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"Ladies and gentlemen, the sky is not falling"

"Ladies and gentlemen, the sky is not falling"

At the time of this writing, Adobe has recently announced its plan to acquire Macromedia in an all-stock trade worth billions ($3.4 billion was the estimate at the time of the announcement). The ColdFusion development community has been abuzz with speculation about how this will affect the future of CF - including many doomsday prognosticators suffering from "Chicken Little Syndrome." Ladies and gentlemen, the sky is not falling.

At the time of this writing, Adobe has 4,000+ personnel and in excess of $1.4 billion in the bank (cash and cash equivalents). Macromedia has 1,400+ personnel and $341 million in the bank (cash and cash equivalents). Deferred revenue for Adobe is $57 million and $49 million for Macromedia. What does this mean? It means that Macromedia is now going to be part of a much larger organization with a significantly larger number of resources (financial and otherwise) and industry pull. It's a fair assumption that for the ColdFusion Development Team this will mean that they are more likely to be given the opportunity to implement new ideas. It probably also means that they'll be working on making the ColdFusion Server either integrate or interact with existing Adobe server products (possibly with development tools as well).

Many of us have read the acquisition press release (online at www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/invrelations/adobeandmacromedia.html) - which doesn't say much other than the fact that there's going to be an acquisition. Mike Chambers and Kevin Lynch both blogged about the acquisition at www.markme.com/mesh/archives/007504.cfm and www.klynch.com/archives/000078.html, respectively. There is one document that I have found to be the most informative and insightful regarding the pending acquisition. The document in question is Adobe's "Adobe to acquire Macromedia investor presentation" - available online at www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/invrelations/pdfs/ADBE_MACR_Presentation.pdf - I urge everyone to read it. The investor presentation clearly shows Adobe's vision of how Macromedia and Adobe technologies can combine to meet the changing needs of customers and of technology in general.

The presentation also makes it pretty clear that Adobe shares Macromedia's interest in offering the best platform for delivering rich content to devices and in creating rich applications by combining media, applications, documents, and communication. In other words, Adobe also believes, in the words of the Macromedia slogan, that "Experience Matters." It appears that at the center of this goal are the Flash/FlashPaper and PDF formats as a content delivery format.

In this presentation, Adobe also identifies the benefits it expects to offer customers in the realms of creative professionals, digital imaging and video, and the enterprise (in addition to emerging businesses and technologies). Specific products are highlighted in each of these areas. In addition to Flex, Breeze, and Adobe LiveCycle, ColdFusion appears as part of the product solution for the Enterprise, which is a strong indicator that there is no intention to "do away" with it anytime soon.

So what will the future hold? Nobody can tell for sure, but I will leave you with a few thoughts and observations. The investor presentation gave me the impression that in addition to creating great experiences for users, product integration and workflow are two areas that Adobe feels are very important. I definitely look forward to seeing how this strategy is put into action - especially in the area of ColdFusion development. On a personal note, there are two enhancements to Macromedia products that I for one would love to see as a result of the acquisition. Though I do love Flash, I've also always been a big fan of SVG. I think it would be terrific to see Flash become XML driven (not just on the Flex Server) and have added support for SVG XML. Obviously, it's a fair assumption that PDF support in ColdFusion will only get stronger - I would love to see PDF Forms support, too. I could fill an entire issue of CFDJ with speculation and the details of my personal ColdFusion wish list but the bottom line is that only time will tell.

The last thing I want to leave you with is a statement that I recently made in an online user group presentation, which really sums up my personal opinion about the merger: "The best company at managing digital documents and the best company at managing web content are now one in the same - and this is a very good thing!"

More Stories By Simon Horwith

Simon Horwith is the CIO at AboutWeb, LLC, a Washington, DC based company specializing in staff augmentation, consulting, and training. Simon is a Macromedia Certified Master Instructor and is a member of Team Macromedia. He has been using ColdFusion since version 1.5 and specializes in ColdFusion application architecture, including architecting applications that integrate with Java, Flash, Flex, and a myriad of other technologies. In addition to presenting at CFUGs and conferences around the world, he has also been a contributing author of several books and technical papers.

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