Martini Hour 094, In Which We Hypocritically Mock Some of Adobe’s Odd Feature Names

What’s in a name? Does a feature that goes by any other name still function as well? This week we’re enjoying making fun of the names of Adobe features that don’t really make any sense. And who are we to complain? “Martini Hour” is never really an hour and this week we’re drinking Manhattans. So join us on this vaguely hypocritical but otherwise entertaining discussion of goofy names for otherwise highly useful (for the most part) set of features in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Like Martini Hour, you shouldn’t be scared off by the names.

Martini Hour 094: Adobe's strangely named features

Here is a list of cryptically, oxymoronically, or just ridiculously named features that we enjoy making fun of this week:

Unsharp Mask: Classic example. Enough said.

Liquify: Descriptive name, but even InDesign doesn’t recognize this unauthorized spelling (although in all fairness, Merriam-Webster allows it as a variant.)

Vibrance: some question as to whether this is really a word in the first place, and we should have mentioned this on “what you can stop doing” episode. (Stop cranking up the Vibrance and thinking your fooling anyone.)

Flip and Flop checkboxes in Vanishing Point: What exactly is the technical definition of “flopping” a selection? And I remain confused over the terms “Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical” because I think they are going to spin around the axis that is mentioned. And they don’t. Or they do. I can never remember.

Leading: OK, we all know what this means (the amount of space between the line of type and the line above it). Which, if you had no idea where this came from, you might actually think it was pronounced “LEED-ing.” But it’s not even old paste-up terminology, it’s from hot metal days. Hot lead. Very sexy.

Expand: In Illustrator, it means nothing to do with making something bigger, but really has to do with breaking down to paths. It’s doubly confusing because Photoshop actually seems to understand the conventional definition of the word expand.

Grow Similar: OK, once you break this down, it sort of makes sense. But it’s still a funny name. And very useful (with any selection tool, not just the Magic Wand to which it is conventionally attached.) Grow similar what?

Transparency Flattener: Best worst-name command ever. In the several minutes it takes us to get there, it supplants the earlier Flip and Flop. Potentially the most confusing dialog box/panel ever.

Smart objects: Smart these days means “automatically filtered” and objects sounds like a programming thing. These are, of course, containers that protect your original document from distruction, the use of which is smart on your part, but not so much on the part of the tool.

Hide Edges: Who would know what this means? Edge usually refers to a literal edge of a selection or an area of rapid transition. Deke suggests “Hide Ants” instead. And also it comes with itinerant random behavior depending on whether you’re working in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

Glyphs: This one is very useful (especially for Mac users who don’t have the Character Map). I guess if you think “heiroglyphs,” you understand this is helping you find the character of the font that you may or may not be looking for. And you can make your own collections. Useful, but obscurely named.

Various modifiers on the names of Selection tools: What is the difference between direct, quick, and basic “selection”?

Art History brush: Not only is it stupidly named, but it adds a stupidly filteresque effect you would never want to do.

Live Junk: Illustrator calls things “live” when it means “dynamic” and there is no real relationship between the use of the word “live” in Live Trace, Live Paint, and the obscurely hidden “Live Color” tools. It’s distracting and somewhat intimidating (because live things might harm you).

Pathfinder tool: Sounds like a scout whose helping you through uncharted territory. Great feature and in truth we couldn’t come up with anything better.

Envelope distortion: We don’t entirely understand where this name came from.  If you can help us out, let us know. And even more importantly, can Deke please get it in Photoshop?

Eyedropper: If you have an icon for a tool that alludes to what it does, then what sense does it make to name it after the thing to which it is tangentially related. Or less obtusely, it’s a color sampler, and we think of eyedroppers as spitters not suckers.

Attributes panel: Seems to be a grab-bag planel for which the name means nothing.

Art board: This allows them to not call these things pages. Because if they called them pages, they’d be reminding people of the dark ages when you could only have one.

Good times, goofy names. Won’t you join us? Here’s the regular-quality audio file. You can stream, or for best results, right-click and choose Download or Save. Here’s the high-res version; you’ll want to download rather than stream. And don’t forget our usual plea to subscribe via iTunes.

What names make no sense to you? Or do you see logic where we don’t? Let us know. Until next week (and for about 7 more—more on that next week), Cheers!

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Previous entry:dekeSpeak December 8, 2010

  • A good name is everything…

    What a fun topic! I actually wrote up a long blog post about just this a while back. Here’s a link:

    Noce to see Deke and I share many of the same “issues” :)

    BTW, Illustrator’s feature is called “Envelope Distortion” purely because that’s what other products called them. Blame the CorelDRAW folks for coming up with such a lousy name, and blame the Adobe folks for being lazy and just copying the phrase….

    Mordy Golding

  • Eyedropper

    Eyedroppers suck, then squirt.

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