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Two Thoughts On Today's Adobe MAX (2011) Day One Keynote

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Two Thoughts On Today's Adobe MAX (2011) Day One Keynote

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I'm not going to try and summarize the keynote:  you can either watch the replay at http://www.max.adobe.com/online/ or read a brief synopsis at http://max.adobe.com/news/2011/keynote_day1.html.

My first thought is actually about some news that wasn't part of the keynote, but was announced on the Internet during the keynote:  Adobe's acquisition of PhoneGapPhoneGap is an application framework that allows developers to build mobile apps using web technologies (HTML, CSS, and Javascript) and the PhoneGap API (to access particular device functions like geolocation, the camera, internal storage, etc) and then package and deploy those apps such that they work on most mobile operating systems (Android, IOS, Blackberry, and a few others).

What struck me about that news was that it means Adobe now provides two ways for app developers to develop cross-platform apps.  If a developer is already familiar with Flash and Flex development, they can build mobile apps using Flash Builder and Adobe AIR.  If the developer is more skilled with web design and programming, they can build apps using PhoneGap.  In both cases, the end result is an app that runs natively on your device of choice (IOS, Android, whatever).

First of all, it's yet another example of Adobe's willingness to support both Flash and HTML5 as development platforms going forward.  A number of tech analysts contend that Adobe's development of new tools that play nice with HTML5 is a capitulation of some kind to the way the industry is moving.  I don't see it that way: Adobe may be synonymous with Flash, but it's never been all about Flash with them.  They have always supplied the tools that the digital and web creation markets have demanded, just as any sane company would, regardless of what their internal preferences might be.

The other thing about the PhoneGap acquisition is that it will expand the number of developers using Adobe tools and technologies to create mobile apps for both Android and IOS.  And now suddenly Adobe potentially a big player in the smartphone and tablet space, not by release their own mobile OS or mobile hardware, but by providing the tools to any developer who wants to write on any and all of these platforms.  To be clear, at the moment there are certain kinds of apps or app functions that a developer would want or need to develop in native OS code, but as the Adobe tools provide ways to overcome those limitations (such as the ability to include native code extensions in Flash/AIR apps), the number of reasons for writing an app in native OS code (and hence writing a second version for deployment on another platform) are going to become fewer and fewer.

My second observation regarding the keynote concerns the suite of touch-optimized mobile apps - the Adobe Touch Apps - coming in November to Android devices and later to IOS devices.  While some of the apps are geared more towards visual designers, the Proto wireframing app is something I could use in the design phase of my web and mobile application work, and, well, who wouldn't want a touch-optimized version of Photoshop to use to mess around with their photos?

And that's when the thought occurred to me:  here were some apps that I could use to be productive with a tablet.  I'm an application developer who writes code.  I have access to two tablets and I don't use either of them to write code or generate digital content of any kind.  For me, tablets have always been digital consumption devices (something Amazon seems to recognize with their new Kindle Fire tablet) for viewing video, looking at pictures, or reading web pages or books, and kinda superfluous given I can do all that and much more with a laptop (to be clear, I do love my Nook Color as an e-reader, but I rarely use it to surf the web or anything else).

But the apps Adobe showed off today made me feel like I would in fact want to use them on a tablet, because they were designed specifically with tablets and touch-interaction in mind, not as desktop apps shrunk into a mobile form factor.  That to me is a step in the right direction, and it's apps like those that are going to grow the tablet market by making the tablet experience more compelling.

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Published at DZone with permission of Brian Swartzfager, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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