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Dear Adobe,
August 25, 2008 8:04 PM   Subscribe

Dear Adobe is a site that allows users to rant/rave (mostly rant) about all things adobe, and to vote the rants & raves of others up or down (top 25). Apparently Adobe is taking notice.
posted by sero_venientibus_ossa (80 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't believe #1 gripe wasn't directly about Acrobat.
posted by mathowie at 8:08 PM on August 25, 2008 [12 favorites]


Dude, Acrobat isn't even in the Top 10! Bloody thing reminds me of Realplayer. Which is to say, whenever I see it or think about it, I punch myself in the face in an attempt to destroy the Acrobat/Realplayer portion of my brain.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:16 PM on August 25, 2008 [13 favorites]


seems like 20 of the top 25 are rants about the installers/updaters - which I can totally understand. Acrobat has to be the worst offender for me - it used to be small and nimble, now it's a bloated, memory-guzzling behemoth, forever teetering on the brink of collapse like an obese gorilla in high heels
posted by JustAsItSounds at 8:18 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mmmmm, that's some nice bile there. A+++!

This would be something I'd need Photoshop to relate to?
posted by intermod at 8:19 PM on August 25, 2008


^ incomplete sequitor:
Acrobat has to be the worst offender for me though
posted by JustAsItSounds at 8:19 PM on August 25, 2008


I miss Freehand. This gives me a chance to vent.
posted by rodgerd at 8:20 PM on August 25, 2008


Launch times really needs a better showing.

I'm glad all those price rants that were popular a couple of days ago have dropped off. It was getting like the iPhone store up in there for a while (HEY IT SHOULD BE FREE BECAUSE I WANT IT!!1)
posted by bonaldi at 8:21 PM on August 25, 2008


God Adobe Updater sucks.
posted by Artw at 8:22 PM on August 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, the main gripes were about the updater, and I'll guess that it's the Acrobat updater that people have the most issues with. Acrobat is the biggest piece of shit bloat-for-no-apparent-reason software out there. And the thing updates every month or so! Does PDF technology really change that often?

This is why I use Foxit Reader instead.
posted by zardoz at 8:25 PM on August 25, 2008


Pdf technology now makes you pecan waffles in the morning. Well, it would if the update would finish.
posted by lukemeister at 8:29 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Acrobat is incredibly useful, but as I said in another thread, it was "finished" years ago, but product cycles don't let it remain. All they really needed to do since about version 5 is keep the plugin updated with newer browsers and stay on the security updates. Oh, and make editing PDFs free, because the reader/writer dichotomy is getting a little long in the tooth for this product, particularly since you can convert any document to PDF without buying Acrobat. The problem is the pressure to make it new again for each new version, which hurts it rather than helps it. Same thing happened with Netscape 3, which was just about right. Netscape 4.x really sucked, and all subsequent versions always made me think, "Oh, yeah, Netscape's still around," and then forget about them for another year.

Adobe's not in the precarious position of having an entire company based on a free product, but they're becoming gradually more Microsofty and bloated by the year. Their buying Flash/Macromedia pissed me off, when it should have been a cause for celebration, considering their graphics legacy. They're sort of in danger of becoming like SGI: revered for many years by setting the standard but not at the forefront of innovation past a certain point of growth, and unable to adapt to new markets - although SGI is still around, it sure ain't what it used to be.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:32 PM on August 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


What I really hate is the fact that Acrord32.exe phones home every single time it runs to see if there's an update available, and tells me about it every single time. There's no way to make it stop doing that, either.

One of these times I'm going to turn on logging in my firewall and see if I can figure out what IP it's calling home to -- and then block that sucker in the firewall for good and permanent so that all attempts by Acrord32.exe to phone home fail.

Unless one of you kind people already know what IP it is?
posted by Class Goat at 8:35 PM on August 25, 2008


> bloat-for-no-apparent-reason software

You seem to object to having random easily-hit buttons throwing your documents at third parties who will print, bundle, ship, proofread, wrap, stitch, tattoo or animate things and invoice you before you realized you'd mis-aimed a click? Do you have a problem with most of the Adobe Reader application download being the client-side software modules necessary for these pointless, useless obstructive services that can't be disabled? Why do you oppose the notion of being able to view Flash files in a PDF embedded in a Flash file embedded in a PDF?

Mac OS's Preview is woefully underfeatured. But at least it's not a sluggish behemoth so I prefer it.
posted by ardgedee at 8:40 PM on August 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


I downgraded from Adobe CS3 to PageMaker because of the DRM. Once you have three hard drive failures, then your CS3 key becomes invalid and you're dead in the water. I'm not going to risk my business with that kind of crap.
posted by crapmatic at 8:41 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


My favourite so far:

"Dear Adobe:

What the fuck man?"
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:44 PM on August 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


About the CS3 installers and updater: We know. Painfully. We could blame it on trying to mash together Macromedia & Adobe in one rev while moving to Mac Intel and Vista simultaneously, but at the end of the day things never should have happened as they did. That's as much as I personally can say about it.

Oh god, it is so horribly written too!

