A screenshot of multimedia design program Adobe Edge as provided by Adobe Systems. (Adobe Systems)

Good morning, and happy Monday!

Adobe Systems released Edge — their HTML5 design tool — at midnight Monday. Edge is the most aggressive move yet by Adobe to establish a foothold among developers in the HTML5 arena.

Edge is a motion and interaction design tool for visual web and interactive designers who want to use web standards to create animated Web content in HTML, CSS and java script. Edge works natively with Web standards, rather than working with a proprietary format, allowing designers to bring in an existing design and enhance it.

Asked if Edge is a sign that Adobe is abandoning its multimedia platform, Flash, Adobe’s Web Segment Group Product Manager Devin Fernandez said that wasn’t the case, insisting the development of Edge is an addition to Adobe’s suite of multimedia design products — not a replacement. Fernandez cited Flash’s continued use in high-end video and data-driven applications saying, “Flash remains very relevant in those areas.”

Edge signals a move by Adobe to provide developers with an animation tool that can produce a finished product supported on Apple’s iOS platform. This is a critical move, considering Flash is not supported on iOS. This has prevented dynamic pages from being seen by users of Apple’s popular mobile products. Research In Motion’s (RIM) less popular tablet, the Blackberry PlayBook, supports Flash, however RIM has been struggling with falling profits, and announced last week that the company would be slashing 10 percent of its workforce.

Edge is available for download on the Adobe Labs Web site for free as part of the company’s newly-adopted “open development methodology.” The program is not yet in beta, but is being released in ”preview release one” — a development stage that is intended to give developers an opportunity to kick the tires and send Adobe feedback. “Now, with Adobe Edge, we’re taking our HTML5 tooling to a whole new level and look forward to getting some really useful feedback from the community over the next few months, as we refine the product,” Paul Gubbay, vice president of Design and Web Engineering at Adobe, said via a press release.

Edge incorporates a number of features from existing Adobe products, such as Dreamweaver, After Effects, Photoshop and Flash in hopes of creating a user experience that will make adoption by frequent users of those programs relatively smooth. The most original feature is the timeline’s playhead and marker workflow, which allows designers to sketch their animation without having to address individual keyframes. The program also gives users an opportunity to monitor changes to HTML tags in real time.

In a demonstration, Adobe Fellow Mark Anders showed how a static HTML Web page could be imported into Edge and transformed into a dynamic page in under 10 minutes. We took at look at the page’s source code after the animation was finished. Adjustments to the code were compartmentalized in the header field, preserving the vast majority the page’s original coding.

Adobe said they intend to build the industry standard for production environment worldwide. “We’re becoming much more transparent,” said Fernandez. Adobe is working with Apple and Google on standards, and did work a little more closely with Google in terms of having them in the loop. The company also talked to Mozilla and Microsoft, but the development was done primarily by crowd-sourcing the big creatives, including Disney.

“The tool chain for creative design is how Adobe makes its money and there is a great need for HTML5 tools right now,” IDC Program Director Al Hilwa wrote in an e-mail to the Post, “There are very few companies as in-tune with designer needs and sensibilities as Adobe.”

Edge is free for now, but it remains to be seen whether it will stay that way. When asked, Adobe did not provide a price tag for Edge, citing the fact that the program had not yet entered beta. But it appears likely that should it be well-received, it will become part of the Adobe’s design and development suite, which currently retails for as much as $2,599

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