During web development it's only really necessary to chop, crop, extract layers and save as PNGs, etc.

A web developer will only use a tiny fraction of a tool like Photoshop.

Photoshop as a tool for a graphic designer is essential, but is there a simpler tool that satisfies the requirements of someone who is converting the design into CSS, HTML and JavaScript?

  • Have you tried GIMP? I haven't used it, but it's free and may be simpler. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Jul 25 '13 at 19:33
  • Could you be more specific to what you're trying to do. Are you trying to layout the interface and pages into a grid template and such or are you solely trying to take an existing template and snag the assets out of it? – Ryan Jul 25 '13 at 19:54
  • People who use fireworks usually rave about how much it's improved their workflow after years of using photoshop. I stick to photoshop for now, because a lot of my work tends to be much more detailed, but I've had plenty of instances where something quicker, made purely for cropping, extracting, and creating quick, slick, UI elements would come in handy. It's not free like gimp of course, it's part of the adobe suite. Gimp on the other hand, I haven't heard much about for or against, if anything I just assume a lot of developers use it because it meets their basic needs and is free. – Eric Jul 25 '13 at 20:03
  • Adobe's decision to kill improvements to Fireworks was terrible. – Adam Schuld Jul 25 '13 at 23:45
  • @AdamSchuld Didn't even realize they were phasing it out. Think that's to do with the quality of the product, or the number of people that actually use it compared to the rest of the suite? Like I've said, people I've heard say they use it, rave about it, but there are probably one of those people for every ten that just use photoshop. – Eric Jul 26 '13 at 18:07

Adam's right, Illustrator kills Photoshop for design development. But it's still not so hot for a developer just looking to slice and dice.

The best solution is to stay out of it.

Ask the team developing the design in Photoshop (or whatever) to export the graphic assets and provide general CSS instructions for all the other design details like standard colors/gradients and type settings that will be handled without graphics. If they don't know how to do that properly, you need new designers.

In the oft encountered imperfect world, you'll have to find a fallback.

If you're literally just slicing things for export, I'd recommend GIMP. Not because it's easier than P'shop (it's not) but it is free. That goes a long way toward easing the pain of not using the whole tool.

If you have to dig around in the layers and flip things on and off to get to the assets you need, I'm afraid you're stuck with P'shop. In that case, you could try requesting an export of the full PSD with extraneous layers turned off. Then you can get to the required background elements and stick with just a slice and dice approach.

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  • Uninstalled.... – Adam Schuld Jul 25 '13 at 23:46
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    Behold the power of delegation. – Bennett McElwee Jul 29 '13 at 2:43
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    The only tool within PS that I don't do in Gimp was build animated banner ads. I'm pro-Linux, so usually am in inkscape and gimp. – Chris K Jan 31 '14 at 23:26

I was on the same page you were a month ago. I'd say my strongest skill-set is in Photoshop, but I switched to Adobe Illustrator to speed up my web design workflow.

I could summarize all the benefits that allows me to make speed a priority, but it wouldn't be nearly as complete as if you just read this from Smashing Magazine

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    Not to say that you are wrong, but isn't that just replacing one advanced program to another equally advanced program ( considering that he was looking for a "simpler tool" )? – Joonas Jul 25 '13 at 18:51
  • You're right. It isn't a simpler tool, overall. Illustrator, like Photoshop is vastly complex, but it is a simpler, more intuitive process. For example, it makes wireframing less of a headache. It's easier to make elements modular by including them in a symbol library. I guess the main point I was trying to make is that it is streamlined and less complex in terms of the knowledge you need to make web designing useful to you. At least in my experience, Photoshop makes you dive in no matter what it is you are designing. – Adam Schuld Jul 25 '13 at 18:59

If you're working with designers or a process that still relies on the passing of PSD files to you, then you want to still use PhotoShop, as you will likely want to tweak things as needed from a pragmatic standpoint (example, sometimes an image is using visual elements that you can better do in CSS, but still need a particular layer/'part' of the PSF file).

Ideally, PhotoShop wouldn't even be a part of the flow other than to ask for some icons or such.

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