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A defense of my Adobe-bashing

A detailed response to an Adobe Systems blogger's objection to how I took Adobe's John Loiacono to task.

Note: For readers of this blog, below is the response I posted to a gripe from Adobe Systems' John Dowdell about an earlier blog posting of mine.

As the author of both the headline and the blog, I'm glad you took the time to write down your thoughts, not just curse me inwardly, because it affords me the opportunity to offer the following response. It is, as the blogosphere cliche goes, a conversation.

The headline is perhaps a bit snarky, but I don't think it's wholly inaccurate. John Loiacono took pains to point out the flaws of open-source software that competes with his own Adobe Systems Creative Suite product suite, and calling them a waste of time for "many" creative pros. Sure, his blog posting wasn't a wholesale bashing, but there was bashing--just as your headline bashes my posting without calling out the fact that I noted Loiacono's perspective has some merit, or that I opened the piece by observing Adobe has made some of its own products open-source software.

(And lest you think I'm a close-minded open-source partisan here, I agree with Loiacono to an extent. I've spent my own money for Adobe software, and since you might have a soft spot for Macromedia products, too, I bought Freehand and Fontographer. I've used the Gimp and don't care for it, overall, and I'm a fan of Adobe Lightroom.)

The main reason I wrote the post was that I was unsatisfied with Loiacono's argument about whether Adobe should release its own products as open-source software. I agree there are problems with the proprietary alternatives to Creative Suite, but that seems to me tangential to whether Adobe should open source its own software. Loiacono might have found fault with elements of Linux when he was at Sun Microsystems, but that doesn't mean an open-source Solaris would necessarily be afflicted with the same problems. If Loiacono's "time is money" argument was the only one in his blog post, I wouldn't have griped, but he specifically raises the open-source CS point: "I have thought about whether open source has a place in Adobe's creative products strategy."

Fundamentally, I wish Loiacono had offered a better argument about why or why not to open source its creative products. I raised the potential legal and business issues in my blog. I think the developer, user and community issues are another. Or are there parts of product lines that could be made open source? So if I were going to go back and rewrite that headline, I guess I wouldn't water it down so much as I'd gripe about Loiacono's explanation.