Not Fade Away

Bokeh light dots

These programs like to waste my time—or at least that’s what it feels like.

I’ve been using the new Adobe CS3 applications full-time for a little over a week now, at home and the office. The change to fast, stable Universal Binaries is a welcome one, as are several of the more subtle tool refinements. But there’s one new addition that punches me in the eye every time I see it.

That damn fade.

Cue Transition

For those of you already using a CS3 app, you know what I’m talking about. When you make one of the new applications active the entire program UI fades into view over the course of a quarter of a second or so.

Someone thought this was slick. Someone thought this was pretty. Someone was fairly misguided.

Photoshop CS3 fading into view
Pause for Effect(s): Photoshop makes its dramatic entrance.

Ill-considered UI fluff like this makes me want to run for my copy of The Humane Interface and wave it about wildly. It’s not a question of aesthetics. It’s a question of perceived performance.

All this fade does is increase the time I have to wait for the application to become active, and therefore usable. Sure it only takes a quarter of a second, but users in heavy production environments (arguably Adobe’s core) switch back and forth between these apps hundreds, maybe thousands, of times a day. What starts out as an annoying stutter compounds to steal minutes out of every day. It doesn’t matter if the applications are screaming speed demons chockablock with fastidiously optimized code—they built a speed bump right outside the front door.

The subconscious is being trained to fold its arms and tap its foot every time you click, tab or otherwise stumble your way into Adobeland. Somewhere a neuron is saying, “Damn it, I was in the middle of a flow there.”