Tag Archives: MAX

Day 2 Announcements From Adobe MAX: PhoneGap, Flash Player 11, AIR 3 and Unreal Engine 3

Compared to the first day’s MAX keynote, the second day’s keynote was much more focused on hard-core development but also a lot less exciting and with fewer major announcements. The only acquisition that was announced was Nitobi, which brings the PhoneGap development platform into Adobe’s portfolio. PhoneGap is a popular way to publish HTML5 and JavaScript-built applications to most major mobile platforms, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. I bet it will be rolled into either Dreamweaver—which has had similar frameworks like jQuery Mobile integrated with it—or the newly-announced Adobe Creative Cloud, where it could end up as another of its creative services (along with TypeKit and others). They did say that PhoneGap will remain an open-source project available to everyone.

According to the keynote, Adobe’s intention is to “bet on HTML5″ while “doubling down on Flash,” which I expected. Some people, particularly Apple fanboys, expect Adobe to kill Flash—but I don’t think it will happen anytime soon if at all, and right now HTML5 can’t duplicate all of Flash’s capabilities so I don’t think it should. Interestingly, Ben Forta—Adobe’s Director of Platform Evangelism—asked for a show of hands of who has built an HTML5 application before, and almost no one raised their hand.

Flash Player 11 and Adobe AIR 3 were also announced, which focus on games, rich media and data-driven applications—all things that are not easy to implement with HTML5 right now. I’m particularly interested in 3D and gaming capabilities that are being built into Flash Player 11, and a demo of the Nissan Juke website—which features an online driving game—shows some good things with the new technology.

Other announcements

  • Adobe Edge, currently in beta, has reached the third preview iteration and has some new features including loops and hyperlinks. The beta has been downloaded over 150,000 times.
  • The new ThemeRoller product was demonstrated, showing how jQuery Mobile themes can be built with a user interface. This is also something that can be built into Dreamweaver, but at this point it looks like it’s generating a lot of CSS code. Until ThemeRoller can generate lean code, web developers will criticize Adobe for bloated code.
  • CSS Shaders was demoed for the crowd. CSS Shaders is a CSS3 module that Adobe has contributed to the W3C for inclusion in the general CSS3 spec, and it leverages current PixelBender technology to bend and warp HTML elements. The presenter had a very nice demo of a live page curl on an HTML element and also on a live video element. CSS3 is where Adobe can provide the most benefit to developers, because CSS is pervasive across the web and it’s not tied to a particular product.
  • Another CSS3 module presented by Adobe is CSS Regions, which uses CSS to generate text columns and live text wrap. This is already implemented in Google’s Chromium (a beta version of Chrome) and Internet Explorer 10.

The last presenter, Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney, showed something that means a lot to me personally: Unreal Tournament 3 running in Flash. I played a lot of Unreal Tournament 2004 years ago and Unreal Engine 3 (UE3) is now able to run on Flash—how cool is that? According to the press release, Flash Player 11 has up to 1,000 times faster 2D and 3D rendering than Flash Player 10, which sounds…unreal. If Flash can gain a foothold as a runtime for top-of-the-line games, Adobe can pivot the technology into a data-centric and graphics-centric product and leave web graphics and rich Internet experiences to HTML5, which is what I think will happen one way or another.

Day 1 Announcements From Adobe MAX: TypeKit, PhoneGap, WoodWing and DPS Single Edition

Adobe Acquires TypeKit and PhoneGap

Adobe has bought TypeKit and made the web font service a part of their Adobe Creative Cloud’s services. Jeffrey Veen came on stage and talked about the challenges of fonts on the web but showed how some websites are achieving very professional typography now through Adobe technology. I’ll agree to that—I use TypeKit on my own websites, and it’s easy to deploy and works across all browsers.

Jeffrey also said almost 60 foundries contribute to TypeKit. This includes Adobe, but they don’t offer the entire 2,300-font Adobe Type Library. Maybe that will come later. Jeffrey demoed some new features of the TypeKit website, such as rendering previews to show how fonts will look in different browsers and easier search tools.

I wonder what will happen to current TypeKit customers. Will they have to buy the Adobe Creative Cloud to maintain their websites’ fonts? I hope not, and I don’t think that would be practical for TypeKit’s users.

Adobe also announced the acquisition of Nitobi Software, which produces the popular PhoneGap platform for building mobile apps for multiple platforms including Android and iOS. PhoneGap leverages HTML5 and JavaScript, so I expect this would be rolled into Dreamweaver, Adobe’s HTML-editing software.

WoodWing Moves Users to Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

This announcement might have surprised me the most today. WoodWing Software, whose editorial workflow products allow for digital publishing to tablets and devices, has entered an agreement with Adobe to incorporate their Digital Publishing Suite with WoodWing’s Enterprise Publishing System. The Digital Publishing Suite will now be the only option for WoodWing customers to publish to tablets.

