A classic album you may have missed

Soul is not really my kind of music. Maybe it should be. I discovered this album back in the Eighties when I heard it playing in a shop.


The title track, a cover of Sam Cooke’s song, is astonishing. The pace is slower than the original. The song builds from a quiet, haunting opening into a heartfelt, almost prayerful appeal. Burke’s effortless vocals are melodic yet powerful; it sounds real, even to the voiceover at the end.

It’s been a long long long time comin’, but a change is gonna come, a change has got to come.

There is nothing quite like it elsewhere on the album, but plenty to enjoy, from the soulful Love buys Love to fun tracks like Don’t Tell me what a man won’t do for a woman.

The sound is immaculate, and the accompaniment, including the “Windfall Horns” (Bill Samuels, Terry Tullos and Ernie Gautreau), is nearly perfect.

It is the sound of New Orleans and was recorded at Studio Solo in Slidell, Louisiana.


GPU Programming for .NET: Tidepowerd’s GPU.NET gets some improvements, more needed

When I attended the 2010 GPU programming conference hosted by NVIDIA I encounted Tidepowerd, which has a .NET library called GPU.NET for GPU programming.

GPU programming enables amazing performance improvements for certain types of code. Most GPU programming is done in C/C++, but Typepowerd lets you run code in .NET, simply marking any methods you want to run on the GPU with a [kernel] attribute:


private static void AddGpu(float[] a, float[] b, float[] c)


// Get the thread id and total number of threads

int ThreadId = BlockDimension.X * BlockIndex.X + ThreadIndex.X;

int TotalThreads = BlockDimension.X * GridDimension.X;

for (int ElementIndex = ThreadId; ElementIndex < a.Length; ElementIndex += TotalThreads)


c[ElementIndex] = a[ElementIndex] + b[ElementIndex];



GPU.NET is now at version 2.0 and includes Visual Studio Error List and IntelliSense support. This is useful, since some C# code will not run on the GPU. Strings, for example, are not supported. Take a look at this article which lists .NET OpCodes that do not work in GPU.NET.

GPU.NET requires an NVIDIA GPU with CUDA support and a CUDA 3.0 driver. It can run on Mac and Linux using Mono, the open source implementation of .NET. In principle, GPU.NET could also work with AMD GPUs or others via a vendor-specific runtime:


but the latest FAQ says:

Support for AMD devices is currently under development, and support for other hardware architectures will follow shortly.

Another limitation is support for multiple GPUs. If you want to do serious supercomputing relatively cheaply, stuffing a PC with a bunch of Tesla GPUs is a great way to do it, but currently GPU.NET only used one GPU per active thread as far as I can tell from this note:

The GPU.NET runtime includes a work-scheduling system which can distribute device method (“kernel”) calls to multiple GPUs in the system; at this time, this only works for applications which call device-based methods from multiple host threads using multiple CPU cores. In a future release, GPU.NET will be able to use multiple GPUs to execute a single method call.

I doubt that GPU.NET or other .NET libraries will ever compete with C/C++ for performance, but ease of use and productivity count for a lot too. Potentially GPU.NET could bring GPU programming to the broad range of .NET developers.

It is also worth checking out hoopoe’s CUDA.NET and OpenCL.NET which are free libraries. I have not done a detailed comparison but would be interested to hear from others who have.

Java Standard Edition 7 is done, but feels like an interim release

Oracle has released Java SE 7:

Oracle today announced the availability of Java Platform, Standard Edition 7 (Java SE 7), the first release of the Java platform under Oracle stewardship.


What’s in Java SE 7? Despite the full version number increment, I am tempted to call this an interim release. In December 2010 the JCP approved the specification of both Java SE 7 and Java SE 8, with two of the more interesting features, Project Lambda and the Module system (Project Jigsaw), held back for Java SE 8. Java SE 7 does include the InvokeDynamic keyword which improves the performance of dynamic languages such as Ruby and Python running on the JVM, as well as most of the minor language enhancements known as “Project Coin”. There is also a Fork/Join framework to better support concurrent programming.

