21 Replies Latest reply on Jun 16, 2014 7:22 PM by NightSkyGuy

    How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?

    NightSkyGuy Level 1

      I'm already enjoying some success at distributing an interworking set of actions and scripts. BUT there are several barriers that I'm sure others have thought about solving, and I'd like to get an idea what the possible (and best) solutions might be.

       

      Let's start with the following assumptions, based on my sales so far:

       

      • The target audience has Photoshop CS2 up to Photoshop CC.  (For me, so far, MOST people are CS5, CS6 or CC). An ideal solution would allow me to continue to target all of these people.
      • The target audience are Photoshop "aware" but not Photoshop "Savvy".  They want tools to do a specific job and may not know all the ins and outs of Photoshop.
      • In addition to supporting a wide variety of Photoshop versions, we must also support both Mac and PC users and the variety of OS's that are present in the wild.

       

      Currently the "state of the art" as I understand it are the following:

       

      1. Sell actions or scripts with a set of instructions about where to copy the items, being careful to describe the differences for different machines and OS's and Photoshop Versions.
        PROBLEM:
        A. This is unwieldy and requires the consumer to be more "savvy" about their OS and their Photoshop than many people are.
        B. Many versions of windows do not allow one to copy into some directories without special privileges, ditto for the Mac.

      2. Package the actions or scripts for Mac separately from those for the PC and bundle each with some kind of installer.
        PROBLEMs:
        A> Multiple packages are harder to maintain 
        B> "canonical locations" for the PC are different than on the Mac 
        C> There are security problem with creating and distributing a an installer. While it may be easier to send a bundle around, it moves the burden to the user who has to know what "this app is not trusted" means and how to circumvent it.
        D> some users, especially CC users who have more than one platform may want both Mac and PC versions.

      3. Figure out how to slog through the process of getting something into "Adobe Exchange"
        PROBLEMS:
        A. The process seems inscrutable to me.
        B. "Exchange" is an additional Product that someone must install (not included with Photoshop)
        C. Does no support older versions of Photoshop (before CS5, i believe)
        D. Apparently requires a different package for EACH supported Photoshop version?? True?
        E. Given that Exchange is not bundled with Photoshop the market is stacked against someone who adopts this route.
        F. Exchange itself is sometimes a pain. For example just now it told me I needed to update it *and* restart Photoshop.  It's hard to imagine a potential customer going through that much pain to try to find a package there. Besides after all that I clicked "My Stuff" and the tool sat spinning infinitely.
        G. The user must KNOW about exchange, and I, the seller have to describe how they can navigate that landscape, that is once in Exchange a user has to somehow FIND your content.
        H. There seems to be no clarity about what percentage Adobe is taking in this model, or how payment will work.
        I. Users must be willing to use an Adobe ID to make a purchase.
        J. Based on what is currently in exchange, it seems a poor vehicle to get eyes as there is very limited ability to put text and descriptions
        K. There is obviously a very low incidence of people looking in Exchange... NONE of the products I saw there had even ONE review!

      4. Create something that uses Adobe Configurator (could be in addition to or a replacement for any of the above)
        PROBLEMS:
        A. Configurator is DEFINITELY Photoshop version specific. Lots of overhead building and testing for each supported PS.
        B. As near as I can tell, Configurator is a dead project that has no team and no support.
        C. Doesn't support earlier Photoshop versions.  (CS4? unlikely)
        D. Still requires that a user stall an "Administrator Required" Adobe Extension Manager tool.

      5. Join the Apple Developer program so you can build, sign and distribute a package for the Mac including, possibly, via the Mac Store.
        PROBLEMS:
        A. Might work for the Mac, but doesn't help much for the PC which is 60% of the market.
        B. More $ and pain. Though perhaps worth it as the Mac store (like the App store) get's a LOT more eyes than whatever Adobe has cooked up so far.
        C. Seems like a lot of work and hassle to distribute Photoshop specific content.

       

      As near as I can tell there is no solution for "upgrades" (distributing newer versions) or "upsells" for any of the above options. 

       

      Is there an option 6?  Have I misstated something? Does Adobe indeed have a "Photoshop script/action bundle maker' which is platform independent, robust and EASY for anyone to use?

        • 1. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
          JJMack Most Valuable Participant

          NightSkyGuy wrote:

           

           

           

          1. Sell actions or scripts with a set of instructions
          2. bundle each with some kind of installer.
          3. Adobe Exchange
          4. Adobe Configurator
          5. Apple Developer program

          1. Works and you want savvy user not problems

          2. Extra work more area that can fail you want savvy user not  problems

          3. You don't want problems Adobe exchange is a problem requites Adobe intervention and there is not scedule you could wait forever for them.

