19 Replies Latest reply on Aug 15, 2016 7:46 AM by JJMack

    Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells

    Samoreen Level 2

      Hi,

       

      Most of the time, when requesting help from Adobe about Lightroom or Photoshop because something went wrong, you're invited to call one of the magic spells that are supposed to cure your problem :

       

      - Uninstall / re-install

      - Reset your preferences

       

      This may or may not work. I'd like to comment about this.

       

      Uninstall/re-install

      Given the unending problems plaguing the installation process of CC applications, if uninstalling / re-installing is supposed to fix that many issues in LR and PS, I think that it's time to put more resources on the re-design of the whole installation procedure of all CC products. I mean, this should really give support people a break, lessen the support costs and make users much happier.

       

      Resetting preferences

      Similarly, if that magic spell is supposed to fix that many problems, it means that there's something wrong with the preferences management that is able to generate a lot of trouble in many parts of the application. As a developer, I find this very surprising, but well, I don't have the source code handy. So maybe it's also time to have a look at this code in both LR and PS and to improve its quality.

       

      Moreover, since users are so often invited to reset their preferences (and, consequently, are forced to setup again their preferences each time which is a loss of time), this procedure should be automatized. Click on a button and...

      • save the current preferences that are different from the defaults
      • destroy the current preference store
      • relaunch the application
      • allow the user to restore saved preferences one by one in order to detect what was wrong

       

      Such a tool would be useful for both the users and the development team.

       

      Even when one of those magic spells fixes the problem, this is not satisfactory because nobody knows what was wrong, so the problem will necessarily re-appear. This is not a good way of insuring a high level of code quality.

        • 1. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
          JJMack Most Valuable Participant

          There is no Magic. Magic is an illusion.

           

          The world we live is is far from perfect there are problems and thing go wrong.

           

          To survive in the world you need to be able to deal problems you encounter.

           

          The more you do increases the probability the you will run into problems that need to be dealt with.

           

          Grown increases the number places errors can be.   Adobe main problem is one of management. Their executive and technical management is not working well together. The result is Adobe Current Software Development Process is not what it should. Adobe products quality suffers because of this.  Bugs are prioritized and only some are address. The number of bugs that passed from one version to the next version keeps growing.  If Adobe management does not fix Adobe Software Development Processes their customers are in for a ruff ride for sure.

           

          If you use Adobe Products you need to deal with the Adobe bugs you encounter and work around them.   If you regularly back up versions of your Photoshop preferences you never have to rest your preferences the Adobe default settings.  I only use Adobe Photoshop. I have no desire to have to deal with other Adobe products bugs.

          • 2. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
            Samoreen Level 2

            JJMack wrote:

             

            There is no Magic. Magic is an illusion.

            Sure. I was just a little ironic. But it's clearly irritating to almost always read the same answers made to users who have a problem : re-install and reset your preferences. In too many cases it's a mere loss of time.

             

            JJMack wrote:

             

            Grown increases the number places errors can be. Adobe main problem is one of management. Their executive and technical management is not working well together. The result is Adobe Current Software Development Process is not what it should. Adobe products quality suffers because of this. Bugs are prioritized and only some are address. The number of bugs that passed from one version to the next version keeps growing. If Adobe management does not fix Adobe Software Development Processes their customers are in for a ruff ride for sure.

            I fully agree with this. As a user and as a former software engineer, it's obvious to me that they are on the wrong track (the same kind of phenomenon that I observed many years ago when I was working for Big Blue : share holders are happy, customers are less happy but nobody cares and huge problems eventually show up for the company).

            • 3. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
              dj_paige Level 9

              I save a "good" copy of my Preference file, one that I know is working properly, so if there ever is a problem with the preference file, I don't have to re-create the file by changing lots of settings, I just copy the "good" copy to where the bad one used to be.

