Each month this column will feature an interview with an individual key to Dreamweaver's success. I'm extraordinarily pleased to launch this series with a talk with Kevin Lynch, Vice President/General Manager of Web Publishing Tools for Macromedia. Steve Shannon, Dreamweaver's first product manager, credits Kevin with the writing of the "19 Dreams" - a series of scenarios for the optimal customer experiences that formed the basis for Dreamweaver.
I first met Kevin during the launch of Dreamweaver at the 1997 Internet World in New York where the engineering team were all dressed in white lab coats. Kevin had no problem fitting the role of research scientist on the trail of world-shaking discoveries.
|What's your background? How did you end up at Macromedia and, particularly, involved with Dreamweaver?||I've been designing and developing commercial software for over 15 years, beginning at age 17 at my first software startup. I feel fortunate to have participated in the emergence of the personal computer from the late 70s through the graphical user interfaces of the 80s to the profoundly networked systems of today.|
My work includes Dreamweaver, Adobe FrameMaker, human interface design at General Magic for personal communicators, the design of early Macintosh desktop publishing tools, the first Macintosh 3D modeling application, and a graphical adventure game released in 1984. I studied interactive computer graphics at the University of Illinois, working with artists and engineers in the Electronic Visualization Laboratory. I believe the designs I work on are distinctive in their simplicity and depth, the basis for tools that are practical, powerful, and enjoyable.
I joined Macromedia in late 1996 after many conversations with Norm Meyrowitz, president of Macromedia Products. I decided to come here based on the potential to create world class web tools based on the great technology already here, the excellent teams, and the strong connection with designers coming from print and CD-ROM media to the web. We decided to create the Dreamweaver project in October 96, and spent several months building the best possible development team and talking with lots of web designers about what their ideal web authoring tool would be like.
As the vision formed for Dreamweaver, it helped us recruit outstanding people, since the project was ambitious and the opportunity was clear. Inside Macromedia, a whole development team led by Paul Madar even decided to stop what they were doing to come work on this project. Dreamweaver is really a result of the remarkable team we attracted at the start and the clarity of our mission.
|What does a Vice President/General Manager of Web Publishing Tools do all day?||My days are a rush of meeting with web designers, talking with advisory councils, building great teams, guiding product direction, investigating new technologies, staying connected with browser makers and other partners, working on standards with the W3C, releasing great products on time, and communicating publicly about our vision.|
Overall, I am responsible for making certain our tools are the best possible for web publishing, and along with co-general manager David Mendels, ensure that they produce rapid growth for Macromedia as a web company.
|Do you have a favorite Dreamweaver feature?||My favorite thing about Dreamweaver is how it contains an extremely wide range of features while still presenting an elegant user interface, providing a thoughtful space for creative work on a web site.|
Another favorite is how Dreamweaver doesn't mess up your HTML while you are working visually. We invented Roundtrip HTML to do this by listening closely to web designers and doing our best to solve these real world problems. I see this practical nature as fundamental to Dreamweaver's personality.
|Are there any emerging technologies that you find personally exciting?||With Dreamweaver and Fireworks, we are targeting the fundamental technologies of the web using HTML, DHTML and GIF/JPEG images. In addition to creating these tools for the state of the art in web authoring, we are also working on new technologies to improve expressivity of the web.|
Over the past year, Flash has emerged as an open standard for web vector graphics, and I'm very excited about the design innovation it's enabling. Vector graphics can be transmitted over low bandwidth much more efficiently than traditional GIF images, and provide wonderfully high quality scaleable displays. Over time I hope to see vector graphics used as widely as GIFs, which will make for a much faster and more expressive web experience.
I am also very excited about a technology that is about to emerge from our labs here, which is a completely new release of Shockwave. It's designed to deliver the peak multimedia experience on the web, and this version has been several years in the making. I can't say more at the moment, other than I can't wait to see the creations it will enable!
|Where do you see the Web going in 5 years?||It's quite challenging to predict that far out--the web itself has been around for only 5 years. I find it amazing not only how quickly it has grown, but also how quickly it has become part of popular culture and awareness. I find URLs appearing on cans of soup and bottle caps.|
The web is a new medium, and just as other new mediums caused a re-examination of how to effectively communicate, I believe we will see fascinating design experimentation over the next 5 years. Most techniques currently used on the web come from earlier mediums such as print or CD-ROM design, and these will shift as we learn to take advantage of the fundamentally new aspects of the web.
One of these new aspects is the web's dynamic nature, where content can be rapidly changing, unlike the fixed mediums of paper or CD. Another is the increasingly wide variety of devices that will access the web, both in terms of bandwidth and display capability. Also, the web is currently all about human-to-web direct interaction, and I believe this will expand to include machine-to-web delegated interaction, which XML markup may enable.
As these techniques evolve, we're working fast to build them into Dreamweaver and our other web publishing tools to help everyone create really great stuff.