Adobe makes case at Flashforward2000

CEO John Warnock showed off the company's forthcoming Web-animation application at the Macromedia show
Written by Daniel Turner, Contributor

Adobe Systems co-founder and CEO John Warnock entered the lions' den here Wednesday when he delivered the second-day keynote speech at this week's Flashforward2000 conference.

Facing a crowd of designers dedicated to the Flash Web-animation tool from San Francisco-based Macromedia, Warnock touted Adobe's forthcoming competitor, LiveMotion, which the company expects to ship in the second quarter for $400 (£244).

Warnock spent most of his time demonstrating how LiveMotion can be integrated with Adobe's other graphics applications in a workflow to create interactive animations for the Web.

Warnock also talked up the open Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) standard, which, he said, will be a powerful complement to the Flash file format. SVG support will be integrated into LiveMotion, Warnock said, and added that Adobe is moving forward to incorporate SVG capabilities into its product line.

Warnock's presentation came on the same morning that Adobe announced it will license 3D streaming technology and pick up the 3D-production tool Canoma from MetaCreations In December, MetaCreations announced that it would abandon most of its line of graphics applications to focus on e-commerce tools.

Although Adobe has long held the lead in the content-creation market for print -- its Photoshop and Illustrator applications dominate the field -- it has only held its own in the Web market.

The company's first foray into WYSIWYG Web page editors, PageMill (originally purchased from Ceneca Communications in 1995), was relegated to the home and small-business market when Adobe acquired the German company GoLive Systems and its site-building tool CyberStudio in 1999. Renamed Adobe GoLive 4.0, the application currently goes head-to-head with Macromedia's Dreamweaver 3.0.

However, Adobe's attempts at Web animation tools have previously been less successful, especially in the face of the Flash juggernaut. Adobe ImageReady, which specialised in optimising Web graphics, was rolled into Photoshop 5.5 and is no longer available separately. ImageStyler, a vector-based application for creating Web graphics with JavaScript-based rollovers, was discontinued in January of this year.

With LiveMotion, Adobe hopes to tap into the growing market of Flash developers. The application uses the open Flash file format to export LiveMotion animations as .swf files that can be read by any cross-platform Flash player; animations can also be saved as animated GIF files or rely on JavaScripts. As some observers at the Flashforward2000 conference noted, however, not all of Flash's capabilities are open, such as the use of "if-then" conditional statements; these capabilities are not included in LiveMotion.

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