Issues With Version Cue CS4

A brief history

My company has been using Adobe Version Cue CS3 for around two years with much success. It addressed a very urgent need for us because of the way it allows Photoshop and flash files to be stored on a network server that gets backed up regularly, but still allows the end user to “check out” those files to their local hard drive. Although most people who use Photoshop in a business setting probably are used to opening a file across the network from a shared network drive, Adobe does not support that when using Photoshop. It was easy enough to ignore for a while, but when a bug in OS 10.5.3 caused us to start losing work because of corrupted files, Version Cue was the obvious choice.

When Photoshop and Flash CS4 were released and we received the DVD media in November under our Adobe maintenance contract I started investigating whether we could upgrade. It turned out that in order to use Photoshop and/or Flash CS4 with Version Cue you needed to be running the latest version of Version Cue server, which was CS4.

Version Cue CS4 server and the new Adobe drive were initially released with some major bugs that caused people who used them to lose data so they were initially disabled upon installation with the original Photoshop and Flash installation media. Adobe finally released version 4.01 Version Cue server and version 1.01 of Adobe drive, which were alleged to have solved the problems of the initial release.

What we have done

Because there were some obvious problems with the initial release of Version Cue, I set up a test server on which I installed Version Cue CS3 and restored my data from my live server. I then installed Version Cue CS4. I felt it was important to set up a test environment to verify that everything worked before making any changes to our live environment that would affect our designers or programmers.

I then configured Version Cue to use SSL since we’re using active directory/LDAP passwords. That process is documented (by me) here:

http://bit.ly/16ZUcD

We also discovered a bug in the Adobe Version Cue software that occurs only when connecting to the Version Cue Server across subnets (something that is clearly supposed to be possible according to their “features” page: http://bit.ly/18HFnS). I think it was also a bug in the way SSL was being handled accross subnets, but there have been so many that it can be hard to keep track.  Good news was that Adobe was able to find a workaround by specifying the non-SSL URL and port in the “external URL” field under advanced preferences.

We had our lead designer use the Version Cue server for several days in the test environment and we did not discover any issues aside from some obvious shortcomings when compared to the previous version of Version Cue server (which I will get into later).

It’s in production-now what?

Since we had not experienced any problems, I went through the migration process which requires migrating individual projects from Version Cue CS3 to Version Cue CS4. One thing to note, is that migrating projects with SSL enabled did not work. We also upgraded all of our Macs and all of our PCs to the latest versions of Photoshop and Flash (with all pertinent software updates). At the time our designers were salivating over the new features in Photoshop so after 4+ months of testing everyone was exciting to finally start using the new features.

We quickly discovered that despite all of our testing there was another bug with Version Cue server. We do not have a workaround for this one and unfortunately Adobe has been unresponsive in regard to whether or not they are going to fix the problem. The bug that exists causes Photoshop to stutter and not respond for anywhere from 2-10 seconds while doing simple tasks, such as selecting a layer or moving a layer, among others.

After about 10 days of fighting with Adobe support over e-mail and over the phone I finally was able to discuss my problem with a product specialist who promptly informed me that he believed the issue was that I “run SMB on my network”. Apparently, Version Cue server does not like Windows file sharing either on the server hosting the application or anywhere on the network. It’s not documented too well at Adobe, so they can’t say for sure which one it is. That’s not good since pretty much every small, medium, and large business in the world has Windows file sharing somewhere on their network.  Sure enough though, enabling SMB on my test server caused the Version Cue server to exhibit the exact same behavior as my live server. Unfortunately, removing SMB from the test server has so far not caused the problem to go away.

It should be noted that the stuttering and non-responsiveness does not occur if you do any of the following: disable version cue within Photoshop preferences, disconnect from Adobe drive, or simply work off of your desktop or any local storage. This issue also does not occur if you connect to the version cue server directly from the version cue server. I’ll get into WHY I think that is the case in a future post.

What’s next?

I will be posting a future blog entry called What’s Wrong with Adobe Version Cue – Part 1. I’ll attempt to outline all of the current problems (not necessarily just bugs) with the current release of Version Cue CS4 server. I will also provide information on how to quickly submit feedback to Adobe requesting that they fix these inexcusable bugs and bring the current release a Version Cue server up to the same feature parity as the previous release.