The good news is that Java SE 8 is set to follow in late 2012, not so long considering Java SE 6 was released in 2006 . You can see the roadmap summarised here. This post is from October 2010, but as far as I am aware it has not changed much since. 2012 is also when we can expect Java Enterprise Edition 7.

It is also worth mentioning JavaFX 2.0, set for release later this year. A handy summary of JavaFX 2.0 is here. Whereas JavaFX 1.0 was rushed out and features a new scripting language that in the end few wanted, JavaFX 2.0 is more promising. Dimitry Jemerov, developer of IntelliJ IDEA at JetBrains, told me earlier this year:

JavaFX is going to turn, when the version 2.0 is released, from a dead end resource sucker project into a set of distinct technologies of great immediate usefulness to many Java developers.

Is there still hope for Java on the client? Java is barred from Apple iOS which is a problem, and is no longer supplied as standard on Mac OS X, but it will still make sense for many business applications. Of course Java is also wildly successful in the context of Google Android, but that uses the Dalvik VM rather than the Java VM so is rather a different thing.

Update: As ever, upgrade critical machines with caution. In particular, Apache Lucene and Apache Solr do not work on Java 7 because of HotSpot optimization bugs.

Apple’s RAM upgrade prices are extortionate. Save money by buying elsewhere.

Last week I purchased a Mac Mini from the Apple online store.

The Mini comes with a minimum of 2GB RAM, but you can upgrade at purchase. 8GB of RAM adds £240 to the price, 20% VAT included.


That struck me as expensive, so I purchased an 8GB Kit from Crucial, 2 x 4GB SODIMMs, DDR3-1333 PC3-10600, from Crucial. It cost me £55.19 including VAT though I should have waited: the price today is £49.19.


If you purchase the upgrade from Apple, you just get 8GB. If you purchase the upgrade elsewhere, you end up with two spare 1GB sticks that you might be able to use or sell for a few pennies.

Upgrading the RAM on a Mac Mini used to be somewhat challenging, involving a putty knife, a certain amount of stress, and likely a few marks on your case. Now it is just a matter of twisting a cover on the underside and takes a couple of minutes.

The ex-VAT price is £200 from Apple versus £40.99 from a third-party. That can be expressed as a 487% mark-up. Of course we need to allow for the skilled engineering work in twisting off the cover and testing the RAM; or maybe Apple does this at the factory and has a pile of pre-configured machines; but then again I am sure Apple gets a better price on its volume RAM purchases than the rest of us can manage.

I would not blame anyone for going the safe route and ordering their upgrade from Apple, so as to be sure it is the correct part, correctly fitted. But Apple is taxing these customers heavily. The Mini is no longer good value with the official upgrade.

One thing in Apple’s favour though. I imagine it could have put some little chip into its official RAM that prevented standard parts from working. At least it has not done that.

Microsoft releases Visual Studio LightSwitch: a fascinating product with an uncertain future

Microsoft has released Visual Studio LightSwitch, a rapid application builder for data-centric applications.


LightSwitch builds Silverlight applications, which may seem strange bearing in mind that the future of Silverlight has been hotly debated since its lack of emphasis at the 2010 Professional Developers Conference. The explanation is either that Silverlight – or some close variant of Silverlight – has a more important future role than has yet been revealed; or that the developer division invented LightSwitch before Microsoft’s strategy shifted.

Either way, note that LightSwitch is a model-driven tool that is inherently well-suited to modification for different output types. If LightSwitch survives to version two, it would not surprise me to see other application targets appear. HTML 5 would make sense, as would Windows Phone.

So LightSwitch generates Silverlight applications, but they do not run on Windows Phone 7 which has Silverlight as its development platform? That is correct, and yes it does seem odd. I will give you the official line on this, which is that LightSwitch is not aimed primarily at developers, but is for business users who run Windows and who want a quick and easy way to build database applications. They will not care or even, supposedly, realise that they are building Silverlight apps.

I do not believe this is the whole story. It seems to me that either LightSwitch is a historical accident that will soon be quietly forgotten; or it is version one of a strategic product that will build multi-tier database applications, where the server is either Azure or on-premise, and the client any Windows device from phone to PC. Silverlight is ideal for this, with its modern presentation language (XAML), its sandboxed security, and its easy deployment. This last point is critical as we move into the app store era.

