Air your Adobe Creative Suite gripes

blank's picture

I am drafting an essay about ways that Adobe Creative Suite’s design hampers designers, teachers, and students. I plan to cover problems such as:
• the mélange of different, and bad, bezier editing tools through the suite
• poorly located and inconsistent OpenType feature menus
• inconsistent export dialogues across platforms
• the random and almost incomprehensible UI of Adobe Acrobat
• Indesign CS4, 5, and 5.5 having unnecessary version incompatibility with older versions

I am only interested in writing about glaring flaws that slow down workflow, require multiple applications to be combined for simple functionality, hamper cross-platform workflows. I am especially interested in problems that hamper teaching students to use basic functionality of applications. I do not want to just air my personal gripes. So before I proceed I want to know if other designers, teachers, and students have found issues that consistently waste time and cause problems over months or years.

Theunis de Jong's picture

• Indesign CS4, 5, and 5.5 having unnecessary version incompatibility with older versions

Can you give an example of this? (I'm assuming you are talking about backward compatibility, opening older documents in the newer version. Expecting forward compatibility for the complicated structure a fully laid-out and formatted document is, is way, way too naive.)

Nick Shinn's picture

I haven't "upgraded" my original CS, since developing (in the early 1990s) a philosophy of resisting "upgrades" by the digital oligarchs, which I consider to be an unwarranted and onerous form of professional taxation.

As a teacher, this can be embarrassing, as I occasionally have to ask students how to do simple things in their "computer labs", which have the latest versions of apps, that work differently than the version I have in my studio.

Being a part-time teacher, I haven't bothered to pursue the idea of asking my employer to pay for my software "upgrades", or arrange a refresher course, neither of which would be feasible.

BeauW's picture

The only issue I still have with the Suite is in Illustrator, where the outline stroke/expand appearance has been broken since CS3. (Too many extraneous and overlapping points are created.)

I'm standing still at home, but we get updated regularly at work. As someone who uses Illustrator every day, I have to say each new version has been a real boost to productivity. I really miss CS5 when I'm working from home (CS3).

Sticking point for me is Acrobat, which I've been having to use more often. Really not the same type of environment. It seems like they are trying to make it feel familiar to Microsoft Office users.

JamesM's picture

> unnecessary version incompatibility with older versions

On many occasions I've wished that InDesign had better backwards compatibility, but I'm not sure that "unnecessary" is the appropriate word. I used to know the lead programmer for a major software application and he said that backwards compatibility was a problem with many applications and that insisting on backwards compatibility would often force compromises in other areas (like new features) which users wouldn't like.

In any event, if you know your files are also also going to be worked on by someone else, it's always best to both use the same version. That's why I keep the last 3 versions of InDesign on my Mac.

oprion's picture

My biggest gripe is with Photoshop CS5 (dunno if this was also in 4 as I skipped it).
Image windows overlap toolbars, so accessing any menu, feature or tool is impossible without first moving, or resizing all of the open windows. In CS3 all image windows went nicely underneath. I don't like tabs, as I am used to dragging layers, selections etc. from one window to another, but now can't use the new overlapping windows either.

Good thing I kept CS3 installed.

dezcom's picture

Once again, not even a damn glyph palette in Photoshop!!!!
The inane opentype UI that must have been designed by waring factions of the Drug Mafia is a topper!!!

I also like your list above:

"• poorly located and inconsistent OpenType feature menus
• inconsistent export dialogues across platforms
• the random and almost incomprehensible UI of Adobe Acrobat
• Indesign CS4, 5, and 5.5 having unnecessary version incompatibility with older versions"

riccard0's picture

I too am a little behind in upgrading (but working daily with the suite), so maybe some thing were fixed in the mean time.
I find the difference in shortcuts to be bewildering (it goes without saying that Acrobat is the worst in this respect: for example, why on Earth they choose ctrl as a modifier key for zoom out?).
Also, Illustrator,* which I use rarely (and that made it even worst), has very limited contextual menus for basic operations like copy & paste and then there’s the “inverted” y (but this seems to be fixed in CS5: http://blogs.adobe.com/infiniteresolution/2010/05/ruler_updates_in_illus...).

* I think this quote by Todd Dominey from the time of Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia is still somewhat relevant: “Will Illustrator and Freehand be combined as Frustrator?”

aluminum's picture

My main gripe is that Freehand isn't a part of it.

paul d hunt's picture

Indesign CS4, 5, and 5.5 having unnecessary version incompatibility with older versions

Have you tried exporting as an INDD file from the newer version and opening in an older version? Is this functionality not good enough in terms of compatibility?

blank's picture

Have you tried exporting as an INDD file from the newer version and opening in an older version? Is this functionality not good enough in terms of compatibility?

