April 18, 2005 2:52 PM PDT

Developers react to Adobe's Macromedia buy

Adobe Systems' proposed acquisition of Macromedia took software developers by surprise, stirring a mix of apprehension and optimism about the fate of the joined companies and their respective software titles.

While the $3.4 billion acquisition may not set any records in terms of its size, it marks the end of one era and the beginning of a new one for Web developers and designers who have watched Macromedia and Adobe increasingly compete for their loyalty over the years.

Concern among developers centered on Adobe's historical focus on graphic designers.

"What's going to happen to the Macromedia developer base?" wondered Jesse Ezell, software architect with Activehead, a consultancy in Joplin, Mo., that helps organizations build their own Macromedia Flash-based tools. "Adobe is a designer-focused company, and designers have a much different set of requirements than developers. Macromedia has tried to capture more developers, but will Adobe keep that focus?"

Adobe and Macromedia have tried to allay concerns by posting answers to "frequently asked questions" about the deal.

"This transaction will benefit customers across all segments the two companies serve--creative professionals working with Web, print and video; application developers; business users and enterprises; the mobile ecosystem, hobbyists and consumers," the companies wrote. "Combining the passion, creativity and operational excellence of two leading-edge companies will allow us to better serve customers by accelerating innovations that change the way that people everywhere are experiencing and interacting with information."

In the answers posted, developers got ambiguous answers to the questions many are now asking in discussion forums and blogs: Will the application I rely on still be around after the acquisition closes--and for how long?

"I'm concerned about all the smaller Macromedia developments that have come up through the past couple years--Flex, Breeze, Contribute, FlashPaper," wrote one discussion group participant. "What's going to happen to all these little gems? You can definitely kiss Freehand and Director goodbye now, and I was just getting back into Director since it incorporated JavaScript. Dreamweaver is probably the toughest one to call."

Developers rooted for some titles and hoped for the replacement of others.

"As a user of both companies' products, I hope Adobe acquired Macromedia to have Dreamweaver replace GoLive, and I hope Photoshop will come to replace Fireworks," said B.K. DeLong, a Web developer for Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare Project. "Hopefully, Adobe will be smart and recognize the market share of Dreamweaver in addition to realizing what a powerful tool it is for Web developers."

In their FAQ, the companies tried to reassure developers and

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This only brushes the surface of concerns...
Macromedia has been an interactive media focused company. Adobe, static. Much like their business models. Macromedia being more forward-thinking, innovating. Adobe came into the game earlier and has petrified in it's methods. It simply tacks on half thought through features which leads to bloated code and poor interfaces. When they see a new market emerge they simply buy a start-up. Macromedia has become a forerunner to modern designers as, I would say, the majority of the design work moves into the interactive realm. IE the web, CD/DVD, mobile devices, eLearning, etc. Adobe realizes this and fears being left behind. So they break out the check book once again.

My advice to Macromedia is that although this deal may make sense financially now, you're abandoning your product that many people have come to depend on. Adobe can only do bad things here unless they fire their current software engineers and take on Macromedia's talent and philosophy. So stick to your own guns and you'll come out on top!

Otherwise, I'm going somewhere else for my personal set of tools.
Posted by Bob_Barker (167 comments )
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By the way..
Yes, I'm speaking from a web/interactive designer's point of view.

If I worked post this deal wouldn't bother me as I prefer Avid, Final Cut/Combustion, Shake over Adobe's alternatives anyway.

Down with the corporate megalomaniacs!
Posted by Bob_Barker (167 comments )
Link Flag
But where would these tools be?
Better than Macromedia's? Open source? Perhaps the acquisition will bring about software for platforms other than Windows/MacOS - that alone would be a bonus!
Posted by DoohanOK (51 comments )
Link Flag
Actually it should be a good thing!
Adobe has great, if somewhat expensive, products like Photoshop, while Macromedia will bring to the fold server technologies like ColdFusion MX 7, Flex 1.5, Breeze and Flash Communications Server 1.5.

If Adobe do the smart thing, and I'm pretty sure they will, we can expect better integration between the Adobe and Macromedia product lines.

I've always liked Acrobat (for PDF) and the new FlashPaper so heres to Adobe making some really cool stuff with Macromedia.

But bring back HomeSite (by TopStyles' Nick Bradbury) please!
Posted by DoohanOK (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Isn't HomeSite+ included in the DW box?
It is still there, just integrated into the popular WYSIWYG DW MX 2004 rather than sold as a standalone product. I like the combo.
Posted by mxiong (7 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah, Right, Smart?
Adobe is a poor example of smart operations. Even consider PDF
- it is a cross platform common format process, but then look at
Acrobat.... It takes a 60 MByte program to read a 10 Kbyte PDF
file. Buut why not? all the rest of Adobe's products are pure
bloatware too.

