Tag Archives: adobe

Quick thoughts on Salesforce and Google Cloud Platform alliance

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Yesterday Salesforce and Google announced a strategic partnership:

1. Salesforce named Google Cloud as “a preferred public cloud provider”. Salesforce says it “continues to invest in its own data centers”. However it will use public cloud infrastructure “for its core services” as well, especially in “select international markets.” Why is Google Cloud Platform (GCP) just a preferred partner and not the? Well, “AWS is a great partner”, as the release also notes.

2. New integrations will be introduced between Salesforce and G Suite (Gmail, Docs, Google Drive and Calendar for business), and there is a promotional offer of one year’s free G Suite for Salesforce customers. Note that the release also says “restrictions apply, see here”, with the see here link currently inactive.

3. Salesforce will integrate with Google Analytics.

Google has also posted about the partnership but adds little of substance to the above.

Why this alliance? On Google’s side, it is keen to build momentum for its cloud platform and to catch up a little with AWS and Microsoft Azure. Getting public support from a major cloud player like Salesforce is helpful. On the Salesforce side, it is an obvious alliance following the public love-in between Adobe and Microsoft Azure. Adobe competes with Salesforce in marketing tools, and Microsoft competes with Salesforce in CRM.

Google will also hope to win customers from Microsoft Exchange, Office and Office 365. However Salesforce knows it has to integrate nicely with Microsoft’s email and productivity tools as well as with G Suite. The analytics integration is a bigger deal here, thanks to the huge reach of Google’s cloud data and tools.

Microsoft at Ignite: Building on Office 365, getting more like Google, Adobe mysteries and FPGA magic

I’m just back from Microsoft’s Ignite event in Atlanta, Georgia, where around 23,000 attendees mostly in IT admin roles assembled to learn about the company’s platform.

There are always many different aspects to this type of event. The keynotes (there were two) are for news and marketing hype, while there is lots of solid technical content in the sessions, of which of course you can only attend a small fraction. There was also an impressive Expo at Ignite, well supported both by third parties and by Microsoft, though getting to it was a long walk and I fear some will never find it. If you go to one of these events, I recommend the Microsoft stands because there are normally some core team members hanging around each one and you can get excellent answers to questions as well as a chance to give them some feedback.

The high level story from Ignite is that the company is doing OK. The event was sold out and Corporate VP Brad Anderson assured me that many more tickets could have been sold, had the venue been bigger. The vibe was positive and it looks like Microsoft’s cloud transition is working, despite having to compete with Amazon on IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) and with Google on productivity and collaboration.

My theory here is that Microsoft’s cloud advantage is based on Office 365, of which the core product is hosted Exchange and the Office suite of applications licensed by subscription. The dominance of Exchange in business made the switch to Office 365 the obvious solution for many companies; as I noted in 2011, the reality is that many organisations are not ready to give up Word and Excel, Outlook and Active Directory. The move away from on-premises Exchange is also compelling, since running your own mail server is no fun, and at the small business end Microsoft has made it an expensive option following the demise of Small Business Server. Microsoft has also made Office 365 the best value option for businesses licensing desktop Office; in fact, I spoke to one attendee who is purchasing a large volume of Office 365 licenses purely for this reason, while still running Exchange on-premises. Office 365 lets users install Office on up to 5 PCs, Macs and mobile devices.

Office 365 is only the starting point of course. Once users are on Office 365 they are also on Azure Active Directory, which becomes a hugely useful single sign-on for cloud applications. Microsoft is now building a sophisticated security story around Azure AD. The company can also take advantage of the Office 365 customer base to sell related cloud services such as Dynamics CRM online. Integrating with Office 365 and/or Azure AD has also become a great opportunity for developers. If I had any kind of cloud-delivered business application, I would be working hard to get it into the Office Store and try to win a place on the newly refreshed Office App Launcher.

