Adobe 'Edge' Tool Could Replace Flash With HTML5

Adobe Systems today released a preview version of an HTML5 development tool called Adobe Edge. The tool will allow Web developers to build those “little beautifully designed jewels on the Web featuring animations,” Devin Fernandez, Adobe Group product manager, told PCMag last week.

The work on Edge, which is available for developers to download from the company’s Adobe Labs site, is something of an acknowledgement by the premier design software house that the Web is moving away from Flash. It is instead focusing on open-standard HTML5 and its many sub-standards, which are capable of creating the same effects in a non-proprietary manner via compliant Web browsers, without a plug-in.

Adobe has made Edge available to developers far earlier than it usually does, even before the beta stage, because of the evolving nature of HTML5 and its support in current browsers. This will allow the company to quickly address feedback from testers. Fernandez told us that Edge was “not even close to feature complete.” Where possible, monthly updates will be issued. He also said that the final release would come some time in 2012.

Edge has a definite focus on the mobile Web—the fastest growing segment of Internet use—as shown in the tool’s inclusion of the WebKit browser engine, which powers today’s dominant mobile platforms: Apple iOS, Android, WebOS, and Blackberry. Despite this focus, the tool will also be able to create content for traditional desktop browsers that support HTML5, such as Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 9, and Safari.

Edge uses the timeline development metaphor that will be familiar to longtime Flash programmers. Adobe Fellow Mark Anders showed us the ease with which a company logo animated with text could be created and embellished in a matter of minutes. But the tool’s output has nothing to do with Flash, instead generating HTML5 constructs such as SVG, JSON, and CSS3 to realize the animations. During the development process, coders can see exactly what output will look like, in a WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) view.

“Over the last year Adobe has delivered on several significant HTML5 milestones including contributions to jQuery, submitting code to WebKit, and enhanced HTML5 output in Creative Suite 5.5,” said Paul Gubbay, vice president of Design and Web Engineering at Adobe. “Now, with Adobe Edge, we’re taking our HTML5 tooling to a whole new level and look forward to getting some really useful feedback from the community over the next few months, as we refine the product.”

Pricing, and an exact release date, has not yet been determined, according to Fernandez.