              • 4. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                Chuck Uebele Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                As you mentioned, fixing bugs has a lot to do with time and money: how bad is the bug in relation to how much will it cost to fix it. Many of Adobe apps are very old and as such have a very complex code base, so fixing bugs gets broken down into a ranking of how severe they are. Some bug will never be fixed as fixing them will break the apps code and require a complete rewrite, which is much to costly. Or they might break other things in the app. Sometimes it the bug might affect old code that has been written by someone who no longer works at Adobe, and may not have been documented very well, as to what the code actually does. Some bugs actually help some peoples workflow and will not be fixed. For example, there is a bug with the smudge brush in PS that it will smudge pixels at low opacity back to 100%. Many digital painters begged Adobe not to fix this as they now use it for painting by reducing a whole layer to 1% opacity, then merge it with a blank layer at 100%. They can then smudge paint back the image on what looks like a blank layer.

                • 5. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                  Samoreen Level 2

                  dj_paige wrote:

                   

                  I save a "good" copy of my Preference file, one that I know is working properly, so if there ever is a problem with the preference file, I don't have to re-create the file by changing lots of settings, I just copy the "good" copy to where the bad one used to be.

                  OK. But this assumes that the problem is always caused by a corrupted preference file. This is not exactly the problem I'm trying to discuss.

                   

                  1. If the preference gets corrupted that often, there's obviously a problem to fix with the preference manager. Why should the preference file corruption be considered as something usual that we have to live with forever?

                   

                   

                  2. If it's not corrupted and reverting to the default settings fixes a problem,... see above.

                   

                  3. In all cases, even if replacing or resetting the preference file allows the user to work again normally with LR or PS, the problem itself is not fixed, it is just temporarily hidden. Nobody knows why this worked (or didn't work). This is why I find this solution not satisfactory even if a temporary fix is better than nothing. The same applies to installation failures.

                  • 6. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                    JJMack Most Valuable Participant

                    Chuck Uebele wrote:

                     

                    As you mentioned, fixing bugs has a lot to do with time and money: how bad is the bug in relation to how much will it cost to fix it. Many of Adobe apps are very old and as such have a very complex code base, so fixing bugs gets broken down into a ranking of how severe they are. Some bug will never be fixed as fixing them will break the apps code and require a complete rewrite, which is much to costly. Or they might break other things in the app. Sometimes it the bug might affect old code that has been written by someone who no longer works at Adobe, and may not have been documented very well, as to what the code actually does. Some bugs actually help some peoples workflow and will not be fixed. For example, there is a bug with the smudge brush in PS that it will smudge pixels at low opacity back to 100%. Many digital painters begged Adobe not to fix this as they now use it for painting by reducing a whole layer to 1% opacity, then merge it with a blank layer at 100%. They can then smudge paint back the image on what looks like a blank layer.

                    So some like a bug.  This does not change the fact that Bugs do not help products they should be addressed...... Photoshop quality is going down hill for sure.

                    • 8. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                      JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      The irony in this entire discussion is that I have been using Lightroom since early in version 2. I have yet to encounter any of the problems mentioned. I have never had to reset preferences. I haven't even ever had to restore a backup catalog. The only "problem" I encountered with Lightroom is when I discovered that one of my hard drives was going bad. It was a hardware problem that made Lightroom lose track of my images.

                       

                      I sometimes wonder if users try to out think Adobe, and perform custom installations. Or perhaps they don't take the time to fully understand how Lightroom functions. I could be wrong. It's difficult to determine since Lightroom has run so problem free for me. I'm sure others have had similar experiences. So there are probably others who really may not know how to relate to the problems.

                       

                      Having said that, some of the error messages are definitely archaic. The blue screen problem when GPU was introduced could have been fixed with just a little programming. I believe it finally was, but it sure confused a lot of new users.

                       

                      I feel that as long as Adobe tries to promote the creative cloud and still offer a standalone product there is going to be lots of confusion and lots of disgruntled users.

                       

                      With so many different computer configurations available today, and lots of different options, I believe it's difficult for any software company to create a "one-size-fits-all" solution.

                       

                      Lightroom is a lot more complex than that a lot of new users realize. It seems that many new users consider it to be more or less Picasa on steroids. But there's a database technology that many users tend not to take the time to understand or even realize that it's there. And trying to outsmart that technology seems to me to be where some of these problems are encountered.

