"Adobe Love" from Jeffrey Zeldman

After admitting that he’d viewed Adobe as a company “slowly leaking relevance… like a beloved but somewhat shameful old uncle,” Jeffrey Zeldman (one of the most respected voices in Web design & standards, in case you didn’t know) writes about how attending this week’s MAX event spun his perceptions 180º:

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…

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.

Obviously there’s a wide range of reactions to Adobe’s moves to Creative Cloud. I’m glad to see such a strong, positive response from a thought leader from the design community.

25 thoughts on “"Adobe Love" from Jeffrey Zeldman

    1. Exactly. Jeffery is welcome to come to my studio and convert thousands of PSD files over to a non-proprietary format so I can access my intellectual property when I find I can no longer rent Adobe’s software monthly for the rest of my life. Adobe’s software is great. Their business plan sucks, at least for the consumer.

  1. That’s exactly it. After watching that keynote I was more excited about software and the direction Adobe are taking than I have been for many, many years.
    Spring in my step and all that jazz !!

  2. John,
    I can’t speak for everyone else, but I do have a lot of respect and admiration for the folks working on these products. The passion is evident. I’m still in awe of the many refinements PS got with CS6 and while Illustrator had it’s improvements under the hood, it’s a joy to use compared to CS5.
    The move to Creative Cloud is a different reaction to me entirely and my disappointment in that decision is directed towards the people that made it (and somehow I doubt it’s the product teams that did that).
    Sadly, the anger around Creative Cloud has overshadowed the good that came out of MAX. Also, given you and some of the other Adobe employees who are more public faces are inevitably going to catch a lot crap from angry folks. Where is Shantanu Narayen’s blog? 🙂
    Mixed reaction for folks like myself. The product teams are doing great! Just not all of us are excited about the “other news”.

  3. With all due respect, it seems to me that Jeffrey Zeldman has had his head shrink-wrapped. Out here in flyover country, it is not the happiness of Adobe employees that concerns us; it is the happiness of Adobe customers that concerns us. The level of the latter ultimately sets the level of the former.
    Winston Hendrickson, repeat after me: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” (Walt Kelly as Pogo)

  4. i’ve felt the same way for about the last year it’s like the old days with Adobe in regards to innovation. Awesome stuff, keep it up!

  5. June 17 is when the new CC apps become available. It will be very interesting to see what happens.
    BTW, did everyone see the great new features in Pixelmator upgrade? Not a PS killer by any means but if your needs are relatively few and you’re looking to make a statement to Adobe it might be a reasonable alternative. Combine it with Quark and you’re a long way down the road towards decent design tool set.

  6. Know my bias. I’m a CC fanboy.
    To my ear, the complaints are not about the CC functionality or even about its real cost, they are about the loss of perpetuity.
    For anyone who is keeping their versions current, (and not bootlegging software across multiple platforms), the math tells me that with CC you get more for about the same cost or, in some cases, less.
    (I did a three year projection, assuming two release cycles, and for me it was a no-brainer. In addition, the monthly payments are a blessing. They have allowed me to buy into features I never would have dreamed I’d be able to afford. I’ve been able to project my costs with more certainty and budget accordingly).
    On the flip side, it seems to me that perpetual licenses give security to folks who are on the margin or work with erratic cash flows. The value in perpetuity is the comfort in knowing that no how bad business gets, one’s business tools are one’s own. That is, I will not lose my shop because Adobe “repossesses” my software at the end of the month (and when I need it most).
    I know the financial guys love to smooth out cash flow and stabilize projections. I wonder, however, if Adobe has ever considered a “subscribe and scram” option. Such an option would allow a shop to buy an extended subscription (18? 24? 36? months) when times were good. Doing so would provide security for a substantial amount of time. The option might include the option to renew mid term, to “put more money in the meter” so to speak.
    Sort of a semi-perpetual arrangement. 🙂

    1. How about this…pay for a year of CC up front, at full cost, get cs6 in perpetuity. No further upgrades to the tools, but cs6 as fall back.
      Here’s another one…allow for CC lite…any two products (plus all the other stuff folks aren’t quite sure they want just yet) for 24.95/month.