Instead of reading both the PKG and MSI guides (apple and microsoft installation package system guides) and using the best and most manageable installer for each platform, they hired an outside company to write a 'universal' installer for both platforms. Of course, if it meant that you got a physical disc that you could activate your CS3 license on a pc or a mac, it might possibly be forgivable.

Instead it is a horrible app, that does not even understand the basic unix permissions (the updater framework fails if you run an update as one admin user while the original install was performed by another, apparently it can't handle the standard install solution which is when you prompt a user for their admin password for an install under OS X, you can run the install as ROOT not as the local admin, to get around any umask issues), and the silent install fails without any prompting if the machine you are trying to install it on has a browser running (such as you are reading their directions in your web browser and want to try it on your machine).

So you go to yourself, "Hey, maybe they just didn't bother putting a verbose version of the installer in place, because silent means say nothing right? instead of run in the background and don't disrupt the user." Oh but wait, there is a log file, and this is what it has:

11247 Copying file "/tmp/.tempdir2G2ouVac/Assets/configuration/BuiltIn/Layouts/thrColFix.png" to "/Applications/Adobe Dreamweaver CS3/configuration/BuiltIn/Layouts/thrColFix.png"
11247 Copied
User "0" resolved to uid 0 for path "/Applications/Adobe Dreamweaver CS3/configuration/BuiltIn/Layouts/thrColFix.png"
Group "80" resolved to gid 80 for path "/Applications/Adobe Dreamweaver CS3/configuration/BuiltIn/Layouts/thrColFix.png"
11248 Saved owner 0 and group 80 for "/Applications/Adobe Dreamweaver CS3/configuration/BuiltIn/Layouts/thrColFix.png"
11248 Setting owner to 0 and group to 80
11248 Set

Yes, not only is it extra verbose (full premium install log is 70 megs of uncompressed text), the installer first unzips the files from the dvd to the local hard drive, then copies each file individually, sets the permission for the file, then copies the next file. One. At. A. Time.

This makes the dreamweaver install take forever because it is copying some many thousands of files (all those sample layouts, html reference files, help html files, etc.).

And it is as if the guys who wrote the 3rd party app couldn't have been assed to atleast do a chmod -R for each directory, if they wanted some granularity on the permissions.

I am not holding my breath, but Adobe could fix a lot of suck if they:
a) released updated media for both platforms with proper installers for cs3 (Don't make us buy cs4 to get these as a 'feature', "sucks less" is not a good marketing term).
b) allow us (system administrators) to turn off fucking auto heal, instead of having to decipher your own BS partial preference files
c) bought a copy of Final Cut Studio 2, install all the extras on a machine, wonder how it is Apple can make a 70gb install (with serialization) go faster than CS3 Premium's single dvd install. Slam head into desk.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:45 PM on August 25, 2008 [9 favorites]


why does the reply talk about the cursing on the site?

serious "...adobe, What the fuck man?"
posted by erifneerg at 8:58 PM on August 25, 2008


Mac OS's Preview is woefully underfeatured. But at least it's not a sluggish behemoth so I prefer it.

On the *nix side, there's Ghostview, which is very light and fast, and even though KDE's a bit bloated, the preview in the browser/file manager Konqueror is excellent.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:03 PM on August 25, 2008


I'm glad all those price rants that were popular a couple of days ago have dropped off.

Well, those rants seem pretty reasonable. I wouldn't buy the thing but Photoshop CS3 retails in America for $617 ($AU718), whereas in Australia it retails for $772 ($AU899). That doesn't make a great deal of sense to me.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:05 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


For the complaints about update pestering while trying to use Acrobat...screw that and use Foxit.
posted by GavinR at 9:07 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why do I have two separate versions of Adobe Helper Viewer in my Applications folder? I have Adobe Help Viewer 1.0 and Adobe Help Viewer 1.1. Something freaks out and breaks if I remove 1.0, forcing me to reinstall the entire suite. Seriously, whiskey tango foxtrot?
posted by nathan_teske at 9:08 PM on August 25, 2008


Dear Adobe: Keep on doing whatever you're doing, because I stopped using your products quite a while ago, and I'm beginning to find all this kvetching amusing.
posted by pompomtom at 9:09 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Class Goat writes "One of these times I'm going to turn on logging in my firewall and see if I can figure out what IP it's calling home to -- and then block that sucker in the firewall for good and permanent so that all attempts by Acrord32.exe to phone home fail."

Get a firewall that blocks at the app level, and just block AcroRead.

Then eliminate the updater from your startup with StartUpCtl. Works for me.
posted by orthogonality at 9:09 PM on August 25, 2008


I don't fully understand all the complaints about pricing for Photoshop. Are there still people that have trouble paying for Photoshop that couldn't use the Gimp instead? Let's see more Acrobat rants!
posted by mexican at 9:10 PM on August 25, 2008


Dear Adobe ... why don't you release the Unix version of PhotoShop you sold several years ago?
posted by RavinDave at 9:11 PM on August 25, 2008


Dear Adobe:

I'll never forgive you for what you did to Aldus and Macromedia. Both Aldus' Photostyler and Freehand were superior products. To this day I wonder what would have happened to them if they had been allowed to freely compete against your inferior products.

