Breaking up with Adobe…

Adobe software has been apart of my professional life for 20 years now (20 YEARS!), and for the longest time I thought their software was awesome. I first started using photoshop 4 on a beige box Mac with illustrator being added to the quiver in quick succession. Pagemaker was still a thing, but the giant of desktop publishing at the time was QuarkXPress 4—who remembers printing to postscript files (.ps) and then using Distiller to create pdf files?—but there was a new thing coming in a few years that would shake things up in the DTP world.

This new player in the DTP marketing called ‘Indesign 1.0’ arrived on the scene, it was buggy and unreliable (at least that’s what the senior prepress operators said at the time) and almost no one was using it… yet. Indesign 2.0 hit the market in 2002 and before long a major client of ours that produced a major monthly home design magazine had gone all in, which means our pre-press department got it too. It was with trepidation that we experimented with transparency and drop shadows… it wasn’t smooth sailing and required very careful management.

We were still using QuarkXPress for 95% of our day-to-day work, but that was all about to change.

Along came Creative Suite

At the back end of 2003 Indesign CS was released and now from Adobe you could buy the Creative Suite (indesign, illustrator, photoshop, Acrobat, etc.) for roughly the same price a QuarkXPress in my part of the world. Our largest client that kept eight of us Mac Operators / Retouchers employed full time was making the switch to indesign… and so were we!

Indesign and Creative Suite got better and better with each major release arriving every 18–24 months, it felt expensive updating to every major release of Creative Suite (and sometimes we skipped a release and updated the next), but it was good software that came in a box with disks, manual and a perpetual license.

Fast forward to 2013 and CS6

In May 2013 Creative Suite 6 was released and this would become the last version of the software I would own… or anyone would own for that matter. A short time later Adobe announced that ‘Creative Suite’ would be replaced with ‘Creative Cloud’ and along with that a new subscription only licensing model.

Creative Cloud, value for money?

At the end of 2015 I reluctantly subscribed to Creative Cloud—not because CS6 wasn’t doing a stellar job—but because agencies I was contracting to were all on CC and file hand over was getting tricky. It’s not all bad through right? I mean, $72.59/mth for all that software seems like great value right? Nope.

At AUD$871 per year Adobe CC is a little over double what I was paying on the old perpetual license model when I was upgrading Creative Suite every two years or so. I’ll acknowledge that I now have the full library of software at my finger tips but I still only need photoshop, illustrator, indesign, and acrobat pro installed. The one thing Creative Cloud offers me that I see as genuine added value is typekit, and that, will be the feature that I will miss the most. 

The new apps on the block

Mid 2019 Affinity Publisher was released and along side Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo and now I finally have a way out of the Adobe subscription hell. As soon as I purchased my copy of Affinity Publisher I started moving over select clients to the Affinity ecosystem and while breaking the adobe muscle memory has been a little hard—20 years of repetition will do that—the shift has been a positive one.

So far I have designed logos, packaging, websites, banner ads, and social graphics in Affinity Designer. Made image composites, retouching and colour correcting in Affinity Photo. And now with Affinity Publisher I have created business cards, letterheads, flyers and brochures. It has been a good start for me with the Affinity Suite, helped by a familiar tool set and keyboard shortcuts I’ve been able to create without the new environment slowing me down.

Speaking of pace, these apps are quick! Super smooth rendering on screen and there is no comparison when it comes to app launch times… you hardly get any time to take in the pretty splash screen.

There is one feature missing from Affinity Publisher that I hope will be added in the future, and that is a data merge from CSV (think mail merge). For me, this was not a deal breaker and all that was left to do was say goodbye to my Adobe subscription.