Adobe Makes Goodish

So you read my rant that published last night about Adobe confirming a platform change for CS4 with their online support. Then when talking to them about actually doing it, now that a $2000 computer is in the house, the story changed.

It seems that @MilesForrest sent that blog post on to Adobe and a nice lady gave me a call. Ultimately the wife still has to upgrade to CS5 but at a significantly reduced cost. While not 100% happy because some money still has to be spent it’s way less than anticipated and it’s a value that can be worked out even with a 5 week old baby.

The Rub

The real issue here is that many companies only help you once they see some bad press. I had issues with a local bank a few months back. The local branch and phone support was terrible. The other local bank where I am a customer was more helpful with my issue even though they couldn’t resolve it. I tweeted about my frustration with CIBC and figured I’d be out $85.

Well, CIBC read my tweet and got in touch and solved my problem in 10 minutes. Now the fact that they solved my problem is awesome the fact that it took a tweet sucks.

The front line support for many companies is terrible and utterly broken. There should be no need to tweet or blog about things to get help. Someone should just fix it for you the first time not when they look bad.

The End of the Story

So at the end we’ll still be looking for Adobe alternatives if they’re out there. Yeah the anger that was there originally isn’t quite so hot, they stuck out an olive branch that we’re willing to take for what it is. We’re always looking for places that offer solid support instead of support only when they look bad.

I Wish Adobe Would Die – Or Adobe’s Customer Service Motto, We’re not happy till you’re not happy

Update So Adobe got wind of this little blog post and got in touch. Greatly reduced cost on the upgrade to CS5. You can read my thoughts on it here.

Recently I made the switch to a fully OS X environment. For a few months now I’ve been doing all my design work on PC and all of my development on my Hackintosh. This was mainly because the Hackintosh was under powered for design work and I already owned CS4 on PC.

When I went to make the change to fully OS X I contacted Adobe support to confirm the rumour that you could switch over your valid license to a new platform. On Adobe’s live chat they were helpful and said it would be no problem just call a number on their contact page.

Trusting support to know what they were talking about I confidently set my budget and bought a new 13″ MacBook Pro then got in touch with Adobe to transfer platforms.

Well, it turns out that support lied to me. Now they don’t like that word since it implies deceit but the truth is that support told me something that wasn’t true. When you tell someone something that isn’t true it’s called lying no matter what verbiage you use to pretty it up a bit and make yourself look good. At least that’s what you teach kids. Adobe will only convert platforms if you’re on the current version which happens to be CS5 not CS4 of course they would be happy to upgrade me into software that offers no features that I need.

While I’d love to be able to switch away from Adobe software to a company that actually values it’s customers business the unfortunate fact is that Adobe software is a standard. If you’re trading files with other designers you need to have Photoshop InDesign and Illustrator. Secure in this knowledge Adobe is free to treat their clients like crap. It’s not like you can really go anywhere.

So while I’ve been forced to upgrade to CS5 so I can continue working I’m also waiting for someone to come along that lets me get out of dealing with Adobe in any fashion. I’m waiting for software to come along (and an open standard for swapping files) that lets me kill off this craptacular beast.

The fact of the matter is that Adobe doesn’t care and won’t care about how it treats it’s paying customers until its bottom line is affected. I’m hoping that this little rant can help affect its bottom line.

If you’ve got suggestions to get me out of the Adobe environment for good I’m all ears.

The Great Windows Code Editor Hunt: Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver CS4 icon
Dreamweaver CS4 icon
Dreamweaver CS4 icon

This is the second post in The Great Windows Code Editor Hunt series. Today we’ll look at Dreamweaver as a code editor.

The Good

Dreamweaver has come a long way for coders since CS3. When I used the CS3 version it was barely tolerable as a code editor. I don’t remember why at this point but I do remember having to switch back to CS3 when the CS4 beta ran out and my employer at the time decided not to upgrade. I remember ranting for a few days about how the UI was crappy in CS3 and CS4 was way better.

Dreamweaver is highly configurable. Working in a language that requires a certain amount of tabs or spaces to work properly? Not a problem. Hop into the Preferences pane and under ‘code format’ adjust as you need. It doesn’t stop there though. Like your code hinting in a fashion other than default? Dreamweaver provides you with a few options and at least one should suit.

Dreamweaver CS4 preferences
Dreamweaver CS4 preferences

Another wonderful feature of Dreamweaver is the ability to connect to different servers on one project. I’ve used this feature a number of times to work on a WordPress theme locally then, with a simple dropdown, connect to my development server and upload the required files. When we’re ready to push to the client’s server simply open the drop down again and connect to the live environment and upload the files. A great thing they introduced in CS4 with the Files panel is that it is now dockable or can sit free-floating on another monitor if you wish.

