Creating Responsive Websites with Adobe Edge Reflow

Note: Adobe Edge Reflow is no longer in service.

In today’s discussion, we delve into a tool from Adobe’s past, Edge Reflow, which once made creating responsive websites seem effortless. It was a valuable resource for both designers and developers looking to streamline their workflow.

During its public beta phase, Adobe Edge Reflow was available for free through the Adobe Creative Cloud, listed in the Apps Center under the Edge Tools and Services category. While we can no longer access Edge Reflow, the evolution of web design tools has continued, offering a range of alternatives that embrace the spirit of easy, responsive design.

For those interested in modern tools that offer similar functionalities to Adobe Edge Reflow, exploring current offerings in Adobe’s suite or open-source alternatives can provide pathways to effective responsive design.

Understanding Grids and Workspaces in Responsive Design

Adobe Edge Reflow introduced an intuitive UI for managing responsive layouts, emphasizing design over coding. Though Edge Reflow is no longer available, the principles it championed remain foundational in web design.

On the left of the Reflow workspace, designers found tools to adjust webpage properties. This included setting the number of columns, column gutters, content width, and unit measurements (px, percentage, or em), streamlining the design process without delving into code.

Adobe Edge Reflow grid setup example

One of Reflow’s standout features was the straightforward creation of “break points.” These thresholds determined when a website’s style would adapt to different screen sizes. Users could easily add new break points by clicking the Plus button and adjusting the page handler, a process that underscored the importance of fluid design in a multi-device world.

Setting breakpoints in Adobe Edge Reflow

Within these break points, different styles could be applied to elements, demonstrating how they should look or behave under each condition. This feature highlighted the adaptability required in responsive web design.

Adobe Edge Reflow showing different breakpoint styles

Principles of Adding and Styling Elements in Web Design

Adding and styling elements in a web design tool, exemplified by Adobe Edge Reflow, typically involves intuitive actions such as clicking and dragging. Selecting an element reveals its properties – width, height, margins, and padding – mirroring a straightforward approach to design.

Example of creating a new box element in a web design tool

In the Styling section of such tools, designers have the ability to enhance elements with backgrounds, gradients, borders, border radii, and opacity adjustments. These features empower designers to add depth and visual appeal to their web pages with ease.

Styling tab in a web design tool showing options for customization

Inspecting an element’s style through a DOM Tree Inspector, positioned usually at the bottom of the workspace, allows designers to examine and modify the underlying code generated by their design choices.

Previewing the design in a browser can be achieved with shortcut keys, such as Command + F12 on Mac or Ctrl + F12 on Windows, offering a quick glance at how the website will appear to users.

DOM Tree Inspector in a web design tool

Integrating Design Tools with Adobe Services

Tools like Reflow showcased the seamless integration possible within the Adobe Edge suite, enabling users to utilize font families from Adobe Edge Webfonts directly in their projects.

Integrating Adobe Edge Webfonts into a project

Additionally, the ability to test websites across multiple mobile devices using Adobe Edge Inspect streamlined the development process, ensuring designs were responsive and functioned well across various platforms.

Looking Ahead in Web Design Tools

Although the preview version of Reflow lacked some key features like exporting projects to HTML and stylesheets, and the Preferences menu was inactive, it represented a significant step forward in web design tools. Its promise for simplifying the creation of responsive websites, especially for those new to web design, highlighted the potential of such tools to democratize web development by minimizing the need for direct coding.

Reflow’s legacy serves as a reminder of the importance of tool evolution and integration within digital design, encouraging a future where creativity and functionality coexist more seamlessly than ever.

What has been your experience with integrated design tools?