I will be honest, I am not a fan of Adobe as a company. I never liked their business model: their practice of gobbling up competition (sometimes out of fear), their Creative Cloud extortion and their sleazy management that only cares about their next quarter revenues. But most of all, I never liked Adobe’s poor software development practices. In my past tech life, Adobe products were always a big pain due to numerous security holes and huge, frequent updates. In fact, Adobe has been notoriously bad with releasing poorly tested software with too many security holes. In 2011, Adobe dominated Kaspersky Lab’s top ten PC vulnerabilities list, with “extremely critical” security vulnerabilities that allowed attackers to gain access to computer systems and execute arbitrary code. These security vulnerabilities spanned several Adobe products, which most PCs had at the time and even today: Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash Player. No wonder Apple did not want to support flash in its iOS (which thankfully resulted in the slow demise of the Adobe Flash), since Flash was a very badly written, resource intensive platform to begin with. Although Steve Jobs mostly blamed Adobe Flash for being a PC-era platform, two of the biggest reasons why Flash support was excluded from iOS were in fact related to security and stability concerns.
Why am talking about all this? Because it is the end of 2014 and Adobe is still using the same, terrible software practices. I have just downloaded and installed the new Lightroom 5.7, the “latest and greatest” version of Lightroom. What did I get? 1 gigabyte of bloated software that is running slower than ever. In fact, in the first 30 minutes of running the darn thing, Lightroom has crashed twice and all I did was – view images. Yes, that’s right, I was simply going through my software catalog, comparing image crops from the Nikon D750. I thought perhaps something was wrong with my computer, so I rebooted, re-launched the new Lightroom 5.7 and did the same thing, only to find Lightroom crash again:
I cannot believe that Lightroom still has the oldest and the most annoying Lightroom bug, with Lightroom’s menus getting completely messed up and random presets getting applied when keyboard buttons are pressed or menu items are accessed. This problem has been reported ages ago and Adobe engineers still cannot figure out how to fix the darn problem. Just have a look at this thread on Adobe forums that was created over two years ago and the latest update was posted about 5 months ago, with an Adobe employee saying “This has been fixed in 5.5 (sort of – see below)”. Yes, “sort of”. Apparently, fixing this particular bug requires far-reaching changes to the way that Lightroom handles menus on Windows. And since these changes were “too extensive” and “potentially destabilizing”, Adobe only provided a temporary fix. Well guess what, I have seen the same problem in Lightroom 5.6, so the problem has not been “sort of” addressed. What a joke!
And I am not thrilled about the speed of Lightroom either – on my custom built machine that sports the latest technology (4th Gen Intel i7 4770K, 32 GB of RAM, Fastest SSD Hard Disks and NVIDIA Quadro Video Card), everything is supposed to fly. And yet Adobe manages to make my machine look like it is an obsolete piece of junk. How did we come down to this? Let’s have a quick look at how Adobe has been bloating Lightroom, since version 2 (I have been keeping different versions of Lightroom on my computer for a while). Take a look at the below table of Lightroom releases, along with their sizes:
- Lightroom 2.7: 156.4 MB
- Lightroom 3.6: 248.8 MB
- Lightroom 4.4: 826.2 MB
- Lightroom 5.0: 849.7 MB
- Lightroom 5.2: 858.7 MB
- Lightroom 5.6: 976.2 MB
- Lightroom 5.7: 999.5 MB
Whoa, that’s a pretty big change in size, going from 156 megabytes to a gigabyte in 4 years of development. OK, it is probably not fair to say this, as there have been many changes in Lightroom since version 2. After-all, new modules and Lens Corrections were introduced and more cameras are now supported, which did increase Lightroom’s size. But over six times the size?
What baffles me still, is that Adobe chooses to deliver software in its entirety every time an update is released. During the cycle of updates, we are dealing with beta, release candidate and final versions of Lightroom, each weighing more than the predecessors. By now since Lightroom 5 debuted, I must have downloaded at least 10 Gigabytes worth of Lightroom updates. That is just ridiculous. Instead of giving one major install and providing incremental updates, Adobe’s software team just repackages and re-releases the whole thing. We are not dealing with small files anymore – each update is now one gigabyte in size. What’s next? A two gigabyte Lightroom 6 that won’t run on my machine?
Next up is memory consumption and memory leaks. Lightroom is by far the worst in this regard. Launch Lightroom and work with it for a few days on different files without closing – see what happens. A few years back, I saw Lightroom once eat up all of my RAM, yes all 16 GB of it (either Lightroom 3 or 4, can’t remember for sure). Those memory leaks were only partially addressed. If you work in Lightroom long enough, you might still get to the point when it becomes a memory hog. The same is with Photoshop. Try to stitch a panorama with a few dozen images and see how quickly you can crash Photoshop. It will eat up your RAM, then come to a slow death, requiring you to terminate the process and start over.
Lastly, let’s talk about the Creative Cloud updates. OK, whether I liked it or not, I was forced to move up to the cloud. With Adobe CS6 death, I needed to be on the edge, so when Adobe finally made the $9.99 per month Photography plan permanent, I switched. Since then, Adobe has delivered many more gigabytes of installs and updates, bloating up my system more than ever. The latest update? Adobe Photoshop CC 2014, the “latest and greatest” Photoshop. I was at first happy to see this update, but upon closer look, I discovered that Adobe installed the new version of Photoshop in parallel to my Photoshop CC. Now I have two versions of Photoshop on my computer, yay! Take a look at this beautiful screenshot:
It turns out that the new 2014 version had so many amazing features, that Adobe folks decided it is best to keep both just in case things don’t work as they should in the new version. If I am happy with Photoshop CC 2014, I am supposed to uninstall the old version myself. Hmm…I see where Adobe is going with this. In 2015, when Photoshop CC 2015 comes out, I will have three versions of Photoshop on my computer! This smells so much like Java Runtime. I remember once uninstalling about 10 versions of Java on a PC at work, wondering how one could even manage to do that. Seems like Adobe is heading towards the same direction with its Creative Cloud.
Adobe’s practice of releasing badly tested software that is full of bugs and security vulnerabilities, along with developing a cloud platform that was not initially protected against account theft is unacceptable by today’s standards. With such bad press surrounding Adobe in the past few years, one has to wonder if Adobe will ever do anything to clean up its mess and try to be a better software company before more people in the industry start turning their backs and switching to other platforms. Sadly, Adobe executives know that there are no direct alternatives for its Photoshop software, so they just do not seem to care. Personally, I strongly dislike supporting companies like Adobe that are focusing on satisfying their board of directors and meeting their year-end sales quotas, rather than delivering good service to their customers.
With the death of Apple Aperture (which Adobe clearly capitalized on by quickly releasing a plugin for Lightroom), choices for post-processing and file management software are even more limited. Aside from a few tools like Capture One, ACDSee, DxO OpticsPro and Corel Suite that only provide limited functionality for managing and editing images, there is not much competition to Lightroom that provides an “all in one” workflow solution. My next project will be to explore DxO and Capture One software in more detail to see if the two or the combination of different software tools can accommodate my workflow needs. I want to see how practical it is for a working pro to switch to another software platform, so my plan is to provide detailed coverage of the process, along with listing pros and cons of different software tools when compared to Adobe.