This post was written by Karl.
Hello, World. I’m Karl. Brad gave me an account on his blog, so I decided to use it, to “rant” about Adobe.
Half a decade or so ago, Adobe decided that they would look much more hip if Macromedia happened to be hanging from their belt. Suddenly, Macromedia disappeared, and Flash became Adobe Flash. This was surprising and unexpected for people like me that do not pay attention to current events.
Soon I realised that Adobe was the best thing ever to happen to Flash. Adobe looked at what people wanted for Flash, and they did almost every single thing people had been asking for years for. They open-sourced nearly everything. They added hardware acceleration, linux & 64-bit support, runtime generation of resources, local file access, and recently even 3D transforms.
Brad said something to me recently, however, that has gotten me thinking about Adobe. He said he “read some funny / scary things about actionscript 3.” At first the words meant little to me. But as time passed, I began to think about Adobe, and my recent frustrations with them.
Over the past two days, I’ve spent significant time working on one of my large projects. In that short time I encountered four or five bugs with Flash and Flex, two of which were entirely new to the bugbase. Each bug crippled my ability to continue for hours, while I tried to isolate the problem and then somehow work around it.
I really have no desire to run into bugs in my tools this frequently. It reminds me of something I’d forgotten about Adobe: Adobe created ColdFusion. I had to use ColdFusion extensively while working for .NU Domain, and it gave me the same kinds of issues. I tend to use features of a language to their fullest when I code, and when coding in proprietary languages made with regard for features over stability, this results in me running into issues relatively often. It really gives an icky sense of the product being totally hacked together — and if I am making my product using this hacked-together product, how can I even trust my own creation?
ColdFusion has come a long way since I used it last. By now, I imagine Adobe has put bandaids on all the bugs I found long ago. Along the way, I imagine they introduced about twice as many features and about as many new bugs, all of which are probably much harder to run across than the older ones, and take much longer to isolate when you do.
Adobe provides two methods for reporting bugs with its products. The “wish form” has been around for some time. It gives a simple interface for submitting a bug report or a feature request confidentially. Items submitted via the form are categorised by Adobe into an internal bug database. One recieves no feedback after submitting a bug via the form. However, I have submitted two bugs using this form, and both of them were quietly fixed by the next release.
The more grandiose interface is the triply named “Adobe Public Bug Database and Issue Reporting System”, “Adobe Bug Reporting System”, or “Adobe Bug and Issue Management System”, which I call simply the bugbase. This public bug database contains a subset of the bugs in the internal database — most of the public bugs have been submitted by members of the community who have registered at the site. A number have also been imported from some older (Macromedia?) bug and feature tracking systems. The advantage of a public bugbase is being able to search for workarounds to existing bugs, to watch bugs and receive updates when they change, and to show your support for bugs you care about.
The public bugbase has a feature shared by many others — that of ‘voting‘ for issues. A given bug is not shown to Adobe developers, and is left with a status of “Open” or “Community”, until it has passed some unknown vote threshold. This feature makes it much easier for Adobe to totally ignore the problems that not many people encounter. Unfortunately, there are a lot of those.
At the time of this writing, there are over three and a half thousand bugs in the bugbase marked “Open”, “New”, or “Community”. Only 15 of these have ten or more votes, and 2833 of them have no votes at all.
I would encourage anyone who uses Adobe products and has encountered strange things occurring to visit the bugbase and give your issues a vote. Especially if the issue gives you the impression that something important should really, really be refactored.