July 16, 2013

#Adobe, cloudy reasoning, your local paper and #effyou

If you've heard the recent news about how Adobe is going to move all future releases of its Creative Suite software program bundle to the cloud, and you're also a newspaper fan, especially of smaller community newspapers, you should be concerned.

This will be an additional price burden for said community newspapers, and it's not yet clear how much.

Meanwhile, Adobe's InDesign desktop publishing program took off as quickly as it did, even though its predecessor, Pagemaker, was A: Pretty crappy; B: Designed to work best on PCs, not Macs, because the competition, Quark XPress, rightfully got a bad reputation, mainly in the customer service field. It didn't respond well, or quickly, to queries or complaints, first. Second, its updates didn't generally offer all new services customers wanted, even after InDesign started gaining ground. And today, Quark appears content to rest on its legacy background along with "trapped overhead costs" of many newspapers, hoping they don't want to spend the money to switch, if they haven't.

First, if you're a smaller newspaper, and you haven't switched, you shouldn't.

Second, if you're still running pre-Intel Macs, and you're realizing you're eventually going to have to face the upgrade wall, you have options.

That includes buying Windows 7 PCs while they're still around, but dirt-cheap. Quark 7 or 8 on Windoze works well. Depending on the size of your paper, you may be able to buy a couple of copies of older versions of Photoshop as a stand-alone and work with them.

Or, look at Photoshop Elements. Or a non-Adobe photo-editing program. Anything up to the size of a 7-day daily of less than 25K circ doesn't have to go hog-wild on the latest and greatest version of Photoshop. (Or the same for either Quark or InDesign.)

The latest edition of Publishers' Auxiliary, the monthly newspaper for the community newspaper industry from the National Newspaper Association, goes into this issue with a lot of detail. Here's their lede piece.

Anyway, if you have a small newspaper or small mag, explore your options.

And, this could lead more to consider other options.

Like finally making the transition to digital only. Of course, that will be digital in an HTML sense. Not an e-edition, as without either InDesign or Quark, you're not creating PDFs, unless you want to try to creatively downgrade to Microsoft Publisher. .

Seriously, this is another option for newspapers and magazines. Depending on what version of Creative Suite you have, how likely it is to get continued Abode debug support and for how long, and how long it's going to be able to handle files (like until Abode gets dickish and creates extensions like "tifx" or "inddx" to force your hand) you have a few years to plan details of a move to digital only.

And, if you have to have creative tools, there's alternatives. If not Photoshop Elements, there's GIMP,  the German photo editing program Photoscape and more. Anything halfway like Photoshop that has good work with layers and a decent filter set is an option. Illustrator? Corel Draw's the easy alternative. And, on InDesign? You can go back to Quark, or suck it up enough to figure out a way to do something with Publisher if you have to.

And, then, at some point, go web-only.

Plus, there's Abode's lie, I believe, of saying they're doing this for a more steady revenue stream. No, it's an anti-piracy measure, which will probably just up the piracy wars. Given what we already know about cloud-computing and security issues, I don't see why this would be much harder of a hack than before.

Meanwhile, if it's smart, Corel bundles PaintShop, Draw, and Word Perfect, and looks at creating its own desktop publishing program to bundle with that. It could aim at the lower end of the market, say something about as bells-and-whistles as Quark version 3. A lot of non-daily papers would find that whole suite fine if they've not upgraded to Office 2007 or later on the Windoze side. Add in that Corel has basic-level video editing software and more, per its Wiki page and its home page,  and there's potential indeed. Or it could buy Quark; after all, Corel itself is a "built-up" company; all of its main products were acquired by acquiring companies.

In short, Corel could become a new "player" in multiple software games, and also give a lot of people a new way to say "Eff you" to Adobe (and a bit of sideswipe "eff you" to Microsoft in the process, and to Apple in a way, as well).

Update, July 16: I now have found further reason to very dislike Adobe. The advertising salesperson's newspaper at our office has an older version of InDesign than I do. I was going to "downsave" a page of spec ad templates for him to open on his computer.

No soap. Adobe apparently doesn't allow downsaves to older versions. Quark does. Even Microslob does. This increases the possibility that, at least in proprietary Adobe formats, it may increase this with the equivalent of a "docx" setup at some future date.

You can do a quasi-template downsave, but even that only works with going down one edition. I don't think this is a "limitation" problem, since Quark allows more flexibility and Word (though a lesser program, modern XML Word is more than fried Spam) offers much more. Rather, I think this is an Adobe snootiness issue. Thank doorknob common photography formats are pre-Photoshop.

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