Articles Tagged ‘Adobe’

Adobe’s Acquisition of Nitobi and TypeKit: Great for them, not so much for us

Adobe has done the unthinkable, it’s actually bought two companies worth giving a crap about. Nitobi, makers of PhoneGap, and TypeKit, pioneers of the CSS3 web-font game, have been acquired by Adobe.

Adobe should be thrilled.

It’s now got two sets of highly skilled developers with great ideas and good products to work with. TypeKit is an obvious acquisition as it’ll be part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud offering that gives them the ability to use (and sample) a huge range of fonts across their apps.

Adobe have also promised that PhoneGap will remain open source, being donated to the Apache Software Foundation. This feels strange, as then Adobe just gets the developers at Nitobi themselves (who are obviously very good). This begs the question: why did Adobe bother with it?

Well, Adobe is a tools company – they make programs that we make other cool things with. Nitobi was also a tools company, making PhoneGap, that lots of people made cool things with. Alongside the PhoneGap framework, there were two smaller projects, PhoneGap Build and Cordova.

PhoneGap Build

PhoneGap Build takes the pain out of making PhoneGap apps for multiple platforms. If you’ve ever tried to do a build for iOS, Android and Blackberry, you know it’s a world of pain and about 10GB of tools and frameworks. PhoneGap Build takes this all away from you, and is a service that Adobe can integrate into their Cloud offering.

Cordova is the stand-alone desktop equivalent of PhoneGap Build. It’s creator, Brian LeRoux, recently said:

All the cli tooling prototyped in Cordova now first class in phonegap/[ios|android]. Time to update Cordova.

I take this to mean that Cordova is back in focus, and Adobe will be actively looking to integrate it into DreamWeaver, in the same way it integrated jQuery Mobile.

We should be wary

Adobe’s track record for mergers is not great. The Macromedia merger led to a focus on Flash and Photoshop, whereas other products like DreamWeaver and Fireworks were not given the time that they deserved. Lots of people lost their jobs in that merger too and I’d hate to see that happen to the guys at Nitobi or TypeKit.

We have to watch out for rising prices and being forced to buy products that we don’t need. I can see it already: with PhoneGap integrating with DreamWeaver, the easiest way to build a PhoneGap app will be with that product or Build. Yesterday, those in the PhoneGap Build program were sent a pricing structure:

PhoneGap Pricing Announcement

PhoneGap Pricing Announcement

I can see these prices going up, and up (and they’re not that cheap to begin with). One build a day with the free package probably isn’t enough. I hope the same doesn’t occur with TypeKit, or people will just move to one of the other services that exist (Fonts.com for example).

The other danger is that somewhere down the line, these products that many have come to rely upon will simply cease to exist. Merged so deep into Adobe’s pipeline, the one thing that made them great, their independence, is stripped from them and the revolutions that they make simply slow down and stop. With the core of PhoneGap, we’ve been promised that they’ll actually have more time for it and I hope this continues for as long as possible. What I’d hate to see is the core being neglected in favor of tools for products that I don’t want to buy.

Fingers crossed that Adobe will really make something good this time, and that their commitment to the web and web standards continues, but I won’t be holding my breath.

Executive Summary: Flash vs HTML5

Flash CS5 boxSo, infamously, the iPhone OS doesn’t support Flash, encouraging its users to use the advantages of the webkit-based Safari to overcome any challenges that a lack of Flash can present. Last year, Adobe announced that in Flash CS5, you’d be able to convert it to run on the iPhone. In April, with a revised iPhone developer agreement, Apple put the brakes on, saying only apps written in one of three languages would be accepted on the App store. Adobe’s solution would compile directly to the CPU bytecode, hence being illegal.

Adobe weren’t too pleased about this, yet launched the product anyway, hoping Apple would change its mind. Since then, Steve Jobs wrote an open letter, explaining their position, claiming six points:

  1. Flash is closed source (like the iPhone), HTML5 is open
  2. Flash is the number one cause of crashes on OS X
  3. Flash is not designed for touch
  4. Need to maintain app quality on the store
  5. HTML5 can do everything that Flash can
  6. Battery life suffers

In the letter, there’s a bit of pretending that the iPhone is the only phone in the market, but otherwise, in my opinion, it’s accurate.

Adobe’s response was somewhat deluded; laughing that Flash wasn’t an open platform (someone should break the news to Adobe’s CEO) and saying that Flash 10.1 will ship to mobile devices later this year, focusing on multi-platform development. Adobe’s CEO also points that Apple’s developer restrictions are cumbersome and have nothing to do with the technology.

Even worse for Adobe, Microsoft has weighed in, saying HTML5 is the future of the web.

So, who’s on the right side? I believe that Apple have got it right this time, even implementing a half-finished specification is better than a platform that Apple have no control over, especially when the user experience is so important for the iPhone’s success. HTML5 genuinely can do everything Flash can, and do it all on hardware. It goes beyond Flash with geo-location and JavaScript access to more hardware features like the accelerometer and camera.

Personally, Adobe needs a re-think of their strategy. Flash enjoyed enormous success as a video player (thanks to YouTube) but they should have seen HTML5 coming. It’s been on the cards since the first iPhone in 2007 and Adobe has done through an entire release cycle (CS5) with little though for HTML5. If they’re smart, which they are, Flash CS6 will be able to create SVG graphics and Canvas apps using web databases and fonts, having Flash fallbacks for non-HTML5 capable browsers. Dreamweaver will have HTML5 structure tags available and Illustrator and Photoshop will do SVG too.

If Adobe don’t keep up with developers, the devs will simply find other tools to use. Adobe can avoid this, and it’s in their hands.