Everything Old is…Well, Still Old on My Computer*

(news & commentary)

Adobe promoted today’s announcements under the line Everything Old is New Again. Well, for those not at the announcement (including me), it certainly feels like everything is a lot like before. I thought Nikon was terrible at getting clear marketing messages across to everyone quickly and broadly, but Adobe certainly hasn’t communicated everything they need to about their announcements yet. I suspect that they just think everyone will just watch hours of video to see what it is they announced. I’d rather watch a soccer match ;~). 

My Adobe Updater in the menu bar claims I have 18 updates waiting. Only problem is that the screen is blank when I click that. Yeah, we’ve seen this problem before: the promised updates not being delivered cleanly when announced. Hopefully this will clear up soon so I can really evaluate the new things with some extended trackpadding.

But let’s back up for a moment. Here’s the line that really struck me in the marketing materials I did get: "biggest software release since CS6.” Uh, wasn’t the reason why we weren’t going to get a CS7 because Adobe wanted to stop doing monolithic large releases? I think we can call BS on Adobe’s claims that CC was a way to get away from having to bundle up large releases: they’re still doing it, only you have to rent them now.

Meanwhile, the permanent US$9.99 Photoshop CC/Lightroom deal is now permanent. With only 2GB of data instead of 20GB. What this means for everyone that already has some form of Photoshop CC seems unclear at the moment. Do I now get 18GB less? Does someone who was paying the full price of US$29 or US$49 or whatever they signed up for at the time still get 20GB of data? Magic 8 ball says “check again later.” 

The permanent part is good news, I think. Most of us can live with Photoshop and Lightroom updates at US$120 year, I think. I still don’t like what happens when you stop subscribing, but maybe Adobe will eventually come around on that, too. You know guys, you can claim victory and still make users happy: make CC the only option at the new price(s) but give long-term subscribers at least a read-only standalone version as a parting gift if they get off the update wagon.

Photoshop gets a number of interesting new bits: path blur and spin blur allow different ways to apply faux motion in the pixels; focus mask allows you to use in-focus elements to create a mask for other effects (e.g. layer mask); the content-aware goodies have been enhanced and deal better with certain types of areas, specifically smooth gradients. But the big news was OpenCL changes that can give Photoshop CC a well-needed speed boost. 

Along with the now permanent semi-permanent Photoshop CC deal and some new Photoshop CC features and performance, Adobe announced some other bits and pieces on the photography side of things. Lightroom goes to version 5.5 today (though I still can’t seem to download it via Adobe Updater) and ACR and the DNG utility get a bump up to version 8.5. The new Nikon 1 cameras are now supported, along with a handful of new lenses. Other recent cameras now supported include the Olympus E-M10, the Panasonic GH4, the Samsung NX3000, the latest Sony RX100 III, and the Sony A7s. Also the bug that was causing Uncompressed NEF images from some older cameras to show random noise has now been fixed. CC versions of ACR get the new graduated and radial filter brush abilities, while CS6 users just get the new camera support. Lightroom gets some bug fixes and the ability to use star ratings from Lightroom Mobile.

Lightroom Mobile now is available for the iPhone as well as the iPad, and we get a confusing new app called Photoshop Mix that sounds a lot like what Apple is trying to do with iCloud Photos (it has an API for other developers to integrate with so that all workflow centers on one thing that revolves around Creative Cloud, not a series of things). 

As for feature set changes in the monolithic update of the major CC apps, I think I’ll have to wait to comment on that until I’ve seen a full list of them all, have downloaded the new versions, and have had a chance to try them out. The new focus masking ability in Photoshop certainly looks like a nice addition, though I really need to see if it really saves me any time from the methods I’ve been using to do the same thing. 

Check back later in the week or early next week for more thoughts on the Creative Cloud changes. Right now, the Cloud is still a bit cloudy to me, so I’ll do some more digging and check in with my friends at Adobe and see if they can explain everything that changed succinctly to me.

*Update: It appears that my Adobe Updater was balking at presenting a new license agreement, which was keeping the updates from being downloaded. With Updater now fixed, I can get to the updates.

Further Update: oh dear, Adobe has done it again. One of the original claimed “features” of Creative Cloud was that it would just update and update and update over time, and these updates could occur at any time. As I noted above, this is a monolithic update across the entire Cloud offering, which sort of invalidates that “feature,” but apparently Adobe has also decided to bow to user requests to not always do that. 

What this means is that there were two versions of Photoshop CC that propagated yesterday. There’s the simple update, which is mostly bug fixes and new ACR camera support and the like, and then there’s another version with the new features in it, sort of labeled Photoshop CC 2014. So on my machine, that now means three Photoshop versions are installed (CS6, CC original, CC new). Worse still, when the new version installs, it doesn’t recognize your third-party plug-ins (though it does recognize your Actions ;~), which means another hassle to deal with. 

Frankly, this is a mess compared to where we were in the pre-cloud era, though in one way it mimics it: you can have previous versions still installed as you upgrade. Apparently that was a user request to Adobe. But it’s not an either/or option, it’s the way everyone gets things now. So I end up with three Photoshop installations on my laptop, which fortunately, I just upgraded the internal drive for. 

And yet another glitch. I subscribe to the Photoshop CC option (US$9.99/month). Now Updater shows me upgrades under “Your Apps” for all the CC programs. Accidentally clicking on one of those does what? Enrolls me in the full CC suite? No thanks, Adobe. Very, very bad roll out, IMHO, and I suspect Adobe Customer Support lines are busy today and will be for awhile.

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