LightSwitch could be strategic then, or it could be a Microsoft muddle, since the official marketing line is unconvincing. I have spent considerable time with the beta and doubt that the supposed target market will get on with it well. Developers will also have a challenge, since the documentation is, apparently deliberately, incomplete when it comes to writing code. There is no complete reference, just lots of how-to examples that might or might not cover what you wish to achieve.

Nevertheless, there are flashes of brilliance in LightSwitch and I hope, perhaps vainly, that it does not get crushed under Microsoft’s HTML 5 steamroller. I set out some of its interesting features in a post nearly a year ago.

Put aside for a moment concerns about Silverlight and about Microsoft’s marketing strategy. The truth is that Microsoft is doing innovative work with database tools, not only in LightSwitch with its model-driven development but also in the SQL Server database projects and “Juneau” tools coming up for “Denali”, SQL Server 2011, which I covered briefly elsewhere. LightSwitch deserves a close look, even it is not clear yet why you would want actually to use it.


Review: Hands On with the HP TouchPad

When I saw HP’s TouchPad on display at the Mobile World Congress last February I thought it looked good and wanted to have a closer look. I have been doing so for the last couple of days. The TouchPad is a 9.7” tablet similar in size to Apple’s iPad and iPad 2. It comes with 16 or 32GB of storage, 1024x 768 display, wi-fi, Bluetooth, dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2Ghz processor, and front-facing camera. Battery life is up to around 9 hours. The TouchPad runs WebOS, the operating system acquired with Palm, and which seems to form the basis of HP’s mobile device strategy.


Since a large part of HP’s business comes from selling and servicing Windows servers and PCs, it would make sense for the TouchPad to have excellent support for Microsoft’s platform. Then again, why is it running WebOS and not Windows? There are several reasons. First, Microsoft refuses to allow the Windows Phone 7 OS to be used in a tablet form factor, and the first tablet-friendly Windows OS will be Windows 8 which is not yet available. Second, HP has been down the Windows Mobile track before, and seen Apple takeover the market.

HP has good reason therefore to take a non-Microsoft approach to mobile. However, you can see in the TouchPad the downside of that decision. Exchange support is good, but SharePoint support non-existent. The TouchPad makes a terrible client for Office 365. There is no sign of Microsoft Lync or even MSN Messenger in its messaging account options:


Why does this matter? Well, in the end the question is why you, or anyone, is going to buy an HP TouchPad rather than one of its competitors. There is a gap in the market for an business-focused tablet with strong support for Microsoft’s platform, and I wondered if HP, with its strength in that market, might fill it with the TouchPad. In this respect it is a disappointment. It is behind Apple’s iPad, which lets me open and save documents from SharePoint via WebDAV, and edit them in Pages or Numbers; and even the iPad is weak in this area.

Look and feel

I hate making constant comparisons with Apple’s device, but it is hard to avoid because it sets the standard at this price level. With its rounded corners and glossy black finish, the TouchPad is OK but feels inelegant and chunky in comparison to the iPad 2. For example, both the iPad and the TouchPad have a single recessed button that acts as a kind of home key. On the iPad it is a round button that fits your finger nicely; on the TouchPad it is rectangular and slightly sharp-edged, and therefore less pleasant to operate. A tiny detail, but one that when combined with others makes the TouchPad feel less well designed.

More seriously, the touch screen seems less responsive than that on the iPad. This may be as much to do with software as hardware, but sometimes taps seem to get lost. I also had difficulty with the screen rotating at the wrong moment; this can be a problem on the iPad too but seems worse on the TouchPad, though you can lock the screen if it gets too annoying. Sometimes the screen flickers slightly; this may be to do with power management but it is unpleasant.

On the plus side, WebOS has a card-based interface that works well. Each app shows as a card when not full screen, and you can flick between cards to select a running app, or flick the card up to close it.

Another plus is the Touchstone accessory which does wireless charging; a great feature though this was not included in the review sample.


