Extortion, pure and simple

Once upon a time, I started to get interested in graphics and design to support work that I was doing to produce material for the Traveller RPG. I started on the slippery slope with a scanner and a copy of Adobe Photoshop. I’ve a feeling it was version 4 or some-such. I also picked up Adobe Illustrator, which was used very heavily in producing graphics for the starship designs in the BITS book Power Projection. Over the years, I upgraded these, and I added a full copy of Adobe Acrobat to support PDF preparation, and for a while used Adobe Go-Live for web design (until it was killed off).

Adobe used to have a reasonably open upgrade policy; so long as you were within three versions or so of the current software release, you qualified for the upgrade price. As I was a more occasional user, I tended to upgrade every 3 years or so, which used to cost ~£400-£600 depending on what I updated and how long it had been since the last upgrade which tended to influence Adobe’s costs.

Eventually, I jumped to the Creative Studio to get access to Adobe InDesign as well, diving in at CS2. I played around with dropping Photoshop for first of all Acorn (really nice and I do use it) and then Pixelmator (never really had the time to play with this), but stuck with it - especially after I got some great actions for building planets. I could never find a replacement for Illustrator that I liked, and had ended up with CS because neither Swift Publisher or iCalamus had been robust enough for layout.

Jumped to CS4 because changes to OS X needed it, and then found myself upgrading  within eighteen months to CS5.5 because Adobe said that when CS6 was released CS4 would not be eligible to upgrade. A month after I did, they reversed the decision, and also added an option to buy CS5.5 and get CS6 in a few months time. Frankly, I was not impressed and felt that I’d been played as a fool.

Adobe then moved to the subscription system with Creative Cloud but I’ve never jumped. A single application costs £17 per month (so £200 per year) and the full  CC package costs around £500 per year. As a comparator, the entire Microsoft Office Suite (which I use a lot more - and I guess has a lot more users) is around £70 for the year. I can’t justify these costs, not for casual use. I’m not a business.

When OS X 10.11 El Capitan came out, parts of Illustrator broke (the eye-dropper tool produces regular crashes) with CS5.5. Now, I could upgrade to CS6 (but that’ll be somewhere in the £300-£500 range (based on previous checks) but there’s no guarantee that it will survive the next OS X update.

Instead, I picked up Serif’s Affinity Designer, a newly built from the ground drawing and design program which is seriously aiming to be an ‘Illustrator-killer’. It’s faster and more stable, and probably has 90% or more of the functions I could ever want. It’s also £40 with free updates through the Mac App Store. They’ve also released Affinity Photo, which is a Photoshop replacement. Both will read PS and AI files, and output PSD, EPS, PDF and all the rest. They also use the same file format. The price? £40.

What I’m most excited about is Affinity Publisher, as Serif have a good reputation for their DTP package. This is due next year. They’ve said the first release won’t generate Creative Studio compatible files, but it is on the route map. The price is also planned as £40.

I think that slowly, Adobe are going to lose me as a customer. It was only £500 every 2-3 years, but it’ll be zero, because they decided to price people like me out from their software. As it stands, I only need InDesign and Acrobat (and I can replace the latter easily).

18 November 2015