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New Adobe Icons and The Periodic Table of Elements

Wow! After reading the comments on John Nack's post about the new Adobe CS3 icons, I'd say there are some design issues with them. I wouldn't think to post about it myself, except that they've compared these icons to a table of elements. Well, that sort of runs into my field.

Unfortunately, the icon designs don't work for me. The chemistry metaphor, doesn't either. This chemistry metaphor falls apart, mainly because the periodic table of elements arranges the elements according to their inherent properties, but the new Adobe icons seem to be grouped according to how the programs will be used. There is also a lack of information in the icon itself. The periodic table tells much just by how the different elements are positioned relative to each other, but also by how much information is included in each square. It's not just a square with a letter or two in it. I'd feel really sorry for chemistry students if that was the case.

The table is a way of organizing information, so that you can find it quickly. The Periodic Table of Elements is based on observation of the physical properties of elements and scientific experimentation. It's a way of organizing things that have different values for the same set of properties: atomic number, number of electrons, name of the element, atomic weight, and so on. Some tables are more detailed than others, but all show at least an abbreviation of the name and atomic number which represents the number of protons in the element's nucleus. To a scientist, the element's symbol is a mathematical symbol, and she uses it in her calculations of chemical reactions.

Is anyone at Abobe using the chemistry metaphor, or was that only in the comments? Either way, I think it's a marketing mistake. Adobe may not like this, but I think the Macromedia icons were much stronger from a design perspective.

They are very pretty colors, though :-)


My hope is that these icons are being used for beta purposes only. The first beta of Fireworks CS3 I downloaded had the same icon as Fireworks 8. Problem was that in my dock, these two programs were indistinguishable.

[Admin Note: comment originally posted 21 Dec 2006 08:34:32 -0800]

That would be pretty cool, if they're using this as a way to keep their products organized while they develop the final icons.

Still, if this is the new icon scheme, it won't be the end of the world :-)

[Admin Note: comment originally posted 21 Dec 2006 12:54:51 -0800]