Adobe Love

I CAME to AdobeMAX in Los Angeles to give a talk to a room full of designers. Before arriving, I thought of Adobe as a historically important 20th century company that was slowly leaking relevance—a company web designers in the era of responsive design have begun to think of with a combination of fondness and embarrassment, like a beloved but somewhat shameful old uncle.

I came to LA with those perceptions, but I leave with the impression of an exciting 21st century company in emergence.

Realistic products for a magical age

The products I saw were both amazing and realistic. It was amazing to see a responsive design prototyping application that works independently and inside Photoshop, created by passionate people who actually work in our field and who consulted with Ethan Marcotte, for Pete’s sake.

That was the amazing part, but the equally important realistic part was that nobody was pretending this tool would be used to deliver final code on your website. It was not a responsive Dreamweaver I saw, but a prototyping tool, to help designers figure out how their responsive design should work (and maybe show the prototype to a boss or client for approval). Just prototyping. Nobody pretending they had a product that would make the difficult craft of front-end design redundant. No such intention behind the product. A product for the real work-flow of 21st century design teams. No marketing puffery, no inflated claims to set designers’ teeth on edge.

We are now them

More than that. Every Adobe employee I saw seemed to be excited, happy, and on-board with the mission. I see that kind of energy at good startups and small studios. I never see it in big corporations. It sometimes seemed to me that Adobe hadn’t so much acquired Typekit as the reverse: that the people and thinking behind Typekit are now running Adobe (which is actually true), and that the mindset of some of the smartest consultants and designers in our industry is now driving a huge corporation.

I never expected to see that in my lifetime, and to me, it is even more impressive than the amazingness and realism of the new product line or the transformation of the company from a shrink-wrapped product manufacturer to an inventor of cloud-based services. I never expected to see people like us running companies like that.

It makes me feel good about the future, when so many other things conspire to make us feel the opposite.

60 thoughts on “Adobe Love

  1. Wonderful! It’s great to see you share these positive thoughts when so many are criticizing Adobe’s decisions. You encapsulated the excitement I felt while watching the AdobeMAX livestream. I’m excited about their future.

  2. And there you hit it on the head. All the edge tools are excellent prototyping tools and yes, nobody from inside Adobe has ever made any bold statements that these tools are intended to create production code.

    I’ve played a few times with reflow and animate over the last 9 months and I found that for designers these are great tools that allow you to quickly define where you may encounter problems in layout with fluid systems. I mean seriously, what has everyone been complaining about for the last few years? Tools that are suitable for the job right? Well if this isn’t Adobe delivering on that need in the industry I’m sorry, but I don’t know what is.

  3. I really appreciate hearing this coming from you. I have been concerned with the atmosphere of Adobe products/services as of late, but hearing this assessment of their “core” really gives me hope! I look forward to seeing what the future holds and hope they continue to grow and thrive.

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. the thing is, people like *us* don’t *run* the company. profits will win out every time. for example, the mere fact that adobe owns typekit will hinder many foundries from offering reasonable webfont licenses for purchase in perpetuum.

  5. I’ve worked with Adobe for awhile and I feel the mindset you’ve outlined here has existed for some time. I always have had the impression that people at Adobe are excited about reaching out to the creative community and building tools that help them do more.

    I actually think what has changed in the past few years is Adobe is now more nimble and doesn’t wait 18 months to release a new box of software. Being nimble like this is more important in web development now where techniques are always improving and tools are being put online for us all the time. Creative Cloud is a catalyst for this change, and it has made Adobe a very different company than what it was in the 1990s and early 2000s.

  6. I don’t share your optimism. They’re still the Microsoft of graphics software, employing lots of smart people but stifling their creativity under a blanket of management and marketing.

    Occasionally great products will slip out from under the blanket, but those will be in spite of company culture, not because of it.

  7. I’m a 44 year old designer, I love my computer, technology and until two days ago, Adobe.

    Illustrator is the cornerstone of my business, followed closely by Photoshop. I upgrade my software when I’m ready and when I feel the next version is suitable to my business needs. I do not need the entire cloud for my business. In fact the talents of myself and those I hire are more specialized these days rather than diverse. I can imagine that there are only a handful of people out there who are competent with the entire line of CC applications. Having them all at my fingertip is of no benefit to me as a designer and the idea of $50/month to have that leaves me cold.

