Adobe’s Creative Suite 5.5 Gives Devs a Flash Alternative

Adobe on Monday announced Creative Suite 5.5, a mid-point update between major releases of the suite.

In a tip of its hat to the realities of browser display, Adobe has included HTML5 support in CS 5.5.

With CS 5.5, Adobe is also targeting the mobile platform. Further, it has unveiled a subscription model and is changing the timing of rollouts of Creative Suite versions.

“In the past, we have had 18-month CS release schedules between our milestone releases,” Adobe spokesperson Vanessa Rios told TechNewsWorld. “Now, we’re moving to a schedule of milestone releases every two years, but with mid-cycle releases in between that are focused on keeping customers ahead in the areas where technology is shifting.”

The Guts of CS 5.5

The Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection consists of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Flash Builder, Flash Catalyst, Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects.

These products can be purchased separately or as components of one or more of the five Creative Suite editions.

CS5.5 Premium Suite lets designers use Adobe InDesign together with the integrated Folio Producer toolset to add interactivity to page layouts for publication on tablet PCs. They’ll be able to add video, audio, panoramic views, 360-degree object rotation, and integration of HTML and HTML5 content, among other things.

Creative Suite 5.5 lets designers and developers deliver mobile apps on Android, iOS, the BlackBerry Tablet OS, and other platforms. It also lets them create browser-based content across screens using HTML5, and deliver premium video content, casual games and rich Internet applications through Adobe Flash Player.

Adobe’s approach with CS5.5 means devs can now write browser apps that don’t require Flash, Al Hilwa, a program director at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.

Adobe and HTML5

Adobe’s support for HTML5 in CS 5.5 is the latest in a series of steps the company has taken since it clashed with Apple CEO Steve Jobs over an open letter he wrote criticizing Flash and expressing support for HTML5 back in April of 2010.

However, Google and Microsoft then threw their weight behind HTML5, and Adobe bowed to the inevitable. In August, it shipped the Dreamweaver CS5 HTML5 Pack as part of the Dreamweaver CS5 11.0.3 updater; then in October, it released its own HTML5 video player. Last month, Adobe launched an experimental Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool, Wallaby.

Still, devs won’t be able to write once in CS 5.5 and publish in both Flash and HTML5.

“Dreamweaver has enhanced HTML5, but there is no way to double-publish,” Adobe’s Rios said. “Wallaby, which is on Adobe Labs, is an option to create in Flash Professional and then publish out to HTML5.”

Cozying Up to iOS

Although Apple banned Flash from its operating systems following Jobs’ outburst, Adobe appears to remain hopeful of getting back onto devices from Cupertino.

Adobe is offering a new Photoshop Touch SDK that lets devs build tablet apps that interact with Photoshop from Android, BlackBerry PlayBook and iOS devices. Further, Adobe has announced three new iPad apps for Photoshop: Adobe Color Lava; Adobe Eazel; and Adobe Nav.

The iPad apps were developed with the SDK “as examples of what can be done with this new interaction between Photoshop CS5 and mobile and tablet devices,” Cari Gushiken, spokesperson for Adobe Photoshop, told TechNewsWorld.

Adobe is speaking with developers, artists, hardware and software providers, and other partners about using the SDK to create their own apps, and “they are excited about the possibilities and the potential,” Gushiken added.

Apps written for iOS can now run on that platform because the Adobe AIR runtime environment is allowed on iOS, IDC’s Hilwa noted.

This will “let apple give developers what they need or are demanding without having to retreat from Jobs’ inflammatory comments,” Charles King, principal at Pund-IT, told TechNewsWorld.

In future, perhaps Apple might seek to kiss and make up with Adobe, he speculated.

“If Apple is thinking rationally, it will likely allow Flash at some point soon,” Hilwa remarked. “But I get a sense that this [Apple ban on Flash] is political and philosophical more than rational.”

Pushing Into Subscriptions

With CS5.5, Adobe has launched a subscription-based pricing plan. Subscribers can use Adobe Photoshop for US$35 a month, Adobe Design Premium CS5.5 for $95 a month, and the Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection for $130 a month.

That beats Adobe’s purchase prices. The CS5.5 Master Collection, for example, will be priced at about $2,600, and CS5.5 Design Premium at about $1,900.

The subscription plans “make the latest Creative Suite features available to a much wider range of customers,” Adobe’s Rios said, adding that Adobe doesn’t expect the subscription plans will cannibalize sales.

The subscription plan is “a natural entry point for developers or companies new to Creative Suite or who want to stick a toe into Adobe’s waters without making a significant initial investment,” Pund-IT’s King remarked.

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