Adobe WorkflowLab: Worth keeping an eye on

Adobes’ new Air application WorkflowLab is an attempt to simplify the process of introducing the stages involved in projects to team members, who may or may not have already tackled said projects previously. Yeah it’s a work flow application.

Having such a tool is a great way to make it easy for a new team member to hit the ground running, or anyone for that matter to have their hand held through each stage of development.

In this industry there is obviously a high reliance on Adobe products so it makes sense that Doug Winnie and his talented team got around to producing this app.

How it works

There are a handful of demo workflows already included but in reality they won’t match the way you work, so you’ll obviously want to create your own.

adobe workflowlab

There’s no rocket science here. Start by creating a new workflow and then simply add applications and annotations to each stage. You can drag them around the timeline and modify them at will. Save the workflow when you’re done.

A few nagging limitations

I’m not sure if this was an honest oversight or a deliberate omission. But there is no way to add any non-Adobe applications – or any applications for that matter. For example, one critical part of the workflow process might include documentation, which your organisation may do in MS word, Sharepoint or even an internal wiki. It would have been nice if Workflowlab allowed you to add your own applications to the applications & technologies list.

Another annoyance is that only Adobe CS4 apps are shown in the applications & technologies list. At the office we’re still using CS3, which means our artwork versioning is handled by Version Cue, not Adobe Drive as it’s now known in CS4. It shouldn’t be too much of a big deal as long as you make an appropriate annotation and the person following the workflow reads it. But the entire point of assigning those pretty little icons into the timeline is so designers and developers can get an idea of what they’re in for at a glance.

I’ve used the term timeline in this article but in reality there isn’t one. It would be extremely useful if we could have an actual timeline running along the top so that team members relying on the workflow have an idea of how much time they are expected to spend on certain parts of the project. Without an actual indicative timeline the assumption is that projects can take as long as desired, and that’s not always a business reality especially when projects are budgeted.

Hopefully Adobe will rectify these ‘issues’ in upcoming versions.

The conclusion

WorkflowLab looks like it could easily be an integral part of any team. I for one will probably start testing it for an easier transition when I bring in a new designer, to help guide him or her through our internal processes.

If you’re in a position where you’re responsible for your team and they currently have no consistent workflow process, it might be worth a look. Despite some of the aforementioned issues, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on it.

Adobe WorkflowLab is a free application for Adobe Air and you can nab it here.

Who is That Web Guy?

Michael is a veteran web designer / developer / usability evangelist, practitioner of W3C guidelines, occasional judge for the Australian Web Awards (2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014) and creator of Task Rocket.

  • Andrew

    I can see how this would be useful, but as a freelancer I couldn’t find a use for it.

  • Jasmine

    I’m still using CS2! It looks like a handy program even for a one man studio.

  • Angelina

    I’ve been using it this week and can see how it could be beneficial. The only problem is you’re forced to really think long and hard about what each part of the projects involve!

  • A Novice

    I’ll pass thanks…My work is pretty straight forward. Kudos for the tips as usual.

  • Mandy

    Hi web guy. I know this is off-topic but I just wanted to say thanks for the excellent tips. You are the man (guy?!)

  • Doug Winnie

    Hey there…

    Just stumbled across your article. I’m the product manager for Flash Catalyst — You should check out the new Beta 2, we added custom tool support in that version, and we added a new duration based grid.

    Check it out…


  • Doug

    sorry — meant to say that I’m also the PM for WorkflowLab too :-)

  • That Web Guy

    Thanks Doug – I knew I recognised your name. I will certainly check it out.

  • ScottFoley

    I’ve never used this before but will certainly check it out. Thanks for the detailed review.