In 1999 I downloaded a new, exciting program called Blender. It was my chance to learn 3D modeling, something that I wanted to do for a long time. Since I didn’t have the money for something like 3D Studio Max, Blender was just the ticket.
After learning the fundamentals I decided to make a first model, a big letter “J” extruded in 3D, with nuts and bolts holding together, as if it was built out of steel. I also wanted to animate the letter to spin on itself. Very trivial. One of those things that you do when you are learning the basics.
Why the “J”? The symbol that I just described was the logo of the product I was working at that time: Borland JBuilder. JBuilder was the number one development platform for the Java language, at that time very popular. I wanted to have a spinning logo to display during a possibly lengthy operation that the program would perform.
It did work and the result was good enough that we decided to include the small animation in the finished product.
Years have passed and I had forgotten about the spinning J until last week, when I started cleaning up an old backup of a PC that is long gone. There I found the original Blender file created for that silly little animation.
The project had been created on a PC running Linux, my desktop of choice at that time, and now I have it on my Mac. I double-clicked on it and sure enough the current version of Blender was launched. Lo and behold my old file loaded and I was able to cycle through my little animation.
Think about it: from 1999 to today, fourteen years later, a lot of things changed for Blender. Still it retains compatibility with files that old.
Recently Adobe has announced that they will discontinue the publishing of the Creative Suite as a “permanent license” and switch to a subscription-only model. The CS is a bundle of software that includes Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Acrobat and other applications. As you can imaging CS costs several thousands dollars. If you use the programs in the Suite the bundle is a good deal, it costs less than buying the apps separately.
I have used the aforementioned applications for years and bought a couple of licenses of the Creative Suite as well. As a small developer it was a pretty large investment, but it was worth it.
Now Adobe is saying to all the people who invested in the Creative Suite to take a hike. I don’t like being held hostage with my software. It makes me feel very uncomfortable. With rented software my access to my own files ends the moment I stop paying the subscription. I could have paid for years of that subscription, if I stop tomorrow then I end up with a bunch of useless files that I cannot edit or view anymore. Quite a far cry from my Blender experience.
I can’t imagine how anybody at Adobe has considered this a viable model, something that people would appreciate. Is their greed so high, so incredibly out of proportion that they have lost all connections with the real world, with the people who use their software?
The backlash on Facebook has been monumental, with practically unanimous condemnation of this absurd move. Adobe’s stock price fell as well.
Particularly distasteful is Adobe’s take on labeling this move as the “modern” way of selling software, as if all the millions of people who buy standard, permanent licenses are dinosaurs stuck in the past. I wonder if all those rich Adobe executives who took this decision would feel “modern” if they were forced to rent the house that they bought. C’mon be modern, trade your real estate property for a “trendy” rent.
It’s not too late for Adobe to retract and possibly apologize to the community of users that supported them in the past years.
What this tale is teaching us is the value of owning a license of your software and the dangers of Cloud computing. As mentioned in a previous article in this blog, the Cloud is a great opportunity for greedy corporations to implement business models that are bound to trap the consumers and subjugate them to pay absurd fees forever.
If Adobe refuses to listen to its customers and provide the license that they want then it will be time to find alternatives. Fortunately there is no rush because our license of their software is not going to expire.