We’re not sure what to make of Adobe’s decision to switch to a subscription-only model for their Creative Suite products, and apparently we aren’t the only ones. There are lots of stories about the backlash against this move, such as here, here and here.
Of course, as with all things web, its hard to tell if the backlash is real, or if it just seems big because Google shows you 500 links, all essentially to the same story.
We’ve been using Adobe products for the past ten years. Our day-in-day-out tool is Illustrator CS6. Most of what we do can be described as “page layout”, and that’s what Illustrator is for. It works particularly well for silk screen custom binder jobs (where its all about vector artwork), as well as laying out full color EarthBinder projects where we are merging images and text. We also use a bit of Photoshop here and there (cleaning up photographs, mostly). We also use InDesign when we are printing binder contents, and when we are producing “variable-text” binder jobs (did you know SpeedBinder can produce individually customized binders for your training sessions? Its true.)
For our needs, we will be going to the new “Creative Cloud” version. We need to always be on the latest and greatest, not so much because we push the sofware’s capabilities to the limits, but because we need to be able to accept files from our clients and nothing says “weak!!!” quite like having to ask a customer to back-save a file because you don’t have the latest and greatest version!
That gets to what we think is the real motivation behind this move by Adobe. The fact of the matter is that for most graphic designers, printers, layout specialists, etc, the CS6 versions of the Adobe Creative Suite work just fine. We are at the point as an industry where it is pretty hard to impress us with new features. These tools already work incredibly well. For those of us who got started back in the coal-fired days of hand-layout on real (not virtual) artboards (we are talking t-squares and triangles, ink pens and wax gluers), these tools are already like magic. How much better can they be? When was the last time an upgrade came along that made a massive difference (as in cutting hours of work into minutes) in your workflow? The last one we can think of was when Illustrator’s “Live Trace” came along.
If you are Adobe, this makes sense. It is going to be harder and harder to incent companies to continuously purchase upgrades when each one represents a smaller and smaller real-world productivity improvement over the previous version.
If you are a serious production shop like us, you will go along with this because you have to. If you are a big agency or design studio, you will go along because you will probably make use of all the new features, and can’t afford to be seen as using an obsolete system (we are somewhat skeptical of the real utility of the cloud-based features in the new Adobe offerings, although there may be wrong about that).
But for the part-timer, hobbyist, casual user, we have a hard time thinking they will be able to justify the ongoing costs. We expect to see a lot of CS6 files coming our way for many years to come.