Streams of announcements are pouring out of the Adobe MAX 2011 conference in Los Angeles, which concludes today. It appears that the company has decided to embrace about every hot technology trend -- mobile, tablets and a touch of the cloud -- simultaneously.

Creativity in the Cloud

Adobe announced a new subscription based cloud service designed to free creative professionals from the bounds of the desktop. The new service will allow viewing, sharing and synching of Adobe Creative Suite files and provide 20GB of storage. Creative Cloud is really based around three core features:

  • Hosted services like Adobe Business Catalyst, the Digital Publishing Service and Fonts
  • Social which allows users to share their work with clients and other creative professionals
  • Cloud based storage and “everywhere” access of creative content

Subscription to the Creative Cloud will also include access to the desktop versions of Creative Suite applications like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator and Premiere. Adobe has not yet released pricing for the service.

Creative Touch

In addition to the cloud-based services, Adobe also revealed details on six new applications designed for touch-based devices:

  • Photoshop Touch
  • Collage -- allows users to combine images, drawing, text and other content into what Adobe terms “moodboards” that can be shared on the new Adobe Creative Cloud.
  • Debut -- allows users to view and annotate files created using Adobe Creative Suite and stored on the Adobe Creative Cloud. The application is designed to allow creative to share work with clients or collaborate with peers.
  • Ideas -- used to create vector graphics
  • Kuler -- this application, which allows you to create color palates, has been available online for several years. Adobe is spicing things up by targeting it for touch.
  • Proto -- used to create interactive mobile website mockups that can be opened in DreamWeaver and stored (you guessed it) on the Creative Cloud

The move is, well, kind of a big deal for Adobe. According to Adobe’s Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch, this is really the first time in two decades the company has considered rethinking its creative tooling. Interest will likely be strongest in Photoshop Touch.


The touch version of the popular software will not offer all of the features of the computer-based application, but users will be able to apply filters to an image, combine them with other images, extract individual elements from an image, paint will various paintbrushes and share photos on Facebook.

Proto is also likely to have widespread use from web developers dashing between client sites. During Lynch’s Adobe MAX address he showed how a few finger strokes could be used to sketch out all of the major components of a web page. What’s even cooler, is that Proto can generate HTML, CSS and JavaScript for the resulting wireframe that can be transferred to a more sophisticated web development tool.

Adobe plans to release the applications in November with a US$ 9.99 introductory price. Adobe will initially offer Android versions of the applications, but support for Apple’s iOS is expected to quickly follow. An iOS version of Ideas, however, has already been released. A mention of support for Windows 8 was notably missing.

Adobe’s Been Shopping

In preparation for all of the work that will be required to deliver this new functionality, Adobe has acquired privately held Nitobi Software, the creator of PhoneGap and PhoneGap Build -- a open source platform for building cross-platform mobile applications with HTML5 and JavaScript. The company also gobbled up TypeKit to leverage its embedded web font technology.

In addition to acquisitions, Adobe has partnered with WoodWing Software, which will offer Adobe Digital Publishing Suite as its sole tablet publishing solution. WoodWing users can combine the WoodWing editorial workflow solution with the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite in a single, cross-media workflow.

Adobe has been criticized in the past for failing to embrace advances in computing technology with it products. I suppose the critics will have to find something else to complain about now, because Adobe has clearly made significant strides. Well played Adobe. Well played.