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Author Topic: History Lesson  (Read 4240 times)

Chris Kern

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History Lesson
« on: February 25, 2017, 08:50:17 PM »

Victoria Bampton has published an anniversary retrospective on Lightroom that includes screen captures, made recently on a virtual machine, of the early releases.  As a relative newcomer — I licensed Lightroom 3 in 2011 — what especially interested me was how fundamentally consistent the design of the user interface has remained over the product's ten-year history while accommodating to very substantial improvements in the under-the-hood technology.

Rhossydd

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2017, 12:50:38 PM »

Yes, Adobe got Lightroom right from day one.

Whilst there are still plenty of tweaks to add, it's still brilliant.
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ButchM

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2017, 08:54:41 AM »

Yes, Adobe got Lightroom right from day one.


The reason this was so, is they involved a significant number (IIRC about 500,000 participants) of prospective users in sharing the experience of the initial development as well as actually listen and directly respond to those users in the process so as to offer a product that was quite appealing to a large number of users. Those of us involved in the public beta process in those early days could actually see the product evolve in the process.

When there have been significant issues arise that has caused problems between the developers and the end users ... it has been because Adobe have gone away from including those end users in that development process and ignoring end user concerns concerns. In at least one major instance, the team has had to apologize and backtrack, at significant expense, to compensate for those errors in judgement.

Though they remedied some of those problems created by not remaining in direct communication with their end users, they still seem to be tone deaf on other aspects as far as offering much more capable Slideshow module and/or a Book module that isn't hamstrung with a locked in Blurb centric offering as just a couple of examples.

While I am pleased overall with the current capabilities of Lightroom, it is far from perfect and could be so much more. I'd even be willing to pay more to acquire those aspects I desire to be included. Though at this point I don't quite have the same confidence that those working on Lightroom share my concerns or value my feedback as they once did back in the early days of Lightroom development.

I hope for any future major changes to Lightroom they consider a broader range of input from their end users before they introduce them.
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Rhossydd

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2017, 09:28:09 AM »

The reason this was so, is they involved a significant number (IIRC about 500,000 participants) of prospective users in sharing the experience of the initial development
Whilst I'd agree that user feedback has helped develop the product in the early days, I don't think that in iteslf is a major reason for it's success.
I'd say that the key reasons are the basic concept of non-destructive editing using it's own catalogue with a brilliantly slick UI. That arrived from the first beta and really hasn't changed. They've just added extra functionality.

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rdonson

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2017, 09:35:31 AM »

...and don't neglect to acknowledge the push/motivation that Apple's Aperture provided Adobe.  It woke them up!
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Ron

ButchM

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2017, 09:44:11 AM »

Whilst I'd agree that user feedback has helped develop the product in the early days, I don't think that in iteslf is a major reason for it's success.
I'd say that the key reasons are the basic concept of non-destructive editing using it's own catalogue with a brilliantly slick UI. That arrived from the first beta and really hasn't changed. They've just added extra functionality.

I agree that the concept was solid ... but it could have taken a much different tangent without the direct input of half a million photographers who actually worked in the field ... in fact Adobe went to great length to include that very sentiment in their early marketing efforts for Lr v1.
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ButchM

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2017, 09:45:55 AM »

...and don't neglect to acknowledge the push/motivation that Apple's Aperture provided Adobe.  It woke them up!

Exactly ... in fact, the book creation and multi-media slideshow capabilities of Aperture are still far superior than what is found in Lightroom.
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David Mantripp

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2017, 03:56:35 PM »

Yes, Adobe got Lightroom right from day one.

Whilst there are still plenty of tweaks to add, it's still brilliant.

Who was it who said "history is written by the victors" ? Stalin ?

I totally rely on Lr as there is nothing else even close.  But it isn't, and never was, brilliant.  Whatever Schewe et al say, if it looks like a duck, etc, it's a duck.  The timeline shows clearly enough that Adobe were clearly shocked by Aperture, as well as Steve Jobs' apparent desire to destroy Adobe, and rushed out the Shadowland RAW editor prototype with a bunch of badly integrated, poorly designed, barely sufficient DAM stuff loosely bolted on to it.  It  superficially looked like Aperture, but philosophically it was nothing like it - almost the reverse actually, since Aperture's weakest points were in its RAW processing tools.  Then, Adobe's awesome marketing machine kicked into overdrive, brilliantly leveraged the egos of a bunch of "influencers" (remember the Adobe Lightroom Iceland Adventure ?)  and wiped the carpet with Apple.

