Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Adobe Thermo: “Convert artwork to …”

Category: Adobe, Design

I remember sitting in a Microsoft presentation that first showed off Expression Web, and the promise of finally moving past the current way of working with designers:

  • Designer: “Here mate, enjoy this jpg”
  • Developer: “Ok, I cut it up and made it into a web page, but now I need to tweak this area, can you send me a new one?”
  • Designer: “Here mate, enjoy this jpg”
  • … repeat …

Now it is Adobe’s turn to have a swipe at the problem, and they have released Adobe Thermo to help you design RIAs and really use artifacts.

Peter Elst has got the first video of the demo:

Posted by Dion Almaer at 2:43 am
20 Comments

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3.8 rating from 46 votes

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Thermo is the bridge between Design and Development

I can’t wait till this thing is going to be released because this is what I have been looking for the last 5 years…

Keep up the good work Adobe

Comment by Thim — October 3, 2007

hmm, a wysiwyg editor for flash RIAs? im a bit concerned that this will seduce developers or designer who do know very little about the other area to produce RIAs that defy established designpatterns and best practise approaches. we have seen what happenes when inexperienced people use wysiwyg editors. they littered the www with crap sites.

Comment by Gordon — October 3, 2007

Agree with Gordon…this has been tried before and the outcome will never be as successful as promised.

Btw, it seems that many has attended the presentation just to clap their hands…probably Adobe employees.
Yawn…

Comment by Bill — October 3, 2007

@Bill – just for information, there were pretty much no Adobe employees in the audience except for those that were demoing — as we were at full capacity they were given a separate area for watching the general sessions.

I was sitting in the “community leader” section and those guys are pretty easily excitable. In any case, I’d say lets just see where this goes. Don’t think we can draw any conclusions from a 5 minute demo.

Comment by Peter Elst — October 3, 2007

I’ve gone through most prototyping tools that are currently out there, trying to find one that would let designers / IAs easily get their ideas on a screen.

All either require designers to learn how to develop in something (“learn HTML + JavaScript” or “learn mxml for Flex”) or create something too basic for us to use to collaborate on interaction design (“here are a bunch of boxes on a wireframe…look, they moved to the left”).

If this can translate a comp into something that we can work on together as an actual prototype, I’m all for it. If it works as advertised, it could really speed up and help an iterative creative process.

Comment by Adam McIntyre — October 3, 2007

Gordon wrote: “im a bit concerned that this will seduce developers or designer who do know very little about the other area to produce RIAs that defy established designpatterns and best practise approaches”. Thermo’s goal is to give designers ownership of the visual parts of an RIA – the artwork, the layout, the effects, the rollover behaviors, and so on. Thermo does not address the workflows for creating the business logic, data handling, network communication, and overall structure of an application – these are still the responsibility of a (hopefully knowledgable) programmer working in a tool like Flex Builder.

Comment by Mark Shepherd — October 3, 2007

Here’s a little Video we’ve just created for our upcoming Spartacus Relase which is actually coming out TOMORROW :)
http://ajaxwidgets.com/Blogs/thomas/ajax_windows_madness.bb

Comment by Thomas Hansen — October 3, 2007

…at first glance, I like the direction Adobe is going with this too. In some sense “Thermo” seems to me to be like a more usable Fireworks in terms of collaboration between designers and developers (or between yourself doing both, if you prefer). I think in general developers hear about something marketed in this manner and go screaming the obvious “it doesn’t replace developers!”, etc. Of course it doesn’t. I wish developers would realize they are not going to be automated out of a job. Ever. (see Crockford’s essay on Software Development and managing complexity). What Adobe is seemingly doing is making some of the jobs that could be painless more painless, and that’s a good thing, and even something worth paying for when it comes to improved efficiency.

Comment by Mark Holton — October 3, 2007


# Designer: “Here mate, enjoy this jpg”
# Developer: “Ok, I cut it up and made it into a web page, but now I need to tweak this area, can you send me a new one?”

This is better:

# Designer: “Here mate, enjoy this jpg”
# Developer: “That’s useless to me. Send me your PSD so I can create proper production art.”

Comment by tack — October 3, 2007

Wow, this looks like a great prototyping tool. Flex is good too for that, but it’s true it’s not really a designer’s tool. How many visual designers use Eclipse after all? I reserve my opinions on it until I can try it out myself, but I like the direction Adobe is going with this.

