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April 18, 2005

Oh good, tabbed palettes are coming back to Flash and Fireworks.

Alright, this one is a little hard to process: Macromedia just got bought by Adobe in a deal worth $3.4 billion in stock. It’s hard to say that without saying it again: Adobe just bought Macromedia. (asssuming shareholders and regulators approve etc. etc.)

Adobe Creative Studio MX 2004

Adobe started off making fantastic products for print designers, and has spent the past 7 or 8 years trying to get a foothold on the web. Unsuccessfully, I’d add, as the last time anyone used an Adobe product to generate actual production-ready HTML code would have been some time before the Euro went into wide circulation. Discounting the production work that happens in Photoshop/Illustrator, there are no stand-out Adobe web development tools. LiveMotion? Dead and gone. GoLive? GoLifeSupport. ImageReady? Well, it’s been a while since I’ve personally hit the little button at the bottom of my Photoshop toolbar, but at least that one gets used by other designers from time to time. (Okay, and my GoLive crack was a cheap shot too, but I couldn’t resist.)

Macromedia, on the other hand, has been the young-and-hip counterpart, building a product line almost exclusively focused on the web. Dreamweaver, Flash, Contribute, Fireworks, ColdFusion, need I go on? Except in a business sense, they’ve only been mildly successful, evidenced by the fact that they don’t totally own the market they’re in.

So now the two join forces. Why? Oh, I think Flash might have something to do with it. Competition over the formats and tools of tomorrow’s rich applications is heating up, and Adobe didn’t have a foot in the door until today. Sure, they’ve been big on SVG all along, if perhaps by default, but there are a lot of reasons why SVG is probably not going to be the lingua franca of the future application space. Low implementation rates, a hazy future, and very little developer interest. (Although, interestingly, SVG has a mobile version which is apparently gathering a lot of steam in the handheld space.)

Flash, on the other hand, is a viable option here and now. It has the potential and the developer base to build tomorrow’s applications. A couple of questions naturally follow: what will become of Adobe’s long-standing commitment to SVG, now that Flash is in the fold? Since SWF is an ‘open’ format and Macromedia makes money on the player anyway, would there be a business case in transitioning SWF to SVG?

But this is also where the fear, uncertainty and doubt kicks in. If Adobe is gearing up for a battle in the rich application space, what happens if they lose? They’re not exactly known for their coding tools at the moment; presumably, key Macromedia teams will be in charge of ensuring the design tools work well with the development tools. From a technical standpoint, a lot remains to be proven. From a competition standpoint, well… as best as I can tell, their main competition is a stable of open source technologies, and Microsoft. That’s almost a rigged game, where a likely outcome for Adobe is a thorough trampling by both other interests. Remember how Microsoft sent a rep to promote their latest and greatest to a crowd of Flash developers?

The combined Macromedia and Adobe stable of design software is industry standard; with this buyout, Adobe essentially has a monopoly over the design world. (Quark aside. Very far aside.) So they’ll always have that to fall back on. But investors like growth. If the growth stops, or slows, or does anything short of grow, investors react. This particular method of growth is risky, given the competition, and if it fails to materialize, then what? Another buyout? By whom…?

And this is just one particular line of inquiry of many. There are hundreds of other questions which have been asked elsewhere, regarding product lines and feature merging and PDF and and and. Over time, we’ll get the answers. Here’s hoping this move pays off.

huphtur says:
April 18, 01h

Freehand + Illustrator = Frustrator

April 18, 01h

Is Microsoft really a direct competitor? It seems to me that Corel is the only direct competitor left, and they’re way behind.

Jason G says:
April 18, 01h

I’m really concerned about this as well.

I personally prefer Fireworks to ImageReady and Freehand to Illustrator and am very nervous on how Adobe could potentially murder those apps.

I mean, I absolutely use Photoshop for all my digital imaging, but for layouts I almost always use FW.

Not to mention that now all MM software will be jacked up to Adobe prices. (OUCH!)

