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Adobe Contribute is broken

I say this with some degree of confidence, making up in part for my lack of authority, as I’m neither a software developer, nor an avid user of Adobe Contribute. But that’s besides the point. The fact is, Adobe Contribute just doesn’t work properly because I think it’s broken.

I’ve had dealings with Adobe Contribute before. I bought version 2 ages ago and never got any real joy out it.

To me, it felt like a very typical Macromedia application (who were the developers, until being bought out by arch-rival Adobe) in that its quirkiness was an artifact of poor design and as a result, a colossal pain in the arse.

As an example of my seething contempt of Macromedia as a software developer, here’s an excerpt from an earlier rant of mine:

“Let’s face it, Macromedia software is one of the longest running beta tests in computer history.

I simply hate having to use Macromedia software. I took one look at Freehand and laughed out loud, I gave up on DreamWeaver at version two and threw my hands aloft with Fireworks shortly after … I detest using [Macromedia software] because of the utterly incomprehensible departure from the default keystrokes and user interface methodology, which Macromedia re-invent with each & every new or updated software package.

Complete and utter lack of user interface philosophy is a trade mark of Macromedia,…”


Don’t get me wrong, they’ve had some nice ideas. Problem is, they’ve been singularly incapable of delivering on those nice ideas.

And so it goes that Adobe should pick up the baton and race to make something of a silk purse from the sows ear that is Contribute. But alas, my famed love of Adobe softwares’ brilliance has left me feeling chilled to the bone.

Version four of Adobe Contribute is as detestable as those that came before it.

Let’s not contribute, let’s instead hinder things, OK?

During the mid part of last year, I won a new client, who I’ve since done a decent job of sprucing up their product web pages with a little SEO pixie dust.

Prior to my involvement, they were with some other outfit who vastly over-charged them for a very weak CMS and a website that’s a mess of largely broken and poorly-formatted HTML code.

Also, this previous agency put Adobe Contribute in the hands of the client for reasons I’m still not sure about, but that’s history.

While the website sat with the previous agency until we began the transfer away, Adobe Contribute started acting up. In the end, only one colleague could make changes without error.

I moved the website to a new server and the problems persisted, so I got in contact with Adobe technical support, who quite kindly flushed the server of all of the Adobe Contribute files (of which they were many) so we could start from scratch.

The problems persisted.

Contribute this!

After a frustrating series of slow responses and several issues involving the hosting provider losing the majority of my support tickets, Adobe’s final excuse was that the server isn’t properly configured to allow Adobe Contribute to work to its fullest (permissions required to edit files et cetera) and I get the feeling that they’ve washed their hands of the matter.

Now here’s the funny thing, and it’s a kicker, one which I’ve actually put to Adobe technical support, which I imagine they’re too embarrassed to answer to.

If I can do the self same thing that Adobe Contribute purports to do with Transmit (an excellent FTP client) and BBEdit (a bafflingly large text editor), why can’t Adobe Contribute?

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

7 replies on “Adobe Contribute is broken”

I agree with every word that you said about contributie. I have always done everything by hand, never had much of a problem, until my current client’s website, which has been created and edited for the better part of a decade in contribute. I have been using the program and it seems every day I get some new error message or some other bizarre obstacle…

Hi Matt, and thanks for the comments!

Sometimes, when you’re in the thick of web development, when things are just going wrong all of the time, you begin to wonder whether it’s you.

This is precisely how I got with Adobe Contribute.

It’s just unusable, and since then, we’re looking into using the Joomla! CMS for the website and getting away from half-hearted solutions like Adobe Contribute that are just a total waste of time…

Adobe Contribute 4 is the most frustrating product I’ve ever used. I have Macromedia Contribute 3 on a PC—no real problems. I have Adobe Contribute 4 on a Mac—nothing but headaches. It might work for one or two or five minutes, then the connection goes down—and my Mac AND PC are knocked entirely offline. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted with resetting the internet connection. Adobe’s customer/tech support has been no real help. Am I the only person with this problem? I would actually buy Contribute CS3 if I knew the problem would go away, but I tried the trial version and the same thing happened. Are there any decent alternatives to Adobe Contribute? Thanks!

Chris, you’re not alone. And it’s not just a Mac thing, either. The client I mention are having the same problems still.

We’ve tried everything and nothing works. The fact that Adobe got involved and couldn’t fix things tells you everything you need to know — just don’t use Adobe Contribute.

What I’ve done since is developed another one of my client’s websites in the Joomla! CMS (Content Management System), which the they love.

Yes, it’s more expensive because of the time involved, but with proper planning, it’s proving to be far more flexible and certainly more predictable, too…

I have had an ongoing problem with Adobe CS3. My link “Institute” will not properly line up correctly when I make changes and click on Publish. It lines up all wrong on my website. I have called tech support and after over one hour the lady could only tell me she was able to duplicate my problem but gave me nothing but double talk in how to fix it. I tried today again to get help by calling customer service after waiting 30 minutes, and he told me he would conect me with a more experienced tech person. I timed how long I was waiting after 90 minutes I gave up and humg up. This program has not worked for me, and customer service is usless. I need to talk to someone who has some real authority or I’ll have to take my business elsewhere.

Hi Gisella! Sadly, your experiences are consistent with those of many other people I’ve spoken to — Adobe don’t care Contribute is broken.

I’m sorry you’re not able to resolve your problems.

If your website is more than 10 web pages and you need to make changes on a regular basis, I suggest you explore the option of using a proper CMS (Content Management System), which I’ve done for several of my clients.

All the best!

I can sympathize! A few of the pages I created in Contribute 4 I cannot edit! The error message: “You don’t have an application to edit that type of file.” Really? Because I made them with Contribute! Do you have any suggestions for a stable CMS? The site I am using Contribute with was built in Dreamweaver. Thanks!

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