File Under: Software & Tools

Adobe’s New ‘Edge’ App Suite Doubles Down on HTML

Adobe’s new Edge Suite of tools for web developers. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey

Adobe may be best known among web developers for its much-maligned Flash Player plugin, but in recent years the company has begun shifting its efforts away from Flash to open web tools like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Now Adobe is launching a new suite of apps for web developers working with the latest web standards.

The new Adobe Edge suite of HTML5 development tools includes Edge Animate 1.0, a tool to create HTML, CSS and JavaScript-based animations, and Edge Inspect (formerly known as Adobe Shadow), a handy tool for testing your sites on multiple devices at once. There’s also Edge Code, a fork of the Brackets code editor that’s now included in Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite.

As part of the announcement at Adobe’s Create the Web conference in San Francisco the company also showed off a demo of the still-in-development Edge Reflow, a new tool for working with responsive design layouts.

While there are quite a few very nice things for web developers in Adobe’s new Edge suite, one of the less welcome bits of news is that Adobe Edge Inspect, née Shadow, is no longer a free tool. Technically you can still use Inspect as part of the free version of Creative Cloud, but you’ll only be able to test sites on one device at a time, which pretty much defeats the whole point of the tool — testing on multiple devices at once.

The pricing for Edge Inspect is either $10/month as a standalone product or you can subscribe to the Creative Cloud suite for $50/month. That may well be outside the price range of small developers in these tough economic times. Luckily you can do pretty much everything Edge does by setting up your own local server for testing and connecting your devices directly to it. As an added bonus your DIY setup can test any web browser, rather than being limited to WebKit browsers like Edge Inspect.

On the brighter side of Adobe’s announcement the still unreleased Reflow tool looks impressive and it looks like the focus is on creating breakpoints based on design rather than device screen size, which is good news. The video below gives a little sneak peek at how Reflow works and we’ll be sure to give you an in-depth look when it’s available for testing.

Another appealing aspect of Adobe’s Edge Suite is Animate 1.0, which has been improved considerably since our initial review. Animate still doesn’t output canvas or SVG (which makes the HTML5 marketing somewhat misleading), but it does a good job of helping Flash refugees feel more at home creating standards-based animations.

For a limited time, Edge Animate is available for free via Creative Cloud. When the free intro period ends it will be available as a standalone app for $500 or as part of the $50/month Creative Cloud subscription.

We’ve been arguing for years that we need better tools for building the web. I may like Vim, you may love emacs, but let’s face it both of them are relics of the dark ages. Today’s web developers shouldn’t need the same archaic text editors we used to build the web fifteen years ago. Tools like Edge Animate, Edge Inspect and Reflow may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they go a long way toward helping people who want a more intuitive way to create cool stuff on the web and that’s almost never a bad thing.

For more info, and full details on all the Edge apps and pricing, head on over to the new Adobe Edge website.