April 20, 2005

Adobe Meets Macromedia Meets The Future

Well, if you haven't heard, Adobe's buying Macromedia. Brings a little twitch to my left eye every time I hear it. Any time any large company buys out it's direct competitor, it's not good for the consumer. Less choice basically means less choice; if you don't like something company A does, there's no B to fall back to. Also, it usually means some products which formally were available, won't be "cost effective", so they'll be gone.

The rumors are already flying, with "What's going to happen to <INSERT FAVORITE PROGRAM HERE>?" being the big rumors. No one knows, I doubt that anyone's going to know for months. So relax, and don't worry yet.

But, if you must guess, here's my thoughts on the subject. First, Freehand users are hearing the death toll for their favorite program. I suspect that they're right to worry; Illustrator and Freehand are twins, and the new company won't keep both. But, on the good side, the two programs did compete quite handily with one another, and because of that, both have much the same feature set. So whichever wins, chances are likely the winner will have it all. After that, without the competition between Freehand and Illustrator, I'd guess that it will slowly lose relevance and become the new company's Fontographer.

Flash is also a big question: it's arguably the biggest Macromedia asset, and the least like everything else Adobe has. I'm betting Adobe bought Macromedia *because* it's web design portfolio was weak, and saw buying Macromedia as a solution to getting a better hold on web design. It's not really about WYSIWYG HTML programs, either (Pagemill was a great program, and Adobe could build a great WYSIWYG tool without buying a company, no matter what GoLive says about Adobe). While there's nothing wrong with Dreamweaver, it's just not a factor. The majority of what I've seen is that web page designers either design in Photoshop/Fireworks/Illustrator, and then code pages using text editors or IDEs, or designers work with Flash, and that's the end of that.

Despite Tim Bray's opinion that people using Flash should move to DHTML/AJAX -- which I'd like to see, even if it's not going to happen -- the opposite is happening. Two reasons: first, once designers found out they could design with animations, it was all over; they're not going to go back. Second, the most current development is now in richer applications, not individual applications. You'll note Tim Bray talked about AJAX, as well he should. AJAX is a great tool for building fast *applications*, not web pages. Project which are appearing are all about web apps, and not web pages. One way to go is AJAX; but a number are also going towards Flash, because Flash can build fast, effective front ends which do much of what AJAX is promising (XML data transfers as needed, rather than stateless, constantly reloading web pages.) As tools which bridge the gap between SWF and Java/PHP/Perl/what have you, become more common, I expect *more* Flash stuff, not less.

Posted by Ted Stevko at April 20, 2005 02:16 AM