    I’m glad that you feel like an insider with the company, and why wouldn’t you, being invited to speak at their event. For me the company whose products I have used every day for 20 years has now turned its back on me. As a loyal CS user I’m shocked with the way it seems that Adobe thumbed its nose to us almost overnight and made me feel like I don’t matter. It is an “assimilate or go away” attitude that I resent. My proposal is they can keep the Cloud, roll out the updates and then allow us “outsiders” to purchase our perpetual licenses every 12-18 months to a stable version that will stay compatible with the latest versions. Unless that happens I will continue with CS6 and look to other suitable options out there that will sure to come to market. Perhaps this new model will open the design world up to new choices and competition that will give us designers better products in the end instead of being locked into the Adobe monopoly.

  8. Stone, your comment makes me feel like I’m missing something? How is $50/month, which comes out to $600/year to always have access to the newest version whenever you want it, worse than paying $1100 every 12-18 months for a perpetual and static version? It seems like this is a better deal for users, I’m not sure how it works out better for Adobe.

  9. There are benefits to having access to all the components of the cloud even if you have a specialized area of expertise and consequently use only one or two apps most of the time, e.g. InDesign and Photoshop. The company needs to make designers aware of those benefits so customers who desire them and have the wherewithal can embrace the new model.

    The company also needs to make single or limited groups of products available at a lower price for customers who prefer to work as they have always worked, using one Adobe tool to great effect, and not worrying about the rest. I agree with you and voiced those concerns to several well placed Adobe folks. My very strong impression is that those options will come, and soon. A huge amount of work went into making the launch date.

    When we launch a website, it’s always in beta, really; we keep refining it after the launch. That’s the nature of the web. And the same is true for apps. We launch them and then, over time, we refine them. It makes sense to me that the relaunch of a company’s entire business model would work the same way. Time will tell, of course.

  10. I agree with what JK said. Stone, I don´t quite get your point here.

    I actually use the CC version myself for over a year now – and I am no professional user with any of the products. But to have the full product line available either for a full subscription or even at a on-demand kind basis make the product-line finally available to me. I now can do what ever I want to or able to do with any of their products.

    How would that hurt the user? How would that use an agency? As JK stated: Am I missing

  11. Thanks for coming to MAX! I attended your talk and was inspired. I have worked at Adobe/Macromedia for ten years and we are certainly moving at a different pace and with changing philosophies. I am on the Reflow team and I am really excited to see that a good number of people are agreeing with our vision for this tool. At the same time, we are a baby and would love to continue to hear feedback from the community to grow and mature. If people have anything to say about Reflow, giving feedback is as easy as tweeting to @Reflow

  12. I agree that there is much innovation going on at Adobe and that there always has been. I also agree that mssrs. Veen, Veen, Carver, Mason, Brown, McBride, et al at Typekit are one of the better things to happen to Adobe in recent memory (and really to the web in general). But unfortunately I do not share your optimism. It’s unfortunate that Adobe has felt the need to steel itself against customer criticism in a way that leaves many longtime, loyal customers feeling as if Adobe sees them as an impediment, or as cranks. I suppose this can be true in some ways, but in other ways this is disturbing. It seems to me that Adobe is resorting to rent seeking, rather than leveraging its expertise in lifting up the creative community. There are those who would say that’s a ridiculous claim, and that anyone who would feel that Adobe owes its customer base anything is unrealistic. But from my POV, that’s just it- Adobe’s customers generally love Adobe products rabidly- but Adobe’s business and pricing practices are turning people off in a huge way. Time will tell, of course, but unfortunately I’m pessimistic that this is going to end well for Adobe customers in the long run.

  13. Stone said, “I can imagine that there are only a handful of people out there who are competent with the entire line of CC applications.”

    This might be the crux of the whole problem–how many users leverage the entire CC, vs just a couple products? Adobe’s research has suggested that designers and developers are taking on more tasks in the workplace and being asked to learn new software. Of course, there are others who don’t fit this trend.

    I personally use most of the CC apps.

  14. I feel you, JK. Web fonts is another example of software that continually improves if you license it via a service instead if buying it as a one-time download.

  15. Hello, Jeffrey,

    Sorry, but I don’s share your optimism. (And I’ve seen many things from inside of Adobe, from the simple point of view of a passionate beta tester, but this is another story.)

    “Exactly. Adobe now feels like a company that wants to satisfy people who make stuff much more than it cares about satisfying stockholders.”

    — Are you sure about that? How about pis**ng off thousands (!) of designers (and, in fact, Adobe clients!) who use and rely on a very important product in the Adobe portfolio: Adobe Fireworks?

    At the same time that Adobe announced they move to Creative Cloud only business model (no more options to BUY the software, now you can only temporarily RENT it), they announced the imminent death of Fireworks!

    See here:

    Over 700 people (!) already left a comment there, asking Adobe to re-think their bad decision and… so what? Nothing! As you would expect from a company that has no strong enough competition on the market. Such a company can easily ignore the needs of 10’000 or 20’000 of its users!

