How Adobe Drives Infringement Of Its Products Through Incompatibility

from the you're-not-helping dept

Adobe is one of the key backers of the BSA, which is famous for its, at times, highly questionable tactics in “raiding” companies and accusing them of having infringing software and forcing them to pay up. And, yet, at the same time, its own actions may be one of the biggest causes of infringement of its software. Part of it is pricing. Adobe’s products have become something of a standard in the design world, and because of that, there’s something of a monopoly tax (though, some new entrants really are trying to break that). But, as Joe Karaganis pointed out a few weeks ago (yes, this one’s old, but I’m catching up), Adobe seems to go to ridiculous lengths to make things worse for paying customers by not making some of its products backwards compatible. That’s fine if only you are using the product. But when — as is almost always the case in design — there are collaborative efforts where files need to be shared, it’s deathly. And Adobe seems to have perfected death by incompatibility:

Like a lot of publishing projects, the production of MPEE was a small scale collaboration involving free lance help for book layout, maps, and proofing. Once the text is laid out in publishing software (for us, InDesign), all of these stages are most easily done in InDesign. Here, we learned a painful lesson. Adobe has released 3 versions of InDesign in 4 years. All of them break compatibility with the previous versions. So when our layout designer (CS3) handed the doc off to our map illustrator (CS4), the document saved up and was no longer readable by the former. We bought CS5 in our Columbia U office (via a not-ridiculously-priced academic license at $300), but the original layout had used Mac fonts, which the PC rendered differently. Ultimately, everyone had to upgrade to the trial version of CS5, and then the clock was ticking and we had 1 month to finish.

Adobe’s response to all of this is, effectively, “well, buy a copy of all versions.” Easier said than done, of course, and that’s where it helps drive unauthorized infringement. Many people will buy one version, but feel that it’s somewhat extortionate to force people to buy the latest version just to open files.

Now, some may point out that this is Adobe’s way of doing implicit price discrimination. If it’s not really enforcing copyright on most players, then those who are able to afford the upgrades do, and those who can’t, don’t (but likely get unauthorized versions). And that would work if there wasn’t such a huge risk in doing so. When the BSA actively urges employees to “rat out” their employers, and seems, at times, to relish going after small businesses, this creates serious chilling effects.

Of course, it also seems like it should be an opportunity for others in the market. To date, it’s definitely been difficult for others to get into the market — and part of that is the proprietary nature of the way Adobe saves files. Opening that up would definitely drive significantly more competition (which is why Adobe doesn’t want to do it). So how do people break that cycle? When the “lock-in” from the user base is pretty strong, how is it possible to get people to move to solutions that aren’t so anti-consumer? Alternatively, how could Adobe itself adjust, so that it’s more reasonable?

I would argue that even if Adobe’s lock-in position is dominant today, it won’t always be, and pissing off consumers with ridiculous stunts like this won’t help. If Adobe’s smart, it’ll head off competitors not by continuing this sort of anti-consumer behavior, but by focusing on continuing to add more value to the products, while making them more consumer friendly. Many people are happy to buy Adobe products. But forcing them to buy multiple versions makes them a lot less happy. That may be good for the bottom line in the short run, but it’s really risky in the long run.

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Companies: adobe

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Comments on “How Adobe Drives Infringement Of Its Products Through Incompatibility”

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Hiiragi Kagami (profile) says:

Adobe is now...

…a house in the southwest to me. The company is no longer one I will purchase from ever again. This article is indeed late, by about 6 years.

Anyone who has “upgraded” and found themselves locked out of their own software will know why their products are constantly pirated and I seriously doubt it has anything to do with price.

Photoshop is awesome, no question, but as open source works every day to catch up, it won’t be around too much longer.

Now, if only the internet would stop using Flash so I can rid my system of the word “adobe” from folders and registry entries.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Adobe is now...

I’ve noticed Youtube testing out HTML5 coding. I don’t see it all that often, but I have seen it.

