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Cause and (plug-in developer) effect of the Adobe Creative Cloud ecosystem

Lesa Snider | July 3, 2015
If there's one constant in the universe, it's that nothing stays the same. Everything changes at some point--call it progress, evolution, devolution or whatever you want. The problem is that change is scary, especially when it affects your livelihood.

adobe creative cloud 2015

If there's one constant in the universe, it's that nothing stays the same. Everything changes at some point--call it progress, evolution, devolution or whatever you want. The problem is that change is scary, especially when it affects your livelihood.

For example, many would say that Adobe upset the software apple cart by bundling their apps into Creative Cloud and switching from perpetual licensing to a subscription-based model. Creative pros weren't comfortable with the idea of renting software, regardless of any advantages. The controversy rages on, and Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription model continues to wreak havoc on third-party (non-Adobe) plug-ins that interact with Creative Cloud apps. Things have a gotten a bit messy.

The setup

Before Creative Cloud cropped up, Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator users were hyper aware of each major upgrade, because they had to fork over serious money to get it. Now upgrades arrive with no additional payment required beyond the ongoing (and easily forgettable) monthly Creative Cloud fee. Upgrading is as convenient as clicking an Update button--a process we've all been conditioned to perform for free incremental updates from software companies (Adobe included) for years.

Adobe's intended effect with Creative Cloud was to make customers less sensitive to the actual cost of each major revision, since it's amortized over many months of payments. Adobe's unintended effect has been to anger and confuse some customers who now must pay to upgrade their third-party plug-ins so they work with the updated Adobe apps. Why? Because when customers become less involved in paying for major upgrades to Adobe's apps, they become less understanding of the cost of keeping third-party plug-ins going.

The problem

Here's a case in point: Most creative pros work with many fonts, from many sources. For sanity's sake, this necessitates they use a font management utility such as Linotype's FontExplorer X Pro, Extensis' Suitcase Fusion or Insider Software's FontAgent Pro. Font management is no small matter--it's a complex (and convoluted) science because there are multiple versions of many fonts and most fonts have multiple font formats.

To resolve the confusion, pro-level font management apps use plug-ins to track specific font information inside pro-level design apps such as Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and QuarkXPress. As Adobe and Quark release major upgrades (usually indicated by a new version number such as 8, 9 or 10, or a by a new year such as 2014 or 2015), their plug-in architecture changes enough that the font managers need a new plug-in for each new version of the app. Obviously, this costs those developers time and money that must be recovered.

 

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