We'll never know now, will we?

I hate you. I wish you (as an entity) would die in a blender accident while riding a lawn mower off of the edge the caldera of an active volcano filled with angry mutant bees.

Also you should know that every time I have to launch Acrobat, support it, install it or even remotely think about it I'm contracturally obligated to sacrifice a live human baby on an altar of human bones. Why? It's right there in your EULA, you godforsaken freaks! "Warning: Acrobat requires the fresh blood of innocent humans to function reliably. Keep product moist." Stop that! Think of the children!




Legal disclaimer: This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. Adobe's lawyers are fine upstanding people and they are not baby-eating reptilian aliens.
posted by loquacious at 9:17 PM on August 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


I hate their update software and the amount of things that CS3 wants to run at start up, I have 7 things from Adobe that try and run at start up every time. While I hate Acrobat and seem to be using gimp more and more I do like what Adobe did with Photoshop Express. Its nice and easy for when Im on a computer without photoshop or gimp.
posted by lilkeith07 at 9:21 PM on August 25, 2008


> I don't fully understand all the complaints about pricing for Photoshop. Are there still people that have trouble paying for Photoshop that couldn't use the Gimp instead?

It is more of the "we are going to screw you over for not being american" on their international pricing. Which in some areas is illegal (I believe apple got in trouble in the EU for billing more in one country for the same song in itunes, which was even more apparent because they couldn't claim currency differences, it was all the same euro).

Gimp appears pretty adept at displaying to screen, but I haven't worked with it in any professional printing and proofing situations, and our runs are big enough that paying for CS3 outweighs the potential costs resulting from bad prints or having to rework files that turn out incompatible with our presses.

Working with adobe products sucks, but for a lot of people, too much is at stake to experiment with a unknown product (gimp) in a full time production environment. But then if you are just a home user, farting around, then yes, gimp will probably suit you fine.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:24 PM on August 25, 2008


15. Please fix your update system. I am tired of constant requests to run patches that won't install. Acrobat is a fucking nightmare.

It's not just me! Oh the sweet bliss of shared misery!
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:26 PM on August 25, 2008


AUGH WHY IS THERE BLOOD POURING OUT OF MY KEYBOARD? I KNEW I SHOULDN'T HAVE WRITTEN THAT. OH, ROOM FILLING... CAN'T BREATHE... DROWNING... OH FUCK YOU ACROBAT, NOW YOU WANT TO UPDATE? ONCE AGAIN YOUR TIMING IS IMPECCABLE. OH HAI THAR LESSER CACODEMONS, WHAT DO YOU WANT? MY SOUL? WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT WAS IN THE EULA? I DIDN'T SIGN ANYTHING! I JUST DOWNLOADED THE INSTALLER! OW, HEY! THOSE ARE MY GIBLETS, HANDS OFF!
posted by loquacious at 9:33 PM on August 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


Is this an appropriate place to ask whether there's a decent alternative to Acrobat Reader, which fucks with my computer like one of those creepy guys from Deliverance?

Would it be a more appropriate place to ask the question if I said, "Yo, Adobe, your fucking Acrobat Reader fucks with my computer like one of those creepy guys from Deliverance. Have you ever heard a computer squeal like Ned Beatty? It ain't pretty."

And can anyone tell me now whether there's a decent alternative to Acrobat Reader for WinXP? Thanks ever so.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:34 PM on August 25, 2008


Oh, I forgot to do this:

*plays dueling banjos*
posted by mudpuppie at 9:35 PM on August 25, 2008


Class Goat: ... see if I can figure out what IP it's calling home to

Have a look at the /. article here; it's probably the same address. Note, that's 192.168.112.2O7.net - a name, not an IP. It resolves to a couple of IPs in the 216.52.17.xxx range.

Personally, I block the whole Omniture address block (216.52.17.0/24).
posted by Pinback at 9:35 PM on August 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


I don't fully understand all the complaints about pricing for Photoshop. Are there still people that have trouble paying for Photoshop that couldn't use the Gimp instead?

As many people have noted, software is cynically priced in ways that fuck non-US customers over relative to US customers; this is not, in fairness unique to Adobe. Games in New Zealand usually sell for around $100, based on when the NZD was about hald a USD. Since then the NZD has been around .7 - .8 of a USD... but games are still $100. I could save a significant sum of money buying software direct, but most software makers collude with distributors that are screwing the local market.

Also, while the GIMP is good, it lacks a bunch of useful stuff, and, more importantly, most of the infrastructure of training, tutorials, plugins and so on are around Photoshop. It's a little ecosystem, not a program.
posted by rodgerd at 9:37 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


mrzarquon:

The CS3 installers actually do even more stupid shit than you describe, for instance: while it's laboriously makes three copies of each file, it also cryptographically hashes their contents each time it makes a copy, stores all the hashes in a sqlite database on disk, and synchronizes it to disk with each write.