From what I hear, GIMP can be comparable to Photoshop with a few addons. If that’s the case then it’s only a matter of time before out of the box GIMP catches up with Photoshop.

Even if GIMP can catch up with Photoshop, they still have a fight. If you use GIMP and the people you need to collaborate with use Photoshop…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Adobe is now...

“Even if GIMP can catch up with Photoshop, they still have a fight. If you use GIMP and the people you need to collaborate with use Photoshop…”

This is also one of the problems when it comes to WinWord (Micrsoft Word) verses alternatives like Abiword or Open Office. The same document renders differently across these different word processors. Not sure who’s at fault, I know Microsoft has a history of trying to deviate from established standards (when it comes to their browser and HTML renditions) just to encourage web designers to design their website to work properly with IE and hence to discourage users from using alternative browsers because pages don’t render properly on them, but in the long run, that didn’t really seem to help them much. Maybe Adobe will be in for a similar outcome if this keeps up.

Ed C. says:

Re: Re: Re: Adobe is now...

Sorry, but GIMP doesn’t do action layers, and I have yet to find any add-on that replaces that functionality. Also, the UI is NOT at all user friendly. I’ve been able to customize around some of it’s shortcomings, but some of the mistakes are just unforgivable.

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Adobe is now...

may have been an error in communication and your familiar enough to customize short-commings but makes one wonder wtf your talking about. The closest approximation I can think of is animation layers but that was covered in chapter e071:Choices on Meet the gimp.

Score one up for thinking too much on wtf terminology and not just asking the obvious question what is your definition of action layers.

TechnoMage (profile) says:

Re: Re: Adobe is now...

Adobe functionality itself is not the key to winning this “war” the real war is Adobe Plug-ins, I know a t-shirt printing company that has 4 different mac & PCs all in a row so the designer can toggle between something like 10 different versions of adobe photoshop.

And that is because the plugins don’t work in other versions, and the designer wants it to work “THIS WAY”… the same way it works in old versions of the plugin/photoshop

also… just to irk Adobe. “I’ll photoshop that picture” 😉

el_segfaulto (profile) says:

Re: Re: Adobe is now...

Recognize that this is coming from a huuuge open source advocate. I have 6 computers in my home/research lab (my girlfriend keeps threatening to convert my server room into something else but I just tell her that in all fairness, they were here first) and 5 of them run some flavor of Linux or BSD.

Unfortunately, since I grew up using Photoshop I find it almost impossible to switch away from it. I’ve tried using the GIMP and it is great for some things, but it still can’t approach the power of Photoshop. As a grad student on a limited budget I built a pretty powerful workstation simply to run Photoshop…I figure if a reasonably experienced guy with a BS in computer science would rather spend the money on a PC than buying drinks for undergrad girls you have to assume that the GIMP isn’t up to snuff yet. Here’s hoping though.

hobo says:

Re: Re: Re: Adobe is now...

To be fair, I’m pretty sure that buying drinks for girls isn’t going to overcome having 6 computers (including 1 just for photoshop), a server room, a research lab, discussion of linux/bsd, and a limited budget.

(..also, as a researcher, you should know that a sample size of one is not enough for a conclusion.)

This is all in jest, no need to use your +4 snappy comment reply keyboard of justice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Adobe is now...

There is nothing in the open source or otherwise world that comes close to Photoshop. Nothing. They are far more capable products than anything else.

This isn’t to say that most people *need* all that power in Photoshop, I dare say 99% of the world doesn’t, and woul dbe far better off with other cheaper tools, but that 1% needs it, it’s there, and it won’t be replicated anytime soon (you can thank patents for that as well, Photoshop has scores alone.)


Re: Re: Mindless Brand Fixation

Photoshop is one of those mythical apps that know-nothings all like to crow about. However, few people use it or understand it well enough to actually articulate why any random alternative (regardless of source license) is unsuitable.

This happens in plenty of other areas and drives a lot of sales that a number of companies really never deserved.

Billy Wenge-Murphy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Mindless Brand Fixation

Some people have written articles articulating why the GIMP is inferior for anything except putting text on cats*. When they do, the open source community throws a fit.

