in annual sales, to create a product that allows us non-coders to continue to build custom panels in a manner that is as least as easy as with Configurator, and that has at least as many features.

     

    This measuring of useage on the number of publicly shared files reminds me of something Kodak did in the 1990's. I worked as a consultant for them at the time, and they went from having one Law Enforcement Representative in the US to 14 in a period of a few years. Management realized that they needed to measure the return on this investment so they created specific SKUs for law enforcement products - they had special law enforcement film (it was the same as their standard film but different packaging), they had specialized packaging for their digital cameras, etc. These products were only available through a small handful of dealers, and the prices were higher than the consumer counterparts. So, law enforcement agencies were being asked to purchase only through specific dealers and to pay higher prices, which of course, they didn't (although they were buying Kodak products). Kodak management didn't see the law enforcement SKU numbers that they thought that they should and they eliminated their support. They measured sales the wrong way and lost a large amount of the law enforcement market over the following years. I hope Adobe will understand that many of us who download Configurator are using it and finding it an important part of our workflow - but we're simply not sharing our panels publicly.

     

    George Reis

     
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    Feb 2, 2014 9:04 AM   in reply to GeorgeReis

    Hi

     

    I'm one of the devlopers who build Configurator 1 and 2. I like the idea Configuator represent, which help direct users redesign their UI/workflow without help from programmers.

     

    I don't like to see it gone. So I just wonder maybe we can turn it into a community grow product just like many other open source projects doing.

     

    I'm not sure how far I can go, and I can't promise what I can build for now. Since I'm still a full time worker and don't have much spare time on a hoby project. I'll try to build a prototype in the next few months. I consider this is a very interesting jounery.

     

    The first step is collect some ideas, and I'll investigate some exists SDK or frameworks like TideSDK and Joint.js

     

    I have setup a project home page on bitbucket.org https://bitbucket.org/zwang/uidesigner/wiki/Home

     

    z.wang

     
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    Feb 2, 2014 7:29 PM   in reply to zp.wang

    z.wang, I did play around with Configurator 2, I think, but didn't presue it too far, as it seemed limited in dealing with extendscript, which is what I mainly create, when I want to automate something.  I would agree with the above comments about most panels/scripts that I create are for either personal use or use at my work and just distributed to my co-workers, as it is geared for our work flow.  I'm reluctant to spend time learning to create things that will become obsolete - sometimes within one version of PS.

     
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    Feb 7, 2014 9:47 AM   in reply to Jonathan Ferman

    I landed here because Configurator 4 panels don't seem to work properly in Photoshop CC - certain operations become laggy and non-responsive. Switching between layers or channels take up to a full second.

     

    In 14.1 I was able to restore normal operation by removing the panel and re-exporting it. But 14.2 is no go. A google search revealed others with the same problem.

     

    So that's it, then. I suppose there's no point in looking for a fix.

     
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    Feb 10, 2014 4:37 PM   in reply to twenty_one

    about some background:

     

    The customizable panel is a feature supported by photohsop SDK, its public available. I guess.

     

    So anyone can create a tool to build panel, just need follow the interface defined by SDK.

     

    You can use any HTML editor you like, even using a simple text editor to write some html, and deploy it as a customized panel.

     

    And what the Configurator doing is generate a XML file which includes widget layout information, and use a SWF panel template to load this layout information and show it.

     

    So, in theory, the Configurator generated XML layout file can be converted to a HTML panel.

     
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    Apr 3, 2014 10:05 PM   in reply to AnthonyK

    My first response: Thank goodness I didn't fall into the Configurator abyss a year and a half ago. Queerly, "Configurator 3" is still listed at one of the tools to produce content for Adobe Exchange ... but more on that in a moment.

     

    As one who teaches people how to use Photoshop, I can ony imagine the moaning and consternation that "hundreds of panels" would create as a barrier to people learning an already complex tool.  While configurability makes the tool easier for SOME people, it makes it harder to actually share "recipes" and discoveries because your panel doesn't look like my panel.

     

    Not having full forward and backward compatibility without scads of additional developer work is also a problem.  When the entire world converges on CC the effort will make more sense and have a better chance of success.

     

    Getting back to Adobe Exchange. Here you have a tool that: a> Is NOT included in the product, b> is not well known c> is not available to "older" versions of Photoshop and d> has a high barrier to entry because: it requires the user to also install the Adobe Extension Manager which is also not included with the (Photoshop) product. 

