Adobe turns to designing code

Adobe turns to designing code

Summary: On the 20th anniversary of Photoshop, it's easy to think of Adobe as being all about images and media but with products like Dreamweaver and Flash Builder the company also has a lot of interest in making it easier to write lines of code.At the Sneak Peeks session at its MAX conference (hosted in style by William Shatner and full of obligatory Star Trek jokes), Adobe showed off several features that might make it into future products to make developers' lives easier.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Windows
2

On the 20th anniversary of Photoshop, it's easy to think of Adobe as being all about images and media but with products like Dreamweaver and Flash Builder the company also has a lot of interest in making it easier to write lines of code.

At the Sneak Peeks session at its MAX conference (hosted in style by William Shatner and full of obligatory Star Trek jokes), Adobe showed off several features that might make it into future products to make developers' lives easier. Being able to use the live preview in Flash Builder to change the design and add new buttons drew plenty of applause (almost as much as Shatner himself); "we're modifying a running program while it's running," pointed out Greg DeMichillie, the director of Flash product management.

But for a lot of development, it comes down to writing lines of code - and reading through long programs - and that hasn't changed much in the last couple of decades. Pretty printing colour-coding may help you spot the syntax of a single line of code; the idea behind Designer Logic is to use the typography that Adobe usually offers designers to make developers more productive. Type a curly brace and the editor marks off your package or class or function with horizontal lines - and until you close that section of code, you donâ??t get the closing line, which can make t easier to see if you've forgotten to close it off. Comments are highlighted in grey boxes - so it's very clear if you've let the comment run on too far into the code. Putting the class name in bigger type and tucking the class keyword up out of the way so you see the class name quickly or formatting the function header to emphasise the arguments means "they act like section headers in a long word processing document," according to David Durkee from the Flash Professional team who demonstrated the prototype. Start typing a string and it shows in red until you mark the end, when it turns green; which again means that if you leave out a vital piece of punctuation you can see it.

Laying out code to make it more legible

There isn't much visual feedback in most text editors, meaning simple mistakes are hard to spot and finding the section of code you want means careful reading; "a traditional editor is floating in a sea of noise" said Durkee poetically.

Which function is easier to find when you scroll through code?

And if you donâ??t like that styling for code, you can create your own - whatever makes the code so easy to read you can write and debug it faster.

Topic: Windows

Simon Bisson

About Simon Bisson

Simon Bisson is a freelance technology journalist. He specialises in architecture and enterprise IT. He ran one of the UK's first national ISPs and moved to writing around the time of the collapse of the first dotcom boom. He still writes code.

Mary Branscombe

About Mary Branscombe

Mary Branscombe is a freelance tech journalist. Mary has been a technology writer for nearly two decades, covering everything from early versions of Windows and Office to the first smartphones, the arrival of the web and most things inbetween.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

2 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Is glorified syntax highlighting the best Adobe can come up with?! ;) As a one-time churner-outer of many lines of HTML/CSS code, I _think_ I would find the typographical elements more obtrusive than helpful. With standard syntax highlighting, if you don't close a tag or a comment, it's pretty obvious (and software plug for Geany text editor http://geany.org!)
    Jake Rayson
  • @Jake - it's far more obvious with this. You can also set the styles to what you find helpful without being obtrusive. Given that pretty printing hasn't changed in over 30 years, it's nice to see this kind of development...
    M
    Simon Bisson and Mary Branscombe