Setting up the TouchPad was straightforward, though I saw more of the spinning wait circle than I would have liked. You are required to set up a WebOS account, but there is no requirement to enter credit card details until the point where you actually want to buy an app. I did twice get the message “we are unable to create an account for you. Please try again in a few minutes or contact HP for help,” but third time was lucky.

My next step was to connect to Exchange. The TouchPad absolutely refused my first attempt because it did not trust my self-signed certificate. By contrast, most devices merely throw up a warning and then let you continue. I fixed this by going to Settings – Device Info, which has a Certificate Manager in its drop-down menu. I copied the certificate to the TouchPad over USB and then installed it.

Exchange worked OK after that, though the mail client is sluggish. I do not know if it is related, but soon after setting up Exchange I got a “Memory critical, too many cards” message and the TouchPad pretty much died, though it revived after a restart.

I also added accounts for DropBox and for Box.net, both of which offer cloud storage and synchronisation.

Finally, I added some music. I installed the beta of HP Play, which is a music player and library manager. Once installed, you can drag music to the HP TouchPad when connected over USB.


This worked; but with hindsight I was nearly as well off copying MP3 files directly using Windows Explorer. The main benefit of HP Play is drag-and-drop playlist management. You can also set up auto-synchronisation, but I turned this off as I prefer to select what goes on the device manually.

Sound quality on the TouchPad is decent even using the internal speakers. Here is one way in which the TouchPad improves on Apple’s iPad, though the difference disappears if you use external speakers or headphones. Formats supported are DRM-free MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, QCELP, and WAV. No FLAC which is a shame.

The printed user guide for the TouchPad is just a few pages, but there is a detailed manual you can download – recommended for TouchPad owners.


A selection of apps comes supplied with the TouchPad.


I am interested in Quickoffice, which lets you view a wide selection of document formats, but sorry to find that all documents are read-only. Adobe Reader is also installed. Printing is supported, as you would expect from HP, but my network printer is a Canon and does not work with the TouchPad.

The web browser is based on WebKit and includes Adobe Flash 10.3 but not Oracle Java. The Youtube “app” just links to the Youtube web site – what is the point of that? BBC iPlayer work nicely

Maps is Bing Maps and looks good, with options for Satellite and Bird’s Eye views as well as “Show traffic” which is meant to indicate which roads are busy but did not seem to work for me. You can also get turn by turn directions.


You can install new apps by going to the Downloads screen and tapping HP App Catalog.


The selection of apps is weak though, especially in comparison to iPad or Android. HP needs to attract more developers to WebOS; but they will only come if HP can make a success of the devices.

Amazon Kindle is meant to work on the TouchPad but is nowhere to be seen, although it is referenced in the user guide. Apparently it has appeared for US users.


My immediate impression of the HP Touchpad is that it is promising but not yet good enough to win much market share, especially given that the price is similar to that of the iPad. At the time of writing, the TouchPad costs around £400 for the 16GB version, as does Apple’s iPad 2.

That said, there are a few reasons why you might want one of these:

  • Printing to HP printers
  • USB Drive support when attached to a PC or Mac
  • Adobe Flash
  • Multi-tasking with WebOS card interface
  • Wireless charging
  • Integration with HP Pre 3 smartphone
  • Above average sound quality

None of these strike me as a must-have, but there will be scenarios where they tilt the balance in favour of the TouchPad.

The problem with the TouchPad is that it is insufficiently distinctive from Apple’s offering, but its usability and performance is in most respects less good.

The promise is there; but can HP get enough momentum behind the platform to attract a stronger set of third-party apps, as well as fine-tuning the performance and design?

I am doubtful. HP, like RIM, is going to have difficulty maintaining its own mobile platform. In the end it may have to either join the Android crowd, or mend its relationship with Microsoft.

Thanks to Dabs.com for supplying the review loan.

Living in an App Store world: what are the implications?

A few recent events prompt some reflections on the rise of app stores and the implications for developers and for the IT industry.

One is Apple’s OS X Lion release, available only through the Mac App Store; and the removal of the optical drive on the Mac Mini, making it hard to install shrink-wrap software.

Another is Adobe’s closure of its InMarket service and AIR Marketplace app store. Some app stores are doing better than others.

