We need more advanced actions and export control for the modern web.

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 02, 2021 Oct 02, 2021

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One thing that is severely lacking for professionals is more advanced actions and export options for the web (and even in some cases when just moving files between apps, but web is enough for this heated suggestion).

 

Specifically, if you're working on modern websites, you need to save out multiple images (tons in total) for each image needed so you can make them responsive using <picture> and srcset, and this includes WebP format, of which we only have a half-assed plug-in from Google that gives you a tiny preview you can't zoom. All major browsers support WebP now. Why have you not added it into Photshop? What is the delay? Google is going to penalize rank now if your site is slower, so everyone who knows what's up is using these methods, besides the fact it makes for a better user experience across devices.

 

If you think I'm overreacting, and doing things manually is sufficient, bear in mind I had to use actions (or manually do it due to lack of controls) for several thousand images for a single website, and that's just cracking the surface of the project. Things pile up very quickly when making responsive images.

 

The biggest problem is that we cannot modify the names of files or locations when saving actions. Why?! It's 2021 for god's sake. You developers at Adobe should be able to make us a revamped Action toolkit that allows for variables in file names and editable actions. We could set an optional $Prefix (ABCD_ etc for project ID), a base $filename variable, an optional second $descriptor (or X number of descriptors if the UI lets us add them), an optional $Suffix—perhaps one that adds $imageWidth which is what we need in responsive web images using srcset—and the extension. We should also have variables for save location and compression quality. I setup a folder dedicated to exports so at least Photoshop always has a place to put it for actions and doesn't error out or dump things in another project, but then I have to waste time moving files. A simple, clean UI that provides customized naming conventions for filenames with $variables is what we really need. This is a professional app, so make some pro tools for it. These are basic things and no excuse as to why they are not available is justified. You could write a web app that does this in Javascript and PHP. There's no reason Photoshop should lack it.

 

The legacy Save for Web allowed this for slices, in some ways, but no one is using slices anymore so if you try to us the options in there it won't work by default. We need a modern way to export things, save them into actions, and edit them, and not need to use utility apps. Currently, I have to run my actions to output tons of files and use a file renamer. This is an extra step and not efficient, simply because we have no way to do this with some basic export variables and can't modify actions.

 

You also need to make Quick Export and Export As... ADD STEPS TO THE ACTIONS. How this is not a thing is beyond me. Instead you guys tried to remove JPG percentages(wtf!?). The fact that we can export 1x, 2x, etc is pointless. We don't get separate quality controls for those and we cant always use 1x and 2x. Art direction may dictate we save things at 120px, 768px, even 840px or some random pixel value if the design calls for it. Breakpoints are not set in stone and aren't just halves and doubles. Current project I'm working on some images have 10 breakpoints or more + 2x and 3x for high dpi screens.

 

And you might say, "Use the Legacy Export! It exports the same things!" Really? Try exporting an 8-bit PNG with transparency from it and look at the lovely aliasing yuo get in the alpha. 24-bit is too large most times, so the legacy save for web won't work for that. We get nice clean 8-bit transparent PNGs in the new export commands and UI, but they won't save to our actions, because.... reasons?? It's asinine. Therefore, half of my day is now spent manually exporting assets and wanting to open a vein because I can't save these basic things to actions.

 

For those of you who will chime in and say, "You can can just use scripting!" Sorry. Please just go away. Artists aren't programmers and we shouldn't have to be. Stop telling us to be. The Image Processor in the script menu is also garbage, regardless of how many people tout it. It doesn't let you save to all formats and limits what you can do, it's just the stepchild of the batch processor. Try exporting WebP from it. The batch processor is also a thing of the past that lacks options and flexibility. This outdated junk needs to be scrapped for a modern system of actions, formats, exporting and variables that can be used to streamline things for modern web production and more.

 

We also need a way to EDIT our actions. We may need to edit the quality setting after testing, or tweak the sizes, or the format. There should be a way to do this without having to remake the entire action. Even if a version 1 only allowed for changing the quality settings and provided us with variables for file names and location it would be so much more powerful than what we have now. Or if you let us export to a human readable text format like JSON or XML—that wouldn't be ideal, but it would be something to allow us to modify our actions and import them. I had to remake an action recently with over 100 steps, simply because there was no way to say, "Change the JPG quality from 72% to 78%," because sometimes a few percentage difference means an image either is right on the money for public viewing, or looks like hot garbage.

 

I found an old script that would export actions to XML and back in as actions, but it no longer functions properly in modern PS. The paths get messed up and the actions fail because it thinks the folder doesn't exist. We shouldn't need a 3rd party tool anyway. You are in the industry standard and should be doing more.

 

PLEASE Adobe, it's bad enough you have us all strung out on renting licenses now, you should at least be giving us modern ways to export things, in modern formats, with naming conventions and granular control for widely adopted web standards, and give us the freedom to modify them and customize them the way professionals need to. You are the programmers. Let us be the artists. The way you have things setup now is wasting inordinate amounts of time for all of us who use these tools day in and day out. You could probably have a crack team of 2-3 people bang this out in a month or two without even breaking a sweat.

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Actions and scripting

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2 Comments
Explorer ,
Jan 28, 2022 Jan 28, 2022

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I have nothing to add other than that it truly is long overdue for Adobe to adopt WebP into its ecosystem as all browsers now support the format. Adobe may not realize it but the value it would add to the product for a web designer like me would be astronomical and game-changing. Upvoted.

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 26, 2022 Mar 26, 2022

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This is very well put, and I think expresses the frustration many of us are feeling.  I'm always astonished that I can't have an action that saves an image I'm working on in Photoshop into a favorite folder, keeping it's original filename but adding a text string, and using predetermined save paramaters, WITHOUT scripting.  And I can't find a way to script it right with web-p.  

If I could add one more request to this, it would be to have WebP included with Bridge's Export Panel - my most used batch processor.

 

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