And have you ever tried to gt any help from Adobe on one of
their products?
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Good thing? Yeah right... only for investor's short term
The only thing this will do is make Adobe stronger wall street
player, controlling 90% of the market, not 50. Adobe already has
problems innovating its own products, with a few notable
exceptions in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. GoLive is
more like GoDead, VersionCue needs a cue shoved through it
and Acrobat is, even in its penetration state a mess. It is clunky,
ill mannered and has a whole load of interface issues.

Also, Adobe has a habit to turning purchased apps into subpar
performers. Perfect example is GoLive. They bought Cyberstudio
when they purchased the company GoLive and although they
wrapped the defacto Adobe interface around it, it became the
most buggy piece of software sold by them. They refuse to
acknowledge that it has any issues at all and problems that have
been documented by hundreds of its own best users still remain.

The problem with Adobe's gaining size is that there will be a
noticeable decline in the desire to innovate. They can sit there
and tell you that they will have so many more creative people
behind what they do, but the fact of the matter is that without
competition, innovation takes the back seat, if not the truck
spot. Using the excuse that Open Source threatens their
existence of even hampers it is the biggest line of bull uttered in
decades. As a whole, creative departments do not centralize
their structures around the few large open source graphics apps.
Yes, they may have them as tools, but they are not going to
replace Photoshop. They are not going to replace Illustrator or
InDesign. On the Macromedia side, only Flash has made the
significant leaps in animation for the web doable, not to mention
profitable. If they ever should replace them, it will be long into
the future. One could even argue that by combining the
companies, the efforts will greatly intensify to push alternative
solutions to the market, especially if Adobe slows any progress
of innovation. So, in fat, what Adobe and Macromedia claimed
today is actually false. I will make a bet that the open source will
see this as a chance to pick up steam.
Posted by jasonemanuelson1 (82 comments )
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Amen brother
This is just another example of people going after another dollar more than they could ever possibly need rather than creating new products that innovate and push tech forward.

I really hope open source people take the ball and run with it cause Adobe is sure to drop it.
Posted by Bob_Barker (167 comments )
Link Flag
Just think...
Now you'll have "Printme Internet Printing" when installing Flash 8.0!

Posted by katamari (310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What of "Flash Developer/Designer Culture"?
Flash is one of the few (albeit controversial) multifaceted
technologies to attract a passionate community of produce-it-
yourself developers that use brain cells toward such things as:
object-oriented design patterns, open-source, innovative UI with
the usability concerns that come with that, pixel-perfect layouts,
motion-graphics, sound design, bandwidth and performance
concerns, reusable code, server-side logic, xml constructs and
databases, visions for the semantic web, seo, video, real-time
applications, websites that feel like responsive applications but
still have some "art direction". All this, in one brain, over one
cup of morning coffee. Flash has brought these seemingly
disparate things (and people) together. This, is the unique
culture of collborative, smart, hip, tattooed (and non-tattooed),
open-minded creative and technical misfits that tread the
narrow bridge between the development and design cultures.

What of us? We know you support the "design culture" with
Photoshop and Illustrator. We know you support the "corportate
culture" with Acrobat and PDF's. But do you get the subtles in
the "Flash Developer/Designer Culture"?

I think Macromedia understands this. We saw it in the blogs, and
at the conferences, in the grass-root seminars, on the stage, in
the keynotes, at the parties and on the web. Ultimately, we saw
it in their support and direction. We could hear it in their voices
and see it in their eyes.

My question to the combined company is: Do you you get that?
Are you going to be supporting and understanding the "Flash
Forward and Film Festival culture"? Are you going to support
those that do not fit into a neat corporate box? Are you going to
continue to attact us?

And finally, are you going to continue to walk the delicate line
Macromedia has been walking: between improving Flash to
make it as open, light, fast, powerful, usable, standard and sleek
as it's HTML counterpart *and* "expressive"? Or are you going to
push it in one direction or the other?
Posted by Jalcide (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Night of the Living Dead
In the Movie you watched the gouls devour some characters that you didn't care about. But when they got one of them main characters you got really bummed and then feared that they would all get eaten.

I prefer Fireworks to Image Ready. But I think Flash should be easier to use. More like a NLE. I have Live Motion 2 but it suffered from lack of full flash capability. Wonder what will happen to it next. Premiere is a waste compared to Vegas on the PC and Final Cut on the Mac. So they might as well blend it into Flash so you can just drag assets up to the timeline. Instead of making symbols and this inside of that---yuck. Whats gonna happen to Go Live? maybe it will hang around like Pagemaker. The only thing exciting about Adobe and video is After Effects and the flash video format.

oh well just my opinions which only matter to me.

Posted by Morale Officer (11 comments )
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