Finally (Sigh!) – Adobe Moving Away from Flash!

Finally (Sigh!) – Adobe Moving Away from Flash!

By Ralf Skirr.

On August 1, Adobe Systems publicly added a new product to their line of web design and animation programs. It’s still in beta, and it’s named Adobe Edge.

Adobe Edge is a tool for creating website animations. It allows you to add rich motion designs to any of your HTML projects, regardless if it’s a website, desktop program, or mobile app. With Edge’s current tools and capabilities, you can effortlessly create new compositions, import popular graphic files like JPG, PNG, and GIF, and give life to existing HTML pages without messing up their underlying code.

Before anything else, I want to point out that I have never really favored Adobe Flash. Yes, it is flashy (pun intended), but it comes with several flaws, namely:

  • Bad for search engine optimization.
  • Horrible usability on standalone Flash web sites.
  • Breaks default browser behaviors (like the back button).
  • Renders invisible on an increasing number of machines, for example Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

In fact, I recommend to clients that they stay away from Flash as much as possible, and I have been doing so for years, knowing that this technology doesn’t have a bright future.

The Apple Adobe War

Apple Inc. has been in a close relationship with Adobe Systems before. However, as time passed by, a rift formed between the two.

Apple continuously motioned Adobe to develop Flash and fix its internal problems that result to Mac crashing and apps not being compatible with Apple’s mobile platforms; as a cross-platform tool, these issues are definitely unacceptable. The problem was: Adobe had been too slow in its actions.

This Apple-Adobe problem worsened and ended up in an explosive issue:

Apple completely banned Flash from iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

Apple’s top bosses have been relatively calm and tight-lipped about it, but with Adobe Systems seemingly insinuating that Apple is on the losing end, Apple simply couldn't let it slip. Finally, on April 2010, Apple’s Steve Jobs released a controversial statement called "Thoughts on Flash."

This statement pointed out not only the problems Apple Inc. is encountering with Flash but also listed reasons why people should generally stay away from Adobe Flash—the statement that has indubitably mapped the downfall of Flash.

With Edge, though, Adobe Systems seems to be trying to convince critics, myself included, that it is still the leading multimedia software provider. Adobe Edge is based on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript—Adobe’s answer to the new demands of the market and the continuous complaints against the poor performance of Flash. With this new product, Adobe Systems reaches out to markets that it can’t otherwise touch into with Flash.

Intended to be added to the Creative Suite Package, Adobe Edge features a simple drag-and-drop interface guided by a timeline. You simply drag your objects around and make your settings, and Edge transforms everything into professional HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.

As Edge uses CSS controlled by JavaScript, it offers a smooth text and graphics transitions.

As of this writing, Adobe Edge is in its beta phase. That is why Adobe is still polishing its to-do lists, aiming to allow incorporation of videos and audios alongside the graphics formats they currently handle. Nonetheless, even at its current stage, Adobe Edge already offers a great alternative for web content design. Aside from the fact that it integrates with Dreamweaver, Edge also adopts WebKit, the layout engine used by popular browsers and top corporations such as Apple Inc., Google, Amazon, and Nokia.

There is no doubt that Flash is starting to get thrown over. Nevertheless, with Edge, Adobe Systems hopes to keep their leading position and recognition among web and mobile users alike.

Adobe Edge: The Reason behind Its Creation

Adobe Systems Incorporated has always been one of the leading computer software companies. Founded in 1982, it has since grown into a global provider of computer software, with products ranging from desktop publishing, video editing and special effects software, to web design programs.

When it comes to web design programs, Adobe is most popular for Flash. Adobe added Flash to its portfolio (together with Dreamweaver) when it purchased the orignial Flash developer Macromedia Inc. back in 2005, thereby killing its own web design software ‘GoLive.’

Adobe Flash is actually a multimedia program that allows web masters to include video, animation, and other forms of interactivity on their web pages. With a lot of users, websites, and even browsers relying on Flash to run applications, allow video streaming, and leveling differences between browsers, there is no doubt why Adobe Flash has hold the position of top web content plugin for years. That is, until numerous issues, especially usability and security problems, gave it a bad reputation and alternatives came up.

So, why did Adobe Systems create Edge? If you are still wondering, here is the straightforward answer: because now there is HTML5 and CSS3!

The most important reason why Adobe Systems started to change ship and created Edge is the fact that HTML5, the successor of the HTML4 standard, has created a solid foundation with regard to structuring and presentation of content on the Internet.

With HTML5 it is possible to play audio and video without using any plugins, like the Flash plugin. Playing video has been the major reason for millions of web sites to use Flash. Now even YouTube is offering HTML5 rendered video.

With CSS3 and JavaScript, it is now possible to animate graphics and text, also without need of any plugin.

With these new alternatives for multimedia playback and animation, there is little need for resource hungry workarounds like Flash.

Why You Should Not Opt for Flash

Among the points raised by Steve Jobs, the most notable are probably that Flash doesn’t provide sufficient security and that it only prohibits developers from continuously advancing.

Security. Flash has raised concern among developers and users due to its poor performance. Not only does it make web pages load slower; it also has a tendency to crash, leaving users no choice but start working again on online projects they are handling at the time it crashes from the beginning—a big inconvenience that Adobe has yet to create an effective, permanent solution for.

Development. Flash is meant to help developers deliver top-of-the-line apps for consumers by being a cross-platform development tool. However, Adobe Flash is developing relatively slow, putting up a strict limit to which platforms certain apps can be viewed—something that opposes its supposed objectives.

The above two points are strong enough reasons for users to deviate away from Flash.

After several years, Adobe Systems fully felt the impact, prompting it to finally create an HTML-based program in the form of Adobe Edge. Contrary to Flash, Adobe Edge embraces open standards yet retains qualities like clean, crisp graphics and movements that made Flash a phenomenon before.

Future of Adobe Edge

Right now, a lot of speculations are budding around Adobe Edge. While it proves that Adobe Systems is ready to move forward and adapt to the demand for open systems, the fact that there are already several players, such as Sencha animator, that have already established tools for CSS-based animation, might make it hard for Edge to gain the recognition it aims for.

But then again, Adobe has a knack for getting attention and ahead of competition, so we can only just wait and see how Edge will be welcomed by the community.

You can downlaod the beta version of Adobe Edge here:

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