Adobe Illustrator Goes HTML5

Does Adobe want Flash to have a long and healthy future? Sure, but as the dominant player in software used by people who design Web sites, it's clear that it must embrace open-source HTML5 standards with at least as much energy as it gives its own technologies. Here's a promising sign: The company is releasing an add-on pack for its Illustrator vector-drawing package that turns the software into an HTML5 authoring tool. The Pack lets Illustrator users gear up for the richer Web ahead by beefing up Illustrator's existing SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) features and adding new support for HTML5 concepts such as CSS3 and Canvas Tags.

For years, lots of Web designers have used the venerable Illustrator to mock up Web pages. But they've typically handed over their concepts to developers who've rebuilt them from scratch in HTML and CSS. The Illustrator CS5 HTML5 Pack lets Illustrator output HTML5 content directly. It uses SVG and CSS3 to let designers build pages that can reformat themselves on the fly for PC browsers, tablets, and smartphones, and can be used to create intelligent widgets such as calendars whose appearance can change dynamically.

Here's a screen from Adobe showing an Illustrator HTML5 project -- an interactive T-shirt designer which, when embedded in a Web site, will let shoppers apply different color schemes to a sample shirt:

HTML5 being a moving target that isn't yet supported by all browsers-or in an identical fashion by all browsers that do support it -- Adobe is releasing this first version of the HTML5 Pack as an Adobe Labs download and calling it a preview that provides "initial support" for HTML5. The company says that most of the creations it produces work in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and should also be compatible with Internet Explorer 9 -- the first HTML5-friendly version of IE -- once it's out.

With this first version of the HTML5 Pack in place, Illustrator's native HTML5 features will already be more extensive than its Flash-related ones, which mostly involve smooth integration with Adobe's standalone Flash authoring environment. The company says that it's soliciting feedback on the features from users and will roll a refined version of the pack into Illustrator at some yet-to-be-determined point. (For now, it requires Illustrator CS5 15.0.1, the current version of the software.)

Adobe Creative Suite CS6 (or whatever the next major upgrade is called) will presumably sport the first versions of Adobe's apps with full-blown HTML5 built right in. If previous shipping schedules are any indication, it may not ship until late 2011 or sometime in 2012. But if you're looking forward to the HTML5-powered Web -- and you should -- it's good to see the company hopping on the bandwagon right now with add-ins like this one and the Dreamweaver HTML5 Pack.

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