Ditching Adobe…?

edited September 2014 in The Toolbox
I'm not going to get into an argument about Creative Cloud again, other than to say the fact that Adobe will have to prise my perpetual license from cold, dead hands has left me wondering about contingency plans for the day Adobe breaks compatibility between CS6 and OSX (reports are that works OK with the upcoming 10.10 Yosemite, but I'll be surprised if it works with 10.11).

The missing link may be about to drop into place, with a possible Illustrator replacement coming in the form of Affinity Designer from Serif. I've only had a chance for a very brief play around with the beta version (which is free to download from here) but it looks like serious attempt to offer an alternative for those of us who need a print-sensitive, colour-managed workflow.

It's a bit clunky, and there are a lot of idiosyncratic interface choices. There's a lot stuff I can do in Illustrator that is either unnecessarily complicated or currently impossible to do in Designer. BUT… this is the first bit of alternative software I've seen where I've thought "Yeah, I could get an acceptable page of lettered work out of this."

They're taking a lot of feedback via their forum, which is also encouraging.

So… I think you could pencil, ink and colour in Manga Studio 5, then export colour-profiled CMYK TIFFs to letter in Affinity Designer, which will output (single page only) TIFFs, PDFs or EPS files.

If your workflow requires multi-page PDFs, it's possible to combine multiple single page PDF or TIFF documents into a continuous PDF using the 'Save as PDF' option in the Print dialogue in Preview under OSX — I've just tried it with half a dozen exported TIFFs from the last book I did. Colour profile and overprints appear to be preserved.

It's not an ELEGANT workaround, by any stretch of the imagination, but it means that if I'm put in the position of switching to Creative Cloud, or abandoning Adobe software completely, at a push, I CAN ditch Adobe, which gives me a certain peace of mind…



  • Surely it's in Apple's hands whether CS6 will work on OS 10.11, not Adobe's?

    It's usual for vendors to stop stop supporting old versions of their software after a certain point. Software from the late '90s will still mostly run on modern Windows. 

  • Surely it's in Apple's hands whether CS6 will work on OS 10.11, not Adobe's?

    It's usual for vendors to stop stop supporting old versions of their software after a certain point. Software from the late '90s will still mostly run on modern Windows. 
    Adobe made a big deal about 'working with Apple' to make sure CS6 worked with 10.9, so I'm guessing it's not just in Apple's hands.

    Also: I'm not suggesting that Adobe should keep updating CS6 forever. Quite the reverse, I accept that there's going to come a day when an OSX update will break CS6, it's just that, for me, the T&Cs of Creative Cloud are completely unacceptable, leaving me with no alternative other than trying to figure out a non-Adobe workflow unless or until they reinstate a perpetual license model.

    I know I'm not alone in thinking that the CC terms are egregious and the pricing exorbitant, but non-Adobe alternatives for a colour-managed CMYK workflow have been thin on the ground and I thought it was worth mentioning that it might be possible to devise an end-to-end roughs-to-print workflow that didn't directly involve any Adobe software.

  • I won't be moving to CC any time soon--nor will I be moving to the Apple ecosphere. 
  • Then I'm not quite sure why you felt it was worth commenting, TBH.
  • edited August 2014
    @JimCampbell you are correct. This is a big deal to me, for example.

    I have a background in formal pre-press and so I was trained in photoshop, illustrator and pagemaker (now inDesign) which has formed a large part of my work process. I've been looking at viable and inexpensive alternatives to Adobe and often cursing the fact that it's been so hard to find programs that offer the same ease of use and flexibility that Adobe does.

    I'm definitely going to look at Affinity as an option for me.

    (edited to add)
    As for a multiple page layout program? I think I may turn back to Quarkxpress. I have a feeling that by the time I need to make a change, they'll be ready.

  • Well, I was actually thinking about investing in some Apple gear, so I could play with some iOS stuff, but if I'm going to need to keep all my PC gear around to continue using Adobe I probably won't.

