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Macromedia to Adobe: 'We share the vision'

MacWorld Online

(IDG) -- Macromedia and Adobe Systems may be bitter rivals for the hearts and wallets of Web designers, but Macromedia CEO Rob Burgess told MacWEEK on Wednesday that he shares Adobe's vision of Network Publishing, a set of new and emerging technologies that enable "visually rich, personalized content, available anytime, anywhere, on any device." Burgess wasn't prepared to adopt the "Network Publishing" moniker, but he noted that Macromedia has already been discussing many of the same trends, such as the potential for displaying rich media on Web-enabled cell phones.

"I think they're extremely consistent with our vision," Burgess said. "We've both got millions of customers telling us the same thing. It's quite clear that this is what the marketplace wants."

Burgess said that organizations are having problems finding efficient, cost-effective means of publishing information on multiple devices and channels, a struggle he expects to continue over the next decade.

"There's a whole lot of technology that needs to be built over the next five to six years," he said. "Very little of the technology to develop, manage and deploy that content exists today."

Asked if Macromedia also might use the "Network Publishing" label, Burgess quipped, "I don't know, they might sue us," referring to his company's patent dispute with Adobe.

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The visions may be the same, but the "points of gravity" between Macromedia and Adobe are "very different," Burgess said. "Everybody looks at these issues from their own point of view. We tend to be more focused on the Internet." Adobe, he said, takes a more "paper-centric" view of the world.

In an interview on Tuesday, Adobe CEO John Warnock told MacWEEK that his company's presence in the print, video and Web-creation markets gives it an advantage over Macromedia because it can provide tools for deploying content in a wider range of media.

"Adobe is trying to do more things, and there are some cases where that might be advantage," Burgess conceded. "On other hand, there's a lot of legacy as well."

With such products as Generator and Dreamweaver UltraDev, he said that Macromedia has focused more than Adobe on enabling applications such as e-commerce and Web-mediated customer-relations management. "We think we are providing technology that makes those kinds of Web-centric applications more effective," he said. "Their view is where publishing is the main application, and print becomes a core part of it."

Burgess noted that Web sites are moving from "brochureware," consisting of static information, to dynamic, database-driven content. UltraDev, released earlier this year, lets users create dynamic Web sites and see how they interact with live data. "It's the most sophisticated Web-authoring tool in the market today," he claimed.

Along with the move to data-driven sites, more Web producers are incorporating rich media, such as Flash or streaming video. "Today," he added, "you only have to consider PCs and Macs. Tomorrow you have to contemplate wireless devices and different form factors."

Macromedia claims that 75 percent of Web professionals use its products, although most also employ Photoshop or other Adobe software. "Adobe is a fine company," he said. "They have a lot of customers, but most of those are involved in print and media which is mostly static."

Burgess also noted the companies' differences over Web-oriented vector graphics formats. Both have adopted Macromedia's Flash and the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format, but Macromedia clearly favors its own well-established technology, while Adobe has been the primary champion of SVG, an XML-based specification maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

"Both technologies ultimately may be important," he said. "But SVG has a lot of hockey to be played yet." He said that SVG currently has only limited animation capabilities and also pointed to the hefty 3.5MB browser plug-in needed to view SVG online. "I don't see it as competition for Flash, but (Adobe) may see it differently," he said.

Macromedia does plan to follow Adobe's lead in supporting the WebDAV protocol for submitting jobs to production servers. "WebDAV is great because it's a standard," Burgess said. Adobe uses WebDAV as a key element in its InScope workflow management software. At present, Burgess said, Macromedia implements some workgroup features within its applications, but he said the company is considering other products for facilitating collaboration. "Clearly, this area is important, but we have no announcements at this time."

Going to Cupertino

Macromedia's relations with Apple are good, Burgess said, adding that Apple's recent stock plunge will not affect Macromedia's Mac development plans. "I think it's ridiculous what happened in the market," he said. "I think Apple is one of the best brands in the world."

During Steve Jobs' keynote at the Seybold San Francisco show in August, a Macromedia representative demonstrated Carbonized versions of Dreamweaver and Fireworks. Burgess said the company is "working aggressively" to move its applications to Apple's Carbon APIs, but would not commit to any ship dates.

Macromedia on Wednesday announced a deal with AvantGo to develop software that allows Dreamweaver and UltraDev developers to support AvantGo's wireless Web-browsing service. Macromedia already offers an extension that allows Dreamweaver developers to produce WML content for Web-enabled Nokia cell phones, but it currently works only with Windows. Adobe on Tuesday announced that it will offer a similar GoLive extension that emulates the cell phone's display.

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