          4 Every version of Photoshop that can use configurator Panels need an installe generated  for each version of Photoshop you want to sell to. and the user needs the proper installer for their versions od photoshop. Require more maintenance and users nee fewer Panels in Photoshop not more IMO

          5. Know nothing about the Apple Developer program most likely Apple will be no harder to deal with then Adobe.

           

          Actions should be free  for you can not hide the steps once sold the source is public knowledge.  While you can save a script encoded in binary to keep the source private. I would never buy a binary saved Script.  I like to be able to modify Actions and Scripts to suite my work-flow.  Most of all I want to know how the work so I know the not messing up my work.

           

          Savvy users do not need to buy Actions. The best Actions they will ever have are the ones the record for their own use.

           

          I keep all Photoshop Add Ons out of all Adobe Folders. I keep them in my Photoshop file system trees and all installed versions of Photoshop share the single copy of the add ons.

          • 2. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
            DBarranca Level 4

            Hi NightSkyGuy,

            welcome to the club of the perplexed ones ;-)

            I wish I had a definitive answer but I'm afraid don't. I can tell you my experience, confirm some of your impressions or refute them. I've been selling scripts/Extensions since 2009 (low volume, but an extra income anyway), this is what I've learned so far:

             

            1. Forget about Configurator.

             

            2. If you're in need to target CS2, forget about Exchange too: it is CS6/CC only.

             

            Yet some of your guesses about Exchange are not correct:

            • you can bundle different script/extension/younameit versions into the same installer
            • if memory doesn't fail me, CC users *should* have it installed by default
            • according to my experience the revenue share is split 25% to Adobe and 75% to the producer, after that Fastspring (the payment service) has taken a fixed fee plus a small percentage. For a 20$ products about 14$ go into your pockets.
            • the concern that users must be willing to use their AdobeID is fair - yet the larger part of the unwilling ones are so because they run pirated PS; the rest, mostly licenses PS via CC so it shouldn't be too big of a problem, given that Exchange links your purchases to your account and you're free to download/install them. That's the price they pay.
            • untrue that there's no reviews. I admit users are... pretty sparing with them :-) but they wrote some (or at least rate products).
            • if you're interested in knowing more, apply for the Exchange prerelease (to put things in perspective, Adobe doesn't seem very interested in third part developers at all; nevertheless Exchange should grow in the future - if pencil pushers won't kill it like they did with lots of promising technologies in the past)

             

            2. There's Adobe Packager that builds and sign in a pretty straightforward way ZXP packages, but:

             

            3. Adobe Extension Manager (which deals with .ZXP installers) is a pain in the neck. Adobe's engineers are well aware that developers are in need of a better way to deploy their stuff.

             

            My current path is:

            1. I pack Script/Extensions via Command Line Tool (writing custom MXI files) -> ZXP and distribute installers both through Exchange and another reseller. I've set up a website just to overcome to Exchange limitations in advertising products - my pages look definitely cooler ;-)

            2. I provide a zipped version for manual install (i.e. move folders around) and plenty of documentation.

            3. I keep the finger crossed and I'm ready to answer customer support emails.

             

            Lots of things can go wrong (and they do), but I couldn't come up with anything better.

             

            Well, in your case there might be a solution (that I haven't approached - yet). If you install the XTools by the greatly missed XBytor, you see that he wrote an installation script - as you know ExtendScript has File Management powers (can copy, move, write, etc). His is quite complicated, but for action files or extensions it should be easier. By the way ES has path tokens which may smooth the process (i.e. knows where PS' Scripts folder is no matter what OS the user is running, etc).

            This way you could provide a ZIP with a installer.jsx (#target photoshop, so when the user double clicks on it PS fires and does everything) with a sidecar "source" folder which contains the actual stuff. CS2 should handle that too.

             

            I'm afraid I know nothing about Windows, permission issues, etc - so you might run into stumbling blocks that I'm not aware of. Yet if XBytor chose that solution... I'm inclined to think it's the best and more retro-compatible one. Let us know! ;-)

             

            Kind regards

             

            Davide Barranca

            ---

            www.davidebarranca.com

            www.cs-extensions.com

            • 3. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
              NightSkyGuy Level 1

              Thanks JJMack.  I appreciate your input.

              I would never buy a binary saved Script.  I like to be able to modify Actions and Scripts to suite my work-flow.  Most of all I want to know how the work so I know the not messing up my work.

              I'm pretty sure you're not my target audience, but I don't intend to obfuscate the actions and scripts, though not for the reason you give. By obfuscating them it would make it harder to keep my actions portable and perhaps much harder to support people when they run into issues.

               

              Savvy users do not need to buy Actions. The best Actions they will ever have are the ones the record for their own use.

