The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Mon. Apr 18, 2005


In case you haven’t heard, “Adobe Systems Incorporated has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Macromedia in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $3.4 billion.” I titled this “Adobemedia,” because it sure won’t be “Macro-dobe.” In fact, it will likely just stay Adobe.

Adobe Flash. Yuck.

There’s a fair amount of “yucking” around the web today, like Tom Muck, in “If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em”: “When MM bought Allaire, it was like peanut butter and jelly getting together. This is more like peanut butter and more peanut butter.

Others are more enthused, like Ted: “Adobe is not buying Macromedia to dismantle products, they are buying it for the future of rich media, Flash [...] This merger ends the public and private competition that these two companies have waged against one another. The two have sued each other with regularity over patent infringement and technology related issues. All of these distractions will disappear and allow the merged company to focus on rich media and communication. The world wants rich media and putting 7 times more resources behind Flash seems like a very good start to me.

I’m sure he’s right, this was about buying rich media, i.e., Flash. Adobe put their resources behind LiveMotion in an attempt to “beat ‘em,” but failed miserably, so now they’ll “buy ‘em.” And if you’re a Flash developer, I suppose there’s not much reason to be worried.

Others aren’t so sure, like Stephen Collins: “There are too many concurrent spaces in tools offered by Adobe and Macromedia for this to be truly good. I think it will actually ultimately stifle competition and innovation.

And it will start within this newly merged company. Sometime this fall, some choices will be made, and some of them already seem clear. Perhaps worst of all, all we customers can do is speculate, and those who actually know are legally bound to keep their mouth shut until this merger is finalized. They say their current product line plans will continue through fall, which means the successor to Macromedia Studio MX 2004 may actually be released (hopefully with a much shorter name), as that’s when it’s currently scheduled. But somehow, I’m thinking that ship date could slip…

So all I can do is make my plea and pitch. And, best I can figure, over the past decade I’ve paid about $1,340 to Macromedia (from Dreamweaver 1.0 on), and about $1,360 to Adobe (from Photoshop 3.0 on, skipping from version 4.0 to 5.5). Funny how it works out so evenly. So I get to say a little bit more than “my two cents worth” to Team Adobe.

First off, no matter what Adobe decides about specific apps, they need to offer Macromedia customers a painless and as close to free as possible entry path into the product lines where the Macromedia version is being terminated (I’m mainly thinking of Freehand here, but it applies to whatever they do). That is, if they want them to become Adobe customers. This merger may open up new opportunities for them, but it also opens up new dangers, as they’re under the microscope now. Because any arrogant or monopolistic behavior on Adobe’s part at this point will likely be met by the startup of new open source alternatives.

Many of the conflicts in the new product line resolve themselves, either due to a lack of competition, like Flash (come now, LiveMotion never really qualified as “competition”) and Cold Fusion, or market dominance, like Illustrator over Freehand. Freehand offers little to differentiate itself. It was simply a competent competitor, and thus it will surely cease to exist (part of the overall plan, eliminate competition).

But there are two conflicts that concern me as a customer, and one of them I’m pretty fanatical about.

First, there’s Dreamweaver versus GoLive. DW obviously has the greater market share, but since Adobe is pushing the new version of GoLive pretty hard, I don’t see this as a clear cut case. It’s possible they’ll do something stupid like offer Dreamweaver users a low cost upgrade path to GoLive, and combine those two as one. But the developer community that has grown around Dreamweaver is pretty vast, and I hope Adobe is smart enough to preserve that. It will be the biggest of many opportunities to either solidify or fracture their $3.4 Billion purchase.

But the one that really scares me is Photoshop versus Fireworks. To me, this is like comparing a Hummer and a Harley. They’re both manly vehicles that begin with “H,” but that’s where the similarity ends. And I feel a bit like Jared: “If they touch Fireworks, I’m going .NET.”

I see them as vastly different apps, for good reason. Photoshop is, and always has been, the King of Bitmaps and Print Output. Then they arc welded web graphics capability onto it, and later some limited vector capabilities.

Fireworks is the Queen of Screen Output, vector or bitmap, or both. When it comes to comp’ing web sites or creating web graphics, I can work about three times faster in Fireworks than I can in Photoshop. ImageReady is a poor and bloated attempt to make Photoshop capable of the things Fireworks does with ease.

I remember the first time I opened the beta of Fireworks 1.0 in early 1999. The only way I can explain it that I felt like someone had designed an app Just For Reid To Play. It was so much fun, if I could only have one program on my computer, Fireworks would be it. That is still true today.

And if Adobe takes it away from me, I’ll be looking to take as much away from them as I can, in terms of my future business.

I’ve been paying for Photoshop upgrades for nine years, and for Fireworks upgrades for six years. I’d like to continue doing both. Please let me.

Oh, and I won’t be upgrading from CS any time soon. I was planning on it, until I heard this today. Now I think maybe I need a hostage.

Peanut Gallery

1  John wrote:

I agree with your product calls right down the line, Reid. I’d never give up Fireworks for Photoshop or vice versa. They’re both useful tools, but not for the same tasks.

My only other bit of dim curiosity would be for the future of Homesite, which has virtually languished since Nick Bradbury sold it to Allaire, who got swallowed by Macromedia… There’s not a lot of functionality I require from a text editor, but I’ve grown accustomed to a set of shortcuts.

Of course, there’s always TopStyle, which Nick has pushed well beyond the boundaries of a simple CSS editor.