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Office 365 users have had to put up with a certain amount of pain, mainly around the interaction between SharePoint online/OneDrive for Business and their local PC. There are signs that this is improving, and a key announcement made at Ignite by Jeff Teper is that SharePoint (which includes Team Sites) will be supported by the new generation sync client, which I hope means goodbye to the ever-problematic Groove client and a bit less confusion over competing OneDrive icons in the notification area.

A quick shout-out too for SharePoint Groups, despite its confusing name (how many different kinds of groups are there in Office 365?). Groups are ad-hoc collections of users which you set up for a project, department or role. Groups then have an automatic email distribution list, shared inbox, calendar, file library, OneNote notebook (a kind of Wiki) and a planning tool. Nothing you could not set up before, but packaged in a way that is easy to grasp. I was told that usage is soaring which does not surprise me.

I do not mean to diminish the importance of Azure, the cloud platform. Despite a few embarrassing outages, Microsoft has evolved the features of the service rapidly as well as building the necessary global infrastructure to support it. At Ignite, there were several announcements including new, more powerful virtual machines, IPv6 support, general availability of Azure DNS, faster networking up to an amazing 25 Gbps powered by FPGAs, and the public preview of a Web Application Firewall; the details are here:

My overall take on Azure? Microsoft has the physical infrastructure to compete with AWS though Amazon’s service is amazing, reliable and I suspect can be cheaper bearing in mind Amazon’s clever pricing options and lower price for application services like database management, message queuing, and so on. If you want to run Windows server and SQL server in the cloud Azure will likely be better value. Value is not everything though, and Microsoft has done a great job on making Azure accessible; with a developer hat on I love how easy it is to fire up VMs or deploy web applications via Visual Studio. Microsoft of course is busy building hooks to Azure into its products so that if you have System Center on-premises, for example, you will be constantly pushed towards Azure services (though note that the company has also added support for other public clouds in places).

There are some distinctive features in Microsoft’s cloud platform, not least the forthcoming Azure Stack, private cloud as an appliance.

I put “getting more like Google” in my headline, why is that? A couple of reasons. One is that CEO Satya Nadella focused his keynote on artificial intelligence (AI), which he described as “the ability to reason over large amounts of data and convert that into intelligence,” and then, “How we infuse every application, Cortana, Office 365, Dynamics 365 with intelligence.” He went on to describe Cortana (that personal agent that gets a bit in the way in Windows 10) as “the third run time … it’s what helps mediate the human computer interaction.” Cortana, he added, “knows you deeply. It knows your context, your family, your work. It knows the world. It is unbounded. In other words, it’s about you, it’s not about any one device. It goes wherever you go.”

I have heard this kind of speech before, but from Google’s Eric Schmidt rather than from Microsoft. While on the consumer side Google is better at making this work, there is an opportunity in a business context for Microsoft based on Office 365 and perhaps the forthcoming LinkedIn acquisition; but clearly both companies are going down the track of mining data in order to deliver more helpful and customized experiences.

It is also noticeable that Office 365 is now delivering increasing numbers of features that cannot be replicated on-premises, or that may come to on-premises one day but Office 365 users get them first. Further, Microsoft is putting significant effort into improving the in-browser experience, rather than pushing users towards Windows applications as you might have expected a few years back. It is cloud customers who are now getting the best from Microsoft.

While Microsoft is getting more like Google, I do not mean to say that it is like Google. The business model is different, with Microsoft’s based on paid licenses versus Google’s primarily advertising model. Microsoft straddles cloud and on-premises whereas Google has something close to a pure cloud play – there is Android, but that drives advertising and cloud services rather than being a profit centre in itself. And so on.

There were a couple more notable events during Nadella’s keynote.

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Distinguished Engineer Doug Burger and one of Microsoft’s custom FPGA boards.

One was Distinguished Engineer Doug Burger’s demonstration of the power of FPGA boards which have been added to Azure servers, sitting between the servers and the network so they can operate in part independently from their hosts (see my short interview with Burger here).

