Going beyond Flash, Adobe shows off Web tech

DreamWeaver demos reveal newer HTML and CSS technologies in action at Adobe. The company is showing more interest in Open Web technologies.

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Stephen Shankland
3 min read

Sure, Adobe Systems spends a lot of effort developing and promoting its Flash technology. And sure, a lot of the new "Open Web" technologies are a competitive threat to Flash.

But that doesn't mean Adobe isn't interested in HTML5 and CSS3--the updates to Hypertext Markup Language for describing Web pages and to Cascading Style Sheets for Web page formatting--that are two of the most important parts of that Open Web work. After all, Adobe does have its DreamWeaver product for Web site development.

Adobe demonstrated CSS3 feature in Dreamweaver that lets a Web page's format change according to what size screen is being used to view it.
Adobe demonstrated CSS3 feature in Dreamweaver that lets a Web page's format change according to what size screen is being used to view it. Adobe Systems

But there's a new sign that Adobe is taking more interest in Open Web work. Last week, it launched its Design and Web blog, written by Paul Gubbay, senior director of engineering, and Lea Hickman, senior director of product management for the Creative Suite design and Web tools, suites, and services.

So far the pair have hinted that Adobe is working on some more powerful tools for HTML5 and CSS3, with internal demonstrations of what can be done, though no promises of shipping anything anytime soon.

"Recently, we attended technology demos across our design and web products. We saw a range of prototypes, many of which were focused on new services, multiscreen authoring leveraging HTML5 and CSS3. We have been spending a lot of time internally thinking about how our tools can best support and take advantage of some of the new functionality in HTML 5, and we wanted to share a couple of early ideas with you," they said, offering a demonstration of the Canvas technology for 2D graphics through HTML5 in one post.

In another, they describe Adobe's approach to "multiscreen" authoring with CSS3--in other words, coding a Web site so that it displays correctly on a variety of different devices with different screens. We are, after all, entering the era in which browsers are in widespread use on mobile phones, e-book readers, TVs, and Apple's iPad, which notably doesn't include Flash support.

"There has been much discussion around whether or not HTML5 and CSS3 will make it easier for designers to reach new devices," the two wrote. "We think it will."

Web standards are experiencing something of a renaissance. The World Wide Web Consortium--of which Adobe is a member--has in recent years returned to HTML development after a years-long hiatus focused on XHTML 2.0 technology that didn't catch on.

And Microsoft, which also showed little interest in HTML for years, made an effort to make its current Internet Explorer 8 browser conform to Web standards, and it's begun active participation in some of those efforts. That effort is expected to increase with IE 9, the subject of a talk this week at Microsoft's Mix conference in Las Vegas.

A new version of Adobe's Creative Suite products is due to arrive soon, but these demonstrations won't be showing up in the software, the two said.

"We'd like to share some of these with you to get your feedback and see what resonates," Gubbay and Hickman said. "To be clear, we are giving you a very early view. It won't be in the next version of CS."