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UNIX left out in the cold?

UUU! (Unix Users, Unite)

This post concerns the future of UNIX support for Adobe products.
I first planned to write this a couple of weeks ago. The Linux
port of FM has changed things a bit, but I still stand by my
basic view. If you don't use or don't care about UNIX, you may
stop reading now... At the end, you'll find some comments by
Mark B. Hilton, Group Product Manager for Layout Products.

Those of you who use FM on UNIX (besides Linux) should have
reasons to be concerned about the future. Let me explain why.
Over the years, Adobe has made several of their products for
different UNIX versions, but the support has declined. 
When Adobe acquired FrameMaker, I had the impression that one of
the reasons for the purchase was to strengthen Adobe's position
in the UNIX market. However, one by one, Adobe has dropped UNIX
support for their products:
* Photoshop: discontinued after 3.0 (current version is 5.5)
* Illustrator: discontinued after 5.5 (current version is 8.0)
* Premiere: discontinued after 4.2 (current version is 5.1)
* Font Folio: discontined at 8.0 (the current version)
* Acrobat: discontinued at 4.0, except for Reader
* ATM and Type On Call: I'm not sure about the UNIX history

Of course I understand the possible business reasons for doing
this (dropping sales and market shares, etc). But, I'm also
looking for some sort of policy or direction concerning Adobe's
committment to UNIX. IMHO, this is important for the future of
FrameMaker. If FM becomes the only Adobe product with UNIX
support, the necessary UNIX knowledge and expertise will drain,
and the UNIX versions won't be as well-made and designed.
Specific UNIX features will be dropped, and new features may
not be ported to UNIX. It's like digging your own grave...

I fear that UNIX support at Adobe will continue to drop. An
indication of this was the Acrobat 4.0 release; only the Reader
is now available for UNIX -- no explanations of why Distiller
and Exchange haven't been ported. This means that FM users on
UNIX are deprived of their ability to use the strong integration
with Acrobat and create PDF files, which doesn't fit in very
well with the marketing claims of Acrobat being "the essential
tool for universal document exchange", or with Dr. Warnock's
speech at the FrameUsers' conference, where he emphasized the
strong integration between FM and Acrobat.

I believe that the UNIX support for FrameMaker itself will
follow the same unfortunate direction. Those of you who run FM
on UNIX, prepare for FM version 6 being the last supported release,
with the possible exception of Linux (which is PC-specific).

UNIX is the most stable, professional, powerful and scriptable
of all operating systems. Compare this with Microsoft's (lack of)
interest, and Apple's (lack of) ability, in providing the same.
(Admittedly, UNIX is less user-friendly and standardized.)
I think that Adobe would benefit in the long run by supporting
and developing products on this platform (i.e. UNIX in combination
with non-Intel, RISC-based hardware). For one thing, you don't
make your entire business depend on the whims of a single vendor. 

Let me quote Mark B. Hilton (excerpt from private email):
>We support our products on the platforms that will pay for them.
>Product decisions regarding platforms are based on one simple
>economic question: does the revenue of a product on a certain
>platform exceed the overall costs to support and maintain that
>product by enough to make it worth it to the company to continue?
>For FrameMaker the answer is yes and so we continue to support and
>enhance our UNIX-based products. For other Adobe products the answer
>is no and so they no longer support the UNIX-based products.

This may sound logical, but it misses one crucial point, IMHO:
isn't Adobe's products meant to be used *together*, and isn't Adobe
promoting this idea strongly? In the case of FM, isn't the
integration with Acrobat important, and isn't it as important
regardless of which platform you're working on? If Mr. Hilton's
view is the official view of Adobe, shouldn't the marketing mumbo-
jumbo of FM and Acrobat be changed to explain that UNIX users are
no longer regarded as part of the PDF-creating community?

Mark B. Hilton continues:
>What's Adobe policy regarding UNIX? To be honest, I don't know that
>Adobe has a "policy" regarding UNIX other than our policy is to
>respond to the demands of the market.
>If demand is strong, or shows the potential of being strong, for a
>particular flavor of UNIX (Linux maybe?) I wouldn't be surprised to
>see Adobe respond with products that make sense for that platform.

No give-aways there ahead of time... :-)
Unfortunately, I think that Adobe's lack of policy and the "rigid"
dollar-centered view will not help them (or FM) on the Linux arena.
The Linux world is a different one, and if you expect quick and
immediate pay-back, you won't succeed. In comparison, Corel has
understood this, and is actively targeting the Linux market in a
very offensive way. Adobe's "wait-and-see" tactics will make Corel
the leading provider for document creation software on the possibly
largest growing market for personal computers.

My final advice to UNIX users are: make your opinions heard at
Adobe! Explain your current and future needs of FrameMaker,
Acrobat and other software on your platform, or risk being left
out in the cold. If you have an opinon of UNIX or Linux versus
Windows and Mac, don't keep it to yourself. 
(Adobe need to understand that I'm not alone in this :-)

Regards to you all,

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Thomas Michanek, [Michagon], Linkoping, Sweden
Documentation Consultant, FrameMaker/UNIX expert
EMAIL:  mailto:Thomas.Michanek@telia.com
WWW:    http://go.to/framers , or go directly to:
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