Software

Adobe’s Software Development Teams Need To Get a Clue.

adobeYesterday I finally broke down and installed all of the software upgrades that Adobe’s Creative Cloud had been pushing on me since they were announced at Adobe Max. While the process of running the upgrades wasn’t painful (at first) it was time-consuming (and still is). So let’s get to this. If you haven’t upgraded yet, be prepared to spend a boat load of time being involved with this process. Not because the initial upgrade will eat your day, but because the aftermath will. Why? because the Adobe software engineering team failed to take into account that an upgrade involves more than just their base software. It involves all the third-party plugins, presets scripts, and additional add-ons that most of use to extend Adobe’s software and make it more functional.

The new upgrade installs completely new versions of the Creative Cloud suite. That’s right it doesn’t actually upgrade your existing software base, it installs a brand new version of each piece of software you use. Adobe, this is an engineering fail and let me explain why. By installing a new version of the software as opposed to overwriting the existing software you force me to spend hours downloading and reinstalling hundreds of third-party add-ons across 14 applications that were upgraded in a single move. Now I know I am probably an exception to the rule since I use more than the average Joe when it comes to your software suite, but even for people only using, let’s say Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, this sucks. For instance, I have to now download and reinstall just for Photoshop the Nik plugin pack, Topaz Denoise, Natural HDR, Luminosity mask scripts, all of the actions I had created for previous versions, and a handful of other plugins and scripts. For After Effects it’s even worse I have to download and reinstall the entire Red Giant suite, (Particular, Light Factory, Composite Wizard, Holomatrix, Warp, Text Anarchy, Plane Space, Lux, Shine, Starglow, 3D Stroke, Sound Keys, Mir, Tow, Form, Looks, Colorista, Primatte, and about 8 more), not to mention scripts like Ease and Wizz and about 10 others.

This is a giant time suck, and time is money.

Adobe is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to creative software. If you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, filmmaker, typographer, sound designer, videographer, or artist you probably use at least one Adobe product if not components from the entire suite, and you are probably using Adobe’s Creative Cloud to stay current. Like many of you, I have a love-hate relationship with the Creative Cloud. I love that it keeps me up to date. I hate that every time there is a major upgrade I have to go through this bullshit. I get that Adobe moved to the Creative Cloud set up to combat software piracy, and control versioning across a large distribution base. What I don’t get is why after 3 or 4 years of pushing everyone to use the Creative Cloud, no one at Adobe has figured out that their upgrade process truly sucks. It’s broken. The user experience after making the upgrade is pure crap. It’s a gigantic time suck, and it could be avoided. The thing is, when you are the only game in town, you don’t have to make things right for your customer base

The thing is, when you are the only game in town, you don’t have to make things right for your customer base. You just keep doing what you are doing, because the chances of being dethroned after 30 years is pretty small. Adobe if you are listening, and I doubt you are, I am going to spend the better part of a day completing the upgrade to CC 2017, because your software engineering team didn’t feel that it was important enough to create an actual “Upgrade” as opposed to a complete new install. A new install that left legacy versions of 10 applications sitting on my hard drive wasting space, and is forcing me to track down essential tools I need to complete my workflow and reinstall them.

I know there are alternative tool sets available, but like so many I have bought into the Adobe workflow, and have spent decades learning to use these tools to master my craft. For lack of a better term, Adobe has me by the balls, and they know I am too invested to give them up. Consequently, it feels as though they have stopped giving a damn about the total user experience which involves maintenance like upgrades, but hey they added some new features to Photoshop I’ll probably never use.

I wonder if I can send them a bill for the time I’ll spend installing everything else I need to make the current updates fully functional with my workflow?

 

UPDATE: Like pouring salt in an open wound, if you are a Mac user, all of the applications in your Dock no longer work so you get to spend additional time removing all of them and adding the new application updates back in.

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WordPress Are You Listening? Fix Your iOS Experience.

