Graphics Software: Life After Macromedia

Pundit Glenn Fleischman at Tom’s Hardware Guide speculates on the future of graphics software companies, draws surprising and insightful conclusions

The im­pend­ing merg­er, where Adobe will as­sim­i­late long-time multimeda-software play­er Macromedia, has many graph­ics pro­fes­sion­als won­der­ing what’s to come next. There has been much spec­u­la­tion about the sta­tus and the fu­ture of pro­grams such as FreeHand and DreamWeaver and what this means to Adobe go­ing for­ward.

In a brief and in­sight­ful ar­ti­cle on the tech-omnibus site Tom’s Hardware Guide, writer Glenn Fleischman can­ni­ly re­views the his­to­ry of graph­ic soft­ware firms, does a lit­tle family-tree trac­ing, and spec­u­lates on Adobe’s fu­ture com­peti­tors.

His con­nec­tions are as valid as they are un­ex­pect­ed, and his con­clu­sion about who Adobe’s fu­ture com­peti­tors will be will sur­prise those who de­bate Adobe vs Quark…it’s not who you’ll think it is.

Quark scarce­ly shows up in his as­sess­ment but for a cou­ple of pass­ing ref­er­ences. In fact, in the be­gin­ning, Adobe it­self was just a play­er amongst a group of play­ers when Acrobat be­gan to raise it to promi­nence, then growth on the ba­sis of such apps as Illustrator and Photoshop, and tech­nolo­gies like PostScript. 

Over time, Adobe has in­no­vat­ed and ac­quired tehnolo­gies that put it at the fore­front of just about every­thing, ex­cept Web de­sign and an­i­ma­tion, which be­long to Macromedia’s Flash and DreamWeaver. With the ab­sorp­tion of Macromedia, Adobe has po­si­tioned it­self to pro­vide tools that cov­er in­ter­ac­tive con­tent for portable devices…a lev­el of play that on­ly big boys such as Apple and Microsoft are even on at all, and Quark is nowhere near, de­spite its ad­di­tion of Web-design tools to XPress.

We de­sign tool users de­bate which will come out in the end-XPress or InDesign, but this would seem to be but a small piece of the over­all bat­tle­field. Fleishman of­fers the in­sight that the fu­ture could well be in the mo­bile ‘web, and Adobe could now con­quer a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of that new world.

And, in the larg­er sense, Adobe’s bête noir might not be Quark af­ter all. I rec­om­mend read­ing this.

You can find it at this link.

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6 Responses

  1. It’s not a to­tal sur­prise to every­one. :-)

    Over the din of an­gry Macolytes I’ve been say­ing for two years now that Apple is tar­get­ing Adobe and oth­er ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ers on whose prod­ucts Mac sales are large­ly de­pen­dent. As I’ve re­port­ed in the past, Apple is de­vel­op­ing or has de­vel­oped com­pet­ing prod­ucts in most of the mar­kets that di­rect­ly af­fect Mac hard­ware and OS sales. One ap­pli­ca­tion at a time, they are mov­ing to sup­plant the dom­i­nance of MS Office, for ex­am­ple.

    Two years ago I pre­dict­ed Pages, Motion, iWork, and Tiger’s Core Image, though, as will un­doubt­ed­ly echo fol­low­ing this com­ment, the blind­ly Mac-loyal shout­ed me down (even when oth­er an­a­lysts pla­gia­rized me).

    For 18 months now Apple has had a ful­ly func­tion­al com­peti­tor to Photoshop. I haven’t seen it, nor do I know its ca­pa­bil­i­ties com­pared with Photoshop CS or CS2, but ap­par­ent­ly Apple feels it’s ready to roll, ac­cord­ing to a source in­side Apple. The im­pend­ing Adobe-Macromedia merg­er has un­doubt­ed­ly pushed back the time­frame for cross­ing that par­tic­u­lar point-of-no-return. Core Image is Steve Jobs toe­ing the line.

