“Software as Service” isn’t always good

This has become a buzzword — “Software as Service” — that often shows up as SaS in the acronyms.  I lived through — and left behind — this model in the last year.  After 10 months of Adobe creative Cloud — even at the low introductory educational subscription rate — I realized that it wouldn’t be long before I had paid as much for a subscription as I had for the disks holding CS5. but the moment I stopped paying, I would have nothing.

Adobe is not negotiating: beyond the last version of CS there will be no upgrades for software buyers, only for software renters.

Right now, I a, in the process of learning to work with the suite of products from Corel. They are different and less well-known. They seem solid and well able to meet my needs. The entire suite, at the educational price, was much less than Creative Cloud.

The final kicker was having to pay 50% of the remaining portion of my rental “commitment” to Adobe.

About Sister Edith

Benedictine sister of St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, Minnesota
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4 Responses to “Software as Service” isn’t always good

  1. Kyle says:

    There are some fairly powerful and professional-or-near-professional quality open source software applications covering some of the turf of Creative Cloud applications. They may be worth a test-run as well, if you haven’t tried them already, especially they are available for free. In particular I would draw attention to Scribus for page layout and PDF creation, with features on par with QuarkXPress back int the day; Inkscape for vector art; GIMP for pixel art (e.g. photos) editing; and Blender as a top-of-the-line program for 3D design and animation. For what it’s worth!

    • Sister Edith says:

      Thanks — I will look into it. Over the long term (next year or so), I am building a course that focuses on presenting data (mostly quantitative) in attractive and public formats — the sort of thing that would be equally useful for data journalists and research social scientists. I’ve already chosen open source tools for the number crunching, so building enough skill to teach the open source presentation tools would be smart.

      I’m also willing to pay money for the development of high quality tools: people have a right to earn a living. The subscription model makes sense from the developers point of view, as it brings in money to pay the costs of the constant development and upgrade. But — for a low-level user — it doesn’t allow an option to decide whether / when you need all the newest doodads.

      Over the years, I’ve used Adobe Photoshop Elements a lot (it was used in a digital photo class I took). The tool upgrades are good. But I tend to buy every second or third upgrade (ie every two or three years). That’s the mode I prefer.

      I will be looking into those tools you mentioned: I really appreciate it.

      • Kyle says:

        You’re most welcome. Given your additional comments on the project, I will suggest one other thing to check out, if you don’t work with it already: LaTeX (http://www.latex-project.org/). It is well known in certain academic circles, especially in math, because of the ease of typesetting equations and things like that. It can also nicely handle tabular data, footnotes, citations, bibliographies, diagrams and that sort of thing — or so I gather, since my primary uses of it require little more than the footnotes and normal typesetting and I cannot say I’ve worked firsthand with all the more technical use cases.

        The goal of it is to enable the writer to simply focus on encoding the content, and the program then does the necessary placement and presentation, producing print-quality PDFs, although one can still go in and tweak. (I think some academic journals even accept submissions in LaTeX format.) All this is really done with a vanilla text file encoded in the proper way (Texmaker — http://www.xm1math.net/texmaker/ — is a program I sometimes use that can make the encoding easier, but any good text editor will do, and many come with syntax highlighting for LaTeX), but there are also GUI tools like LyX (http://www.lyx.org/) that can spare you some of the coding. I have a good “cheat sheet” for syntax, too; if you’d like it, just send me an email.

        One thing I find troubling about the software industry is the sense of built-in obsolescence. People are pushed to upgrade not because they necessarily need more features but because someone wants to sell more units, software and hardware, and ooh, shiny. I also have serious reservations about “cloud everything.” In addition to the privacy and security concerns taking center stage, the now-defunct Google Reader is a great, vivid example of what can happen when one does not own the program, but rather depends on a vendor to keep it available, to choose when and if one will upgrade and so on. It is, as you point out, a serious loss of control over a tool one may use for mission critical work.

  2. Monica Sawyn says:

    It’s all part of the consumerism mentality, using methods like this to create markets instead of allowing people to keep a holding pattern in their usage and spending. It sure can be frustrating!

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