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Adobe Shadow is a Giant Leap for Mobile Web Design

Mobile web development is about to get a little easier, thanks to a new mobile website design tool called Shadow. Shadow, a product of San Jose, CA web design software leader Adobe, makes testing a mobile site while it’s still in development an easier task, by enabling users to browse mobile content on a PC and multiple phones, tablets and devices all at the same time. Essentially, Adobe Shadow comes close to solving one of the biggest problems in mobile web development: figuring out what’s broken on a mobile site and why.

Although the product is scheduled for commercial release in the second half of the year, Adobe Labs offered a preview of Shadow recently. Early users say that it does indeed make testing out a new mobile site a simpler process. For instance, if a developer’s HTML, CSS, and JavaScript look good on the PC, iPhone, and iPad but not so good on an Android phone, that developer can use the Chrome browser’s built-in debugging tools to tweak his code until he is satisfied with the outcome on all applicable platforms.

According to Bruce Bowman, a senior product manager at Adobe, Shadow will be instrumental in resolving the differences between website and web application performance, like the way they display differently on different browsers. “Web pros are really struggling today because of the demands of their clients, who increasingly are asking a seemingly simple question: Can you make this work on mobile devices? But accomplishing that adds a lot of time to the normal delivery of a website,” he said. That’s because even the most standards-compliant code is often interpreted subtly or dramatically differently on different devices.

“One of the things we heard repeatedly from our customers is that they couldn’t imagine doing their job without browser development tools, where I can inspect my code, make a change, and see that updated on my page in real time,” Bowman continued. “That ability doesn’t exist within mobile browsers, but Shadow allows developers to use the code inspector in Chrome and see changes displayed on the paired devices in the same fashion,” he said.

A word of caution: The Shadow app requires at least iOS 4.2 (iPhone 3 or greater) or Android 2.2. Versions for other mobile operating systems, such as Windows Phone or BlackBerry, could follow if there is enough interest in them, but right now those versions don’t exist. How many devices can Shadow control at once? In testing, the number exceeded 30 – with no performance problems. That is pretty remarkable! It’s just one more tool Crest Media can use to perform testing on your mobile site, if you choose us as your mobile web design provider.

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