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Apple-Adobe War Intensifies

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Really, Adobe. You're not helping your case. For a company so maligned, constantly accused of being short-sighted and lazy, and hanging on to a buggy, system-hogging platform, it's certainly being cavalier about its own procrastination.

Last month, Adobe posted a video describing its development on the latest suite of design applications, CS5 -- which includes Photoshop, Premiere, Illustrator, and After Effects. And barely one minute in, the Apple bashing begins.

In designing the 64-bit version of CS5 for Windows and Mac, Adobe claimed the latter proved harder to develop for than usual -- and it's all due to Apple's announcement at WWDC 2007. The 64-bit version of the programming framework that Adobe had always used, Carbon, wouldn't be supported in future OS releases.

"At the WorldWide Developer Conference, Apple announced that they were not going to do a 64-bit version of Carbon. They introduced this other framework called Cocoa," Adobe's Russell Williams said.

Adobe's John Penn II painted a clearer picture. "They yanked the carpet out from under the entire industry at that conference," he said.

So, in order to develop CS5 for the Mac, a whole new framework was required -- one which Williams described as "about as different as Mac and Windows" from Carbon. And seemingly from the video, it was a last-minute change that forced the company to scramble to deliver a brand new CS5 framework.

But while the announcement was last-minute, the writing had been on the wall for about a decade.

Upon the introduction of Mac OS X, Cocoa was always intended to be Apple's standard programming environment and the company urged developers to make the switch. But to make the transition easier, Carbon was kept on to keep the apps based on the outdated framework compatible with the subsequent versions of Mac OS X.

Adobe's problem: It never bothered to make the switch.

However, Apple's decision to drop Carbon support, as Daring Fireball's Jon Gruber points out, was unexpected. Mac OS X 10.5, or Leopard, was promised to support 64-bit Carbon. It wasn't until WWDC that Apple announced it wouldn't -- leaving Adobe in the lurch. Gruber believes that Apple's priorities changed when Leopard fell behind schedule. The company had planned the Carbon support, but the delays took precedence.

So who's to blame? Is it Apple for going back on a promise? Or is it Adobe for dragging its heels on a programming rewrite that -- although time consuming -- was a foregone conclusion?

In the video's comment section on YouTube, few people are taking Adobe's side. One user writes:

"Carbon is and always had been a bridge of sorts to allow developers who to bring over pre-OSX apps into OSX with greater ease. The intention from Apple all along - and they did not keep this secret - was to move to an all-Cocoa environment. Carbon was the bridge that would allow easy ports of legacy code while full re-writes in Cocoa could be undertaken in the interim. Apple supported this 'bridge' for almost a full decade. Adobe had ample time to prepare and make their re-writes while still releasing in Carbon in the interim."

But in Adobe's defense, clinging to an outdated programming environment is what they do best.

After all, these are the guys who own and manage Flash.

(See also: Adobe Flash Is Doomed, Says Firefox VP and Steve Jobs on Flash: Astoundingly Hypocritical)
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