                      • 9. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                        Samoreen Level 2

                        JimHess wrote:

                         

                        I sometimes wonder if users try to out think Adobe, and perform custom installations. Or perhaps they don't take the time to fully understand how Lightroom functions. I could be wrong.

                        Yes, with all due respect, I think you're wrong. For several reasons:

                         

                        1. There are acknowledged bugs that are present in LR since version, 1 that are still waiting to be fixed and that will probably never be fixed. I have already discussed elsewhere these "permanent" bugs that will never have a chance to reach the top of the todo list. This is obviously a management problem at the maintenance dpt.

                         

                        2. Bugs may or may not hit a user depending on how it uses the software. There's no idea, as you seem to suggest, of "good" users never making any mistake and therefore never seeing any bug and "bad" users who are not skilled enough and make bugs appear all the time. A bug is a bug and it is there for everyone. Just, there are users doing things that you never will do and making such or such bug appear. If you never use the Web module, you'll never see the bugs it carries over from version to version. However, these bugs do exist, they can be reproduced and they have been reported multiple times. Still, nobody cares.

                         

                        3. As a software engineer, I admit the idea of bugs being present in a software, of course. What I'm discussing here is the fact that Adobe seem to be happy with those "magic spells" that sometimes fix issues encountered by the user. What we expect is that the bugs be definitively fixed.

                         

                        4. The fact that LR uses a database and is a complex application doesn't imply anything about the user. Does the application need more skilled users because it uses a database ? By the way, the discussion is about LR and PS.

                         

                        JimHess wrote:

                         

                        With so many different computer configurations available today, and lots of different options, I believe it's difficult for any software company to create a "one-size-fits-all" solution.

                        Granted. But this is off-topic. The discussion is about why Adobe systematically recommends to re-install or to reset the Preferences when a problem is reported instead of fixing that specific problem. I may have a part of the answer.  Assuming you have a rather long history with PS or LR, when looking at the system registry and at the preference file, an experienced system engineer or developer can immediately see how messily upgrades, uninstallation of previous versions, plugins and modules, etc. are managed. Leftovers everywhere, preference file growing too big because there's no mechanism to clean it up (or keeping it clean) beside deleting it and starting again from scratch with the preferences. So once the mess is too big, the easy solution - for Adobe - is to uninstall or delete everything and start over from scratch. This is not the attitude and the service quality that we expect from Adobe.

                        • 10. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                          Bob Somrak Level 5

                          Awhile back before Lr6.6.1 was released, Jeffery Tranberry posted somewhere I can not find that Adobe was considering having a better balance between bug fixes/QC and new features.  I think many of us are aware that bug fixes/QC has been severely lacking in the whole LR 6 release cycle.  It seems to me that a very good job was done with the 6.6.1 version squashing some of the many severe and minor bugs and unlike previous 6. releases did not create more than were fixed.  For me, CC2015.6.1 has been a very nice release that is working very well in general.  I know there is still a LOT of bug fixes that need to be done as they were collecting up for years but 6.6.1 seems to be a step in the right direction.  I am really liking all the new tools in Lr and PS CC201 but not at the expense of poor QC.  I doesn't do much good to have cool tools if the program doesn't work well. 

                          • 11. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                            JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            There does seem to be an abundance of quality control issues in Lightroom. But just to clarify what I wrote earlier, new users in particular tend to dive in and create all sorts of problems for themselves because they don't take the time to understand how Lightroom functions. And if more new users would devote a little more time to watch some tutorials before they get started I believe that some problems would be resolved. As far as the ongoing problems that seem to plague Lightroom are concerned, I am as frustrated by them as others must be.

                            • 12. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                              Samoreen Level 2

                              JimHess wrote:

                               

                              ...new users in particular tend to dive in and create all sorts of problems for themselves because they don't take the time to understand how Lightroom functions. And if more new users would devote a little more time to watch some tutorials before they get started I believe that some problems would be resolved.

                              Off topic. Again, I'm talking about real bugs and about the recommendation made too often by Adobe to uninstall / reinstall and to reset their preferences in order to allegedly fix them. This has nothing to do with user misunderstanding about how the program works. Please read the initial post again. If the problem is just something the user didn't understand there's normally no need to reinstall everything to solve it. If a user can make mistakes that generate so much trouble that everything must be re-installed, then the UI must be re-designed, there's something wrong with it.

