Adobe: Figma May Channel Framemaker. Yikes!

September 20, 2022

I read a number of the articles about Adobe (yep, the Photoshop outfit) and its purchase of Figma. Many dinobabies use Adobe products. The youngsters are into mobile apps or Web apps when crafting absolutely remarkable online products and services. Adobe is a dinobaby product. Do you use channels? Yeah, right. I gave a lecture at the University of Michigan about something in which no one was interested except me and one professor who knew about my indexing methods. I do recall, however, talking with students at a free lunch which attracted a couple of people from the art and design or design and architecture or some similarly mystical fields. I sat with two of these individuals and learned that Adobe software was taught in their design course. I asked, “Why?” The answer was, “To get a job you have to know Photoshop and Illustrator.” Okay, because these interesting people were not going to get involved in machine indexing or what whippersnappers and the smartest people in the world call “metadata.”

One of the write ups about Adobe, a software subscription company, was “Adobe’s Figma Acquisition Is a $20 Billion Bet to Control the Entire Creative Market.” The write up states with incredible insight, confidence, and design savoir faire:

Adobe says the current plan is essentially for nothing to change.

Okay, I believe this statement. I believe everything I read on Silicon Valley-type real news services.

I would point to Adobe’s masterful handling of Framemaker. You use that program, probably more often than you use Adobe’s Channels controls.

Framemaker is a desktop publishing tool purpose built decades ago to make it possible to produce long, technical documents easily and quickly. Many operations could be automated. But Framemaker was a killer to learn. How often do you Unix key combinations in your Windows applications? Framemaker did little to make certain things easy; for example, having a footnote that was longer than the hard coded limit in Framemaker or changing a color without navigating through absolutely crazy color libraries and clicking away like mad. A newcomer to Framemaker has zero clue about creating a new document and not having weird stuff happen with headers, footers, fonts, etc. Nevertheless, when one had to crank out documentation for a new tank or output the technical details of materials specifications, Framemaker was and in my office still is the go too software. FYI: We stopped buying Framemaker after Adobe foisted one upgrade on me. I won’t detail my problems with the weird changes which made the software more difficult to use and set up for a production job. I uninstalled the Adobe flavor and went back to Framemaker 7.2, which was released a decade ago and was a gentle bug fix. But after Framemaker 7.2, the software was lost in space. I called it “outer limits” code.

Adobe purchased Framemaker and the product has not made much progress, maybe zero progress. The cost is now about $360 per year. You can read about its Adobe magical features here. There’s only one problem: The software has lost its way. Adobe wants everyone to use InDesign, a software ill-suited to crank out documentation for a weapons system in my opinion.

What will happen to Figma once in the new evergreen revenue oriented Adobe? I fear that Figma, which is unsuited for the type of content I produce, will become:

  1. Adobe’s version of Google’s Dodgeball and get kicked into a corner
  2. A Framemaker destined to disappoint dinobabies like me
  3. The greatest thing since Photoshop was equipped with a feature to open Illustrator files and not immediately crash.

The future will be exciting. Goodness, channeling Framemaker. What a thought.

Stephen E Arnold, September 20, 2022


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