Last year, when Adobe announced a subscription-only model and that, as a result, customers would thus no longer be able to (maintain the illusion that they could) outright buy and own their software for eternity, there was a lot of hullabaloo. At that time, I did my research on both sides of the issue, and did my best to present a clear and objective understanding of the situation in two blog posts, HERE and HERE.
I’m going to address one question that came up, to see how Adobe is handling it:
With customers locked into a subscription, what’s to make them keep their promise of feature rich updates?
To me, the answer to that question is pretty self-evident: if time went on and Adobe didn’t keep to its word, people would very quickly see that, talk about it and Adobe would look really bad – along with that, new and long-time users would not sign up for the cloud.
Well, time has gone on – So where are we today? Has Adobe come through on this promise of quality and quantity in their updates?
In my opinion, they’ve done it, and with flying colors. They’ve released a bunch of updates that have really improved their products over time. You can read all about the digital video updates here:
To make the point, as a long-time After Effects user, I’ll focus on the updates to that app, just to give you an example. Since CC was released in June 2013 (so, over about 7 months), Adobe has released 3 updates for AE – two of them, quite major. These improvements include (And this is a copy and paste of a lot of stuff):
- mask tracker
- Detail-preserving Upscale effect
- improved performance for analysis phase for 3D Camera Tracker and Warp Stabilizer effects
- bicubic sampling option in Transform effect
- property linking
- improved snapping behavior, including snapping beyond layer boundaries and to internal wireframes
- OpenGL features enabled for all Intel GPUs
- improved Cinema 4D integration
- preference for bypassing whitelist for GPU acceleration of ray-traced 3D renderer
- option when pre-composing to trim precomposition duration to duration of selected layers
- layers created immediately above topmost selected layer
- user-defined location for Auto-save
- improvements to keyboard shortcuts for showing properties with keyframes, expressions
- command for moving anchor point to center of content
- snapping beyond layer edges, to align layers in 2D and 3D space along lines defined by layer features
- rectified audio waveforms
- added iris and highlight properties for camera layers to the expression language menu
- better error message for duplicate plug-ins
- better expression error messages
- Auto-save enabled by default
- file name and location templates, plus automatic creation of folders for image sequences
- settings migration
- snapping improvements: shape layers, cameras, and lights
- option for creating shape layers based on Bezier paths
- command for converting a parametric shape layer path to a Bezier path
- new version of OptiX library and new behavior of OptiX library loading and initialization
- many other new and changed features and bug fixes
Depending on your perspective, you might consider some of these updates light, but there are definitely some big things in there. As someone who has been using AE for about 15 years, I can tell you that it is unprecedented for Adobe to release such a large number of fixes and feature additions mid-cycle – and they have certainly never released any real significant changes and upgrades in anything that wasn’t a brand new version of AE – usually announced at NAB (usually a .5 or full-integer paid upgrade).
I spoken to a lot of people since my initial blog post about Creative Cloud. While I know of many folks holding out, there’s no one that I know who has moved to Creative Cloud who is unhappy with the offerings, access to new software, and number of updates. I’ve heard no one say: “I’m using Creative Cloud because I have to, but it sucks.” Folk seem to really like what they’re getting.
And yes, there are other questions and concerns I talked about in my previous posts that the above info doesn’t address. I still believe subscription by suite makes more sense than the all-or-one option (I still only touch the same core apps I did when we purchased suites). But given how much hard work the After Effects and other product teams have put in to keep their promise, I thought they deserved a follow up post on the subject of promised updates.
They’ve done some very good work.
To sum up – The Adobe track record for giving their products development love under the subscription model is far better than it ever was under the old model of buying software once a year.
Business model aside, our friends on the product development side are kicking ass, and I’m truly appreciative of the effort.