                              • 13. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                                Bob Somrak Level 5

                                I agree that "Pilot Error" and users having computers that are not working correctly due to "other software/OS/hardware" issues are a significant part of the problem.  Many of the pilot error problems could be avoided by watching tutorials/reading books for a couple of weeks and doing some test catalogs before diving in.  I was guilty of this with keyboarding.  I jumped in full bore with a couple of ideas before I found one I liked and had to spend a lot of time redoing the keywords. 

                                • 14. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                                  Bob Somrak Level 5

                                  Samoreen wrote:

                                   

                                  Off topic. Again, I'm talking about real bugs and about the recommendation made too often by Adobe to uninstall / reinstall and to reset their preferences in order to allegedly fix them.

                                  There SHOULD be some kind of preference file rebuild/check option when you quit/start Lr.  It shouldn't be too hard for Adobe to do a quality check on the preferences file and see if all the items are within accepted values and fix or report the problem to the user.  This check could report errors back to Adobe if it finds a problem and these preference file bugs could be stomped out.  For all the weird problems that are solved by a preference file reset there must be some kind of data overflow messing up the loaded programs when the preferences are read. 

                                  • 15. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                                    trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                    Samoreen wrote:

                                    Granted. But this is off-topic. The discussion is about why Adobe systematically recommends to re-install or to reset the Preferences when a problem is reported instead of fixing that specific problem.

                                    The need to reinstall LR or reset the Preferences file can be caused by many different issues. This includes system issues such as power outages, voltage drops, noise, memory corruption, and disk date errors. LR makes high demands on system resources and is therefore more susceptible to revealing system related issues. This isn't something Adobe can "fix." Because of this there will always be a need to try reinstalling LR and resetting the Preferences file as part of basic remediation. IMHO it's relatively simple and painless.

                                     

                                    That said there is much room for improvement concerning quality control and testing to reveal bugs prior to release of LR updates and new versions. I worked in OEM system engineering for 20 years and have firsthand experience with good design practices and quality control monitoring. It is imperative that a Quality Control department be setup and staffed with a separate team of engineers with the sole mission to inspect and test all new products in an autonomous environment. They are the "police" so to speak keeping designers from "cutting corners." The worst people to assign this task to are the actual product development team (i.e. programmers and design engineers). As a young design engineer developing new products I was often offended by the questioning attitude of QC engineering picking apart my designs at the lowest possible level and enforcing design changes. Only later did I gain a full understanding of the importance QC plays in assuring good product design.

                                     

                                    That's the best advice I can give Adobe to help reduce the number of issues in new product releases and updates. Given that LR must run on many different operating system versions and hardware configurations this is no trivial task. There will always be some bugs that appear in specific system configurations, but they should be the exception and affect a small number of users.

                                    • 16. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                                      Samoreen Level 2

                                      trshaner wrote:

                                       

                                      The need to reinstall LR or reset the Preferences file can be caused by many different issues. This includes system issues such as power outages, voltage drops, noise, memory corruption, and disk date errors.

                                      Do you really think this happens that often ? Anyway, as suggested above and in my initial post, there should be a validity checking tool for the preference file in both PS and LR.

                                       

                                      By the way, I 'm wondering why Adobe used a binary proprietary format for PS and a non XML text format for the preference file in LR. LR is using XML everywhere (so the XML parsing tools are already used in the program) but the preference file has its own text format. It's really easy to validate an XML file with the available parsing tools. So it's very strange that they decided not to use XML for the preference file in both PS and LR. Using XML for that file would also make the preferences accessible from an external tool, which could help a lot.

                                      • 17. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                                        bob frost Level 3

                                        trshaner wrote:

                                         

                                        The need to reinstall LR or reset the Preferences file can be caused by many different issues. This includes system issues such as power outages, voltage drops, noise, memory corruption, and disk date errors.

                                        Do you really think this happens that often ?

                                         

                                        ............................................................................

