Adobe just might have a hit on its hands with its design tool, formerly known as "Thermo" and now known as Adobe Flash Catalyst. The design tool is aimed at creating application interfaces and interactive content without coding.
SAN FRANCISCO-Now that Adobe has taken
the technology it formerly referred to as "Thermo," given it a
product name and released an early preview version, it finally looks as if the
design tool giant may have a new potential hit, if not a game changer, on its
Of course, the technology first has to undergo the rigors of alpha testing
and then more in-depth beta testing before it will even be released as an Adobe
product. But the concept of Thermo, which is now known as Adobe Flash Catalyst,
is to empower designers to work better with developers in the area of
designer/developer workflow. What Thermo does is enable designers to use the
Adobe design tools they are familiar with and create designs that they can hand
off to a developer with the developer having a clear understanding of that
design without the designer having to do any coding.
"Thermo is aimed at making it easy such that if you hand me a Photoshop
file I can ingest that and look at all the metadata and all the layers
associated with that file and I can make something with it," John
Loiacono, senior vice president of Adobe's Creative Solutions Business Unit, told
eWEEK in an interview at the Adobe MAX 2008
conference here. "All the code is generated behind the scenes to make that
In essence, "a designer will create something in Photoshop or
Illustrator and then take it to a developer, and they can dissect and
deconstruct it," he said.
Moreover, "Thermo, we think is a big change," said Loiacono.
"The design community likes it for its rapid prototyping capability. ... Just
the rapid prototyping alone is a homerun."
The issue of designer/developer workflow is not new. Adobe has been talking
about it for years, and Microsoft also has been attacking the problem with its
Expression suite of design tools that have been developed to work with the
company's Visual Studio tools suite.
However, Loiacono said he does not believe Microsoft has anything comparable
to Adobe Flash Catalyst. "We don't see what they have currently as
delivering in the space we're targeting," he said. "Where Adobe has
an advantage over Microsoft is we have both sides of the equation"-Adobe
caters both to designers and developers, whereas Loiacono believes Microsoft is
much more suited to developers.
A Microsoft spokeswoman said Microsoft's equivalent to Thermo is "a
combo of Expression Blend and Visual Studio."
Adobe Flash Catalyst "doesn't do everything," Loiacono said. "You
can't do a Photoshop style design with it, and you can't build a back-end
Flex-style application just with Thermo. But you can take your idea and build
it to make it do things and then pass it off to a developer to connect it into your
back-end logic. That's the developer's job."
Asked her opinion of the potential impact of Thermo, Bola Rotibi, an analyst
with Macehiter Ward-Dutton, simply said, "Adobe knows its stuff."
The big issue here is ease of use. If Adobe Flash Catalyst, aka Thermo,
makes it easier for designers, then it will very likely be a hit, as Loiacono
said, if only for its prototyping capabilities. Adobe is coming at this from
its position of strength in the design tools world. The company knows
designers. Now that the Thermo code is broadly available, we'll have to see
what kind of feedback comes out of the community.