(*Actually the GIMP is pretty bad at this. You have to do a cubersome trick with multiple-layers to make a simple border around text)

Billy Wenge-Murphy (profile) says:

Re: Adobe is now...

Now, if only the internet would stop using Flash so I can rid my system of the word “adobe” from folders and registry entries

Sure thing, as soon as the technology catches up. The collection of cool new stuff you can do natively in a webpage, loosely called “HTML5”, is getting closer and closer to Flash’s capabilities.

But that’s the thing: Flash is ahead and the alternatives are still playing catch-up, years on:

– <canvas> is finally a full replacement for the raster graphics capabilities added in Flash 8….about 6 years ago.

– Video is hit and miss because Microsoft and Apple, as members of MPEG-LA, are pushing the patented H.264, and undermined the <video> standard. Open source browsers CAN’T support patented technologies, and WebM support is coming to Flash (it already does H.264), so it’ll stick around as the cross-browser delivery method of choice.

– Poor networking support (WebSockets were sent back to the drawing board for a controversial safety reason)

– Can’t do webcams and microphones at all (The work on this is brand new)

– SVG is a bit glitchy compared to vector rendering through SWF, and, more importantly, vector animation capabilities outside Flash are practically non-existent. You just have a hodgepodge of half-assed alternatives. Luckily, vector animation is increasingly irrelevant.

– Flash 10 added great dynamic audio capabilities. For HTML5, there are two competing alternatives. Firefox’s Audio Data API, which finally found its way into the stable branch (Firefox 4) and the Web Audio API (yes, confusing) which is still limited to experimental builds of Mac Safari. Opera isn’t participating at all. It’ll be at least another year before we can do that reliably.

But Adobe continues to add features to widen the gap. Will WebGL be as good as Molehill? AIR is being given the ability to target all sorts of different devices. Will HTML5 apps get similar treatment? (Before you drink the Apple Kool-Aid and say “Steve Jobs is a big friend of open standards! Mobile Safari supports HTML5!”, go check out and see how poor its support really is)


There’s idealistic philosophy fantasy land, and then there’s the reality. I look forward to a Flash-free web….about 5 years from now when the capabilities, maybe, catch-up to what Flash offers.

Even then, Adobe’s software may still be dominant, if theirs is the better, easier toolset for the average person. People point out “Well, Adobe is giving us HTML5 export, so they’re killing themselves!”. Not so. As this article touches on, their dominance stems from their tools and not their plug-in alone. They may very well dig their talons into HTML5 authoring (or they may go the way of Microsoft Frontpage)

Karl (profile) says:

Font issue & other stuff

In general, I agree with everything posted here, with a couple caveats.

First, the font issue is not Adobe’s fault. Win, Mac, and Linux all handle fonts differently (though Linux can read most Win fonts, if you have them). In effect, they’re the victim of the same sort of “lock-in” that they’re guilty of.

Part of the reason they need to price stuff so high is because of licensing from proprietors who are necessary for professional printing (e.g. Pantone).

Also, Adobe has been “playing nice” with the Open Source community, relatively speaking. Open source software can open PDF’s and Photoshop .psd files, and their Flex software is actually based on Eclipse. (On the other hand, they’re not so nice about Flash.)

So they’re hardly the worst players in the game. Faint praise, to be sure, but it should be noted.

If anyone is interested, the replacement software for their design suite would be Gimp, Scribus, and Inkskape; and Gnash can replace Flash (playing, not authoring).


Re: Font issue & other stuff

…and some operating systems do poorly at handling audio devices. “Back in the day”, apps vendors would even go so far as rewriting those bits of the OS that wasn’t up to snuff. If it’s important enough, then serious “production” software vendors should not shy away from doing the same.

If Adobe’s software doesn’t work, it’s ultimately their responsibility regardless of what the excuse is. For the kind of software they make, and the money they charge for it, they should not get a free pass on this.