It sounds like WoodWing’s editorial and designer workflow will remain pretty much the same: users will use their Content Station and InDesign plugin to build the digital editions. At that point, .folio files will be created and uploaded to Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite platform for packaging, distribution, monetization and analytics. WoodWing’s Reader Application and Content Delivery Service are ended effective immediately. Customers will transition to the Digital Publishing Suite by November 2012.

Digital Publishing Suite Now Available In Single Editions

If you’ve wanted to publish a one-shot digital publication or a book, you’ll be happy to know Adobe today announced the Single Edition in the Digital Publishing Suite. The service, which takes interactive InDesign documents to the iPad, has until now been an enterprise-priced service for large companies and big periodical publications. Now companies can pay for just a single publication and get all of the Digital Publishing Suite’s features, including distribution through the Apple App Store, monetization and analytics.

It will cost $395 per publication, which immediately establishes it as a business product. Single Edition is not for people wanting to publish a family memento or maybe a church cookbook—but niche publications could very well benefit from its features.

Day 1 Announcements From Adobe MAX: Adobe Creative Cloud And Adobe Touch Apps

Today Adobe announced a variety of newsworthy items, mostly acquisitions and new products that will greatly impact creative professionals. Ironically, “Flash Platform” was not mentioned once at this event, traditionally Adobe’s largest for Flash developers, but I and other press colleagues think more developer news will be announced at tomorrow’s keynote.

Adobe Creative Cloud Combines Apps, Services and Community

This was the big-picture announcement: Adobe has a new service called Adobe Creative Cloud that combines their desktop products, tablet and touch applications, a community website with cloud storage, and a variety of services. The Adobe Creative Cloud’s discrete components will be detailed separately below, but the outline includes:

General pricing and availability of the Adobe Creative Cloud will not be announced until November 2011. The product itself looks absolutely beautiful, and is what I expected from a company like Adobe responding to huge changes in mobile computing and data distribution. Apple and Amazon are doing the same thing in the cloud computing landscape. However, right now we don’t know what a service like Adobe Creative Cloud will cost, so until then we can’t judge how successful it might be.

Another complication is the fact that the Creative Suite 5.5 products have been available with a subscription since May. Will that option go away now that users can subscribe to those and more through the Adobe Creative Cloud? I doubt it will—I know the CS5.5 apps and suites will still be available as standalone products and for sale through the conventional way, and I expect Creative Suite subscriptions will also continue. I also think you can look at the prices of those CS subscriptions, add a bit more money, and have an idea what the Adobe Creative Cloud will cost.

Adobe Touch Apps Released, Includes Photoshop Touch

Adobe has been investing considerable resources into tablet and mobile applications, first with Adobe Ideas and then with Photoshop Touch SDK apps like Eazel and Nav, and the iOS-only Carousel. Today Adobe announced six new “touch apps” currently on Android, which will all be available to Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers.

  • Adobe Photoshop Touch brings basic Photoshop features to tablets, including layers, adjustments, selection and background extraction among other features. Out of all the apps this is the only one to be named after an existing desktop product, and I predicted a “Photoshop on the iPad” product at some point. However, Adobe has made a strategic decision not to put too many Photoshop features into Photoshop Touch and so the app is nowhere near as powerful as its namesake. This was out of both necessity and UX considerations, but I think it will hurt its reception by users.
  • Adobe Collage helps creative people combine imagery, drawing and text to create storyboards and basic layouts. I see this being more useful in the conceptual phase of a creative project, and it doesn’t take the place of Illustrator or InDesign.
  • Adobe Debut is a client presentation application for displaying project materials in meeting situations. Photoshop and Illustrator files can be displayed, among other Creative Suite file formats.
  • Adobe Ideas is a vector drawing application whose files can be opened in Illustrator or Photoshop for refinement. As with Collage, it can’t take the place of Illustrator and it’s useful for off-site work when a laptop isn’t an option.
  • Adobe Kuler is a tablet-based version of Adobe’s existing kuler application, previously just a web and AIR application. Users can build and share color palettes.
  • Adobe Proto builds wireframes and prototypes for websites. It’s the only app that incorporates gestures in a major way: users can draw an “x” to insert an image, or squiggly lines to create headlines and text. There are roughly 16 different gestures already created for Proto.

All the touch apps integrate with Adobe Creative Cloud and share projects and assets in the cloud, so projects can be touched by multiple apps. For example, a project can be conceived by a project manager in Collage, passed on to a designer who builds the color palette in Kuler, then to a web developer who wireframes the product in Proto, and approved by the client in Debut before moving on to final production in Creative Suite. All these apps are also built with Adobe AIR, so they could technically be deployed on the desktop, but the apps’ user interface is designed for small devices and touch screens.

