In a somewhat surprising announcement one the first day of their MAX 2011, Adobe Systems announced that it was acquiring Nitobi Systems, the creator of PhoneGap.
At Ness we’re big supporters of PhoneGap and have used it for clients in some cases, so we’re happy to see this deal happen (not at happy as the Nitobi guys are ) as we think it will lead to more enhancements to an already strong platform.
I think this is an important development that mobile devs needs to pay attention to. There are three things that I think mobile developers should take away from the announcement:
1. Adobe is Looking Forward
2. It’s a Great Fit
This was a surprising deal to me only because I didn’t think Adobe was shopping for one of the mobile cross-platform framework companies. But it makes a ton of sense. Now developers can create the apps in HTML5 using Adobe CS5 and then deploy that code into native binaries via the PhoneGap framework with the click of a button. Dead easy (oversimplification, but you get the idea). I expect that the integration between CS5 and PhoneGap will improve over time to make it a seamless experience.
And I expect that this is the end of Adobe’s Packager for iPhone to translate CS5/Flash files into iOS compatible code. Good. I hope they put the extra development dollars from that project right into PhoneGap.
Further Adobe also released the third public preview of Adobe Edge a HTML5 motion and interaction design tool that enables Flash-like animation to websites and mobile apps via the Open Web Holy Trinity (HTML5/JS/CSS3, not to be confused with onion/celery/carrot for you cooking fans).
This has a chance to really get devs excited about Adobe again…not that Adobe hasn’t had great products all along – they have – but with all the posturing over Flash in their spat with Apple, they haven’t generated the excitement with the developer community that they had in years past. That should change now.
3. Adobe Continues PhoneGap’s Open Source Culture
Initially I wondered whether Adobe would continue to keep PhoneGap open source and include the developer community in enhancing the platform or if it might simply make the code available as Google does with Android. But Adobe was pretty emphatic in its support of the Open Source community as the code was donated to the Apache Software Foundation.
The Open Source nature of PhoneGap is part of what made it so popular with developers.
Now if I was cynical or suspicious I’d think that the donation to ASF was the final effort of the Nitobi management to ensure its legacy is maintained. Perhaps the Nitobi founders made it a condition of the deal? You only have to modestly parse the statements in the press release to say that Adobe endorsed the decision post the transaction, not encouraged it. Who knows and who cares. What’s important is that it’s done.
Are you using PhoneGap already? Does this announcement make you more or less interested in it as an option for mobile development? Let me know in the comments.
Oh, and one more thing. Do you think Samsung, Motorola and RIM will stop advertising Flash compatibility as a reason not to buy an iPad now? God, I hope so.