Thinking About Tools

Apr 25, 2012

A quick Twitter search for “GuideGuide” generally shows two types of feedback: “Holy crap, this is great,” and “I can’t believe this isn’t part of Photoshop already.” A lot of people like to hate on Adobe for being slow to add print/UI design tools to Photoshop, but I feel like this attitude wrongfully places the blame. Photoshop’s true purpose is in it’s name. It is photo manipulation software. It was never intended to be good with type styles, pixel perfect vector manipulation, or grid systems.

When people complain about Photoshop not being a robust tool for design, they’re essentially saying “I’m very frustrated that this tool I’m using beyond it’s scope doesn’t live up to my manufactured expectation.” You wouldn’t use a screwdriver as a hammer and complain that it doesn’t do a good job of hammering nails. So why do it with software?

Rather than complain about our applications not performing functions they were never intended to perform, why not start asking why no one is building tools that are designed specifically to solve the problems we complain about? I’m not talking about Photoshop plugins like GuideGuide. Things like that are just hacked together solutions to ease our pain. We need to start demanding, or better yet, creating bespoke tools and natural workflows that are created specifically for us.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Your sword should be an extension of your arm.” I’d venture to say our tools should be an extension of our creativity. We shouldn’t have to tolerate, hack, or be limited by our software. Our tools should be catalysts to the realization of our ideas.