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Does Adobe Edge Mean the End of Flash – and Did the Software Maker Cave to Apple?

Posted on the 03 August 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Does Adobe Edge mean the end of Flash – and did the software maker cave to Apple?

Apple's Steve Jobs. Photo credit: Acaben

This week, digital media software company Adobe debuted a new web development tool called Edge, allowing designers to build animation into websites, games, adverts, and mobile apps using the programming language HTML5 instead of Adobe’s own Flash platform. The tool will be released as a pre-beta platform, essentially a free download available to web designers in exchange for feedback on its functionality; the official launch will come next year.

The move is widely being seen as an attempt to keep Adobe at the cutting edge of web design, as the developer community increasingly prefers HTML5 to the older Flash standard – and as a capitulation to the hegemony of Apple. Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously refused to let Flash run on Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, meaning that Adobe was effectively shut out of all iPhone and iPad development and signalling a fight between the two tech companies. As the mobile web continues to expand, the launch of Edge suggests that Adobe may be agreeing with those that say HTML5 is the future.

  • The Apple effect? Steve Jobs has been very critical of Flash, especially for mobile platforms, and of Adobe’s refusal to adopt the HTML5 standard. In an open letter from April 2010, he explained the many reasons why Apple does not allow Flash to run on its mobile devices, claiming that Flash is “closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn’t support touch based devices.” He characterised Flash as an old-fashioned standard suitable for PCs but inadequate for modern, mobile and touchscreen interfaces. “Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future,” he suggested. One year later, it seems that Adobe has taken his advice on board: Said Adam Clark Estes as The Atlantic Wire, “Though they only offer three letters to acknowledge that their new software will work on iPhones and iPads–a quick mention of ‘iOS’ in the list of compatible systems–the company’s explanation for building the new design software sounds almost like an agreeing reply to Steve Jobs’ blog post.”
  • The end of Flash? Some commentators have seen Edge as a death knell for Flash, or at least an effort to keep Adobe relevant in a world that doesn’t really need Flash. “HTML5 is a Web standard, and Adobe Flash is a proprietary development platform. That alone should eventually dictate that HTML5 will surpass Adobe Flash and reign as the dominant platform for Web-based animation and interactive content,” argued PC World‘s Tony Bradley. Gizmodo‘s Kat Hannaford agreed, claiming she “wouldn’t be surprised if this kills Flash forever in the long run.”
  • Not the end of Flash. However, Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb took a more balanced look the future of web development. “Although battles make for good headlines here in the world of tech journalism,” she explained, “it’s not really an either/or scenario when it comes to the ‘Flash vs. HTML5 conundrum’ in the professional world. For today’s Web designers and developers, both technologies are still used.”

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