Photoshop Ailments

Last month I got myself a digital camera with money I’d been given by relatives for my 30th birthday (£30 each from most of them, and I have plenty of aunts and uncles on my Mum’s side). I decided I needed some decent image editing software if I’m going to sell any photographs (and since I’m out of work at a bad time of year to be an out-of-work agency van driver, and office temp agencies aren’t interested in me, I thought it was as good a money-making idea as any). At first my eyes fell on Bibble Pro, a RAW processing package you can download, of which I was aware through blogging its updates on my other blog. However, I happened to go into the computer shop in the Bentall’s department store in Kingston on Thursday when they had their last copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements for £50 (it usually costs nearer to £70), beating Bibble Pro by some margin. So after some consideration, I bought it.

I hurried home excitedly with my new purchase and opened the packaging to find the disc was knocking round in the case. I tried installing it, and it failed towards the end with an error message saying “A required file is missing”. I assumed that the missing file was in the same place as the scratch the disc had picked up from the broken lug inside the disc case, so I headed back to Bentall’s and tried to get a refund. Unfortunately the manager, who was the only person entitled to do refunds, had gone sick. So, all I could do was go up to Tottenham Court Road, where each store had a couple of boxes each at the reduced price, and get an exchange there. So I did, yesterday, and got the exchange.

Problem was, when I installed that version, the same error kept happening. I did a search on Google, and found nothing much of help, but on searching the Photoshop Elements User fora and Adobe’s own support pages and fora, I found various suggestions as to how to get round the problem. Among them were creating a new administrator’s account and installing from that, deleting various QuickTime components and installing from a “safe boot”. None of these worked. The same error came up time and again.

It turned out that the problem was my file-system being case-sensitive - an option Apple introduced into Mac OS X with this version or the previous one, presumably to make Unix users (like me) feel more at home. The Mac (and Windows) norm was the opposite - a case-insensitive but case-preserving file system, which means that you can call a file “My Document” or just “my document”, and you’ll be able to access it by any combination of upper- and lower-case you like. Whoever wrote Adobe’s installer did not take into account that some users would have case-sensitive file-systems, which meant that the software, once installed (and it was actually installed, despite the error), would not launch.

There were two solutions. Alexander Templeton, on this blog entry, suggested renaming the offending files. In the case of Elements, the offending files are actually in frameworks inside the Elements application bundle. I chose soft-linking rather than renaming: this means creating a file which points to another file, so that if you access the link file, you’ll get the other file, so that the original file remains intact. However, I won’t bother telling you how to do it, because although it got Elements to launch, it did not stay launched. It told me that my name, organisation and serial number were invalid and that it would have to quit.

The only thing I could do was to install on a non-case-sensitive file system, which I happen to have on my iPod. It still quit the installation with the “required file is missing” error. But Elements installed on my iPod, and when I tried running it, it ran without a hitch. However, the stupid installer insisted on putting Adobe Bridge (the image browser program) and the Help Center application in my normal Applications folder, on my normal case-sensitive file system - after I had told the stupid installer to put everything on my iPod. I managed to transfer Bridge and Help Center from my hard drive to my iPod, but although Bridge now works, Photoshop Elements for some reason can’t launch it (although Bridge can launch Elements).

It seems that keeping Elements on my iPod is the only way to make it work, although I still have another trick (OS X has a program called “installnametool” which tells a program which name to use to look for a framework), although I guess if Elements detects that it’s been tampered with, which is possibly why the first work-around failed, it won’t work either. I’m just really annoyed that software I paid good money for does not work properly because of a bit of sloppy coding by someone at Adobe. Of course, some would say I should stick to open-source software, in which stupid errors like this are noticed, and corrected, pretty quickly. The trouble is, not much in the open-source world can do everything Elements (let alone Photoshop itself) does, or is anything like as well-documented. From the forums, it seems that much higher-paying customers get similar results from Adobe’s software.

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