What version of Indesign allows this? I have had to export one format in CS4 to CS3, a different format to go from CS5 to CS4, and going from CS5 to CS3 seems to require stepping through CS5 and CS4. I understand why the newer functions of CS4 and CS5 cannot be saved directly back to older versions, but it is really nuts that I cannot just open older versions, make minor edits, and then save the same file without changing to the newer format. This has been a real problem with teaching because I and my students end up moving between all three versions of Indesign at school/work/home machines.

Igor Freiberger's picture

Maybe Paul was talking about INDX and not INDD.

The problems I find in any CS version since the first one:

1. bad, incomplete, and inconsistent suport for OpenType between apps;
2. different UI approach for type handling;
3. the lack of glyph palette in PS;
4. almost hidden menus to control OT features;
5. text copied from ID is not fully recognized in PS;
6. Adobe vector tools are inferior to the ones in Xara or FLS.

oprion's picture

Hmm come to think of it, if it was just up to me, I'd still be running Illustrator 9 with Photoshop 7. Hardly ever use the "modern" features. The only exception would have to be InDesign, as each successive version does introduce a number of things I wished were possible in prior releases. I don't think I've ever updated a suit on my own volition, the change always comes from outside as folks start passing up files that the antiquated software can no longer handle.

JamesT's picture

I just want to be able to select the handles of nodes in Illustrator and move them with the arrow keys. After using fontlab, trying to make tiny adjustments to vector shapes in Illustrator is like trying to paint the Mona Lisa with a paint roller in the back of a moving bus.

russellm's picture

Nick, as a teacher Adobe will give you 80% off the sticker price.

5star's picture

My gripe is one of ownership and not so much functionality, although I agree with most of your list.

I have PS 7 on disk, Illy 10 also on disk ... back in the day I paid for and own them both ... outright. I can install those disks anytime I wish, anywhere I wish too. Why? Because I paid for the software - that's why.

Adobe don't allow that anymore.

Today's Adobe won't sell you a disk that you can install whenever - however many times you want. You don't own today's Adobe software ... you own a limited install license. You pay thousands of dollars of your hard earned money for a limited ... privilege.

Limited to the number of installations. And now, limited to the number of upgrade versions too ... try upgrading Photoshop 7 - lol!

I could go on ... but it would just get ugly.

Queneau's picture

The poor OT interface (or even lacking in PS) is certainly annoying. The Illustrator OT palette would a nice start, if not complete. Still no kerning table feature in InDesign. Acrobat is certainly not very intuitive, and actually got worse with the last version, altough it is more stable than the CS2 Version I used to have, which crashedvery often. Another annoying thing is that that consistently embed less fonts with each new version... No more Jenson, no more Arno or Garamond Premier. No fonts with optical sizes... I guess they have successfully topped the market now and don’t need to pursuade people with these goodies anymore. Adobe’s arrogance is what annoys me most I guess, though the individual programs certainly are great, I could not do my work without them.

Don McCahill's picture

> Nick, as a teacher Adobe will give you 80% off the sticker price.

Yes, but the teacher pricing does not work on upgrades. So the price for a new educational version winds up being about the same as a normal upgrade. That's why I also tend to skip the alternate version of CS. It costs almost a grand to get a new version of the CS Master Collection.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Don: if you have stuck to the even numbered versions, you are about to receive a nasty surprise. Apparently lots of people skipped single versions, so Adobe's marketing team found a way around that. Starting with CS6, you can no longer upgrade from two or more version old; only one version will get you a discount.

My opinion? A nasty, nasty, nasty move, only devised to generate lots of cash on a short notice (they are pressing people to upgrade now to CS5) but utterly alienating heaps of clients in the long run who do not want, need, or can pay to upgrade Every-Single-New-Version.

Nick Shinn's picture

Apparently Quark XPress is still in business, despite the graphics industry’s desire to submit to an Adobe monopoly.

aluminum's picture

To be fair, Quark had and acted like a monopoly long before Adobe ever did.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I just want to be able to select the handles of nodes in Illustrator and move them with the arrow keys. After using fontlab, trying to make tiny adjustments to vector shapes in Illustrator is like trying to paint the Mona Lisa with a paint roller in the back of a moving bus.

Select the line segment. Press your arrow key of choice.

JamesT's picture

frode, I've done that but it's still not as accurate as I prefer. Maybe I'm just really picky about these things.

I have to say, I'm very happy Adobe added paste in place to Illustrator CS5

dezcom's picture

I do all my drawing in FontLab and paste it into AI.

JamesM's picture

If pressing the arrow key makes too big a change, just change the Keyboard Increment in Preferences to a smaller number.

dezcom's picture

Pressing a curve segment affects both handle at its ends, step clicking only one handle and knowing the exact number of nudges is quite another issue.