This is part of the reason why the installers actually run slower from a disk image on the target drive than they do running directly from the DVD. Seriously.
posted by blasdelf at 9:39 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mudpuppie: Foxit reader.
posted by loquacious at 9:39 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


One begins to how that Adobe will finally throw off the legacy of a decade of Microsoft-like lockdown on image formats. Adobe has taken advantage of the gullibility of graphic design people for far too long; it's been oh-so-easy for them up to now to ride that line between "this is worth paying for" and "it is ridiculous paying for this stupid widget just so I can edit a simple file type" by playing up the marketing and keeping the splash-screen looking fresh.

The best thing to happen in ages on this front is the opening of the pdf format. At least now we'll be able to write our own versions of Acrobat. This couldn't come too soon.

And, yeah, Acrobat is fucking stupid. It is idiotic - IDIOTIC - that a single company has been able to make a file format so popular that it's used every day without making it possible for anyone who doesn't buy their product to create files of that format! I imagine that if everybody didn't have Acrobat at work, we never would've started using that format, and none of us would be looking at pdfs.

I'd like to see a slew of things from Adobe: opening of the .indd format, for one thing. I like InDesign, I really do, it's fantastic and there's nothing that can really compete with it anymore as far as layout is concerned, but why the hell does Adobe have to come up with some closed proprietary format for every single program they come up with? These are design and editing programs - that's what they're for. They don't need fancy new formats. If they do, then all of them should have a new standard, and that standard should be open. People don't use InDesign because "oh, well, I guess I'll have to, since I can't open this file here any other way" - they use it because it works! And if Adobe ever has to force people into using their software by closing their formats, well, it'll mean their software sucks.
posted by koeselitz at 9:39 PM on August 25, 2008


Why pay retail for any Adobe product? If you enroll in a single community college course (average price: fifty bucks) you qualify for their student discount, then go to www.academicsuperstore.com or similar and save at least several hundred dollars.
posted by twsf at 9:42 PM on August 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


I am now strongly craving a cartoon featuring a caricature of the Acrobat logo leering over a cowering computer while whispering "Boy, you have purty lips..."
posted by loquacious at 9:43 PM on August 25, 2008


GavinR: For the complaints about update pestering while trying to use Acrobat...screw that and use Foxit.

But Foxit doesn't do what you need Acrobat to do. It just read pdfs. Acrobat creates pdfs.

And, mudpuppie, I've had better luck with Sumatra for just reading pdfs, anyhow. Fastest thing out there. Foxit's probably better if you're into the media elements, but as a text-document-reader, nothing is as fast as Sumatra.
posted by koeselitz at 9:44 PM on August 25, 2008


> The CS3 installers actually do even more stupid shit than you describe, for instance: while it's laboriously makes three copies of each file, it also cryptographically hashes their contents each time it makes a copy, stores all the hashes in a sqlite database on disk, and synchronizes it to disk with each write.

Heh, the level of suck is amazing. I didn't get that far in my investigation, as my current site does not require dreamweaver, and so we just build packages and package our own updates now.

Of course, now that Apple provided a central .pkg receipt database in Leopard, it would be nice if they documented it fully and included the ability to role back updates. Sadly one of the phrases heard from some AE reps recently was "what? don't you test .pkgs fully, and have SLAs with your departments, so you should never have to roll back a .pkg update, because your ass is covered."

dearapple.com is taken, and its a lame "MAKE MY IDEAS HAPPEN" not a wonderful "please don't suck" site that is dearadobe.com
posted by mrzarquon at 9:46 PM on August 25, 2008


That reminds me:

I know the standard opened recently, so, as of July 1, people can write their own pdf-writing software. Are there any good open-source pdf-creation utilities out there yet? I know it might be soon, but I'd really like to be able to make pdfs in some fluid and useful way. Does anybody know of any non-Adobe pdf-editing software that's been written yet?
posted by koeselitz at 9:47 PM on August 25, 2008


Why pay retail for any Adobe product?

How naïve — why pay for them at all? Just download them for free like %95 of their userbase.
posted by blasdelf at 9:47 PM on August 25, 2008


I just blocked the Omniture bank in my firewall (and I had 2o7.net blocked in my ad blocker long since) but I doubt that's what AcroRD32.exe is calling to check for updates.

Then eliminate the updater from your startup with StartUpCtl. Works for me.

You might be surprised. The whole problem is that when the reader program itself gets involved (for instance, when you click a URL in the browser that leads to a PDF file) it runs the updater.

I've watched the taskmanager while it was running and figured out the name of the updater program, with the intent of finding and deleting the damned thing off my HD -- and you know what? It changes its name. The name it runs under isn't the name it uses on the disk. A full search of everything on my disk couldn't turn up the thing. (I don't remember the name any longer; this was something I tried doing a couple of months ago.)

Which is also a malware-type trick. It isn't the kind of thing that a reputable company should be doing.
posted by Class Goat at 10:04 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Acrobat updater has to be one of the most annoying piece of software ever. On one machine I've got, I've been running 7.0.0 pro for a few years now. At one point I'd tried to run the updater, but unfortunately, there's no such thing as a cumulative update. Instead, it'll make you install each successive update one at a time. And the updater basically requires you to quit all your open applications for each update.