Apple did not help itself with the launching price of Aperture 1.0, or indeed its insane minimum hardware specification, but that was all pure Steve Jobs downside.  Aperture 1.5 was far better, 2.0 blew past Lightroom, 3.0 was better still, and then the wind went out of its sails.

Adobe's marketing efforts and far, far better engagement with the market won the day.  Lightroom today is excellent in a some aspects, adequate in others, and absolutely dreadful in quite a lot, but it has no substantial competition.  So, sadly, it will probably never really improve beyond being Camera Raw glued on to Bridge Lite with a thick coating of glossy lipstick.

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Rhossydd

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2017, 04:24:42 PM »

But it isn't, and never was, brilliant.
Your welcome to your opinion, but I still think LR was superior to anything else at the time.

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Simon Garrett

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2017, 06:24:26 AM »

Who was it who said "history is written by the victors" ? Stalin ?

It's been attributed to many people including Churchill and George Orwell, and I believe Machiavelli said it in slightly different words in The Prince, though I couldn't find it on a quick look just now. 
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john beardsworth

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2017, 12:13:38 PM »

Caesar too. Anyway, I'm still laughing at the idea that Apple were out-muscled by Adobe's marketing and some blokes wandering around Iceland.
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Hoggy

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2017, 01:03:53 PM »

So, sadly, it will probably never really improve beyond being Camera Raw glued on to Bridge Lite with a thick coating of glossy lipstick.

I don't see what's so sad about that.  ALL things build upon previous achievements.  Although I do understand the point about 'glued together' - with LR being built upon a scripting language.  A re-write in a 'proper' language seems long overdue, and might likely make it faster.


Anyway, I'm still laughing at the idea that Apple were out-muscled by Adobe's marketing and some blokes wandering around Iceland.

I think I'm missing something here..   ???   What is this Iceland stuff referring to?
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john beardsworth

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2017, 01:29:07 PM »

I think I'm missing something here..   ???   What is this Iceland stuff referring to?

David was referring to O'Reilly Publishing taking a small group of photographers to Iceland - see http://www.oreilly.com/digitalmedia/adventure/2006.csp. It was O'Reilly anyway, but it's pretty funny to think Aperture lost because of Adobe's marketing rather than because of its own weaknesses and Lightroom's strengths.
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David Mantripp

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2017, 05:52:33 PM »

David was referring to O'Reilly Publishing taking a small group of photographers to Iceland - see http://www.oreilly.com/digitalmedia/adventure/2006.csp. It was O'Reilly anyway, but it's pretty funny to think Aperture lost because of Adobe's marketing rather than because of its own weaknesses and Lightroom's strengths.

Come now, John.  I've got the book in front of me. In the Acknowledgments, it states "Adobe's Jennifer Stern become our Guardian Angel as she  found the money for the Iceland project ...".  This, from the prime mover and organiser, George Jardine, at the time "ProPhoto Evangelist, Adobe Systems Inc"

That was "O'Reilly Publishing taking a small group of photographers to Iceland", was it ?  Hmm, ok, you're entitled to your interpretation.

Note I'm (a) not criticising Adobe Marketing, but rather admiring their brilliance at getting turning a lash-up like Lightroom 1 Beta into a market dominating application.  Helped of course by the hubris and arrogance of Apple who decided that their new "Photoshop Killer" (the press called it that, not Apple, but whatever) was only suitable for those who would cough up for Apple's most stratospheric hardware (which is why I bought Lightroom 1)

Unfortunately Adobe Marketing did such a good job, that Adobe Produce Development had little motive to substantially improve Lightroom.  I rather suspect now that they cannot, as the basic underpinnings still reflect the fact that it was pressed into doing something it wasn't ever intended for.  As an alternative front end to Camera Raw, able to handle multiple images at the same time, it is fine.  But the rest of it is a daily hair pulling exercise in frustration.   "Can't delete an image selected in a Collection". ... WTH not ?????  "Can only stack in the same physical folder" WT* ???? etc etc.  Lets not even go to the Disaster Area of keyboarding.  Of course this kind of stuff matters little, I suspect, to 95% of users, but those 95% needed Shadowland, not Lightroom.

