In fact, Adobe already has a thriving Web development tools business. Dreamweaver has matured from an easy-to-use Web layout program to a quality IDE for HTML and PHP development. And who knows how many images on the Web were created using Photoshop or Fireworks?
The opportunity for Adobe now lies in filling the gaps in today's IDEs, code editors, and graphics software with new tools that can help designers and developers more easily take advantage of the multimedia capabilities of HTML5. That's something Adobe is uniquely positioned to do, given its experience developing Flash.
But is Adobe out of its HTML element?
Here's the problem, though: When Adobe says HTML5 can't do everything Flash can do, it's actually correct -- and not just for games and high-end multimedia, either.
What about creating multimedia HTML5 content from scratch? Adobe has an app for that, too. Called Adobe Edge, it's the closest thing to a Web standards-based version of the Flash Professional authoring environment yet created -- which is to say not very close. You can use it to create simple animations using HTML5 and jQuery Easing behaviors, but its UI is clunky and awkward and its output works properly only in WebKit (again). It's not improving very quickly, either; the ability to loop an animation wasn't added until the third preview release.
Simply put, these tools aren't ready for professional use. To be fair, Adobe never said they were. But they're not even close to being ready, and that's bad. Because, intentionally or not, Adobe this week sent a clear message to developers that they should begin phasing out investment in the Flash platform not just for mobile but for the desktop, too -- where HTML5 is now entrenched and AIR is widely available, after all. Meanwhile, Adobe has no HTML5 tools on offer to take Flash Professional's place.
Don't hold your breath that Adobe will have the go-to toolset for HTML5
Adobe has taken other steps to maintain its presence in the Web development world. In October, it purchased Typekit, a hosted service that provides high-quality typefaces for use on Web pages. And in this week's press conference, it said it would "more aggressively contribute to HTML5," citing its recent CSS shaders proposal to the W3C as one example. Still, these seem like token efforts. Either technology might catch on, or it might not.
If Adobe really wants its brand to be as important to tomorrow's Web designers as it was to yesterday's print designers, it can't afford to wait around. Beginning today, it should spare no expense to develop Dreamweaver, Edge, and whatever other tools it can dream up to take the headaches out of Web development -- because, Lord knows, Web standards aren't getting any less complicated.
Unfortunately, however, it sounds like Adobe is going to drop the ball. In this week's meeting with financial analysts, the company said its emphasis is not on building great tools but on subscription pricing, Web-based content creation software, and -- most important of all -- growing its digital marketing, advertising, and analytics businesses.
That's right: Adobe wants to be Google. It's too bad because Web developers could really use an Adobe right now.
This article, "Will Adobe's HTML5 strategy really help developers?," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Neil McAllister's Fatal Exception blog and follow the latest news in programming and HTML5 at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.