In response to Gordon about the potential for mis-use, that always happens every time a new tool or technology comes out. It takes a while for people to get over the “I can put drop shadows on everything” or in this case “I can make everything scroll” wow factor and start agreeing on best practices and using it in a more restrained way. Also, I second Mark’s response, what this is really doing is making it easier for designers to specify the look and feel of the application.

Now here’s hoping it can be merged well with the Cairngorm framework.

Comment by Nathan Derksen — October 3, 2007

A pointless tool.

They have created a tool that serves a tiny niche of RIA’s that need to be created – perhaps as much 0.001% of all project!

Comment by Justin — October 3, 2007

I think this tool is useless. My personal opinion is that all front-end web developers should have at least some basic knowledge of Photoshop (and I mean very basic knowledge) Let the designer be creative, and let the developer cut the resulting PSD into pieces that can be used in an actual application. In my own experience, there is no other way to get a decent result.

Comment by Julien Lecomte — October 3, 2007

Julien,
Your comments appear to place you within a limited mindset. Asking a developer to cut up a PSD is a bit like asking a designer to write up some code. And if the designer cannot convey an interaction to developers adequately, then good luck to them to get it right. Developers are no more interaction designers than designers are coders. You are basically overlooking (and rejecting) the power that this tool is offering to designers! And I would expect this is targeted more toward web APPLICATION development, not your run-of-the-mill consumer facing web site. As you get into larger organizations (especially ones that actually recognize the need for UI and IA DESIGNERS as a separate group from DEVELOPERS), a tool like this can only make life better for both camps. Are you afraid this might make your job too easy and thus perhaps you feel your skills would be devalued? I would think an employer would be more willing to pay a decent wage for someone who can actually get a job done in time and within budget!

Comment by Kwooda — October 3, 2007

I like how this forces medicore developers and designers to not be lazy. Designers will have to dig much further into UI to realy stand out and developers are expected to go along with that, nice tool.

Comment by Nick — October 3, 2007

While this at first looks interesting, these types of tools usually have a steep learning curve. Also, it facilitates building flex apps, which most people are not doing. So in the end it really doesn’t excite me.

Comment by dubiousdavid — October 3, 2007

Yikes, this obviously touches a nerve.

I think the Flex lock-in kills it’s chances to hit it big it for anything other than a prototyping tool.

Heaps of reward to the first guy to re-implement Thermo in Thermo with output for both Flex and HTML/CSS/JavaScript

Comment by collin — October 4, 2007

It’s unclear how this works in a real production environment. It would seem that with the trend towards mashups, and the “internal mashup” of various services across a platform being assembled for a specific user, group, etc. the idea that an interface is “just a psd with handlers” is somewhat short sighted. It would seem that the people who would use Flex would be building sites too robust to more than trivially benefit, and if you’re using flex to just build point and click websites, i’d say you’re using a shotgun to kill an ant.

Comment by jimbob — October 4, 2007

It’s a good thing

Comment by Dan Johnson — October 4, 2007

Indeed, my comment must have touched a nerve. Let me be clearer: I don’t believe thermo (or any such tool for that matter) can reasonably be used in a production environment. However, it may be a very useful prototyping tool, helping designers iron out all the tricky details of interaction design, before letting developers do their job.

Comment by Julien Lecomte — October 4, 2007

This will be a great tool because:

1. It allows designers to mock up everything in Photoshop, a tool that most designers are already familliar with.
2. Use the PSD and some point and click to set up some basic interaction
3. Allow the developer to pull in MXML

This would have saved me hours and hours of back and forth on many of the Flex projects I’ve worked on.

To try and settle uninformed critics. I work as an RIA client side architect for my clients. I am also a Photoshop expert. I don’t have time to turn photoshop mockups into Flex apps – HTML fine but it doesn’t work for Flex. Also, if you force web designers to think about the actual functionality of their design – you get better UI and UX.

This will be an incredibly useful tool for people who build RIA’s in a large company with a big development team and separate design team. It will also be a godo tool for the lone developer who likes to prototype in Photoshop, but needs to produce a Flex app.

Comment by riaguy — July 1, 2008

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