QuarkVSInDesign.com Archive

The Following is Archived and Preserved from QuarkVSInDesign.com, 2003–2009.

Enough Whining About the Adobe-Macromedia Merger

Recently, Quark VS InDesign.com reader Woz mentioned his concern over the Adobe-Macromedia merger because of an editorial he found on the blog Daring Fireball. Fortunately for Woz, that editorial was riddled with incorrect facts and erroneous conclusions.

Jon Gruber’s rants are often inter­est­ing because of his writ­ing style and man­ner of pre­sent­ing a com­pelling case (even if his facts are com­plete­ly wrong). You just have to be care­ful to do your own research before believ­ing any facts he presents (you should research any edi­to­r­i­al, espe­cial­ly online, before believ­ing it, mine includ­ed). His edi­to­r­i­al, “the Fish Rots from the Head First,” is a com­pelling exam­ple of why inde­pen­dent research is need­ed before accept­ing Gruber”™s con­clu­sions or inti­ma­tions.

For exam­ple, Gruber accus­es Adobe of a brown thumb, say­ing that the appli­ca­tions they acquire with­er and die, like PageMaker:

Adobe does not have a good track record with acquired appli­ca­tions. E.g. they acquired PageMaker and it died; they cre­at­ed InDesign on their own, and it”™s thriv­ing. They acquired GoLive years ago, and while it”™s still around and admit­ted­ly has its adher­ents, no one can argue that it”™s suc­cess­ful in the way their print-oriented apps are.

His facts are com­plete­ly in error here, as you’ll instant­ly rec­og­nize if you read “A Brief History of the Desktop Publishing War” or if you”™ve done any research into the numer­ous oth­er sources of cor­rect data.

Aldus built PageMaker, as even Gruber knows. But, Aldus was also the one to order the death of PageMaker in 1993, not Adobe. Aldus, not Adobe, cre­at­ed InDesignat least the foun­da­tionand InDesign was cre­at­ed for the express pur­pose of replac­ing PageMaker. Then code-named K2, InDesign was the pri­ma­ry rea­son for the acqui­si­tion of Aldus by Adobe. Première and AfterEffects were also big moti­va­tors, but K2 was the crown jew­el. After the acqui­si­tion, the same Aldus pro­gram­mers con­tin­ued to build InDesign until it”™s release. Adobe’s Seattle office, from which near­ly all of the InDesign devel­op­ment team still works, was the Aldus office (well, they moved once since then), and the devel­op­ers were, at least through ver­sion CS, near­ly all the orig­i­nal Aldus K2 pro­gram­mers. Many of them had also worked on PageMaker through­out the years.

For the record, the only cur­rent cre­ative pro appli­ca­tions Adobe devel­oped com­plete­ly in-house were Illustrator and Acrobat. Everything elsePhotoshop, InDesign, FrameMaker, GoLive, LiveCycle, Audition, Première, AfterEffects, and oth­erswas acquired tech­nol­o­gy. Of course, no one uses that lousy AfterEffects or the all-but for­got­ten Photoshop any more. Clearly, Jon, you’re right: Adobe has a ter­ri­ble track record with acquired tech­nolo­gies.

An opti­mist might argue that Adobe has pur­chased Macromedia specif­i­cal­ly to fill the web-sized hole in the prod­uct line-up, but I think it”™s more like­ly they”™ve done it just to get big­ger for the sake of being a big­ger com­pa­ny.

To sug­gest that the world’s then third-largest soft­ware com­pa­ny would spend $3.4b just because it could is naïve and ludi­crous. Like many oth­er com­men­ta­tors, Gruber is wor­ried that his favorite Macromedia prod­ucts will change or dis­ap­pear. It’s a valid fear, but a fool­ish argu­ment to express that fear.

Yes, Adobe’s near total lack of… (Continued on Next Page)

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7 Responses

  1. woz says:

    Normally this is the part where I write some­thing real­ly smart and whit­ty, but I can’t think of any­thing to add. It sure looks like you’ve got the big pic­ture all­right, Pariah. Perhaps John Gruber’s got some­thing to add?

  2. mike says:

    Excellent arti­cle, infor­ma­tive too. My first argu­ment before read­ing all the way through was After Effects. This year espe­cial­ly since adobe has allowed sup­port for more dynam­ic range video / images, and the new inter­face for their video prod­ucts is a huge indi­ca­tor to me that they are con­tin­u­ing to sup­port them.

    Adobe tends to be more open than Mcrosoft too. Considering the PDF stan­dard and spec­i­fi­ca­tion, (though I’m not total­ly informed) is an open for­mat. So pro­grams like Open Office​.org and oth­ers can cre­ate a PDF native­ly using free and open libraries. Microsoft con­tin­ues to have it’s for­mats closed. Even the MS XML isn’t com­plete­ly open like you would expect XML (text) to be. Any start­up could cre­ate a pro­gram that cre­at­ed PDF files, but not nec­es­sar­i­ly one that com­petes with Word and word files.

    Microsoft should be tak­ing advan­tage of the open­ness of the swf for­mat and mak­ing a frontpage-like com­peti­tor to flash. Flash can han­dle video, audio, pro­gram­ming, and of course ani­ma­tions. It is an area that is dying for an eas­i­er appli­ca­tion since many regard flash’s time­line to be hor­ri­ble. and many will nev­er learn it because of it’s dif­fi­cul­ty lev­el.

  3. woz says:

    Oh and how about this : Robert X. Cringely thinks Apple should buy Adobe: “For Apple’s Windows Strategy to Work, It Must Replace Microsoft Office and Buy Adobe Systems”
    After read­ing your arti­cle this does not real­ly make a whole lot of sense… http://​www​.pbs​.org/​c​r​i​n​g​e​l​y​/​p​u​l​p​i​t​/​p​u​l​p​i​t​2​0​0​6​0​4​2​7.html

  4. Greg H says:

    Very thought pro­vok­ing. Thanks Pariah!

    Minor note, about the state­ment “threat­en­ing AfterEffects”. From my van­tage as a Flash devel­op­er, I do not see Flash now, or ever com­pet­ing with After Effects. If you are doing film or broad­cast titling, motion graph­ics or spe­cial effects you are not going to be using Flash. And if you are gen­er­at­ing inter­ac­tive con­tent to be deliv­ered over the web, you are not going to be using After Effects (Hey look! No event mod­el! :-)

    I know cas­es where Flash and After Effects are com­ple­men­tary. But scant few cas­es where they com­pete.

    Other than that, only praise. Again thanks Pariah!

  5. iMatt says:

    You knew, a few years ago, I’d have bet mon­ey on Quark and Macromedi merg­ing to head off Adobe. Esp as Quark Xpress was often bun­dled with Freehand in a spe­cial deal. Freehand would have giv­en Quark a heavy­weight draw­ing app and Fireworks a bitmap image edi­tor.

    I agree broad­ly with Pariah. MS does not do graph­ics well. It knows oper­at­ing sys­tems, office suites, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, and even games , but not graph­ics for print and web.

    That said, I won­der, has Adobe become TOO big?? Do they still have the per­son­al touch??

  6. Greg H says:

    More on Adobe & Microsoft butting heads (this time over PDF), by Joe Wilcox here:

    Echoing Pariah’s obser­va­tions here, last November Joe Wilcox wrote:
    Target Adobe. I swear that Microsoft exec­u­tives have paint­ed a giant bulls­eye on Adobe. Long ago, I cau­tioned that Adobe and Microsoft were on col­li­sion course in the enter­prise.

  7. damo says:

    If you think Adobe tak­ing over Macromedia was a good thing you are delud­ed.

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