Dreamweaver CS4 file browser
Dreamweaver CS4 file browser

The Bad

So what are the things that make Dreamweaver not my code editor of choice? It starts with the WYSIWYG editor. While it’s possible to enter full code view and not see the code editor somehow it always seems to sneak into view. I’ve never been able to stop the ‘Design View’ to disappear entirely. For some reason I was never able to track down some files would randomly open in the ‘Design View’ of Dreamweaver forcing me to go back to the top and click on the ‘Code View.’ I’ve just dug through the preferences panel again and don’t see any option that leads me to believe I can just shut down the design view permanently.

So one of my requirements was load time. Dreamweaver is a pig. I run Windows 7 on an AMD Athlon 2.6 with 8GB of RAM and a 1GB video card. It’s not a slow system but Dreamweaver seems to be the morning coffee hounds best friend as it takes forever to start-up. Yeah go get a coffee. Even on the 24″ iMac I used at my last job Dreamweaver was a pig to get running. To my very unscientific observations, it didn’t seem to matter if it was a cold or warm start. The green dialogue that shows during startup might as well say “Go Get a Coffee there’s lots of time”.

Dreamweaver CS4 coffee load screen
Dreamweaver CS4 coffee load screen

Another beef with Dreamweaver is the amount of crap files it introduces into your projects. It seems that in every folder you end up with an extra folder called _notes and an extra file called dwsync.xml. Sure they’re not big but they also don’t matter to the client’s website and are thus bloat. I think these files have something to do with FTP syncing with the server but whatever they’re actuall purpose removing them from a project is yet another step to take before packaging files up to send to a client at the end of a project.

Themes in Dreamweaver are a pain. For all the configuration options available there is no real way to quickly switch away from the original eye searing white theme. I’ve got big thanks for That Web Guy since he has great instructions on how to change the white theme out on Dreamweaver. It requires a change to an actual application file in Dreamweaver which is stupid but I suppose it’s not all that hard. I’m still astonished that Dreamweaver doesn’t have an easy way to switch between multiple colour themes though. Seems like every other code editor out there, even those in alpha have it as a default feature.

While Dreamweaver has a great project browser it really doesn’t do a good job or any job of tracking your files since the last upload. I can’t tell Dreamweaver to only pushed changed files. Sure I can sync the files but then we’re waiting while it figures out what that sync it. I see no real reason why it can’t mark the file state at last file upload and then only upload the files that have changed. We’ve got lots of other application bloat why not something useful.

A final point I’d like to put against Dreamweaver is the file type support. I work with Github more and more which means I need to edit README files. Dreamweaver has no clue what to do with the file nor does it offer me a good way to tell it what to do.

Conclusion

Really the only reason that Dreamweaver was included in the review is that it comes with many version of the CS4 suite of software. I really don’t think it would be a contender if it wasn’t included with other software I need to do my job (Photoshop and Illustrator). I certainly wouldn’t be forking out $400 bucks for Dreamweaver after working with it during the trial.

We can also add as a point against Dreamweaver the general distaste seen for it by prospective employers. Sure I wrote a while back that Dreamweaver is a fine tool but that doesn’t change the fact that you see daily job ads that say don’t apply if you use Dreamweaver.

Ultimately I’m not using Dreamweaver because it’s slow to open, doesn’t recognize a number of common files I’m working with, doesn’t integrate with Git at all, and I just can’t get that stupid ‘Design View’ to go away. Maybe minor things all but it amounts up to a code editor that just doesn’t suit my daily coding habits.

Seriously: Just Build Applications and Interfaces that Work

Adobe Logo

Adobe Logo
The problem

So here I sit with a wonderful copy of CS4 running on my machine. I would love to scan something into my lovely version of Photoshop but unfortunately I can’t. Why is it, you ask, that I can’t scan something directly into Photoshop CS4? Well it seems that there is no official TWAIN support for 64bit in Windows so Adobe didn’t include it. I’ve never had trouble with TWAIN on my Mac so why should I install the plugin manually?

The Rant

Here’s the thing, I don’t care if there is no official support. I just spent hundreds (thousands if you bought a full CS4 package) on a piece of software and it doesn’t work. I don’t care about the reason I just want to be able to scan things directly into Photoshop. It worked in CS3 it should work now too. If there is no official support then write unofficial support for it. For the Mac have an extra check box that includes it by choice. Don’t make us dig through a disc image and manually install it.

This also made me think of Linux and Ubuntu and how I don’t care about their partially ‘holier than thou’ attitude towards flash and non-open technologies. Until Ubuntu just works with the web out of the box no one but nerds (I use it. I am a nerd) is going to use it.

My wife doesn’t care about some philosophical argument on how things should be open. She wants to get a new computer go to YouTube and watch a flash video. Sure she may have to update a plugin, but enable ‘restricted extras’, nope she might as well just toss the machine out.

Again we can relate this to the favourite philosophical argument of the web designer, dealing with IE 6. As I wrote a few weeks back, clients don’t care about the philosophical arguments. They want their site to work for their clients. So lets cut the crap and if the user base justifies it, support IE 6.

