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Adobe Edge to Replace Flash?

January 31, 2012

I have been working with a preview (currently in beta preview 4) of Adobe’s new HTML5 WYSIWYG authoring software Edge.  It’s an open beta so if you would like to get your own hands dirty check here.  If you’re familiar with Flash you should feel right at home with Edge even though, understandably, Edge is nowhere near as feature rich as Flash at this point.  Right now the reps at Adobe are claiming that Edge is being developed to coexist alongside Flash.  At this point in time I can certainly understand since the HTML5 specification will not be completed for another eight years or so.   If everything goes according to plan we can expect a full, commercial release of Edge in late 2012.

But why release an authoring tool for a yet to be completed web specification?

Well, Flash is dead.  Of course, that’s just my opinion but one that many others share.   In fact, you can probably count me as jumping on the “Flash is dead” train rather late.  This wasn’t easy for me to admit at first.  I fell in love with and have been a huge evangelist for Flash from the very beginning.  Sure, Flash is going to be around for a bit longer, limping along, gasping for breath until it goes the way of the floppy disk but make no mistake; Flash is dead.  It just doesn’t know it yet.   Once HTML5 is more finalized (or some other, as yet-to-be created technology comes in to play) there will just be no need for Flash.

I had a brief discussion with a co-worker a few weeks back and was asked why can’t Adobe just “fix” Flash to have it work on mobile devices like it should (i.e. not suck battery life like a starving energy vampire and provide adequate security).  The answer is simple.  Flash was written before the mobile revolution and therefor absolutely no thought was given to power constraints.  Flash output was always meant to be served up through a desktop computer that was plugged in to the wall providing a never ending supply of juice to enable whatever snazzy application or animation you cooked up.  Because of its very core API, no amount of rewiring can “fix” what Flash is – or does.

We all know about the Adobe/Apple scuffle regarding Flash when Steve Jobs basically had to dump a big bucket of reality on Adobe’s head.  In fact, we can probably thank this very public and embarrassing (for Adobe) back and forth for bringing us Edge, or at least getting it earlier rather than much later.  Adobe’s steadfast refusal to accept admit what Flash is, and more importantly what it isn’t, pretty much left them with a black-eye and looking behind-the-times.  With the release of Edge, Adobe may just get that namesake back in terms of web motion, application and interaction design – an edge.

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