And I hate to say it…but what about support and customer service? I can’t remember the last time I got good customer service from Adobe, whereas, the opposite is true with MM (maybe others would disagree, I dunno.)

Oh, and uh…what exactly is the “complementary functionality of Macromedia Flash and Adobe PDF”? They are both on the web?

beto says:
April 18, 01h

First thing I thought when I saw the news this morning was “Oh cr*p, now they are going to chop Studio MX in pieces and shove it into Photoshop!”

These are kinda sad news for me. I have been using Fireworks since version 1 (circa 1998) and have come to appreciate the convenient, unique features that such program offers to me in day-to-day web production, offering me what Adobe didn’t deliver - and still doesn’t. Using Photoshop for web graphics is akin to driving a Hummer just to get to the grocery store two blocks away.

At this time, it is uncertain what will be the outcome of Adobe buying MM, but one thing is clear - in any case, things will change, for better or worse (let’s hope the former).

Quoting Mr.Dominey: “At least it wasn’t Microsoft”.

matt says:
April 18, 03h

I’m very uneasy about the monopolistic aspects, but I am quite optimistic about the resulting products. While MM have been more attuned to the web in general, Adobe have had a much better approach to opening formats, and in general their products have a far more solid, less buggy feel. Frankly I have often found MM visual interfaces annoying and frustrating for more than 10 years now - I’ll be glad to see them reworked by Adobe. I think there are some great strengths on both sides.

Steve D says:
April 18, 04h

Ah, great. Adobe gets to murder more software with ridiculous bloat.

C’mon, why should Adobe READER of all things take soooooo long to load? I’ve started using the (less functional, but magnitudes faster) Foxit PDF Reader ( ) for reading PDFs.

Adobe makes some stuff with great functionality, but you could NEVER say that they’re exactly optimised…

April 18, 04h

Just to echo of previous comments. I like many others will be very upset if Fireworks disappears.

However this would be only one possible symptom of what will be a monopoly or as good as. Monopolies are almost never good for customer service, prices or innovation.

I can only hope this will be the exception to the rule or that competition will spring from somewhere.

Jacqui says:
April 18, 05h

Does anybody remember back to Adobe buying PageMaker from Aldus? Yes, PageMaker wasn’t Quark in those days, but then Quark wasn’t PageMaker either.

What I’m forever grateful to Adobe for is that InDesign was born out of this particular Adobe buy and now we have a fantastic and incredibly competitive layout program that has wonderful cross-compatibility/functionality across the other important image software for print: Photoshop and Illustrator.

Then, Adobe had assessed the market’s need and wants - Quark too expensive and inflexible; PageMaker okay, but, not as good as it could be - and gave us a great software solution to those issues. Hopefully, the same philosophy, wisdom and spirit is at play here.

Joey says:
April 18, 05h

I too was quite shocked by this news story … I wonder if they’ll even get approval, since it would be a monopoly.

One comment I wanted to make, though - have you seen GoLive CS2? I haven’t used it yet, but from what I hear it’s ground-up built around CSS-based design. Sounded like a really cool package, but I haven’t heard many CSS designers talk about it thus far.

Bob says:
April 18, 05h

At least Quark didn’t buy them both. ;)

Oliver says:
April 18, 07h

I have never liked Adobe. Now I despise it.

Jason says:
April 18, 10h

Interesting. Personally a strangle hold on any market is a bad idea in my mind. This move effectivly gives Adobe just about all of the design software market. It’s actually kind of disturbing.

Here’s hoping thing work out for the betterment of software evrywhere. Realistically, I doubt it.

April 18, 11h

Yeah, I’ve read about this before, too.

I don’t hope that Adobe will kill some of the Macromedia applications for the sake of their own, like Fireworks, Freehand and Dreamweaver.

Jon Clark says:
April 18, 11h

Let’s all be glad that it didn’t happen the other way around. Personally I think this will be good in the long-run.