              You're right, a really, really Savvy user could create their own - if they understand the process. But really savvy programmers could also write their own Photoshop (e.g. Gimp). The very savvy end of the spectrum is also not my target audience.  My audience are those people who realize that by parting with $30 or $40 they can do something in minutes that would literally take them days to get right and weeks - or longer - to perfect.  And for that group, installation pain is a barrier to entry.

               

              I keep all Photoshop Add Ons out of all Adobe Folders. I keep them in my Photoshop file system trees and all installed versions of Photoshop share the single copy of the add ons.

              This is excellent advice. I came to the same conclusion myself.

              • 4. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                NightSkyGuy Level 1

                Much thanks, Davide Barranca

                 

                I especially appreciate your comments about the Extension Manager and ZXP. Anything I have found to be personally painful I can be sure that a large portion of my community will find to be MORE painful.  I also an grateful for your comment about Adobe's take through the Exchange.  Did you find as JJMack implied that the process to get content on exchange is long and slow?  Can you form a comment about how much of your sales have been through exchange as opposed to organic sales through your site?

                 

                As for installation techniques:

                 

                I've implemented the .jsx installer method and wrapped that in scripts that run on PC or Mac to do the full task... but that peeled only one layer of the the onion.   My PC version is self extracting and a self running EXE file. Nice in that it's all automated, but there are two major problems with it:

                1. Every browser will complain that it's "suspicious" unless I get a code-signing certificate.  It's depressing how many clicks are needed to install it if you download it through Internet Destroyer (uh, I mean "Explorer").
                2. The file can now no longer be sent through many mail systems (Google, for example).  I suppose I can check this again once I get the code signed, but .EXE files and archives containing them are rejected for delivery.

                 

                In short: can't send via email and/or I have to work around download problems. BUT my method requires zero extension manager or Exchange and it seems to me that getting the code signed is a LOT easier than the mediocre Adobe tools.  When I get a little fancier, I can also make my installer "phone home" to make sure it's a valid license.

                 

                By the way the "Exchange Panel" is NOT installed by default on CC. Or if it is, it will require almost certainly require an "upgrade".

                • 5. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                  DBarranca Level 4

                  NightSkyGuy,

                  You're welcome :-)

                   

                  Did you find as JJMack implied that the process to get content on exchange is long and slow?

                   

                  In my experience it used to be a bit slow in the beginning. Now each time I submit a patch it's a matter of few days (2/3/4 maximum). Couldn't possibly be that JJMack refers to the old Exchange website? That was totally inexhistent and not worth a minute of your time I agree. It's been rebranded Exchange Classic, I'm talking about Adobe Exchange.

                  Can you form a comment about how much of your sales have been through exchange as opposed to organic sales through your site?

                   

                  I don't know if numbers I can give you about sales make much sense, because I'm a bit a freak as a developer. Ehm, not sure it's the correct term...!! I mean: my main, daytime, fulltime business is PS post production - I code in my spare time, I can't compare to people who live on development. Besides having built a nice showcase website for Exchange, I don't do any other direct marketing personally. I have another online reseller of my stuff which is a bit more pro-active in terms of marketing initiatives (and takes much more % than Exchange, alas) and depending on the product, the ratio is 10x in his favor.

                   

                  That said I can surely raise the Exchange sells but I would need either superpowers or 36 hours' days! ;-)

                   

                  In short: can't send via email and/or I have to work around download problems.

                   

                  Please, listen to me: do, not, ever!! send ZXP via email. I did once, naively, and I've got a ban from all Comcast email servers of the globe. Took me quite of sweating filling forms to let Comcast know that I wasn't a 33-million-dollars-from-Congo-national-bank-like spammer. Bad afternoon, I remember vividly. Each time I happen to need ZXP sharing, Dropbox is my friend.

                   

                  When I get a little fancier, I can also make my installer "phone home" to make sure it's a valid license.

                   

                  Too bad that Extensions don't provide API for that :-/

                  Anyway, as far as I can tell Adobe Exchange signs installers you upload to their servers (that you have to sign anyway - let's say they "double-sign" them) so that if a malicious user intercepts the ZXP while it is downloading and pirates it (that is: share the file to the world), the Extension Manager instance running in the User XYZ trying to install it, should check whether XYZ is entitled/licensed to have it - and in case, blocks the process.

                  There a lot of room for improvement - and we'be been told that improvement will come - now let's see...

                  Ciao!

                   

                  Davide Barranca

                  ---

                  www.davidebarranca.com

                  www.cs-extensions.com

                  • 6. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                    Jonathan Ferman Adobe Employee

                    JJMack wrote:

                     

                    3. You don't want problems Adobe exchange is a problem requites Adobe intervention and there is not scedule you could wait forever for them.

                     

                    This may have been true of Exchange Classic but not of the newer Adobe Exchange. We quote a maximum of 2 weeks and normally it is significantly faster to test and review your products. We have dedicated staff for the review.

