Just read this article on the Spiegel website and indeed it seems there is something to celebrate – or not, depending on how you view matters. Inarguably Photoshop is a major corner stone of the digital age. It serves millions or people every day in equally as many ways. That is both good and bad, as it’s the proverbial two-edged sword. On one side it helps a lot of talented people put their art out there, on the other side it just as well helps other people to pester us with their crooked creations, devoid of the slightest bit of skill and taste. It’s simply too easy to go out, buy a computer and push buttons. *argh*
On the engineering front, it’s amazing, that Photoshop doesn’t implode in itself. As I’ve written a couple of times already, it’s the perfect incarnation of bloatware. I call it bloat, because many of the features fall into the "looks good on paper" category, only to disappoint you when you actually try to use them and then become excess baggage that bog down other tools. Many things the program tries to do, but without going fully through. In recent versions, Adobe has also not paid much attention to performance. No, I don’t mean the kind of "makes your processor glow in the dark" things like HDR merging or batch processing, nor can it’s resilience in the memory area be denied, but it is the interactive performance that’s getting suckier by the mile or version, respectively. These days, every single brush stroke feels like dragging through syrup on the table and the addition of Flash panels and OpenGL hasn’t helped – when a feature only works on a given graphics card, it is more of an annoyance to the user who can’t use it than it may help the user who can.
All in all, Photoshop is quite a mixed bag these days. Since on birthdays it’s tradition to blow the candles and have a wish, here’s mine: Give Photoshop back the simplicity and intuitiveness it had around version 7, before it degenerated into this monster. It needs to stand true to it’s name and do still image manipulation like no other, not try to be a 3D program, web design tool, page layout program, vector drawing tool, video editor, analysis tool and so on. All of that can be done much better elsewhere, but not the pixel munching.
Side Note: After Effects also turned 15 year last November or so, in case you were unaware.