I wrote some nice things about the packaging for the first iteration of the Adobe Creative Suite back when it was announced, three years ago. I found its sophisticated, illustrative reinterpretation of the brand quite seductive. Since then, though, it’s become stingingly apparent to me that not even the sexiest packaging design on the planet can hide the fact that the Creative Suite and its version 2 follow-up are train wrecks.
It’s almost pointless to enumerate their many shortcomings, but here are just a few: a massive and unrealistic processing overhead required any time you launch one of the suite’s programs; a general decline in reliability and a general increase in crash frequency; a surfeit of seemingly arbitrary, low-level changes to how basic commands are invoked and executed from version to version, often invalidating years of customer habits. Everything bad that you can do to these once effective, industry-leading software programs has been committed by Adobe in the name of ‘improving’ them — not the least of which is the basically ill-advised idea that they should be bundled and sold together as a prohibitively expensive “suite.”
Anyone who’s used the current or previous version of Adobe Creative Suite can probably attest to similar reactions. And, like me, I’ll bet they want the same thing that I want in the pending release of Creative Suite 3; Adobe should just make these indispensable tools in our toolbox good again. We want them to require only a few hundred megabytes of RAM in order to run acceptably, we want them to be virtually crash-proof, we want them to maintain the same key commands and menu arrangements that we’ve known for years and have integrated into our workflows, and we want them to be written in such a way that Adobe doesn’t need to take a year to revise them in response to future hardware developments. Mostly, we just want them to work, so we can get our own work done.
Form of…a Vector Drawing Program
Anyway, that’s my rant. But I’ll tell you what set it off: a program called Lineform by Freeverse, Inc. Ostensibly a competitor to Adobe Illustrator, Lineform is a vector drawing program that’s almost completely different: it’s small, efficient and reasonably priced. Revolutionary, right? Lineform provides ninety percent of Illustrator’s crucial functionality in just one-tenth of the disk space; it claims just 7.1MB on your hard drive and US$79.95 from your wallet to use and own this program, and it’s a thing of beauty. If that beauty is thus far imperfect, that’s okay; it’s more important to me that there are developers out there who are willing to challenge Adobe’s hegemony. The fact is, people are unhappy with Adobe Creative Suite, and it’s a problem that not even a grant of open source fonts can ameliorate.