Adobe Systems has continued its effort to differentiate itself from Microsoft in the world of designer/developer workflow by releasing a beta version of its Adobe Flash Catalyst design tool.
Adobe Systems has continued its effort to differentiate itself from
Microsoft in the world of designer/developer workflow by releasing a
beta version of its Adobe Flash Catalyst design tool.
In addition to the beta of Flash Catalyst, Adobe on June 1 also
announced other enhancements to the Flash Platform, including a beta of
the newly named Flash Builder 4 -- formerly known as Flex Builder, and
a beta of the open source Flex 4 framework.
Each of these advancements represents solid moves for Adobe in their
own right. However, the Flash Catalyst technology is what clearly sets
Adobe apart from the advances that rival Microsoft has made onto
Adobe's home turf of appealing to designers. Adobe Catalyst, formerly
known by the codename "Thermo," Adobe Flash Catalyst is a new
professional interaction design tool for rapidly creating application
user interfaces without coding. The tool, as well as the other tools,
offer a highly integrated workflow and are based on the new Flex 4
framework, an open-source framework for building RIAs that will allow
developers and designers to more easily collaborate on projects.
"Flash Catalyst is designed for the professional interaction
designer who does wireframes and layouts and hands them off to a
developer," said Tim Buntel, senior product manager at Adobe. And Flash
Catalyst is based on the design layout of the [Adobe] Creative Suite
products, he said. "This is not a coding tool. The goal is to make
designers do all this without any coding."
Indeed, the consistent interface with Adobe Creative Suite minimizes
the learning curve for designers. And the ability to import Photoshop
and Illustrator native files with layers is a boost to
Although Microsoft has been working on the same developer/designer
workflow problem, the Redmond, Wash., software giant has approached the
problem more from its strength as a developer-focused company.
Yet, Adobe Flash Catalyst turns interaction design from a
development task into a design discipline. It allows designers to
transform artwork created in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator
software into user interfaces that can then be utilized directly by
developers to complete the application or site. This improved workflow
allows designers to maintain control of the user experience while
developers can stay focused on core application logic. Adobe Flash
Catalyst lets designers demonstrate and iterate on functional user
interfaces of applications at an earlier stage, securing feedback
sooner in the development process. The project file is then provided to
the developer to add functionality and integrate with servers and
services using Adobe Flash Builder, said Dave Gruber, group marketing
manager in the Developer marketing group at Adobe.
Additionally, using Adobe Flash Catalyst, designers can publish
finished Flash file format (SWF) files for display in a Web browser.
Round-trip editing with Adobe Creative Suite tools allows designers to
edit structured pieces of the interaction design at any time,
increasing productivity and keeping the design process moving.
"The designer can do all of their work and can then hand off a Flex
project of FXP file to the developer," Buntel said. "They can go
through the design and work with the customer on getting the
application user experience to be what the customer wants. Also, the
designer can define a finished product without the developer at all."
Meanwhile, Adobe Flash Builder is a professional development tool
designed to help software developers rapidly build RIAs (rich Internet
applications. The public betas of these products are available
today for download on Adobe Labs at
"People are now expecting the same richness and ease of use in their
workplace applications that they have in their daily Web experiences,
but companies today are faced with strained development resources and
less time to create intuitive applications," said David Wadhwani,
general manager and vice president of the Platform Business Unit at
Adobe. "The new Adobe Flash Platform tools help solve this challenge by
reducing time to market for generating compelling applications and
content. Using Adobe Flash Builder and Flash Catalyst, developers and
designers can now work together more productively to create rich
experiences that employees, customers and partners expect."
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.