The Appeal

So here is my appeal to software companies, and web designers. I don’t want to hear the whiny crap about why things don’t work. I just want it to work. It’s not a big request to scan things into Photoshop. It’s not an out of touch request to want to watch flash videos without extra work. We’re not crazy for wanting to support the browsers our clients use. So do what’s right for your users and leave the crap for some other bad company.

The Resolution

This also means that as a web designer I need to cut the crap. Interfaces should make sense. You should look at it and it should work. We shouldn’t build craptacular philosophical arguments to justify bad interfaces. Things should be designed to make sense so just do it. The competition is only a click away.

Bring on the New: CS4 is out

A few weeks ago Adobe announced that Sept. 23 was the release day for CS4. Well today was the big day in the design industry…Adobe announced and is shipping CS4 starting now. I had opportunity to watch the live showing off of some of the new features of CS4 and wow. I answered my own question from a few weeks ago with a resounding yes. I’ll have to check the graphics card on my PC but I will own CS4 in a few weeks.

Lets take a tour of some of the new features. The one that really gets me is the content aware scaling of photos. You have to see it to really get the idea of what this is capable of for designers. Imaging having a picture that is landscape orientation for a magazine and strecthing it to portrait without affecting the quality of the image in the areas that really matter. Photoshop CS4 also improves greatly on the dodge and burn tools, it now protects the highlights and shadows as you use the tools. Effectively this takes some of the responsibility off the designer while dodging and burning photos and puts it on photoshop to only effect the correct areas. One of the final big things for Photoshop is the use of the GPU for rendering photos. By leveraging the power in the GPU Photoshop is able to zoom smoothly in and out of photos as well as render objects crisply at odd zoom number (33.3%). This should also make better use of your system resources and allow 32bit systems that can’t have huge amounts of RAM run the apps with less of a slow down if they upgrade their video card.

I am a web designer so I am most excited about Dreamweaver CS4. I have been using it since they released a preview version a few months back. I have used is as my only editor (reluctantly switching

Dreamweaver CS4 Interface
Dreamweaver CS4 Interface

back to CS3 now) and have had no stability problems. The interface is beautiful and easy to work in. Now the design view uses webkit as a rendering engine so what you see in the design view should render like it does in Safari and Chrome. Remember though this is still no substitute for actually checking your code in native installs of the browser.

Dreamweaver also comes bundled now with the .air plugin for application development. This really excites me as I move forward with my own plans for a .air app.

Code hinting now works for AJAX and JavaScript and the design view has support for Photoshop smart objects.

Another thing I am super excited about is the fact that Fireworks is now being bundled in the Design Premium version of CS4. I used to have to do without Fireworks because I do some print work and need InDesign. Well no more I can have my cake and eat it too. For those not familiar with Fireworks it allows you to draw both pixel and vector based objects. You can create hotspots on pages and essentially build yourself a working prototype of a site with no coding. Clients can see the site and critique it while your still working in a drawing program. Very cool. There is a great video on Adobe TV using Fireworks to prototype an .air app.

There are so many more things that are cool about the new CS4 release. To finish off here are some links to videos and other cool things in CS4

News from around the Web

Lots of things are happening today most notably CS4 was released by Adobe. I’ll be writing another post later today going into more detail about the launch and rouding up resources for further reading, for now on we go.

There is another great post over at Design Reviver detailing 22 Firefox 3 Plugins for web developers. This list is fairly exhaustive and although I use many of the plugins I didn’t even know about some of them. Specifically Font Finder and iMarcos look very promising for saving me time everday.

Sitepoint also has a great article on Minimalist HTML documents that is a must read. Detailing efficient document layout all web coders should take a quick look through and check against their own coding practices.

Finally there are two great articles over at A List Apart. The first one deals with proper Progressive Enhancement of styling on the web. Using javascript to check for box model support you can serve different CSS to a browser based on its support of the box model. The second article takes on the topic of Web Standards and how they haven’t been the saviour of the web as was originally thought. The author details many of the problems that are plauging the implementation of standards in the web industry today.

That’s it for my round up for now. Check back tomorrow some some more in depth stuff on CS4

Upgrade to CS4?

So many of us have heard that Adobe has announced Sept. 23rd as the product launch date for CS4. I personally have been using DW CS4 since the private beta came out a few months ago and while I love it I still wonder if it is worth the expense of the upgrade to CS4.

Do we really need to spend the cash each time the Creative Suite is updated by Adobe? I’m not totally convinced that we do. Some releases of the software have been amazing (I think CS2 – CS3 was a huge jump) but some are not that great.

Now the suite we buy at work is used by both myself (web guy) and our print designer so the improvements are gauged by the two of us. The reality for me is that there are some cool improvements in DW CS4 but I think that I could be completely happy with Coda 1.5 as a coding tool.  Coda is only $99 USD so it’s a whole lot cheaper than CS4.

Ultimately I think that we have to be intelligent with our funds both for our workplace and as freelancers. I will evaluate all of the Creative Suite and see if the improvements are worth the upgrade cost. What are you going to do?