During the keynote, he gave what he called a “visual demo” of the impact of these FPGA accelerators on Azure’s processing power. First we saw accelerated image recognition. Then a translation example, using Tolstoy’s War and Peace as a demo:

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The FPGA-enabled server consumed less power but performed the translation 8 times faster. The best was to come though. What about translating the whole of English Wikipedia? “I’ll show you what would happen if we were to throw most of our existing global deployment at it,” said Burger.

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“Less than a tenth of a second” was the answer. Looking at that screen showing 1 Exa-op felt like being present at the beginning of a computing revolution. As the Top500 supercomputing site observes, “the fact the Microsoft has essentially built the world’s first exascale computer is quite an achievement.” Exascale is a billion billion operations per second.

However, did we see Wikipedia translated, or just an animation? Bearing in mind first, that Burger spoke of “what would happen”, and second, that the screen says “Estimated time”, and third, that the design of Azure’s FPGA network (as I understand it) means that utilising it could impact other users of the service (since all network traffic to the hosts goes through these boards), it seems that we saw a projected result and not an actual result – which means we should be sceptical about whether this would actually work as advertised, though it remains amazing.

One more puzzle before I wrap up. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen appeared on stage with Nadella, in the morning keynote, to announce that Adobe will make Azure its “preferred cloud.” This appears to include moving Adobe’s core cloud services from Amazon Web Services, where they currently run, to Azure. Narayen:

“we’re thrilled and excited to be announcing that we are going to be delivering all of our clouds, the Adobe Document Cloud, the Marketing Cloud and the Creative Cloud, on Azure, and it’s going to be our preferred way of bringing all of this innovation to market.”

Narayen said that Adobe’s decision was based on Microsoft’s work in machine learning and intelligence. He also looked forward to integrating with Dynamics CRM for “one unified and integrated sales and marketing service.”

This seems to me interesting in all sorts of ways, not only as a coup for Microsoft’s cloud platform versus AWS, but also as a case study in migrating cloud services from one public cloud to another. But what exactly is Adobe doing? I received the following statement from an AWS spokesperson:

“We have a significant, long-term relationship and agreement with Adobe that hasn’t changed. Their customers will want to use AWS, and they’re committed to continuing to make that easy.”

It does seem strange to me that Adobe would want to move such a significant cloud deployment, that as far as I know works well. I am trying to find out more.

Adobe Creative Cloud 2015 update brings Stock images, Android apps, video magic

Adobe’s Creative Cloud has been updated with a 2015 “Milestone” release. Creative Cloud is an apps by subscription service in which the apps can be updated at any time, but the company still pushes out update waves which are near equivalents to the old product launches.

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The big news this time is the introduction of a new product/service. Called Adobe Stock, it is based on the company’s acquisition of the Fotolia stock image company in January 2015. You can search and license images from a library of 40 million, paying £5.99 for a single image or buying a subscription.

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The puzzle here is that the image library is essentially the same as that of Fotolia, and the prices still available via the Fotolia site are different and can be cheaper, though direct comparisons are difficult since Fotolia has a more complex pricing system based on credits (one credit is from £0.43 to £0.82 and buys a single small image license) and license types, whereas Adobe Stock seems to be “one size fits all”. I asked Adobe exactly what rights you get when you purchase an Adobe Stock image license but have not got the answer yet.

Still, the costs are pretty low for most businesses and Adobe’s advantage is integration with its design tools like InDesign, Photoshop and Dreamweaver. It could be useful for images for this site, for example, though my search for “Windows 10” images did not quite hit the mark:

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What else is new? A huge amount: this is a suite of large applications and each application has updates ranging from minor to highly significant. Based on a quick preview, here are some of the highlights:

Premiere Pro, the video editing application, has an amazing feature called Time Tuner which changes the length of a video. For example, you have a 30 minute video but need to cut it by 3 minutes to make room for an ad break. Time Tuner will automatically remove frames “at scene changes, during quiet audio passages, and in sections with still images or low visual activity.” Results will vary according to the content, but could save hours of meticulous editing.

A related feature is Morph Cut which helps you to edit interviews. If you cut out things like ums, ahs and hesitations in an audio recording, no problem, but with video you will get jumpy results thanks to head movements. Morph Cut smooths these out automatically.