    Now, what’s more: Adobe do not own another product for UI/UX designers, that can compete today with Fireworks (as functionality, ease of use, and power). Fireworks has in a simple all-in-one package features that, combined, are unique and make the life of a UI designer so much easier:

    – pages/layers/states
    – master pages
    – excellent export + export preview
    – PNG8/24/32, GIF, JPG/JPG+Progressive, SVG*
    – slices, web layers
    – prototyping and wireframing
    – powerful vector tools and excellent bitmap editing!
    – vector masks
    – special vector autoshapes
    – superb gradient tools with easy live editing
    – symbols, rich symbols
    – styles
    – CSS3 panel for the properties of any shape on the canvas
    – export of live iOS prototypes*
    – export of responsive HTML prototypes*
    – and many, many other features
    (note: features marked with (*) are available with free extensions)

    So, what Adobe does? It discontinues Fireworks and asks the large userbase of designers using Fireworks to move to Photoshop, Illustrator or any other tool of their liking! But these tools cannot replace Fireworks1

    Btw, Edge Reflow? A Fireworks extension that made possible export of responsive prototypes right out of Fireworks was available since 2o11 (!) and… guess what? One of the Adobe guys who at the time was also running Project Fireworks is actually one of the guys… who works on the Edge Reflow Team today! Too many similarities? They are not accidental…

    To me, Adobe is a company of the past. It comes from the print world, and many of its products remain in the print world, even if they pretend to be part of the modern web world — like Photoshop.

    And Photoshop CC now will have “an amazing new feature — a rounded rectangle tool that can be edited”, this “feature” is something that Fireworks had for over 10 years! (And this “new feature” is blatantly copied from Fireworks!)

    Fireworks CSS will have a CSS Properties panel — well guess what, Fireworks added a CSS Properties panel one+ year ago, when Fireworks CS6 was released (!):

    Photoshop and Illustrator are constantly copying features from Fireworks, then Adobe announces “Fireworks has too many features that overlap with other products”?! But copying features from Fireworks to Ps/Ai/Edge… will this make these products replacement for Fireworks? No.

    For me, I plan to say “good-bye” to Adobe, and soon. I’ll be happy to. Without Fireworks, I see no reason to pay them anymore…

    Just my two cents…

  16. EDIT: “Fireworks CSS will have a CSS Properties panel”

    Of course, I meant: “Photoshop CC will have a CSS Properties panel” :-)

  17. Btw, I happen to work for Smashing Magazine, as editor of the Adobe Fireworks section:

    If you look at some of the articles we’ve published recently in this section, you’ll see how many amazing feature Fireworks has!

    And our readers are very, very passionate about Fireworks!

    It is a real shame that Adobe has such bad plans, to shut down Fireworks, when they really don’t have any app that can replace it…

  18. It’s encouraging to hear Jeffrey’s optimism about Adobe, insider perspective or not. I wish I shared those good feelings.

    From where I sit, it seems like Adobe has had a terrible shift in corporate culture. When I started designing professionally in 97, Adobe was a company that seemed passionate about designing useful tools for customers they really understood. Fast forward to the present, and what I see is a company bent on making money from enterprise products, satisfying shareholders, and generally following wherever their sales guys and marketing departments lead them. Where they used to be very engineering and design driven, they now seems totally sales and money focused. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve felt like Adobe really understood, much less cared about their customers. It’s also been a long time since I felt like Adobe was really delivering value in their products. I see more features, more bloat, and an ever growing price tag. I don’t see smart decisions being made at the product level very often. As a company, they seem really out of touch, and totally money focused. Remember that time Adobe and their CEO spent a lot of resources to run a whole campaign whining about Apple not implementing flash? In my mind, that whole unfortunate episode typifies what Adobe has become.

    I’m not the only designer who feels this way. All of my long time colleagues and friends in the industry share this view. A lot of us feel like Adobe charges way too much money for products that perform poorly, use too many system resources, and don’t deliver the value they should for end users who pay A LOT of money for their products. It’s really, really great to hear about Adobe bringing in passionate people who care about design, designers, and product teams that that know how to bring real value to their customers. Man, I hope this is the case. I’d love for Adobe to turn it around. In the meantime, they’ve got huge image problem to deal with in the design community. I hope they recognize that.

  19. @Michel- Who even uses Fireworks anymore. I only used it when it was part of Macromedia– once Adobe bought Macromedia I felt that Fireworks and Photoshop were too similar in a product and Photoshop outperformed Fireworks from a graphics perspective. Remember using fonts in Macromedia Fireworks? (Shivvvers.)