                     

                    Jonathan

                    • 7. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                      Jonathan Ferman Adobe Employee

                      Hi, there's lots of questions here but let me comment specifically on the Exchange part:

                       

                       

                      NightSkyGuy wrote:

                       

                      1. Figure out how to slog through the process of getting something into "Adobe Exchange"
                        PROBLEMS:
                        A. The process seems inscrutable to me.
                        B. "Exchange" is an additional Product that someone must install (not included with Photoshop)
                        C. Does no support older versions of Photoshop (before CS5, i believe)
                        D. Apparently requires a different package for EACH supported Photoshop version?? True?
                        E. Given that Exchange is not bundled with Photoshop the market is stacked against someone who adopts this route.
                        F. Exchange itself is sometimes a pain. For example just now it told me I needed to update it *and* restart Photoshop.  It's hard to imagine a potential customer going through that much pain to try to find a package there. Besides after all that I clicked "My Stuff" and the tool sat spinning infinitely.
                        G. The user must KNOW about exchange, and I, the seller have to describe how they can navigate that landscape, that is once in Exchange a user has to somehow FIND your content.
                        H. There seems to be no clarity about what percentage Adobe is taking in this model, or how payment will work.
                        I. Users must be willing to use an Adobe ID to make a purchase.
                        J. Based on what is currently in exchange, it seems a poor vehicle to get eyes as there is very limited ability to put text and descriptions
                        K. There is obviously a very low incidence of people looking in Exchange... NONE of the products I saw there had even ONE review!


                      Is there an option 6?  Have I misstated something? Does Adobe indeed have a "Photoshop script/action bundle maker' which is platform independent, robust and EASY for anyone to use?

                      A. Why? In what way? Please elaborate

                      B. It is installed with Photoshop CC and other apps but as discussed on another thread it does need updating occasionally although this is not applicable to the forthcoming Add-ons website.

                      C. Correct. CS6 and above.

                      D. Not necessarily it really depends on what the contents of the product are and where they need to go but for Add-ons it would be CC and higher versions. David B. provided some useful suggestions in this thread.

                      E. It is bundled (truly) and it will be much more visble in the next major version of Photoshop. Also I would see Add-ons/Exchnage as an additional distribiution outlet. The question which I think you are also posing here is how do users find and get my products. Add-ons is an additional way, unlike some marketplaces we do not penalise you from selling elsewhere. Our aim is users can find your products and we are taking a number of steps to make that easier and better but the major one will be moving away from a Panel in some CC apps to a website, then we can get lots more users and traffic and support more Adobe desktop apps.

                      F. Yes the Panel can be a pain if you run into problems which you unfortunately have. Most users like the fact that it's integrated but the panel is a complex beast and the website gives us lots more opportunites and a larger canvas with which to display your products.

                      G. I agree it currently takes a proactive user to once they have found out about your product (EXchnage does publish a page on the Webs for every published product but no way to buy or install it from the Web currently), so the user must then remember the name of the product find the panel and then search for your product. Also what if the user is on their phone or tablet when they read about your product, it's nopt convenient to go and find Photoshop and then go to the Panel so we will sync anything you acquire from a phone or tablet to your computer with Add-ons.

                      H. It's mentioned in our FAQ. It's based on what price you sell the product so the split varies and goes up but it's typically 70% to the producer and 30% for payment processing (via FastSpring) and Adobe.

                      I. Yes we need their Adobe ID to track what they have acquired so that if a patch is released we know who should have it. For Add-ons it also means they can remove Add-ons they ahve acquired but we need their Adobe ID to know what tney have.

                      J. You can add lots of text and descriptions but the panel is a limited size an you cannot change the text size so it's not an ideal experience. This is another reason we think the Add-ons website will be better. Product details will be the same but a browser can change text size and doesn't have the same size restrictions as a panel.

                      K. Look at "Highest rated" in the dropdown filter. It's not that usage is tiny it's more that the panel is not condusive to people reviewing and rating products.

                       

                      To your last point, we do have Adobe Exchange Packager and it does put your script into the right place but then the user must have the right version of Extension Manager in order to install it. You do not need a paid ceritifcate but it won;t give as good an install experience as Add-ons I would expect.

                       

                      For most producers I know their main sourve of income is their website but one of the major reasons we are creating the Add-ons website is that users will typically do a webs search for something they need to add to Photoshop or their creative app. Hopefully they wil hit your website but you don't have control over that completely. Particularly for new users and users that may not know what you have created I think it's useful to have a place where they can find new products and hopefully you get some new users. That way everyone is happy. At least that is the hope.

