The problem with Adobe's Creative Cloud 2014 Edition / by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud. One way or another, I've been using the Creative Suite for essentially ever. I don't use most of it, but the things I do use are extremely useful. Photoshop, of course, is a fabulously useful tool. Although I use Pixlr when I just have to quickly grab and crop/resize images for a blog post or whatever, Photoshop is my go-to for anything more complicated. For a while, I tried paint.net, but the way it treated layers screwed me over one time too many. I use InDesign on occasion, because it just makes for good-looking things (and it makes way better tables than Word does). It's much more complicated than I need, but when I do need to do something a bit more technical, I'm glad I've got it on hand.

But the former artist-formerly-known-as-the-production-premium-suite is the reason I spent the money in the first place. For a wannabe filmmaker, it's an all-but-essential purchase. While Premiere Pro may not be the industry standard, it's become the editor of choice for lower-scale productions. Premiere Elements was the first software I really used to edit back in the day, and so I feel some brand loyalty, but it's also a great program. And the way everything in the Creative Cloud links together is spectacular.

With my most recent project, Miranda, I used the whole thing: importing footage through Prelude, editing video in Premiere, editing sound in Audition, color correcting in SpeedGrade, and looking at After Effects but never actually needing it. (I did use it for a single shot during one of my tests, but it was unnecessary for my final production.) While friends were using multiple program by different developers, I had a consisntent and complete package. I could right click and send it on over to another Adobe program, and I would be able to figure out some of the basics almost immediately. That is awesome.

And it's the reason why you buy Adobe software.

So what does that have to do with Creative Cloud 2014? Well, it has everything to do with it. When I signed up for the Creative Cloud, I did so under a pretty simple pretense: I wouldn't have to worry about versioning anymore. I had used CS5, 5.5, 6, and I was over needing to keep track of that kind of thing.

I also did it for the sake of compatibility. With the exception of Photoshop, pretty much every program update makes files incompatible with previous versions. If I create an InDesign document in CC, my friend using CS6 can't change it. I thought that would never happen again.

But CC 2014 changed all that. When Adobe announced that "What's New is New Again," I just assumed that I would open up the Creative Cloud app and see updates for all of my existing apps. The applications I currently had installed would be the same in four years that they are now. Instead, I saw updates for most of them and a whole bunch of new programs for me to download and install. While complaining about that may come off as whiny, there's a problem: Not all CC-compatible plugins are CC (2014) compatible.

That's a problem.

And it's exactly the problem that I thought the Creative Cloud was going to fix. But no, and the fact that it's named by year means that we may very well have annualized CC updates. I mean, who's going to want to be using CC 2014 in 2015 or beyond? Nobody. That's dumb, and it also defeats the basic conceit of "Big features as they come." These features were clearly held back for the big reveal. Yes, there have been some cool things added since I subscribed, but this wasn't part of the deal that I thought I had signed up for.

A trickle of new features not be as sexy as, say, a flood, but so what? They could even make announcements every year, "These are the things we've done for our subscribers!" If anything, it has something of a backwards effect, because people won't expect much from the middle of the year. The program becomes far less interesting for that.

And here's just a general question: Who is Adobe selling to? Adobe makes software for professionals (or at least semi-pros and advanced amateurs), all of whom know about Adobe. Heck, Photoshop may be one of the most well known programs in the history of the world. Even if people have never used it, they've definitely heard of it. Much to Adobe's chagrin, "photoshop" is just a part of our language now.

So everyone knows about Adobe, and they know about the programs. What does undermining their message about the benefits of a subscription really get them?

My mild annoyance.

I hope they're happy.