an open letter to Adobe

Dear Adobe:

I’ve been using Illustrator since 2000; it’s my main medium. I’ve drawn an entire graphic novel in it.

I’ve got a file full of bugs and feature requests I keep on submitting again and again and again. Some of the feature requests I see other people repeatedly asking for online. None of them ever happen. It’s like i’m shouting in a dark hole, and it’s pretty frustrating.

Back in the pre-subscription days, I could vote with my wallet by not bothering to pay for new versions that offered no new features for my workflow. But now that everything is on subscription, I can’t do that. I just pay Adobe my monthly fee and get to use whatever features get added. And I kind of feel like I’m getting the raw end of this deal when some of my repeatedly-submitted bugs and requests continue to be ignored; it feels like I’m more directly paying the salary of the people who maintain these programs now that I pay every month, with absolutely no say in what they work on next.

I’d love to see Illustrator’s bug/feature requests made public. And allow end users to not just submit them, but to add their support for them. And to know that the top bugs/feature requests will get some resources assigned to fixing or implementing them.

(This probably goes for the bug databases for Adobe’s other programs, too. I’ll bet every pro has a handful of pet bugs or never-filled feature requests they keep on having to work around in their most-used program.)

  1. One of the selling points that Adobe used for Creative Cloud, back when it was first announced, was that they’d be able to update the software more rapidly. Well, they got that part right. It’s just a shame that said updates are either a) more features piled on top of all the other features, b) belated security fixes (looking at you, Flash & Acrobat!), or c) removal of a feature for reasons that only make sense to Adobe.

    Heck, they touted the addition of an autosave feature to Illustrator CC 2015—an outright admission that Illustrator is *still* crash-prone, even after being (supposedly) completely rewritten.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. Illustrator (and Photoshop) are still damn powerful applications, and—for now, at least—the benchmark against which others are judged. But lately, it seems that we’re going backwards rather than forwards. The UI is becoming more arcane and less intuitive. Take the Appearance panel, for example—you can create amazing effects using just a few objects, but try going back and working out how you did that just from looking at that panel. At least Photoshop puts that stuff into the Layers panel, when you’re working with smart objects. But then, smart objects themselves introduce another level of obfuscation. You just can’t win.

    I’m seriously considering getting off the CC bandwagon next year. Affinity Designer is starting to look pretty good now, and I’m prepared to put in some time to learn its ways of doing stuff. Same for Affinity Photo. Heck, I managed to amaze myself earlier this year and wrap my brain around Blender, so I reckon it’s doable.

    • Ironically, I find that CC2015 – the one with the crash recovery that turns itself off half the time – is much less stable than CC2014, which had no crash recovery.

      The Appearance palette is kind of one of my favorite palettes in Illustrator. It’s gotten a lot more prominent in my standard palette layout over the past few years.

      I’ve looked at Affinity but last I checked it was lacking a bunch of things that are core parts of my workflow. Like, “the reason I started using Illustrator in the first place” core parts.

  2. Yyyyyep. Subscription-based fees mean they have no incentive to improve on the last version, but only to be just good enough to make switching away too inconvenient for most people. Their all-in-one CMS (also subscription-only) has many long-festering issues.

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