Live Editing Server Files with Edge Code/Brackets

If you haven’t already heard of Adobe Edge Code or Brackets, it is a new HTML/CSS/JS code editor that enables a rapid development cycle by connecting directly to your browser for automatic real-time updates to the HTML content running inside the browser. This promotes rapid development, and allows you to focus on writing your code rather than worrying about all the steps required to switch between your editor and browser and step through development and debugging iterations.

In most contexts we talk about the live HTML/JS/CSS development perspective on the client side, but I’d also like to highlight that Adobe Edge Code and/or Brackets can be used to rapidly develop dynamic server-side web code too. Check out the screencast below to see live editing of dynamically generated HTML content using the latest Brackets release (Sprint 23).

This streamlined workflow can be incredibly powerful, especially for rapid prototyping scenarios. You just focus on writing code and creating an experience. Let the edtior offload the work of updating the live content in your browser to keep you focused on the task at hand.

To enable the Edge Code/Brackets preview on a server, just go into “File->Project Settings”, and then specify a “Preview Base URL” string. The preview base URL will be prefixed to the name of the file that you are editing, and will be used for the browser’s URL in the live connection. So, if you are editing “index.html” with a preview base URL of, brackets will launch the live connection with the URL “”.

However, keep in mind that Edge Code & Brackets’ primary use case is editing HTML/JS/CSS, not server-side languages. The editor won’t have code hinting for your server-side code, unless you are using an extension that enables code hinting (with the exception of NodeJS because JavaScript is supported). The current build of Brackets also changes the live preview URL when you change files. So, if you are editing “index.cfm”, and switch to “content.cfm” in the editor, the live preview will follow, and switch to “http://{urlprefix}/content.cfm”. If the files are intended to be separate, this works great. However, if content.cfm isn’t a standalone file, the live preview won’t be as valuable. Meaning: if content.cfm is actually an included file inside of index.cfm, the live preview of content.cfm may not work the way you want it to. In either case, this can still be a very valuable tool with rapid prototyping.

Speaking of extensions… Edge Code/Brackets is built with an extensible plugin architecture. Since the editor itself and all of the extensions are written with HTML/JS, you can easily extend and customize the tool to add any functionality that you want.

if you’re wondering about the difference between the names Adobe Edge Code and BracketsAdobe Edge Code is Adobe’s distribution of the Brackets editor. Adobe Edge Code has scheduled releases, and includes useful extensions and tie-ins to other Adobe services (for example, Adobe Web Fonts and more). Brackets is the open source project for the core editor itself. Brackets is on a 2-3 week sprint cycle, and is rapidly evolving. Essentially, Brackets is the “engine” that powers Adobe Edge Code.

I chose a simple ColdFusion demonstration because I already had an existing code sample I could reuse, however this will work with PHP, NodeJS, or other server-side scripting libraries. The latest builds of Brackets even have NodeJS built directly into it.

The code that I used in this example is available as a gist for download. This was based on my existing US Census Browser sample PhoneGap application.


Enabling Gestures in Edge Animate Compositions

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been working a lot lately with Adobe Edge Animate, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe DPS.  Here’s another post on that same subject.

Another request that I have gotten from some of our DPS customers is that they’d like to be able to implement gestures inside of the Edge Animate compositions that they are building for DPS publications. This includes double-tap gestures, swipe gestures, etc… Out of the box, these gestures aren’t supported, but you can add them to any Edge Animate composition without too great of an effort.

Below is a quick video showing Edge Animate Compositions that are taking advantage of both double-tap and swipe gestures.  Note: I intended these to be used inside of DPS, but I show them in Safari on iOS.  These gestures override the default mobile browser behaviors.

As I mentioned above, this isn’t something that is supported out of the box, but it is possible to add gesture features manually.

The links below are for the basic examples that I put in the video.  Both should work in desktop and mobile browsers:

For the double tap example, just perform a double tap/click gesture anywhere on the stage (the image area), and the animation will start again from the beginning.  For the swipe gesture, just perform a horizontal swipe in either direction with either your finger, or the mouse.

Gestures With Hammer.js

I leveraged the hammer.js JavaScript library to handle gesture detection since these gestures aren’t supported by default.  Hammer.js also enables other gestures, like long taps, pinch, rotate, etc…  However, I’m only showing double tap and swipe.  You can read more about hammer.js using the following links:

I used this exact setup procedure in both the double-tap and swipe examples.

To include this library, I first downloaded the hammer.js file, and saved it inside of the “edge_includes” folder.


Next, you have to disable the web view/browser default double tap behavior, which is to zoom in when double tapped.  You can disable the zoom on double tap by adding a viewport metadata tag inside of the Edge Animate project’s html file.  Open your project’s .html file (in this case “DoubleTap.html”, and add the following line to the <head>

<meta name="viewport" content="user-scalable=no, initial-scale=1, maximum-scale=1, minimum-scale=1, width=device-width, height=device-height, target-densitydpi=device-dpi" />



Next, we have to add the code inside of the Edge Animate composition to enable the gesture behavior.  The first thing you have to do is include the hammer.js library.  In this case, I wanted to add the gestures to the composition’s stage, instead of a particular element.  So, right-click on the stage in the Edge Animate Editor, then select  the “Open Actions for Stage” menu option.


This will open the actions for the Stage instance.  Next, click on the “+” icon and select “creationcomplete”.  This will create a function that gets invoked once the Stage instance has been created at runtime.


