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Adiós, Adobe

Last month I pulled the plug on my Creative Cloud subscription. Unfortunately, Adobe insisted on charging me for this month as I'm on an annual plan, so now is the time when I've effectively stopped forking over for their services.

I have a long relationship with Adobe software — my first copy of Photoshop was v2.5 for Windows 3.1 back in the early 1990s, and I got into Illustrator with v10. Later on I would go through a couple of versions of Creative Suite, which added Dreamweaver and Fireworks (RIP) to my arsenal.

In 2012, when Adobe first announced their Creative Cloud service, I was cautiously enthusiastic, since by this point my copies of Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. were getting long in the tooth. And for the first year things went fairly smoothly.

The first pothole came in 2013 when I discovered that the next versions would require me to uninstall and reinstall all my Adobe products, then recreate all my customizations. (Adobe would eventually smooth over the last part.) My mood soured further with the news that Fireworks was being retired.

The following year saw Adobe abruptly pivot their extension architecture away from Flash, resulting in more workflow changes. In between updates to their software, Adobe had their customer data leaked, something I found out via the web instead of the company, and which they only apologized for months later in a boilerplate letter.

Meanwhile, Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo had arrived on the scene, and I'd purchased and started trying them out alongside my Adobe tools. While they lacked some features of Photoshop and Illustrator, they had enough to cover the majority of my needs. So, I started questioning why I was forking over a not-inconsiderable amount every year for Adobe's software.

Eventually, by 2016 I'd stepped down to a single-app subscription for InDesign, which I was still using fairly regularly. But it wasn't a happy compromise. Each update to macOS would entail a waiting game to see if InDesign would break when I upgraded. And then Adobe decided to discontinue their separate (and reasonably priced) Typekit subscription and fold it into Creative Cloud, meaning I'd need to keep my subscription to use any Adobe fonts.

The final straw came with the arrival of yet another version of the Creative Cloud desktop client, now a memory-gobbling Electron app instead of a merely buggy and unstable app. Thank goodness I didn't need to keep it running all the time! Then Affinity Publisher came out of beta-testing, and for the first time in three decades I could imagine the possibility of having a workflow without any Adobe products.

I think Adobe's biggest failing is that it believes its hype about being the 'industry standard' and is unwilling to consider reimagining its software for the world of today. Sure, they've bolted on extra features to Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and their other flagships, but that has just made them even more bloated. And while they've tried making smaller apps, I've always had the impression that those have been held back by a desire not to give users a reason not to keep one of the monoliths in their workflow.

The great irony, for me, is that they have tried new things on the iPad and iPhone, but only as adjuncts to the desktop apps. And now we have the spectacle of Photoshop and Illustrator as iPad apps. On the one hand, it's a testament to the power of modern iPads that they can handle either of those two. On the other hand, they're developed by Adobe, so I'd expect teething trouble.

For now, though, all Adobe's software is uninstalled from my Mac, and that's several fewer headaches I'll have over the next year, as well as a lot of money saved.

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