Tag Archives: blackberry

Adobe MAX: Android, AIR, Edge, HTML5 and jQuery

Adobe MAX provided several news items and inspiring developments, but of course some of it is out in the wild now while others are only in the rough stages. Here are my impressions of several announcements made by Adobe at MAX.

Android and AIR

The strong penetration of the mobile marketplace by Android proves that Adobe was wise to develop for that operating system. Adobe announced AIR 2.5, which supports Android as well as Apple’s iOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS, and this really sets them apart as a platform-inclusive service provider. A more comprehensive news article on this can be found here.

AIR 2.5 is available today, as is the BlackBerry Tablet OS SDK. I can’t tell yet if AIR 2.5 will boast strong performance, but it’s important that it does. Since Apple banned Flash from iOS, some people have said online that Flash is a buggy and cumbersome technology that should be eliminated everywhere. I don’t see that myself, but if AIR 2.5 runs the same way then it will get the same criticisms.

The Edge prototype and HTML5

One of the most interesting early sneak peeks for me happened in the first keynote, when a prototype application codenamed “Edge” was demoed. Basically, Edge converts simple timeline-based animation to HTML5. A good demo can be found here on Adobe TV. Adobe also demoed a rough Flash-to-HTML5 export in its sneak peeks.

It’s important to notice Edge is not Flash: its focus on transitions and animation looks a lot like Flash Catalyst, which can produce Flash content but is not as robust as Flash Pro. My review of Flash Catalyst CS5 is here. I see Edge being rolled into Flash Catalyst at some point, perhaps as an HTML5 export feature in Flash Catalyst CS6. It performed well but, like Flash Catalyst, Edge only produces a subset of the what’s possible in Flash.

Again, Adobe is wise to push hard to get its content production tools on all platforms. Flash Player is still ubiquitous—CTO Kevin Lynch reported Flash Player 10.1 has the best market penetration ever seen with Flash Player—but the design community has its eyes on HTML5 as the next standard and device and software manufacturers need to follow their lead, whether or not it’s the best option for developers and consumers. I think it’s ironic some people criticize Adobe for sticking with the Flash Platform, while the things they demoed at MAX revolved around the adoption of HTML5 as an alternative.

jQuery

John Resig, the creator of the popular jQuery framework, sat in on one of the keynotes as Adobe touted some internal development happening with jQuery and jQuery Mobile, the latter of which is still in the alpha stages. There was some vague allusions to how Dreamweaver might integrate with jQuery in the future, and if that’s the case I would be curious how it combines with—or replaces—the Spry framework Dreamweaver already has. But details were scarce and there’s not a lot to report on this front.

Conclusion

I think that compared to last year’s MAX, this year touched on more platforms and runtimes. This is a response to the fragmentation of the developer marketplace due to HTML5 penetration and also the number of mobile operating systems coming out all at once.

This could be a great thing for future development but I personally worry that developing for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and HTML5—and possibly XHTML—will get us away from the standards-based mindset that has worked well in the web design community. The idea of “write once, publish everywhere” may still be possible, but it’s hard to see how it will work in practice.

BOOK REVIEW: BlackBerry Planet

blackberry-planet

Every designer and computer nut worth their salt love industry tell-all books, and with brands such as Apple and Microsoft that marshal real zealotry it’s easy to have some exciting books in the field. One brand that has a healthy following is BlackBerry, the ubiquitous smartphone that has an extremely high reputation among the corporate and government communities. I am a designer but I use a BlackBerry instead of an iPhone, since AT&T coverage doesn’t reach the rural area in Iowa where I grew up and still visit.

So I was excited to get my hands on BlackBerry Planet, Alastair Sweeny’s well-researched book about Research In Motion (RIM) and the little product that keeps millions of people connected. The book is more historical than sensational, with less insider gossip and more traditional research and interviews. I think those who like gossipy insider books will be a little bummed by the tone, but the BlackBerry story is still compelling and the characters—with founder Mike Lazaridis in the middle—are interesting. The story arc that culminates in the creation of the BlackBerry is twisting and an exciting read, though sometimes the story is delivered almost like RIM promotional material and without total objectivity.

The last part of BlackBerry Planet veers away from this story and focuses on the “TeleBrain” concept, something Sweeny devised that seeks to capture the BlackBerry’s role in our lives. Basically, our devices serve as our TeleBrain—our brain outside our bodies that augments the original. This is good theory and worth exploring but I thought it didn’t belong in BlackBerry Planet: this is a book about RIM and the BlackBerry, not about humans’ dependence on ever-smaller computers at our fingertips. That topic is best served with another book that can devote more than a chapter to our complex relationship with the BlackBerry and other devices that came before it. I understand how the TeleBrain relates to the BlackBerry, and Sweeny’s interviews with RIM leaders and tech gurus really illustrate how the concept drives their future plans, but the TeleBrain belongs in another book.

BlackBerry Planet
Alastair Sweeny
Published by Wiley
US$26.95
Rating: 8/10