Adobe Creative Cloud: Acceptance & Evolution

Bright skies are here again!Some time ago when the Adobe Creative Cloud was still very much only just being released to the world I wrote a somewhat ranty piece entitled Adobe Creative Cloud: One Size Does Not Fit All where I railed against the annoyance of Adobe not really providing options for the semi amateur photographer who just wanted Lightroom and Photoshop but not spend $50/month to get them. Now some 16 months later I find myself with a full Adobe Creative Cloud subscription and really enjoying it, so what the hell happened?

Adobe Listened

Yes you read that right. It would appear that Adobe did the single most sensible thing a company could do: listened to the feedback and then, much to a lot of peoples surprise, started implementing changes that went a long way to addressing those concerns. They’ll never be able to please everyone but they’ve made some really good moves to allay concerns.

The Photography Plan

Very shortly after my first rant, Adobe announced an introductory plan for photographers compromising of Lightroom and Photoshop for $10/month. The only catch was the plan was only going to be available for a short time. Until they extended that time. And extended it again. And finally during the Creative Cloud 2014 announcements they finally decided to make it a permanent plan option.

This one single plan essentially addressed 90% of my rant. The cost was reasonable, it supplied exactly what most photographers want and it provided all the benefits of the creative cloud system in terms of easy upgrades over time. So I signed up.

Next Steps

So what convinced me to jump from the photography plan to the $50/month all applications plan? Put simply, a change of requirements. My girlfriend had started a new university course which involves graphics work and web design. As a single Creative Cloud membership allows for installations on two computers this meant upgrading to the full plan so she could access Illustrator and other tools actually made complete sense. We sign both our PCs in, she can install the apps she wants, I can use what I want and with the costs and requirements split across two people make the overall product quite reasonable indeed.

As a tangential benefit it has also allowed me to play with Adobe tools like Premier and After Effects which in their previous box suite incarnations were far too ludicrously expensive for me to even think about obtaining and working with. Now as long as we budget the money for the yearly subscription there’s a lot more open to us.

Retaining Access

During my rant I made this statement:

Spent countless man hours creating that Photoshop file? Making all those tags and keywords in Lightroom to effectively sort your collection of photos? Well all that will be useless unless you keep paying. Each month. Every month. Forever.

I wasn’t the only one with this fear and it would appear once again Adobe listened and actually responded. Not long ago they posted a blog entry on what occurs to Lightroom after your Creative Cloud membership ends. The answer was surprisingly straight forward and essentially went:

  • Lightroom will continue to launch
  • You retain access to the catalogue with all your tags etc
  • You’ll be able to keep managing your photos with Lightroom
  • However the Develop and Map modules will become disabled

This isn’t too bad and would appear to be a decent compromise. You retain access your catalogue that  you have worked so hard to organise and they disable the component they hope you will pay for again to use. There is of course those that still demand they get the full application and for the meantime it appears Lightroom will still be sold as a separate boxed application for those that want it that way.

Dark Clouds

It hasn’t all be sunshine, rainbows and lollipops for the Creative Cloud. There’s been the security compromise that required users to reset passwords and in some cases get new credit cards issued. There was the extended outage that caused larger media corps that relied on Creative Cloud apps for constant production major pain as they couldn’t meet deadlines.

Finally from my perspective there has been the Creative Cloud desktop management tool/launcher. All the actual Creative Cloud apps themselves (Lightroom, Photoshop, Illustrator etc) have worked without a problem since they were installed by the central control software launcher has been a major pain.

It has been slowly getting better but along the way it has caused no end of swear words to be issued. Every few months it seems to break and get itself stuck. I won’t update an app or it will act like it can’t log into the cloud. The Adobe forums are littered with people experiencing these problems. The worst bit about this has been what you need to do to fix these problems. Most commonly Adobe support gets you to download and run a somewhat arcane fix it tool which to date has so far fixed precisely nothing for me.

After that they generally get you to located and delete/rename a cache file. This perturbs me as the last thing you really want the average user to be doing on a machine is poking around deleting/renaming files as one false move could leave you far worse off. This “solution” however has fixed thing for me a few times but I can’t help wonder if it’s such a known problem, why exactly hasn’t the underlying problem been fixed? Or at the very least provide an easy system that does the delete/rename for the user.

The final solution and the one that seems to occur most of the time is just reinstalling the Creative Cloud application. The good news is this doesn’t require reinstalling the actual products themselves, the bad news is it is time consuming and the Adobe website seems to go out of its way to be a pain in the rear about downloading the newest version.

Cloud Acceptance

Overall I’m surprised and reasonably happy with the change Adobe has made to handling the Creative Cloud and just generally impressed at the effort they are putting into customer satisfaction especially in light of their near monopoly in some of the areas Adobe applications cater for.

Is it perfect? No. Has it lost the one size fits all approach? To some extent yes, the new permanency of the photography plan attests  to their acceptance of consumer demands. They have made progress and each little change so far has been well worth accepting it as a useful set of tools.