  2. Thanks for fol­low­ing that with your own in­sights. Having some idea of what your ex­peirence are they fill in the need­ful per­spec­tive gaps in my own POVs. Also, while I am quite in love with my Mac, since I”m not a Mac user since “back in the day”, I tend to take such views with a lot more tem­per­ance. I, frankly, can’t com­pre­hend when peo­ple re­act so.

    I’m some­what fa­mil­iar with your view­point on Apple’s soft­ware evo­lu­tion, and I’d say that Fleishman’s view vin­di­cates yours to a great de­gree. If we ac­cept that Apple and Adobe are now very close to be­ing peers, it on­ly makes sense that Apple will try to steal some of Adobe’s thun­der. I re­mem­ber the loss of bon­homie be­tween the two com­pa­nies that made news..what was it, about a year and a half ago?

    Since you men­tioned, I have had the op­por­tu­ni­ty to see Pages. It was an in­ter­est­ing thing to try to use. It seems to be large­ly some­thing more rich than Word but less rich than Publisher or PageMaker. Like a word proces­sor that wants to be page lay­out when it grows up. Could this be the be­gin­ning of an app to go up against InDesign (if I read Fleischman cor­rect­ly, it cer­tain­ly wouldn’t be com­pet­ing with Quark…or would it?)

    Moreover, Apple may be of the opin­ion that they have a prod­uct that could go up against Photoshop…but would that be a rea­son­able thing for Apple to as­sume? PS seems more en­trenched in more con­situen­cies than even Quark was.

    Also, I hear a great deal about Core Image, but I just don’t have enough min­utes in the day to chase down ex­act­ly what that means or why I should care. Could you de­fine that?

  3. tristan defew says:

    we hav a de­bate go­ing on at our work, 2 which is the best soft­ware 2 use for mak­ing up book work, which in­volves art­works. I like quark, but a per­son in the of­fice keeps goin bout in­de­sign, which I al­so have used, but tend to lend to­wards quark. What does quark hav and do bet­ter, which in­de­sign can’t/struggle 2 do. Please help this bloke is doin my head in!!

  4. Personally speak­ing, I haven’t used ei­ther to do books or long doc­u­ments, at least not yet. I”ll have to de­fer to reputation-which sug­gests that Quark may be bet­ter for books, but that may just be be­cause it’s entrenched-and oth­er people’s ex­pe­ri­ences.

    If you’re look­ing for lay­out soft­ware that in­volves books in­clud­ing art­work, I’d go for InDesign and the Creative Suite. No oth­er pro­gram at this time han­dles graph­ics so well; trans­paren­cy is rec­og­nized in TIFFs, so no clip­ping paths are nec­es­sary, and you can use PSDs and AI files na­tive­ly, with­out the need for con­ver­sion.

    Quark has come up with free XTensions that pro­vide na­tive PSD Import, and the new QuarkVista XTension al­lows for in­line non-destructive im­age ad­just­ments. PSD Import is good, and QuarkVista is good…QuarkVista is quite a re­source hog though.

    Anyone else care to chime in on this?

  5. Janes Mann says:

    Hi tris­tan, Quark is still the best lay­out pro­gram our pub­lish­ing in­dus­try can have.Wait for 7.0, Quark XPress won’t be easy to re­sist.

  6. Actually, the very best ap­pli­ca­tion for long books is FrameMaker, but it is de­cid­ed­ly not de­sign­er friend­ly. It’s a tech­ni­cal writer’s dream ap­pli­ca­tion.

    If you want a more designer-friendly en­vi­ron­ment, look to­ward Quark and InDesign. At present, InDesign is your best bet, as Sam sug­gest­ed. It han­dles long doc­u­ments and book de­sign quite well (I’ve per­son­al­ly used both it and Quark [ver­sion 4.1] for book pro­duc­tion).

    As Janes notes, Quark 7 might be a com­pet­i­tive choice, but no one who can talk about it has seen it. It hasn’t been shown to mem­bers of the press with­out a non-disclosure agree­ment. And, at the mo­ment, we have on­ly the word of peo­ple like Janes who use ap­par­ent­ly throw-away e-mail ad­dres at free ser­vices like Yahoo and GMail to fer­vent­ly spread vague and un­quan­ti­fied pro­pogan­da about it.

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