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

~smirk~ I can almost guarantee Newgrounds will go under if any of the community started ratting out there fellow Newgrounders. That 300$ goes toward the tablet not the software.

Its about time for a sourceforge project to create animations, alter photos and convert to flash. Oh wait… lulz.

Its stories like these that make me wonder if the opensource community are going to get branded as pirates soon.

Thanks for the all the fish Adobe.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

This happens all the time. Does anyone else remember when Real Audio was the only way to get video and audio online? Eventually it started abusing its “monopoly” position and turning people off by releasing buggy and invasive software.

People were so turned off by Real that when Flash video and audio became available, people flocked to it. And soon people will dump Flash for HTML5.

Adobe is simply looking way too short term. People who do a craft genuinely love buying new tools. But when you make that process draconian, people will gladly start looking for alternatives. If Adobe continues with this course of action, they won’t be viable much longer.

David says:

Autodesk does this and many others as well

This is common practice with architectural and engineering design software.

Autodesk does this with at least AutoCAD and Revit, AutoCAD does let you save down but it causes problems that they constantly warn you about with pop ups, but Revit is locked out. Bentley Systems does this with a number of products that I am familiar with and very likely all of them. There are also a number of smaller software vendors that do this as well.

It is quite a racket, release a new version frequently, once a year or less, and remove backwards compatibility so that collaboration between firms requires them all to have the latest version that any other member of a design team has. Add to that that they likely also use the BSA this way to nail anyone who bypasses the trouble they cause in forcing sales.

This is deliberate and intended to strong arm sales from people who could otherwise make do with an older version of the software.

TechDan (profile) says:

Re: Autodesk does this and many others as well

I don’t know about Revit, since I’m an engineer, not an architect, but I have never experienced a time when a new AutoCAD or Inventor release couldn’t open files from older versions. And yes, there are some forward compatibility issues, but they are relatively minor, and at least Autodesk tries to include legacy file types.

Point is, a lot of the Autodesk problems are about redesigning the underlying code that manage data and making it more efficient and streamlined for the user, whereas Adobe seems to purposely break compatibility with every new release.

Jeffry Houser (profile) says:

Re: Re: Autodesk does this and many others as well

I think you misunderstood the issue. Adobe software will always open “down versions”. The issue is that once it is saved in the new version; it can’t be opened in the old version.

So, If you send me a Photoshop CS4 file; and I save it in Photoshop CS5; you can no longer open that file.

That said; many times I have been given the option to maximize version compatibility when saving. And a PhotoShop file I just saved and created in CS5 opened without problems in CS3.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Autodesk does this and many others as well

“I think you misunderstood the issue. Adobe software will always open “down versions”. The issue is that once it is saved in the new version; it can’t be opened in the old version.”

Oh, I see now. Microsoft word is the same way.

What can be done, at least with Microsoft word, is that the person who does have the new version can open it and do a save as and save it in the old version to send it off to whoever. Not sure if Photoshop can do that.

But as new document formats contain new features that the old formats don’t have, it’s reasonable to expect the old version not to be able to open the new format.

To some extent backwards incompatibility maybe intentional, but I think to a some extent it’s also due to the fact that backwards incompatibility costs money. In many cases some of the older formats may do some things that are inefficient in light of future discoveries and analysis and there maybe instances where removing backwards (pun intended) properties/attributes/code, and replacing them with better ones, makes sense. Backward compatibility problems have always been a prevalent software issues, and software incompatibility issues as well, even in the Linux world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Autodesk does this and many others as well

and the fact is in the Linux world there are often different compilations of the same software for different Linux distributions and there may not be a compilation that works with some Linux distributions. and when you update your operating system or upgrade your distribution it can create all sorts of software incompatibility problems as well. The fact is the Linux world is a mess and software is very messy and very hard to make everything work together. It’s partly why company acquisitions can be problematic, because the software of the different acquired companies don’t work together very well. In many ways the Windows world is superior than Linux when it comes to compatibility issues.