A third is TechCrunch reporting that book apps such as Nook and Kindle are being hobbled or removed from the Apple iOS store. While I cannot verify this at the moment – I still see the Kindle app in the store, and it still has a link to the Kindle web store – it is in tune with Apple’s announcement in February:

… publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.

Enforcing this on an app such as Kindle promotes Apple’s own iBooks app and store.

There are lots of app stores out there, though one fewer with the forthcoming closure of AIR Marketplace, but how many of them matter? Here is my pick of the top three:

  • Apple iOS and Mac App Store – arguably two different stores, but since you access them with the same account I bracket them together.
  • Google Android Market – not a lock-in like Apple’s store, but still the primary store for Android.
  • Windows vNext marketplace – how this will work is not yet public, but the existence of a new app store in Windows 8 is widely rumoured and might be expected to tie in with what is already in place for Windows Phone 7.

Perhaps I am overstating the importance of the Windows 8 marketplace, given the failure of the Windows Vista marketplace, but given that Apple has now shown the way I find it hard to see how Microsoft can fail with this one.

Note that an app store is not just a marketing ploy. It is a software deployment and update tool.

App Stores score well in terms of usability. Another advantage is that users have a centralised mechanism for software updates, managed by the operating system. That is good for security, because it is unlikely to be disabled, and good for usability as it should mean fewer third-party updaters like those from Adobe, Oracle Java, Symantec and others.

App Stores typically enforce certain conditions on developers. In essence they must be well-behaved. For examples, the Mac App Store prohibits apps that request escalation to root privileges. Apple also rejects apps that use “deprecated or optionally installed technologies”, including specifically Java and by implication Adobe Flash or other runtimes.

This is great for security. In principle, if you decide that you will only install apps from the App Store, you can be confident that all your apps are well-behaved. On the Mac this is interesting; on Windows it would be a revolution.

What are the business implications though?

  • First, it is a significant source of new revenue for the operating system vendor. It gets a cut of everything.
  • Second, it gives tremendous empowerment to user ratings and reviews. On iOS or Android, if you want an app, you automatically search the app store and take note of factors such as user ratings and popularity. Most of us can figure that if there are few ratings or reviews, the app is not popular.

If you are a software company, getting high ratings and good reviews on app stores is now a key challenge, even more so than it is already with the likes of Amazon.

  • Speaking of Amazon, the third point is that app stores will not be welcomed by software resellers. They are simply being bypassed. Amazon is addressing this with its own App Store for Android; but can it really win against the official Google Android Market? Its MP3 store is better value than Apple’s iTunes, but has smaller market share.

Amazon has other business to fall back on, but specialist software resellers will be watching the growth of app stores nervously. Apple resellers in general are already hurting and diversifying, thanks in part to Apple bypassing them with releases like OS X Lion.

The app store revolution is good for users in many ways, especially as prices seem to end up lower than before, but there are worrying aspects. In particular, the ability of the operating system vendor to tilt the store in its own favour is a concern, and we will hear more complaints about that.

Finally, it is interesting to speculate how this may impact enterprise software deployment. Will Microsoft aim to link its forthcoming Windows app store to other deployment mechanisms such as System Center Configuration Manager? What about volume licensing sales, will resellers be able to keep hold of those? Maybe we will learn more of Microsoft’s story on this at the Build conference in September.

Adobe closes AIR Marketplace, InMarket

Adobe is giving up its efforts to support developers deploying to multiple app stores. The idea of InMarket,  announced at the Adobe MAX Conference in October 2010, was to be a one-stop distribution point for developers seeking to target multiple platforms. Adobe handled distribution and billing. The reason given:

After reviewing our efforts and based on feedback from developers, we have decided that we will deliver the most value by helping developers author and publish their apps on multiple platforms. Given this focus, we have decided to discontinue development and support of Adobe InMarket. We are going to continue to provide support for publishing to different app stores through our tooling. The recent Flash Builder 4.5 and Flash Professional CS5.5 provide support for publishing to multiple mobile platforms including Android and Apple iOS devices.

