Ecliptic Logo

Designers, beware from getting dependent on the Adobe Creative Cloud

By Thü Hürlimann
Graphics designer, illustrator and multimedia artist. Former Art Director of Macworld and Computerworld magazines Switzerland, illustrator and editor for Macwelt Germany.

Adobes Creative cloud promises to be a no-hassle solution for designers. Getting access to some specific or all of Adobes Creative software products including all the updates right away. In some circumstances, like for those who always followed each and every upgrade, this may even be a little bit cheaper as before. So, why should we not go along with it?

If you are at a deciding point right now, consider this:

More economic pricing? Compared to your habit of purchasing products and upgrades, even if the subscription model results slightly cheaper for you at the moment, we can with certainty count on rising prices in the near future. We all know very well that Adobe is top in abusing a dominant market position. It offers a moderate pricing right now, only because it's well aware that reaching a critical mass of subscribers is necessary in order to continue the dominant position it inhabits for the past years. Some customers already now made bad experiences not being able to cancel subscriptions or being forced into renewing (see Inchoate Thoughts blog). And I don't even begin to mention the bad experiences customers made trying to add or change licenses, see for yourself.

Are the programs on my computer? Of course it is not practical to download over 100MB of software each time you have to use it. In that sense it still works like before, the programs are stored in your local programs folder. But you have to be connected to the internet and confirm your license at least once a month, so you can continue using the programs.

Do I still own my work? If you decide to cancel your subscription, you also cancel access to your work. You could export your files for use in older CS6 or CS5.5 programs, but you have to do this before you cancel your subscription. You see the difference now: Before, you could install and use a program even years later and therefore secure access to the work you did with that version of that program. With Creative Cloud you only have access as long as you pay. You lose control over the files you created. What happens if Adobe gets wiped out or decides to cease operation of CC license servers? (Not uncommon with internet services). We see comments from CC users that once a CC app is installed, you can not use the CS versions unless you deinstall the CC program. And even if you saved a usually independent format like TIFF out of Photoshop, it is not a TIFF that can be read by the old CS Photoshop. So it seems, Adobe is already playing its tricks.

Your informations in the cloud? You don't need to store your files on Adobes server. But there have been reports from users who, over night, lost all their files in the cloud and locally and found themselves with the only hope talking to India based support who could not solve the problem, lost three months worth of work. Regarding privacy, it seems at the moment nothing from your work is being monitored by Adobe. But imagine, once it feels over confident again it will use its dominant position to force you into contracts that allow to monitor how you use the programs. You will not have control over the kind and amount of informations Adobe stores about you. Frequency of software usage? Working hours? Prefered colors? Mouse movements? Vector informations? Photoshop images? Remember: most big companies make use of any oportunity they have, without any ethical boundary.

Is my computer too old? You know the routine: New versions of programs need quicker hardware. Or newer versions need a newer OS which needs quicker hardware, etc. Usually, if you do not want to buy new hardware, you stick with the software which still runs well on what you have. How will Creative Cloud handle this after some years? Will you be able to stay with or load an older version of CC? Or will it be like Apples AppStore, where you only find the most actual version of a software, which only runs with the latest OS version, and if you own hardware not capable of running the latest OS, you have no access to the software you want.

So, what should we do?

Let's be honest: Software for print designers has reached top of development about around 2005. If I think back, I have been able to do the same designs I do today, since the mid 90's. It got easier, with features that Quark XPress or Indesign brought until around 2005. But in fact there has not been anything essentially new since then (same goes for Mac OS X by the way). And for animation, multimedia and webdesign, other companies have far better products than Adobe has. So why do we pay that much money for upgrades that only bring whistles and bells we do not really need? – Because of the limited backwards compatibility Adobe forces upon us. Only out of fear to possibly be incompatible to some design partners or customers.

Based on my experience as a designer with 30 years of practice, thereof 27 years with the Macintosh, I recommend to all designers, preprint and print businesses: Stay with your last version of the Creative Suite! Don't do anything that makes you dependent on the Creative Cloud!

For me, the stay-on-what-you-have strategy started already in 2011 because of Mac OS X 10.7 which dropped support of PPC software. I have since stayed on 10.6.8 in order to continue using Macromedia FreeHand and I am currently making my experiences with self assembled "Hackintosh" computers. From Adobe I am using CS4 and some CS5 software.

For further input consult these pages:
Inchoate Thoughts blog
Sorin Serbans blog
Alan Lastufka blog
Reddit forum
Canon Rumors forum
Digital Arts Opinion
Star Circle Academy
Diglloyd about Creative Cloud
Creative Cloud failure

Want me to add anything? You may me.