The bottom line, I don’t see software incompatibility issues going away any time soon, if ever. Some of it might be intentional, but much of it exists for practical reasons.

eclecticdave (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Autodesk does this and many others as well

But as new document formats contain new features that the old formats don’t have, it’s reasonable to expect the old version not to be able to open the new format.

Only if the file format is poorly designed. It’s not that hard to come up with a way of representing the data such that older versions can just skip the information it doesn’t understand.

The problem is that in a lot of cases, especially with software that was originally written a good while ago, the file format is often not much more than a dump to disk of the document’s in-memory representation. From a programmer’s point of view this is the easiest thing to implement, but it suffers from exactly this sort of problem – and if the company has an effective monopoly in the market, there’s not much incentive to replace it with something more flexible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Autodesk does this and many others as well

The concern being expressed, though , is that the newer versions don’t or won’t down-grade the file. Like if you have Inventor 2011 and you want to give it to someone with Inventor 2009.

I can see why this would happen if the code base is completely redesigned but that would not make any sense cost-wise when developing a large software suite. The most likely reason why the forward compatibility sucks is that Autocad didn’t bother with it in the first place.

TechDan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Autodesk does this and many others as well

The problem with your argument is that I have indeed had to open a 2011 file in Inventor 2009.

In fact, I was faced with that exact scenario just a few months ago. I do most of my Inventor work on a networked virtual machine that is always running the latest software (one of the perks of working for a research institute). Unfortunately, when I needed to print something outside of the lab that I normally work in, the network connection was too slow to reasonably print over the extended network, so I pulled the files I needed via WinSCP and loaded them into Inventor 2009 to print everything off. Worked just fine.

Autodesk hasn’t significantly changed the .ipt, .iam, .idw, .dwg, or .dwf in years. The only problems I’ve ever encountered is when switching from an Educational product to a Professional version.

David says:

Re: Re: Autodesk does this and many others as well

I am an engineer as well, and all versions of Revit work this way, both architecture and the two engineering versions, structure and mep. AutoCAD is only backwards compatible if the file is saved down by the party with the new version, if not, it cannot be opened.

Autodesk is pushing Revit and BIM as the future, and in that future, there is no backwards compatibility.

bng says:

Re: Autodesk does this and many others as well

exactly, that’s worst about architecture 🙂 – all the programs are windows only (and just recently there are few for mac at least).

It’s probably even worse than the adobe situation, but how hard would it be to have have an really open format for drawings? Could such a format be SVG-based? If possible, that would be real winner, eventually you could open these in every (real) web browser!

Jeffry Houser (profile) says:

Will Adobe's New Subscription Model Pricing fix this?

Many [in the Adobe Community] feel that Adobe’s new Subscription model pricing will help solve issues like this:

Instead of paying a single “high price” you’ll pay a much lower monthly fee and always have the most up to date software.

Such a Subscription model seems to coincide with a lot of the values touted here; as they are selling their ability to continue to update their products.

I have no idea how this will play out long term, though.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Will Adobe's New Subscription Model Pricing fix this?

That might work, but they still price themselves out of the larger market. Photoshop alone is $420 a year. Hell, Dreamweaver is $228 for just a year (if you sign up for the entire year). You might be able to convince larger businesses to go with this and get away from the compatibility problem that Adobe put in, but it will never catch on in small businesses or home use.

Hopefully that’s per user licenses and not per workstation licenses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Will Adobe's New Subscription Model Pricing fix this?

I work for a small business that would balk at $500 per year. The problem is, we have about 12 people that need to use Photoshop, but 10 of them only need it about 1-2 weeks out of every year. Usually the 2 people that use it all the time will design brochures, flyers, t-shirts, etc. and then several other people will be involved in making minor edits, changes, and suggestions. (In my case, I have to make minor edits to our web graphics a few times a year.)

We could always get a standalone computer or build up virtual machines for people to access when they need it, but invariably more than one person would need it at the same time.

Right now we have 3 or 4 licenses and we make people use other machines or work directly with the designer but there are CONSTANT complaints.

