Adobe makes major update to Photoshop

When Adobe made its big switchover to the Creative Cloud (opens in new tab)subscription model back in June, one of the biggest selling points was the idea that designers would benefit from a continuing rollout of new features - rather than having to wait a year to buy a new, boxed version-number. And so far Adobe has made good on that promise, already announcing new features for Muse (opens in new tab) and the Edge suite (opens in new tab), a major update to Dreamweaver (opens in new tab) and new functionality for InDesign (opens in new tab).

But what of Adobe's flagship tool, Photoshop CC (opens in new tab)? Well, we've had to wait a few months but the company has finally announced a big change to the image editing software. It's not so much a new feature as a new platform, Generator (opens in new tab), which has been created to help speed up designers' workflow by automating repetitive tasks. Or, as Adobe puts it: "a technology that fundamentally changes the way people work with Photoshop for web and screen design".

Essentially, Generator is a platform that allows greater interoperability between Photoshop CC, the Creative Cloud and third party applications. Right now, in practical terms, that means you can create image assets in real time as you work, eliminating the tedious steps of copying, slicing and exporting each layer manually.

All you need do is add a file extension to the name of your layer or layer group, and Photoshop will automatically create a JPG, PNG or GIF from the contents of that layer. If you make a change to that layer, the file is immediately updated - so your folder of images will be always up-to-date with your Photoshop design.

This video shows the new feature in action:

Get the update

To get the update, start Photoshop CC and choose Help > Updates. The Adobe Application Manager will launch; select Adobe Photoshop CC and choose Update.

If you want to confirm that the update worked, choose Help > About Photoshop (in Windows), or Photoshop > About Photoshop (on Mac). The version at the top should be Version: 14.1.

How it works

To turn on the new feature, go to File > Generate > Image Assets. Then you just need to rename the layers or layer groups you want to export, and the software will populate your image folder.

A variety of options, including scaling for Retina displays and varying levels of compression. And if you use Adobe's responsive design tool, Adobe Edge Reflow CC, you can now take Photoshop assets directly into that tool with just one click.

Further development

Real-time image asset generation could be a game-changer for many hard-pressed designers seeking a way to speed up workflow. But Adobe's keen to stress it's just the beginning for the Generator platform.

Based on Node.js, Generator has been designed to make it easy for developers to write their own plug-ins in JavaScript. A JavaScript API has been released, and Adobe has published Generator and its real-time image asset generation feature as open source projects on GitHub (opens in new tab).

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