April 18, 2005 11:44 AM PDT

Macromedia, Adobe make peace for bigger fight

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seen blurring boundaries between traditional documents and applications and multimedia, so it's not surprising that Microsoft should wind up with an architectural model that's similar to what Macromedia has been proposing all along.

Today, analysts expect the upcoming presentation environment in Windows, which includes an XML-based language called XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language), to be able to do many of the things that Macromedia's Flash and Adobe's Acrobat software do. Microsoft's tools are optimized for Windows, while Adobe and Macromedia have been committed to a more diverse desktop environment including the Mac OS and now Linux.

Longhorn looms large among potential competitors in the market for online application platform providers. Others include Flash combined with Macromedia's Flex server software; Sun Microsystems' J2SE; a platform under open-source development by Laszlo Systems; and the collection of established Web standards recently dubbed "Ajax." IBM's Workplace initiative also offers a Java-driven approach for building "rich client" applications.

And with its acquisition of Macromedia and Flash, Adobe will have to reconcile its support for open standards with its ownership of one of the Web's most successful proprietary formats.

Not quite a year ago, Adobe outlined to the W3C its own vision for Web-based application standards, delineating a model that relied on the World Wide Web Consortium's Scalable Vector Graphics recommendation, conceived as a standard Flash alternative.

IBM, Sun Microsystems, SAP and Microsoft contributed papers to the W3C; Macromedia did not.

Enemies, a love story
The deal between Adobe and Macromedia was first conceived years ago, after a period in which the two companies were at loggerheads.

In the late 1990s, the companies started encroaching on either other's turf more and more. To compete with Macromedia's high-end Dreamweaver Web authoring software, Adobe launched its ill-fated GoLive title. To compete with Adobe's dominant Illustrator software for graphics professionals, Macromedia acquired Freehand and introduced Fireworks.

Adobe also tried to invade Macromedia's dominion by throwing its weight behind SVG. More recently, Macromedia took at nibble at PDF with its Flash Paper offering.

The companies hadn't begun as direct rivals. Adobe emerged from the world of print, and Macromedia came from the purely digital realm of CD-ROM and then Web content creation.

By the middle of 2001, it was clear to both companies that their efforts to compete with one another were stalling. The relationship between two culturally different companies had devolved into more of a petty rivalry than a strategically sound battle. As they struggled to compete in the marketplace, the companies took each other to court over patents.

Meanwhile, Microsoft was already talking about Longhorn, hinting that the software would include "an advanced presentation environment."

"After 9/11, we both realized that being enemies didn't make sense," Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen said in a conference call on Monday, referring to his discussions with Macromedia's then-CEO Rob Burgess. "We were not longer competing."

No longer competing with each other, that is. In fact, Adobe and Macromedia's peace pact had less to do with their own sense of corporate or technological comity in the wake of a national tragedy than with serious if not existential common threats, particularly Microsoft.

"When I think about competitors, there's only one I really worry about," Chizen said in an interview a year ago. "Microsoft is the competitor, and it's the one that keeps me up at night."

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I don't like the looks of this
My greatest fear is Dreamweaver becoming more like GoLive. GoLive produces some of the worst HTML I've ever seen that is barely editable outside of the program. Dreamweaver(IMHO) is one of the best programs out there for creating static, and to some extent dynamic, pages.

Flash could also take a big fall. When adobe had LiveMotion it was a decent app because they fixed some things that were hard to do in Flash, but Macromedia fixed that and LiveMotion died. Now I fear Adobe putting their hand into any of Flash.

I hope this is more of a name buyout then a developer buy out. Macromedia is the leading company in web development and I would hate to see that change because there isn't a good second option.
Posted by metric152 (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who does C|Net's research?
Freehand was not released by Macromedia in answer to
Illustrator. It was purchased my Macromedia from Adobe, when
Adobe acquired Aldus. Check your facts.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
more facts
Good call. how 'bout this from the article:

"Adobe, which built its name on the Portable Document Format,
or PDF, for printable digital documents".

It's as if Adobe didn't create Postscript, or Type I fonts, or
Photoshop... all WAY before PDF.
Posted by ekfritz (8 comments )
Link Flag
Macromedia and Freehand....
Macromedia acquired Freehand through its purchase of Altsys a decade ago, with the intent of competing with Adobe Illustrator as the story implies. Thanks for the information. We'll add it to the story.
Posted by mike ricciuti (12 comments )
Link Flag
i completely agree
Cnet is really dropping the ball when it comes to quality articles. Plus, that Molly Wood is a good writer and is entertaining to read, but sometimes her thoughts don't make any sense. PDF's are very reliable, and I haven't heard of many people having them crash constantly.
Posted by jetman8000 (23 comments )
Link Flag
Fire Molly Wood
Fire Molly Wood
Posted by montgomeryburns (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Maybe your argue would hold a bit more weight if you actually gave a reason WHY she should be fired...
Posted by Lucky Bob (47 comments )
Link Flag
UI Confusion Explosion
There in excess of 15 open source UI languages, there are over 25 proprietary vendors of tools for creating UI's into a proprietary format.

This is too much choice for developers wanting to create UI applications. There needs to be consolidation if it cuts down choice, but also there needs to be standards to keep vendors honest and customers free from lock in.

Or an alternative approach ........Open Presentation Server

keep your eyes open on the two main contenders:
Posted by (2 comments )
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We will have to see what really happens
Adobe has an almost unbreakable stronghold on printable media (i.e. mag ads, brochure designs and anything else on paper).

I have using Macromedia products for website creation from way back when and IMHO they are the best in web development for graphics and layout.

Perhaps they will keep those seperate. Former Adobe products for printable design and Macromedia just for the web. Or what would probably happened is that they will merge the strenghs of their respective products and make a designer/developer dreams come true.

oh yeah and the cost of software might go up as well.
Posted by quaribc (11 comments )
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