Convincing a boss to pay $5,000 for software that will rack up maybe 100 hours of usage during a year is going to be a hard sell.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Will Adobe's New Subscription Model Pricing fix this?

I find it hard to believe a small business will have trouble affording $500 a year for software that is important to keeping them in business.

Considering that about half of those businesses disappeared in the past five years, I’d believe it. (At least if we’re talking about professional typographers and print shops.)

The new market for Adobe will likely be graphic designers for the Web. Most of those guys are freelance, so they will absolutely balk at $500 per year. Especially since version compatibility doesn’t matter as much to their clients.

Andy (profile) says:

Yes, yes, yes

As an ICT manager, I find myself cursing Adobe more regularly than I would care to think. Every time we have a change in our personnel and need to transfer a licence to a new user or a new computer, we have to go through the incredible hoops set before us by Adobe.

I consider their products to be expensive to purchase (with frequent updates being required caused by the very backwards compatibility issue described in the article) and in many cases ludicrously bloated. It is beyond inconvenient.

Ironically, one of our former employees, who was enthusiastically advocating our own products be locked down by some complex licensing technology, was an ex-Adobe salesperson. He was extremely enamoured of the company for which he had previously worked and had no grasp of the trouble these tools cause for the customer who has actually bought their licence. And as has been observed so many times before, these same products can be obtained with cracks and serial codes from the torrents, thereby proving the pointlessness of these appalling mechanisms.

Gwiz (profile) says:

I work in the sign business and we always have trouble with this. I have found that Inkscape opens most Adobe files OK with minimal data loss. I use Gsview to convert .eps files.

By far the worse program I have run across is Microsoft’s Publisher which comes with some versions of Office. People use this because they have it on their computers already and this thing sucks totally. It is not compatible upwards or downwards between ANY of it’s own versions. And the file format is proprietary, so there isn’t even a viewer available that you could at least print through a PDF print driver to make a PDF file.

Anonymous Coward says:

Does anyone remember Quark? It was a pain-in-the-ass to use. It was so user unfriendly and so convoluded, that it begged people to use something else. Later versions weren’t any better either.

Then there was PageMaker. It was so much friendlier to use and the ability to use Illustrator and PhotoShop files in it was so well done.

Then came InDesign and it was like a breath of fresh air. Going to InDesign made so much sense. It was even better than PageMaker and Quark put together. It was limitless with its modular structure. But now it seems like the latter versions of InDesign is making it more like Quark — inconvenient, difficult and costly. The brainiacs at Adobe better get their head out of their asses soon. Otherwise, consumers will want to go with something else and fast.

Anonymous Coward says:

ummm last i chehcked Photoshop asks you if you want to save it for backwards compat; I’ve rarely had issues with this. Yeah maybe something now doesn’t show up right, but I could still open the file. And as long as it wasn’t some crazy new feature, you would be fine. The other adobe products have the issue badly. Going from Flash 8 to cs3 and cs then cs5 is a nightmare.

Transbot9 (user link) says:

Personal Experiance

I am surprised I didn’t run into this when I was in college – or at least, run into it very often. Not only was there a difference in versions between my personal PC and the lab’s macs, but I was running between cross-platform. Indesign is probably more finiky than Photoshop and Illustrator in this regard.

And yes, if you are using System fonts (came with the computer), they will look slighty different on different platforms even if they are named the same. Adobe and 3rd party fonts are a little better. Copyright and fonts get…weird. Font copyright is about as strong as fashion copyright (as in very weak), and you cannot copyright a typeface (the printed font). You can trademark a typeface, but those trademarks are very specific.

Anonymous Coward says:

As a former InDesign phone support employee, unfortunately being told to buy the new version is just a result of Adobe moving all of their support out of the US. I would rather not defend them as due to the outsourcing I lost my job.
It is possible to export to a previous version although it only works one version back

if you need to go more than one version back it the same process must be repeated in the older version ie CS5 export to CS4, then CS4 export to CS3

JH says:

Release Schedule

Adobe and the like know they aren’t adding enough value to the new versions to get people to upgrade for new features alone. Therefore they resort to tactics like this.

