Adobe has announced the release of a new tool that allows developers to create multi-media rich Web content using open standards HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

Adobe Edge, which was first showcased at Adobe Max 2010 in October, allows users to build Flash Professional-like animation for Web sites.

The Adobe Edge public preview is currently available on Adobe Labs for a no-charge download.

HTML5 has been gaining ground against Adobe Flash partly because of support received from bigwigs like Apple and Microsoft. The battle between Adobe Flash and HTML5 has been touted to be a war between proprietary and open technology.

Adobe Edge is not a Flash replacement as Web standards -- HTML5 -- has not completely evolved to replace Flash. However, the Adobe Edge foray from Adobe comes as surprise move which reflects its shift from proprietary control to open standards.

Adobe, speaking about the shift, stated: "Because of rapid changes around HTML5, the company is adopting an open development methodology for Adobe Edge and is releasing the software on the Adobe Labs site much earlier than normal in the development process -- before it even reaches beta -- in order to allow user feedback to help shape the final product."

The tool is a Web interaction and motion design tool leveraged to create animation content using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. The company describes the tool's functionality as: "It enables users to add motion to existing HTML documents without hampering design integrity of CSS-based layouts, and it also enables users to easily create visually rich content from scratch, using familiar drawing tools that produce HTML elements styled with CSS3.

"Users can import standard Web graphics assets such as SVG, PNG, JPG and GIF files and style them using CSS3. The design stage utilizes WebKit to enable design, preview and manipulation of content with incredible fidelity."

The tool sits atop Webkit, an open source web- browser engine. Thus in an attempt to co-exist with its rival HTML5, Adobe has also been contributing code to open-source WebKit projects including contributions to jQuery said Paul Gubbay, vice president of Design and Web Engineering, Adobe said.

Adobe Flash has been ceding turf to HTML primarily in the mobile space. Apple attempted to obfuscate the developer community by barring Flash content from its iOs devices - iPad and iPhone. Apple raised up hackles with Adobe deriding its proprietary control over Flash and questioned the reliability, security and performance of Flash. But the cogent reason to eschew Flash was because Apple believes that: "Flash was created during the PC era - for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards - all areas where Flash falls short."

Microsoft also threw its weight behind HTML5 when in 2010 it shifted its strategy related to Silverlight - its own platform for building media rich WebPages. Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft's server and tools business, said Silverlight will continue to be its development platform for Windows Phone but for cross-platform development Microsoft will focus on HTML5.

In spite of Apple shunning Adobe, there are existing softwares like Skyfire, which renders Flash videos on iOS devices by translating Flash code into HTML5. The app is embedded in the Safari browser.

With Adobe Edge, Adobe will get a backdoor entry into Apple devices via support for HTML5. Apple's heavy-handed approach against Adobe has also been cited to the Cupertino giants attempt to curb its developers from creating cross-platform apps using cross-platform plug-in like Adobe. By dissuading developers from using Flash Apple is able to maintain app differentiation, as developers cannot render the same app on other devices, as it would require re-coding on a different platform.

Android phones on the other hand have used Apple's strategy for its advantage by adopting Flash and making it a differentiating factor for its devices. Also many developers continue to code in Flash primarily because of its cross-platform support. As currently some key aspects of HTML5 are still under debate like which video codec to use. Thus until these issues are ironed out HTML5 cannot become a cross-platform development tool. The other option is Microsoft Silverlight but with Microsoft withdrawing support from using it as a cross-platform tool, the only option left is a plug-in like Flash.

In the war of platforms the current move from Adobe with Adobe Edge underscores its strategy to diversify and not merely market Flash as an one-in-all solution platform. Thus it's an attempt to offer developers another option. In a similar vien Adobe has released its Flash to HTML 5 conversion tool, codenamed "Wallaby" in March. Wallaby is an application to convert Adobe Flash Professional CS5 files (.FLA) to HTML5 and its primary design goals were to get the best quality and performance on browsers within iOS devices like iPhone and iPad. It has a very simple user interface, which accepts as input a FLA file and exports HTML and support files to a user-selected folder. There is also an option to launch the default application assigned for the .html extension.