                                         

                                        I've seen figures about the frequency of cosmic rays flipping bits in computer memory which range from 3 hits per day to 2 hits per hour for 32 GB of RAM. Only ECC memory will stop this, which most of us don't have!

                                         

                                        Bob Frost

                                        1 person found this helpful
                                        • 18. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                                          trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                          Samoreen wrote:

                                           

                                          trshaner wrote:

                                           

                                          The need to reinstall LR or reset the Preferences file can be caused by many different issues. This includes system issues such as power outages, voltage drops, noise, memory corruption, and disk date errors.

                                          Do you really think this happens that often ?

                                          I've used LR since 2007 (1.0), upgrade to each new version (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), and currently use LR CC 2015. With experience using both the standalone and CC versions I've only resorted to resetting the LR Preferences file one-time to resolve an issue. But I also run periodic SMART checks on my drives, replace them before they fail (typically every 3-5 years), and always do a full system shutdown and power off every night. This insures my system isn't exposed to AC mains voltage spikes, drops, or power outages for typically 12 hours a day. This also insures the OS and applications are "freshly" reloaded into system memory, which helps to prevent issues due to memory corruption (Soft Errors). BTW- I spent 20-years in engineering developing system memory for high-availability, real-time server systems.

                                           

                                          In addition resetting to the Preferences' default settings is useful when experiencing unexplained behavior after making numerous changes to those default settings. In many cases it's simply doing what you told it to do.....but not what you want it to do.

                                           

                                          Samoreen wrote:

                                           

                                          By the way, I 'm wondering why Adobe used a binary proprietary format for PS and a non XML text format for the preference file in LR. LR is using XML everywhere (so the XML parsing tools are already used in the program) but the preference file has its own text format. It's really easy to validate an XML file with the available parsing tools. So it's very strange that they decided not to use XML for the preference file in both PS and LR. Using XML for that file would also make the preferences accessible from an external tool, which could help a lot.

                                          I've used PS since 1994 and now use PS CC 2015. Over the same period of LR usage (9 years) I've had to reset the PS Preferences file at least three times to "fix" an issue and if anything my time spent in PS has decreased. You can draw your own conclusions as to reliability and why one format was chosen over another. I'm not a programmer, but suspect the differences in format chosen is simply because the LR development team is separate from the PS team. But I lack the design experience and Adobe proprietary information to make any real judgement call.

                                          • 19. Re: Suggestions about Adobe's magic spells
                                            JJMack Most Valuable Participant

                                            trshaner wrote:

                                             

                                            I've used PS since 1994 and now use PS CC 2015. Over the same period of LR usage (9 years) I've had to reset the PS Preferences file at least three times to "fix" an issue and if anything my time spent in PS has decreased. You can draw your own conclusions as to reliability and why one format was chosen over another. I'm not a programmer, but suspect the differences in format chosen is simply because the LR development team is separate from the PS team. But I lack the design experience and Adobe proprietary information to make any real judgement call.

                                            I have use Photoshop since Photoshop version 3 when I was working my job title was programmer.  I looked at the first few releases of Lightroom when Adobe released them.  Found them to be better than Bridge for organizing  images.  However Bridge interfaces to more Adobe applications and is well integrated with Photoshop.  Lightroom fall short there for its develop module is not a Photoshop plug-in  Lightroom passes RAW file to Photoshop through Adobe Camera Raw Plug-in and in Photoshop ACR UI is used for RAW conversion for placed RAW images and independent copies of smart object layers with Camera RAW objects as well as layer filters. Lightroom also does not support layers so when you use Photoshop from Lightroom, Lightroom's none destructive editing is lost.  Both Lightroom and Bridge  databases and caches slows down your workflow when you import new images.   So my personal choice is not to waste space on my machine I do not install Lightroom and only use Birdge for special projects.  I use Windows File explorer to organize my image and to interface with Photoshop.  IMO starting with CS4 the quality of Adobe Photoshop software has been falling.  New releases of Photoshop have had major issues CS6, CC 2015 and CC 2015.5 were particulary bad.  Currently I use Photoshop CC 2014..