In that function, first we need to import the hammer.js library.  Edge Animate compositions include the yepnope.js library, which is originally intended to detect if a browser includes a specific piece of functionality.  If not, then include a JS library so substitute that missing feature.  In this case, I am passing it a blank test to force it to include the hammer.js library.  The following function forces loading of the hammer.js library.  Once the library has been loaded into memory, it triggers the “init” function:


In the init function, we grab a reference to the stage’s element (div), then use hammer.js to add our gesture event handlers:


Now, we need to start looking at the individual examples…

Double Tap Gestures

In the double tap example, we have a simple timeline animation that plays sequentially.  At the end of the sequence the animation is stopped by a simple sym.stop() function call.  Here’s a quick preview of the setup in Edge Animate:


To add the double tap gesture, all you have to do is add a hammer.js event for “doubletap”.  In that event handler, we’re just calling, which restarts playback from the beginning of the composition. The full code for the creationcomplete event is shown below.  This is all that is needed to add the double-tap gesture to the composition stage instance:

	nope:['edge_includes/hammer.js'] ,
	complete: init

function init (){

   var element = sym.element[0];
   var hammer = Hammer(element);

   hammer.on("doubletap", function(event) {;

Swipe Gestures

In the swipe gestures example, we have a simple timeline animation that plays sequentially.  However, at the end of each slide transition, playback is stopped by a simple sym.stop() function call.  Whenever we perform a swipe action, we’re either just playing forward, or playing in reverse until the next slide animation stops.  Here’s a quick preview of the setup in Edge Animate, note the stop points highlighted by the arrows:


To add the swipe gestures, all you have to do is add a hammer.js event for “swipeleft” or “swiperight”.  In those event handlers, we’re just calling or sym.playReverse(), depending whether it was a left or right swipe.  These play actions progress to the next animation sequence. The full code for the creationcomplete event is shown below.  This is all that is needed to add the swipe gesture to the composition stage instance:

	nope:['edge_includes/hammer.js'] ,
	complete: init

function init (){

	var element = sym.element[0];
	var hammer = Hammer(element);

	hammer.on("swipeleft", function(event) {;

	hammer.on("swiperight", function(event) {

With the swipe gestures, you can get some drag event conflicts on mobile devices.  If you run into this and you do not want the page to scroll, the scroll action can be prevented by capturing the touchstart event, and canceling the default behavior.  I didn’t add this, just because I wanted to keep this example very simple.


Full source for each example can be downloaded from the links below:

Artwork used in these examples is from the Adobe MAX web site.  You should attend MAX, it’s going to be awesome.


When you publish the composition from Edge Animate, the “hammer.js” file won’t be copied automatically, so make sure that you copy it to your publish directory before distributing the composition.

Adding Dimensionality To An Edge Animate Composition

Lately I’ve been spending a lot more time working with Adobe Edge AnimateAdobe InDesign, and Adobe DPS. If you aren’t familiar with these tools, Adobe Edge Animate is a tool that enables the creation of animated or interactive HTML content, Adobe InDesign is a desktop publishing design tool, and Adobe DPS is Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite, which is used for creating digital publications from InDesign – everything from digital magazines, catalogs, corporate publications, education, and more.

In DPS publications, you can add interactive content inside of your digital publications by leveraging web content overlays. Web content overlays enable the embedding of HTML content directly inside of DPS pages.

So, you might be wondering, how does Edge Animate fall into this grouping? Well… From Edge Animate you can export compositions into a .oam package, which can be imported directly into InDesign for use with a web content overlay. You can read more about this process on Adobe Developer Connection.

I was recently asked by a customer “does Edge Animate support 3D transforms?”. Unfortunately, at this time 3D transforms are not supported in the timeline editor. However, you can add 3D transformations programmatically with JavaScript. Here are some examples showing how to integrate CSS3 3D transforms with Edge Animate compositions:

These can be great additions to the interactive experience, but I also wanted to share that you don’t always need 3D transforms to add dimensionality to an interactive experience. By leveraging 2D translation, scaling, and opacity you can easily create interactive experiences that have a feeling of depth.

Let’s take a look at a quick example. The image below is from screenshots of an Edge Animate Composition that I put together. On the left-hand side there is an anatomical illustration. On the right-hand side, that illustration has been broken out into separate layers, with emphasis placed on the topmost layer.

Edge Animate Composition With 2D Depth
Edge Animate Composition With 2D Depth

Images borrowed from Ely Greenfield’s awesome FlexBook anatomy demo.

Now, let’s look at that animation in action. Just click the link below to preview this animation in a new window.

Just click or tap on the image to see an animation that transforms the illustration on the left to multi-layered cutaway on the right hand side.

So, while this animation doesn’t leverage any actual three dimensional elements, it leverages those 2D transforms to visually create a sense of depth. Here’s how it works:

  • First, there are 3 images. The bottom-most image shows the skeletal structure and body outline. The middle image shows parts of the digestive system, and the top-most image shows another layer of major organs. The top 2 images have transparency so that they do not completely hide content from the underlying layers.
  • The default state is that all of these images are aligned so that they appear as a single image.
  • Once you click/tap the image, a set of two-dimensional animations take place providing a sense of depth and emphasizing the top layer. The underlying layers have both a scale and opacity change. The bottom layers are smaller, and less opaque. The underlying layers also have a two dimensional (top/left) transform. In this example, I’ve tried to align both the scale and top/left transforms to correspond with a 3D point of origin to the left side.
Edge Animate - Anatomy Composition
Edge Animate – Anatomy Composition

This technique provides the illusion of three-dimensional depth, even though we aren’t actually performing any kind of translation, rotation, or deformation on a three dimensional coordinate system. AND this can be implemented completely with the timeline. So, you don’t have to be a programmer to add a dimensional feeling to you Edge Animate compositions. This effect was achieved simply by using the timeline editor and visual workspace.

You can preview this animation in a new window, or download the full source using the links below: