Adobe Friend or Foe

When did Adobe become evil?

They will lose out by not properly supporting OS X and the iPhone. Adobe was such a cool company they invented Postscript and help start the desktop publishing revolution. They built up a range of products that were cool and designers and developers loved (ok they bought op a bunch of great aps other than Illustrator and Photoshop).

Then something happened – they stopped innovating and competing with their competitors and started buying them (Macromeida killing freehand and Golive). They took a page out of Microsoft\’s playbook and bundled their key products around their hits (Can you say Creative Suite) and got everyone to standardize on ALL their tools. Along the way they sort of fell out with Apple and have been making their users (ok many people use CS on Windows machines – but the bulk of professional designers are still a very Mac centric group) and have been alienating their core users for years, but not a problem there is no alternative (where is the DOJ when you need them).

The new CS4 is great but ugly and tried to act like a windows application on my Mac and I want it to stop! Now I have no problem with any company making money and benefiting from their successful efforts, and Adobe deserves to be successful as they do have great products. But they also need to serve their customers and it is time we users stand up and yell that we want CS to be a real mac application. No windowsish interface tweaks disguised as updates.

Video Works to Flash?

Video Works to Flash?

Then there is flash, I used Macromedia\’s animation before there was flash (I will find and post pictures of my 800K floppies of VideoWorks that became director that became Flash!) and it was and can be a useful tool. But using flash as a web platform is just wrong! Flash encourages bad site design: I have never seen a Flash site that is as easy to use or as fast as a HTML based site. Now with modern CSS there is not much that Flash offers in functionality that can not be done better, faster and with open standards. The modern alternatives simply work the way it should. – rather than as some weird video game from the early 90\’s that most flash sites seem to inherently move towards. The whole thing about usability is about behaving the way users expect it to behave – Flash seems to make / encourage developers forget interface basics.

DId I say it was SLOOOOOW. It is a hog and as such it is not on mobile devices. So the fastest growing segment of users will not have access to any Flash based content. Adobe has \”evolved flash\” \”their objective\” was to move from a light weight plug-in for motion graphics to a platform they could control.

They got the video playing thing by accident (I think – simply it was the best way to make sure you could protect your streams rather than have people down load it and have the content locally – but that is an other story). Their platform ambitions are about owning the tools and the delivery method such that they can monetize all parts of the process by controlling all the parts. There is nothing wrong with this it is the goal of all the players from Microsoft to Apple to Google.

But Adobe is unique in that they actually own the tools part (CS4/Photoshop) and established flash as a standard, where as Apple and MS have real platforms (multiple in both cases). Adobe\’s problem is that they are building their platform on top of others (OS>imaging Model>Browser) and it started to simple and they want to keep some backwards compatibility. That is why Flash is bloated and slow, and why it is closed, invisible to search engines (Flash sites are bad form an SEO stand point) and a dead end. Everyone wants it to die other than Adobe. And the wave of the future is open standards based HTML/CSS/Java based solutions that Apple and Google are deploying. No plug-ins required and the interface is open but consistent.

What to do?


Personally I do not use sites that require flash for functionality. For example; my favorite hotel chain (Morgan\’s Group) just \”upgraded\” (as in made it unusable) their site to all flash based, and as a result on my last two trips to San Francisco I did not stay at the Clift but at the W hotel because the second the new flash site came up I left and found an other hotel site. I did send an email to the Morgan\’s Group expressing my dismay at their \”new\” site and the fact that as a result they have lost my business. The most effective way to change things is with your wallet.

Most people will put up with Flash if they have no choice or if it does not get in the way. And you need to speak up when it does get in the way.

Virgin Atlantic borders on using flash to the point where their site is unusable fortunately it still works enough without flash that you can at least make reservations and check flights – but it takes much to much tim e due to the flash content slowing the site down even though it does not prevent you form using the site. This is a great example where they can improve their user experience simply by removing the flash that adds no value to their site.

So, the next time someone asks when Flash is going to be on the iPhone simply say you hope never and hope everyone stops using it on their sites!

Better still click the contact link and tell the sites that have bad flash user interfaces ti change it now!

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