Derek says:
April 18, 11h

Years ago, many of the improvements in Macromedia’s and Adobe’s products were driven by the other company (Illustrator vs. FreeHand in particular). Recently not so much, but it was still good to have two strong competitors in the design marketplace.

What the combined company has (or will have, I should say) now is a strong slate of software products and file formats across the design spectrum. Maintaining control over PDF, PSD, SWF, AI, and PostScript right across the board, as well as having both Photoshop and Dreamweaver under the tent is a pretty big field.

But who’s going to push Adobedia now? As Dave said, open source and Microsoft are two big forces. The combined team is going to have to be very smart, and not assume that Flash, Dreamweaver, Acrobat, Photoshop, and Illustrator are going to keep them profitable in the long term.

Too bad, though. I did like Macromedia’s software boxes better than Adobe’s.

Ruy says:
April 18, 11h

Question for Dave:

Will you join me in a murderous rampage if Fireworks somehow gets lost between all this? I know you are one of the chosen few who appreciate Fireworks for what it is, and realize that making web graphics (or god forbid, page designs) in Photoshop is akin to scratching your back using a prosthetic foot.

This is pretty much my main fear about the merger - I’m not sure Adobe really “gets” Fireworks’ niche usefulness.

Dave S. says:
April 18, 12h

“I know you are one of the chosen few who appreciate Fireworks for what it is, and realize that making web graphics (or god forbid, page designs) in Photoshop is akin to scratching your back using a prosthetic foot.”


Where did you get that from? I use Fireworks from time to time, sure. But I work primarily in Photoshop and Illustrator. Yes, even for (god forbid) page designs.

Ruy says:
April 18, 12h

Well I’m feeling sort of silly now, but I could have sworn you wrote something along the lines of Fireworks being the better choice for web vectors around the time you made the ice-skating girl illustration back in December.

Suffice to say, I certainly think Fireworks is the better choice for page designs (importing PSDs as needed) and I’ll be pretty peeved if they decide to pull it.

April 18, 12h

Well, that’s a big move. In my humble opinion, it is really dangerous, a bit like the Microsoft problem. Adobe is now a monopoly and they have their hotel on each card of the game. Now, who will successfully get away without paying the big bill?

Expect to see a raise in software prices. If there is no competition, consumer will pay. However, this could end up in better open-source products like The Gimp, as some designers will not be able to afford that too easily. One thing I hope is that they will keep working on their actual products. We still need useful updates, and we, customers, have to keep pushing to get them, even if there is no more competition. They will need new competitors, competitors that create really good products, even better than Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Illustrator. I think the real problem here is Flash… as no one could ever create a fully working software to build flash designs without paying royalties to Adobe.

We all hope it will not get too bad, but hey, money’s talking here! Raise your software budget!

Huck says:
April 18, 12h

I’m not much of a designer or anything, but I fail to see how this could be even the slightest improvement in any conceivable way.

Adobe was already doing little to improve their graphics products (at least from my limited view), but now that their main competitor is gone, are we to expect more?

Sure open source is working on some things and I guess Microsoft is aware that the market exists, but that’s not what I’d consider competition.

I’m really not familiar with every aspect of the design market, so I might be missing some obvious things, but as a user of web and graphics software, I’m kinda worried that we’re in for a decade of suck.

April 18, 12h

if i can be so bold as to make predictions, i’d say that fireworks will find itself merged into imageready. and, as somebody who invested time and effort mastering livemotion before it was so unceremoniously killed off, i can only hope that adobe will resurrect its wonderfully intuitive (for an old after effects hand like me) interface and graft it back on top of the powerful functionality of macromedia flash.

exciting times ahead…although the monopolistic aspects scare the hell out of me…

matthew says:
April 18, 12h


I just hope Macromedia brings the Adobe line-up up, rather than Adobe bringing the Macromedia line-up down. Ive been very disapointed with the Adobe software of late.

I always thought Macromedia should buy Quark but heyhoo, the Adobe monopoly rolls on I guess.

