Adobe authoring for “HTML5”

Jeffrey Zeldman, today: “Adobe has a brief but golden opportunity to create the tools with which rich HTML5 content is created. Let’s see if they figure that out.”

Best resources:

  • Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, June 2009, when asked whether Adobe Creative Suite will support “HTML5” features, replied that Adobe is “clearly supportive in terms of making sure as HTML 5 is evolving that we will support it in our web authoring tools”.
  • Update: Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch, on Feb 2: “Adobe supports HTML and its evolution and we look forward to adding more capabilities to our software around HTML as it evolves.” (However: “If HTML could reliably do everything Flash does that would certainly save us a lot of effort, but that does not appear to be coming to pass.”)
  • Adobe Creative Suite already produces FXG:

    “FXG 2.0 describes an XML-based graphics interchange format for the Flash Platform. FXG contains high-level graphical and text primitives that can be used to create, group, transform and visually modify basic vector and bitmap shapes. The FXG rendering model follows very closely the Flash Player 10 rendering model and exposes all graphics capabilities of the Flash platform as well as offering expandable support to accommodate future capabilities of the Flash Player. The specification below dives into the technical details governing every element of FXG 2.0….”

    More on potential applications from John NackMark Anders has background on the application goals… AdobeTV has tons of perspective and tutorials. Kevin Suttle described a smoke demo of potential tool integration, but even today you can use FXG for CANVAS and SVG. It’s a mystery why this has been ignored.

  • The best resource is likely… Creative Suite 4! Every tool already produces HTML’s various files. Even has VIDEO support, at least of the H.264 persuasion. You know down deep that Adobe tooling is already a key component in HTML workflows, and there’s no reason by this point for that to change. Your challenge is more to clearly identify what specific changes you need in your own overall work… that’s easier for us to target than just a broad “create the tools with which rich HTML5 content is created”.

Future versions of Adobe Creative Suite? It’s a big software effort, often on a two-year cycle. I know they’re adding “HTML5” features for the next big release, but we don’t yet even know the runtime engines which will render those new HTML tags — it’s hard to get extensive. As John Nack said the other day, “Adobe makes nearly all its money selling authoring tools that target great runtimes.” Tooling needs to follow implementations… once consumers possess a capability, then content creators can begin to rely upon it. It’d be hard to satisfy all expectations at this point.

Ditching SWF and turning the Flash Professional authoring tool into HTML? Why? What would you do for a movie clip? The application and its interface are already designed against a set of capabilities… you’d have to yank features out and retool the UI after suddenly changing the foundation. A rousing slogan, but think it through.

A short and sad final note, after reading tons of debate the past few days: When you say other things shouldn’t exist — when you seek to kill others, rather than discover what you yourself can be — the rest of us have problems finding ways to tolerate your intolerance. Please, let yourself open up.

7 Responses to Adobe authoring for “HTML5”

  1. SutroStyle says:

    Even more so, if you make nearly all money on the authoring tools, why not opensource Flash Player? [jd sez: Have been. See, Open Screen Project, and history] Offer it for Chromium project for Chrome browser. Offer Google to use this in its war against Apple. [jd sez: Already there.] Even if they do not take it, you need to understand that open-source is a buzz word for many developers, so open source it now, or risk watching its market share dropping. You stand only to gain revenue from this move. Google has clearly outlined that it will commoditize ANY technology that it does not directly make money from, like it’s doing with open sourced Android vs Windows Mobile, open source Chromium versus closed source IE, etc. Your only defense in this battle is to fight it with their own weapon, i.e. open source the freaking player!! Disclaimer: I run a company with 6+m registered users, and we are heavily invested in Flash. Not looking forward to rewriting everything in HTML5.

  2. Ian Hickson says:

    If Adobe could send feedback to the WHATWG or the HTMLWG about what kinds of things your customers are looking for in HTML, that would be really helpful. (It’s probably too late for W3C’s HTML5 — for that it would have been helpful to get feedback five years ago in the first year or two of the process — but now is a good time to start sending feedback for the next round, which the WHATWG and the W3C have already started on.
    If you’ve already sent feedback regarding what we should add to HTML and I’ve missed it, please send me a link to the relevant e-mail (

  3. flexible says:

    “Ditching SWF and turning the Flash Professional
    authoring tool into HTML?”
    Well I am yet another RIA developer who belongs to a team that has been told in recent days to drop ActionScript and move to JavaScript.
    I guess like most RIA dev’s we love the AS language and the Flex development environment and believe it is vastly superior to anything in the JS world and makes us much more productive.
    Our customers, who actually use and experience our products, don’t however always share our feelings towards Flash,
    The interest in AS compiling to JS or having SWFs replaced by HTML/JS is IMHO a pipe dream that somehow we might be able to stay pretty much as we are but satisfy the instructions to drop Flash.
    It is something of a compliment to Adobe from its ‘fans’.
    Unfortunately I haven’t seen anything in the reaction of Adobe personnel to SJ’s rant that makes me feel they actually ‘get’ the real problem in fact quite the opposite.

  4. Erland Flaten says:

    I was looking for information on visual tools that writes html5 and ended here. As educator in web-journalism I am very interested in tools like e.g adobes catalyst, to make stories, and Aptomas DrFront to edit frontpages.
    What trigged me as journalist in this post is the comment over that asks for input from Adobe about what HTML should do. Does this means that Adobe haven’t explaid to w3c about how they suggest HTML and possibly other web infrastructure should work in the future? If so, thats not a good thing. W3C needs quality feedback especially from companies like Adobe. As media educator I like to learn my students to produce stuff that can be hosted on software infrastructure that is independent on a single company. I hope tools like Catalyst can write out HTML5, becaues I guess its easier to use and combine what the market can provide of great software to make good publications.
    [jd sez: Creative Suite is already used in most websites. Adobe is indeed working with the W3C.]

  5. Griffin Tucker says:

    “Ditching SWF and turning the Flash Professional authoring tool into HTML? Why? What would you do for a movie clip?”
    As far as I read into the ‘movie’ link it seems that encapsulation is possible, but just extremely cumbersome.
    My question is, will Adobe allow saving a swf file as HTML5, or will the open-source community do it for them?
    [jd sez: The phrase “save as HTML5” has little real meaning, considering the W3C is now working through the WhatWG’s submission and there’s as yet no official clientside support, and conflicting (yet minority) unofficial support. As discussed above, Adobe Creative Suite is already used in almost every HTML workflow, Flash Pro’s FXG export does enable “HTML5” workflows. My concern is that “Flash turns ‘HTML5′” is more a rallying cry for a _feeling_ than it is anything meaningful. (I put it a little stronger in this response, because I had thought it was clear in the text.)]

  6. Griffin Tucker says:

    My comment ‘converting swf to HTML’ wasn’t meant to be viewed as immediate, but rather within the next couple of years.
    Are you saying that there is no actual game-plan for a non-swf world?
    [jd sez: Only about as much planning as for a non-HTML world, or a world without Apple… that’s less than the planning for a world where people stop thinking that for one thing to succeed, another must be killed.]

  7. Tim DiMarco says:

    I’m developing a dynamic webpage in flash right now. Do you think I should attempt to develop it in HTML5 instead? Also why couldn’t Adobe just develop new tools that use HTML5 instead of flash? They could still use ActionScript and just compile it to Javascript. Keep the tools they need to keep, but drop the stuff they don’t need. Am I just missing something?
    [ Not sure… didn’t I cover this in the article above? –jd ]