Photoshop as a Service
Adobe Desktop Technologies Ascend to the Cloud
Adobe Photoshop is the premiere desktop tool for editing images. It offers the most powerful algorithms for image processing available anywhere, and is loved by creative people around the world. Not only is it ubiquitous in design shops, it is also used by companies (like ourselves) who generate dynamic content with it.
Photoshop is well-exposed to automation: it has actions that are easy for non-developers (yet quite powerful), and it also supports ExtendScript, as well as C++ and CEP (Adobe's Common Extensibility Platform). XMPie is a company that has actually built a product, uImage, that runs Photoshop desktop like a server to produce one-to-one marketing pieces.
Until now, the Photoshop rendition engine has only been available through the desktop application. However, Adobe has just announced the pre-release program for Photoshop as a Service.
Finally, High-quality Imaging at Scale
Why is this such a wonderful innovation? It's obvious to us at Silicon Publishing, but our company has specialized in dynamic documents & graphics throughout our 18 years of existence, so I will try to explain to those who may not be as immersed as we are in this domain.
Dynamic content is everywhere
This is the age of dynamic content. It is well-proven that messaging is more effective when personalized, and this is increasingly well-understood in publishing and advertising. Whether in email, on the web, or in print, content is more targeted than ever.
Personalized products, often created through online interfaces such as Zazzle, Minted.com, or Shutterfly, represent a large and growing industry. Personalized products now enjoy greater demand than at any point in human history.
PSDs are a major source for dynamic content
While dynamic content is ubiquitous, almost none of its actual personalization is generated with the Photoshop engine, as a Photoshop Service did not exist until quite recently.
Yet a huge percentage of content destined for dynamic imaging does start in desktop Photoshop. The awkward workflow that we've endured these past 25 years has meant starting with this magnificent application, then having to work with a server-side rendition engine such as ImageMagick, doing what can be done to personalize images with a far less capable graphic toolset.
The rendition algorithms in Photoshop are second-to-none
Not only do artists create and manipulate content in Photoshop, they often use Photoshop to express how that content might be dynamically manipulated: which drop shadow to put on a name that will be pulled from a database or web-based form, for instance. While you can script desktop Photoshop to get precisely the personalized output you envision, there has not yet been a scalable platform that lets you render large volumes of batch output or respond quickly to many concurrent web requests.
We all know the beautiful artistic image processing algorithms that Photoshop offers from the desktop product. We have long wanted to apply such processing from a web page... you could define your own set of artistic effects and let users who don't have Photoshop get an image back from a web request with exactly that same nuanced effect. A user could quickly transform their photo into an oil painting, from a fine-crafted Photoshop filter set up using the parameters of the desktop application. Such a workflow is Photoshop end-to-end, with a true Photoshop filter applied on the server, and the Photoshop imaging engine exporting just the right format and size for the web application. This would fulfill a long-held dream for many web-to-print visionaries
Or you might want to insert a dynamic layer, such as the name of the recipient of an email somewhere in a stack of layers in a graphic file. Even if your non-Photoshop server-based rendition tool is sophisticated enough to allow layers, it certainly won't have the blend mode options that Photoshop experts know and love.
Typical real-world dynamic imaging up until now has been a study in compromise.
Yet here we finally are! Photoshop as a Service lets creatives fulfill their visions for dynamic content with the power of their rendition engine of choice.
How you can get started
Adobe is welcoming developers to explore their Photoshop as a Service APIs, and the process of joining the prerelease program is quick and easy, you just go to https://photoshop.adobelanding.com/signup-6/ and request access.
Morgan Gurfinkel, Senior Product Manager on the Adobe Photoshop team, is leading this effort and will follow up with applicants to get started. Once you are accepted into the prerelease program, you will have access to the user forum, which is the best place to ask questions and share ideas. I hope to see you there.