The Dent

"We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?" - Steve Jobs

Adobe Photoshop for iPad: MVP

To you all U.S. sports fans out there, no I’m not refering to Adobe Photoshop for iPad the Most Valuable Player. I am, instead, refering to the term ‘Minimum Viable Product’.

With Photoshop and many other hugely ambitious projects / releases from large companies, there seems to be a lack of basic understanding for how these kind of things work. It seems to be a growing trend recently, when a big new software release comes out, that people have extremely high and unrealistic expectations on what it may be. The below is one such example of this:

There seems to be an expectation that from day dot a software release will have every feature you could ever imagine, will never crash, and will do everything another piece of software can do. Photoshop, in this example, has had a version built for a specific architecture that has been iterated on for almost three decades, yet a complete rebuild for a completely different device type should have feature parity on day one? No chance. Beyond that, I don’t understand why someone would expect it.

Is it better to have a product out there, in users hands so it can be iterated in, or kept behind closed doors for years until it’s some product managers idea of ‘ready’? I appreciate there are different schools of thought on this, but this Agile approach has been adopted for a lot of software and development teams for some time now and it works.

After putting a short version of this post up earlier, one of the Photoshop team responded with the following:

It’s clear from this that Adobe are serious about this product, and they literally had to start somewhere. My plea to people reading this, and sending out a lot of ill feeling about this release, and others, please consider the following:

  • This software doesn’t just appear one day. It’s been built by human beings, with feelings and pride in the hard work they’ve done. If it isn’t exactly what you wanted, maybe consider some constructive feedback, via the correct channels, instead of blanket statements of ‘Wow, this sucks!’
  • Consider that the new piece of software is rarely the only way of achieving what you want to do. In this example, the normal Photoshop is still wherever it is you left it. Continue as you were, whilst experimenting with a new version to see if you can help improve it.

An interesting point about this is that it doesn’t seem to be the same when users take part in a TestFlight beta, for example. There, you may get some bad builds along the way, but by testing the MVP and helping the developer iterate upon it via feedback and just using the app you will help drive improvements. An MVP product release is, to me, no different.