Not that any of this matters much more to me than a bit of trolling on Lula, but still, this idea that Lightroom is brilliant - really?  REALLY ?  I'll settle for "adequate".   And anyway, if it were that brilliant, how come it needs 500 page How-Tos and FAQs and all the rest of the cottage industry gifted by Adobe to the Usual Suspects ?  Surely it should be a touch more intuitive than that ?

Anyway, I'll shut up now.  I've dome myself enough damage.
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john beardsworth

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2017, 06:17:48 AM »

Clearly you are right about about the funding for the trip, David, though neither of us know its scale. I only remember O'Reilly's involvement as I was disappointed to have been on their shortlist but unable to make it. Still, Apple were also throwing money around in those days (remember the Aperture Professional Users Network?) and had their own "influencers'.

You are also right about hardware demands slowing Aperture's take off. However, new Macs were out within a year, and you are overlooking a far bigger reason for its failure - it was always Mac-limited. Short and longer term, that held Aperture back.

As for your frustrations. Can't delete from a collection - kind of annoys me too. Can only stack in the same folder - well, Lightroom allows photos to be stacked differently in different contexts, not just as one stack that is the same across the catalogue. Keywording - well, it always allowed one to do more than Aperture's feature, and the biggest frustrations are with long lists on Windows, and writing keyword in alphabetical order, which affects some stock submissions. But it's not as if Aperture doesn't have its own frustrations, is it?

It's also a bit trite to imply the cottage industry of books is because of something lacking in Lightroom. The market's driven by the number of users.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 12:54:04 PM by john beardsworth »
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rdonson

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2017, 11:15:41 AM »

David,

Do you use Lr Mobile at all?  That's a part of Lr that has seemingly been garnering a LOT of attention from Adobe.  It is frequently updated.  From your marketing perspective it's easy to see why.  The VAST majority of photos taken and shared these days are from MOBILE devices. 

FWIW I use Lr Mobile as well as Lr desktop and I find the Mobile version quite handy.  I rarely use it for mobile photos but instead sync with my Lr desktop.  I refine collections and use the ratings quite frequently.  Its also a handy way to share with others what you're working on.   
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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2017, 04:17:17 PM »

Whatever Schewe et al say, if it looks like a duck, etc, it's a duck.  The timeline shows clearly enough that Adobe were clearly shocked by Aperture, as well as Steve Jobs' apparent desire to destroy Adobe, and rushed out the Shadowland RAW editor prototype with a bunch of badly integrated, poorly designed, barely sufficient DAM stuff loosely bolted on to it.

Yeah, ya know, your timeline is incorrect...Adobe didn't rush out LR in response to Aperture...Adobe wasn't "clearly shocked" by Aperture.

Randy Ubillos, who was instrumental in developing Final Cut Pro at Apple was the primary developer of Aperture. Mark Hamburg who was the #2 engineer on Photoshop was the primary developer on Lightroom.

Randy used to work at Adobe on Adobe Premiere–point of fact, Randy left Adobe to go to Macromedia because Adobe didn't want to go the direction Randy wanted Premiere to go. Apple bought what Randy worked on at Macromedia to keep from falling on other's hands and had Randy develop Final Cut Pro. FCP was a big success for Apple. Randy was kinda "moved off" FCP and started working on what would end up being called Aperture. I'm pretty sure that was at the end of 2002. I was contacted by someday at Apple to comment on a marketing development plan for what would become Aperture early in 2003. Since I was under NDA with Adobe on a competing product I declined to work with Apple.

In early December 2002 Mark Hamburg, UI designer Sandy Alves, project lead Andrei Herasimchuk and Thomas Knoll visited my studio for a couple of days of brainstorming product ideas directed towards photographers. During that meeting I expressed the importance of developing an application to deal with lots of images easily and efficiently instead of an application used for spending a great deal of time on a single image-in the 1990′s it was all about how long an imaging artist spent working on an image, the new millenium dictated an application designed to spend as little time as possible working on many images.

And…the time spent should be more enjoyable for photographers than working in a complicated application like Photoshop.

For various reasons, Mark was no longer working on Photoshop and his desire to develop his own application for digital imaging went down the path that lead to Shadowland, uh, I mean Lightroom.


The above was from a history of lightroom I wrote for PhotoshopNews.com (which is defunct but still accessible HERE).

So at the end of 2002 both Mark and Randy were working on their respective products at the same time. It should also be noted that Mark and Randy were actually good friends from the time Randy worked at Adobe. But I have no specific knowledge that they talked to each other about what they were working on–likely they didn't because, well secrets are secret.