That wouldn't be so bad, except that somehow, on the third or so update it managed to break my whole acrobat installation. Forcing me to re-install the whole thing from scratch.

I dunno, 8 might be better but I have no reason to believe so.
posted by timelord at 10:07 PM on August 25, 2008


koeselitz: You are very confused about what the whole standardization thing means. Yes, they recently applied for and got a 'Standard', which gives them a unique number from a standards organization that they can put on marketing materials and be proud about. That has absolutely nothing to do with other people making PDFs with their own software.

PDF is really just a container format for standard fonts, bitmap images, and PostScript (the magic part). PostScript has been an interoperable standard for 25 years! Third-parties have been generating PDFs since just after Adobe introduced them, they didn't need a codified standard to figure it out.
  • There's dozens of pieces of PDF-producing software that work as printer drivers (PPDs), taking the PostScript or PCL produced by the program and turning it into a PDF file — it's even built into the OS X printing system.
  • There's several TeX renderers that produce native PDF output, off the top of my head there's pdflatex, PdfTeX, and XeTeX. There's also DVI-PS/PDF converters, but those generate shit output.
  • There's PrinceXML, which takes standard HTML+CSS and turns it into beautiful native PDFs. It's commercial and closed source, but it's extremely high quality
  • Inkscape produces native PDFs as output from the SVG it uses. There are a number of other high-quality SVG-PS/PDF renderers out there too. The cairo vector graphics library also has functions to produce native PDF.
  • Recent versions of OpenOffice have decent PDF output built in.
These pieces of software have existed for years, the TeX tools and printer drivers have existed for over a decade.
posted by blasdelf at 10:11 PM on August 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


loquacious: I am now strongly craving a cartoon featuring a caricature of the Acrobat logo leering over a cowering computer while whispering "Boy, you have purty lips..."

It's not what you asked for, but hey, I was feeling inspired.

I did that in Gimp, too. Natch.
posted by koeselitz at 10:12 PM on August 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thanks, blasdelf! I'm just learning some of this stuff.
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 PM on August 25, 2008


koeselitz: but why the hell does Adobe have to come up with some closed proprietary format for every single program they come up with? These are design and editing programs - that's what they're for.

Actually it looks like they're headed towards that in a few versions once you do some digging into the PDF spec. The framework is already there to support the basics of what you'd need to transition Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign over to a PDF native format. (We already have multi-data stream PDFs -- you can build a pretty awesome asset system using PDFs with Illustrator edibility retained.)
posted by nathan_teske at 10:15 PM on August 25, 2008


timelord: Acrobat hasn't gotten any better about shitting itself. Just in the last year at my old job I was forced to uninstall, reinstall, and update the whole CS3 suite (8 hours+ of real time) a total of 9 times.

And I wasn't reinstalling it on computers that anybody actually uses, this was in a setup where you build a 'perfect' hard disk image and deploy that to a hundred computers. It only gets used to update the software and have backups taken of it. Even the testing takes place separately. Yet somehow it manages to fall apart, just from having system and application updates installed.
posted by blasdelf at 10:20 PM on August 25, 2008


blasdelf: PDF is really just a container format for standard fonts, bitmap images, and PostScript (the magic part).

But I thought that the extra cruft on top was what made pdfs so odd. I'm fine with using GhostScript and GhostScript-based stuff that I've been doing, and ImageMagick seems to have a handle on a lot of these things, but either those options are simply not very good, software-wise, or pdf has a lot of silliness in addition to the postscript standard. Maybe it's just the Stallmanite in me, but this silly "extension" of what seems pretty straightforward to me - postscript - always stunk of "embrace, extend, extinguish."

Is this not true? Why is it that so many great postscript utilities that I find don't have any kind of pdf functionality? I know that there are a lot of print-to-pdf utilities out there, though a whole hell of a lot of them aren't very good, and I'm aware of OpenOffice's recent addition of pdf functionality. All the same, I'm still on the fence on OpenOffice; there are a lot of bugs that still just don't seem to get fixed from release to release, glaring ones. I don't know how I feel about the whole project, though I guess it should probably get my support.

I've used a few TeX renderers and such, but only with postscript. I didn't know there were TeX options that crossed over into pdf, too.

I'll have to try the newest versions of OpenOffice out, and see how the pdf-writing stuff they've put in there works. Also, I'll check out PdfTeX and XeTex. Thanks!
posted by koeselitz at 10:22 PM on August 25, 2008


I imagine that if everybody didn't have Acrobat at work, we never would've started using that format, and none of us would be looking at pdfs.

Well, for a long time they've been the only universally-used document type for non-editable documents, such as legal documents and government forms. It's not necessary for them to have a monopoly anymore, but there is inertia.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:24 PM on August 25, 2008


koeselitz, that is beautiful, and getting sent to the people who inherited my job as Acrobat Wranglers.

