Flash, Silverlight and H.264

Post ImageAdobe launched a new version of Flash on Monday. The update is codenamed “Moviestar” because it adds support for H.264, a video compression codec. The release is significant because it allows Flash to play really high quality video. Adobe expects the final version to be ready this fall.

I think it’s clear that Adobe added H.264 support to Flash as a way to compete with Microsoft’s Silverlight and VC-1. SmugMug’s Don MacAskill thinks the announcement gives Adobe the edge:

Silverlight 1.0 is focused almost entirely on video, including HD, and clearly gunning for Flash. So why wouldn’t they go right for Flash’s big Achilles heel – no H.264 support?

Oh well – that opportunity is now lost, and I believe this basically nails Silverlight 1.0’s coffin shut.

Don goes on to say that he had high hopes for strong competition among Rich Internet Application frameworks. I really value Don’s opinion, and I think he’s a really smart guy, but I think his comment is somewhat misleading and I have to disagree with him here. Why? Because it’s only August 22nd, 2007, that’s why.

I realize that Don specifically mentioned “Silverlight 1.0” but I wouldn’t fault you for skimming over the version number, and that’s what needs to be addressed. First of all, Silverlight 1.0 hasn’t even been released yet. Secondly, the first real release is going to be Silverlight 1.1, which is currently in alpha. There’s a lot of time left before the final version of 1.1 is released. Who knows, maybe Microsoft will even add support for H.264 before that time (though Don says he has been told by MS employees that no more codecs will be added).

The point is that it’s still early. Don’t count Silverlight out just yet. Lots can happen between now and the final releases of both Flash “Moviestar” and Silverlight. I think it’s safe to say there won’t be a lack of competition in the RIA framework space.

I completely agree with Don’s last statement though:

You’re going to see a massive boom in the online video space shortly. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Exactly. Lots to come still. It’s an exciting time!

Read: SmugBlog

Welcoming ColdFusion to the world of .NET

Post ImageTwo weeks ago Adobe unleashed a public beta of ColdFusion 8, the first major release of the technology since Adobe acquired Macromedia. One of the new features in version 8 is native support for .NET objects, which makes it simple to build business logic in .NET and still utilize ColdFusion for the user experience layer. Thus, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to ColdFusion developers – you can now easily use the very powerful .NET framework as part of your applications!

If you’d like to get your hands dirty, you can download the beta here. Then check out this code example from Ben Forta, Adobe’s Senior Technical Evangelist. He shows you how to use .NET to retrieve information about the hard drives on your server.

I asked Jason Delmore, Product Manager for ColdFusion, for his thoughts on adding .NET support. Here’s what he said:

I think the point that our .NET capabilities emphasize is that there are strengths to each development technology…and an environment that allows for heterogeneous development can leverage the strengths of each of those environments at the same time.

It’s a good point: ColdFusion provides another option for integration. Of course you’d like to use .NET all the time, but if you have to use some Java perhaps to integrate with an existing system, ColdFusion lets you combine both pretty easily. It also allows you to take advantage of PDF, Flex, and other technologies if you’re so inclined.

Unfortunately Jason declined to share what the next version of ColdFusion will bring, but it sounds like Adobe will make calling ColdFusion code from .NET much easier, with a “.NET Gateway.”

The new release of ColdFusion is obviously good news for CF developers, but I think .NET developers should be happy about it too. Any technology that makes it easier to use my code in another way is a good technology in my book!

Read: Adobe Labs

Corel to go public

Post ImageCorel is one of those companies that never seems to die, nor does it ever do anything amazing. As Seth Godin would say, they need a purple cow! The Canadian company (and I’ll be honest, the fact that they are Canadian is the only reason I care about this at all) has decided to go public, apparently to pay off some debts:

Canadian software maker Corel filed with U.S. regulators on Tuesday for an initial public offering of up to 8 million shares at $18 to $20 a share.

Corel estimated that it would generate $82.9 million in net proceeds from the offering and an additional $90 million from a new credit facility. According to the offering document, Corel intends to use the combined proceeds to pay off $144.9 million in existing debt and financing fees.

The company strikes me as one without focus, or at least, too many different focuses. CorelDRAW and WordPerfect Office do not seem to be complimentary products. Seems to me there wouldn’t be a lot of synergy between the two. I guess what I mean is that there can only be one Adobe!

Read: CNET News.com

Goodbye Acrobat, Hello Office 12

Post ImageLongtime readers of my blog will know that I have often complained about Adobe Acrobat and how terribly slow it is. The program uses too many resources, loads too much stuff, and runs far too slow. Unfortunately, there aren’t many other applications that support PDF so completely, so I’ve been stuck with it. That looks to change with Office 12 though, as Tablet PC MVP Rob Bushway notes:

This afternoon Steven Sinofsky announced to our MVPs that we will build in native support for the PDF format in Office “12”. I constantly get asked by customers if we can build in this support for publishing documents as PDF files, and now I can thankfully say “yes!” It’s something we’ve been hearing about for years, and earlier in this project we decided that while there were already existing third party tools for doing this, we should do the work to build the functionality natively into the product.

Chris Pratley on the OneNote team also confirmed the news:

One big smile was when Steven Sinofsky announced during his wrap-up Q&A this morning that Office 12 apps (OneNote included) will support “Save as PDF” natively. He then went through a demo of most of the apps showing each of them saving to PDF. Publisher (another app whose design team I manage) will even support CMYK output for professional pre-press work. Actually, the Publisher team did most of the work to support PDF over the last year. Then the other teams hooked up to the core PDF generator that they wrote from scratch.

This is big, big news that has been a long time coming. Finally I should be able to ditch Acrobat. I mean if you think about it, what applications do you create PDF files from? For myself, it’s Word and Publisher. Goodbye Acrobat!

Was Adobe's decision wise?

The big news in the tech world today is that Adobe has bought Macromedia for $3.4 billion. Many people seem to think
that the two make a perfect couple, and complement each other in a
number of ways. While I suppose that’s true, I think this might be the
beginning of the end for Adobe and Macromedia.

The first article I saw on the acquisition was this one,
from News.com. It tends to focus on how Adobe and Macromedia are
“making peace”, so that they can compete better together against, who
else, Microsoft. Indeed, Adobe’s CEO Bruce Chizen said “When I think
about competitors, there’s only one I really worry about. Microsoft is
the competitor, and it’s the one that keeps me up at night.”

Until now, Adobe has been pretty dominant with its PDF format, and
Macromedia has been pretty dominant with its Flash platform. Microsoft
has largely left the two alone, even using both technologies. I
wouldn’t say there has been too much competition So here’s my question:
how does this merger HELP the two compete against Microsoft?

The Adobe acquisition of Macromedia is like a smoke signal.
Microsoft will see it, and all of a sudden, the new Adobe is on the
radar in a much bigger way. Who is Microsoft more likely to pay
attention to, two smaller companies, or one large one? Who poses a
bigger threat to Windows, Adobe, Macromedia, or the two combined?
People describe Microsoft as a ship that constantly changes course to
mitigate new threats. Really, they are more like a fleet of ships. I’d
imagine they’ll dispatch a few to deal with the new Adobe now.

I think Adobe and Macromedia make some excellent products, and it
would be very difficult for Microsoft to come up with direct
competitors. Visual Studio is far beyond Dreamweaver, but other than
that, Microsoft doesn’t really make any competing products. At least
not yet. It’ll be interesting to see what happens now, to say the
least. Best of luck to Adobe and Macromedia, but I’m not sure the
merger is the start of better things!

Read: Adobe and Macromedia