The ITAM Review

News, reviews and resources for worldwide ITAM, SAM and Licensing professionals.

Using ISO tags to manage Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Acrobat 9 and Creative Suite 4 were the first products to take advantage of ISO/IEC 19770-2 tags.

The new Creative Cloud subscription offering from Adobe also includes swid tags.

Adobe define tags as :

“Software tagging is the process of maintaining a set of tag files (.swidtag) on a client machine to determine the installation and license state of various software products. A software tag file is an XML file that contains information for identification and management of software products. The tag format that Adobe utilizes is the ISO/IEC 19770-2:2009.”

“Installation” state is particularly useful from a security point of view, but for the purposes of SAM we’re interested in this point:

“For asset management, an administrator can run a SAM tool that scans the tag files on the client machine and parses them for analysis and reporting.”

Adobe admits that

“Identification of standard Creative Suite application installs compared to Creative Cloud subscription based applications can also be difficult.”

Since Adobe Creative Cloud is not really a cloud offering but a normal install with cloud registration/management we can also use ISO-2 tags to track Creative Cloud variants and differentiate them from traditional perpetual Adobe installs.

It is possible to differentiate between Creative Suite and Creative Cloud using the XML tag (using the human eye or a SAM tool which handles -2 tags). However a serious limitation of using -2 tags with Creative Cloud is a tag is not installed for every installation. The example used by Adobe is that if Photoshop and Dreamweaver were installed as part of Creative Cloud only one tag would be installed. Close but no cigar…

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So in summary, whilst -2 tags are a great way to validate and support your existing data sources (such as add/remove programs or SAM tool software recognition libraries) it is not advisable to use them in isolation for Adobe.

The screenshots below show Flexera Flexnet Manager for Adobe picking up -2 tags XML data and layering the information within their own install library information. The screenshots were taken during a review of Flexera’s Adobe license management capabilities for a feature to be published soon (we also looked at 1E and License Dashboard).

Further Reading


Flexera Flexnet Manager for Adobe


Flexera Flexnet Manager for Adobe


About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource and community for worldwide ITAM professionals.

Martin is also author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management.

On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. Monkey says:

    What software Martin you use? it looks awesome in details.

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