    Photoshop is the defacto digital photo editing program. It’s the gold standard. Sure, they might have improved some of Fireworks over the years but that was probably to keep a very small, very dedicated fan base intact– but let’s be real. Have you ever read a job description that required you to know Fireworks?

    And Adobe is doing some great stuff with digital publishing– so I guess their connection to print has come full circle since the web nowadays borrows heavily from print design and the same goes with digital publications on devices.

    I think Adobe should just stop updating Fireworks and leave it as an option to still use but, seriously– what’s it going to take for you to move to Photoshop already? Probably discontinuing Fireworks. It’s sad. But, it’s time.

  20. @Chris:

    You’re so far away from the truth! Obviously, you don’t use Fireworks.

    Fireworks and Photoshop don’t overlap at all, as features. And Fireworks is a much more powerful UI design app! Photoshop is great at editing photos, while Fireworks can do everything a UI designer ever needs, and do it in a faster, easier way:
    – prototyping,
    – wireframing,
    – sketching ideas quickly,
    – making interactive mockups with pages and hotspots (can Ps do this?),
    – export of iOS live prototypes (can Ps do this?),
    – Fw has rich symbols (where are rich symbols in Ps?),
    – Fw has a powerful vector engine (similar to the one in Illustrator) and yet, it can also edit perfectly bitmaps,
    – Fw has live filters that can be stacked, re-arranged and filters of the same type can be re-applied to the same object (layer),
    – Fw has vector auto shapes, that can be easily created, edited, and even extended,
    – Fw has superior gradient controls,
    – and much much more.

    Fireworks was created with the screen designer in mind, and Photoshop was created for photographers. This means Fireworks has less “bloat” and is a much more streamlined app. So it doesn’t support CMYK, print, 3D and it does not make coffee. ;-)

    But, at the same time, Fireworks is not only a powerful prototyping/wireframing tool, but you can also go with it from rough prototypes to refined final designs! Please, take a look at the following illustration , made by Isabel Aracama. It was made in Fireworks from A to Z.

    Photoshop is no gold standard at all. It is the cash cow of Adobe and that’s why they promote is so heavily. But Photoshop fails where Fireworks excels, and thousands of UI designers that made the switch to Fireworks can confirm that.

    Did you take a look at some of the articles we’ve published recently?

    You may learn a thing or three from them.

    And — sorry — but… what? A Rounded Rectangle tool touted as a new awesome feature in Photoshop CC? Sorry, but Fireworks could do rounded rectangles properly 10 years ago, at the time that Photoshop didn’t even know what a vector line is… This proves my point that Fw was from the ground-up built as a tool for UI designers. :)

  21. “Web fonts is another example of software that continually
    improves if you license it via a service instead if buying it as a one-time download.”

    I don’t see any evidence of this.
    And the premise is faulty – why is licensing a font as a service more likely to lead to “continual improvement” than buying it as as a one-time download?

  22. As I understood from people already using Creative Cloud, you still have to download the application (PS is around 1gb I was told), so basically they’re saving money in packaging and distribution. If the app components are permanently updated after that first installation, a monthly fee (which is possibly better for you if you are a freelancer) doesn’t seem like a bad deal entirely. More than that – knowing that sometimes connecting to the cloud is not without problems and technical mayhem – I imagine that only a small part of your workflow is actually done in the cloud. But then I haven’t used it yet – shouldn’t even be posting this :)

  23. BTW, let me add that killing Fireworks is an absolute mistake. It’s a tool that should be developed, not abandoned. It is the fork in the road that brings ‘web people’ to Adobe, they should write this in the walls of their offices.

  24. I love Photoshop and am curious to see how this Typekit works, but I also love Fireworks. Hope that it is not abandoned.

  25. Been using Photoshop since before it was Photoshop…waaay back…who’s with me? Aldus Photostyler/Micrografx Picture Publisher/anyone else remember these? :)

    I get the general idea of the cloud approach…and as someone who uses a ton of their tools (switching between premiere/after effects/in design/ps/audition etc. in one sitting, I do appreciate the one price approach, that’s why I bought the Master Collection.

    Given that this stuff is more of a hobby for me, it was very costly to drop $5k on the tools…I wish that Adobe would recognize this fact and grandfather those of us who purchased MC etc. for a year or two into the cloud…that would be a nice gesture.

    Anyways, I know this is the way of the future, but I can’t help but feel that once I move to the cloud, I will be subject to random (annual, I’m assuming) price increases, with my access to the tools dependent on the whims of Adobe sales and marketing. I’d rather know that there’s always a version that works in the drawer next to me, just in case…

    P.S. It’s really a disappointing decision that the Reflow etc. tools are now available to Master collection users for free. It’s unfortunate that they shove those into the cloud when they are easily provided to those of us who purchased MC CS6….