Nathan says:
April 19, 04h

Flash is an “open” format? Really? Why then is there no Flash Player for Linux PPC and Linux x86-64? If SWF is, in fact, truly open, I would expect to see some sort of usable player for each of these platforms. Theoretically, these players would be “open” too.

You’re wrong about this, unless I’m missing something.

Rob Foxx says:
April 19, 04h

This is grim news - Dreamweaver is already bloated, so god knows what sort of monster Adobe will create when they get their hands on it.

Looks like we can kiss goodbye to Homesite forever, now, and since v.3 I’ve preferred Fireworks to Photoshop for creating web graphics, too, so this whole deal stinks in my opinion.

My company are just about to order a dozen Studio MX licenses, but I’m going to advise that we hold off until this all shakes out.

Land says:
April 19, 04h

One option I’m not sure I’ve seen mentioned is the merging of Fireworks, Imageready and a lesser known, but reasonably effective imaging product - Adobe Elements. For those who haven’t used it, Elements is a scaled back version of Photoshop with many of the same features, but at a much smaller price.

I use Photoshop for my digital imaging and design needs, so I won’t be heartbroken if Fireworks disappears. But, I understand the concern by those that use it exclusively - esp. those who do web imaging only.

I do very strongly agree with one statement that I saw elsewhere - at least it wasn’t Microsoft buying Macromedia. Take it from someone who has used ColdFusion for a while and is now being forced to switch over to C#.NET. Not good times. And yes, I understand the benefits of OO programming.

I just hope that Adobe retains the customer support level that Macromedia has maintained. Our development team has been able to make direct contact with the CF development team on more than one occasion - sometimes with the product lead. And at Macromedia MAX, a room full of developers was able to lob questions and needs directly at the entire development team of both ColdFusion and Flash. Tell me that happens with any MS products…didn’t think so.

John says:
April 19, 05h

This is a bit grim. I can’t stand the ‘feel’ or interface of Photoshop et al.

For all its annoyances Dreamweaver is great, and the thought of having to give up Fireworks really doesn’t appeal much either.

Dave S. says:
April 19, 05h

“Flash is an “open” format? Really?”

Really. The byte code was opened for development and extension by third parties years ago, although Google is telling me that shockingly little evidence of that remains online. This is the best I could come up with:

You will notice the quotes around the word “open” in my original article, because it was never truly “open sourced”. No third-party players? No idea why. These guys made a commercial development tool out of it though:

Stephen says:
April 19, 05h

The only Macromedia product I use is Homesite and I’m a big Adobe fan so I’m actually looking forward to what happens with this merge.

A few comments from above:
“Adobe was already doing little to improve their graphics products”

: The changes to CS2 are huge. They continue to add loads of improved features to their creative suite.

“why should Adobe READER of all things take soooooo long to load?”

: have you tried Reader 7 yet? It’s incredibly fast.

“Looks like we can kiss goodbye to Homesite forever, now,”

: Whens the last time Macromedia actually updated it?

Jamal says:
April 19, 06h

What would be extremely cool would be that Adobe releases the Macromedia apps they decide they won’t include in their portfolio as open source - warning utopian thought [not so, see solaris…]- lol!

Or that guys from macromedia that won’t like the idea of working for Adobe create a start up (now we’d have real competition)? Anyone?

Tom says:
April 19, 08h

I have to say I’m excited. As mentionend by Matt above, MM interfaces have always been very bugging. I’m particularly frustrated by Flash’s implementation of bezier curves. There is little precision control over the curves. It can be very frustrating. I have always felt that Adobe’s interfaces were the best of any software in any market.

I feel the same way about Adobe’s software manuals. They are intensely thorough yet clean. The information is easy to find and consume. On the other hand MM’s software manuals are a hoax at best. When learning flash, I was frustrated at the details left out in the software manual.

The fears that innovation at Adobe will diminish are unfounded. Photoshop is the best software package; again, in any field. There is no piece of software so thorough and well built. And Adobe continues to innovate this product despite having no real direct competition. No one comes close and yet they still innovate.