One of my favorite Acrobat fuckups of all time happened maybe 6 months ago, and was wonderfully multifaceted:
  1. Launch Acrobat on any Mac in our computer lab
  2. Hit Print
  3. Walk over to the printer, pick up your print job, find that the front side of the last page is upside-down relative to all the others.
  4. ???
  5. Go back to your computer, and find that Acrobat crashed right after it finished printing.
  6. Attempt to relaunch Acrobat, only to find that it will crash on launch now (it corrupts it's user preferences, and shits in temporary folders)
Totally ridiculous. At the same time it also managed to annul several of the PDF file type associations — if you downloaded/saved a PDF from a webserver that didn't use the correct mimetype, OS X would not associate it with any applications (including Preview).
posted by blasdelf at 10:36 PM on August 25, 2008


without making it possible for anyone who doesn't buy their product to create files of that format!

Uh, what? PDF is just an extension to the PostScript spec, both of which are open. I have several of the books. You can create and manipulate PDFs in all manner of applications.
posted by rodgerd at 10:47 PM on August 25, 2008


(Hell, you can open PDFs in Scribus in editible form)
posted by rodgerd at 10:48 PM on August 25, 2008


PDF isn't an extension to the PostScript spec, although they share some DNA, and the newest PostScript printers can print PDF files directly. PostScript is a full-on Forth-like programming language. PDF is a structured file format, which happens to have a PostScript-like graphic model. GhostScript's PDF interpreter is written in PostScript.

What gets me about PDF is the name: "Portable Document Format". It's not a "document" format! It's a presentation format. For a lot of PDFs, trying to reproduce any meaningful data from the "document" is pointless, the information just isn't there. If you don't have the source document you used to produce the PDF, you're screwed.
posted by and for no one at 11:41 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


rodgerd: that's been addressed — it's just that Adobe's marketing of themselves as the gatekeepers of all things PDF was rather effective. Their transition from "Acrobat PDF" » "Acrobat Reader" » "Adobe Acrobat Reader" » "Adobe Reader" is beginning to backfire, as people associate the shittiness of that software with Adobe itself. I've had numerous people tell me how "the Adobe" was broken on their computer.

It's a shame, too, because the most recent version of the browser plugin was a substantial improvement (at least on Windows and Linux). It's worse than useless on OS X though, since it only works in Safari, which is also the only browser that doesn't need it at all!
posted by blasdelf at 11:41 PM on August 25, 2008


I like Adobe, but I like his sidekick, Maynard G. Krebs, better.
posted by wendell at 12:40 AM on August 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


I was never a huge fan of Acrobat 7, but it wasn't that bad. It never really gave me any problems and did what it was told. A couple of months ago, we moved up to CS3, and with it Acrobat 8. Acrobat 8 just sucks. It's unstable, slow, and it's hidden some of the features that previous versions had in different places. Which means I'm constantly having to help the old-school types at work find things that have either moved or just aren't there anymore. We've also had an intermittent problem with our grayscale files suddenly becoming CMYK on output since we switched to 8. I don't really know what new features Acrobat 8 brings to the table, but whatever they are, it doesn't matter if my files don't hit the platesetter correctly.

Photoshop CS3 hasn't been that bad, but I'm hating the interface. The way palettes are handled shows that someone had some good ideas but implemented them poorly. And the fact that it hides the title bar to the document you're working on, unless you hit "F" 4 times, bites.

I love love love the new eraser tool in Illustrator CS3. About the only problem I've had with the program is the EPS preview; I haven to change it to TIFF so that my files work. Minor quibble there.

Adobe needs to realize, though, that Reader is the public face of the company. Just about everyone has it. And people are really really starting to hate it. I use Preview, but I have to keep Reader on my home machine for those times that I need to check a file that isn't rendering correctly on Preview. I often have to force quit out of it - it's that unstable especially once Updater decides that it's gotta say hi. Adobe dominates the market now, and will for a long long time. But giants can and do fall. Ask Quark, who refused to support transparency for ages and who made it pretty well impossible to do simple things like putting a stroke on live text, and is now watching InDesign take over. If Adobe makes the next version of Reader far less bloated and a lot more reliable, then that will be a big step towards restroing consumer faith in the company.
posted by azpenguin at 12:46 AM on August 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


If Adobe makes the next version of Reader far less bloated and a lot more reliable, then that will be a big step towards restroing consumer faith in the company.

I keep an installer for 5 around for Windows machines where I don't want to "upgrade" to unreliable adware versions.

On Linux, I have Evince.
posted by rodgerd at 1:47 AM on August 26, 2008


My favourite so far:

Dear Adobe,

You've really let yourself go.
posted by bwg at 1:57 AM on August 26, 2008


Dear Adobe,

You keep using the word "updater". I do not think it means what you think it means.
posted by bwg at 2:13 AM on August 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ask Quark, who refused to support transparency for ages and who made it pretty well impossible to do simple things like putting a stroke on live text, and is now watching InDesign take over.

As a vector-wrencher, graphic artist and production tech I'm not a major Quark user - but I've used it enough over the years to get frustrated with it and know some strengths and weaknesses.

I have used InDesign at about the same rate over the last couple of years. Every single (small, agile) shop I've gigged in in those last couple of years has switched to InDesign. I'm pretty sure Quark XPress is long dead, except for the holdouts.

