SiliconFilter

Adobe Puts Flash for Firefox in a Sandbox

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Love it or hate it, but Adobe's Flash plugin is likely one of the world's most widely distributed pieces of software. Given its popularity, it doesn't come as a surprise that Flash is also popular with hackers, who do their best to exploit flaws in it. Chrome and Internet Explorer 7+ users can already rest assured that hackers can't use Flash to compromise their browser, as the plugin runs in a sandboxed mode on Google's and Microsoft's browsers. Soon, Firefox users will get access to the same technology, as Adobe today announced the first public beta of its new Flash Player sandbox for Firefox.

With this new version of the Flash Player, Adobe is following the same playbook it used for making the Adobe Reader safer by implementing a sandbox and protected mode. Since the launch of Adobe Reader X, the company notes, there hasn't been a single successful exploit against it in the wild. According to Peleus Uhley, a senior security researcher within the Secure Software Engineering team at Adobe, Flash's "sandboxed process is restricted with the same job limits and privilege restrictions as the Adobe Reader Protected Mode implementation."

It's worth noting that it has taken Adobe and Mozilla quite a while to bring this sandboxed version of Flash to market. Internet Explorer 7, after all, has had the privilege of running Flash in Vista's and Windows 7's Protected Mode since 2006.

For now, the beta only works for Firefox 4 and later and on Windows Vista and Windows 7. You can download the beta here.



2:59 pm


Adobe Makes Designing for Mobile a Bit Easier with ThemeRoller for jQuery Mobile

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The jQuery JavaScript library is one of those tools that most regular users never notice, but that has made creating mobile websites significantly easier for developer over the last few years. For a while now, there has been a design tool called the jQuery ThemeRoller that made it easier for developers to create a consistent design for their apps. Today, Adobe – together with the Filament Group – is launching the first public beta of the mobile version of ThemeRoller for jQuery Mobile. With this WYSIWYG tool, users can easily build a mobile theme, download it and share it with others without ever having to touch the code itself.

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The design options include tools for creating CSS gradients (to make your buttons look better, for example) and the ability to create up to 26 unique “color swatches” within a single theme. The jQuery blog features a full run-down of the apps’ features.

Another nifty features of ThemeRoller is that it integrates with Adobe’s Kuler App Service. This provides even those developers with very little design sense with libraries of interesting color sets developed by the user community there.

Once finished, developers can then download their creations for use in their own project. You can also collaborate on designs by sharing a URL to your theme with your friends and coworkers.



10:20 pm


Adobe Carousel: What Apple’s Photo Stream Should Look Like

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Photo Stream is one of the signature features of Apple’s iCloud initiative. It allows you to automatically sync all the photos you snap on your iOS device with every other iOS and Mac you own. It’s a smart system that makes managing photos across multiple devices a bit easier. With Carousel, however, Adobe has developed a set of photo sharing and editing applications for iOS and the Mac (with Android and Windows version coming soon), that easily rivals Apple’s efforts and easily best it in many areas. Carousel, just like Photo Stream, automatically keeps your photo libraries in sync. But unlike Apple, Adobe also includes numerous editing features (using the processing engine found in Photoshop Lightroom) and makes sharing your photos with friends and family members a lot easier.

Pricing

carousel_test_iphoneThere is one caveat, though: using Carousel will cost you. You get a free 30-day trial once you install the app, but after that, you will either have to pay $59.99 per year or $5.99 per month (this is the introductory price, valid until January 31, 2012).

Features

Editing: Unlike Photo Stream, Carousel puts a lot of emphasis on editing. This isn’t Photoshop, by all means, but you do get access to 17 Instagram-like filters, the ability to edit exposure, white balance and contrast, as well as the usual crop and rotate functions.

Syncing: What also makes Carousel stand out is that the syncing between albums is almost instantaneous. If you apply a filter on a photo on your desktop, for example, that edit will be pushed to your iPhone just a second or two later. The same goes for albums (or carousels in Adobe’s parlance) that you share with friends.