  26. @michael

    Thank you. well said. Fireworks is such an amazing tool it baffles me everyday to watch web designers, especially ones who put a lot of emphasis on UX and structure, use photoshop to mockup websites! Fireworks is a screen design tool, it’s what it does best, design things for screens. Photoshop is a photo/graphic editing tool, that’s what it does best, edit photos, create and edit graphics… It has the ability to do other things but would you layout a book in it if you had inDesign sitting right there? probably not. Why design a wireframe or even hi-fi comp when you have Fireworks right there? It’s usually people that have not spendt time learning it and seeing its potential which, I get, is hard when you have a robust tool like photoshop that takes a lifetime to learn and can “kinda sorta” do what you need it to do.

  27. Here’s the problem. With their new business model, there is no financial incentive to “Satisfy people who make stuff”. Those people will be paying monthly whether Adobe improves the software or not.

    The Adobe crew may be jazzed now, but what happens in a few years when revenue growth stalls because all the customers are now on subscription? The executives are going to start looking for ways to cut costs to keep profits growing.

    Since the ROI on adding new features is now *NEGATIVE* (or completely intangible), what do you think those execs are going to do? They will cut back R&D and upgrades to the minimum required to maintain market position, and lay off as much staff as possible to cut personnel costs.

    They may postpone some of that when they jack up the price of CC Complete and introduce package tiers (CC Design Premium), but it’s coming. Nothing else makes sense.

  28. ‘Comments are moderated’

    Great, thats why i see so less negative response to this. I too know a few ppl at adobe and they told me allot of other things than you’re saying. They didnt like this move at all. And now they have to deal with all the negative response from the community and are even affraid to lose their job because they know adobe can get pretty well hurt by this ridiculous move.

    I love technologie verry much, but this cloud thing is a bad idea for the consumer. Great for the investors no doubt, if you ignore the negative reactions from the users (and as a result the falling of adobe’s stock).

    Adobe underestimated the creative comunity. Its insulting really what they are trying to do here and they deserve what is commong.

    Have a nice day.

  29. It’s easy to see why you were excited by MAX 2013. You are a designer and not a developer. I talked to dozens of other developers at the conference and we were all on the same page. This was the “Creative Conference” and developers were frankly unhappy with the content of MAX 2013. Adobe used to have excellent server side tools like Cold Fusion which made it possible to build powerful database driven applications. I attended sessions for MUSE, Dreamweaver and Edge Reflow. The responsive tools were nice but why all these tools to do almost the same thing seemed fragmented and unnecessary. Adobe employees were great but no one could give me a clear answer as to what differentiated these tools from each other. In addition to the 3 above you can also use Edge Code, Brackets and Inspect to code and preview. There are now 4 products that start with the word Edge. This is sorta silly.

    Figtree Software is a training and development company based in DC and they have been an Adobe partner for 20+ years. The guys in their booth were also asking where was the content for developers. They said that based on the lack of a clear message that development was still important to Adobe they didn’t see getting a booth next year for the first time in more than a decade.

  30. @Michel: The overall level of your reaction surprises me a little.

    I agree that Fireworks has some great features and uses, but since Adobe indicated on the blog you linked to ( indicates that they’re developing something to replace Fireworks, it seems that freaking out is premature until/unless a time comes where we see a major product-line refresh (or the future equivalent) and no acceptable replacement or update for Fireworks is made available or apparent.

    I just find it all too likely that a new, freshly-coded product will come out from Adobe that includes the Fireworks feature-set alongside the new, revolutionary set they aspire to—especially with Fireworks alums working on web-related products (as you mentioned with the guy now on the Edge Reflow team).

    By all means, express your concern, make yourself heard – please! – but come down from the full froth. It’s just not necessary.

    (P.S. The FW info at Smashing Magazine is quite handy. Kudos.)

  31. Been trying to work in Illustrator CC today and am quite frustrated with a bug that won’t allow me to open an ai file from the finder. The file looks like it will open but Illustrator does nothing.

    I spent $800 last year upgrading to CS6. I then spent $1,110 to go to MAX and my participation there REQUIRED upgrading to the cloud before attending any labs.

    I wanted to wait to transition to the cloud after I got a good ROI on CS6. The cloud was included in the cost of MAX but then they lowered the price for CS6 users which made that bonus even less valuable.

    Now I’m stuck with buggy pre-release software that can’t even open a file. I think this is going to be a common experience now that Adobe’s business model forces users to use the cloud or nothing.

