Coordinating Adobe Creative Cloud updates with Munki

We need to tightly control the version of InDesign (ID) and InCopy (IC) in use here at the newspaper. As such we disable the Apps Panel within the Creative Cloud Desktop Application (CCDA) and exclusively use Munki to install Adobe Creative Cloud applications.

Yesterday we transitioned from InDesign CC 2014 to CC 2019 in a single day and I wanted to share the details in case it might be useful to others. Read on if you are interested in how we did it.

For everything but ID and IC (typically Photoshop, Illustrator and Bridge for most users) we have a short testing window after updates are released by Adobe and then allow them to be installed through Managed Software Center (MSC) self service at the convenience of users. For a program like Photoshop it doesn’t really matter if one employee updates to the latest release right away and another doesn’t get around to it for a few months.

However this is not true for InDesign and InCopy which integrate tightly into the publishing system we use to produce the The Daily News, Coast Monthly and other publications. Pages for these products move through many departments and if one user were to upgrade before others it would create a significant compatibility disruption on deadline.

When Adobe released CC 2019 in mid-October, MacAdmins quickly discovered that we were unable to package the new releases in Creative Cloud Packager. Thankfully I already had access to the revamped Adobe Admin Console and was able to build the new packages there. After two weeks of testing I made these updates (except for ID and IC) available to users in MSC and provided instructions on how to find them and then uninstall the older releases.

After years of being held back on InDesign CC 2014 because of plugin compatibility we had been planning an update to ID CC 2018 for several months. With the release of CC 2019 I decided to see if we could skip straight to it. Surprisingly our publishing system vendor Town News reported no major issues with the new version and cleared it for use by early November.

I coordinated with the stakeholders from each department and we settled on December 10th as the date for the ID/IC switch. We waited until after the Thanksgiving holiday to announce the schedule and gave users two weeks warning. We also used this date as the deadline to upgrade all other Adobe applications to the CC 2019 releases. Key users were given early access to begin testing and thankfully no issues were encountered. Adobe threw a temporary wrench into things with their botched version numbering scheme but thankfully we got past that relatively easily as I detailed last week.

I had been planning this update for several months based around information that Patrick Fergus had shared in the #adobe channel of the MacAdmins Slack and I’m happy to report it went off without a hitch.

Yesterday morning I moved all versions of each Creative Cloud application prior to 2019 (except for one department that needs to keep ID 2015 for a specific plugin) into the managed_uninstalls section of the group manifest in Munki. I then made sure all the desktops were powered on and within a little over an hour Munki had done it’s magic and removed the old versions from the computers, in most cases before those employees arrived at the office. Users with portables were prompted by Managed Software Center to uninstall as they arrived at work.

Using MunkiReport I was able to tell that most users had already installed the core CC 2019 products and could anticipate who might need help later in the day. Thankfully, because of our detailed planning and user messaging in the lead-up, that turned out to be a non-issue and production for today’s newspaper didn’t miss a beat.

Let me know if you have used a different method to accomplish a similar transition, I’d be interested to hear how you did it.

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