Critique on Slice Tool in Photoshop and Pixelmator

I've recently passed the mark of 500 sliced pages, so it is about time to stop and think about the tools I use. When I first started to work it was absolutely mandatory to support IE6 meaning that at least wast majority of the images in project had to be PNG8 or JPG and Slice Tool in Photoshop was of big help even though it has some problems.

Things have changed a lot since then.

With dropping support for IE6, Slice Tool became practically useless. We don't want to save slices with their background - we want to save individual page elements with preserved alpha channel. That operation requires rasterizing vector and text layers, permanently applying layer effects on raster layers, then copying resulting layer, creating new document, pasting it there and finally saving image with appropriate name. It's a very routine and annoying job.

The one thing that really surprises me in this situation is that Pixelmator, being awesome in every other aspect, just copied concept of slices. Of course they've done very nice job on making that concept look and feel good, but it didn't make it any more useful for modern web development.

So lets think about what modern Slice Tool should look like. I think the closest thing to what we need are layer and group masks in Photoshop. It would be cool if we could just attach one or more slices to layers and groups allowing us to save parts or whole layers or even stacks of layers with alpha channel. Another useful side effect of that would be a possibility of intersections of slices which is also impossible right now.

Unfortunately the only thing that I can do is to try and create a custom script for Photoshop which will automate some of the operations required to save image for web usage and hope that either one of developers implements revised Slice Tool.

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