Living on the Edge
Recently I attended Adobe’s “The Expressive Web” here in NYC. The event was held at The Hudson Theatre and it was jammed packed with designers and developers waiting for the big unveiling of Adobe’s Edge.
Let me back up for a moment, previously the night before the event was to take place Adobe released a downloadable Edge preview. I have to say that if you’re familiar with their products, Edge reminds me of After Effects even though some people say it resembles Flash? I just don’t see that tbh.
Getting back Adobe asked that we show up with laptops in hand, which lead me to believe this was going to be a hackaton to my dismay it was not to be. Tons of industry professionals were on hand to talk about HTML5 and where it will lead us as far as the web is concerned.
The first guest speakers talked about The State of the Web w/Dion Almaer & Ben Galbraith from Ajaxian. They gave good insight as to the direction HTML5, CSS3 will take us in creating beautiful content for the web. Afterwards was a tutorial lesson on Adobe’s Dreamweaver CS5.5 and HTML5 & jQuery Mobile w/Greg Rewis, showing a step by step approach to creating web & mobile sites.
Next we get into the juicy stuff the grand unveiling. Adobe’s Edge Demo and Open Discussion with – Mark Anders and Doug Winnie. This was the moment us designers and developers were sitting on the “Edge” of our seat waiting for (pun intended). First I have to admit that the crowd had mixed feeling as to how useful Edge would be, Edge is made to be very flexible while giving the capabilities of creating motion graphics without writing any HTML code. Kind of funny when you think of it, here we are sitting at a conference to talk about how HTML5 will change the way we work, yet we are here to talk about a tool that empowers a user to do away with writing code.
As a designer the moment I glanced at the Edge interface I was already familiar with it being that I have experience with After Effects & Flash. There is some differences as there always is for instance easing is not accessed through a menu bar, in-fact you must select the objects timeline in order to get the easing property. I also noticed and I asked this question to Adobe’s Mark Anders, Edge doesn’t have a Z property therefore no 3D capabilities. This doesn’t mean that you cannot still tweak the x & y property to mimic 3D, it just won’t be true 3D. Mark Anders displayed some of the current capabilities Edge has to offer easing, drop shadows and more.
As I played with Edge I also noticed that Edge cannot (@ least from what I can see) alter a path like in After Effects or Flash. I assume as HTML5 develops further that will be possible. Also another draw back to Edge would be the importing of assets, when importing multiple assets you can only do one at a time which can become a bit tedious depending on how many assest you need to work with. All imported assets are automatically wrapped in a div tag which is pretty cool. As of now Edge does not support any coding capabilities but Adobe is working on that, in the menu bar under window you’ll see an editor which cannot be accessed at this time. This editor once complete will probably convince more hardcore hand coders to try Edge and not feel as though it’s a tool for completely cheating when it comes to developing HTML/CSS.
Adobe did make it a point to mention that even though HTML5 will continue to grow in popularity when it comes to creating web content, but they also wanted to make a point for all not to misunderstand them in regards to thinking HTML will kill off Flash. Adobe said even though HTML5 CSS3 is expected to make big waves in the future as it continues to develop and improve, Flash is still very powerful and useful in creating interactivity. So it seems that Flash is not going anywhere any time soon. Adobe is smart in acknowledging the possibilities of HTML5 and placed themselves in a sweet position. They continue to back up Flash’s reliability even though not supported on mobile iOS devices such as iPad or iPhone etc… But they also have a tool that will work across all platforms ensuring that as a business will keep them in the forefront of tech.
While most people were there to see what Adobe had cooked up with Edge, I have to be completely honest I was waiting for the next presentation the most. One of my favorite digital agencies was about to speak and I was like a kid that was just told we are going to Disneyland. Big Spaceship’s head developer Stephen Koch was up next and I was all ears! Big Spaceship was approached to develop a site showcasing HTML5 CSS3’s current capabilities as it relates to the web. Stephen presented The Expressive Web Beta It’s a brilliant site that displays how different aspects of HTML5 works, some features include HTML5 canvas, video, form, audio, storage, CSS3 web fonts, transitions, transforms, shadows, queries, gradients & animations.
He also spoke about Big Spaceships creative process and structure or lack thereof. Big Spaceship doesn’t believe in working in silos which for me is very refreshing to hear and I’m a firm believer in this process. Big Spaceship consists of multiple teams each team has it’s own identity for-instance one of the teams name is blood turkey, each member of that particular team created a hand print on paper resembling blood hence the name. Stephen goes on to tell us that each team consist of 3 designers & 2 developers, they all sit side by side or back to back at any given moment of an engagement’s process they can turn to each other to solve any problems that arise, or contribute any new insights or ideas working in true collaboration. This ensures a nice natural flow in the creative process, if a designer runs into a development wall they can ask a developer to assist or vice versa, if a developer has a design problem the designer can take over the reigns for a bit.
Stephen also pointed out another important piece of information, he said that designers need to learn code! I wrote an earlier blog post touching on this subject. He stated that any designers that work closely with developers should take the time out to sit with a developer and have them teach you some code. It also goes without saying that developers would be smart to learn as much as they can about design as well. So any teams out there start learning from each other, you will only benefit in the long term, I know that’s what I plan to do as a designer learn as much code as I can.
If you would like to reach out to some of these individuals feel free to contact them. Stephen Koch @skoch (twitter) or via his Posterous blog komielan. Dion Almaer @dalmaer Dion Almaer’s Blog Ben Galbraith @bgalbs Ben Galbraith’s Blog Adobe website download Adobe Edge preview here @ adobe labs