When Apple announced Aperture in the fall of 2005 at Photo Expo in NYC, I was there for the launch. I can tell you that Adobe was not in the least bit surprised because Aperture was at that point not in the least bit "secret". Everybody who knew Adobe & Apple knew what was going on...

There are some other stories I can tell you like a certain Photoshop "expert" going to Adobe early in 2005 and telling Adobe to kill Lightroom because he feared it would negatively impact Photoshop and his, uh, livelihood. That Adobe was considering killing Lightroom and certain people were fighting to keep Lightroom alive. Ultimately, the fact that Apple did release Aperture did give motivation for Adobe to circle the wagons and go ahead with Lightroom. Aperture did prove to certain Adobe people that there was a viable market for a database driven photo app.

To think that Adobe rushed out Lightroom in response to Aperture is naive...there is no way a piece of software could be released as a beta Jan 2006 that was started after Aperture was released Nov 30th 2005?

Also, I will tell you that running a public beta of Shadowland/Lightroom was discussed at least in the early 2005 time period on the private beta forums. The plan was to use public reaction as a method of research for feature development particularly while a Windows version was being developed.

Actually, it was the fact that Adobe released both Mac and Windows versions of Lightroom is ultimately what caused Apple to end up killing Aperture because the fact is, Apple is, first and foremost, a hardware company. The ONLY reason Apple does software is to sell hardware. It's the reason Apple did Final Cut Pro (which is still being developed because it sells computers) and started Aperture. But Aperture stopped helping to sell computers and Apple turned away from pro photographers...

Say what you will about what Lightroom can and can't do well and what it should do. But one should be careful talking about history unless you were there, on the frontline while it was being made.
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David Mantripp

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2017, 04:21:26 PM »

David,

Do you use Lr Mobile at all?  That's a part of Lr that has seemingly been garnering a LOT of attention from Adobe.  It is frequently updated.  From your marketing perspective it's easy to see why.  The VAST majority of photos taken and shared these days are from MOBILE devices. 

FWIW I use Lr Mobile as well as Lr desktop and I find the Mobile version quite handy.  I rarely use it for mobile photos but instead sync with my Lr desktop.  I refine collections and use the ratings quite frequently.  Its also a handy way to share with others what you're working on.   

Hi Ron,

Yes indeed I do.  I do find it useful, in exactly the same way you do.  I wish it could do keyboarding though.  Wasn't there once a 3rd party app that did all that Lr Mobile does, but, well, slightly better at least from the point of view of people like us ?   Aperture had an excellent 3rd party add-on ... I think it was called PixelSync.  It was effectively murdered by Apple cutting off API access to the Library, or something.  Typical Apple.

Note, I'm an Apple customer, since mid 1990s, but not a fan.  Far from a fan.  Final word on Aperture, due to Apple's Gulag-level secrecy, we never hear much about individuals, but I can only guess that Aperture had some pretty inspired, indeed visionary designers in the early to mid-period, certainly on the level of Adobe's team, but Apple corporate stifled them.  I suppose the didn't conform to the Ive Diktats, or whatever.

Right, back to Lightroom.

D.
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David Mantripp

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2017, 04:28:59 PM »

Yeah, ya know, your timeline is incorrect...Adobe didn't rush out LR in response to Aperture...Adobe wasn't "clearly shocked" by Aperture.

Thank you Jeff for the lengthy and informative update.  It's not unconvincing.  It's just from the outside things look a little less clear cut than they are said to be these days.   Anyway I'm now a fully committed Lr user, and actually, I did tell myself "if it's good enough for Jeff Schewe it's good enough for me". Your Digital Negative book convinced me.

But, two things:  my view, backed up by zero evidence, is that Apple's hubris had as much to do with Aperture's demise as Adobe's efforts, and (b) Lightroom has suffered badly from a lack of serious competition.  And no, Capture One is no competition.  Not even vaguely close.

Then again, what I want primarily is an application to edit photos in the tradition sense of "edit".  There are 27 million applications to "edit" in the processing sense.  I suspect I'm in a very small minority.
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rdonson

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Re: History Lesson
« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2017, 04:43:40 PM »

First, kudos to Jeff for the insiders timeline.

David, would you elaborate on the traditional editing you think should be in Lightroom but is not?  It sounds like you want a merger of PS and Lr capabilities but that seems pretty much impossible given the two almost opposite editing directions they represent (layers and parametric).
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