Adobe Talks Open Source, Innovation and the Future of Flash

Kevin Lynch, CTO of Adobe talks with eWEEK about open-sourcing Flash, the new Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4), mobile technology and more. Lynch also talks of competing with Microsoft Silverlight and Expression and possibly with Google Chrome.

Kevin Lynch, Adobe's chief technology officer and senior vice president, Experience & Technology Organization, oversees Adobe's experience design and core technology across business units. This role includes driving Adobe's technology platform for designers and developers across desktops and devices, including Adobe Flash Player, PDF (Portable Document Format), Adobe Flex and Adobe AIR, the cross-operating system application runtime that bridges the computing power and data capabilities of the desktop with the real-time dynamic capabilities of the Web. Lynch sat down for an interview with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Emerging Technology conference in Cambridge, Mass., on Sept. 25.

Q: What stands out to you about Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4), which you just announced the other day?

A: Well, the integration between all the tools is something that we did when we brought Macromedia and Adobe together. And with CS3 we were able to do some of that integration, but with CS4 we were able to dramatically move the integration along. The other thing is with Flash Player 10 we added a lot of new innovative expressiveness inside that release. That includes things like filter effects, so you can take the same language used in After Effects to do production time video effects -- so you're able to do that now live at runtime in the Flash Player. So that's a really big change in the ability to make those effects interactive if you decide to change them later. But it's a lot of tooling inside the Flash Player.

The other thing is we've integrated 3-D effects in Flash Player 10, so you can now do 3-D transformations and you can have a lot of great 3-D control, and across CS4 3-D is a pervasive element of the tooling. Even within Photoshop you can bring in a 3-D model now and you can actually paint in 3-D on the model. And that is amazing to see that work.

The other area is text. In Flash Player 10 we've put a whole new text engine in Flash. And that came from the engineers working on InDesign, so we've got decades of experience in managing text and layout and publishing, and we've applied all that experience to making the text engine in Flash extremely world class. You can do kerning and you have control over the line breaking and you can do flowing of text across columns and you can use any font you want. So in terms of rendering text on the screen, Flash is now a huge step ahead. And that's supported across the tooling as well

Also what we're doing is we're starting to integrate services with the tooling. So in addition of features in the tools we are now integrating hosted services as part of the tools experience. So if you are using Creative Suite and using Dreamweaver and you want to understand how your Web page is going to actually look across browsers, you used to have to have all the different browsers on your computer and run Linux, Macintosh and Windows to test your pages. It was a pretty laborious process. So what we're doing now is we're hosting a browser testing solution or a way to simulate what the browsers look like. That's an example of how we're providing services with the tools and that's a big shift in how we're actually building our software now. We're really embracing hosted services.

Another area is collaboration. People are starting to work together a lot more on the Web. So our tools are starting to support that collaboration -- whether that's the formats between the tools or working more seamlessly, which we're doing with interactive graphics now. There's a really seamless way to exchange that between the tools using something called FXG, which is an exchange format within the tools.

But also in terms of real-time collaboration...If you're working with someone and you want to jump into a screen-sharing session with that person, we've got something called ConnectNow. So you can go from Photoshop and you can go collaborate with somebody else then you can share your screen and talk about it with live audio and video.

These are some of the areas we're beginning to work on, but there's a lot to CS4. It's the biggest software release we've done in our history of 25 years in business.