Acrobat Brings Developers into the Cloud

Adobe launches, a free Web-based productivity and collaboration tools bundle.

When Adobe Systems Inc. last month launched its free, the company became the latest vendor to offer a free Web-based productivity and collaboration tools bundle, taking on the likes of Google Docs and Microsoft's Office Live. Core to Adobe's new service are a Web-based word processor, Web conferencing and online file sharing, but the critical component to developers is an API that will enable this functionality.

Adobe is hopeful that developers will use that API to create an ecosystem for

"We thought it was high time that we opened things up and invited more developers to come to the party," says Adobe Senior Engineer Nigel Pegg.

Collaborate with CoCoMo
Pegg describes the Flex SDK as a set of UI components, widgets and lower-level foundation classes that allow developers to connect with that service seamlessly and deploy functions such as shared annotations, shared whiteboards, chat, VoIP and webcam video.

These Flex components, known collectively as Common Collaboration Model (CoCoMo), are designed to allow developers to integrate real-time collaboration features into their applications using the Adobe Connect backbone.

Adobe built's ConnectNow personal Web conferencing app -- a lightweight version of ConnectPro, code-named "Brio" -- using CoCoMo, Pegg says. Adobe is expected to expose much of's core functionality via Web services APIs. The Document Services APIs, for example, will allow developers to build new applications or mashup features with existing apps.

"This is our first set of APIs," says Adobe Entrepreneur in Residence Rick Treitman, "but it won't be our last." Treitman was the founder and CEO of Virtual Ubiquity, the company that created the original Buzzword application and was acquired by Adobe last year.

The entry of could propel Adobe to be a key rival to Google Docs and Office Live, says industry analyst Angela Ashenden of U.K.-based Macehiter Ward-Dutton Ltd., at least in terms of the collaboration services.

"They want to be seen as a player in the collaborative space, and to some extent this is a way to show that they're more than the packaged Acrobat product that they're [predominantly] recognized for," Ashenden says.

Now in beta, all capabilities will be accessible in the Acrobat 9 release, due later this year. That link will provide Acrobat 9 users with a "personal workspace in the clouds," the company says.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at

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