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Devs respond to Adobe Shadow

Ability to rapidly update sites across devices is a hit

Adobe recently revealed Adobe Shadow, a new inspection and preview tool that enables designers and developers to iterate on a desktop machine's browser and immediately see updates in a number of connected iOS and Android mobile devices. With the tool having already created something of a buzz, we asked developers and designers what they thought of Adobe Shadow and how it could affect the industry.

Flickr frontend developer Stephen Woods said he "loved the idea of Shadow and of remote controlling a device," and thought it had potential, although he noted the current release isn't without bugs: "It won't load a page with an invalid SSL certificate and there's no way to override this behaviour. If you use a 'dev' user auth like we do at Flickr, you won't have a valid SSL certificate and pages won't load." Woods expects the glitch to be fixed in an update.

ZURB Partner and Design Lead Jonathan Smiley told us his company managed to get hold of the prerelease and has therefore been experimenting with Shadow for a fortnight: "We're really excited about it. The synchronous browsing is nice, but the killer feature is the remote inspector. You could get that functionality by installing the open-source tool Adobe's using to drive it, but that's a hassle. Being able to manipulate a live page on a mobile device the same way we can manipulate Chrome is amazing, and a big help when it comes to dealing with the various inconsistencies across devices and platforms."

Smiley wasn't alone in his enthusiasm. Web developer Christian Oliff told us he's "used Shadow since about 30 minutes after it was launched," and would recommend it to every mobile developer. "The team at Adobe is working on improvements, too, and Shadow will soon have support for locally hosted files," he added. "I think I'll then use it for all my web projects – it's amazing to see it running and auto-updating across my iPhone, iPad and Android tablet."

Responsive design

Naturally, one of the big plusses regarding Shadow is its potential for speeding up the development of responsive websites. This is how Komodo Digital is primarily using the tool, according to Dan Edwards, head of design and interaction: "It's a boon and a huge time-saver to 'see' changes in real-time across devices, while controlling the view from one. It also highlights errors in the user experience in this collective state, rather than individually browsing on each device."

Edwards also told us the experience is robust, and Komodo has so far managed to get six devices running simultaneously: two iPhones (a 4 and a 4S, one each in landscape and portrait), an iPad 2, a Samsung Galaxy Tab, a Galaxy S2, and an iMac controlling the show. He said the only drawbacks Komodo has so far found is the BlackBerry PlayBook not playing ball – "If it had, we'd have gotten all main viewports covered!" – and performance being laggy on an original iPad. "But Shadow can only be developed on, and for a beta it's remarkably good," he added.

And on the subject of further development, Software development consultant Matthew Baxter-Reynolds suggested to us that Shadow's potential for time-saving in web development isn't where its potential ends: "I actually wonder whether a huge advantage is in classroom training. Rather than having everyone in the room squint at a projector, you could distribute content locally very easily."

Have you used Adobe Shadow yet? If so, let us know what you think of it in the comments.

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