Max Adobe Show

The Adobe Max Show in San Francisco this week is becoming as important to Web and Cloud Designers and Developers as the Microsoft PDF/TechEd conferences used to be for staying on the state of the art in IT development. But now it is Adobe that is moving on a three prong front that is really shaking up the Presentation Side of IT. The key elements are:
1 – Graphic Design tools Think Photoshop CS4 Extended, Illustrator CS4, Fireworks CS4, InDesign CS4, and the new “thermo” become Flash Catalyst tool that transforms Smart Objects and other Adobe graphic components from the previously mentioned design tools into Web ready screens and components for use in Adobes RIA Web tools (Flash CS4, FlexBuilder, and AIR). This is a major breakthrough hinted at already from Quark Express Interactive Designer, SproutBuilder and actively sought within the Graphic Design community looking for ways t to turn Design Layouts into running Web Interfaces. Flash Catalyst appears to be making an appearance but has alpha feel not beta.
2 – Web Development tools – Think Dreamweaver CS4, JSEclipse, and Cold Fusion 8 with Bolt, the new Eclipse-based IDE for Cold Fusion and Centaur (the 9 release of Cold Fusion)in development and testing. However there are problems here as JSEclipse has transmogrified and become Flex3 and FlexBuilder references. Likewise Dreamweaver CS4 still has not delivered a full IDE for Web development as its still lacks drag and drop Visual Page layout nor does it have an interactive debugger. The closest thing is the Dreamweaver Developer Toolbox a $299 addon. Also Dreamweaver supports only 3 of the 8-12 major AJAX frameworks – Prototype, jQuery and their own Spry Framework (see Aptana Studio for much broader AJAX library support). So it appears that Adobe is swinging the bulk of its support to its own RIA tools for Cloud and Web development.
3 – RIA -Rich Internet Application Tools – Think Acrobat Life Cycle Designer, Cocomo Social Interface Designer, Flash CS4 (major improvements on the design side here), Flex 3 and soon to appear Gumbo version 4 of Flex plus Flex Builder IDE for Flex and AIR development. AIR also will have a new version 1.5 and of course there is the new Graphic Design to Flex Layout tool – Flash Catalyst. This area is just teeming with activity, some in parallel such as AIR, Cocomo, and Flex. There are already some ruffles as it is not clear how to convert Flex projects in FlexBuilder 3 into AIR projects. But on the whole this is one of the most active and innovative areas within Adobe.

Presentation Layer Leadership

From 20 years ago among hundreds of software vendors about two dozen players survive. Of the surviving major software vendors with more than $2 billion in sales, clearly Adobe is hitching its star beyond being the dominant animation, 2D graphics, photo, and video tool supplier. And well they might as AutoCAD and Microsoft have started to add more tools and features that put each into direct competition with Adobe. So for the past 5 years Adobe has steadily improved its knitting in two arenas: precise and secure document rendering, transfer and management with its Acrobat related line of tools and a more robust position in Data Presentation with its Flash and Flash Video line of products.

This Presentation thrust has required Adobe to add more developer based features to its toolset as reflected in the rapid refinement of Flash ActionScript (Flash has, with version 3 of ActionScript, made the painful transition to JavaScript 4s full OO base well ahead of JavaScript itself and associated frameworks + tools). But also the IT community has to be impressed with the continued improvements in the Flash Player including greater security enhancements plus the emergence of the AVM2 (ActionScript Virtual Machine) that supports AIR runtimes with not only greater functionality but improved speed of operation.

So to an extent Adobes Max Show in San Francisco with its many Acrobat and RIA announcements is a coming out show – Adobe is going beyond Design to the hard task of linking Design with Development as the Presentation layer morphs yet again to RAIA delivery. It is truly Adobe to the Max.