                       

                      Adobe Exchange is not perfect and Add-ons will be significantly better but it's worth remembering the intent with this marketplace. To connect users with new capabailities. One other thing... Add-ons and Adobe Exchange support private sharing. Worth a thought...

                       

                      Jonathan Ferman | Product Manager

                      • 8. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                        Zetta Level 1

                        Hey gus, Thanks!  NIghtSkyGuy,Davide, and JJMack  for a great conversation.

                         

                        These barriers are the same things I experience when it comes to delivering custom solutions to clients.  Its nice to hear you have the same issues. 

                         

                        For small studios I use delivery method #2: Packaging with an installer.  Within a small controled environment, I know my clients setup and can create an installer that works for their specific case.   - so I guess I'm spoiled in that respect.

                         

                        For larger studios or coperations, its method #1.  A set of instructions.  The instructions get sent to the IT department, and they take it over from there.    That way they do larger server instalations and handle permission depenencies on their end.  

                         

                        For those clients who want extensions, I agree with Davide, the Cloud is your friend when it comes to ZXP distribution.  I upload the ZXP file to a shared drive location and they can download it from there along with a set of instructions for install.  

                         

                        I have yet to dive into Adobe Exchange, as most of my jobs are done for specific individuals, but I do plan on using them when I start to package and sell solutions.  So I value your opinions.

                         

                        Have any of you out there used other markets to sell your extensions/scripts?  and if you have opinions good/bad about them?  places like:   http://graphicriver.net  or  http://aescripts.com  .. and others...   Would love to hear your thoughts.

                         

                        Thanks

                        Sandra

                        ----

                        www.adobescripting.com

                        • 9. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                          DBarranca Level 4

                          About installers:

                          what I'm currently up to, is to provide single ZXP installer for Photoshop CS6/CC (that is: flash/html).

                          As far as I can tell the process requires you to:

                          1. Pack the Flash panel (I'd to it with ucf.jar tool and a custom .mxi) in a single ZXP.
                          2. Pack the HTML panel (I'd do it with ZXPSignCmd tool and a custom .mxi) in a single ZXP.
                          3. Pack the two ZXPs (using ZXPSignCmd I guess, but I'm not sure) and a custom .mxi with something like:

                           

                          <files>
                              <file destination="" file-type="CSXS" products="Photoshop,Photoshop32,Photoshop64" source="flashPanel.zxp" minVersion="" maxVersion=""/>
                              <file destination="" file-type="CSXS" products="Photoshop,Photoshop32,Photoshop64" source="htmlPanel.zxp" minVersion="" maxVersion=""/>
                          </files>
                          

                           

                          specifying min and max versions as needed.

                          I've decided (worth mentioning one more time - developing is kind of a second job for me) *noté to actively support PS versions prior to CS6, so I can keep Exchange as a viable option.

                           

                          Sandra, I've never tried selling on any other markeplace (as a producer): I know graphicriver as a user (I've seldom bought some stuff there in the past) and I've had the impression that prices are quite low there. Which brings me to:

                           

                          Rant mode: ON.

                          The price range is something I've mumbled about for some time. I first thought that marketplaces such as Exchange (the panel) would inherently require products to be priced in the iTunes Store range, like: "three dollars? are you crazy? this is worth one and a half" ;-) While my own paid products range from 14.95 up to 35.94 USD. Yet it I've considered that on one side there's no such a capillar distribution (yet) to justify such a cut in the price; and on the other side, the "casual" iTunes buyer is very different from the "targeted" Photoshop extension/script user - to some extent, at least.

                          The above migh (be totally arbitrary and incorrect, and) change if/when the Add On site will be published, and will have a better diffusion/reputation and/or a stronger connection to the CC. By now I've decided to stick to what prices should be in my own opinion and not move from that standpoint.

                          Rant mode: OFF

                           

                          Jonathan, is it possible for you to disclose whether the Add On site will mean for Adobe Exchange the exit from the "Preview" state (or beta, or whatever it should be properly called)?

                          Thanks!

                           

                          Davide Barranca

                          www.davidebarranca.com

                          www.cs-extensions.com

                          • 10. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                            Jonathan Ferman Adobe Employee

                            Hi Davide,

                             

                            As a producer you are free to set whatever price you like on Adobe Exchange within the minimum of $5 although i would like to see that figure reduced some time and a maximum of $99,999. Sadly I've not see any prices at that maximum level yet.

                             

                            As for the Panel, that is in fact version 1.0. I like to think of the Add-ons website as 2.0 but it's really the platform or surface to the user I always wanted as it provides so much more scope than a Panel given the large amout of products and descriptive text and images we need to display a browser is better suited I believe.

                             

                            Jonathan

                            • 11. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                              NightSkyGuy Level 1

                              I didn't mean for this discussion to become a dialog about "Add ons" or "Exchange" or whatever it's going to be called, though I do appreciate the information.