2  Reecie wrote:

I’m kinda stoked about this. Easy for me to say, of course, because my employer foots the bill for my apps, but I’m thinking as regards the tools themselves, it could be a very good thing. Adobe products always seem so much more intuitive to me than Macromedia’s.

There were features in LiveMotion—even way back then—that I loved. No, it never developed into a viable tool, but that was completely down to choice. I don’t think LM failed, I think Adobe chose to abandon it long before they even bothered putting it up against the competition (which was probably a sound business decision). At any rate, there were some good ideas in there, and I’m hoping Adobe will incorporate some of those good ideas in future versions of Flash.

I use DW at work and GL at home, and while I like them both, I’ve always thought a marriage of the two would be the ultimate happyhappyjoy.

And I use Photoshop probably 5-6 hours a day every day of my life and, although I like Fireworks just fine, I’ve never preferred FW over PS in any way, shape, or form (and I’d say 80% of my coworkers feel the same), so I’m ever-so-selfishly not worried what they do with/to Fireworks. Heh. PS generates excellent screen output, quickly and easily (although I’ve thought for a long time that PS and ImageReady should be fully integrated). Maybe it’s just a familiarity/comfort thing. Or is this one a Mac people/PC people issue or something?

3  Reecie wrote:

PS: I meant to tell you that I finally had the cowboy photo print you gave me framed and hung, and you should know that it generates more interest (and more compliments) than any of the other original artwork hanging near it. Not only do I love it, everyone else does, too! :-)

4  Reid wrote:

Easy for me to say, of course, because my employer foots the bill for my apps

So does mine. He’s a cheap SOB, too. He said “there’s nothing in ‘Studio MX 2004’ worth $300 … you can wait for the next version.” How do I tell him there may not be a next version? (perhaps a mirror would be helpful)

I’ve never preferred FW over PS in any way, shape, or form (and I’d say 80% of my coworkers feel the same)

Well, in a thread full of geeks (most Mac based), the tendency is towards the Fireworks point of view. It’s an app with an amazingly loyal following. And some folks have had a gutful of Adobe for a variety of long term reasons.

I’ll put it to you this way, Reecie: If Mercedes bought BMW, do you think you’d end up with more or less car choices? A wider range of prices? A fuller range of fuel efficiency? Or would you end up with one big company able to do pretty much as it pleases in the marketplace of fine European autos … because where else are their customers going to go? To the fine European Yugo dealer (think, MS Paint)?

That’s Adobe, come fall.

Somehow I see myself in 2010, desperately trying to find a CPU with an OS that will run the last remaining version of Fireworks.

Oh, and thanks for the kind words about the Cowboy Print , now available at a fine online print store near you

5  Reecie wrote:

See? We just see this one differently, because I’m sitting here thinking that I if Mercedes bought BMW, Bimmers might just improve to the point where I’d consider buying another one.


6  Reid wrote:

OK, let me put it this way … who will now push Adobe to innovate and make better products at fair prices?




And if you haven’t heard of those last two, that’s my point. There are no longer any name brand competitors for Adobe. And I simply fail to see how that can be a Good Thing. Customers benefit most from competition, not monopoly.

7  Jan wrote:

I probably spent as much as you have on these two companies over the years. Though my Adobe money was all on Macs back in the 80s. My photography bug really wants me to get Photoshop, but I cannot spare the bucks now. I bought Studio MX a few years ago. If I had it to do over again, I would have just bought Fireworks and TopStyle Pro. I had no thoughts of upgrading any of it before I heard about the takeover/merger. Gag, that sounds like another two companies I love to hate. :)

I have no faith in Adobe doing the right thing or even remotely smart thing. I guess we will just have to wait and see. I will still get Photoshop one day and hopefully, Fireworks will continue to work for me for a long time.

You know, if Microsoft, Adobe and everyone else just gave away their version X.0 software, I think they would make more money in the long run by selling upgrades. If they did not use paying customers as beta testers things would be different.

Comment by Jan · 04/19/2005 11:40 PM
8  Oliver Nielsen wrote:

Fireworks cannot be directly compared to Photoshop. Fireworks can be compared to ImageReady.

Can you develop raw-files from your digital camera in Fireworks? No.

So what should worry you is Imageready.

If you wanted to sacrifice Photoshop for Fireworks, I feel sorry for you;-)

Otherwise great article!

9  Reid wrote:

Fireworks cannot be directly compared to Photoshop. Fireworks can be compared to ImageReady.

Which is exactly why I said “Photoshop is, and always has been, the King of Bitmaps and Print Output. Then they arc welded web graphics capability onto it” ... and … “Fireworks is the Queen of Screen Output, vector or bitmap, or both.” That’s not comparison, that is contrast.

And that arc welding? They called it ImageReady.

By the way, can you buy ImageReady as a free-standing app? No? Then it must be a part of Photoshop.

Can you develop raw-files from your digital camera in Fireworks? No.

Must I repeat? “Photoshop is, and always has been, the King of Bitmaps and Print Output.” Bitmaps are pixel based imagery, which often come from RAW files.

If you wanted to sacrifice Photoshop for Fireworks, I feel sorry for you

When it comes to creating web graphics, and comp’ing designs for sites, I “sacrificed” Photoshop about six years ago. But I am not asking Adobe to “kill” Photoshop, I am asking them to preserve Fireworks.

If you wanted to sacrifice Fireworks, just so Photoshop can be the sole imaging app from which Adobe profits, well, I feel sorry for you ... and Adobe.

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