Adobe has never rested on it’s laurels and I don’t see the acquisition of MM changing that. I am excited for the integrity of production that Adobe will bring to MM’s products and software manuals. I expect this to be a great step forward in terms of ease of workflow.

One more note…all the talk has been focused around MM’s web apps and mostly Flash. Don’t forget that MM also owns Fontographer. Let’s hope that little gem gets to see daylight again under the helm of Adobe.

Corey says:
April 19, 09h

I’m wondering what will happen to Freehand in particular. When Adobe bought Aldus, Freehand looked like it would die, but fortunately for all the Freehand users, Macromedia took it over. Maybe where there’s crossover, Adobe will allow those Macromedia products to go elsewhere again.

April 19, 09h

My main concerns with this merger is Adobe have never even seemed to aknowledge the linux platform bar Adobe acrobat reader. (and we all know how good that product is)

Macromedia has had a roadmap for linux compatibility for sometime … primarily with full wine support then portage. Working in a Web Development shop that is moving towards being entirly linux based this could be a major PITA. Who knows adobe might actually follow suit.

At least they will stop suing each other for patent infringement … the patents being what any software developer would call “logical progression”!
But thats what scares me, all that IP in one place …. its going to be hard for any serious competition in a market that REALLY needs it.

Nathan says:
April 19, 10h

This is bad news. Adobe is an aging dinosaur in may respects. Bloated software, poor interfaces, bad support, etc. As a web dev/designer I work with Macromedia almost exclusively (save a little Photoshop). Time to say goodbye to my beloved Fireworks. Dreamweaver will get hacked up and grafted onto GoLive. You could go on and on about how bad this is for the design community.

All this does is boost shares and the bottom line for the short term and leaves the customers to get the shaft. So much for competition and innovation. Corporate megalomaniacs suck.

April 20, 01h

>>This is a bit grim. I can’t stand the ‘feel’ or interface of Photoshop et al.<<
I absolutely agree on that, most people I know agree that the UI for Adobe apps has been going downhill since Photoshop 5 or 6.

>>“Adobe was already doing little to improve their graphics products”
: The changes to CS2 are huge. They continue to add loads of improved features to their creative suite.<<
The above was the context I was talking about, sure Adobe have added loads of bells and whistles to their apps, but I have problems finding all the juicy new stuff under the mire of clunky interface. For this reason Im still using photoshop 7 - the last semi-reasonable photoshop Ui imo.

Mad says:
April 20, 05h

I’m pleasantly suprised to see I’m not alone in my consternation over Firework’s impending doom and also pleased to see that others love Fireworks for the lovely tool it is. Maybe we need a “Save Fireworks” campaign… then again if it’s going to cost as much as Photoshop maybe we should all just support the GIMP instead.

Rob Foxx says:
April 20, 06h

Re: Homesite, Stephen said
“Whens the last time Macromedia actually updated it?”

Well, they had a small team still working on it - I’ve answered survey e-mails from the team lead, asking what I’d like to see in a future version of Homesite, but admittedly the last one was almost a year ago now.

The coding side of this is less important, I’ll jump ship to Zend and Topstyle when the time comes, but for web graphics it’ll be a sad day when Adobe starts butchering the fine product that Fireworks has matured into.

Rob says:
April 20, 07h

> Unsuccessfully, I’d add, as the last time anyone used an Adobe product to generate actual production-ready HTML code would have been some time before the Euro went into wide circulation.

I don’t understand this. All of my GoLive-built sites validate with the W3C. If you can’t generate valid code with GoLive then you don’t know what you are doing.