I think they might get more credit if, rather then making yearly releases with trivial updates, they followed something more akin to an OS release schedule. Release big versions every couple years with exciting feature improvements that get people excited about upgrading rather then merely forcing them to upgrade simply so they can collaborate with people using the new version.

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

Re: Release Schedule

Yes because hype sells so much better over value.
Yes because innovation comes in chunks
yes because nobody finds Windows 7 iso to play Crysis years ahead of time of even the name of it announced… this one is second hand btw I’m stuck on a a 6 yr-old portable that can barely run League of Legends without overheating and forget about dual monitors but I digress…
yes because businesses earn credit through hype

I can spend more time here punching holes in everything wrong in that post but I’m currently watching .hack and my megavideo 30 minute timer just ticked.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

The same place as your self-reliance to use a more meaningful search query.

Why don’t you show me how it’s done and find me a free program that will convert DSS sound files to an open format like MP3 or Wave?

While you’re at it, can you please find me a free Windows program to convert CorelDRAW CDR files to something else?

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m not your mentor; there iss that self-reliance you failed to take into account.

Believe me, I’ve searched. Which isn’t all that easy to do any more since 90% of the web pages on the net now use a frigging script that mirrors back whatever you search for to ensure that the page shows up in the search results regardless of the fact that it doesn’t actually have anything to do with your search. Then there’s Google’s wonderful idea of showing you pages that don’t actually contain the words you searched for.

I’ve asked on forums, searched freeware archives, done general searches of the net, etc.

As for formats that don’t covert for… another… use?. Why use proprietary crap at all in the first place?

Because you can’t control what other people use. I have a friend who does transcription work and who had to pay for a pricey proprietary program to play DSS files, because that’s the only format that the doctors would supply their audio recordings in. I couldn’t find any freeware to convert them to anything else and the one shareware conversion program I found, just plain didn’t work. The company insisted it did, but neither she, nor I could get it to do squat with any of the files that she had. on any system we tried it on. They play fine in the expensive player program, but the cheaper shareware converter wouldn’t touch them.

I have some CorelDRAW files that I grabbed off the net a long time ago. I’d love to have them in some open format, but they were only available in CDR format.

Scootah (profile) says:

Even in major enterprise, it’s almost impossible to comply with Adobe’s licensing conditions. In a previous business with 800 users, connecting to a citrix farm – we had 20 users through the business who needed adobe professional.

With most applications, we would simply install the product on the citrix farm and restrict user access to the executable through security groups, or install the app and then publish it through citrix to be only available to members of a security group that would be restricted to the number of purchased licenses.

Neither of these solutions are suitable for Adobe. To install this product in a citrix farm – you either need to Silo all users of this product to a single server instance (regardless of their geographic location, making their entire user experience awful because they want to make PDF’s and don’t want to use the free print to pdf from word option) or purchase an additional product at increased cost and with extensive management overhead.

Had we failed to comply with these idiotic requirements, and been audited by Adobe – we would have been up for $320k, because we had 20 users who wanted to use a product, even though we had already paid $8k to license those users, and they were the only users who could actually use the application.

In another buisness with a thousand users, where we wanted to mass update Adobe freeware products within the enterprise in response to major security exploits, and lock down certain behaviours to prevent new security issues as we moved forward with correcting the SOE, we found that we couldn’t actually do it without obtaining a distribution license – otherwise we would be in breach of the terms of installation by altering the behaviour of the application install packages or accepting the terms and conditions. All the tools for doing what we wanted to do were published without any kind of warning that we would be breaching the license, in Adobe KB articles or blogs. We had to choose between risking Adobe’s notorious audit nightmare or leaving critical security vulnerabilities in place through the enterprise.

