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Tonight, Adobe has unveiled Shadow, a convenient new set of tools for mobile web developers to find and fix cross-platform problems.
First, Shadow lets you see one app running across an almost unlimited number of devices. You pick the devices and sync them via WiFi with your desktop computer, and when you open a web page and turn on Shadow, those devices will “follow” your clicks through each page, allowing you to see what’s broken, what works, and how the whole shebang looks on a range of smaller screens.
Additionally, while you’re there, you can see and edit code from the browser on a per-device basis. That order form lookin’ fugly on the Droid X? No problem; just open the code editor for the Droid you’ve got synced up and nip that fugly so-and-so in the bud.
“Web pros are really struggling right now,” said Adobe exec Bruce Bowman in an interview with VentureBeat. “It takes them a lot more time when they have to think about other platforms. They’re also struggling with the pace at which the landscape is changing.”
Yes, the changing-landscape problem has been around for a while, ever since the Android OS came along and declared yes, consumers, you can have a choice of smartphone hardware. And while consumers love the choice of the current smorgasbord of tablets and smartphones and laptops and web browsers, the variations in screen size and features and rendering can wreak havok on a designer and/or developer’s workflow.
And as many devs look away from native apps and toward mobile web development, Adobe is siding with them. “Shadow is targeted at the open web as a platform,” Bowman continued. In the not-too-distant past, another Adobe exec, Danny Winokur, wrote, “HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.”
So, with Wifi pairing, synchronous browsing, sleep “deprivation” for synced devices, remote inspection of code, in-browser code editing and debugging, Bowman said, Shadow “allows [developers] to work with the same precision that they have on the desktop.”
Currently, Shadow works for iOS and Android mobile devices. “We felt like, because this is such a clear pain point, it was better to get it out sooner than to provide a complete range of mobile clients,” said Bowman. “But we’ll look at the mobile browser share and invest accordingly… There’s no reason we couldn’t create a BlackBerry or a Windows Phone 7 client.”
Shadow will support Android versions 2.2 and greater, including Ice Cream Sandwich.
Here’s a video of Bowman talking more about Shadow and what it means for developers.
Image courtesy of Goodluz, Shutterstock