This Boring Web – Why Adobe Edge isn’t for me

And, of course by “me” – I do mean me….personally, and not really anybody else.  This is evident from recent articles like “Does Adobe Finally Understand Developers” and “Has Adobe Gotten It’s Mojo Back?”.

The Adobe Edge set of tools includes a lot of goodies that seem very solid for web developer type folks.  I have to admit that Edge Inspect that enables live debugging on devices from a desktop might come in pretty handy one of these days.  To tell you why this new set of tools isn’t necessarily for me goes back to why I was originally an Adobe/Macromedia fan in the first place….

See, whenever a new version of whatever platform/software came out, be it Director, Flash, even Photoshop, Illustrator or the rest – it was like an early Christmas.  There was always something inside that new package that would let you do something that you could never do before.  I remember when Director and Flash each got the ability to set pixels on a canvas. This was a huge deal – you could do some crazy things with this new stuff.  And you couldn’t do it on the web before that – so it was a world’s first.

Productivity and good tooling was always a distant second to me.  I’ll be productive in whatever tools you give me, really.  It was the magic trick I was always after – the “How’d you do that” reaction and the sense of wonder going in to a new and impossible problem.

I feel like that part of the web has kind of died in recent years, and I don’t think it’s because of Flash really, but it’s because of the people touting good UI/UX, minimalistic design, etc.  And, of course, its certainly not a bad thing to have a useable site – but I do feel like the tone of the web has changed, and you’re not REALLY a web developer unless you are focused on clean UI.

To me, a clean UI and useable site is quite important and something to strive for in your professional endeavors – but it’s not where my passion lies.  With browser fragmentation, the magic tricks we have up our sleeves don’t work everywhere – and so we focus less on them and more on graceful degradation, and settling on boring everyday features in our web pages.

And so, the current state of things has led to “this boring web”.  No frills, no magic tricks, just clean, useable sites.  Again, this isn’t a bad thing – we NEED this type of thing, but it just doesn’t fill my creative passions.

Now, Adobe Edge…

I think Adobe is listening to this new “boring web”.  This is what people want to do, it’s what they will pay for.  People want good tools, and Adobe has a history of building good tools.  I think Edge will be great for Adobe’s revenue, and will inspire a good many people to go out an create.   But really….for me?  A new open source font?  A code editor?  The ability to set break points in your responsive design to create media queries?  This is all stuff we’ve been able to do for years without the fancy tools.  While it may lead to more productivity – it doesn’t inspire me personally to go out and create things that have never been created before.

Another interesting thing to think about is that especially with tools like Edge Animate – Adobe is pushing animation and motion on otherwise boring old websites.  Will there be blowback from this?  A new generation of people will feel empowered to add new things they never would have thought to do before without these tools – but will the clean UI/UX and useability people revolt?  I’ve read more than once (in so many words) that Adobe is turning HTML5 experiences into Flash.  For goodness sakes, there are people complaining that no website ever should have video.  You can’t please everyone, of course, but I do wonder how these new tools will rub people the wrong way.

Bottom line? I think Adobe Edge looks great and will be pushing some great new creative things forward.  Hell, I’ll probably give the tools a shot – I might like them.  But it’s nothing that you couldn’t do before, so the Adobe “magic” is kinda gone for me. I guess instead, I’m looking for my magic from other places – like Chromium, Mobile Apps, and maybe even some C++ (god forbid).

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