Adobe Edge First Impressions

Adobe has just released a new product to its labs, that promises Flash-like animations using nothing but standard Web technologies (HTML5, CSS3, JS).  Edge, as it is dubbed, is being provided as a “developer preview”, not to be confused with an alpha or beta product (let me know if you know the difference).  You can download it free of charge from Adobe’s lab site.

Ok, I’ve now played around with Edge enough to have some initial impressions:

  • as with most Adobe products, the IDE is very slick and easy to use and is reminiscent of their Flash IDE
  • I was able to create impressive animations in literally minutes (like, count-on-one-hand minutes); this is just not possible using the alternatives that existed before Edge (i.e., hand coding)
  • as impressive as it is, I’m not sure of its applicability, other than putting together some slick demos, marketing materials, or ads; at this point I don’t see it being used much in RIA development; unfortunately, I can certainly foresee a whole slew of “Edge enabled” website animations coming our way, just as we saw in the earlier days of Flash… warning: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!
  • the animations tend to be choppy; so, I became curious and looked ‘under the hood’ – it’s using jquery, their own javascript library for DOM manipulation, and CSS transforms; but their code may not employ the most efficient methods for transitions and animations – I did some digging and stumbled upon an Adobe blog post, which put my mind at ease as to the product’s future direction and the wherewithall of its development team:

Please keep in mind that this is a preview, not a beta, or finished product so there is still quite a bit of work to be done on the product itself. Also, the Edge team is aware of the many ways to animate content with open web technologies (JS, CSS3, Canvas, SVG, etc). For this preview, the focus was on basics, specifically, animation of elements within the HTML document DOM. We’ve heard loud and clear from the community about their desire to animate content within canvas and SVG elements. I assure you that the team has already thought about support for content inside these elements, and so there are already implementation requests for these features in the Edge product backlog.

  • All in all, it’s a strong first iteration of a very promising product. I wouldn’t say it’s production ready, but it’s probably not that far off, depending on Adobe’s commitment to it — keep in mind that they are notorious for releasing compelling products in their labs, only to abandon them later.
  • I suspect you may see an open source alternative at some point that does a lot of the same things but don’t hold your breath
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One Response to Adobe Edge First Impressions

  1. Manuel says:

    Got the same impression of Edge and I see the potential for that kind of easy workflow for doing some quick web animation. But as you pointed out already, Adobe ain’t reliable in a way of ongoing development, Edge may disappear tomorrow or cost 1000$. Furthermore it’s Win 7/ Win 8 / Mac only riht now. So I’m really hoping for an open source alternative I can integrate into my workflow and rely on it.

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