Thoughts on Adobe

Update

I stand corrected on my claim that Adobe Flash is the only authoring tool for Flash content. Please see Flash Magazine Open Source and free Development Tools for Flash

I am still correct in that Flash Player is still controlled by Adobe. This is less crucial than the tool from a creation point-of-view, but it doesn’t mean that I am wrong in asserting that Adobe still has a closed system, though claiming otherwise.

Jim Whimpey’s conclusion still obtains. (via Daring Fireball)

Supplemental to Adobe UI Gripes it’s worth taking a look at The Many Sliders of Photoshop CS4 and also it’s concise follow-up Slide Different.

Introduction

Hey this is fun. I am the CEO of Jon Whipple, Design Counsel so I am going to write an open letter too.

Dear Adobe,

I see today that you turned up the heat in the controversy over Flash on Apple devices. And even the founders (but not the current CEO) have weighed in.

You also sent me this message in email:

From: help_adm@adobe.com
Subject: Moderation status for your comment on Adobe.com
Date: 13 May, 2010 8:10:22 AM PDT
To: Jon Whipple

Hi Intricate Monkey,

A moderator has removed your comment to http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/835/cpsid_83578.html on 05/07/2010 because it represents a support question. Please contact Adobe Technical Support (http://www.adobe.com/support/) for resolutions of installation issues, basic usage questions, and troubleshooting unexpected behavior for documented features. For product usage and other support questions, you may also visit the appropriate Adobe forum (http://www.adobe.com/support/forums).

We appreciate your feedback. We encourage you to post contributions, corrections, and links that will help us to improve our documentation and support resources.

Thank you,

Adobe Community Help Team

So I checked the page and the several comments from other Adobe software users expressing a degree of exasperation and asking how their problem might be solved, along with my comments in the same vein, as well as my solution which described in specific easy to follow steps, how I was able to fix the problem had all been removed.

So let me get this off my chest, then I will detail a designer’s view of the entire situation.

Hey Adobe, fuck you and your insane hegemony

Hey Adobe, fuck you and your insane hegemony


As a designer and creative director, I rely on Adobe’s tools every working day. As an obsessive and driven individual I rely on Adobe’s tools every non-working day too.

The text setting engine in InDesign is pure Awesome, the power of Photoshop is staggering. These along with other tools in your Creative Suite products have provided a great foundation for me to learn my craft and my profession. And I am always happy to recall when I first purchased Illustrator 5.5 and embarked on my design adventure.

And of course it just so happens as you unfurl your battle flag and shout from the rooftops WE LOVE FREEDOM, you remove posts from your users in your community, for reasons that make absolutely no sense.

The Personal Part

I went to Adobe Support looking for answers to a problem I was having. InDesign CS5 would crash on launch. All the time. The others apps in the suite all worked fine (and dare I say, even felt a little peppier?) but InDesign would crash and crash.

So I went to your site and searched for any information about this issue. There wasn’t anything at the time (this was last week), but there were some general tips. I downloaded and installed the Adobe Support Assistant app which told me there was an error in the install log and provided the link to the Support page above. I went there and read the article. I also read the comments (that you solicited at the time on page – since removed) and found another individual was experiencing the same problem. I also expressed my frutration and said I was going to try the solution outline in that article.

Which I did and it didn’t work. I updated my comments on that article to say so.

I also kept searching for a solution. I eventually found a general article about troubleshooting crashing apps. I uninstalled CS5. I created a admin new user. I installed CS5. I launched every app successfully. That was good. But I wanted to use the software in my user profile not have to switch users to use any apps. I mean YOU WOULDN’T DO THAT YOURSELF right? I hunted around. I searched. I thought about the problem.

I did all this because there’s no real help on your support site. Calling you costs hundreds of dollars. Other people were feeling my pain, and I guess I’m a sucker, but I wanted to help them. And use the software that cost me 2/3s of a month’s rent.

So I finally worked it out. The preference file in my user’s directory had been installed with the incorrect permissions. I changed the permissions on this directory and everything worked fine. I returned to your Support site and added my discovery to the comments stating that this was my experience and that others might try it and benefit. I shared with with other designers too in different contexts. They all expressed general frustration with CS5, and Adobe, and those affected by this issue (although applied to different products in the suite like Photoshop and Illustrator) tried it out with varying degrees of success.

I will also say that I made the snide remark that you owe me $300 for my time and expertise.

And then you sent me this letter. I don’t feel so snide about that any more. I’m convinced of it now. Who do I send the invoice to?

So I will spell it out for you:

The people commenting on that item in your support site are your eager and hard-core users. They adopt your upgrades as you release. They don’t hang back. They lead the way and create momentum and you NEED TO HELP THEM if you want to sell more software (and we know you do).

The comments were in a Support page. You said to go to http://www.adobe.com/support/ so I did. You removed my comments “because they represent a support issue” and I should go to the Support pages. Whiskey Tango Fuck. That’s seems pretty nuts.

You believe that somehow all this makes sense. That’s a problem for you and your psychiatrist.

The Professional Part

It’s tiring to watch you guys try to defend Flash. It’s tiring and stupid.

You say “No company — no matter how big or how creative — should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web.” (from http://www.adobe.com/choice/openmarkets.html). I want to make Flash content but I can’t unless I use the tools you dictate. I want to watch Flash content but I can’t unless I use the tools you dictate. So you are in fact dictating all of these things.

And in a single respect I don’t have a problem with that. Flash is yours and it works a certain way. If I want what Flash offers, that’s reasonable. I don’t expect to be able to use Silverlight tools to create Flash content and I don’t expect Flash tools to create Silverlight content either.

But I do have a problem with you guys posing as virtuous defenders of freedom of/and choice. You’re a huge publicly traded company and you’re nothing about defending my rights and freedoms (except maybe my freedom to give you my money). You love choice so much you bought your only real market competitor so I couldn’t have choice.

So sorry guys, your arguments are straw men and ring false.

The End Part

Ultimately, all my content and design is governed by the limits of the delivery medium. Some have physical limits. Some have programming limits. Some have philosophical limits. As a designer, I am used to limits. Limits enable me to be decisive and to balance aspects of the things I make and do. So having the freedom to choose Flash is great. I just won’t choose it for iPhone and iPad content delivery. Having HTML 5 and other tools are great too. I just won’t choose them for when Flash is required. It’s pretty simple really.

Why not focus on user experience? Make installs really work. Stop adding features and spend time tailoring your apps to the platforms on which they run instead of homogenizing them. Create a new way to support your users, instead of having them support themselves and then pulling out the rug. Make your stuff better and better. If devices and platforms don’t support you, move on. Build your markets based on the awesome experience you are creating for everybody. Leave behind universality and focus on specialization. Adopt platforms, abandon platforms, move and make and do. Read this and fix every last thing there. Use it as a bug report.

If you want to fight, then take these words to heart: “To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” -Sun Tzu, the Art of War


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