Another Last Creative Cloud Comment ;~)


Choosing software is always a risk. You're balancing what the software product does for you against the cost and against how long the software is likely to be able to do that work for you. 

The thing about high tech--and in digital photography both our cameras and our computer darkrooms are high tech—is that it produces a constant stream of transitions. Hardware changes. Operating systems change. UI changes. Underlying technologies (CPU, ports, etc.) changes. The one thing you know for sure will happen is that something will change. And many of those changes impact software developers.

We have very few software companies left that have weathered the constant storms of tech changes. Consider word processing. I started with Electric Pencil, moved to WordStar, eventually moved to Word, and now use Nisus Writer Pro. Each change in my software choice was precipitated by hardware and OS changes, sometimes because a vendor didn't weather the change themselves. 

When you choose a software program, you're committing your work (and often data) to a product and process. If things go well, you chose wisely and have (relatively) pain-free transitions as the underlying hardware and OS change. This has been the reason why I've withdrawn my recommendation for Nikon Capture NX2, by the way: historically it doesn't weather changes very well, and it now has an oddball UI that doesn't match our underlying systems (try touch with Capture NX2).

Eventually every company stumbles in tech. Some, like Apple, manage to dust themselves off and get back on a good track. With others, like Microsoft or Dell right now, it isn't clear whether they'll get back on track. Some, like Sun, get absorbed into another organization. Still others, like Digital Research and CP/M, disappear. 

For Photoshop, we've had an almost 25-year run (most people don't remember that it was originally bundled with the Barneyscan and was revolutionary at the time for its advanced color management). There have been some rough patches in that history where tech delayed and almost derailed it (64-bit and the change in the OS X library support that caused a rewrite to the product, for example). 

The problem, as I point out below, is that Adobe's business decisions have caused a massive user re-evaluation. The user perception is that the risk of continuing to use Photoshop (and the other Creative Suite apps) has risen due to the chance for file lock-in and requiring a current subscription to even access your data and work, let alone make changes to it. 

Whether that perception is accurate or not is not the problem here. Sometimes you get these chicken-and-egg issues where it doesn't really matter what the issue is, only that there is an issue. The real problem for Adobe is how badly they marketed and managed this transition. They did so poorly at it that they actually may have jeopardized sales, and that in turn then just makes users evaluate the risk as higher. Like I wrote, chicken-and-egg.

Even the solution that some users are choosing--buying CS6 and not subscribing to CC--is risky. CS6 will work until the hardware or OS changes enough that it needs a fix. Whether Adobe would make that fix is now questionable, given their comments about "one code base." 

In short, there's no simple answer. All three possible solutions--going with CC, stopping at CS6, finding an alternative product--have risk. Twenty years from now, it's possible that all three solutions will have turned out to be dead ends and we had to move on. 

A number of folk have questioned my workflow. I always save and rename raw files into a file structure hierarchy first. Then and only then do I import into Lightroom or Aperture. Why? Because I can find any file in my structure without relying upon a software product with a proprietary database that some day may no longer make it through a tech transition. In other words, I evaluated the risk of committing to a proprietary solution and then did something to mitigate that risk in the future. In looking back, I now wish I had done that with more of my data and work: I've found a few things that had rocky transitions for me because I didn't do enough mitigation early on.

For example: NEF+JPEG. I think I may have been a little too harsh on this option in some of my comments in retrospect. While a NEF has an embedded JPEG you can extract, it's not as high in quality as you can record separately. What I really want is NEF+TIFF. Maybe I should have built an automatic Create TIFF into my ingest workflow. 

So the real story here isn't about Adobe, it's about your photos. I'm going to have to do some more thinking about this subject, but once I have, I'll try to give you some further ideas about how you can take as much risk as possible out of your choices.

text and images © 2017 Thom Hogan
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