How Do You Document Software Without A Version?

May 7, 2013

Adobe made an interesting announcement yesterday. Their Creative Suite is no more. You read that right, there will be no more versions of the Creative Suite. Going forward, all new versions of TPFKACS (the products formerly known as Creative Suite) will be known as Creative Cloud (with no version number?).

I can’t say I’m a big fan of the death of boxed products like this. As a paying customer, I fear that using the software will simply get more expensive because now I have to pay every single month. But the market has spoken and obviously Adobe feels this is the best route forward for them. Of course this is probably a route that will be taken by many software companies going forward.

While I think of how this effects me as the user of software, it raises many more questions from someone who creates training and other content. If I were to create a tutorial on software without a defined version, how do users of the software know if the tutorial applies to them? One thing that is pretty obvious to me is that it could be darned near impossible to write the all-inclusive book on software that is constantly changing. By the time you finish the book, the software will have gone through numerous changes. Replace the word book with training videos and the problem is the same.

Will the file formats also change over time? If I were to create artwork in a specific file format, how do we designate a version so users know if they can open the file? All of these questions just make me feel like an old curmudgeon who is not the least bit excited about this “progress.” I’m sure we’ll all adjust over time. Of course this also could open the door for a competitor who doesn’t force customers into a subscription.

What do you think of software moving to subscriptions? Will you pay monthly or annually for the software you use or will you find an alternative with a fixed price? Answer this one question in the poll on our Facebook page. How does someone document software without a version? Post a comment and share your thoughts on this.

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  1. Bob

    I’m not crazy about this route either. What if I want to work on a project and I have no internet access? On the other hand, this will put an end to software piracy – until the pirates figure a way to pirate cloud software.

    There is something comforting knowing I own something. I don’t lease my car – I own it. I own my home. I own my computers. To rent software is not something I look forward to doing.

    This could be an opening for Corel to recapture professionals that moved to Illustrator (like me). I will probably try the cloud software for a year and then re-evaluate.

  2. Foster D. Coburn III

    Bob, thanks for your input. You do NOT need Internet access to use Adobe’s software, just to download the updates when they are available.

    My bigger question is not whether users like this new approach or not as I expect most comments will be against the cloud choice. I want to know how someone like me should document software that is constantly changing. And how do I tell users what version is covered if there isn’t a version number?

  3. Bob

    Foster – all valid concerns. Unless Adobe comes up with a version stamp (build it will be difficult to identify which version you are documenting. Will be interesting to see Adobe’s response to your concerns.

  4. Foster D. Coburn III

    I have no plans to document any Adobe products, but this is more and more common with other products and services and it can be very frustrating. Just when you think you are finished with something, it changes.

  5. Clive

    The only Adobe product I buy is Illustrator. I only use it to open customer submitted files and convert them into a format that I can import into CorelDraw. I cannnot see myself paying for any more of Adobe’s products going forward. I will have to work with customers to get them to provide files in a form I can work with or give up their business, neither of which is a preferred option. Thumbs down to Adobe.

  6. Anonymous

    Adobe’s move could be the best thing that has every happened to Corel, as long as they don’t insist on going down the same path.

    I have already replaced a number of pieces of software that have forced me to monthly subscriptions because, if I was to subscripe to all of them I would be paying over $1000 a month in subscription fees.

    Personally, I think that companies such as Adobe will in the future find that the move to the cloud ultimately is a bad move.

  7. Anonymous

    I have a real problem with a monthly fee for a program that I really only use a few times a year. When I need it, I really need it, but I sure don’t want to waste money on a subscription to have it just setting around until I do. I’m a retired teacher, and maybe now that I am out of the classroom I’m not enough of a professional that the software companies care. But, I want to feel like I own my software instead of just rent it.

  8. Anonymous

    Would hate TO ALWAYS DEPEND on internet connection to get work done.

  9. Foster D. Coburn III

    Folks, you can disagree with Adobe’s decision all you want. I agree and I don’t like the cloud-only answer. Yet it seems many of you are completely misunderstanding how it works. IT DOES NOT REQUIRE ALWAYS BEING CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET!!!!

  10. Anonymous

    Maybe the 800 pound gorilla can get away with that, for commercial s/w that is constantly in-use. While the developers will always find a few tweaks to add, I think for the 80% of us that have occasional / personal use, a fee program is not reasonable. Also, for those 80% of us, there are alternatives, including back level, in-system apps. Adobe makes great s/w, but I do not intend to feed the 800 pound gorilla. I doubt that the CFOs in the other 20% will want to be hog tied to a cloud, either.

  11. Kitty

    When I purchase something, I want to own it, not borrow it. I’m a sometime user of Adobe and the suite is so overpriced for the majority I won’t have to worry anymore about upgrading Adobe, since none of my customers (we do commercial printing) will be willing to pay monthly for it. Thanks, Adobe! I always recommend Corel as a one-source, can do everything software … especially with Unleashed videos to help them stay informed and help them get creative. Thanks, Foster!

  12. Bob

    I’m a professional graphic designer and website builder so Adobe products are part of my life. Glad to hear that cloud apps do not require internet connection… so I guess when you subscribe the program is installed on your computer? If you unsubscribe the program will be automatically uninstalled? Updates will be automatically downloaded and installed? I’ll have to look more into how cloud computing works.

  13. stilman davis

    If ever you look at the EULA, you will find that you do not “own” software. You are allowed to use it. So going into the cloud just makes the wording of the EULA a reality. You will hopefully always be using the latest and the greatest when you log into the cloud to work.

    We are a far distance from Foster’s question about how to document software without a version. Indeed, how will we be able to help anyone out of difficulty when you don’t know what the version is?

    Then the question becomes — Will you ever be able to share work again? For instance, that wonderful design you created last year would be just the thing for a new project. Will you be able to open it from the cloud software so far away from the creation date?

    I know that there is no compatibility of earlier and later versions of files in the Adobe range. That is my experience with ID — ID6 cannot open any earlier versions. At least Corel Ventura 10 allowed you to save to an earlier version! And Draw does allow you to save to different versions of CMX format.

  14. Anonymous

    An issue for me is Adobe’s habit of re-writing file formats to suit their idea of how they should work. Adobe proprietary layered ‘TIFFs’ anyone? How much compatibility will we, the users/creatives, be losing now that Adobe gets complete control? I realise that, currently, we have the option whether or not to use the ‘feature’; but might not this be a great excuse for Adobe to take control of standard file formats to bring users into the Adobe ecosystem?


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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III built his first Web site in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013. He has used the Divi theme exclusively since 2015. Earlier in his career he was the author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences.

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