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Adobe's New Product Shows There's Life Beyond Flash

Company previews HTML5-creator Edge

Preview of Edge GUI | Courtesy: Adobe

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Whenever Adobe appears in the news, the big question is whether the company can stay relevant as its Flash technology comes under fire. More recently, however, Adobe executives have been trying to convince the world that they're not just about Flash—specifically, that they can also take advantage of the shift towards the HTML5 Web format.

The company is unveiling a big piece of its HTML5 strategy today by releasing an early version of a new application called Edge. So if companies want to create animation using HTML5 rather than Flash, well, they'll be able to buy Adobe technology to do that too.

Adobe's Paul Gubbay and Mark Anders gave Adweek a demo of Edge last month. Both of them said Flash is still the best format for gaming, media, and data-driven apps, but they acknowledged that HTML5—which is usually touted as being more lightweight and mobile-friendly—can make sense for things like display ads.

Anders emphasized that this version of Edge is less polished than the products Adobe normally releases. Technically, it's not even in the beta-testing phase yet, but Anders said it should convey the "essentials" of the product.

During the 30-minute demo, Anders was able to create a simple, animated banner ad, no coding required. Then with just a few clicks, he tweaked it, adjusting the timing of the animation and adding new images. Anders said the interface should be easy to pick up for developers and designers who have used Flash products like AfterEffects and Flash Builder, but Adobe is also hoping that Edge can reach a new audience that finds existing animation tools too complicated.

In the months leading up to Edge's planned launch in 2012, Adobe will be adding new features, Anders said, like the ability to make the animation interactive.

As for nontechnical folks who see Edge-created content on the Web, Gubbay said Adobe has a straightforward goal: They should look at the animation and say, "Oh, that's Flash."