Another magical video features shows up in After Effects. Face Tracker lets you apply effects to a face and have it applied automatically – this may not sound like much, but if you imagine the task of say blurring faces in a video in order to prevent recognition, you can see that this can save a lot of work. More mischievous examples would include adding spectacles, hats, hair or other embellishments.

The quick summary here is that “photoshopping” is easier than ever now for videos as well as photographs. You cannot trust what you see on the screen.

Dreamweaver, the web design tool, has built-in Bootstrap integration, Bootstrap being an open source JavaScript library developed by Twitter for responsive, mobile-friendly web designs. It is also used by Microsoft for the ASP.NET MVC templates in Visual Studio.

The Mercury engine, which accelerates image processing by using GPU cores for parallel processing (among other techniques) has been improved and applied to more products. Adobe claims that Illustrator is now 10 times faster and more precise than previous versions for zoom, pan and scroll (though some comparisons are with CS6, the last version before Creative Cloud). InDesign now uses Mercury for zooming and scrolling, which is twice as fast.

InDesign is also getting a new online publishing feature, though this is in preview. You can publish documents to Adobe’s hosted service. A way of publishing content without the hassle of hosting is always welcome, but raises old issues like the quality of the markup after conversion from InDesign (which is primarily for print), how you monetize the content with things like online ads, and exactly what role Adobe sees for the service versus other ways of getting content online. I will be looking for more information on this.

Update: I gave the online publishing feature a try and you can see the results here. I noticed that the HTML source is mostly SVG (a web language for vector graphics), and that the images are blurry though there is no doubt a fix for this.

Lightroom and Photoshop now have a Dehaze feature, for removing fog and haze in photos, or alternatively adding it. This looked amazing in the preview we saw. Here is a before and after:

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Android is getting some Adobe love, with the release of Brush CC, Shape CC, Color CC and Photoshop Mix, previously only available on iOS. There is still a clear preference for iOS though (presumably reflecting the preferences of the customer base), and a new Adobe Hue CC app for capturing colour schemes for Premiere Pro or After Effects is iPhone only.

There is plenty more of course; Adobe has a ton of information here.

Adobe opens up Creative Cloud to app developers

At the Adobe Max conference in Los Angeles, Adobe has announced enhancements and additions to its Creative Cloud service, which includes core applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver, mobile apps for Apple’s iPad, and the online portfolio site Behance. Creative Cloud is also the mechanism by which Adobe has switched its customers from perpetual software licences to subscription, even for desktop applications.

One of today’s announcements is a public preview version of the Creative SDK for iOS, with an Android version also available on request. Nothing for Windows Phone, though Adobe does seem interested in supporting high-end Windows tablets such as Surface Pro 3, thanks to their high quality screens and pen input support.

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The Creative SDK lets developers integrate apps with Adobe’s cloud, including access to cloud storage, import and export of PSD (Photoshop) layers, and image processing using cloud services. It also gives developers the ability to support Adobe hardware such as Ink and Slide, which offers accurate drawing even on iOS tablets designed exclusively for touch control.

Adobe’s brand guidelines forbid the use of Adobe product names like Photoshop or Illustrator in your app name, but do allow words such as “Photoshop enabled” and “Creative Cloud connected.”

Other Adobe announcements today include:

Mobile app changes

Adobe’s range of mobile apps has been revised:

  • Adobe Sketch is now Photoshop Sketch and lets you send drawings to Photoshop.
  • Adobe Line is now Illustrator Line and lets you send sketches to Illustrator.
  • Adobe Ideas is now Illustrator Draw, again with Illustrator integration.
  • Adobe Kuler is now Adobe Colour CC and lets you capture colours and save them as themes for use elsewhere.
  • Adobe Brush CC and Adobe Shape CC are new apps for creating new brushes and shapes respectively. For example, you could convert a photo into a vector art that you can use for drawing in Illustrator.
  • Adobe Premiere Clip is a simple video editor for iOS that allows export to Premiere Pro CC.
  • Lightroom Mobile has been updated to enable comments on photos shared online, and synchronisation with Lightroom desktop.

