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Adobe hastens release of HTML5 developer tool

Only three weeks after releasing Dreamweaver CS5, it releases an update to add support for HTML5. It's not Flash or nothing at Adobe.

Even as opposition mounts against Adobe Systems' Flash technology, the company is showing Wednesday it's working hard to ensure it's not the only arrow in its Web programming quiver.

At the Google I/O conference, Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch is expected to announce the release of an HTML5 update to Adobe's Dreamweaver tool for creating Web sites. HTML5, a still-developing revision to the Web page standard, is a key part of the threat to Flash, but Adobe is indicating it's willing to embrace the alternative.

In March, Adobe started demonstrating a CSS3 feature in Dreamweaver that lets a Web page's format change according to what size screen is being used to view it.
In March, Adobe started demonstrating a CSS3 feature in Dreamweaver that lets a Web page's format change according to what size screen is being used to view it. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Adobe has been telegraphing its interest in HTML5 and CSS3, a related new version of the Cascading Style Sheets standard for Web page formatting. But evidently the priority on such work is rising. After Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs trashed Flash, Lynch said , "We're going to try and make the best tools in the world for HTML5."

Earlier evidence emerged in March with Adobe demonstrations of CSS3 to handle screen size variation and of an HTML5 feature called Canvas for 2D graphics. At the time, Adobe said, "It won't be in the next version of CS," but now, just three weeks after the release of Dreamweaver CS5, the team is showing a faster response.

Adobe heard such an "overwhelming response" to the HTML5 and CSS3 demos from March "that we decided to roll it out after CS5," said Lea Hickman, senior director of product management in Adobe's Creative Solutions business, in an interview. "The excitement around HTML5 and all it brings is really exciting. Dreamweaver has a huge opportunity to help that move forward even faster. One thing missing now around HTML5 is great tooling."

As is apparent from Adobe's Flash-defending ad campaign, it's not an either-or situation where Adobe will support only one of the two technologies.

The HTML5 update will be available on the Adobe Labs site. The update itself will let Web developers see and manage HTML5 coding without the software being baffled by the new syntax and options, Hickman said. In addition, the update includes a new version of the WebKit browser for live previewing of Web projects under development.

But it's also clear that Adobe would like to be more of a leader and less of a follower when it comes to HTML5.

"We do participate in W3C [the World Wide Web Consortium that helps oversee HTML5 development] and sit on the HTML5 committee. I think that one of the things we should do is be more of a driver," Hickman said. "There's been a lot of drama around it. We have a team of folks who participate today, and I imagine they'll participate even more in the future."

With so much activity with Web standards, Adobe will have to work hard to keep up with the new specifications. But Hickman prefers that to stagnancy.

"Not much has happened with HTML for a number of years, and HTML5 does provide a lot of excitement about how we can move the Web forward," she said. "HTML5 is a chance to focus on HTML again."