  32. @Exirtis:

    I see no clear signs that Adobe are working on a new product that will replace Fireworks.

    Today I rather see a big company (Adobe) stopping the development of an important application for many UI designers (Fireworks) and suggesting to its userbase to “move to other apps, like Ps or Ai or Edge tools or whatever”. To stop the development of an application before you have developed a better alternative, is quite stupid, IMHO. :-)

    Time will tell what’ll happen but today I am sure of one thing: new, better products for UI designers and developers will be invented by other companies, not Adobe. Adobe are now too big. Adobe have many interests but these do not include satisfying their customers and innovation, unfortunately.

    They have one goal today: profit. Profit at all costs. This is why we see all the changes lately — the move to CC payment model, the killing of Fireworks, the overbloated Photoshop (too many new features added with each new version to try to make people upgrade), and so on…

    Sorry that I am not excited by this big company anymore.

  33. @Chris

    “Photoshop is the defacto digital photo editing program.”

    Yes for *photo editing*, whereas Fireworks is made for UI design. Apples and oranges my friend.

  34. ‘Comments are moderated’

    Great, thats why i see so less negative response to this.

    James Bernard: Actually, all comments that have been submitted so far were published immediately, without moderation. So what you see is what I’ve gotten.

  35. @Michel

    I took a look at Smashing’s Fireworks section and admit that Fireworks is a much more complete product nowadays. I last used it in the 90’s as Macromedia so my position is outdated.

    I guess it’s still not relevant to me at this point and as Adobe probably sees that web developers who are designing assets are moving towards full HTML/CSS prototypes (like I have) and for one person teams (like me) Fireworks doesn’t make sense. But I guess it is good for a graphic designer who wants to mockup prototypes quickly without having to code html/css. It’s just not relevant to me and I think Adobe is seeing an uptick in HTML prototyping.

  36. I love Adobe and their products but really thought they could be falling off the map in regards to the new direction of the web. So glad to see that they are actually collaborating with people in the field to make some products that we (designers and developers) will really use!

  37. Let me dream a little bit. What if the leaders in this field would create a company that would produce tools as a alternative to adobe and not just “join” adobe…

    As for adobe: i think they should make all tools available for the cloud as well as for static use.

    just my two cents

  38. I, too, feel that optimism re Adobe’s future should be tempered with the reality of the backlash against the subscription-only model of Creative Cloud. Perhaps only a few thousand of Adobe’s millions of customers are speaking out strongly against the new pricing structure, but the damage to Adobe’s reputation and customer trust level will likely spread much wider.

    My strongest objection to Adobe’s current implementation of the subscription-only service is its requirement for total buy-in. As long as one pays the monthly fee, one can have access to all the amazing services offered; but the moment that fee isn’t paid, the creator loses the ability to open and modify his/her own files. “Pay in perpetuity” to access my own property (my files) creates, for me, a great sense of unease and anxiety. Should I trust Adobe, when Adobe has shown itself very capable of changing the rules of the game without warning (e.g. upgrade policy change in 2011)?

    This subscription situation is apparently unique to Adobe’s CC license; other subscription software allows the customer to continue to use the software after the subscription ends but the software is frozen and receives no updates and/or bug fixes, with no loss of file access by the creator. (Corrections appreciated…)

    As currently configured, Creative Cloud is very much a “terminator gene” service; pay up or die. It is this extortionate technique which I object to, and which I will not participate in.

  39. I came across this post from seeing it linked to on CodeProject. And read through all of the comments.
    I was glad to hear of Jeffrey Zeldmans reactions to the Adobe product direction. I worked for Adobe in the 90’s, in their IT department, and got access to all their products – which I really enjoyed. I upgraded my products after I left, however this was not my profession, it was more of a hobby and it was costing me thousands of dollars every couple of years to keep up with the latest version. I wrote the marketing director that they had to price these better for owners of the products – I had to stop upgrading as the cost was beyond my abilities to keep up. Then came CreativeCloud and a monthly fee that gave me all the tools that they make – and the key ones that I wanted to keep using (PS,AE,IL,DW) that would over a few years match what it would take to purchase a Master Suite – So I took the bait – I wanted access to the products that I value and this allowed me to make that cost take years instead of one big hit.
    I am a developer and the tools for doing development are important to me – however from the comments on ColdFusion as a developer tool – is not something I look for as tool – I have not ever worked with ColdFusion – nor do I expect to, the emphasis on Responsive Web design, and CSS tools, and JavaScript will be more in the areas that I will find important.
    The Adobe starting point was print, and then has morphed with the industry to be all media, and that seems only natural to have them in the cloud and enabling mobile developers, and designers.
    Adobe has created a few products that get a very short life span, and just die – they just do not take hold in the market place – and from a business perspective by having a steady income with CreativeCloud they can experiment with producing new tools. This new model also allows them to interact with the developer and designer communites by producing a beta product to get direct feedback from that community – so if you are not liking where it is going – say so – suggest improvements -make the new products better – what you will use – and what you need. Adobe has to keep its product value strong by continuing to improve their tools as the market changes – if they don’t the subscriptions will stop paying and they will stop growing. The fears of the employees losing their jobs -is part of the economy too – companies have to be looking at a bottom line – a ratio of Income to Expenses is a reality of doing business – it is how a company lives and breathes.
    If Adobe is giving you a value – you should be willing to pay for it – otherwise they will disappear. If they raise the price for CreativeCloud beyond what I can afford – they will lose me (and probably a lot of others too). For now – It meets what I am willing to pay for – and gives me tools that I feel I want to use in my development efforts, and for what I want to experiment with as a hobby. CreativeCloud to me made the Master Suite affordable – and gives them a more known income stream to budget with. I think that is a fair trade.

