Excited about Photoshop for Apple Silicon Macs? Well, maybe temper that excitement, because Om Malik has some bad news:

The M1-Photoshop is pretty useless for those — like me — who use third-party extensions as part of their editing workflow. For instance, I use some extensions that allow me to pursue highly granular masking via luminosity masks. Other extensions for color grading (including Adobe’s own Color Themes) and additional tune-ups are also part of my flow. And none of them work with the new Photoshop. 

Extensions are not working because Adobe has shifted to a new way of writing extensions — specifically, using UXP. According to Adobe, “UXP provides modern JavaScript, a curated selection of UI components, and a more streamlined workflow for plugin developers.” In the past, Adobe used CEP (Common Extensibility Platform), which used web-based technologies like CSS to make the extensions work. The shift to UXP is visible with the M1-Mac version of Photoshop. 

In its breathless blog post and news releases around the new M1-Photoshop, Adobe (intentionally, I suspect) failed to mention that extensions weren’t working. Like many, I was forced to re-install those extensions, only to find them absent. After a few tries at rebooting the software and the computer, I was perplexed. I ended up on their support website to get the answers. Adobe wants us to get in touch with the extension developers to see if they are offering upgrades. 

They aren’t.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time that Adobe have pulled the rug out from under people by dropping one plugin architecture for another. They did this in 2013-14, only a few years into Creative Cloud, moving on from using Flash behind the scenes.

Plugins and extensions for Photoshop (and other Adobe apps) have always been a double-edged sword — potentially great for productivity, but always subject to the whims of the landlord who sets the house rules. That may not necessarily be just Adobe, of course, as those who’ve migrated to 32-bit and 64-bit Windows or from 68000 to PowerPC to Intel on Mac over the years will know. But in this case, it looks suspiciously like Adobe got caught out by the announcement of Apple Silicon Macs and rushed this change rather than give users (and plugin developers) time to adjust.

[ There’s another side to plugins for apps like Photoshop that I want to touch on. While the ability to extend its abilities is welcome for many, I have to wonder if it’s also an excuse for Adobe to slack off making improvements (and poach the ideas that plugin developers come up with) and a means to keep people within the ecosystem. Being the ‘industry standard’ doesn’t make it the right, or best, tool for you or your requirements. ]