Adobe is not giving developers much time to adjust. The InMarket URL will terminate on August 31. This is causing some consternation:

I don’t understand how you expect publishers will be able to push an update to all the markets they publish to with enough time to get their user base to update before they’re totally screwed. One month? You do realize that even updates pushed to AppUp can take up to 2-weeks for vetting? This is crazy

That said, the low traffic on the InMarket forum is a clue to what Adobe is closing it down.

InMarket only supported Intel AppUp and AIR Marketplace, which rather misses the point of targeting multiple platforms. Had Adobe been able to offer instant deployment to all the key app stores, including Android Market and Apple’s iOS App Store, it would have been more attractive. Given the complexities of the approval process, it is not surprising that this was hard to achieve. A further complication is that Adobe’s AIR runtime is not allowed on iOS. Apps for iOS have to be packaged as native iOS apps.

What about AIR Marketplace?

When we established Adobe AIR Marketplace three years ago, there were few distribution opportunities for AIR developers. There are now several app stores on desktops, mobile devices and tablets that service AIR developers including Apple App Store, Android Market, BlackBerry App World, Intel AppUp center, Samsung Apps, and Toshiba App Place. We encourage you to use these newer popular app stores to distribute your applications.

This of course describes describes exactly the problem that InMarket was meant to address: the challenge of maintaining support for multiple app stores.

AIR Marketplace is still up and running at the time of writing, and seems to have more life than InMarket:


That said, why would any potential customer look specifically for AIR applications? It is a runtime and ideally should be invisible to the user. I was interested to see reference to AIR packagers for Windows, Mac and Android in a recent announcement, suggesting to me that Adobe is de-emphasising AIR as a runtime and making it into something more like a cross-platform development tool.

Microsoft financials: Office and server dominate as Windows falters

Microsoft has released its quarterly figures for January-March 2011. My at-a-glance summary is below.

Quarter ending June 30th 2011 vs quarter ending June 30th 2010, $millions

Segment Revenue Change Profit Change
Client (Windows + Live) 4740 -41 2943 -123
Server and Tools 4643 +494 1774 +214
Online 662 +94 -728 -40
Business (Office) 5777 +402 3618 +399
Entertainment and devices 1485 +341 32 +204

Business as usual? More or less, but there are a few points to note.

The figure that jumps out is the stunning performance of Office, which includes SharePoint and Exchange. Why is everyone buying Office 2010, when a document like the one I am typing now could be done just as well in Word 2.0 from 1991, or more plausibly the free OpenOffice?

The answer is the Microsoft has successfully transitioned many of its customers to using Office with SharePoint and Exchange, making it harder to stick with old versions and selling CALs (Client Access Licences) as well as the Office suite itself. This is highly profitable, though the aspect that puzzles me is that Office 365, which is cloud-hosted SharePoint and Exchange, is more cost-effective for the customer since it includes server software, CALs and in some cases the Office client for a commodity-priced subscription.

In other words, I find it hard to see how Microsoft can remain equally profitable if a significant proportion of its customers switch to Office 365. The company may be depending on its ability to upsell those customers to further online services; or perhaps it has not fully thought this through and has set Office 365 pricing at what it needs to be in order to compete with Google.

Fortunately for Microsoft, there is enough doubt concerning the safety of cloud services to sustain continued strong sales of on-premise solutions.

Second notable thing: Windows is in decline. The reason: it is losing market share to Apple and to Google Android. Netbook sales are down 41% according to the release, and I would guess that those sales have mostly gone to Apple iPad and Android tablets rather than to Windows notebooks.

Will Windows 8 reverse the decline? Speculation of course, but it will not repeat the success of Windows 7. In fact, my guess is that Windows 8 will be a hard sell to enterprises which have finally been persuaded to migrate from Windows XP. They are settling down for another five years of stability. Windows 7 was a consolidation release, just the sort of thing enterprises like. Windows 8 will be a revolution release, with most of the interest focused on what it can do in mobile and tablets. If it does succeed, it will do so slowly; there will be no rush to upgrade from 7 other than from the usual early adopters. It may improve sales in the consumer market, but neither Mac nor iPad nor Android is going away.

That leads on to mobile, the figures for which are buried under a pile of Xbox consoles. A good quarter for Xbox, though note how poor the margins are compared to those for Office or Windows.