As an admin, it has become immensely in my interests to fight tooth and nail against the deployment of any Adobe product. If a developer wants Cold Fusion? It’s a nightmare unless I can talk them out of it and into Blue Dragon or something. If we want a PDF reader – almost any of the third party alternatives will be vastly more practical to maintain in the SOE or managed desktop environments. If people want to produce PDF’s? It’s easier to teach them to use a third party product and a print to pdf driver than to try and manage the products in an enterprise environment. I hate Apple’s anti flash stance on iOS devices, but it’s a nightmare to allow it in my business environment. Air is a ludicrous hassle to maintain. The creative suite products (Photoshop, dreamweaver, etc) are all a HUGE pain in the ass to support on anything except single user dedicated fat clients.

Just auditing the internal environment to minimize harm in the event of an Adobe audit requires a custom auditing solution or SCCM or something – and for several of my clients, those solutions are tremendously expensive, and have insufficient business benefit to justify them – except for the looming threat of Adobe BS.

No matter how good their products might be, it’s almost certainly cheaper for an enterprise scale business to just not use any of them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Self-Inflicted Injuries Abound

Reading the comments on this post has been most amusing. I haven’t laughed so much in ages. Get a grip people. It’s simple:

To Edit: Use:
bitmaps (pictures, etc.) Gimp
drawings (scaleable) Inkscape
documents (formatted text) Libre Office
publications (fancy format) Scribus
web pages Gedit

All these applications:

1. Are free
2. Are 100% legal to install anywhere you like
3. Are 100% legal to install on as many machines as you please
4. Conform to standards
5. Work just fine
6. Have Linux versions

If you do not like what proprietary software vendors do to you, do not buy their products. Just install the free replacements mentioned here and transition away from the world of pain. Take as long as you like. Expensive upgrades to proprietary software will become mysteriously less attractive. It is funny how, once you start using free software and enjoying your freedom, you never want to go back!

Billy Wenge-Murphy (profile) says:

Re: Self-Inflicted Injuries Abound

GIMP: Inferior in features and (more importantly) usability to Photoshop, or even Paint Shop Pro.

Inkscape: Now I’m the one laughing. It absolutely PALES in comparison to the Flash authoring environment. Where is the timeline in Inkscape, exactly? Where do I point and click to execute a simple motion tween?

Don’t know what Scribus is but I’ll agree on the other two. A web designer who NEEDS Dreamweaver is just awful at what they do.

transition away from the world of pain

The open source alternatives are a world of pain all their own. (I say this as a Linux user)

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

The Free Software Mindset

The way people are doing comparisons between Free Software applications (Gimp, Inkscape, Scribus, Blender etc) and proprietary ones seems to be implicitly on a one-to-one basis: Photoshop has these features, Gimp doesn?t, therefore Gimp is inferior.

Look at it a different way: Free Software packages are not islands unto themselves, they are consciously designed to exist in a complete ecosystem, able to freely exchange data with other software components. That is, it?s not enough just to try substituting the one Free Software package for a proprietary one, you have to look at all the other packages available in the Free Software world, and bring in a few more of them. Then you start to see the power that comes from combining them to do tasks that no individual package can manage?not even the proprietary ones.

For example, look at ?automation? and ?plug-ins? in Photoshop, versus what Gimp calls a ?plug-in?. In Photoshop, ?automation? is the simple-minded, limited, dare I say clumsy built-in capability for users to do something resembling scripting, while ?plug-ins? are the full-on heavy-duty programming extensions that have to be written in C or C++ and require you to download an SDK and have all these programming skills to manage. While in Gimp, ?plug-ins? cover the whole gamut, from a few lines of Python script all the way up to full Photoshop-style add-ons, with no artificial boundary drawn at any point. And the ability to write them comes built into Gimp itself, no need to buy anything extra. But access to that Python scripting gives you access to all the other power available in Python, including toolkits written by others for all kinds of purposes, who never envisaged their use with Gimp. Python provides the glue that makes it all work together.

I think users of Free Software under Windows are at a disadvantage here, because every single package they want to install requires a separate manual download. To get a better experience of the whole Free Software ecosystem, try a Linux installation, where you can just check a bunch of boxes in a package manager and automatically have a whole bunch of tools installed, just like that.

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