Photoshop Extensibility Enters a New Era Soon: How to Get Involved Early

Ash Ryan Arnwine
Mar 12 · 4 min read

Adobe Photoshop has a long history of extensibility that has enabled an ecosystem of countless extensions, panels, scripts, and plug-ins, all created by developers and creative users alike. These extensibility products—built on Photoshop’s in-app APIs—enhance creative velocity, open new doors through innovative and inspirational features, streamline and automate workflows across apps and services, and conveniently connect Photoshop users to their stakeholders and clients.

This year Adobe is looking to the future of Creative Cloud application extensibility by modernizing the Photoshop host app APIs and introducing UXP, our new cross-app API platform, to Photoshop.

A Modernized Developer Experience

UXP (Unified Extensibility Platform) is a modern, performant, and cross-platform set of APIs that let you extend Photoshop using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

With UXP in Photoshop, you’ll be able to easily deliver user experiences that feel like they belong in an Adobe application, with UI patterned after Adobe Spectrum, all while having direct access to rich host application APIs that let you drive Photoshop’s features programmatically.

For those coming from our classic JavaScript APIs, UXP offers a modern, standards-compliant JavaScript environment that removes the need to communicate across multiple contexts with different JS engines. Instead, in a single context, you’ve got everything you need to create UI and interact with the Photoshop APIs at the same time.

If you’re new to Photoshop extensibility, the introduction of UXP simply represents a great time to get started adding your own magic to one of the world’s most-loved creative applications.

UXP is already used by hundreds of third-party developers who are extending Adobe XD today. Further, UXP is now powering a number of features in Photoshop, like the Home screen, New Document window, Lightroom importer, and Cloud Document picker, with even more on the way.

We’re thrilled to be able to bring these APIs to third-party developers, like you, who are extending Photoshop (or want to get started).

Next-generation User Experiences

We’ve kept the creative user at the center of our efforts to modernize Photoshop’s in-app APIs. By engaging with our users and third-party developers over the last few years, we’ve learned what Creative Cloud users value when it comes to extensibility.

First, the obvious: users need to be able to easily discover then successfully install and manage these products. We recognize we’ve had gaps in this regard on our classic in-app API platforms and this is one of the primary issues we’re aiming to address with UXP.

With UXP, it will be incredibly easy for Photoshop users to install and manage your products. Stay tuned; we’ll have more news on this front.

Second, user experience isn’t just for the host app; creatives want first-class UX when using extensibility products too. Photoshop users don’t want to wait for under-the-hood operations like loading heavy JavaScript engines or the execution of blocking API calls. And they feel most comfortable when interacting with UI that feels familiar in Adobe applications.

To this end, Photoshop users will benefit from tremendous performance improvements when using extensibility products built on UXP, compared to those built on our classic JavaScript API platforms. Part of the performance gains come from the fact that UXP doesn’t need to load a whole browser engine like our platforms in the past have, and load time is snappy. Further performance gains come from the fact that the new host app APIs in Photoshop are running on a modern JavaScript engine, opening up the possibility for your code to run faster.

From easier discoverability and simpler installation of extensibility products, to user experience enhancements like improved UI and performance gains, there’s going to be a lot for users to love about products built on UXP. And there’s a lot more to come; we’re just getting started.

Be the first to know

We’ve got big plans for Photoshop extensibility this year. To summarize:

✅ Modern web technologies for easier development and faster performance

✅ Native look and feel for improved user experience

✅ Better discovery, install, and management for your products

✅ Ability to impact creative work for Photoshop’s millions of users

Photoshop will be launching with UXP and reimagined host app APIs in the fall. Before the APIs ship, we’re looking to work with a small number of developers who can test early versions of the APIs, give us feedback, and be among the first to extend Photoshop with UXP.

We’d love to talk if you’re ready to port your existing Photoshop add-ons to UXP APIs or if you have a great idea for a new Photoshop feature you want to deliver with UXP APIs.

Fill out our developer interest survey, and let us know if you’re interested in early access. We’ll be in touch with a few developers to test our alpha and beta UXP APIs.

Photoshop UXP APIs — Developer Interest Survey (Click to access)

If you’re an existing Photoshop extender and have questions about the future of the technologies you’re already building on, our FAQ is a good place to start. We’re here if you have further questions.

Thanks to Kerri Shotts

Ash Ryan Arnwine

Written by

Sr Mgr, Developer Experience and Evangelism for the Adobe Creative Cloud Developer Ecosystem.

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