As a part of the redesign of Photoshop CS4, Adobe introduced flash panels. To most users, these changes appeared to be merely cosmetic, but to developers, flash panels allow for the creation of custom panels within Photoshop that look and behave similarly to the native panels created by Adobe.
To make the creation of Flash panels more accessible, Adobe created the Configurator application, offering it as a free download on the Adobe Labs Web site. Configurator allows non-programmers the ability to create custom Flash panels. These can be used to group commonly used tools, create buttons for layer commands and to hide all but the most essential of Photoshop interface elements. I created a demonstration panel to accompany the dpBestflow presentations available for a free download. (dpBestflow is an ASMP initiative on digital photography and workflow best practices funded by the Library of Congress.)
The soon-to-be-released Adobe Configurator 2 has quietly improved from its first incarnation. Not only does Configurator support a broader range of external content (HTML, SWF, etc.) but it also can be used with InDesign, in addition to Photoshop. This makes it an attractive tool for streamlining major components of any print workflow.
Configurator 2 now allows you to create deeper and more complex panels through tabbed and accordion navigation within a panel. Also, design-based features make it easier to make custom panels more visually compelling.
At its core, Configurator panels are a great way for any Photoshop CS4 or CS5 user to trim unnecessary key commands, pull-down menus and dialog boxes from their workflow. Putting your most commonly used interface elements right at your fingers frees up screen real estate, eliminates errors and allows you to focus on the creative aspects of your work.
Configurator 2 should be released any day on the Adobe Labs Web site. I’ll update this post when the software is available for download.
Update: It didn’t take long. Adobe released Configurator 2 shortly after this post went live. You can download Configurator 2 here.