A Letter to Adobe

Adobe, I had given you all, and now I have nothing. Adobe, six hundred ninety nine dollars and zero cents, October 21, 2009. I had almost lost my mind.

Adobe, years ago, I declared that I would not pirate software. I was a student at the time, which meant a few things: first, I was exposed to a large number of people who would otherwise make software piracy extremely easy (easier than buying, in the case of expensive software that requires keygens and licensing that becomes impossible if you reinstall your OS), and second, I got student discounts for most of the powerhouse software I used at the time. It also meant that I was surrounded by intelligent students who used a wide variety of software to accomplish, more or less, the same tasks. When it came to image editing/processing, there are several choices, each with their pros and cons.

But still, given all of those choices, I ranked Adobe Photoshop not only as my number one image processing software, but I put it on my top five softwares of all time. A few of my friends, more in the art field than I, showed me all of the tricks to use Photoshop to make something incredible, all in only a few clicks. I was amazed.

My decision, however, to be honest and end software piracy came only after I concluded that Photoshop was the best image processing software available at the time. So for a year or two (or three), I used a pirated copy of Creative Suite.  Time came to reformat my computer, and I was particularly excited because my girlfriend had a legitimate copy, and gave me her license. It felt good to be “honest”, and even better to not spend the several hundred dollars it cost for such a suite.

A few years passed, and I entered the business world. I was still very active developing websites and other Photoshop-related art, and still considered it to be among the most powerful (and useful) software available. But I was stuck using an old version, since the upgrade cost didn’t really justify an upgrade for a guy like me, who doesn’t use Photoshop as much as professional designers who make a living off of it. Then a colleague told me our company had a “volume license” which could be installed on up to 200 machines. Installation was a breeze, and only required some registration to prove that I worked for the company.

I used Creative Suite 3 for over two years and was more or less satisfied. It works beautifully with my Wacom tablet, and, basically, it does what I want it to. My biggest complaint is that the Adobe Updater is a piece of junk, runs in the foreground whenever you least want it to, and requires that you close every browser (and sometimes, it seems, every application). Not to mention the fact that installing Photoshop and Illustrator takes up a whopping 5gb, considering the required Bridge, Updater, etc., or that a single PSD file is the size of a small city.

Then cut to this past weekend. It was time, again, for a reinstall. Because I’ve been busy with work, I was using the same OS and CS3 install that I was using for those two years. I did a clean install of OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and found that the “volume license” my colleague had given me was bogus. To this day, I have no idea how he slipped it by me (though I think he really thought it was legit as well). But since I use Photoshop regularly, and my art buddies all use that as a standard and thus can really only help me with that software, I went to buy a real copy.

It took at least a minute for the laughter to turn into anger, and then only a few minutes more to turn into tears. Even if I buy the simplest package that I’d find useful, Adobe Photoshop CS4, with no other software (Illustrator, Lightroom, etc), the price was more than what I spent on my Mac Mini media server. I was appalled. I was horrified. I already had this software. It was sitting right in front of me, asking me for a serial number. A series of numbers! I was left with a choice. Do I:

  • Spend $699 on a software that will require another $199 to update in probably less than a year, but feel good that I was honest?
  • Spend $199 and buy my brother dinner in exchange for using his student ID to get a student copy, even though I’m not a student?
  • Spend less than ten minutes finding a serial and a keygen, and soon forget that I don’t feel <i>good</i> because I was dishonest, merely fitting in with the tens of thousands of people who have pirated it?
  • Say goodbye to Photoshop forever.

Well, Adobe, it took me some time to decide, but I chose to say goodbye to your product. I uninstalled the fake copy from my computer (using your lousy uninstall application, which still left all the utilities and several preferences in my ~/Library). And I went searching for some of that good old software I was exposed to back in college.

And I feel great. Rather than giving my money to a company that comically requires students and hobbyists to spend several hundred dollars to use what their colleges likely call the “industry standard,” I proudly gave my money to Bohemian Coding, a small company basically built in full by a guy named Pieter, who will respond to my questions without asking for more money or a complicated support request system. DrawIt, a simple vector based drawing app, is not only simpler to use, but avoids throwing all of those unnecessary, rarely used tools in my face, along with load of pallets that I don’t need. Its updating mechanism fits with the Apple “just works” theme, and doesn’t require a beefy background app that forces me to stop everything I’m doing while it runs. It accepts standard document types, and can save in many of them. And, perhaps best of all, it didn’t cost me the price of a new computer.

I suppose, Adobe, that I should thank you. Thank you for making me realize that you are not my only choice when it comes to high powered Image Processing software. Thank you for making me support my fellow developers for their hard work, and thank you for making me appreciate the developers who actually care about their clients, and respond to their problems in a timely manner.

And finally, Adobe, thank you for pushing me away from using your products ever again.

With regards,

THE Lowly Peon.

#adobe #software

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