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NEWS ANALYSIS FEBRUARY 26, 2001
Adobe and Mac OS X
Native takes a back seat to Classic

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

Adobe After Effects 5.0 is the biggest news to come out of the second-biggest software company in a big while. It brings 3D to the most popular compositing software in the world. It brings a whole host of new features, including parenting and JavaScripting. And it brings the first shot to OS X we've seen from a Mac third-party developer.

After Effects 5 will, of course, run under OS X, just as any OS 9 application will, using OS X's Classic feature. (This allows OS X to emulate OS 9 for applications that are not written natively for OS X.) But Adobe has not developed an OS X native version of After Effects, even though the product will be likely be released at or sometime after NAB in April, well into the comfort zone of the final (expected) release of OS X March 24.

So there's no native After Effects. There's also no native Photoshop. No native Premiere. And no native Illustrator. Not yet, anyway.

So why not OS X? We spoke with After Effects Senior Product Manager Steve Kilisky, who offered us some insights.

First, he said, it's difficult to develop for an operating system that doesn't exist yet. He also said After Effects users have an awful lot invested in the current Mac OS and will likely be slow adopters of the new operating system. Finally, he cited the continuity needs of the user, who might be put off by using one Adobe application in Classic, another in native.

"We want to make sure customers who are using Photoshop in Classic mode and After Effects in native mode ... that the user doesn't go, 'Oh my God, this is awful,'" Kilisky said.

He also said that Adobe is not releasing even a ballpark date for an OS X release. "[There's] no schedule we're comfortable with," he said. "We're waiting still on Apple."

Now, normally, something like this might not cause a stir. But this is Adobe—arguably the most Mac-friendly software developer out there. They were there in the beginning with multiprocessing support (way back in the Daystar days and again with the dual-processor G4s). They were there in the beginning with support for the Velocity Engine of the G4. Essentially, they're one of the only developers out there to offer support for new Mac technologies before these technologies are even introduced.

Apple has made a case with every major developer on the market to bring their products over to OS X, even those who had never previously developed for the Mac. But the company that so often shares the keynote stage with Apple at conventions is holding back.

Why? Maybe it's for the reasons cited by Kilisky. Maybe it's the prospect of porting all that code to Unix. Whatever the reason, early OS X adopters are going to have to wait for the native releases of Adobe software, including features like symmetric multiprocessing, until Adobe feels certain that the bulk of its customer base makes the transition as well.

For more information, visit http://www.adobe.com. You can also read our coverage of the release of AE 5 here, along with exclusive QuickTime demonstrations and tutorials. (Adobe's site will forward you to our QuickTime coverage as well.)

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