     

    For Photoshop if I choose to create a zxp it will cause my user(s) to endure all the extra loading required (something as as seller I'll have to explain to them or hope they will figure out) AND it will also eliminates perhaps 30% of my market (CS2, 3, and 4 users). That's a pretty big disincentive.

     

    My experience with Extension manager and Exchange manager is they are both buggy and painful to install on Windows 7/64. Much like the Creative Cloud desktop manager which fails to install on two of my machines every time there is a newer version. Additional disincentive for a developer: why create content that causes more anguish for customers?

     

    I see little hope for Adobe to overcome any of this since the current tactic is to bundle less and less. I see where that's an interesting strategy for Adobe, but it increases the pain for the user, especially the non-expert user.  Think of it this way: where do you think someone is more likely to find my super snazzy actions?  by opening a product, installing a product that requires another product to be installed before you can do a search? or via a Google?

     

    Here's another way to look at it: I can search for Mac or iPhone apps without installing anything - just a browser. But even if I *knew* what I wanted was in Adobe Exchange, https://www.adobeexchange.com/ provides no search.  In fact, I have to buy and install an expensive Adobe Product just to find out!  I think there is probably a way to Search the Exchange Store for this, but no body bothered to put it on the front page of the site!

     

    I'm sorry I spent so much time on Adobe Exchange, but I think the Exchange failures and the Configurator failure share some common themes: incomplete execution. Even if people DID build hundreds of panels... there was never a decently simple way for the builder to distribute it or the consumer to find out about it and install it.

     
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    Apr 4, 2014 6:50 AM   in reply to NightSkyGuy

    Hi NightSkyGuy,

     

    Firslty, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to give your feedback. I think all feedback, good or bad is useful. At the very least it shows you care about the topic.

     

    I felt compelled to reply and also provide some updates on Adobe Exchange. The first thing to say is that Adobe Exchange is not a "tool" it's a service. That's an important difference because what you have seen so far is one surface or method of seeing the products in Adobe Exchange. The other thing I would like to correct is that Adobe Exchange is not integrated, it's integrated into 7 different CC apps. However, I take your point about Extension Manager, that is a separate install and is required in order to acquire anything from Adobe Exchange. So why do we use Extension Manager if it's problematic? The aim is to make things simpler for the user. For example actions are no immediately obvious in terms of how to load them into Photoshop, or Briuishes for that matter and the location for each major add-on for each Adobe creative app varies so it's complex problem for the user that we wanted to solve.

     

    I agree that just having a Panel is not ideal. I certainly see a use in the panel as it does things like filter against the host app and version but it's not exactly ideal in terms of discoverability, first in terms of finding the panel itself and secondly in terms of finding what products are available for it when you can only see the products in the panel.

     

    The solution is something we have been working on for some time, in brief it's a website with the core of Extension Manager but with syncing capabilities and support for many more Adobe apps. We hope to have this solution available soon as you can sign up to be notified when it's available or follow AdobeExchange on Facebook or Twitter for the latest news and products.

     

    http://adobeexchange.com/comingsoon

     

    To you last point. I agree and we are close to a solution that I think much better meets the issues you have outlined.

     

    Thanks again for the feedback and please feel free to provide more. I do hope you will consider Adobe Exchange as a concept again when we release "Add-ons" soon.

     
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    Apr 4, 2014 10:40 AM   in reply to Jonathan Ferman

    The first thing to say is that Adobe Exchange is not a "tool" it's a service.

     

    For Photoshop, your "Service" stubbornly requires the user to install a tool (the Exchange Extension) in order to be used (and that Extension can only be installed if you first install the Extension Manager).  Please stop spouting marketing speak and put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. With the same twisted logic you could argue that Photoshop is also a Service since it's now only readily available through Creative Cloud which is a "service" - a service that requires the installation of tools to provide value.

     

    The other thing I would like to correct is that Adobe Exchange is not integrated, it's integrated into 7 different CC apps.

     

    Again, my example is Photoshop. It's NOT integrated into Photoshop (CC).  I had to "install it", and endure it's updates and bugs.

     

    I do hope you will consider Adobe Exchange as a concept again when we release "Add-ons" soon.

