Developers react to Adobe's Macromedia buy

Designers, developers express mix of optimism and apprehension about merger. Companies post FAQ to allay concerns.

Adobe Systems' proposed acquisition of Macromedia took software developers by surprise, stirring a mix of apprehension and optimism about the fate of the joined companies and their respective software titles.

While the $3.4 billion acquisition may not set any records in terms of its size, it marks the end of one era and the beginning of a new one for Web developers and designers who have watched Macromedia and Adobe increasingly compete for their loyalty over the years.

Concern among developers centered on Adobe's historical focus on graphic designers.

"What's going to happen to the Macromedia developer base?" wondered Jesse Ezell, software architect with Activehead, a consultancy in Joplin, Mo., that helps organizations build their own Macromedia Flash-based tools. "Adobe is a designer-focused company, and designers have a much different set of requirements than developers. Macromedia has tried to capture more developers, but will Adobe keep that focus?"

Adobe and Macromedia have tried to allay concerns by posting answers to "frequently asked questions" about the deal.

"This transaction will benefit customers across all segments the two companies serve--creative professionals working with Web, print and video; application developers; business users and enterprises; the mobile ecosystem, hobbyists and consumers," the companies wrote. "Combining the passion, creativity and operational excellence of two leading-edge companies will allow us to better serve customers by accelerating innovations that change the way that people everywhere are experiencing and interacting with information."

In the answers posted, developers got ambiguous answers to the questions many are now asking in discussion forums and blogs: Will the application I rely on still be around after the acquisition closes--and for how long?

"I'm concerned about all the smaller Macromedia developments that have come up through the past couple years--Flex, Breeze, Contribute, FlashPaper," wrote one discussion group participant. "What's going to happen to all these little gems? You can definitely kiss Freehand and Director goodbye now, and I was just getting back into Director since it incorporated JavaScript. Dreamweaver is probably the toughest one to call."

Developers rooted for some titles and hoped for the replacement of others.

"As a user of both companies' products, I hope Adobe acquired Macromedia to have Dreamweaver replace GoLive, and I hope Photoshop will come to replace Fireworks," said B.K. DeLong, a Web developer for Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare Project. "Hopefully, Adobe will be smart and recognize the market share of Dreamweaver in addition to realizing what a powerful tool it is for Web developers."

In their FAQ, the companies tried to reassure developers and

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