Interface Gripes: Is your After Effects document dirty?

After Effects 7 has debuted to decidedly mixed reviews at work. While most folks are excited about the new features, there is a general unease with the new interface. It’s as if we’re dealing with a new Adobe OS. I think as we get a few projects under our belt the unease will dissipate a bit especially since we have such a history with the application and it is strong in features and implementation. My personal opinion is that user feedback will moderate the interface in future versions and I want to point out one example of a platform specific UI cue that is an example of why you might want to not make an application too uni-platform.

A dirty document in OS X is a document with unsaved changes. There is a clear way to indicate this. Here are a few examples in some Adobe apps.

In Photoshop, a document before making a change

A clean document in Adobe Photoshop

In Photoshop, after making a change

A dirty document in Adobe Photoshop

In Illustrator, a document before making a change

A clean document in Adobe Illustrator

In Illustrator, after making a change

A dirty document in Adobe Illustrator

Notice the filled in bubble on the left? Now let’s do the same thing in After Effects.

In After Effects, a document before making a change

A clean document in Adobe After Effects

In After Effects, after, umm, making a change

A dirty document in Adobe After Effects

In After Effects we lose an OS X interface cue. My guess, is this is an oversight from creating the interface with non-standard GUI widgets and that’ll get fixed in a later verson. But it is a great example of what happens when you try to go it alone in interface land, especially with Mac users who are a notoriously finicky lot. So, when I talk to Adobe developers, I’ll be sure to put in my voice for letting each platform retain its own individual personality.

btw…I am aware of the asterisk next to the file name cue, but this isn’t an either/or situation, so many interface cues are practically subliminal, and if a quick glance to the left corner doesn’t give me what I’m looking for, I’ll just think that it isn’t Mac like without really knowing why.


  1. Anonymous said

    It’s not just After Effectts, this is just the same in Final Cut Pro which also uses mini buttons on the Browser window but you don’t even get an asterix. I haven’t heard of a single FCP user complain about it so I’m not sure anyone really notices or cares.

  2. Scottgfx said

    I have AE 7 and CS2…

    Whatever interface wrapper Adobe has around Photoshop, It really makes for a frustrating experience. I have to move between Finder and Photoshop CS2 very rapidly in doing deadline based news graphics. Every once in awhile, the entire windowing environment will just disappear. I have to force-quit to get going again.

    After Effects normally will be able to hide by hitting + + H. Randomly it will just not hide anymore. Not even with the pull-down menu.

    Illustrator takes forever to start.

    This on a G5 Quad with 4GB memory.

    In my 12 years of using Photoshop, this is the most disappointed I have ever been. AE7 is OK, I’m not having work stopping problems with it.

  3. Scottgfx said

    That was supposed to be “Command”+”Control”+H.

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