     

    Please could you take it up the chain that the "Coming Soon" nonsense is extremely irritating. In the words of Yoda: Do, or Do Not. It took 9 months of paying for a Creative Cloud subscription before the "Coming Soon" file sharing was delivered, and 4-months before the "Coming Soon" font tool synchronizing was delivered.

     

    And just to drive the point home, did you look at that site you linked to?

     

    Add-ons Coming Soon

    You can browse Add-ons now by downloading the Adobe Exchange Panel, or if you produce Add-ons find out how to become a producer.

     

    Did you notice that "become a producer" link is dated June, 2012? Or that nowhere in the material is there any mention of what percentage of the sales Adobe is keeping?  Or that the "Quick Start Summary" link goes off into a "workspace" where there is no content? And that the page talks about the "Producer Portal" but provides no link to it or how to register... etc...  This is a poster child for the incomplete execution I mentioned earlier.

     

    Didn't mean to turn a Configurator discussion into an Adobe Exchange discussion.  But I notice there is no community for Adobe Exchange.  Perhaps that says something about Adobe's commitment?

     

    However, this discussion is timely as I have asked in the Photoshop Scripting Forum the  following:

     

     

    http://forums.adobe.com/message/6270382#6270382

     

    Feel free to address the Exchange issues I raised there, and please do post dates when Exchange will be mass available ("early access" and "beta test" do not count).  I've sold 576 copies of my Photoshop add-in product through my website and distributed over 950 copies of the free "tester" version of the product.  As yet none of it aided by Adobe.

     
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    Apr 10, 2014 6:34 PM   in reply to Jonathan Ferman

    I don't believe this was answered - will other Flash-based panels NOT created in Configurator work in PS CC after mid 2014?

     

    I don't want to add any comments without fully understanding the gravity of what you are stating.  I understand Configurator will no longer be supported, that's an Adobe decision - not Jonathan Ferman's - thats fine. 

     

    1. How will this affect previously installed flash-based panels?

    2. Will previously installed fb panels FAIL after mid 2014 - just SOL?

    3. Is there a conversion method which Adobe is willing to produce to convert current panels - or is this just the developer's work now?

     
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    Apr 11, 2014 5:26 AM   in reply to ReshapeMedia

    Hi ResshapeMedia,

     

    The answers to your questions are on this Photoshop blog post:

     

    http://blogs.adobe.com/photoshopdotcom/2014/04/photoshop-spring-cleani ng.html

     
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    Apr 11, 2014 5:50 AM   in reply to NightSkyGuy

    Hi NightSkyGuy,

     

    Thanks for your feedback. While you may not think it, we did integrate the Exchange Panel into Photoshop it's physically part of the CC release but I definitely take your point about the frustrating updates and also the need to have Extension Manager. The Adobe Exchange Panel is much more complex than it might appear so with Add-ons we want to take a different approach. Firstly we host the products on a website, not a Panel and secondly the install part will be handled by the same tool or app that you install the CC desktop apps named the Creative Cloud desktop app. We'll be announcing detais on this soon via our prerelease program.

     

    I understand your frustration at delays for things like file sharing and font syncing but these things are complex and my understanding is that we often build a service and then look at eways to better integrate and make use of it. So for example shairng not just a file but a folder and collaborating on it.

    For the Coming Soon page, while the become a producer page is showing as 2012 tht;'s the date the article was first created not when it was last updated. I think we should probably show the last updated date as I agree it looks lile it was written a long time ago. The Quick Start sumamry worked OK for me but you need to have the Adobe Acrobat plug-in working so maybe there was a browser specific iccue. It would be useful to know what browser you were using and on what OS. As to your other points, we cover the revenue share as part of the FAQ and you were in the Producer Portal when you were reading the Resources articles becuase you are already a producer and signed in. This is different to the experience you get if you are not yet a producer.

     

    I will reply to your other forum post directly but as for the Add-ons release date, we're planning to release next month. I cannot tell you a date yet as we are looking at whether we can bring the planned date in May forward.

     

    We've learnt a lot from the feedback we've received from producers and implemented many of their suggestions but what we have with the Adobe Exchange Panel today was never what I wanted. It's got some great features but having everything in a Panel brings many challenges and complexities so I am really looking forward to releasing the Add-ons website and then growing its user base and potential.

     
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