It's frankly a superior tool. It's fast. It's powerful. It handles HUGE documents with not so much fuss. The layout, formatting, text reflow, indexing/indicing and other options are fucking incredible for layouts and pro-grade typesetting. Going from InDesign back to Quark XPress feels like going from XPress back to something like Pagemaker 1. It's not even an option anymore.
posted by loquacious at 4:03 AM on August 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you don't have the source document you used to produce the PDF, you're screwed.

Nah, depending on what program made the PDF, you might be able to open it in Illustrator. Even some multi layer Photoshop documents remain editable after saving as a PDF.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:26 AM on August 26, 2008


God, the updater. Why in the hell do you need to close your browser to even download the updates!? I would understand if it was a question of replacing DLLS that are in use for the plug ins (flash and acrobat) but it's so annoying. And it takes such a long time -- time you can't spend surfing the web that I just don't even bother with it.

On my home PC apparently Updater won't even work, apparently it demands I manually update the updater! Well forget that, I'll just leave it turned off.
posted by delmoi at 4:37 AM on August 26, 2008


Reading these gripes, apparently the updater requires that you close your browser both on windows and mac, despite the fact that the operating systems are totally different.

I mean, what the hell is that? That means someone thought it was such a great idea on either windows or mac to make the user shut down their browser they decided to copy it to the other platform!

WTF?
posted by delmoi at 5:36 AM on August 26, 2008


blasdelf writes "It's a shame, too, because the most recent version of the browser plugin was a substantial improvement (at least on Windows and Linux). It's worse than useless on OS X though, since it only works in Safari, which is also the only browser that doesn't need it at all!"

Google Code released a PDF plug-in (using pdfkit) for Firefox on OS X. Made me really, really happy, because I can finally open PDFs in the browser without downloading them first. Which means I can now do science research, and look at the journal articles to see if they're worth reading or not, without littering my desktop / downloads folders with a million useless files that I then have to sort through AGAIN and decide which are worth keeping and which are crap.

Funny how Google could do this, but Adobe can't figure out how to make a plug-in for anything besides Safari on OS X (especially stupid as they support every other browser in existence on every other platform)
posted by caution live frogs at 5:48 AM on August 26, 2008


Nobody has yet mentioned the fact that CS3 installs, without your knowledge or permission, the Bonjour service.

I DID NOT SAY YOU COULD DO THAT, MOTHERFUCKER.

You can install your bloated piece of shit in three thousand different directories, scattered throughout my hard drive. You can take forever and a day to load up. You can phone home as often as you fucking like (when you are running). But you will not install fucking services on my goddamned system, you ratfuck bastards.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:00 AM on August 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


For those looking for a PDF reader for Mac OS X, there's Skim.
posted by stereo at 6:29 AM on August 26, 2008


caution live frogs: While that project is hosted on Google Code, and appears to have been written by a google intern that works on Google Web Toolkit, it's not a Google product. Google didn't "do this", a college student did. Anyone can host a project on Google Code.

There's been a PDFKit-based broser plugin that worked in all browsers for 4 or 5 years, but it hasn't been updated in almost that long, is closed-source, and was never compiled for Intel. The developer disappeared, so it's high time someone got around to recreating his work.
posted by blasdelf at 8:20 AM on August 26, 2008


About the CS3 installers and updater: We know. Painfully. We could blame it on trying to mash together Macromedia & Adobe in one rev while moving to Mac Intel and Vista simultaneously, but at the end of the day things never should have happened as they did. That's as much as I personally can say about it.

+5 Insightful

posted by furtive at 8:36 AM on August 26, 2008


Brandon, yes, you can edit the PDF, but that doesn't mean you can get the data out of it.

I've seen PDFs that use embedded fonts with garbage encodings, the kind of file that looks fine in Acrobat, but if you copy and paste the text to another program, you get garbage.

In cases where the encodings are fine, things like word breaks, line breaks, line order, paragraph placement, and sometimes even the order of characters within a word, are hard or impossible to infer from parsing the content stream directly. The most reliable approach is applying an OCR-like (!) algorithm.
posted by and for no one at 9:54 AM on August 26, 2008


The one thing that gets me about the Acrobat browser plugin
The one thing that truly annoys me to the point of teeth gnashing

...every time...

Is that it takes over some fundamental keyboard shortcuts when it loads on a Windows browser. Most importantly, it does something horribly stupid to Ctrl-W, which is usually a shortcut for closing the current window.

So every time I'm done viewing a PDF online which has loaded in a new browser window, I instinctively hit Ctrl-W to close it, as I'm used to killing new windows in such a quick fashion...

...and EVERY TIME I forget that Acrobat is stupid and so I get the useless error message: "This action cannot be performed from an external window."

External window? External window? Excuse me, YOU'RE the application that's taken over my browser! It should be able to do to you whatever it wishes!

So up we go over to the mouse and move the cursor to the tidy little X in the corner to close the window. Sure, I do that often with other programs but here, using a browser which supports keyboard shortcuts, taking care of a plugin which loads within the browser framework, I should not HAVE to.