There are now a confusingly large number of ways you can draw or paint on the iPad using an Adobe app, but the common theme is better integration with the desktop Creative cloud applications.

Desktop app enhancements

On the desktop app side, Adobe announcements include Windows 8 touch support in Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere Pro and After Effects; 3D print features in Photoshop CC; a new curvature tool in Illustrator; and HiDPI (high resolution display support) in After Effects.

New cloud services

New Adobe cloud services include Creative Cloud Libraries,a design asset management service that connects with both mobile and desktop Adobe apps, and Creative Cloud Extract which converts Photoshop PSD imagines into files that web designers and developers can use, such as colours, fonts and CSS files.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud is gradually growing its capabilities, even though Adobe’s core products remain desktop applications, and its move to subscription licensing has been executed smoothly and effectively despite annoying some users. The new SDK is mainly an effort to hook more third-party apps into the Adobe design workflow, though the existence of hosted services for image processing is an intriguing development.

It is a shame though that the new SDK is so platform-specific, causing delays to the Android version and lack of support for other platforms such as Windows Phone.

Adobe actually has its own cross-platform mobile toolkit, called PhoneGap, though I imagine Adobe’s developers feel that native code rather than JavaScript is the best fit for design-oriented apps.

Adobe focuses on iPad (not Android) with new mobile Creative Cloud apps

Adobe has announced a new wave of its Creative Cloud subscription offering, including new mobile apps for Apple’s iPad.

The apps are Adobe Sketch, Adobe Line, Adobe Photoshop Mix, Lightroom Mobile and Adobe Voice.

Photoshop Mix includes a popular feature of the desktop package, content-aware fill, which you can use to remove unwanted objects from an image.

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There is also hardware for the iPad: Adobe Ink which is a digital pen, and Adobe Slide, a digital ruler. They only work with Adobe apps but apparently are cleverly designed using a wireless connection to overcome the lack of built-in pen support on the iPad. (I was amused by the codename for Slide – “Project Napoleon”, little ruler, geddit?)

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Why the focus on the iPad, when Android is also a popular tablet platform? Adobe says that it its particular design-oriented market, almost all the demand is for iPad support. That said, it is interested in Microsoft’s Surface 3 as a tablet platform for designers.

There are also new features in the Creative Cloud desktop applications, which have all been updated. These include Smart Guides, font search, and new masking tools in Photoshop; and support for fixed layout EPUB documents from InDesign. Adobe has also improved its Linked Smart Object support in Photoshop, which lets you embed documents such as Illustrator files while keeping them linked to the original. You can now convert embedded Smart Objects to Linked Smart Objects, and package linked files so you can share them with others while maintaining the links.

Adobe Muse (a web design tool) has been rewritten as a 64-bit native application (it was originally a Flash/Adobe AIR app).

The Creative Cloud Photography Plan, which was first announced as a limited offer, is now available indefinitely at £8.78 per month (perhaps it is a round number in dollars?)

A little bit of magic from Adobe PhoneGap: instant app preview on a device

Adobe has released an update to its PhoneGap tools (build mobile apps using HTML and Javascript) which enabled instant preview on a device. You don’t need to compile and deploy; it is enough simply to save your changes using a text editor, and the running app preview on the connected device will refresh.

I tried a quick demo on Windows 8. PhoneGap installation or update is easy since it uses the node.js package manager: open a node command line and type npm install –g phonegap.

I had to update the Android SDK to version 19, which was the usual tedious update using the Android SDK Manager, but also worked smoothly.

Then I created a PhoneGap app and ran it in the emulator. So far so goo.

Next, I went to an Android phone and installed the PhoneGap Developer App.

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Back on the PC, I started the built-in web server that serves the app refreshes to the device. Simply navigate to the app folder in the node command line and type: phonegap serve

Then on the device I ran the PhoneGap Developer App, and connected to the PhoneGap development server (IP no and port). The app preview appeared on the phone.

