Graphics Software: Life After Macromedia

Pundit Glenn Fleischman at Tom’s Hardware Guide speculates on the future of graphics software companies, draws surprising and insightful conclusions

The impending merger, where Adobe will assimilate long-time multimeda-software player Macromedia, has many graphics professionals wondering what’s to come next. There has been much speculation about the status and the future of programs such as FreeHand and DreamWeaver and what this means to Adobe going forward.

In a brief and insightful article on the tech-omnibus site Tom’s Hardware Guide, writer Glenn Fleischman cannily reviews the history of graphic software firms, does a little family-tree tracing, and speculates on Adobe’s future competitors.

His connections are as valid as they are unexpected, and his conclusion about who Adobe’s future competitors will be will surprise those who debate Adobe vs Quark…it’s not who you’ll think it is.

Quark scarcely shows up in his assessment but for a couple of passing references. In fact, in the beginning, Adobe itself was just a player amongst a group of players when Acrobat began to raise it to prominence, then growth on the basis of such apps as Illustrator and Photoshop, and technologies like PostScript.

Over time, Adobe has innovated and acquired tehnologies that put it at the forefront of just about everything, except Web design and animation, which belong to Macromedia’s Flash and DreamWeaver. With the absorption of Macromedia, Adobe has positioned itself to provide tools that cover interactive content for portable devices…a level of play that only big boys such as Apple and Microsoft are even on at all, and Quark is nowhere near, despite its addition of Web-design tools to XPress.

We design tool users debate which will come out in the end-XPress or InDesign, but this would seem to be but a small piece of the overall battlefield. Fleishman offers the insight that the future could well be in the mobile ‘web, and Adobe could now conquer a significant portion of that new world.

And, in the larger sense, Adobe’s bête noir might not be Quark after all. I recommend reading this.

You can find it at this link.

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6 Responses

  1. It’s not a total surprise to everyone. :-)

    Over the din of angry Macolytes I’ve been saying for two years now that Apple is targeting Adobe and other application developers on whose products Mac sales are largely dependent. As I’ve reported in the past, Apple is developing or has developed competing products in most of the markets that directly affect Mac hardware and OS sales. One application at a time, they are moving to supplant the dominance of MS Office, for example.

    Two years ago I predicted Pages, Motion, iWork, and Tiger’s Core Image, though, as will undoubtedly echo following this comment, the blindly Mac-loyal shouted me down (even when other analysts plagiarized me).

    For 18 months now Apple has had a fully functional competitor to Photoshop. I haven’t seen it, nor do I know its capabilities compared with Photoshop CS or CS2, but apparently Apple feels it’s ready to roll, according to a source inside Apple. The impending Adobe-Macromedia merger has undoubtedly pushed back the timeframe for crossing that particular point-of-no-return. Core Image is Steve Jobs toeing the line.

  2. Thanks for following that with your own insights. Having some idea of what your expeirence are they fill in the needful perspective gaps in my own POVs. Also, while I am quite in love with my Mac, since I”m not a Mac user since “back in the day”, I tend to take such views with a lot more temperance. I, frankly, can’t comprehend when people react so.

    I’m somewhat familiar with your viewpoint on Apple’s software evolution, and I’d say that Fleishman’s view vindicates yours to a great degree. If we accept that Apple and Adobe are now very close to being peers, it only makes sense that Apple will try to steal some of Adobe’s thunder. I remember the loss of bonhomie between the two companies that made news..what was it, about a year and a half ago?

    Since you mentioned, I have had the opportunity to see Pages. It was an interesting thing to try to use. It seems to be largely something more rich than Word but less rich than Publisher or PageMaker. Like a word processor that wants to be page layout when it grows up. Could this be the beginning of an app to go up against InDesign (if I read Fleischman correctly, it certainly wouldn’t be competing with Quark…or would it?)

    Moreover, Apple may be of the opinion that they have a product that could go up against Photoshop…but would that be a reasonable thing for Apple to assume? PS seems more entrenched in more consituencies than even Quark was.

    Also, I hear a great deal about Core Image, but I just don’t have enough minutes in the day to chase down exactly what that means or why I should care. Could you define that?

  3. tristan defew says:

    we hav a debate going on at our work, 2 which is the best software 2 use for making up book work, which involves artworks. I like quark, but a person in the office keeps goin bout indesign, which I also have used, but tend to lend towards quark. What does quark hav and do better, which indesign can’t/struggle 2 do. Please help this bloke is doin my head in!!

  4. Personally speaking, I haven’t used either to do books or long documents, at least not yet. I”ll have to defer to reputation-which suggests that Quark may be better for books, but that may just be because it’s entrenched-and other people’s experiences.

    If you’re looking for layout software that involves books including artwork, I’d go for InDesign and the Creative Suite. No other program at this time handles graphics so well; transparency is recognized in TIFFs, so no clipping paths are necessary, and you can use PSDs and AI files natively, without the need for conversion.

    Quark has come up with free XTensions that provide native PSD Import, and the new QuarkVista XTension allows for inline non-destructive image adjustments. PSD Import is good, and QuarkVista is good…QuarkVista is quite a resource hog though.

    Anyone else care to chime in on this?

  5. Janes Mann says:

    Hi tristan, Quark is still the best layout program our publishing industry can have.Wait for 7.0, Quark XPress won’t be easy to resist.

  6. Actually, the very best application for long books is FrameMaker, but it is decidedly not designer friendly. It’s a technical writer’s dream application.

    If you want a more designer-friendly environment, look toward Quark and InDesign. At present, InDesign is your best bet, as Sam suggested. It handles long documents and book design quite well (I’ve personally used both it and Quark [version 4.1] for book production).

    As Janes notes, Quark 7 might be a competitive choice, but no one who can talk about it has seen it. It hasn’t been shown to members of the press without a non-disclosure agreement. And, at the moment, we have only the word of people like Janes who use apparently throw-away e-mail addres at free services like Yahoo and GMail to fervently spread vague and unquantified propoganda about it.