Sharing: Indeed, sharing is one of those areas where Apple’s Photo Stream can’t quite compete. Apple doesn’t allow you to share specific albums with friends, while Adobe makes it easy to let others subscribe to your photos. Simply type in the email address of the person you want to share with and that person (assuming they use a Carousel app as well) can then see you photos right away and even edit them with you. These users will not have to subscribe to the service to see your images, by the way.

Verdict

Given that Apple hasn’t quite perfected Photo Stream yet, I think there is an opening in the market for a service like this. I wish it was a little bit cheaper, but you do get to transfer and store an unlimited number of photos in the  cloud with Carousel.

While it’s great at sharing and editing, though, Carousel does have one Achilles heel: importing photos. On the desktop, where most of your photos will likely be, you can only import directories or your complete iPhoto library. It’s a relatively slow process and you can’t just connect your camera and import and manage your photos in Carousel. That makes using iPhoto or Picasa a necessity still and as you’re doing that, you could just as well keep syncing photos the old-fashioned way, unless you really need the sharing and instant syncing features. To be worth the price (at least for me), Carousel would have to add more photo management features on top of the (admittedly great) feature set it currently offers.



4:07 pm



Adobe Launches Online PDF to Word Converter

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Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you want to edit a PDF document but don’t have the tool to convert it into an editable format like Microsoft Word? Adobe just launched a new online tool for converting PDF documents to Word. ExportPDF costs $19.99 per year and is meant to let you easily convert any PDF without security restrictions into a Word document. The tool is the counterpart of Adobe’s CreatePDF service ($9.99 per month), which – as the name implies – allows you to convert Word documents to PDF.

Of course, there are also plenty of other third-party options for converting PDF documents to Word. One service that has worked especially well for me is nitro software’s free PDFtoWord,com, which will email you the converted document (.doc or .rtf). Another option, of course, is to use Adobe’s own PDF authoring tool Acrobat X, but at $450, that’s probably overkill if you just want to convert a few documents.

That said, though, ExportPDF does offer a few features that may persuade some users to pay. It does convert documents into the modern .docx Word format, for example, which should provide a Word document that’s closer to the original PDF. Adobe also promises to preserve all tables, images, multicolumn texts, as well as page, paragraph and font attributes. Sadly, you can’t give the service a try without paying, though, which will like dissuade quite a few potential users.



6:49 pm


Adobe Introduces Creative Suite 5.5 with Subscription Plans and a Tablet SDK

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Adobe just introduced version 5.5 of its Creative Suite – a bundle of software for creative professionals that, depending on the specific bundle, includes graphics and development-oriented tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver and video-focused programs like Premiere Pro, Audition and After Effects. This is the first time Adobe has released a major point release of its Creative Suite (CS) and while the company plans to continue to launch major versions of the suite every 24 months, it also no plans to release more point releases as warranted. The new versions the company is introducing today will, for the most part, add additional functionality to these tools that will make it easier for Adobe’s users to bring their content to mobile devices.

Subscription Editions

Another major change that Adobe is introducing with CS 5.5 is a subscription service. As Adobe notes, quite a few of its users only need access to specific products in the suite for specific projects. With the new Subscription Editions, Adobe will give these users the ability to lease access to specific products and editions of the Creative Suite on a month-by-month basis. Access to Photoshop, for example, will cost $35 per month, while the Design Premium suite will cost $95 per month and access to the Master Collection will cost $129 per month. In comparison, a new copy of Photoshop today costs $699 (though it’s worth noting that Adobe also offers various discounts for students and teachers).

One-year subscriptions will be available at a discount.

Touch SDK

Maybe the most interesting new feature is the new touch software development kit (SDK) for Photoshop. This new SDK allows developers to use Android, BlackBerry and iOS devices to connect directly to Photoshop. Adobe itself is launching three iPad apps for Photoshop: Color Lava for mixing colors and creating custom color swatches and themes, Eazel for creating paintings right on the iPad, and Adobe Nav for Photoshop, which allows users to select the Photoshop tools they want from an iPad interface and browse and zoom in on their image files.

These apps will be available in early May and cost between $1.99 and $4.99. The SDK is available now.



9:01 pm