Adobe and App Development: Our ethos to developing tools for mobile app development

Image via Adobe

Today’s guest post is by Rich Lee, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Adobe Creative Cloud Web Products

Adobe has a long history of being involved with the development and advancement of the Web, and has led the vision of a more creative online design surface with breakthrough interactivity. With scalable vector graphics (SVG), Adobe initiated creative vector graphics for the web that are now critical in a world of high resolution mobile devices and the applications that have become so popular on them.

Today’s world is different than it was even a few years ago. Adobe addresses this with focused, task-oriented tools and a lean development process to validate and iterate on the tools to incorporate feedback quickly.

But how do we make that possible? Because of the ever-changing landscape in Web standards, app and gaming development, we released experimental tools and prototypes quickly on what we call Adobe Labs. And since that process of agile, iterative development worked so well, we’ve made it a fundamental aspect of our Creative Cloud offering – rapid fixes and improvements based on real user feedback and reports.

By fostering a collaborative software development process with our customers, an agile development environment allows creative professionals to get access to new products and technologies faster, and lets Adobe teams respond and incorporate early feedback, shaping software in a way that exceeds the needs and expectations of the community.

This process has led to the public availability of prerelease software and technologies, sample projects and best practices to accelerate the learning curve of existing tools, early releases of products, forums, wiki-based content and other collaborative resources that give direct access to Adobe developers.

A fitting example of our development success can be seen in the growth of our Edge Tools & Services, particularly Adobe Edge Animate. After sneaking an experimental prototype of Edge Animate at MAX 2010, we released Preview 1 publicly less than a year later, on Aug. 1, 2011. We really didn’t know how it would be received, but the response was overwhelming — there were 70,000+ downloads on the first day, and major attention from the press. However, the most surprising aspect was that users were already showing off what they made within the first 12 hours of launch. It was incredible and encouraging knowing that people had downloaded Preview 1, figured out how to use it, and posted their work on production sites in less than a day.

Preview 1 was just a glimpse of what Edge Animate is today. It only had a single timeline and couldn’t handle user interactions at all. Just about the only thing you could do with it was create a static, linear animation. There was concern that people would look at the tool and write it off as too basic or primitive for real-world use.

However, we made a conscious decision to release early and often, taking in user feedback to help us improve it. In just over a year, we released six more previews. Since its introduction we have seen Edge Animate develop transparently and evolve into a pro-grade Web design tool with help from the community. Today Edge Animate is used for a wide variety of high quality, production sites including a new companion site for the Rush movie.

Even further, we’ve seen Edge grow from a single tool to a whole family of products, Edge Tools & Services, to address a wide range of developer needs. That includes Edge Reflow, our tool that makes it easy to create responsive web content visually using standard CSS and media-queries. Reflow started in preview mode one year ago and has benefitted from feedback over the past year that has allowed us to improve its cutting edge responsive design technology.