November 13th, 2008 • 12:01 pm
No matter how good or bad their software actually is, one thing is for sure: Adobe’s engineers appear to be utterly unable to design a proper Mac OS X software installer. I have already written about Adobe’s installers multiple times:
- “Adobe CS installation: Talk about user-hostile”
- “Adobe Acrobat 6.0.2 updater: Talk about confusing”
- “Adobe Reader update pain”
- “Adobe Illustrator CS 11.0.2 Update: Incredible but true”
- “Adobe Creative Suite Premium: The crappiest installer”
- “Adobe Reader 7: Yet another lousy installer”
- “Acrobat Pro 7.0: Another pathetic software update experience courtesy of Adobe”
- “Adobe CS3: More frustration with lousy software update process”
- “Adobe InDesign CS3 5.0.3 Updater: Why does it require me to quit Safari?”
It’s not really hard to detect a pattern here, is it?
With every new major version of the software, there is always the (admittedly very faint) hope that Adobe’s engineers have finally come to their senses and designed a reasonably user-friendly installation process. Alas…
Ideally, of course, we should just be able to do drag-and-drop installs. But that’s never going to happen, because Adobe Creative Suite is a suite, and that means that it includes all kinds of components that Adobe’s engineers are not able to get installed without asking for the user’s help.
So instead of a simple drag-and-drop installation process, we get this:
Please note that, even in order to reach that point, I have already had to open the CD in a window manually myself. Apparently, it’s too much to ask that the CD’s contents appear in a new Finder window as soon as the CD is mounted. I am all for user choice, but in this case, other than open the CD in a window, what exactly is it that the user might want to do with the installer CD?
Once the window with the CD’s contents is open, “What is this?” is a very valid question. Is it a folder or an application? To me, it sort of looks like a box, or maybe a filing cabinet drawer half open. I guess I’ll just have to double-click on it and see what happens:
Nice. So now we have a bunch of things, one of which is called “Setup.app” and is presumably the Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium installer application. Never mind that everyone else on the planet uses the verb to install rather than to set up. Never mind that the file’s name contains no indication of what it is that it is going to be “setting up.” Never mind that there are all kinds of other things in this folder that the user does not need to see. Never mind that the application in question has the exact same icon as the thing that you’ve just clicked on, which was a folder.
At some point, I guess you just have to plug your nose and jump in. Of course, the first thing that the Setup app asks for, before it even shows you anything about what it’s going to do, is your admin password. Talk about taking a leap of faith. “Yes, Adobe, here’s my password. Do whatever you please with my entire system. I don’t mind. You obviously know what you are doing, don’t you?”
And then the icon dance begins:
Wait! There is more:
After some more of this, you finally get to a “Loading Setup” window. And then this:
Ah yes, of course. It is common knowledge that Safari is an Adobe application and that it cannot be running while Adobe is installing its new stuff. Besides, who on earth would want to read a few web pages while the Adobe CS4 installer is doing its thing in the background? It’ll only take half an hour! Might as well sit back and enjoy the show.
Of course, being the inquiring person that I am, I cannot help but wonder why on earth the Adobe CS4 installer would need me to quit Safari first. I half-suspect that it might have to do with Adobe’s PDF viewer plug-in for web browsers, which I don’t use because it crashes and Safari has its own PDF viewing feature and I prefer to download PDF files and view them separately anyway. But Adobe’s never really bothered to ask me for my opinion first.
So let’s have a look at what it says it’s going to be installing:
No sign of a PDF viewer plug-in or anything that would warrant a “quit Safari” requirement here.
Again, nothing. (I checked the contents of “Acrobat.com,” just in case. Whatever it is, it doesn’t mention a plug-in.)
Yet more obscure stuff that I’ll never use but should probably still install just the same. Might as well use all those extra gigabytes of free HD space, right?
Now it’s getting really interesting. All these unattached “supporting components” are obviously essential to something.
Aha! There it is! “Adobe Flash Player 10.” That’s an Internet plug-in, isn’t it? Nope… It’s actually a stand-alone player application that Adobe installs inside the Flash application folder:
(It also installs the Windows version of it for good measure, although that’s not mentioned in the installer. It’s also interesting to note that the Windows version of the Flash Player application is only 4 MB, whereas the Mac version is 13 MB… What does that tell you?)
I could go on. (There are more components.) But the bottom-line is that there is no mention in the list of anything like an Internet plug-in that would warrant forcing me to quit Safari before installing CS4. Yet when I check my “Internet Plug-Ins” folder in my startup volume’s library, there are indeed new versions of “Flash Player.plugin” and “flashplayer.xpt” in there.
But obviously, asking for my permission before installing the plug-in and letting me choose not to quit Safari at this time are not reasonable options for Adobe’s engineers.
So I end up just selecting the default option to install everything, and I let the installer do its thing, without attempting to read any web pages during the process.
The installation takes a long time, as can be expected. There is an on-going dance of Dock icons, but I have long stopped paying attention. What I do notice, however, is that the installer keeps mounting tons of separate disk images. And of course, since Mac OS X’s Finder likes to compete with third-party applications for buggy behaviours, I get this:
The disk images are automatically mounted and then unmounted by the Adobe CS4 installer, but for some reason the Finder fails to remove them from its sidebar once they have been unmounted! (The Finder also keeps confusing disk images with actual hard drives and using the wrong volume icon, just for fun.)
I try quitting and relaunching the Finder, to no avail. I do not fancy restarting my machine to get the Finder to clear this mess, so I end up dragging all the icons one by one out of the sidebar. Nice touch.
And of course, at some point, the Adobe CS4 installer needs me to insert the second CD of applications to install. But here again, Adobe manages to screw things up. It automatically ejects the first CD and displays a custom alert asking for the second CD, but once the second CD is mounted, nothing happens. Instead of automatically detecting the presence of the second CD and proceeding with the installation without further input, the Adobe CS4 installer actually expects me to go back to the installer application and press the “Continue” button. Sigh.
It is finally over and, after more cleaning up in the Finder sidebar, I actually have an operational CS4 suite. It asks for my registration information and registers me automatically, but I see no trace of the freebie that people who register are supposed to get. (It says so in the box.) At this point, though, I am way past caring.
(Update: I actually got an e-mail the next day with the offer. So at least that ultimately worked, although it could have said something at the time of the registration.)
All in all, it is, once again, a pitifully bad installation experience. Adobe’s engineers have not learned any lessons from the experience with previous versions. And I suspect that the experience with incremental updaters for CS4 is going to be just as bad as it was with previous versions. (See list of links above.)
Just what will it take for them to address this?