Adobe Edge

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 9th 2012 | Discuss

A sign of the times

Adobe has opened the door to all its content creation products with its new subscription model. The company says one of the reasons it has done this is so it can introduce cool stuff as it’s ready. They can feed new technology out to users and gauge how people like it, or how they will decide to use it and then they can fine-tune it. The company has been offering new technology up for testing and comment through its labs, and it’s doing even more through subscription with bonus programs and technologies. Adobe Edge is one such product. The company has been testing it out among users for over a year. The public testing is just about done, and then Edge will be available as a product and it will be free for subscribers. Simply put, it’s a quick and dirty tool for creating animations and inter­active content for digital publications and web ads.

Edge is based on modern web standards such as HTML 5; it uses Webkit rendering engine, and the code is all nicely packaged up as CSS and Java­script ready to be placed in a website. Adobe says content created with Edge is compact and lightweight. It reminds me of the very earliest versions of Shockwave before it became Flash, back when I understood it.

Simply put, Edge is a tool that that lets anyone add animation and inter­activity to digital content. It draws from Flash, but it’s also very similar to After Effects. It’s a timeline-based tool.

Quite frankly, the first few times I had a look at Edge, I was intimidated by its very simplicity. Opening it up, it’s simply a blank page; where to start? Luckily, Adobe has added a panel that offers lessons with simple little excercises to get started.

It doesn’t take much. Basically, you put a point on the timeline where you want to go, you move things around as you want them to move, and the software creates keyframes for you. Then it’s easy enough to add enhancements. I have no doubt that people will be able to do great stuff with Edge, but in general it’s designed for fairly straightforward work. If you want to get really fancy, you’ll probably want more advanced tools.

One aspect of Edge that I love is that you can call in a website and then add animations and interactivity to elements on the site. Again, there are a lot of people out there who have very simple things they’d like to do to enliven their sites, and Edge makes it possible for them. And, the animations you create are going to work on any platform including mobile and iOS.

There are people who hate Edge, and I defer to them. Yes, you know a whole lot more about Flash, and Javascript, and god knows what other scary stuff, and you can create code that can make a website sing and dance the Hully Gully. Please continue. I love your work.

Me, on the other hand, I have a million other jobs, and making text spin into the site and wiggle is really just kind of a nice to have. Thank you very much, Adobe, I’m glad to have it. Adobe Edge enables people like me to add just a little zing to their content and go on about their day. We are legion.

Critics have complained that Edge will encourage people to ugly up their site with too many twirling widgets and bouncing text. To that I have two responses: 1. Are you kidding me? Do you even use the web? Have you seen all those dancing babies and spinning logos? That cat has left the bag, baby.
2. Never mind; see 1.

The real point that I think is interesting is that Adobe is attempting to deconstruct itself. With CS 6, there are fabulous new capabilities that take the product deeper into the professional workflow. As a result, Photoshop, Illus­trator, Premier, and After Effects are becoming more powerful. But, a product like Edge is pulling out a few core capabilities that people want to do, and it’s adding automation. At times I found myself looking for ways to fine-tune the effects, and I couldn’t find the options I wanted. This isn’t going to put any talented programmer out of work, but it is going to streamline the workflow for a huge number of people.

I believe Adobe is going to continue to offer their customers several options for getting tasks done. They’ll try and make it easy for people who have a simple objective, but they’ll have advanced tools for people who have an ambitious project in mind. The subscription model will give people access to the tools they need when they need them.—K.M.


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