Su's wet dream

Tim Bray's post dissected:

"Seems straightforward to me. Adobe is in at the center of print production (PhotoShop & friends, InDesign, PDF), while Macromedia's DreamWeaver is the single most important Web-design product."

Adobe ranks very high in print production, however it has only recently begun to overtake Quark with InDesign. Dreamweaver is undoubtedly the king of the visual web editors but anyone who has used the latest versions in earnest knows that it is showing its age. As a geek who hasn't seen the codebase, I get the feeling that it is becoming harder and harder to maintain and scale and that if it were to be extended further, it would require an almost-complete rewrite at some point. I can hardly believe that Adobe would buy Macromedia based on Dreamweaver alone.

Adobe will most likely scrap Dreamweaver and perhaps merge certain parts into GoLive. Remember, Adobe is *buying* Macromedia -- this is *not* a merger. It is only logical to assume that Adobe will favor its own product brand over Macromedia's in those products that are direct competitors.

Also, let's not forget that Adobe is not all about print but a very important player in the digital video field too with Premiere and After Effects.

"Dave Shea says this might be about Flash, but let me suggest exactly the opposite: if you're hitching your career to Flash, it might be a good time to look at alternatives. Why's that? Because, near as I can tell, Macromedia has never made any serious money with Flash."

False: Flash (and Flash-based products and relationships) are Macromedia's #1 cash cow. Ditch Flash and you lose Breeze, Flex, FlashLite (and the Nokia deal) and even the bundling deal with Yahoo, which I understand is quite lucrative. I believe what Tim was trying to say was "Sun has never made any serious money with Java!" (although the likes of IBM and BEA appear to do quite well in this area.) Freudian slip? :)

I would never recommend that you "hitch your career" to any one technology, but stay calm: Although Adobe axing Flash would be Sun's wet dream, Flash isn't going *anywhere* but onwards and up. It is understandable for a Sun employee to be sore that their clunky Java plugin was doomed from the start as a viable RIA platform but Tim can take comfort in knowing that ActionScript 2 is very similar to Java and should he one day decide to experience the joy of building light, usable RIAs, he will be able to do so without much relearning using Flex.

"They've accomplished one of the great, heroic, marketing coups of all time, getting the plug-in onto substantially every desktop on the planet; and this bought them, uh, what exactly?"

Funny: Isn't this what Sun has desperately failed to do with Java? (Not for lack of trying, mind you.) The ubiquity of the player (the Flash *virtual machine*) is a key factor in deciding whether to use Flash in many projects. Beyond that, it means that there is now a ubiquitous platform for video delivery -- not Windows Media, not Quicktime but Flash.

"They sell authoring tools, but seriously, how many Flash designers does the world need?"

I don't know... how many Java designers does the world need? (Not a very meaningful question, is it?)

"Anyhow, most of the good things you can do with Flash, you can do about as well with DHTML (oops that's called AJAX now) and your "back" button still works."

False: AJAX is a hack created to allow a document-markup/display platform to be used for applications. How much of your time do you spend on an HTML + Javascript application in trying to achieve cross-platform compatibility? How much more code is spent to get the AJAX engine hack into place in its hidden frame, etc. How large a chunk of your codebase does this account for? How much time do you spend trying to make *documents* appear/work like *applications*? Given enough time and effort, you can build a skyscraper out of matchsticks but I am loathe to wonder how far the construction field would have advanced if that was the only method they used. Sure, if you have the resources (like Google) to throw at it, build your castle out of matchsticks -- those of us who don't have billions prefer the pragmatic approach of using bricks and mortar, i.e., Flash/Flex. (And I'd love to see HTML + Javascript do video.)

Regarding the back button: Granted it is a hack (no worse than -- and very similar to -- AJAX, mind you), but you *can* get the back button to work in a Flash web site. For an RIA, I would argue that the back button *shouldn't* work as we don't have consistent expectations as to how it should function. Navigating to an application in the browser is like opening an application in the OS -- you do not expect to be able to Undo an application launch.

"I guess there's no reason to actually shut Flash down, the tool revenue must about cover the engineering costs."

The tool revenue, the Flash player revenue from various platforms, the Flex revenue, the Breeze revenue... Shut Flash down? Adobe is buying Macromedia *because of* Flash.

"Flash is a distraction."

Finally, a point we agree on. Flash *must* seem like a terrible distraction at Sun: "Why is everyone so distracted by Flash that they don't see our wonderful applets?" :)