                               

                              Where is the correct place to discuss the "Add-on-Exchange thingy"?  Nothing leaps out at me in the pull down on this page:

                               

                                   http://forums.adobe.com/index.jspa

                               

                               

                              I want to know what this eventual offering may include. The FAQ isn't clear about how any of the following work:

                              • Licensing enforcement (is there any?).  Adobe has worked hard to make sure users can not run an unlicensed version of Photoshop, but does that extend to anything purchased through "Add-on-Exchange"?
                              • Upgrades... must they be "free"? Can I publish an "upgrade" to a product and charge more?
                              • What happens if a user purchased my product and knows there is an upgrade: does this platform provide a way to let them know? Automatically download the update?
                              • What information does the producer get about the purchaser? Email? Name? Location?
                              • What statistics are provided to the producer?  In what form?
                              • What statistics about the site are provided to producers in general?  E.g. page views / day, most popular product(s)? etc.

                               

                              Again, let's not answer them here, let me know what is the appropriate place to have this discussion.

                              • 12. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                                Jonathan Ferman Adobe Employee

                                By the way, you can now package things like scripts online as an Adobe Exchange Producer. You can then submit them to Adobe Exchange as well as downloading them for use elsewhere. Sign in with your Adobe ID here:

                                 

                                Adobe Exchange

                                • 13. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                                  JJMack Most Valuable Participant

                                  Adobe Exchange crashes Photoshop CC in one of Adobe IMSlib.dll on my machine.  Which one I don't know. Behance also crashes  Photoshop CC in IMSLib.dll.

                                  Capture.jpg

                                  • 14. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                                    NightSkyGuy Level 1

                                    Now that AddOns is "live" and my meant-to-be-kept private product was made public.  I can now answer one of my questions:  "What Metrics Does Adobe Provide to producers..

                                    Here is the sum total...

                                    Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 4.54.06 PM.png

                                    Not much.

                                     

                                    >> Total number of downloads per month, the end.


                                    No information by day, by Photoshop version, region, language, etc.   In short nothing to help me judge what segment of the market I need to pay attention to.  I hate to harp - wait, that's not right, I like to harp. - When I sell products from my site I ask them what OS and Photoshop version they are using even though it doesn't matter for my current products. I also end up with their email address, and postal address because of the PayPal payment collection process. When someone emails me a question, I know, from looking in my records that they are worthy of my support effort.

                                     

                                     

                                    Using the "online packager" to build the package and AddOns to install it on both my Mac and PC my actions installed in the Presets/Actions folder, but were not visible to a user looking at the Action Panel unless they used the tiny pull down where the "Load Actions" is found.  Because the actions weren't registered, they wouldn't be visible in the File -> Automate -> Batch menu, either, which is where my particular actions would be used most.

                                     

                                    The poor install behavior does help explain why there were 82 downloads and 41 unique users in two+ weeks.  I suspect everyone tried it, didn't see it show up, tried it again and gave up. That's what I did, and I'm the author!

                                    • 15. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                                      matias.kiviniemi Level 3

                                      Agree that the metrics is a bit short, let's hope we get at least weekly/daily downloads later.  And I have the same "downloads = 2x unique", which is a bit unnerving since I'm not aware of issues that would prevent use. It would be good to know exactly how those are counted. Also I see two different figures for "unique users" which adds to the confusion.

                                       

                                      That said, as to the original question: I'd do all that make sense and allow different ways for different users:

                                      • The ZXP-packaging is a good thing as it much improves customer experience from "in Windows open C:\Program Files (x86)\..." to a simple clickety-click (as long as you pay for the code sign cert!). Also advanced users are getting accustomed to appstores and installers and asking people to copy files in folders. It's a bit gray hairs to get going especially if Adobe Exchange Packager does not cut it an d you have to manually create the .mxi
                                      • I liked Adobe Configurator as a wrapper. I.e. I made simple panel with just buttons for running the scripts. It's just much simpler process to tell the users to open Window>Extensions>YourThing than how to run scripts. Plus if they actually end up using, it's much more convenient than going through menus or setting up keyboard shortcuts. Main issue is that you have to make separate version for CS6
                                      • Adobe Exchange is a marketplace and allows you extra exposure with very little effort and I don't see why you would skip it (at least while it costs no money). The familiar & simple process of getting started also increases the chances of someone giving it a try.