I just spent 30 or so minutes composing a post using the WordPress App for iOS on my iPad. As I was wrapping up I began to insert images into the post only to have about half of them fail. Apparently the latest update to the app has broken the insert image feature. If you select more than two, it will fail to upload all of them to the WordPress servers. Along with this, the app no longer posts to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

I have been a WordPress user for six years now, and for the most part a huge fan. When working correctly it is a powerful content management tool, that is far more robust than Blogger, or SquareSpace in my opinion. Note that I said “When working correctly”. WordPress if you are listening, you need to take note of the following constructive criticism.

About a week ago WordPress updated its desktop authoring environment with a new simplified editor. As the screen takes what seems like days to load yu are greeted with the juvenile “Beep, beep, boop” phrase. If and when the page finally loads, there are far fewer options than the old editor, a confusing UI, and a slightly cleaner look. WordPress must know that they have issues, because in the upper right corner of the screen they have a link that takes you back to the classic editing environment, which I have done every day since they rolled out the new set up.  This isn’t such a big deal for me, well not a big deal until they get rid of the classic editor and force us to use the new one. At that point I’ll probably drop WordPress and move on. Yes that is how much I dislike it.

I chose WordPress because it was billed as a professional tool. Because 6 years ago and earlier it had recieved so much good press and reviews from people y that used it daily, and because even businesses were using it do to the robust tool set and depth of professional themes. The latest update feels like they have rolled it back to amature hour. I get ease of use. I get clean simple design. I get streamlined UI. What I don’t get, is “Beep, beep, boop” and the removal or hiding of tool sets.

Now lets talk iOS.

WordPress for the iPad is a joke. There is no other way to say it. It’s horrible. The app is so bad that with each new update they break something new. In the latest version they broke image uploads, social media hooks, spell check, categories, and more. They failed to fix the ability to embed video from Vimeo, or YouTube.  With each update the iOS app has remained unstable, buggy, and feature broken. With each update WordPress says it has done “Bug Fixes”, but with each apparent fix, they have introduced even more.

WordPress in Safari, or Chrome on iOS is no better. The pages do not load correctly, even when you “Request Desktop Site” in Chrome. The editor simply doesn’t load correctly. Simple things like scrolling, and selecting don’t work. Embedding images and video is difficult, and the overall experience is just goofed. Even simple acts like selecting a line of text don’t work well. It’s so bad that if I have to use my iPad, i now have a multi-step workflow that involves drafts, and multiple apps.

The first step is to write all the text out in the Pages and copy the text.

Step two, go to the WordPress app, create a new post and paste.

Step three, save the draft.

Step four go to Safari and open the draft.

Step five embed video and save the draft.

Step six, go back to WordPress, open the draft, embed any images one at a time.

Step seven, select the image tag, cut, go to the insert point I want the image to appear and paste. (Yes the iOS app doesn’t embed images at the place where your cursor is. It embeds everything at the bottom of the post. Another fix needed) Save the draft.

Step eight. Launch Chrome, and spell check. Save the draft.

Step nine launch Safari, open the draft, and publish.

WordPress are you listening. This is an excercise in frustration. You need to step it up and fix your product. Fix it, test it, and then roll it out. Right now it feels like your dev team is just throwing crap at the wall to see what sticks.

I Need a Kill Switch.

I am a huge proponent of usability standards when it comes to software. I’m not advocating that everything be the exact same, but there are certain basic functions that should be included in every modern software package available today. Here at work, we have a software updater called BEAM. It is a home-grown software package that violates one of the most basic usability functions every software designer should follow. There is no “Not Now” button. What I mean by this is, there isn’t a button that allows you to cancel the updates, and there isn’t a function that allows me to schedule my update for a more convenient time.

Some of you are probably saying “so what? Does it really take up that much of your time?, and it is nice that your IT department checks to see if your computer needs updating or not.” Well folks here it is, I work with video and multimedia applications that require me to leave my computer on for days at a time. When I have an unfortunate incident where I am forced to restart (thank you After Effects for crashing my system), the last thing I want to do is wait for an update so I can get back to work. Especially if I am on a deadline.