    2. That’s certainly one way to think of it, and for a business (whether a company or an individual) it may well make sense. But one statement you made strikes a chord:
      “no [matter] how bad business gets, one’s business tools are one’s own”
      What about those of us who are not in business at all? Photoshop for me is a hobby tool. I have never upgraded every single major release, but I have paid for upgrades when I can or feel like there’s value for me. This is typically every other major release. It comes out to about $200 every three years. There is no CC plan that even comes close to what I’ve had up until now.
      If I’m going to invest in a non-business tool, it must be my own to keep using as long as my computer keeps ticking.
      I suspect that there are a lot of folks like me. $200 every three years is not that much, but it seems like it could add up if there are a lot of us. But with this CC move Adobe has made it clear that they’re only interested in their business customers, not their serious hobbyist customers.
      CC may be great for an income-producing business, but if you’re using Adobe products for fun or for a nonprofit organization or to help out with artwork for local or school events/bands/etc., then CC does not add up.
      The message from Adobe is clear: their bean counters don’t think people like me are a significant part of their business. For their sake, I hope they’re right. For my sake, I’m just bummed out.

      1. As I note at the top of mine, my comments assume one is staying current with versions. I understand the issue if you are stretching versions and purchasing sporadically.
        Interestingly, I was purchasing as a non-professional until I went to CC last year. The difference between us is that I was keeping my versions current. (Closet geek here). I did my cost/benefit based on my “hobbyist” costs. (I sell my art work but I’m lucky if I pay for my annual ink costs).
        The surprise was InDesign. I never would have paid to try it. I found it so useful on the business side that I was able to shift the cost for CC out of my art side and into my business side. I recently was able to wrap an InDesign component into a project and pretty much pay for CC for the next two to three years.
        I realize that not everyone has the “luxury” of being self employed and shifting costs in this way. (I put quotes around “luxury” as it means I can take as much unpaid vacation as I want). 🙂

    3. There is quite a lot of misinformation out there on the web. Those who love CC think that those who don’t are just mere hobbyists or we are casual freelancers who do not use the software often enough making it all the more expensive. There is also the belief that if you are a professional using CC than the subscription model is more affordable. This is simply not the case.
      My small business upgrades every 2-3 years depending on the new features, if we need them, want them, make sure we have the necessary hardware and workflow, and often just wait until some of the initial bugs are worked out. We have multiple suites on multiple machines. With the “team (business)” plan our costs will increase almost three times what they are now. In addition to the upfront increased cost, Adobe can change their pricing structure at any time after your current contract period is up.
      If we would decide to leave CC for another software suite, all of our files created on CC (with the new features) would become useless, unless we paid the Adobe tax to access them for a month, say to work on an older client project. But this would become a never-ending cycle.
      I don’t see how any business owner could see this as a smart move and after finding this out and reading some of the Terms and Conditions. The user has absolutely no rights, whatsoever. Adobe can interrupt service at anytime with no consequence, offers no recourse or refund if the software is unavailable for a lengthy period of time, can choose to delete work from the cloud if it is deemed objectionable, and I’m sure additional concerns will come to light the more people start to get educated about the move to CC.
      I am not out to hate Adobe nor the software that enables me to create and run a business, but as a business-owner it’s not in the best interest of my company, clients, nor bottom line to move forward with this model that is a Cash Cow in a social media networks clothing. While this model maybe a godsend for those who were born on a social media network, my concern is to create the projects that allow me to put food on the table, get them to my clients for approval, and move forward on the next one.
      Software as a Service works for Netflix and Spotify (for now) but not with the tools that people use to make their living. I can see my tool box getting more crowded, and not because I have access to the entire Adobe software suite.

  7. It’s great that Zeldman is excited about Adobe.
    I am not excited anymore.
    Actually, at Smashing Magazine (where I work as editor)… we’re not so excited about Adobe lately.
    Two reasons:
    1) I will not RENT Adobe software, sorry. I’ll say “good-bye” to Adobe after version CS6. I prefer to own software, not rent it. My CS6 Master Collection works just fine.
    2) Adobe, you killed Fireworks and you will not update it anymore. So, goodbye! The only reason why I might want to have access to the latest version of Fireworks in the Creative Cloud… has gone “Pouf!”. You will not update Fireworks — the only perfect tool for UI/UX design, that is so much more powerful than Photoshop or any other tool you develop… so, really: goodbye!
    Luckily for all of us who need and want Fireworks: Others will soon come up with better replacements for Fireworks. They won’t charge for their software monthly, and it will be much better than the “behemoth” Photoshop.

