Adobe announced today that it was ending their Edge Tools and Services experiment. I use the term experiment, as these products were built as part of a transition period for Adobe, shifting away from the Flash Platform toward a web platform stack. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the early development of many of these tools (as an Adobe Community Professional), but their usefulness as stand-alone elements was always troublesome.
For example, there was never a simple workflow to take your Edge Reflow work into a larger web project. Nor was it easy to fully interact with Edge Inspect from your system and devices.
But these experiments did lead to some tangible enhancements in Adobe’s main product lines. The responsive media query tool in Dreamweaver CC is a direct result of the groundwork laid by Reflow. The device preview features in PhotoShop and Illustrator are based in part on Edge Inspect.
But the mother of the Edge Tools and Services was Edge Animate (for those who remember, it was just Edge at first). EA was a interesting tool, focusing on animating the DOM rather than just painting to the HTML canvas. The timeline explored new ideas for animation control. Part of its appeal was that it was not Flash, which carried a dreaded (and partially unwarranted) stigma for many. But like all technologies, the web and its tools evolve. Although you could create some incredibly rich and interactive animations, EA never seemed to fit in. That Flash Professional app kept evolving as well, supporting more formats as publishing options (Canvas, WebGL, OAM). Take a look at last year’s Adobe MAX conference, and you can see that Flash’s animation roots were still strong and growing (judging by the number of sessions).
I have given several web animation talks, and could never quite explain how both tools fit under the Adobe umbrella. With today’s announcement, I will no longer be faced with that issue. Edge Animate’s development has been ended. It is still available as part of your CC subscription (heck, Fireworks is still there!), so you can continue to use it on your projects. However, as the web evolves with new browsers, standards, and libraries, EA will not be updated.
In its place, we can turn to Animate, the renamed Flash Professional. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Flash has really returned to its roots as a first class animation tool and is now reborn.
Now, designers can use a tool that they are all probably comfortable with, without worrying about backlash from managers or clients who didn’t understand that the tool was more than just a SWF creator.
I am looking forward to exploring
Flash’s Animate’s new future as part of my design toolkit. To all those at Adobe who worked on these products, thanks for the efforts and experiments.