Sign me up for the "Dear Adobe, what the fuck man?" list.
posted by Spatch at 10:29 AM on August 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


It feels somewhat better knowing that I'm not the only one. But at the end of the day there's no way around Adobe in everyday print production. I know of no open source or other alternatives to editing .AI, AI .EPS, .PSD, .PMx or for that matter .FHx and so on.

Regarding proprietary formats, compare Adobe to Microsoft for a moment. Even after all of the ODF/OOXML standardization blather between Microsoft and the ISO has been hammered out, does anyone really expect that OOXML is something more than lip service to open standards? Good luck to the OpenOffice team in deciphering the next round of "native, open" file formats from MS.

In the same vein, this is exactly the position Adobe has in their niche of print production. They offer spotty SVG support and offer up such abominations as Illustrator PDF. They've even killed interoperability between even the three Creative Suites! Adobe has practically plagiarized the MS playbook in maintaining their iron grip on the printing industry and I doubt they intend to give that up anytime soon.

The Big 3 FOSS apps I'm aware of are GIMP, Inkscape and Scribus. Having experimented with all of them, I'd say there's a long way to go for FOSS to even hold a candle to Adobe in a professional production environment. Inter-app exports and imports are buggy, as in gradients, brushes, line positions, path directions etc. And last I checked, CMYK and color management support in FOSS apps was somewhat lacking, especially Pantone support. I'd be delighted to hear otherwise from the design experts present.

dearadobe.com is a thoughtful start, but I'd prefer Adobe Anonymous.
posted by greensweater at 11:48 AM on August 26, 2008


Well, Pantone support will likely never come to FOSS software, since, as far as I'm aware, they make most of their money licensing their trademarks.
posted by rodgerd at 4:17 PM on August 26, 2008


Photoshop for your... phone?

The Adobe Photoshop.com Mobile app won't allow users to edit photos directly on their smartphones, but will allow users to upload their photos directly to their Photoshop.com accounts from their phones directly after the photos have been taken.

I guess not then.
posted by Artw at 8:23 PM on August 26, 2008


They offer spotty SVG support

That's not exactly true, they were originally one of the primary movers behind SVG, and for a long time had the best and most complete support out there. It took a long time for Inkscape to be remotely decent. Adobe even used to publish free crossplatform SVG plugins for web browsers, since nobody else was going to do it, and the SVG support in Gecko sucked balls before 1.9.

Then they merged with Macromedia, and no longer had motive to undermine Flash on the web. So they stopped development of the plugin (and were originally going to halt distribution). Definitely corporate skullduggery.

As for the disparate file formats, that's another story. Some of these are twenty years old, and were originally designed for anal efficiency, where they were basically the internal memory structures of the program mmap-ped from disk. They start from that legacy, and then grow more and more complex. Most of them were developed independently by different companies that were bought out. They get smushed together for interoperability between programs in the suite.

It's a hard goddamn problem, even in cases where it is the primary design concern — the ODF folks have had shitloads of problems over the years actually making things interoperable, Microsoft spends most of it's effort just struggling to be interoperable with their own products. Adobe does a pretty damn good job at it where it matters (rendering of PDF, PS, JPEG2000, etc.), and doesn't make it a priority when it wouldn't really help them. I don't begrudge them for it.
posted by blasdelf at 3:35 AM on August 27, 2008


I actually had a chance to talk to some of the photoshop developers at WWDC this last year. The scariest fact? They (as mac programmers) have been told they have to keep code and feature parity as close as possible to the windows release.

Which means they can't use a lot of pre rolled cocoa frameworks, and why they still have issues with file saving. They just aren't *allowed* to use new stuff that pushes the mac version under 80% of shared code.

Well that, and they are still bitter about codewarrior and Apple dropping carbon 64bit last minute (dropping carbon 64bit I can understand, but codewarrior?).

Of course, one could argue they have made their living writing C/C++ for photoshop, so why should they bother learning any new skills or reconsider some of their best practices that were formulated in the os 7 days.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:54 AM on August 27, 2008


By "spotty SVG support" I meant that in my messing around with Inkscape and Illustrator I ran into all kinds of problems when moving from one to the other. I guess it's more likely that the blame lies with Inkscape. I see on their site that there are also a variety of command-line converters which may be helpful.

I've been using Adobe since Photoshop 3. In 13 years (or 8 upgrades) or so I've seen the additions of vector layers, layer fx, editable text and not much else that springs to mind. GIMP has all the capabilities, if not an elegant interface. If Inkscape and Scribus could say that about their Adobe counterparts, I'd never have to use Adobe again. I believe the only reason they haven't got there yet is because the changes to Illustrator and PageMaker/InDesign have been heavier and more recent.

It took a long time for Inkscape to be remotely decent.

From wikipedia: Sodipodi->1999, Inkscape forked from Sodipodi->2003. From a codebase nine years old, five years of development has put it almost on par with Illustrator, with a high level of PDF support. As new "features" in Illustrator are really "tweaks", it's only a matter of time before Inkscape's feature set makes it viable for professional use.

I look forward to that day.
posted by greensweater at 8:13 AM on August 27, 2008


Why would anyone care about SVG support? It's basically just a footnote to the glorious history of Silverlight now.
posted by Artw at 9:04 AM on August 27, 2008


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