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Programming Photoshop Plugins

Updated on December 9, 2005

Finding resources that explain how to program a Photoshop plugin is an extremely difficult task.

Why? Just because there is little information on the web.

Again, why? Well, most people agree that creating a Photoshop plugin is a gold mine area due to the popularity of this software.

I don't know if that is still true, but it was some time ago.

Anyway, no matter the reason, information on this subject is scarse and that's the reason of the existence of this Lens.

This list is a good starting point. As with all of my other lenses, it will be updated as I find more useful resources. Updates will be indicated in this section of the page.

What involves programming a Photoshop Plugin?

If you are an advanced programmer, you may find this list a bit basic, but if you are a novice programmer, a technically advanced or curious mind, or in charge of a Photoshop plugin development project, then the following list will give you an insight of what is needed.

  • Theory:

    - A basic to intermediate knowledge about how bitmap graphics work and a bit of color theory.

    - A basic knowledge of most common computer graphics algorithms.

    - Knowledge of commercial and shareware Photoshop Plugins available

    - Knowledge about Adobe Photoshop software and its plugins capabilities

    - Lots of research time to invest

  • Development:

    - For full featured plugins C++ is a must. Metrowerks for Mac and Unix. Visual Studio for Windows.

    - Some alternate solutions can be found for C and Delphi

    - Last, some basic solutions can be made through scripting languages.

    - Various testing configurations.

  • Plugin distribution:

    - Knowledge of Photoshop plugins installation

    - Insights of creating a Plugin installer

    - Demos, trials, copy protection and other distribution strategies

Graphics Programming Theory and Algorithms

The intention of this list is to mention just a few interesting graphics theory and algorithms resources that can be used in your Photoshop plugin programming.

Photoshop Plugins Development Platforms

This section will show you the different options available to develop a Photoshop Plugin.

Third Party Programming Services

Here are a few options if you want to outsource your project. Take into account that these companies will charge you high fees for outstanding results. If you are on a budget, you should try to hire a freelance programmer from sites like or

Promoting And Selling Your Photoshop Plugin

This is by no means a complete list of such a vast area as promotional and marketing resources. Just three examples to get you go. You should do more research, but as an starting point it should be useful.

Computer Graphics Programming Books

There are no Photoshop Plugin programming books on the market yet. But you will certainly need to learn Computer Graphics Programming to start developing your plugin. This is a short list of interesting books.


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