    Anybody have anything productive to say?
  • As for a multiple page layout program? I think I may turn back to Quarkxpress. I have a feeling that by the time I need to make a change, they'll be ready.
    I was able to get a decent deal on a second-hand copy of Quark 8 when I went freelance — can't speak to later versions, but I rather like it. The relative lack of bells and whistles (and resultant uncluttered interface) was rather refreshing compared to InDesign.

    That said, Quark's utter failure to offer a competitive price or even a decent crossgrade deal from InDesign when the Creative Cloud backlash first hit suggests that, as a company, they may well still be shower of colossal dickheads…!
  • edited August 2014
    Actually, yes. I'm not going to go around Adobe bashing, but I do want to look at affordable alternatives to Adobe. My specific needs include a multiple page export to pdf option.

    My normal work process includes using Photoshop/Illustrator and then Indesign for my final layouts. So I need to look at alternate programs that can accomplish what I am currently doing with Adobe that work in a Mac environment. This is where the two-fold challenge comes in.

    So far, the alternatives to Adobe that I've seen and dabbled a bit with have been Gimp and Manga Studio (for the photoshop replacement) and Scribus or Quarkxpress for the InDesign replacement.

    If I were in a PC only environment, I'd definitely look at Corel Draw as an alternative to Adobe products.
  • @JimCampbell Well, yes, but I've just seen their website. I think they may only be extremely slow to the punch. At this point, even if they don't offer any deals, their refusal to go to a subscription based service may be enough to win people over.
  • edited August 2014
    Ultimately it's up to the application developer to make sure their software runs on someone's operating system.  The OS developer is supposed to provide a stable and consistent programming interface and guidelines for how to develop apps for it (and Apple mostly does that .... I could go on at length about both Apple and Microsoft's vices and virtues in this area, but I'll shut up about it for now), but they have a vested interest in moving forward, and when there's a problem it falls on the app developer to fix it because 1) there are way too many apps for Apple or Microsoft to worry about, and 2) CS users are Adobe's customers; Apple or MS has no strong reason to care whether they switch to some other apps.  Unfortunately, app developers have a conflicting interest in encouraging their old customers to upgrade their apps, and therein lies the problem: old apps will eventually stop working on future versions of any OS.

    Anyway .... Serif has been working for quite a while on positioning itself as a less expensive alternative to Adobe, but developing just for Windows.  I haven't heard much about their software, but most of it's been good.  It looks like the combination of Apple's increasing sales and Adobe's increasing unpopularity has encouraged them to venture into this hole in the market.  Manga Studio does a good enough job of meeting most of my needs personally, but there are still times I fire up my old copy of Illustrator CS3, so I'll give this Affinity a look, as insurance against its eventual demise.
  • Someone on another forum has just mentioned Automator as a possible way of getting multi-page PDFs and they're quite right. There's an Automator workflow for "PDF from Images" — I've just dropped a dozen TIFFs exported from AI into it and got a lovely 12-page PDF out of the other end. Colour profile and trapping appears to have been preserved from the original TIFF files.
  • I dumped the full Adobe CC subscription because I had too much trouble learning them and figured I didn't want to get sucked in anyway. I ended up only using two things - Photoshop and Acrobat. I cancelled my subscription after the year was up. I'm subscribed to the "Photographers" package now, which is Photoshop and Lightroom for US$9.99 per month. Much more reasonable.

    I'd love to learn of Adobe alternatives. I have Manga Studio 5, and I could probably get away with using GIMP for the things I use Photoshop for. But it was worth $10 per month not to have to fight with a new program for now. 

    An InDesign alternative would be nice, hopefully one with not as large of a learning curve. I do miss Adobe Acrobat for making PDFs, but not enough to buy a copy. If they even still sell it separately. 

    If there were an Illustrator replacement that is easier to learn, then I'd give it a try. I'm lettering in Manga Studio 5, and the fact that is dead easy is it's major attraction. I'm still finding new settings all the time. But I'm still not getting the results I would like.
  • But I'm still not getting the results I would like.
    Nor will you, I'm afraid. The Manga Studio lettering tools lack so many pro-level features that I can't recommend it for that purpose, despite being both a fan of and an advocate for the software.