                                       

                                      My plan is to use "all three levels", having it in Exchange, offering direct download of the panel .ZXP in the website for people not using Exchange and offering a .ZXP package of the just script for people with <= CS5

                                      • 16. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                                        Jonathan Ferman Adobe Employee

                                        Hi Nightskyguy,

                                         

                                        I'm afraid we cannot get much data about your products in terms of metrics and that is yet another reason we are delighted to have moved to the Website https://creative.adobe.com/addons because we plan to use Omniture and give you lots of metrics like the ones you called out. In terms of Packager, the issues you raise area limitation of Photoshop I'm afraid. Packager is putting them in the right place but Photoshop does not dynamically load the actions. The same is true of say brushes in Photoshop whereas an app like Illustrator does load the brushed dynamically without restarting or anything that is not the case for Photoshop.

                                         

                                        As Matias suggests it's easy to get your products on to Adobe Add-ons and it's an additional distribution outlet. I am surprised that a private product would be made public but if you can let me know your publisher account name we can investigate. It looks like there was certainly interest in your product and that's before the integration that into the apps and Adobe.com which is coming soon...

                                        • 17. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                                          NightSkyGuy Level 1

                                          Matias Kiviniemi wrote:

                                          Adobe Exchange is a marketplace and allows you extra exposure with very little effort and I don't see why you would skip it (at least while it costs no money). The familiar & simple process of getting started also increases the chances of someone giving it a try.

                                          I wish that were true that it was very little effort and cost no money. I've spent fruitless weeks trying to get the packager + Photoshop to behave only to come to the sad conclusion that @Jonathan Ferman did "Photoshop limitations." The net experience is worse for me and my users, not better.  I purchased Tony Kuyper's Luminosity tools (NOT an Addons thing) and was pretty shocked to see that despite the ZXP file installer and fancy panel, Tony still instructs people to manually install the actions. I installed a half dozen free tools from AddOns/Exchange and curiously none of them seem to install and activate any Actions - below I detail one example.

                                           

                                          By the way, Matias: I searched Add Ons to see if I could find content from you and I found no matches under your first or last name.

                                           

                                          One example that I tried to install:  https://creative.adobe.com/addons/products/1839  (Bleeds and Safe Guidelines) action.  The installer says it's installed but it's not visible.  1c4FrZP.png

                                          In this case there is no action loaded in the default location (Roaming for CC on Windows), and nothing installed in Presets/Actions.  To make matters worse, the author has written in the Where to find it:

                                           

                                          Download the action. It will save to your Downloads folder on both Win and Mac computers. With Photoshop open, double-click on the action file in the Downloads folder to load it into the Actions Panel in Photoshop. If it does not load correctly, open the Actions panel (Windows->Actions). In the upper right corner of the panel, select Load Actions, then select the action from the Downloads folder.

                                           

                                           

                                          There are three things about these instructions that are wrong.

                                          1. Adobe Addons doesn't magically put things in the "Downloads" folder (in fact, I have no clue where it really goes!).

                                          2. The described behavior is exactly what you'd do if there was no Packager/Addon at all!

                                          3. Adobe Creative Cloud is telling me it was "installed".

                                           

                                          Clearly I'm not the only one who is more 'inconvenienced' than aided here.

                                                   SQFK20M.png

                                           

                                          By the way, AddBlockPlus (ABP) blocks 115 items on the AddOn's page!

                                           

                                           

                                          My conclusion at this point is that Exchange/Add Ons brings extremely limited value to Photoshop users.

                                          • The audience is limited by the tool to CC (and CS6 users with extra effort)
                                          • It doesn't provide a one-click solution to installation of Actions
                                          • Provides no real means to test before exposing bad behavior to the public.
                                          • Comes with its own set of problems (authorization windows that do not pop-up or keep popping up, no support for CS2 through CS5, broken installs).
                                          • The ONLY problem it seems to solve is to add "Extension panels" which are no longer supported by Adobe in future products.
                                          • The number of products that users encounter that behave badly is going to make customers NOT want to trust or use Add Ons!  So far only one of the 8 Add Ons I've tried actually worked, and it's usefulness was very, very low.

                                           

                                          And after spending significant effort that resulted in a product NOT installing as it should, and after paying Adobe their cut, I, as a producer get no visibility to the customer: no name, location, email address. No way to survey them or follow up or even know if they are a customer should they contact me!  To harp: I have names, addresses and emails from all of my direct clients. With that information I was able to run a survey of my over 580 paying customers and got very valuable feedback.

                                          • 18. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                                            NightSkyGuy Level 1
                                            I am surprised that a private product would be made public but if you can let me know your publisher account name we can investigate. It looks like there was certainly interest in your product and that's before the integration that into the apps and Adobe.com which is coming soon...

                                            I was surprised too. I made comments about it in the "Pre-Release" bugs discussion. I think what happened is that somewhere in the process of creating a group my "Private" box became unchecked. And to make matters worse, even though I clicked "Submit" not "Submit and Auto Publish" it appears my product was "auto published".  Like any good developer, I wanted to do some exhaustive testing before it went into the wild so that I wouldn't end up frustrating my users.

