I'm on the cutting edge! Oh, wait, I just nicked myself...

Near the beginning of March, while working on a commission to lay out a book for a client, I encountered a frustrating problem with Adobe InDesign.

It took me a little while to trace the problem to InDesign, but I eventually figured out that whenever I loaded the program, my Apple MacBook Pro was doomed to crash. Either, after working anywhere from ten to thirty minutes on InDesign, the spinning beachball of death would appear, and then the spinning beachball of death would stop spinning (an even worse sign), and my computer would become utterly unresponsive. The clock would stop ticking. The haptic feedback in my trackpad would cease to work. The display would freeze, and not shut off, even if I shut and opened my computer.

The only way to get out of this situation was to hold the power bar down for ten seconds, shutting down the computer hard.

Even more alarming is what sometimes happened after I’d finished my work on InDesign and shut down the program. Eventually, my computer would develop graphic faults. Dropdown menus would become completely transparent, and Finder windows would be squares of black. As it’s hard to shut down your computer in this situation, this sometimes necessitated a hard shut down as well.

As the programs that were open during a crash tended to re-open, the only way to prevent this from reoccurring was to close InDesign and immediately restart my computer. Only then would I get trouble-free operation.

As you can imagine, this was terribly frustrating, and I believe the reason I did not lose any serious work on InDesign is that I retain my paranoid “SAVE EVERY CHANCE YOU GET” mentality that I developed during my time with Windows Me.

Fortunately, I subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, and so I was able to log into their support forums and write a post describing my situation and asking what could be done. I did this, and my post… sat there for about a week. No one answered. I supplied an update and a crash report, and I did get the attention of a good soul at Adobe who took on my problem and did his best. However, despite all the steps we took, he was unable to get the problem to repeat on his machine.

It’s important to note, at this point, that I was using a public beta version of MacOS Sierra, 12.4. I’ve since stopped with the public betas, but I do get a thrill of being on the cutting edge. Well, earlier this week, Apple moved version 12.4 of MacOs Sierra from beta to public release, and within a couple of days, my post on the Adobe forum got a lot of attention. Post after post of people saying, “Yup, got this problem too!” and “I just upgraded to 12.4, and InDesign is crashing like crazy.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we’ve found our culprit. Extra fortunately, around the same time, Adobe came up with an easy workaround that appears to have solved the issue (disabling the GPU Performance setting under Preferences).

But a few thoughts: one, to stand silently with a problem for weeks, and then to have that problem echoed by literally dozens of individuals is really quite vindicating. Two: what the Hell, Apple? What did you do? And, three, I’m surprised that the people in Adobe don’t work with Apple’s upcoming betas, as they didn’t catch this issue, I did, much to my surprise, and I’m shocked that I was practically the only one for a while. I would have thought Adobe’s development community was somewhat larger than that…

Oh, well. Live and learn…

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