Creative Cloud thoughts

When I started freelancing eleven years ago, 80% of my work was print design, and I needed to equip myself with the right software. Quark XPress was still the daddy as far as desktop publishing was concerned, so it was a necessary purchase. It cost the princely sum of £995. A single application just shy of a grand!

In contrast, I also bought an Adobe bundle of Photoshop 5, InDesign 2, Illustrator 10 and Acrobat for £680. Back then, Adobe was the good guy, the saviour, bringing a Quark alternative that was better and didn’t need a mortgage to buy it.

That view of Adobe has deteriorated over the years however. It’s felt more and more like paying for bug fixes and unnecessary features. To minimise this I always skip a major release of Creative Suite and I’m currently on CS5. Illustrator is my most-used tool, but I get frustrated on a daily basis at stupid bugs like stray or ghost pixels. I haven’t upgraded to CS6 yet as an important feature has been removed from Ai – exporting to SVG in the Save for Web dialog. If I set up an Iconset with slices, I want to be able to export both PNG and SVG, so this is crucial.

Now, Adobe have decided to stop selling Creative Suite as either a download or physical disk and move to a subscription-based service, ‘Creative Cloud’. You can see the attraction for Adobe, as it makes them more money and presumably makes it harder to pirate.

I mentioned on Twitter that this is making me rant. Here’s why…

  • At £46.88 a month this costs £562.56 a year, roughly what I was paying for an upgrade every three years. My normal strategy of upgrading every other major release isn’t going to work anymore.
  • Apps are available individually for around £15 a month, but this isn’t cost-effective for 2-3 apps. Likewise, the standard monthly cost feels like paying for a lot of apps I will never use.
  • If I stop paying my monthly ‘rent’, I can no longer open files created in those apps.
  • I’m not interested in all the add-on features like the cloud storage, after all that’s what I have Dropbox for.

In my opinion, this move hurts people like freelance print designers more than me. While I have other options to Illustrator and Photoshop, there are none for InDesign. Unless you count Quark Xpress – the best price for which is £858. Still putting Adobe’s costs into perspective.

What it comes down to is this: I don’t want to rent the tools I use for work. So while Adobe is going this direction, I’ll be going another. I’ll continue to use the CS5 tools I’ve paid for, but I’ll be using Mac native alternatives even more keenly. Instead of Photoshop, I already use Acorn, and instead of Fireworks and Illustrator I’ll be using Sketch.app more. That’s for another post though…

The Hickensian is the journal of Jon Hicks, one half of the creative partnership Hicksdesign. Take a look at the work we do.

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