                                             

                                            If you can point to a Photoshop product published through AddOns that exhibits complete, and reasonable behavior, please let me know.  So far I haven't found one, and frankly I've tired of looking!

                                            • 19. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                                              matias.kiviniemi Level 3

                                              NightSkyGuy: I wouldn't call it "smooth" either (and had I not succeeded in the end would feel the same way). The big difference I guess is that you've developed actions and I've done Javascript and they install in different ways and might have different problems. See below first, but y

                                               

                                              The example you give doesn't work for me either. When I click Install, it does something for a second and then says I have it but can't see anything. The CC extension manager never opens and to install it installs nothing. Then I tried my own (https://creative.adobe.com/addons/patches/3767, have it under company name) and IT DOES THE SAME THING. And mine is 3.3MB so I know there needs to be a noticeable download & install. When I go to Exchange panel in Photoshop it installs fine. No wonder I have 2x downloads to unique users since you end up hitting intstall & remove a lot! Your example doesn't install from panel either, it downloads and says "install", but Extension manager never starts Exchange panel spinner just rotates...

                                               

                                              To be clear, how it works in Exchange panel for me:

                                              1) Click install

                                              2) You get download progress bar

                                              3) PS asks to launch Extension Manager

                                              4) Extension manager asks to close PS

                                              5) If old version is installed, Extension manager asks to remove it

                                              6) The thing installs and is available when PS starts

                                               

                                              Jonathan Ferman: There seems to be a major issue with Addons website that it's thinking it's installing stuff but it's not for some users! Where can this be escalated? I've tested Chrome, Firefox, InternetExplorer, Opera in Win8 and it's all the same. Also it makes no difference if sync is on or off, it does not get the ZXP anywhere.

                                              • 20. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                                                matias.kiviniemi Level 3

                                                NightSkyGuy: A couple of things I was planning to suggest before getting distracted by the shock of "it's not working"

                                                • You mentioned using the online packager and I'd recommend to manually build ZXP so you can test locally using the Extension Manager. If something is wrong in the ZXP, it can just drop it silently. So I would first build ZXP either with Exchange Packager (was not flexible enough for me) or manually like DBarranca mentions and make sure files actually get to right places. I had to iterate quite a bit.
                                                • If I understood things right, half of your problem is the actions and the fact they don't appear automatically. Sounds like something you can't fix and might not change. What you might look into is wrapping the actions in Javascript. My idea is basically that if you could write a script that you can feed your action as data like the the "Lyr", "Ordn", "Trgt"-values below. But I don't know any of this stuff, so might be totally crazy..

                                                        var ref = new ActionReference()

                                                        ref.putEnumerated( charIDToTypeID("Lyr "), charIDToTypeID("Ordn"), charIDToTypeID("Trgt") )

                                                        var desc = executeActionGet(ref).getObjectValue(stringIDToTypeID('textKey'))

                                                        var bounds = desc.getObjectValue(stringIDToTypeID('bounds'))

                                                        var width = bounds.getUnitDoubleValue (stringIDToTypeID('right'))

                                                        var height = bounds.getUnitDoubleValue (stringIDToTypeID('bottom'))

                                                • 21. Re: How to Package and Distribute Scripts + Actions?
                                                  NightSkyGuy Level 1

                                                  matias.kiviniemi: I'm familiar with the "scriptification" process of Actions, however my actions MUST be run with File->Automate->Batch since they operate on a folder full of files and/or can be fed from Bridge. There is no way to use that dialog with a script (unless the script is called by an action, catch 22).  However, my contention is that if Adobe really wants to make it easy for people to distribute content, they are not helping at all with the current behavior!

                                                   

                                                  I just had an interesting experience re-confirming all the bad behavior I've reported. My Mac became unbootable and I reinstalled the OS.  That's when I noticed two things:

                                                   

                                                  1. My action sets are only PARTIALLY copied. It appears that one of the two DIDN'T show up - the one that has dashes and spaces in the name.

                                                  2. On the Mac, the "Downloads" folder does contain the "printingpressguides.atn" from the "Bleed" example. However no such equivalent appears in my "Downloads" folder on the PC...  It just doesn't make sense, to have an "AddOns installer" that not only has a lot of moving parts to break, but in the end it doesn't install anything.  It's a "DOWNLOADER", and not a good one at that.  My Downloads folders also get quite messy so the "printingpressguides.atn" that is placed there with an OLD date might go completely unnoticed.

                                                   

                                                  I selected your App. Thanks for telling me where it was. I had Photoshop CC open on my Mac and CCD popped up a "Please close Photoshop to install ShopMyApp"... but no message saying "Installed" showed up in Creative Cloud Desktop until about 5 minutes later. At least it did show up, and was present in Extensions.