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Adobe fesses up; will fix the app it broke

In an  earlier IT Knowledge Exchange blog post, I wrote about how Adobe, in an astonishingly poor effort to simplify, completely changed the import procedure in its Lightroom application, widely used by photographers. Photography forums went nuclear with rage and anger. In response, Adobe, in its Lightroom Journal advice blog, went so far as to issue an apology on Oct. 9, along with a promise to do better. It has.

Just one week later, on Oct. 16, in the same Lightroom Journal, Adobe’s Tom Hogarty said the company will restore the previous import experience in the next dot-release update. The blog post even provides a link to instructions for rolling back to a prior release for people who cannot wait.

Here’s why this is important. Lightroom does two primary things, non-destructive photo editing that logs every step in a permanent history, allowing users to roll back to any point; and digital asset management to keep track of every image. To do either, you first import the images into the Lightroom catalog, which is actually an SQLite database. What gets imported is not the actual image, but all of its metadata, including physical disc location. There’s also numerous options that can be selected at import time, much of which was eliminated in the simplification. The catalog is where the step-by-step editing history for each image resides, which can easily balloon the database to gigantic proportions. My own Lightroom catalog file currently encompasses 59,205 images of various file types (RAW camera, PSD Photoshop, TIFF, JPG, PNG, etc.) and is 5.3 GB in size. Though I keep several backups on various network drives and two NAS systems, the live working catalog must be stored locally. The actual image files can live anywhere and Lightroom dutifully keeps track.

Acknowledging that the ill-fated “simplified” (and I might add, positively awful) import dialog was sprung on users as a surprise, Mr. Hogarty writes, “We will continue to investigate ways to improve the ease of use of our photography products and will do so via an open dialog, with both existing and new customers.”

It’s good to see one of the world’s premier software companies admit it made a mistake. It’s even better to know that Adobe plans to fix it.

Has your company ever rolled out a software update or product that contained features reviled and rejected by users? What was done about it? Perhaps a rollback or maybe a decision to simply ignore the blowback and plow ahead. Share your thoughts, we’d like to hear from you.

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