Stay tuned, and please leave comments if you have experienced these or any other problems with Version Cue and/or Photoshop and Flash.

10 Responses to Issues With Version Cue CS4

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  2. Jeremy says:

    Another major issue is that since the files you are working on are not really on the local machine, if you loose the network connection for whatever reason you can work on the file. While the files do exist on the local machine, they are quite difficult to access if you need to. With CS3, you still had easy access to them. Also, there is no way to see what files you have checked out. I have had connectivity issues with bridge and the only way to repair it was to remove the local database of the files i was working on but that also got rid of any updates that i had not checked in. And since there is no way to see what you have check out, disaster ensues.

  3. rdas7 says:

    I’ve never been clear how exactly Version Cue is supposed to be any better than, say, using a traditional SVN setup? I understand that Version Cue tries to cover the same functionality, but with the experience you have, my poor opinion of Adobe & Version Cue is reinforced.

    How could I, in good conscience, recommend to a client that they install or run an Adobe setup with experiences like these to warn them off?

  4. Ryan says:

    It seems as though Adobe has taken a set backwards in the development of Version Cue. Instead of making the process easier it has actually complicated how I work. Because it doesn’t really save the file “locally” anymore my fear is that the PSD’s I’m working on are subject to getting damaged or even worse deleted if there is a problem with the server. I speak first hand, as I have lost some work initially from this process.

    I really hope Adobe can open their eyes and see that people and companies do indeed use Version Cue and hopefully come up with a resolve to make it as user friendly as the CS3 version was.

  5. Ludovic says:

    Hi, i’m using VC since CS2. I’ve installed VC CS3 on a XServe, with a groupware of 3 designers on a local network + webdav access for remote users. It really worked fine. Now, as I’ve moved in another company, I’m alone on my MacBook Pro, and I’ve installed locally VC CS4. Works fine, but I’m going to install it in a customer environment, and I’m a bit afraid of all these problems.
    Are there some people enjoying VC CS4 in a network environment, or is it really impossible to use it in production ?
    Thanks

    • Doug Smart says:

      I can tell you that performance problems with Photoshop do not occur if you run version cue server and Photoshop on the same box. At least not in my experience. That was one of the things that Adobe had me test and because it worked fine they thought the performance issues were related to the SMB bug.

      If you are installing for a client I would definitely stay away from version cue CS4. aside from the performance issues, the likelihood of losing data and the general support headaches of having to delete the Adobe drive database every so often just to get Adobe drive to connect to the server are not worth the headaches. I still think the best bet is to submit feedback requests to Adobe to get them to fix this version.

  6. Rodney says:

    I updated CS4, the result was tI have CS3 &CS4 and when hat it shut down both versions when I pick a picture file to enhance. It turns it completely off after displaying version cue module cannot be located. I WIPE my hard drive to use the programs again and NOT update so I can keep on working. No response from Adobe. What a rip!

  7. brian says:

    Version Cue CS4 is a disaster. After a week from hell, realizing that it wasn’t us… that it was the application. We switched back to CS3.

    Good news is that have been able to use Version Cue CS3 with all of our CS4 applications. The only drawback is that it isn’t integrated with the actual applications. For example, in Flash you have to uncheck Enable Version Cue or else you’re in trouble.

    But is saves to the server and we check-out and check-in files without incident. I’m still in awe that Adobe had destroyed an excellent application (VC CS3) and has done nothing to resolve the issues of VC CS4.

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  9. I was experiencing this stutters and pauses even when running Photoshop and Version Cue Server on the same machine.

    After wrestling with this and getting no answer on the Adobe Forums I ran Adobe Updater manually. There were pending updates for both PS CS4 and VC CS4. I hadn’t checked manually because I’d seen Adobe Updater running in the dock once a week or so, but apparently Adobe Updater is not reliable and there were months of updates and bugfixes. I don’t know which fix fixed my issues, but 90% of the stuttering and pauses were fixed by applying these updates. There’s still a pause when switching from Full Screen to Standard Mode, but not in the middle of drawing or during other operations.

    It may not be helpful to anyone’s particular situation, but the key here is: do not trust Adobe Updater to let you know when there are updates. Run it manually, especially if you’re experiencing some sort of troubles.

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