As for GoLive CS2, yes, it has even more features for designing with CSS. For example, the layout grid, which used to be table-based and something few serious GoLive users would touch, now generates CSS instead of tables.

shishira says:
April 20, 08h

i hope that the future versions of both Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks will have support for SVG as nearly all the other Adobe products do extensively support SWF … omigosh what will happen to CFML or will we see a similar thing which happened to Homesite and Dreamweaver?

hope for the best

Johan says:
April 20, 09h

My greatest concern is that people that have bought ie flash mx of former macromedia and when they eventually would considder upgrading -they would find another program.

rafu says:
April 20, 12h

Macromedia’s pneuma is killed by this transaction. I won’t be surprised if, in a closed future, they annouce a fusion of their developpers into the same entity, and after that, they’ll make some drastic cut. Be sure that Macromedia’s engineers will soon be available on the market. (Sorry for my poor english)

Alan Whitelaw says:
April 21, 02h

At first I thought this was a bad idea, then I started to think it has happened on a smaller scale before; Macromedia bought Flash and im sure Adobe didn’t build everything in their Creative Suite.

Why not do it on a large scale, better interaction between softwear and more tools in one place. With programs like Flash that are capable of “publishing” in many standard formats, including *.pdf now, will be easier to use and have better features that work better.

The first problem I see is multiple file types *.psd vs. *.png. I think we need to scrap the *.jpg.

On the down side CS MX will cost a fortune!


April 21, 06h

This sucks. Macromedia sold out on us all. Outside certain open source projects (Mozilla), they were the only software development company that I really trusted.

All of Macromedia’s products got better with each new version. Can we say this about all of Microsoft or Adobe’s products. Didn’t think so.

It is a real sad day.

April 23, 04h

I think it’s both good and bad.

For one, we can be quite sure prices will sky-rocket once the merger is complete. Also, Adobe’s support isn’t what it should be (though I’ve heard lots of bad words about Macromedia’s support as well).

Adobe seems to spend as much time and money on both Mac and Win platform as opposed to Macromedia as they just don’t seem to care about the Mac at all (except taking money out of our pockets). Flash 5 was the last release that was truly good on the Mac.

Let’s just hope Adobe gets some help putting their installers together because those give me the biggest grief. Installing Illustrator CS was a pain and to top it off it didn’t work properly until after the fourth time I tried installing it. After that though, I have not had any crashes which is not what you can say about Flash…

I think it will be great for Flash-lovers but it’s going to cost a hell of a lot of money. Other than that I doubt it Adobe will make any innovating changes over the next years if there is no competition…

chris says:
April 25, 09h

Regarding the “open format” question: there’s a couple projects I’m familiar with. On my AMD64 box, under gentoo, I’ve had luck with gplflash: as a firefox plugin. Another swf player implementing the open standard is swfdec, which I haven’t used. In terms of authoring tools, on the other hand, there’s laszlo ( which I beleive ends up outputting swf’s, though I haven’t used it (no J2EE application server on my current webhost). It does look very interesting though.

chris says:
April 25, 09h

Oh, as an addendum to put my post on topic, regarding the prospective acquisition, it seems to me that the two most annoying formats on the web today are flash and pdf’s, and this is especially the case for those without bandwidth. I see this merger as a threat to an open, standards-based web and a bad thing in general.

Mauricio Fernandez RosiƱol says:
June 04, 09h

FREEHAND MX = Illustrator + InDesign + more…
Hope to see as they are right now, if not I want them merged in to the most powerful weapon for Graphics/Print.

Saha says:
December 25, 03h

This is bad news. Adobe is an aging dinosaur in may respects. Bloated software, poor interfaces, bad support, etc. As a web dev/designer I work with Macromedia almost exclusively (save a little Photoshop). Time to say goodbye to my beloved Fireworks. Dreamweaver will get hacked up and grafted onto GoLive. You could go on and on about how bad this is for the design community.

Serg says:
March 21, 15h

We don’t know what is happening as a result of the merger between Macromedia and Adobe. One representative deep inside Adobe has commented that there is strong standards support within the company. Rachel Andrew and Drew McLellan are still carrying forward their consultancy with Macromedia. Before the merger Macromedia were testing their products against the Acid 2 test.