JamesT's picture

dezcom, That's what I've been doing (drawing in fontlab and then pasting into AI). I'm glad you understand my gripe.

Nick Cooke's picture

I just draw in Freehand and then export to AI. Drawing in FH and FL are nearly exactly the same.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

You need to draw at 1000 upm in AI as well. Try copying an "o" from Fontlab and use that as basis, size-wise.

russellm's picture

@ Don, Yes, but the teacher pricing does not work on upgrades. So the price for a new educational version winds up being about the same as a normal upgrade.

Was their marketing department a bunch of crack dealers in a previous life?

riccard0's picture

Was their marketing department a bunch of crack dealers in a previous life?

No, they were marketers.
One problem with Adobe is that marketers are spreading throughout (see: http://daringfireball.net/linked/2011/11/08/adobe-layoffs)

dezcom's picture

Looks like Adobe is going the way of Quark, Riccardo.

Don McCahill's picture

> Don: if you have stuck to the even numbered versions, you are about to receive a nasty surprise.

You missed the other part of my comment. I don't buy upgrades. I buy new educational packages, which cost about the same.

I hadn't heard that Adobe was going to the continual upgrade policy. I suspected it when they started limiting the number of versions you could upgrade from.

The thing is, the advantages in upgrading are much less than they once were. The difference between PS 4 and 5 was massive, and you were crazy not to upgrade ... even if you had to buy a new computer. Now only minor improvements are appearing.

Adobe might find this policy backfires on them, and people will just stop upgrading. I mean, carpenters don't buy a new hammer every year when the new models come out. And plumbers don't get a new pipe wrench every year. (Which is not to say that graphic designers are high paid craftsmen of that type, but you get the idea.)

Don

Joshua Langman's picture

I hate that you need the ME edition or special plugins to type right-to-left languages in InDesign. That should be a built-in feature of the standard version, along with support for Asian languages and any other writing systems that don't go left to right, top to bottom. (I know about the world-ready composer, but it's so inaccessible as to be unusable.) Also, InDesign should have real tools for math typography built in. And, honestly, music typography, but I know that's a stretch. It is supposed to be a typesetting program, though, right? Why can't it typeset everything?

JamesM's picture

> carpenters don't buy a new hammer every
> year when the new models come out.

I'm sympathetic to your viewpoint, but the analogy has some flaws.

I put off upgrading to CS 5.5, but recently a corporate client sent me an InDesign 5.5 file and asked me to make some changes to it. My options were 1) upgrade to 5.5, or 2) tell my client I didn't have 5.5, look like a cheapskate who couldn't afford to keep his software current, and probably lose the job.

So I upgraded.

If you work in a collaborative environment in which you share native files with co-workers, clients and vendors, it's difficult to avoid upgrading periodically. I look at it as part of the cost of doing business.

dezcom's picture

James,

I also used to get files from clients that were done in such an old version of software that they would not even run on new equipment. It was easier to do the pages from scratch ;-)

blank's picture

If you work in a collaborative environment in which you share native files with co-workers, clients and vendors, it's difficult to avoid upgrading periodically.

I agree on a professional level, but this is a serious problem in schools. Schools don’t have the resources to update their labs for every release, but students cannot buy older versions. In some cases I have students working in class on CS4, at home on 5.5, and at work on 5. It gets really bad with the Windows users, because Illustrator for Windows does not the dialogue to save for older versions like the Mac version does.

k.l.'s picture

Regarding the blog.idmllib.com/.../indesign-cs5-and-the-missing-inx-export/ link and the steps it describes for CS5 users to exchange data with CS3 users, this is what James Puckett complained about: You need at least two versions of CS. First, from CS5 to CS4 via IDML. Then, from CS4 to CS3 via INX (and to CS2 with an additional hack). At least one user needs both CS5 and CS4, or both CS4 and CS3.

Related, I cannot say that I am particularly amused when reading an announcement like this, in particular:

For customers who prefer to remain on the current licensing model, [...] In order to qualify for upgrade pricing when CS6 releases, customers will need to be on the latest version of our software (either CS5 or CS5.5 editions). If our customers are not yet on those versions, we’re offering a 20% discount through December 31, 2011 which will qualify them for upgrade pricing when we release CS6.

This is not an 'offer' except maybe in a mafia sense of the term – an offer you better don't reject: Either you upgrade to the current version. Or you are excluded from future ones. Please correct me if I got this wrong.

Such bits and pieces, technical obstacles on the one hand, licensing obstacles on the other hand, make it difficult for me to remain a loyal Adobe customer even though I like the applications. (Same for Apple, by the way, just to indicate that this is not about anti-Adobe sentiments.)

Alex Kaczun's picture

***ALL THE INCONSISTENCIES BETWEEN ALL THEIR APPLICATIONS. BIG PERIOD!***

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