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Google backtracks on adoption of Adobe Web publishing technology

  • Published on January 27, 2014
Google backtracks on adoption of Adobe Web publishing technology

Today's websites bear little resemblance to their predecessors of yesteryear. A far cry from the text-heavy and often visually unappealing sites that once formed the core of the Web, modern sites have embraced numerous design aesthetics that were pioneered by the traditional publishing industry. Not long ago, Adobe's CSS Regions project was seen as a leap forward for Web designers who wanted to recreate the glossy double-page spread style of major publications, but according to CNET, search giant Google has rejected Regions from its Blink browser API.

Change of heart
At the heart of Adobe's CSS Regions lies the idea of allowing text to flow naturally around visual elements such as images and embedded video, much in the same way that traditional publishers align text to wrap around pictures on the page. Taking Adobe classes through the American Graphics Institute is one way to learn how to utilize these techniques in programs such as Adobe InDesign, but until Google's recent decision, many Web designers believed that these principles would make their way to Google's Blink browser rendering engine. However, in a last-minute reversal of its decision, Google has opted to prohibit the use of Regions in the Blink community.

"I believe Blink's focus this year must be on mobile and specifically mobile performance," said Blink project leader Eric Seidel, as quoted by the news source. "I have come to understand that Regions both does not play well with existing performance optimizations [and] impedes ongoing simplification and optimization work to our core rendering code."

CSS Regions was another attempt by Adobe to breathe new life into its Flash technology that once powered much of the dynamic content of the Web. However, Google's decision to prevent contributors to the open-source Blink community from using Regions could be a significant setback for Adobe.

Traditional meets digital
Although Regions won't be included in the Blink API, other companies have already embraced the technology for browser rendering.

According to Adobe's official website, Regions is currently supported by versions 6.1 or greater of Apple's Safari browser, as well as Safari for iOS 7. Regions uses CSS selectors to enable designers to specify that certain content on a site flows into predefined "containers." These can be boxes, sidebars and even custom fields to allow text to flow naturally around visual elements to create impressive magazine-like page layouts that would be challenging using CSS and HTML alone.

One of the strengths of CSS Regions is that the technology is ideally suited to responsive design, the principle of designing websites to run on any device without compromising on visual quality or the necessity of coding several versions of the same site. Another benefit to Regions is the ability for designers to adjust the parameters of each region on the fly, resizing boxes and containers as they work to manipulate the flow of content on a page. Although these advantages were marketed as just two of Region's strengths by Adobe, Google's concerns over image loading times, particularly on mobile devices with limited hardware resources, is a valid concern.

It would seem that, for now, Google's top priority for Blink is performance. Although Google's decision to exclude Regions from the Blink API could be seen as a blow to Adobe, some designers have already embraced the technology enthusiastically.

Whether you already know CSS and HTML or don't know what "API" stands for, taking Adobe training through the American Graphics Institute is an excellent way to get up to speed on the latest Adobe software packages. After mastering the fundamentals of these powerful applications, you'll be ready to bring your own creative visions to life on the Web.

About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics training along with workshops on digital marketing topics. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.