I then used Notepad to change the app home page slightly. Saved. The app preview refreshed almost instantly.

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Here it is on the device:

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A cool feature, though with some limitations. See Raymond Camden’s post for a few more details.

Currently iOS and Android are supported, with Windows Phone coming soon.

Flash developers fret as Adobe doubles down on PhoneGap

 

Adobe has announced Experience Manager Apps for Marketers and Developers. This comes in two flavours: Experience Manager Apps is for marketers, and PhoneGap Enterprise is for developers. The announcements are unfortunately sketchy when it comes to details, though Andre Charland’s post has a little more:

  • Better collaboration – With our new PhoneGap Enterprise app, developer team members and business colleagues can view the latest version of apps in production, development and staging

  • App editing capabilities – Non-developer colleagues can edit and improve the app experience using a simple drag-and-drop interface from the new Adobe Experience Manager apps; this way developers can focus on building new features, not on making updates.

  • Analytics & optimization – Teams can immediately start measuring app performance with Adobe Analytics; we’re also planning to incorporate functionality so teams can start A/B testing their way to higher app engagement and monetization using Adobe Target.

  • Push notifications – Engage your customers on-the-go with push notifications from Adobe Campaign

  • Support and training – PhoneGap Enterprise comes with SLA and support so customers can be rest assured that Adobe PhoneGap has their back.

Head over to the PhoneGap Enterprise site and you get nothing more than a “Get in touch” button.

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Announcement-ware then. Still, enough to rile Flash and AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) developers who feel that Adobe is abandoning a better technology for app development. Despite the absence of the Flash runtime on Apple iOS, you can still build mobile apps by compiling the code with a native wrapper.

Adobe… this whole thread should make you realize what an awesome platform and die hard fans you have in AIR. Even after all that crap you pulled with screwing over Flex developers, mitigating Flash to just games, retreating it from the web, killing AS4 and god knows what else you’ve done to try to kill the community’s spirit. WE STILL WANT AIR!

says one frustrated developer.

Gary Paluk has also posted on the subject:

I have invested 13 years of my own development career in Adobe products and evangelized the technology over that time. Your users can see that there is a perfectly good technology that does more than the new HTML5 offerings and they are evidently frustrated that you are not supporting developers that do not understand why they are being forced to retrain to use inferior technologies.

Has Adobe in fact abandoned Flash and AIR? Not quite; but as this detailed roadmap shows, plans for a next-generation Flash player have been abandoned and Adobe is now focused on “web-based virtual machines,” meaning I guess JavaScript and other browser technologies:

Adobe will focus its future Flash Player development on top of the existing Flash Player architecture and virtual machine, and not on a completely new virtual machine and architecture (Flash Player "Next") as was previously planned. At the same time, Adobe plans to continue its next-generation virtual machine and language work as part of the larger web community doing such work on web-based virtual machines.

From my perspective, Adobe seemed to mostly lose interest in the developer community after its November 2011 shift to digital marketing, other than in an “apps for marketing” context. Its design tools on the other hand go from strength to strength, and the transition to subscription in the form of Creative Cloud has been brilliantly executed.

Adobe Creative Cloud updates include 3D printing in Photoshop

Adobe has added a number of new features for its Creative Cloud software suite, which includes Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

The new features include Perspective Warp in Photoshop, which can adjust the perspective of an object so you can match it to that of an existing background; a new Pencil tool in Illustrator; and for InDesign, simplified hyperlinks and the ability to automatically install fonts from Typekit (another Creative Cloud service) if they are missing from the document.

The most intriguing new feature though is 3D printing support in Photoshop.

3D printing is not new; it has been around for many years in industry and medicine. More recently though, 3D printers that are affordable for hobbyists or small businesses have become available. There are also services like Shapeways which let you upload 3D designs and have the model delivered to you. Picking up on this new momentum, Adobe has added to Photoshop the ability to import a 3D design from a modelling tool or perhaps a 3D scanner, and print to a local printer or to a file for upload to Shapeways. Photoshop, according to Adobe, will do a good job of ensuring that models are truly print-ready.

