Our 14e release is imminent. But after looking at our survey results and the most recently reported issues, we thought it wise to provide some hints to help you use the current software and to help you understand tradeoffs we made.
Our most commonly reported issue is something we struggled with. In an attempt to help users understand features we caused confusion. What are we talking about? There are pop up windows: some of which should be Continued some of which should be Stopped. The only notification tool that works across all versions of Photoshop reliably doesn’t allow much customization, so when confronted with each of these dialogs, its understandable why some people click Stop when they should Continue and click Continue when they should Stop. The pop-up window below was the worst. We added highlighting to make it easy to see the difference, but we can’t use color or graphics on the actual pop-up without creating compatibility problems. Do you notice the difference?
If you stop on the first dialog, the layers needed to do stacking are not created and you will get errors the first of which is usually “Move is not currently available”
Once there is any kind of error it’s time to Stop and restart because manipulating layers in Photoshop is a little fragile. The good news is the first pop-up can be turned off. The better news is that in 14e we have already turned it off for you. In fact in 14e we’ve trimmed down interaction as much as possible but still kept the awesome extra features. Here is how to turn off the first pop-up (the one regarding Watermark Alignment) in version 14d and earlier.
Power of the Batch
The Advanced Stacker PLUS derives much of it’s power from two key things: Photoshop’s ability to batch process images AND Photoshop’s ability to open just about any image format on the planet. Batch processing works because it is possible to use File -> Automate -> Batch to hurl a handful or a folder full of images at customized scripts and actions. While Adobe Photoshop Elements has a “batch processor” there is no way to do operations other than those that are built-in to the software and that’s why ASP doesn’t support Elements.
One of the weaknesses of using Photoshop’s captive power is that it requires exploiting the tool in ways that are “allowed”. While we like Adobe Photoshop CC, there are still many people who are very happy with older, non-cloud versions of Photoshop like CS3 or CS4. We chose to not abandon that 35% of our customers so we support ALL CS versions of Photoshop on both Mac and PC. and that means we limit our actions and scripts to features that are common across all those versions and platforms. Readers may not be aware, for example, that while Adobe has published tools for customizing the interface, those tools have generally only supported the “latest” version of software. Indeed one of the most used tools (Configurator) has been abandoned and is no longer supported.
Another tradeoff has been in how we document our features. For example the File -> Automate -> Batch method of stacking a folder full of files is workable, if inelegant. But we use the Photoshop Bridge method of feeding the stacker and like it much more for several significant reasons. One huge advantage of using Bridge is that you can actually see the content of the files. Another obvious advantage is that you are not constrained by what’s in your folder. If you have 29 shots from one sequence and 120 of another sequence you don’t have to split those shots between folders. And, in fact, with Bridge to select files you don’t have to use the same stacking method for all the files of one set, or have files from only one folder!
A word about 14E
As noted above, version 14E is imminent. Surprisingly the biggest obstacle has not been the additional features, the primary obstacle has been packaging and delivering the content. Windows 8.1 and Mac OSX 10.9 have gotten very protective of their machines and throw up many roadblocks to try to keep your machine safe from viruses and trojans. This means we had to invest $1500 dollars to become an LLC, get signed up for the Mac developer plan, get a Mac code signing certificate and get a code signing certificate for Windows, too! That doesn’t include acquiring a Mac or polishing the scripts and installers on each machine. Here is what the problem looks like on a Windows PC using Internet Explorer without signed code (it’s just as bad with Safari on Mac).
In fact, on both machines even though the code is signed (proving its provenance), you are still likely to get a warning like “This is not a commonly downloaded file”. It might be easier if we could email it to you, right? Except that Google, Yahoo and many others will not deliver an email that includes any executable content.
Both PCs and Macs have reached this point described in a Mac advertisement from 2009 that pokes fun at Vista’s intrusive safety system. Guess what… both machines are becoming like this because there are so many, uh, jerks out there eager to harm you electronically.
Our holy grail has been to create a single deliverable package that works both on a PC and on your Mac that we can document clearly, simply and as completely as possible. That was probably too high a goal.
What’s coming in 14e?
- Installation now is as simple as clicking.
- EXIF data for the first image is preserved
- New stacking mode of Ultra Streaks
- Streamlined pop-ups to the minimum
- Fully supports paths on both PC and Mac
- Installation works for ALL versions of Photoshop CS you have installed on your machine
- A price increase. But current owners will get the upgrade for free.
- Some features we’re keeping under wraps for now.
Great stuff Steven, I appreciate the effort you go too –
I continue to think that the this stacking software plugin is one of the most versatile out there for the Macs and appreciate the efforts that you have gone to continue to make it so.
Thanks Steven, can’t wait for the release!
Is there any way to create an action panel (Similar to Tony Kuypers Action Sets)
Perhaps that may make it a bit more intuitive.
There was a way, but Adobe has abandoned the Configurator tool. Configurator began in CS3 but each Photoshop version thereafter required SEPARATE set up and configuration. Before CS5 Adobe had no distribution method. In the CS5 timeframe they created Adobe Exchange which is now all but dead and being replaced with AddOns. AddOns only support CC.
In short, while we looked at Configurator we balked at the very limited compatibility that shackled us. ASP right now supports ALL versions of Photoshop CS on both Mac and Windows. Adobe can’t do that!