  8. With CC you are charging most of us for tools we don’t need. Dreamweaver? Flash? No thanks. I’ve watched Paul Trani’s presentation on Lynda.com … Well at the age of css preprocessors, totally useless.

  9. I pay for upgrades to CSPS and have bought every one since CS2 and skipped some before that all the way back to PS3. I am not making a living off Photoshop and so this is a hobby expense for me.
    One major issue I have with this model is the pricing uncertainty, yes I can get PS for $10/month right now and at that price it costs me about the same as the upgrade cycle price. But at the end of the year what will Adobe do? Jump that one product price to $20? That makes my 18 month cost $360.
    You would make this a lot more palatable if you sold an 18 month subscription to one product for $200. And for people who pay for that 18 months at the front, would end up with whatever the product develops into at the end of that period, to keep. A rolling upgrade to a CS7 version in other words.
    But as is you are charging more (most likely) and delivering a LOT LESS. And to make it worse you are doing this early for people who just bought CS6 a year ago.
    And I don’t want to hear the lame story that you are giving out more upgrades, because ACR patches frequently included new capabilities. And there was also CS5.5 which was a no cost upgrade.

  10. I have never rented software, and I never will. It’s like renting vs. buying a home. If you rent, at the end of whatever period you choose, you have nothing, no investment, no equity. Same with software. When you rent, you have nothing at the end of your payments.
    If anyone wants an alternative to Photoshop, I’d suggest looking at ACDSee products. Their Photo Manager Pro (at $60) is second to none, and they have two photo editors that make Photoshop look like amateur hour. ACDSee Photo Editor 2008 is basically for non-professionals and does just about everything that Photoshop does, and better.
    ACDSee Canvas 14 is for professionals, and at about $600, it runs rings around anything Adobe has ever produced. I don’t know what GIS is, but for another $200 you can get complete GIS support in Canvas 14.
    The best way to get Adobe to change their policies and predatory pricing practices is to vote with your feet and spend your dollars elsewhere to get better products cheaper.

  11. in my opinion you are a POS jack…
    look at dprevirew and count the positiv voices.
    thats reality!!!

  12. Nobody doubts the merit and innovation of the Adobe technical team. It is the business and marketing leadership we question. Having said that, this person is obviously part of the Adobe groupies team seating in his ivory tower won´t have a problem either paying up, or having Adobe bend backwards to please him. He doesn´t represent us.

  13. I am a “serious” hobbyist who has bought every PS upgrade since forever, but I will not subscribe to CC. In addition to all of the other complaints, I simply refuse to add one more monthly subscription fee to all of the others (telephone, wireless telephone, ISP, wireless data, cable TV, Netflix, Hulu, TiVo, investment advice, magazines, etc.), especially when as I see it, PS is a tool, not a service. Will I next be asked to pay a monthly fee when I buy a power drill at the hardware store (new drill bits every 6 weeks included)? In my mind, all of the other fees are for ongoing services, whereas the Adobe CC fee is for a product, where the services were for development and were completed at the time the product was offered for sale. True, there is on ongoing maintenance aspect, but this is insignificant and not enough to justify a monthly fee. So, the problem for me is conceptual; Adobe is straining credibility by describing its software as a service (by emphasizing the now compulsory updates as the essence of what it offers) in order to convert an uncertain and irregular revenue stream into a more predictable and smoother one. The knowing falsity of this characterization only gets me angry, and is one more reason why I refuse to pay tribute to Adobe simply to use a tool.

  14. I think Adobe is making a mistake with the subscription process but I’ll go along for as long as I can afford it but if you want to know what really sucks about Adobe, try dealing with Customer Support. I’ve been 6 weeks re-opening my case and only got a solution when I tweeted to Adobe Care.
    You think you’re getting negative comments now, wait until people start getting notices that their subscription has run out and can be renewed at the wrong price when in fact it hasn’t run out. Then spend 6 weeks trying to get it fixed. Bad customer support will drive off many more than the subscription policy. John, if you want details, I’ll send you the case number.
    [Sorry about this, Art. Yes, please send me the case number. –J.]

  15. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s just remember that the only innovation to come out of Adobe has been: PostScript, Acrobat and inDesign, and they took years to get that right. Everything else has been bought in.

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