May 11, 2010, 2:21 PM — I recently had a chance to do a manual install of Adobe's CS5 Master Collection on my Macbook Pro. Anyone who knows me knows that I am particularly hard on installers, because as a sysadmin, I deal with them a lot. I have to say for 99% of the experience, I was reasonably pleased. Compared to CS installers of yore, the install went well, and Adobe finally waits until the absolute last minute to flash the infamous "please quit your browser" notice. You still have to, but instead of making you do so for the entire installation, you only have to deal with this annoyance for a few minutes at most.
It's not a removal of a pain point, but it does reduce the pain rather a lot, so I'm kind of happy about it.
I didn't give the install much thought until a few days later, when I was running top, and noticed that I had a new process named "growl". Now, I know what Growl is, and what it does. (For the uninitiated, Growl is a third party notification system/framework to help applications and processes give you more kinds of event notifications.) Growl is, by any measure, popular, well-liked, and useful.
However, I didn't install it. I don't use Growl, I like to keep my OS as clean as possible. I do a lot of testing, so things like Growl complicate my testing matrix. I also like an OS that's not always trying to get my attention. So, I started poking around, and asking about and found out that CS5 installs Growl. That seemed strange, because before I deleted it, I checked to see what was using Growl, and nothing was. Weird.
I did more digging and I found out that Growl is used to remind you about registration and creating an Adobe Online ID. That's it. A one-time usage. Sigh. Really? For a single-use notification, you had to install a PreferencePane that runs a background process as a system-wide notification tool? You couldn't have just created an HTML file, a PDF file, a Flash Animation, (I understand Adobe is quite taken by the last two), or even just display a simple graphic in a window?
Even worse, you install Growl without my approval, without even notifying me, and you don't have the courtesy to uninstall it afterwards? I mean, if Growl is there already and you want to use it, well, that's perfectly fine. That's making use of an existing service, and a lot of applications will use Growl if it's there. But "using it if it's already there" and "installing and leaving it on my system without even a heads-up" are two rather different things. It's exactly like Adobe installing multiple copies of Opera's web browser on your system in CS4 and earlier. No warning, no notification, just surprise, you have two copies of a web browser you may not have had before. This was infuriating and it was make even worse by Adobe's 'answer' when I asked "who is responsible for security updates?"
Adobe's response was "Well, since they're hidden inside an application bundle, we don't feel anyone will ever double-click on it." When I asked them if they'd ever heard of "AppleScript", they were curiously silent.
This is the exact same thing, the exact same mentality, only worse, because at least Opera, in theory, would be used multiple times over the course of using CS4 and earlier. Growl, as it stands, is used once, and then left there like a discarded burger wrapper. We know, of course, what the answer will be to "who's responsible for patches/security updates to this bit of trash you left laying about?", and it's not going to be "Adobe".
Great. Another piece of software I didn't want, that's not used by the software that installed it, left laying around because someone didn't want to take the time to either come up with an alternative to installing and then abandoning Growl, or didn't want to go through the trouble to uninstall it if it wasn't there already.
This is the kind of thing that kills what had been a good install experience. Now, instead of thinking, "Wow, that was a noticeable step up from CS4", it's yet another case of Adobe spraying my filesystem with random stuff, and refusing to clean up after themselves.
Way to keep making the same mistake over and over again.