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On Monday, Adobe announced Edge, software for developing interactive content and animations using the open Web standard HTML5. Since this standard competes directly with Adobe’s Flash, which can also be used to create multimedia content but requires a browser plug-in, some see this as a sign that Flash’s days are numbered.

But Adobe is far from abandoning Flash, and by offering tools for developing with HTML5, it could help maintain its position in Web development. Edge also highlights some of the things that Flash can do, but HTML5 still can’t.

In many ways, Edge mimics Adobe’s existing development tools for Flash. It offeres the same method of editing animations as Flash development tools do, making it easier to compose and edit animations. In its current beta version, however, animation is about all Edge does, whereas Flash can be used to create interactive content, and video as well.

Ironically, Adobe’s release of an HTML5 tool illustrates Flash’s ease of use. HTML5’s support for video and audio is still inferior to Flash’s, and HTML5 is nowhere near being able to support the kind of games widely available in Flash, says Al Hilwa, director of application development software research at industry analyst IDC. “Designers are finicky, so there’s going to be a subsegment of Flash developers who will hang on until HTML5 evolves until it’s where Flash is today,” he says.

Adobe’s commitment to HTML5 has surprised many people. The company has pushed hard to promote Flash in the face of resistance, most notably from Apple, which doesn’t allow Flash on either the iPhone or the iPad. Yet conversations with outside developers, and with Adobe itself, reveal a counternarrative: Adobe doesn’t make money on Flash; it makes money on the tools for developing Flash content. The company has long been opportunistic about jumping to whatever platform developers favor.

“Adobe can’t dictate what technology people use,” says Devin Fernandez, product manager of Adobe’s Web Pro group. “But we know that what we can do is optimize our tooling for whatever people want to use.”

When it comes to jumping to whatever technology is hottest, “I’d say they have a great track record in that regard,” says Martijn Laarman, senior developer at Dutch Web development studio Poort80. Flash began life as FutureSplash, which was created to compete with Macromedia’s Shockwave plug-in. Macromedia later acquired FutureSplash, dumped Shockwave, and was itself acquired by Adobe.

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Credit: Adobe

Tagged: Computing

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