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After opening the design and applying any changes needed, such as altering the shape or adding colour, you can use the new 3D Print Settings to print the model.

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Photoshop is intended primarily as a finishing tool, rather than for creating 3D models from scratch.

Here are some actual results:

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3D printing support is now built into Windows 8.1, but Photoshop does not use this. Apparently the Windows feature arrived too late, but will be supported in a future release.

Adobe says it is bringing 3D printing to the creative mainstream; but to what extent is this a mainstream technology? The hobbyist printers I have seen are impressive, but tend to be too fiddly and temperamental for non-technical users. Still, there are many uses for 3D printing, including product prototypes, ornaments, arts and craft, and creating parts for repairs.

Adobe’s security calamity: 2.9 million customer account details accessed

Adobe has reported a major security breach. According to the FAQ:

Our investigation currently indicates that the attackers accessed Adobe customer IDs and encrypted passwords on our systems. We also believe the attackers removed from our systems certain information relating to 2.9 million Adobe customers, including customer names, encrypted credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates, and other information relating to customer orders. At this time, we do not believe the attackers removed decrypted credit or debit card numbers from our systems.

We are also investigating the illegal access to source code of numerous Adobe products. Based on our findings to date, we are not aware of any specific increased risk to customers as a result of this incident.

A few observations.

  • If the criminals downloaded 2.9 million customer details with name, address and credit card details the risk of fraud is substantial. Encryption is good of course, but if you have a large body of encrypted information which you can attack at your leisure then it may well be cracked. Adobe has not told us how strong the encryption is.
  • The FAQ is full of non-answers. Like, question: how did this happen? answer, Our investigation is still ongoing.
  • Apparently if Adobe thinks your credit card details were stolen you will get a letter. That seems odd to me, unless Adobe is also contacting affected customers by email or telephone. Letters are slow and not all that reliable since people move regularly (though I suppose if the address on file is wrong then the credit card information may well be of little use.)
  • Adobe says source code was stolen too. This intrigues me. What is the value of the source code? It might help a criminal crack the protection scheme, or find new ways to attack users with malicious PDF documents. A few people in the world might even be interested to see how certain features of say Photoshop are implemented in order to assist with coding a rival product, but finding that sort of buyer might be challenging.
  • Is the vulnerability which enabled the breach now fixed? Another question not answered in the FAQ. Making major changes quickly to such a large system would be difficult, but it all depends what enabled the breach which we do not know.
  • I’d like to see an option not to store credit card details, but to enter them afresh for each transaction. Hassle of course, and not so good for inertia marketing, but more secure.

Adobe Creative Cloud giveaway at Microsoft Build: sign of a new alliance?

At Microsoft’s Build conference last week, one among a number of giveaways to all attendees was a year’s subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. This was announced by Developer and Platform Evangelism VP Steven Guggenheimer during the day 2 keynote.

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Creative Cloud costs $49.99 (or £39 + VAT) per month for an individual subscription.

Guggenheimer in effect said that the gift came from Adobe; he suggested that “you guys should send them a nice email”.

The stated purpose of the giveaway is to promote the Digital Publishing Suite (DPS). Creative Cloud comes with DPS Single Edition, which lets you create rich, interactive magazine content and publish it to the iPad and Android. Announced at Build was DPS support for Windows 8.1 in “late 2013”; a sign if nothing else that Adobe is taking Microsoft’s tablet platform seriously.

The odd aspect though is that Build is a developer conference and not quite the right target audience for DPS. On the other hand, there are numerous tools in Creative Cloud that are well suited to developers, including the Edge web content tools, PhoneGap Build, and of course the mighty Photoshop for image editing.

Adobe’s Adam Lehman was interviewed at Build about the Creative Cloud tools, especially Edge, here.

Microsoft is no longer trying to compete with Adobe on design tools. Expression Web and Expression Design have been discontinued. The Flash versus Silverlight wars are also consigned to history, making it easier for these two companies to work together.