In the keynote presentation for Adobe’s fall MAX conference, Adobe presented “a glimpse of the future of photography” in the form of a brief sneak peek of a new photography application under development, code-named “Project Nimbus”. The application has a modernized interface that is consistent with the Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web interfaces, with the goal being a seamless experience as one moves from desktop to mobile to web.
What we know from the sneak peek presented by Group Product Manager Brian Hughes:
- Nimbus is cloud-based (referred to as “cloud-native”) – all of your photos and edits reside in the cloud. This makes them available automatically to Lightroom mobile and web without the need to specify what you want to sync.
- Nimbus can do content-based searches of your photos. For example, if you type in “pier” it will search the content of your photos to find those that contain piers. This feature has been available as a technology preview in Lightroom web for some time. If it works well, keywording your photos will become less critical (but not obsolete – a content-based search might find all wedding photos, but not wedding photos of your niece.)
- The editing tools demonstrated are already in Lightroom.
In summary from Brian, “What’s really important to remember here is that everything I do in one place is available to me in other places – that’s a modern, cloud-native, non-destructive experience – from raw capture to pro-grade editing anywhere.”
In the Library view that Brian presented (shown below), we see that users have access to “All Photos”, “Recently Added”, “Dates”, and then user-created Albums, but there is no Folders panel as we’re used to seeing in Lightroom. This may be an indication that file management isn’t something that the user will have access to or control over. If this speculation proves correct, many users will be happy to not have to struggle with file management as they do in Lightroom, and others might be disappointed that they don’t have this control.
The app also appears to be very much streamlined and more straightforward. That said, it’s not clear how far along Adobe is in building in whatever features they plan to ship with it.
Brian did not address at all where Nimbus fits with Lightroom – whether it will be a replacement for it, a cloud-based version that will sit side by side with Lightroom, or a Lightroom-Elements-like program for photographers who don’t have a need for all of Lightroom’s features and complexity.
He also gave no indication as to when Nimbus will be available. Other apps demonstrated during the keynote were positioned as coming soon as a public beta, or to be released soon. Nimbus was instead presented as a sneak peek of something they’re working on.
If you’re currently learning Lightroom, I would suggest continuing with your Lightroom learning and plans, unless you’re willing to just stop for what could be several months to wait and see whether this new program will be a better fit for you. Given that the editing tools demonstrated were Lightroom’s editing tools, it appears that your learning in this area will be applicable in any case.
To watch a replay of the presentation, click on this MAX link, then look for the video titled “The Future of Creativity and Design – Photography”. The sneak peek of Nimbus starts at 11:30.