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GoLive, FreeHand Survive Rumors of Demise

Officemate and TidBITS Managing Editor Jeff Carlson yells out, "Hey, GoLive is dead!" I shout a long, lingering, "Nooooooooooo!" and then say, "All-right-y then." (We wrote several editions of "Real World GoLive" together, so it’s a program we’ve followed closely for years.)

Following Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia last year, a cloud of speculation has hovered over the fates of Adobe GoLive (whose stronger competition was Macromedia Dreamweaver) and prodigal child Macromedia FreeHand (whose stronger competition was Adobe Illustrator). With the release of Creative Suite 3 scheduled for sometime in 2007, it’s still unclear how the two companies’ product lines will be merged. So, news that Adobe would be dropping these two less-successful products wasn’t necessarily a surprise.

But the surprise, however, wasn’t that the news turned out to be false: it was the Babelfishy route the rumor took to become news. Following the story, it’s hard to figure out whether anything was announced purposely or not.

Chasing the Rumor’s Tail — The trek began at MacUser, Macworld’s forum site, which featured a story that says the two products are dead and offers some good analysis. It stated that no further development was planned, but future support is promised. However, there were no Adobe sources, just a link.

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That link took us to Macsimum News, which reported that Robert Raiola, an executive at Adobe Systems France, commented at the Adobe Live conference in Europe that the two products would no longer be developed. The article went into some analysis, but had no Adobe sources – just a thank-you to MacGeneration, a French site.

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Fortunately, I can read some French. Winding my way to MacGeneration, I found a report that was basically translated at the Macsimum News site – without the note, "thanks to Frederic for the information." That meant MacGeneration wasn’t at the event, but was reporting what a reader or colleague told them. At my count, MacUser was fourth-hand news, no?

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I used to be fluent in German, so I also read that MacGeneration noted further that their colleagues at spoke to Alexander Hopstein, the PR manager for Adobe’s central and eastern Europe operations. Hopstein, wrote, said that reports of FreeHand’s demise weren’t correct; GoLive wasn’t mentioned. He was quoted saying, "FreeHand will continue to be offered as a stand-alone product."


Actually, I found that the people were pointing to MacBidouille, which is apparently the original source of the news item. That report said that Frederic wrote in from Adobe Live to tell them about the death of FreeHand, but it didn’t say GoLive was dead. Rather, it comments that there’s no doubt we’ll be saying goodbye to GoLive, which didn’t sound to me like a PR quote from the event. In an update to the item, a note says FreeHand’s development is halted, but GoLive will continue to be developed for "specific applications," which might be embedded modules in other software. It was all a little vague.

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Adobe’s Response — As the news spread, Adobe responded by saying, essentially, "No, no, no, and the French office didn’t say what they’re paraphrased as saying." Adobe’s official statement reads:

"Adobe plans to continue to support GoLive and FreeHand and develop these products based on our customer’s [sic] needs. Clearly Dreamweaver and Illustrator are market leading when it comes to Web design/development and vector graphics/illustration. Customers should expect Adobe to concentrate our development efforts around these two products – with regards to future innovation and Creative Suite integration."

(I’ll assume that the singular usage of "customer’s" was a typographical error, and not an admission that Adobe is basing its product development plans on one person using GoLive and FreeHand.)

This episode was a fascinating (and slightly amusing) look at how what appeared to be an offhand comment in one language turned into news that, frankly, a lot of people had already assumed. Although Adobe’s plans to "develop these products based on customer needs" still gives them enough wiggle room to kill or sell off GoLive or FreeHand, the fact that Adobe is quick to stand up for them hints that 2007 could be quite an interesting year for Adobe watchers.

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