Designers Respond to Adobe's Acquisition of Nitobi, TypeKit

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Adobe kicked off its conference on Monday with a keynote speech by chief technology officer Kevin Lynch, in which he announced the company's acquisitions of Typekit -- which provides high-quality fonts for use on websites -- and also Nitobi Software, the creator of PhoneGap and PhoneGap Build. PhoneGap is a popular open source platform for building cross-platform mobile applications with HTML5 and JavaScript.

The TypeKit announcement, which came early on in the first keynote session, to a huge cheer from the creatives in the audience, means that Typekit fonts will soon be offered as a standalone service and over time as part of Adobe Creative Cloud. It will give designers and developers access to Typekit's massive font library, with a license to integrate real fonts into websites and ensure fonts are displayed consistently across all modern browsers.

"When Kevin Lynch said the opening announcement was about fonts, I thought 'this is what we came to MAX for, fonts - are you serious?', but when they said it was TypeKit I was amazed," said RJ Owen, experience planner at Colorado-based design agency Effective UI. "As a developer that was super-exciting. I love TypeKit. Jason Santa Maria and those other guys there have been my web-heroes, so knowing that Adobe is interesting in acquiring them is really cool."

Louisa Churchyard, a freelance web designer from Seattle, was also excited at the TypeKit announcement.

"It's amazing- it's really key for designers," she said. "Not only can you use the font functionality to use any beautiful font on the Web, but the idea that Adobe will build TypeKit into their products is really great. It will save a lot of time."

Typekit provides font technology for sites such as The New York Times.

However it was the Nitobi announcement that was foremost on the minds of most MAX delegates and conference speakers.

"I was really excited about the PhoneGap announcement," said RJ. " I think Adobe is doing a really great job from a technology standpoint in the way that they're trying to push forward both Flash and HTML5. I think it's the right tone for them and it's the way the industry is going."

"I think it gives Adobe a better way to play in the mobile apps space, rather than trying to deploy Flash apps to everyone's platforms," continued RJ. "Now they've got a HTML5 avenue into Apps as well. It shows that they support the things that the community supports. PhoneGap's already big, so this gives Adobe bigger credibility with HTML developers."

Steve Lund, of development and consulting company Digital Primates was also very positive. "It's interesting," he said. "We've just developed an application for a company who wanted to get it on the Web, on Android, on iPad, on TV- they wanted that same experience everywhere. More and more companies are needing that. So moving in that direction and staying on top of being able to deploy to all those places is pretty exciting. Simplifying that build process is pretty interesting too. Flex and Flashbuilder already have a pretty good way to deploy to all those devices, but if we move more to HTML 5 side of things I think we'll be looking into PhoneGap."

Danny Jackson of interactive design agency rain also finds the Nitobi announcement interesting, but is rather more downbeat about the PhoneGap product itself.

"We've just launching a project that been done using PhoneGap, but we weren't super-impressed with it," he said. "A lot of the time our clients come to us with a project which they want across platforms, but don't have the budget to code it natively, so we have to look for cross-platform solutions and that's why we used PhoneGap initially."

Danny said a lot of clients are now specifying HTML5 as part of the project requirements these days because they want the app to run on the iPad.

"When I heard the announcement it started me wondering what advancements could be made to PhoneGap [with Adobe]. At the moment, it's fine to work with, but it was really far off from doing all things natively for mobile. For our project [using PhoneGap] there's some latency on iOS - it's not as snappy as native, and for Android it's even worse. Our thoughts then were that we probably wouldn't use PhoneGap going forward and instead use AIR for Mobile."

This story, "Designers Respond to Adobe's Acquisition of Nitobi, TypeKit" was originally published by DigitalArts.

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