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Keeping Pace with Digital and Software Changes

(April 2013) posted on Wed Apr 24, 2013

Upgrading is but one important part of staying on top of technology.

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By Mark A. Coudray

Keeping up with software upgrades has changed a great deal over the years. Early on, the biggest challenge was learning how to do things in a digital environment. That took a few years before it became the accepted adopted way of doing things. Then, every year, pretty much like clockwork, we would get a new version release. The decision to upgrade really wasn’t much of a decision because the improvements were so big and so significant that the choice was pretty much mandatory.

By the early to mid 2000s, the big technical improvements were reduced to incremental improvements and the shift became one from production prepress to Web-content-creation tools. Adobe, in particular, has taken the position that print is either dying or dead and the big improvements have been aimed at digital photography and image creation.

At the same time, the cost to upgrade when a new version is released has increased substantially to the point where the trade-off between upgrade and incremental feature improvement has not been enough to justify the cost. It was common for most companies to upgrade as each new release came out. Now I see companies who are four, five, and even six full versions behind. This creates a significant problem for everyone.

Upgrade disruptions
Another reason to upgrade besides functionality has to do with processing power. Most companies that haven’t upgraded for several years are using software based on a 32-bit processing stream. The newest operating systems on both the PC and Mac side are 64 bit. Consequently, the software and the newest features are designed around a 64-bit computation engine.

On the surface, this creates a minor problem. From a productivity perspective, a higher data path means you can process more complex files faster. This is always a good thing. On the downside, many third-party plug-ins are not compatible with the 64-bit depth. I have seen it take more than two years for some of these plug-ins to be updated. Some of my all-time favorite standbys haven’t been upgraded—and may never be. This is another example of how an upgrade can be disruptive to your overall productivity and results.

Content created in the latest version often has functionality that cannot be saved to an earlier version. Good examples of this in the past have been Gradient Warping and transparency.


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