  40. “…if they don’t the subscriptions will stop paying and they will stop growing”

    @MarkM: True, yes, but once a creator has bought into CC subscription the penalty for stopping is very, very high: loss of the ability to edit one’s files. This penalty will grow as the years go by, as file formats are updated to make them non-backwards compatible to the last perpetually licensed product: CS6. A professional using Adobe tools will not be in a position to lose access to the tools essential to one’s business.

    So even if Adobe fails to live up to its promises, raises the subscription price to unaffordable levels, or otherwise makes the service a bad proposition to its subscribers, we really will have no alternative to continuing to pay—forever. Because without the monthly payment, there is no functional software. Even after spending many thousands of dollars for years of subscriptions, without continuous payment, there is no functional software.

    That is why I call this scheme extortionate: without continuous payment, the owner of a creative work is prevented from editing his/her own work, and will no longer be able to make a living from that work. No other subscription software works that way, from what I am hearing. Apparently Adobe is considering some kind of read-only format for exporting work from CC, which is a complete joke, if not an outright insult.

    As far as Adobe “disappearing” without monthly payments from its customers, I think that’s quite a stretch. Q1 earnings were over $1B US. Adobe already has a near-monopoly on its software, and having a captive customer base facing a high penalty for leaving only strengthens this monopoly power. Monopolies are much less vulnerable to market forces: what assurances do Adobe’s customers have that this near-monopoly will not lead to stagnant innovation, higher costs, and poorer service? Again, we are being asked to Trust Adobe on all this. I, for one, cannot afford to trust a single company with my livelihood.

    I was seriously contemplating joining CC as my CS5 is getting a bit long in the tooth, but this news of the termination of any option for a perpetual license has helped me decide that I cannot accept Adobe’s terms—the risk is too high.

  41. I was very happy and heartened to read Zeldman’s positive comments about CC. I have been subscribing to CC since 5-2012, and have enjoyed it. I feel that the deal is fair. People are talking about having to subscribe forever as if it is some kind of prison sentence, as if Adobe has some kind of ironclad monopoly. That just does not appear to be true. I think they will have to deliver the goods, and will want to do so. After all, one has an out every year.

    The actual cost of a CC subscription is the difference between what buying a license would cost, including regular updates, and the cost of the CC subscription. That is less than $600 per year, in my case it is about the same for a good many years since I didn’t qualify for any of the suite upgrades, having been only a photoshop and dreamweaver user for a few years.

    People should lighten up a little. The CC payment is a cost of living if you value the Adobe apps as part of your life. I do. Too much of the complaining I have been reading is starting to sound like complaining about the cost of eating, or of transportation. Be glad to be alive, to have the costs, to have the interests and the talents that lead to the costs. Otherwise, look for an alternative, and let us know if you find a better one.

  42. The company also needs to make single or limited groups of products available at a lower price for customers who prefer to work as they have always worked, using one Adobe tool to great effect, and not worrying about the rest.

    I agree. For folks like me who no longer freelance and who largely work in a text editor with Web browsers themselves as the design-rendering tools, there’s just no way to justify a $50/month subscription. It took me a long time to justify the chunk of change it took to purchase a license to CS3 way back when, and for now, that version continues to serve me well. I do think fondly of Adobe as a company, and will certainly upgrade to more current versions of their software when standalone versions with one-time pricing are offered.

  43. I will never enter their subscription program. I’m a small freelancer, so for me it makes sense to skip a new version of a software package. Adobe no longer wants me to have that choice. they are trying to take me hostage. Besides, they also killed Fireworks, a program I have been using since its inception. For these two reasons Adobe is a closed chapter for me. Excuse me for sounding a bit emotional, but I sincerely feel Adobe is scr*wing me over for a few extra bucks.

