Some Thoughts on Adobe Catalyst
I attended a user group presentation on Adobe Catalyst today (2/2/2010), and I thought I’d express some of the thoughts I had, and on code generation in general.
This product seems to spark up a lot of debate, and I think it’s because most conversations are only focusing on two roles (designer vs developer) when there are actually three roles that need to be considered. Those are designer, developer, and (man I hate using this term, but haven’t got a better one) interaction designer. And this is such a touchy area because (putting the science of interaction design aside) in terms of implementation this is where designer and developer overlap.
So there is some overlapping interests in terms of how the application behaves, and there’s only one tool– Catalyst. So who gets to use it? Wrong!! Most hard core developers I know who have tried Catalyst swear they will steer clear of it. Our preferred interaction design implementation tool is the same one we use for developing the rest of our software. In my case that would be Flex Builder. In the designer’s case, it will probably be Catalyst (maybe?).
So if it was so cut and dry, only one tool for this overlapping area, both developer and designer could learn to use Catalyst and get along. I don’t think that’s likely to happen anytime soon. So now the problem becomes one of getting Catalyst and Flex Builder to work nicely together. And I’ve only used Catalyst a little bit, and from what others have told me, making changes in Catalyst and importing them into Flex Builder seems to be pretty smooth. What I haven’t seen is how it goes the other way. If I make changes in Flex Builder, and the artist needs to make some changes in Catalyst– does that work as well?
I don’t know to tell the truth, but until I see how this interaction is going to work out, the jury is still out on whether this overlap of responsibilities is going to work out. I suppose if it were able to compartmentalize all of the Catalyst generated fluff where I could just “use” it and not have to work in it, I think I might be able to live with that. I haven’t seen how this is going to work either, though.
Like I said, I just wanted to get some thoughts out there, and we’ll see how this continues to play out in the coming months. It may be that it ends up being too expensive for my employer to use, in which case it will be business as usual.
Sean Murphy sent me this link that I know my fellow developers will get a kick out of. Warning: If you’re a designer or a print publisher, you’ll probably be wondering, “What was so funny about that?”
Anyway, I’d be very interested in taking a look at his site, I hope he’ll post a link to it. More than anything to see what kinds of projects can be accomplished by Catalyst all by itself in the hands of an experienced artist.