    I knew several creators who'd been contacted for feedback by the development team in the run-up to v5's release but repeated attempts by both those creators and me to get them to do something about MS's type-handling were politely but firmly rebuffed, so I assume it's very much not a priority.
  • @JimCampbell - You and I think VERY much alike.  I don't comment often on your posts because you already distill much of what I'm already thinking.

    Likewise, I'm also VERY concerned about the future of CS6 on my future OSX platforms.

    I've been with Adobe Photoshop since it's inception.  At this point I am SO comfortable with it that I know I'm doing myself a disservice by not finding (and developing skills) with a future application.  The writing is on the wall for CS6, if not this OSX, then the next.  I've had way too many devices and software become obsolete due to incompatibility.

    I swear... at times... it makes me want to go back to pen and paper.  Hahah!
  • Yeah. I've used every major version of Photoshop from 1.0 to CS6, with the exceptions of CS2 and CS4. My self-taught Photoshop skills got me out of a shitty call centre job and into my first production/design job back in 1994; I can still remember the "Holy shit! This changes EVERYTHING" moment when I first started using layers in v3…

    But there is just no way that I'm going to pay Adobe a monthly fee from now until the end of time, with no guarantee that they won't jack the price through the roof just so I can continue to open my own files.
  • edited August 2014
    While the "obsolescence" of CS6 could happen with any OS upgrade, keep in mind that I have CS3 (from 2007) running on the latest version of OS X.  Aside from the fact that it periodically checks for updates from a non-existent server (requiring me to cancel that to let me use it), it works fine.  Adobe knows that they'll catch all sorts of hell in the PR department when the last perpetually-licensed release breaks and users get stranded, so patches or work-arounds to fix any CS6 compatibility problems that crop up in the next few versions of OS X are pretty darn likely. And also remember: OS upgrades are also optional, up to a point. (Just ask the millions of current WinXP users.)  I'm confident there will still be an active user population for CS6 in 2020.
  • edited August 2014
    This is true, but things are slightly different in the Mac world. First, Mac users tend to update their OS more often. Second, Apple are a lot more brutal about cutting off legacy support -- CS2 stopped working with 10.6 (10.7? I forget). No patch or workaround, software had to be Intel only or forget it.

    Add to this the fact that Adobe have been VERY clear that they see subscription as their business model now, as a means of evening out their cashflow. We're talking about a company that broke backward compatibility on InDesign files on a point upgrade, so I wouldn't be remotely surprised if they pushed -- really pushed -- to get hold-outs onto CC, because they're not monetized on CS6.

    Edit to add: handy illustration of the speed of OSX version adoption here: http://m.computerworld.com/s/article/9247788/Free_OS_X_Mavericks_now_powers_half_of_all_Macs?mm_ref=https://www.google.co.uk/
  • edited August 2014
    Considering that was talking about OS X, and use Macs myself (since high school), I don't need you to explain to me about "the Mac world". Unless Apple changes processor architectures again, CS3 and later are probably going to work (perhaps with minor glitches) on new Macs and new versions of OS X for a while to come. Adobe can't retroactively break those releases, and Apple isn't conspiring with Adobe to do it for them.  Even in the worst case scenario – Yosemite somehow breaks CS6, Adobe refuses to fix it, Apple switches to ARM CPUs ... each of which is unlikely – the tools of your trade will not go up in smoke.  By simply not doing anything, you will be able to continue to work while you look for replacements, just like today.
  • edited August 2014
    Sorry, Jason -- posted in haste and confused my Jasons. Thought you were Jason Franks up thread who said he didn't have any Apple kit.
  • Also: not quite sure why we're getting mired in a debate Creative fucking Cloud. As I said: at some point CS6 will cease to be viable. All I was doing was sharing the fact that it may be possible to devise and end-to-end workflow to get books into print that doesn't require any Adobe applications. I've been looking at options since CC came in, and this is the first time I've felt that might be achievable.

    If Creative Cloud doesn't bother you; if sticking with an older version of OSX doesn't bother you (and I'm still on 10.8 because 10.9 messes with Finder labels in a way which would drastically break my workflow), then fine. Good for you -- I have no issue with any of that, and I understand that these are viable options. This post/thread isn't for you.