  44. @johan: absolutely. Adobe clearly wants to kill off its small-potatoes customers. Freelancers in lower-income markets, part-timers, the underemployed, hobbyists, small non-profits, community schools, retirees, etc., have all been thrown under the bus with the decision to end perpetual licenses. Creative Cloud is a great deal for enterprise, large design firms, and big educational institutions; a necessary buy-in for smaller design firms; and an utter disaster for everyone else.

  45. Adobe is primed to do some really powerful stuff. I like the overall direction their tools are headed.

    Keeping that prototyping intention in mind, these tools can be incredibly useful in the hands of someone trying to get buy in on newer techniques within their organization.

  46. Mr Zeldman
    Sorry to bother you but since I am starting in Web design and like I am very excited for the new Adobe tools and I would love to do it as Web 2.0 or Web 3.0 concepts, for it, Could you advice me about the Adobe best tools to make it?
    Thanks for your time
    Alejandro Castan

  47. @Bob: People should lighten up a little. The CC payment is a cost of living if you value the Adobe apps as part of your life.

    Unfortunate choice of words, that. When the underlying message is “Want to keep living? Pay the cost,” I really don’t want to “lighten up.”

  48. @David Wood, “cost of living” is a phrase common in English usage, that refers to the costs of day to day life, such costs as eating, entertainment, charity, books, the tools of your trade. I was responding to the light of Zeldman’s optimistic and hopeful post in the dark storm of unreasonably negative responses to the Creative Cloud switch. I value the kind of innovations he was describing and am having considerable fun with them. In no way did I mean, or could I (or Adobe) even be reasonably construed to mean: “Want to keep living? Pay the cost”. I was saying, and I believe what Zeldman was saying, is: “If you love tools that respond to your work and assist your creative process, then the cost of subscribing to Creative Cloud is a worth paying. It is great to be alive and to have the pleasure of doing something you love”. Don’t you agree?

  49. I can’t understand if edge reflow only for mockup, and not for getting the codes of html -css, then why they kill Fireworks, which can do all these things.

    Once you try to work in Fireworks you will never work in Photoshop. Fireworks do all things that Photoshop, Illutstrator and Reflow do.

    Adobe has just killed Fireworks and now taking its functions adds them to other programs like PS, Reflow, Ai…one function to PS, another to Reflow the next one to Ai, and so instead of one program, Adobe can sell or present 3 program, but even in this case they can’t replace Fireworks.

    Any way, I hоpe that Adobe will hear us and release Fireworks to open source. Please sign for it here:

  50. Death to Adobe BloatWare™!

    Fatter and fatter, slower and slower, buggier and buggier, more and more and more expensive. Screw these clowns. AnythingElse™, please!

  51. I know the move to monthly subscription model is hard for a lot of people to take. But the montly servie model is how a lot of software is moving. It gives you much more predictable operating costs. I know CC will cost me $50/month as opposed to wondering what upgrades will cost me every year.

    Sure, now I can’t choose to skip one of Adobe’s annual upgrades, but I do get other services I was paying for anyway (Typekit, Behance Pro, Cloud Storage). I’m intereseted to see if the enhanced collaberative services in Creative Cloud pan out.

    I know small feeelancers are worried about the monthly cost model and how it will effect their revenue stream, but if you’re not already trying to build monthly passive revenue streams thorugh service contracts, and subscription products you have bigger issues than “Adobe Extortion.”

    Those worried that the CC model will remove any motivation for Adobe to improve their products obviously don’t use any SaaS products. I can say that any SaaS product I’ve used is continually improved.

  52. First, Jeffrey, I am glad you are thrilled with the new direction Adobe is making. And coming from you it has weight, and I really want to believe it. We will see how things are turning now.
    I am a very old Fireworks user (more than 11 years). And I am completely with Michel on all what he said. It is the only Adobe tool I use every day, as a UI designer. I am skilled at many other things, and can use Ps, Ai, ID and AE with advanced skills. I have been buying the upgrades to my Master Collection. But the center tool of my stack is Fireworks.
    Anyway, what I actually want to say is what Theo said. I dream of having an alternate route. Of another company that challenges Adobe and not being bought up. A company that does not have the ballast of the past to carry around, and are lead by people like the folks at Typekit. The problem is that I am forced to stay with Adobe, because there is nothing else in sight. So they can do anything, and I will keep paying them. Even if there would be some alternative, I would still had to stay with them, if I want to interchange files with agencies, customers and colleagues. And that hurts, really.

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