Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Delivers New Flash, HTML5 and Tablet Support

In the face of Microsoft's MIX11 event for designers and developers, Adobe Systems introduces an interim release of its core creative tolling - Creative Suite 5.5, which offers improvements in the Flash platform, mobile, HTML5 support, tablet integration and more.

Adobe Systems has tweaked its Creative Suite software, delivering Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 in the face of Microsoft's big MIX11 conference, which focuses on the same sweet spot as Adobe-the market for professional designers and developers.

The new Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 product line enables designers and developers to target popular and emerging smartphone and tablet platforms, as the revolution in mobile communications fundamentally changes the way content is distributed and consumed, Adobe officials said. Creative Suite 5.5, also known as CS 5.5, features substantive advances to HTML5, Flash authoring, digital publishing and video tools as well as new capabilities that kick-start the integration of tablets into creative workflows.

Adobe made its announcement on April 11; Microsoft MIX11 begins on April 12. Moreover, this launch marks a major change to Adobe's product release strategy for Creative Suite, the company said. Adobe now plans to have milestone Creative Suite product introductions at 24-month intervals and-starting with Creative Suite 5.5-significant midcycle releases designed to keep the worldwide creative community ahead of the latest advances in content authoring.

The new release also sees Adobe debut an affordable and flexible subscription-based pricing plan, attractive to customers that want to get current and stay current on Creative Suite products, have project-based needs or try the software for the first time. New subscription editions ensure customers are always working with the most up-to-date versions of the software, without the upfront cost of full pricing. With subscription pricing, customers can use flagship products, such as Adobe Photoshop, for as little as $35 per month; Adobe Design Premium CS5.5 for $95 per month; and Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection for $129 per month.

"Creative Suite 5.5 will drive the development of new digital experiences across devices, including all major smartphones and tablets," said Shantanu Narayen, president and CEO of Adobe, in a statement. "As publishers, media companies, advertisers and enterprises transform the way they develop and distribute their content, Adobe will be there to support them with technology innovations in content creation, management, measurement and distribution."

"What surprises me about this is that it is quite a punchy set of improvements," said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC. "Adobe appears to have tinkered with its release cycle approach to keep up with the rapid change in the mobile device world. Does this upgrade show that Adobe is surviving the iPhone and HTML5? I would say yes and very well, thank you! In fact, this announcement, coming on the heels of a very strong quarter, suggests that Adobe is humming on all cylinders."

In an April 10 blog post on the news, Russell Brady, Adobe's director of public relations, said, "Midcycle releases will keep designers and developers ahead of technology changes, such as the mobile communications revolution (tablets!) that is radically altering how content is consumed and created."

The new Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium Suite features several innovations in HTML5 and Adobe Flash authoring tools, empowering customers to create, deliver and monetize rich content and applications for virtually any screen. This release helps enable designers and developers to deliver mobile applications on Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS, iOS and other platforms; create rich browser-based content across screens using HTML5; and leverage Flash Player to deliver premium video content, casual games and rich Internet applications. Creative Suite 5.5 comes at a time when mobile devices are exploding in terms of sales and capabilities; radically altering the way content and applications are developed and consumed. Also, with the launch of new Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 Premium (available in Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium) and the Flex 4.5 framework, developers can easily develop and deploy mobile applications to more than 200 million smartphones and tablets by the end of 2011, Adobe officials said.

"Flash Builder 4.5 is also a midcycle kicker for the IDE, which will include support for the major tablet and smartphone platforms on the market today-that is, iOS and Android devices and tablets, and the BlackBerry Playbook OS," Hilwa said. "Add this to Dreamweaver's multiscreen preview capability and overall single-project handling for code; this has to be one of the richest tool stacks that target all these platforms, plus desktop, with a single language and development environment. Adobe has been executing steadily in mobile, and while the closed nature of mobile platforms has been a setback, I think Adobe has made substantial progress here. I will keep watching for webOS and Windows Phone 7 support with the AIR runtime."

Added Adobe's Brady, "For Web folks: huge updates to HTML5 and Adobe Flash authoring tools, enabling designers and developers to deliver mobile applications on Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS, iOS and other platforms-and create rich browser-based content across screens. All the big HTML5 checkboxes are ticked in Dreamweaver CS5.5: jQuery mobile framework integration for browser-based content, PhoneGap's in, as well as WebKit engine updates."

"I really like the new capabilities in Dreamweaver, especially the integrated jQuery and HTML5 support," Hilwa said. "To me this shows that Adobe will leverage the move to HTML5 to ensure that Flash developers don't have to make an either-or choice. This is a great strategy for them because plug-in approaches will always own the high end of graphics manipulation, but HTML5 will be very widely adopted for all other Websites."

In a related piece of news, Adobe and Zend-the PHP company-announced Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP software, a new integrated product helping PHP developers create rich Internet applications (RIAs) for mobile, the Web and the desktop.

With more than 131 million smartphones expected to have Flash Player installed by the end of the year, Adobe Flash makes it possible to bring rich content to desktops and devices inside the browser, the company said. Flash Player is supported on Android, HP webOS and Google TV today. BlackBerry Tablet OS, upcoming versions of Windows Phone, Samsung SmartTVs and others are expected to support Flash Player in the near future.