Adobe Releases Shadow, HTML5 Mobile Development Tool

Written by  Sudheer Raju | 08 March 2012
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adobe shadowAdobe has released Shadow, a free mobile development tool for previewing interactive design projects on different mobile devices at once. The program, posted on Adobe Labs, is in beta and available as a free download. Shadow, which allows your mobile devices to synchronously browse with your desktop computer, is designed to aid in the testing and inspection of new designs and design updates.

“Shadow is for front-end Web designers and developers who are interested in building better mobile Web experiences,” said Bruce Bowman, senior product manager of Adobe’s digital media business. “It allows them to connect devices to their computer, and when they browse on their computer, it allows the devices to stay in sync and targets devices for remote inspection and debugging.”

Shadow, a client for both Mac and Windows, supports iOS and Android, and is targeted to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript workflows. Shadow works through an extension to the Chrome browser. It is not restricted to Adobe programs, and can be used with any development tool. 

Shadow lets users pinpoint errors, experiment with new ideas and layouts, and view the changes on their devices in real time. It works over a Wi-Fi network, where all devices are connected to the same network. It takes into account the rapid changes in the development landscape, with new devices, operating systems, browsers, and browser versions. Different browsers have varying levels of capabilities, and are enabling new technologies in advance of W3C rules, requiring constant checking to make sure that a design works everywhere, or at least degrades gracefully.

Joining the Adobe Labs web development apps such as Edge, Muse, and Wallaby, Shadow propels Adobe HTML5 initiative forward moving away from flash based mobile websites. This is consistent with the trend away from the company’s Flash platform for content creation on mobile devices.

Shadow's targeted inspection mode lets users do most of the tweaking on their desktop computer without having to interact with the devices. Adobe explains that whereas today, most developers are working via trial and error, with Shadow, they’re able to control revisions from one place.

Unlike native apps that are built with programming languages like Xcode and Objective C, Shadow targets the Web as a platform, so anyone who is coding in HTML 5, CSS, and JavaScript can take advantage of Shadow. Shadow leverages Weinre (Web Inspector Remote) open source software. In itself, Weinre takes some skill to use, however, Shadow places a front end on it that masks most of its complexity, thus designers need not have coding knowledge. There's zero configuration for using Weinre as part of Shadow.

Once installed, users can see layout changes and other development updates across devices immediately and simultaneously. Adobe has tested some 20 devices at the same time, and says that an unlimited number can be viewed.

Sudheer Raju

Sudheer Raju

Founder of ToolsJournal, a technology journal on software tools and services. Sudheer has overall accountability for the webiste product development and is responsible for Sales and Marketing. With a flair to write, Sudheer himself writes for toolsjournal across all journal categories.

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