Nov 12, 2021Liked by Erik Carter

This is indeed an interesting and well written read. I soke up the informations and had a little laugh. I liked the tiny bit of opinion and the reveal of alternatives. Thanks for providing it.

Regards from Berlin, Leo / BraveType

P.S.: write more, I am trying to read more, their is a good journalist/author sleeping in you.

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Really great article, Adobe seems to constantly be making it more difficult for graphic designers!

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In a way, the market situation for layout and typesetting apps reminds me of the year 2000. Professionals around me were using QuarkXPress and none of them felt the need to try the new Adobe InDesign. Yes, version 1.0 wasn't competitive, it was missing a number of features, but certain features suggested that Adobe was on the right track. For example, support for Unicode and OpenType fonts eliminated the nightmare for many designers when multilingual texts required separate fonts: one for French and Spanish, another for Czech and Polish, another for Romanian and Turkish.

I remember Adobe experts traveling around Europe in 2001 or so, meeting with the local typographic communities and finding out what the specifics of the typesetting in different languages were. Then they actually implemented their findings. And today? They usee robots to translate new items in the UI – at least in the Czech version, some of the UI translations are truly absurd. What a disregard for local communities and their culture.

I use an eight-year-old version of InDesign CS6 for my work. Since 2012, no major features have appeared in InDesign, except that each successive version has been slower, less reliable, and contains more bugs. The only new feature in the latest version is the renaming of master pages to parent pages!

I'm watching the Affinity suite of apps very closely, and with each version I hope they add a multiline composer comparable (or better), because the aligned columns of text look noticeably worse in Publisher so far. I can't do without footnotes either, unfortunately. But once Publisher gets these features, I'll call goodbye, Adobe.

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In the mid 1980s, I became Tariff Publishing Officer for a large railroad. We moved our publishing operations from outside vendors/typesetting services to in-house using proprietary software created for the tariff publishing industry (yes, it exists). The software ran on CP/M computers and in the more sophisticated version used a UNIX mini-computer as a file host. In our application, output was printed via the company's mainframe computer on IBM 3900 laser printers (at about 120 pages per minute).

In 1987, I left the railroad and opened a small franchise print shop. It was a pioneer in offering rental computers and a laser printer to the public and we offered graphic design services to our clients. PageMaker 2.0 (on PC-Clone) was our first typesetting program. We also had one Mac SE. Eventually we added a second Mac SE with "full page display" (and Photoshop was available on both PC and Mac platforms). When FreeHand became available, it was a joy to use -- and frankly, it worked a LOT better than Adobe Illustrator (IMHO). While Quark XPress competed with PM, the truth was that PM matched QXP features within weeks or months. (It was never worth the effort to learn QXP.) I sold the print shop, but ultimately became an independent book designer (and typesetter). PageMaker was better in handling long-documents (i.e. books) than QXP, so PM remained my program of choice. (Oh, and along the way, when I bought an Epson scanner, I got a FREE copy of Photoshop...) The first version of InDesign was, well, unusable. Version 2.0 was pretty good (and opened Photoshop files fairly well).

Now, some 30+ years later, I still use Photoshop and InDesign. I still hate Illustrator (but occasionally use it when I have to). I'm mostly retired, but still produce a quarterly magazine with the Adobe tools. (And warts and all, the Acrobat/PDF programs and files are a godsend to the graphics industry.)

Could Adobe's products have been better? Absolutely. Did competitors make a good case for their products? Usually not so much. (I can't recall how many "Photoshop killer" programs where "in the pipeline" over the years -- most were flops.) The only typesetting (sort of) program that delivers the quality of InDesign is TeX ... which is a "coding" system which is far from easy to use, rather than an actual "what you see is what you get" program. Even QXP does not quite measure up to InDesign for actual quality of typesetting (if you have ID properly set up). Over the years, I've tried dozens of cheaper typesetting programs. None have been able to produce the quality of typesetting as ID and all have had major failings that made them unsuitable for very long documents.

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You pay for software?

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