    If you want to talk about means of delivering a comic book as press-ready CMYK files to a professional standard for your printer whilst bypassing the Adobe suite, this thread is for you.
  • This is all I'm interested in.....

    "If you want to talk about means of delivering a comic book as press-ready CMYK files to a professional standard for your printer whilst bypassing the Adobe suite, this thread is for you."
  • edited August 2014
    I agree with @Jimmie_Robinson , when @JimCampbell ;speaks about CS I usually shut up as well because he's going to say exactly what I would have given as advice myself, in addition to throwing in a few tips that I had no idea about.

    Having said that, if you aren't in a Mac Environment and want to get away from Adobe, my thought would be Corel Graphics Suite. @GregCarter I can't remember what system you are running, but this is an industry level full-serve desktop publishing suite. When I was in school, it was considered the industry standard for PCs as it ran better on PCs while Adobe was left to the Mac environment....back in the day.

    Otherwise, for myself, I intend on watching this thread and threads like it to see if an effective, smooth replacement will come for Adobe.

  • edited August 2014
    Also: not quite sure why we're getting mired in a debate Creative fucking Cloud.
    The only "debate" I see about CC is threat or menace? :)

    I wasn't challenging the idea of walking away from Adobe (a journey I started years ago), just answering Jimmie's concern that he might have to replace his software in the next couple years.
  • Yeah, what Quest said.

    But I'd like to have something I can depend on for more than a couple of years.  I'd like to have the confidence that I'll be able to work, and even go *back* to my older work if need be.  But I get what you're saying -- and what Jim is saying.
  • edited August 2014
    Yeah, I have a closet floor covered with obsolete tech for the sake of going back to old files. The best protection against data-format obsolescence of that kind is to save copies in standard open formats that will "always"(ish) be supported, like TXT files for words, TIFF/SVG for images, MP3/MP4 for audio/video, then copy them to your new hardware to become part of your ongoing backups.  But I digress ... apologies.
  • Is there a current list of programs like Photoshop?
  • edited August 2014
    Depending on what features of Photoshop you want (photo editing, drawing, image cropping/resizing/converting), the list varies.  A few that are skewed toward drawing:
    • Manga Studio (Win/Mac) - Photoshop for comics
    • GIMP (Win/Mac/Linux) - attempted feature-for-feature free replacement for PS, emphasis on "attempted"
    • Corel Painter (Win/Mac) - natural-media simulator
    • PaintTool SAI (Win) - natural-media simulator
    • AutoDesk SketchBook (Win/Mac/Android/iOS) - simplified sketching tools
  • edited August 2014
    Worth mentioning GraphicConverter as a 'toolbox' graphics programme — limited but usable editing/retouching tools and will open/save just about any graphic format ever known. Works with CMYK and respects things like colour profiles and overprints. Also has batch operations for file optimising/ resizing/ what-have-you.

    It also has sort-of-Bridge-like options to browse folders by grids of thumbnails, if that's your thing.

    Edit to add: It'll open .psd files and rasterise .ai files as long as they're PDF-compatible.

    Current version is a fairly reasonable $39.95 / € 34.95

    Trial version runs as nagware after 30 days (I think).
  • edited August 2014
    Interesting addendum turned up from the Affinity forums today:

    There are, apparently, no plans for a Windows version  — which I can see, because they'd be going up against Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw, whereas there's definitely a gaping hole in the market on the Mac platform.

    Perhaps even more interestingly: this is phase one in the roll-out of a full suite, with Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher to follow next year.

    Speaking as someone who dragged two organisations kicking and screaming from a Quark/Postscript workflow to an InDesign/PDF one, I shall watch developments with interest.
  • Jason, I have to say, that I think Gimp is beginning to step up. Their feature seem to be improving. Of course this could simply just be me being extremely hopefully optimistic.
    There's an article I keep referring back to in regards to cheap/free alternatives to Adobe Creative Suite:

    You also bring up a good point about making sure old back-ups are compatible with your current software. I never thought about that. Luckily I think the only files I have that would become obsolete are my InDesign files.
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