You Got Your Flash in My Acrobat

My first thought when I heard this morning that Adobe has agreed to buy Macromedia was: poor Freehand, always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Though I long ago stopped using that drawing program in favor of Illustrator, it was nice to know that it was still kicking around. Freehand was my first introduction to the Macintosh, and so I carry a quiet little torch for it. For me, anyway, if Adobe decides to finally kill it, it will be like the end of an era. Of course, there’s the possibility that the program’s owners — who licensed Freehand first to Aldus and, when that company was bought by Adobe many years ago (notice a pattern here?), then to Macromedia — will valiantly try to find yet another new publisher. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Anyway, regarding the merger itself: I’ll just echo everyone else I know and utter an incredulous “Holy shit!” as an official reaction. This is a huge deal, and there are all kinds of implications for the design community, both good and bad. I won’t dwell on any of the negatives here, but positive things I’m looking forward to include: some long needed parity between Macromedia’s products and Adobe’s user interfaces, the possibility for more serious, design-savvy business tools to edge Microsoft out of the digital publishing market altogether, a marriage of PDF and Flash technologies, and of course whatever satirical take on this marriage the Internet manages to serve up over the next few days.

Also, here’s hoping that Apple is smart enough to treat both Adobe and Macromedia — neither of whom have been incredibly enthusiastic embracers of Mac OS X technologies — with extra special care and attention starting immediately. They’d be foolish not to.

  1. I don’t understand this “marriage of PDF and Flash technologies” I’ve been hearing about.

    Personally, I’m wondering what’s going to happen to Fireworks, since it’s so similar to Photoshop.

    And God, I hope they come up with something to battle Microsoft’s newest terrors.

  2. I am not sure what Apple did to piss Macromedia off, but Adobe I understand. But it is not completely true that Adobe is not “incredibly enthusiastic” about OSX. The last numbers I read put something like 45% of all versions of Photoshop/CS that included Photoshop were on OSX. Considering how much smaller the OSX market is that the Windows market, those are huge numbers. Yes, Apple has pissed Adobe off in the Audio/Video markets but even if Adobe pulled out there, Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign will still remain.

  3. With the current ubiquity of the Flash player it could be the plan to unify the two plug-ins together (23Mb Flash download anyone?) and/or possibly make it easier to develop PDF content from Flash or include “interactive” Flash elements into PDFs.

    Maybe they want to go the distance and overhaul the whole thing by merging the two together so that they both use the same engine. Imagine PDF documents rendered with the 8ball engine, bouncy titles and all. 🙂

    I’m sad to see the Macromedia name go though.

  4. I completely hear you about Freehand. I like it more than Illustrator. Personal preferance really more than anything, that and the fact that it kept pushing Illustrator, the competition was healthy.

    God I hope it can go to another publisher. Is it actually just licensed to Macromedia???? News to me.

  5. Josh: when I said that Adobe and Macromedia have not been “incredibly enthusiastic about Mac OS X,” I don’t mean to imply that their offerings for the platform are not serious and robust, nor that they are not significant pieces of business for them.

    What I mean is that, in terms of adopting technologies native to the platform, like Cocoa, they haven’t been particularly strong leaders in the field. In fact, I feel like they’ve both been focusing more on creating platforms of their own, in effect — witness Adobe CS and the evolutionary similarities of Macromedia’s recent product interfaces.

    Some of that work has been impressive, some of it has been unsuccessful, but it’s the energy that they’ve devoted to these would-be platforms that I would have liked to have seen devoted to making the most of Mac OS X, instead. Apple should have been making it easy for them to do that, too.

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