June 21, 2024

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Recently I got to pose some questions to long time Adobe Engineer Kevin Tieskoetter about his role on the Lightroom team and his work on the Book Module in Lightroom 4 Beta. Kevin was gracious enough to take time out and answer them.

Hi Kevin, thanks for taking my questions. You been working on Lightroom for a very long time. So what have you been up to in that time?

I’ve been working on Lightroom for 8 years now, since long before the first public beta. In that time, I wrote the Print module, added camera tethering, had a hand in parts of Develop and Import, worked on parts of the architecture, and now, for 4.0, produced the Book module, along with Max Wendt.

With Book being a major feature request, it was both a big task and a big responsibility. Can you talk a little about the process that led to using a template driven system, rather than an extension of Print’s Custom Package?

Basing it on Custom Package wouldn’t have been the right solution; the whole workflow for making a book is quite different than printing a few photos, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew that Book needed to be its own module, to avoid making too many compromises.

We also knew that the most important part of the book module was going to be workflow polish; we needed to make it simple and straightforward, and easy-to-use features take a lot more time to develop than complex ones do

We went to the bookstore and crowded around their photography section. We looked at as many photo books as we could find to see how the pros were putting together their books. At this point, we had already been developing a wide range of templates, produced by Athena Kekenes, an excellent graphic designer we hired to help with the design work. We discovered that there were extremely few pages in those books that couldn’t be produced with the templates we had created, along with the flexibility of our Photo Caption and Page Caption features.

There’s a lot of concern about the built in template sizes being restrictive. Will people be able to make their own templates and sizes?

Yes! All of the templates we ship with Lightroom are made using Illustrator, and I’ll be documenting the process for creating those. We’ve also successfully made templates using InDesign and the freeware tool called Scribus, so if you need templates in different sizes, you’ll have a range of options.

You’ve partnered with Blurb as the main book supplier, I know Tom Hogarty has mentioned some of the background to this on DPReview, what made Blurb the choice?

We evaluated quite a few different book vendors, but we wanted to work with just one vendor for the first cut of the book module, so we could spend our time integrating with them closely. We chose Blurb mainly for the high quality and range of options for their books (while staying at a reasonable price), and for their reputation for having good customer service. We’ve printed many, many books so far and have been very pleased with the results.

Will it be possible for other manufacturers to come on board?

Yes, we are open to working with other publishers. In the short term, for any publishers who accept PDF files, they can create templates in their own sizes and publish them for Lightroom customers to use. Those customers can then upload the PDFs directly to the publisher’s site. In the longer term, we’re still evaluating exporting directly to more publishers.

Loads of people on the Lightroom team seem to be photographers, I know Max Wendt, who worked on Text for the Book Module with you is one. Do you partake in the dark art? 

It was photography that initially attracted me to come to Adobe to work on Lightroom. At the time, it was mostly a glimmer in Mark Hamburg’s eye, but once I understood what he was up to, I knew I had to be working on it. I had been into photography for several years at that point, and had just purchased a Nikon D100. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun to work on software that I actually use myself.

I’m not asking for a roadmap, or any hints of the future, but is there anything you’d like to see in Lightroom?

I’m thrilled every time that the Camera Raw team whips up some new formula for processing my photos. It gets better each time, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got coming up next.

I know 6 years ago, when the first Beta came out, I had no idea Lightroom would be such a big part of my life. Where do you see yourself in 6 years (That’d be Lightroom 8 Beta at the current release rate!)? 

Oh, that’s scary. I’d be happy if I could just find the time to get out and shoot more. 🙂

What’s your favourite Lightroom feature (that you didn’t work on)?

I guess it would be a cheap answer to say “all of Develop”, so I’d have to say the publishing feature (even though I did work on it a little bit). I’m a fan of SmugMug, and Lightroom’s publishing makes it so easy to share photos.

Thanks Kevin!

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