Finally, the online money drain continues. Note that this is Bing and online advertising, not Azure or Office 365. Microsoft must feel that it the strategic value of these online services is worth the cost, particularly since they tie into mobile and the ecosystem which Nokia is depending on for a reversal of its fortunes. Given that the company has money to burn, there may actually be some sense in that; though for a segment to make such large and consistent losses over a long period has to be a concern.

Adobe recommends Flash Builder, Adobe Reader users not to upgrade to Apple Mac OS X Lion

Apple and Adobe appear to have a difficult relationship, as shown by Apple CEO Steve Jobs with his Thoughts on Flash last year. Now it seems that there are issues for users of some Adobe products if they upgrade to the new version of OS X, Lion, just released.

Adobe’s FAQ on Creative Suite compatibility starts well:

Adobe and Apple have worked closely together to test that Adobe® Creative Suite® 5 and CS5.5 suite editions and individual products run reliably on Intel® based systems running Mac OS X Lion (v10.7) with optimal performance and user experience.

The FAQ adds that Creative Suite 3 and 4 also mostly work; but it gets worse:

Adobe Flash® Catalyst® CS5.5 and Adobe Flash Builder® 4.5 software are generally compatible with Mac OS X Lion; however, we have discovered issues that may degrade the user experience or affect use of the products. We do not recommend that these customers upgrade to Mac OS X v10.7.

Flash Catalyst CS5 and Flash Builder 4 will not work on Mac OS X v10.7. Adobe does not intend to update either of these products for use on Mac OS X v10.7. It is recommended that customers using these versions not upgrade to Mac OS X v10.7.

What is the problem with Flash Builder 4.5 on Lion? It seems to be to do with 3rd party components:

Flash Builder and Flash Catalyst are dependent upon a number of foundational technologies provided by third parties that are not yet fully compatible with Mac OS X v10.7. As these foundation pieces are certified on Lion, Adobe plans to undertake additional testing and issue a compatibility update to our products if applicable.

It would be good to know what these components are and whether there are real problems, or possibly Adobe is just being cautious.

There are also problems for users of Adobe Reader. Reading between the lines, it seems that Apple is discouraging the use of a third-party plug-in to render PDF in Safari, in favour of its own PDF renderer:

Adobe Reader plug-in and Acrobat plug-in are not compatible with the Safari 5.1 browser, which will ship with Mac OS X 10.7 and for 10.6 in July. Adobe Reader and Acrobat will continue to work as standalone applications on Mac OS X 10.7 and 10.6, and will render PDF documents outside of the browser. In addition, Safari 5.1 renders PDF documents natively. However, the Adobe Reader and Acrobat plug-ins will not function as expected in LiveCycle and Acrobat workflows that require either plug-in to render PDF documents in Safari 5.1

The problem is not with viewing standard PDF documents, but with documents and forms that require advanced features of the Adobe Reader to work. A partial workaround is to open documents outside Safari, but Adobe says this is not always enough:

In other cases, such as Adobe Reader, Acrobat and LiveCycle applications that utilize functionality like forms, digital signatures, portfolios, guides, 3D, extended PDFs and rights management, viewing a PDF inside the browser with the Adobe Reader or Acrobat plug-in may be required, and thus this workaround will not be successful.

and you cannot use Firefox either:

Acrobat Reader plug-in and Acrobat plug-in are dependent on the WebKit WebPlugin API and capabilities that were unique to Safari. Other browsers like Firefox, Chrome, or Opera do not have the required functionality to run the plug-ins properly.

The suggested solution is not to upgrade to Lion.

There are also some issues with the Flash Player. An inconclusive note in the FAQ suggests that hardware acceleration is not working:

Flash Player may cause higher CPU activity when playing a YouTube video. Possibly related to disabled hardware acceleration.

Update: Adobe now says hardware acceleration is OK on Lion.

In addition, if you right-click Flash content in the browser, you will find that the settings do not respond to mouse clicks.

Finally, when I fired up Dreamweaver CS 5.5 on Lion, the system informed me that there is a dependency on Java and prompted me to install it:


This went smoothly, Dreamweaver 5.5 opened and seems to work fine.