I just don’t get it. I know that there is probably some thinking that says if we give them a “Not Now” button, no one will ever update their computer systems. Or maybe it’s a “This way we can make sure all computers have identical software loads which will minimize tech support issues”, kind of thing. I don’t know. What I do know is this. Every modern piece of software designed in the last 10 years that does automatic update checks has a “Not Now” button. That is good usability design. That is good software design.

Oh, look my computer just restarted. I’m going to wrap this up so I can get back to work.

Written on WordPress for iPhone.

Adobe Introduces Software Rentals “With Pay As You Go”.

Yesterday Adobe announced an upgrade to its acclaimed Creative Suite. While there were a bunch of things in the software that would get any creative pro excited, the biggest buzz generator for me was Adobe’s announcement to lease, or rent software licenses.

This is the first step that a software giant has taken to help offset my cost of working with their tools. Right now Adobe is offering Adobe Photoshop for $35/month, the Design Premium suite for $95/month, or the Master Collection for $129/month (for a year. It’s $195.00 on a month to month basis). While this pricing structure might sound a bit steep, think about the annual cost of renting the Master Collection versus Buying the upgrade. The cost of renting the Master Collection is $1548.00 a year. If you are a creative professional, that cost is offset as an operating expense, and can be either be deducted from your taxes, or passed on to your client.

While I am excited about the idea of renting software as opposed to buying it, I wish Adobe gave me the option to pay as I play. I own the Master Collection, but there are certain components I hardly ever use. Take InDesign, I fire it up about twice a month. Instead of renting the entire suite for $129.00 a month, it would be better if I could rent it at a lower price, and then pay extra for the software components I use occasionally like InDesign. Something like $80.00 a month for the Suite, and $5.00 extra when I fire up InDesign. (just a thought Adobe in case you are reading this)

As for the cost of renting, while that $1548.00 a year sounds steep, Adobe announced that they are moving to a 12 month release cycle on software. The upgrade cost for the Master Collection is between $549.00 and $1399.00 depending on what software you are upgrading from. The majority of the upgrade prices are $1399.00. Right now this is less expensive than renting for a year, but your purchase is a one time cost deduction, compared with a monthly operating expense. You might want to consult with your accountant on how much you can deduct, but I’m thinking in the long run renting is the better deal. And if you pass the cost of renting on to your clients, there is the possibility that your rental cost zeros out. if you work 8 jobs a month, the rental cost passed on to your clients is $16.12 per client a month, a charge most client will be willing to swallow. Think of it as materials and supplies, which is something you haven’t been able to do with software before.

As the new rental program moves forward, I’m sure the pricing structure will change. Hopefully the cost will come down as more people opt in for renting instead of buying. And hopefully Adobe will let you rent as you need to, rather than renting for a whole year. I really like the idea of being able to rent a software license when I need it, rather than locking into renting it for a predetermined block of time.

iPhone App of the Week.

A few years back Autodesk bought Alias software and with it acquired one of the best drawing applications around. “Alias Sketch”, now “Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.” It’s still a great app and if you haven’t used it I say give it a try. You can get it here.

What I am excited about is the new iPhone version that Autodesk released earlier this week. I have been using it for a couple of days now and it is one of the best drawing/painting apps I have seen for the iPhone.

The SketchBook Mobile App uses the same software engine as Autodesk SketchBook Pro, delivering much of the same power and functionality as the desktop application. It features a combination of high-quality digital pencils, pens, markers and airbrushes, as well as an artist-friendly, gesture-based user interface, that enables users to create everything from quick sketches to print-quality production artwork. I have been using it for about a week and it just rocks. It is intuitive and powerful, and a bit more robust than applications for the iPhone Like “Brushes”.

According to Robert Kross, Sr. VP of the Manufacturing Industry Group at Autodesk”Mobile apps are becoming increasingly advanced, moving beyond simple entertainment or utilitarianism. We are delighted to offer an app on the App Store for industrial designers and the creative community.”

With the SketchBook Mobile App, Autodesk continues its long-standing tradition of bringing cost-effective professional design tools to creative professionals.

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