That's not a rhetorical question. I really am trying to understand what the Ps team's thinking is here.
It seems to me that you're trying to force an artificial distinction between a shape layer and a vector mask where very little actually exists.
Maybe you thought that differentiating the two would make them easier to understand?
IMHO what you've actually got is messy, harder to understand and inconsistent.
If anyone want's to follow my chain of thought - try this:
Create a simple shape layer - with a solid colour fill and a solid colour stroke.
With that shape layer highlighted in the layers panel...
Shift click on the Shape path thumbnail in the properties panel.
and, surprise, surprise - you've now 'converted' this to an 'old style' shape layer, revealing what it actually is - a solid colour fill and vector mask.
You can manipulate that fill layer and vector mask just like you can in CS5.
You want to get it back to a CS6 style shape layer? Ensure the vector mask is targeted for the layer and shift click again on the path thumbnail in the properties panel.
This is true for any of the other shape layer fill types.
Solid fill = colour fill layer + vector mask
Gradient fill = gradient fill layer + vector mask
Pattern fill = pattern fill layer + vector mask
The only significant difference to the user is the ability to have strokes on the shape layers.
I've spent a good few hours exploring these layers. Once you get beyond the basic 'create a shape with a fill and stroke', there is one inconsistency after another. Too many to include in this post. Frankly it's a mess.
I think the reason it's a mess is because you're trying to force this distinction.
Revert back to the visible 'layer content + mask' display of CS5 in all cases.
Have one button/menu that toggles between 'shape layer' or 'vector mask' when you have one of these layers targeted:
Simple and understandable.
Thanks for the feedback. Hopefully one of our UI designers will be able to give you a better explanation of the reasons behind the changes. In the meantime, I've tried to explain our reasoning behind the various changes in some of the following threads:
I agree with you that we have inconsistencies and issues that we need to address. It's true that we do want people to get used to the new way of working with shape layers, but there are seams between the old (content fill + vector mask) and new shape layers, and that's what you're seeing. Some of them we had to leave in for legacy reasons, such as the Shift-click workaround in the Properties panel.
I really do appreciate your post.
Let's put the immediate technical issues to one side. What I, and I think many others here, don't understand is - what is the thinking behind this?
That's the really frustrating thing.
If Adobe said: "We've decided to do this because it will deliver improvements in A, B and C" - and those were useful benefits - then I guess many of us (the users) would be able to say, OK we can see why you're doing this, we can see the benefits it will bring, and we'll therefore put up with the pain of transition.
However, so far I've not seen or read any justification why this is being done, or what benefits Adobe think it will bring to the users.
I have read your posts (multiple times) over the last few days as I've been exploring this - and working on live jobs with it. But - with all due respect - your posts don't answer the above question - why? and for what benefit?
The message we are getting is: 'We (Adobe) have decided to do this. Get over it.
I realise that the QE's are working in the interface trenches (between users and engineers), and I doubt it's your job to justify these design decisions.
It would be good to hear from someone who could.
You're right -- I'm probably not the best person to explain it. I've pinged our UI designers, so hopefully one of them will jump in with the answers you're looking for.
I apologize if any of my answers have sounded like "we don't care -- deal with it." That was certainly not my intent. I like to be up front about what can and can't be changed for CS6 (due to various internal constraints), even if that means I have to be the messenger delivering bad news.
Hey Jeanne - no need to apologise; I was refering to the 'corporate message', rather than anything from you individually. No personal criticism intented at all.
In fact I feel rather sorry that you've got to work in the face of grumpy users like me - delivering all this flak. But look at it this way: if we didn't love the product, we wouldn't care so much about what you do to it.
I'm one of the user experience designers for Photoshop.
The thinking behind the move from the two icons was to address several visual and interaction issues present in the old model, as well as accomodate the new capabilites of vector shapes. As you noted, there is still work to be done on the new model. Please understand that we are reading user comments, discussing your concerns and working on solutions.
Here are a few (of the many) thoughts that surrounded the move to a unified vector shape icon:
* The previous representation of vector shapes did not provide an accurate preview of the content present on the layer
* Many people do not consider a shape to be made up of a layer fill and vector mask, even if that is how Photoshop implements them
* With the new capabilities of the shape layers, such as stroke, gradient, and pattern, the old visual representation of fill + vector mask could not accomodate the additional information
* When adding a mask to a vector shape in previous versions, it was very difficult to quickly discern which mask did what
* In complex layer hierarchies, the additional space taken up by the fill and vector mask icons made it difficult to visually determine which vector layer was which, without having to make the layers panel significantly wider
More generally, we put a lot of work into refining and clarifying the UI of CS6. Part of any refining process is the removal of extraeous elements in favor of more accurate, clearer ones. The new vector thumbnails provide more relevant information than the past thumbnails did, hence our decision to move away from the old visual model. That said, they could be better. We are listening to what is being said about the beta and working to address whatever issues we can.
I hope this provides some insight into our thought process.
User Experience Designer for Photoshop
Just a note to acknowledge your response - which is appreciated.
I'm all for UI improvement and clarification, but when I look at the points you raise above, I'm still not convinced that the 'new model' is an improvement beyond what could have been done by refining the old model - at least as CS6 stands at the moment. I appreciate that the new features need accommodating in the UI, but it seems that the CS5 baby has been thrown out with the bath water.
When I find time I shall put some thoughts together and respond in detail.
That's a great writeup Mike, I can only echo everything you said.
I think the old vector shape model was perfectly logical because it made clear how modular/flexible they are — that you can not only put them on any kind of layer fill but also raster layers and groups; that you can drag/copy them to other layers, combine them with raster masks, and disable and unlink them. The new model just falls apart when you do any of that.
It looks like the main reason for the change is the addition of strokes, which are a great feature, but I wish they didn't compromise existing features like this and were more of an extension of the old model — e.g something like this:
In CS5, if you target a layer and go Layer>Vector Mask>Reveal All. This produced an "active" ready to draw on Vector Layer Mask.
In CS6 when you go Layer>Vector Mask>Reveal All you get an "inactive" Vector Mask that you first have to click on.
Is this on purpose?
Because it is different behavior that creating a pixel mask going Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. That produces an "active" ready to-paint-on mask.
what is the correct terminology to describe when a mask is targeted? "Targeted" refers to the selected Layer, but what is the term when the little focus frame appears around the mask icon?
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