Adobe: The story of making up a story

Posted by Theo Valich

Opinion – Last week, we ran a story on a GPGPU-accelerated version of Photoshop. We were a bit surprised to see the company backtracking over the weekend from the demonstration it gave at Nvidia’s Editor’s Day event and accused us of making up the name of the next Photoshop, the software’s release date and its GPGPU acceleration feature. We usually do not reply to such accusations, but the blog post has created some confusion, which prompted us to follow up and release more images of the presentation. If it was really Adobe showing off the next-gen Photoshop and if the presenter wasn’t making up details, then the software will be released in October and it will have GPGPU acceleration.  

 

It is one of those things you just don’t expect. You wake up on Memorial Day and plan the perfect BBQ. Just in case, you check your email (which you really should not do on such a day) and what you see involves enough material to consume your whole day. In this case it was a rather arrogant rant about one of our stories we ran last week. It referred to a rather exciting topic – GPGPU acceleration in Photoshop. When we listened to the presenter showing off the software, we felt just like many of you may have felt reading the story: Finally, there is a real reason to get the next Photoshop. It is the first item on our Christmas wishlist.    

Apparently, the presenter, Photoshop senior product manager John Nack, was not too happy about our article, writing that “a site called TG Daily” simply made up the details we have seen. According to Nack, we clearly have been extremely creative that day, making up the name, the release date and a key feature. However, we are quite sure that we were not hallucinating, but we consider this attack more of a case of a "whoops, we said too much" policy and Nack’s blog post is a bit beyond our comfort level. To be clear, Nack and Adobe did not contact us to clarify any content and Adobe did not request a retraction. However, it is our policy to contact a company in disputes - whatever cause there may be – and Nack as well as Adobe so far have chosen to delay an answer or not to reply.   

Let’s talk about the claims.


Photoshop CS4

It is true that Nack did not call the demonstrated software Phostoshop CS4, but “CS Next” instead. Perhaps we jumped the gun a bit calling it CS4, even if “CS Next” would indicate it will be CS4. Nack claims that Photohop CS4 is “a term that I've never heard anyone from Adobe use publicly”. We may have to refresh Nack’s memory a bit, since he was quoted calling the software “CS4” in early May on Crave, in early April on News.com as well as MacWorld, in addition to thousands of other publications around the Web.

Example:
"We're not going to ship 64-bit native for Mac with CS4. We respect Apple's need to balance their resources and make decisions right for that platform. But it does have an impact on developers." News.com, April 2, 2008

However, we do not know, if News.com made up that quote, of course. We do have to say, though, that we did not see a blog post from Nack accusing News.com of inventing his statement.

Adobe today released three new beta versions of next-generation applications, including Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Soundbooth. While the company does not call these programs "CS4" versions, it looks like it has been the accepted terms by the media, including VNU, Macworld, the MacObserver, PC World, BetaNews and Reuters. We wonder, will Nack accuse those guys of making up the name?

The release date: October 1

Nack’s second claim is that we made up the October 1 launch date of the software. So, how did this date end up in our notes? The October release date for the "next-generation CS Suite" was stated - however, it was not Nack who mentioned the release date, but a representative from a partner company.

We have no further evidence to backup this claim other than our notes. We have asked Nvidia to release the videotape of the presentation to shed light on any false claims or potential misunderstandings.


GPGPU acceleration

This one is really bothersome. Adobe has a fantastic feature “cooking” in its labs, it was demonstrating the feature as part of a next-generation Photoshop release and now we hear not only that we made this claim up, but the company may not offer this feature at all.

According to our notes, Nack was running an alpha version of Stonehenge, which is, according to Nack, the code-name of the next-generation Photoshop. This alpha version included GPGPU acceleration and of course we assumed that this feature will make it into the final version, especially when Nack’s slides stated that CS Next will be a “must have” release and will include performance enhancements. We have no influence whatsoever in Adobe’s development and the company could decide to remove this feature from the final version.

Physics support was mentioned as well. However, Nack did not go into detail how this feature will be supported.

We can’t help, but also mention a shot Nack takes at Electronista: "In addition to repeating the date, Electronista is inventing new details (e.g. "CS3 has already had limited support for graphics processing units (GPUs) for certain filters"; sorry, no;"

A quick search for a term, let's say "Nvidia Adobe" or "GPU Adobe" will reveal what? Instead of explaining that Nvidia's "Adobe Photoshop Plug-ins" do not support GPU acceleration and clear up the confusion between Nvidia's "Adobe Photoshop Plug-ins" and "Nvidia GPU-Accelerated Texture tools", John opted to cry foul.

In case you wonder, no, there was not an explicit NDA or embargo date on this presentation. We will give it the benefit of the doubt that there was a misunderstanding but even if there was, we consider it not the best style to post an arrogant rant rather than contacting us and working out a possible issue.

Update 5:37 PM EDT: Adobe provided us with an offcial statement this afternoon:
Recently, Adobe previewed technology still under development related to GPU acceleration and Photoshop. From time to time previews are shown around our latest innovations and are not necessarily an indication of what customers can expect in future versions. We did not officially announce the date for the next version of Creative Suite during recent public previews of future Adobe technology at our financial analyst conference and Nvidia.

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