All apps will be available separately for $9.99 each.

Conclusion

After all these announcements, I wasn’t sure if life will be easier or harder now for the traditional creative professional—those who design or develop with Adobe products and have been using the Creative Suite products for years. The Adobe Creative Cloud moves resources to everyone, not just the creative professionals, and the touch apps seem like they are designed for creative users who aren’t necessarily the ones putting publications to bed or deploying code to the web. Even Photoshop Touch, whose namesake is Adobe’s flagship product, feels lightweight and lean. Adobe seems to be focusing on a larger creative audience, and it could complicate things for creative professionals.

However, I like the direction Adobe is taking in marrying everything through the cloud—it had to happen eventually, and the opportunity is huge for business and also for creative productivity. The notion of web fonts being available in the cloud via TypeKit makes sense not only for web fonts but for all fonts—imagine being able to license the entire Adobe type library without installing files on your own network. Out of all this news, the Adobe Creative Cloud has the most implications for Adobe and for consumers.

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.

Adobe MAX: Digital Publishing Suite

The unveiling of the Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) at Adobe MAX interested me more than any other news, since I am a developer who’s also a print designer and I’ve worked heavily with print publications in the past. Unfortunately, we’ve known about the DPS for some time—having had a sneak peek of Condé Nast’s WIRED Reader and The New Yorker months ago—and we still need to wait for the DPS to actually be available to buy next spring (you can use it now through the prerelease program though). However, Adobe revealed a lot and I’ve been looking at the material from both the designer and developer perspective.

InDesign has changed little

I had expected more tools or changes to the publication designer’s workflow, but this isn’t really the case. Everyone should note the Digital Publishing Suite is a set of new services and AIR applications, and there’s just one plugin to add to InDesign CS5, which is required. The best demo of the DPS/InDesign workflow I’ve seen is this one from Terry White, and there is really no changes to InDesign itself. The main points to remember are:

  • Design for the iPad’s 1024×768 screen. This is already available when a document’s Intent is set for Web in the New Document dialog box.
  • Build one InDesign file per article, and horizontal and vertical versions for each if you want it to change with the iPad’s orientation.
  • InDesign’s interactive features are supported, such as hyperlinks and rollovers, but not its rich media features such as video. An AIR app, Adobe Interactive Overlay Creator, can be used to generate this media and the resulting SWF files can be placed in InDesign. These SWFs are converted to iPad-friendly media when the document is bundled.

Creating horizontal and vertical version of your publications is a mild nuisance but it is optional—the Adobe Content Viewer allows for single-orientation publications. Having to create a document for every article and ad seems very cumbersome. I think segmenting one document into sections—already an InDesign feature—would be a great way to keep everything in one file and still separate articles and ads for use on the iPad.

After a document is bundled and prepared for iPad, it will be viewed on iPad with the Adobe Content Viewer. It should be noted this is designed to work with several tablets, including Android tablets and the upcoming RIM Playbook (shown in the MAX Day 1 keynote) as well as the desktop via an AIR app.

The rest of the suite

The meat of the Digital Publishing Suite is in its various services:

  • Production Service takes the InDesign document and makes the final assembly, including the addition of metadata and export to a variety of formats including HTML5. This includes the Adobe Digital Content Bundler app, which Adobe plans to integrate into the hosted service.
  • Distribution Service stores documents in the cloud and distributes the content to the Adobe Content Viewer. This includes a dashboard for library content and reader notifications.
  • E-Commerce Service monetizes the enterprise on retailer platforms or mobile marketplaces such as the Apple App Store or the new Adobe InMarket (also announced at MAX).
  • Analytics Service, supported by Adobe SiteCatalyst/Omniture, provides an impressive analytics dashboard including not only general page views and trends but also the way readers view and read the publication.

A full list can be found in this PDF.

The price

The big news should be the large price tag associated with the Digital Publishing Suite. The cheaper Professional Edition is US$699 per month on top of a per-issue fee that is based on volume. The Enterprise is a totally customized solution that gives publishers total access to the API and integration with back-end services like subscription management, but it’s a negotiated cost with Adobe and constitutes a multi-year agreement.

I think a lot of people hoped to build iPad publications with InDesign when they saw the WIRED Reader hit the Intenet a few months ago—imagine using File > Export > iPad just as easily as exporting to PDF! It would have probably been that easy if Apple allowed Flash on the iPad. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and along with the iPad conversion there’s also the leveraging of Adobe’s purchase of Omniture and the inclusion of its analytics in the DPS. All this makes the suite far removed from the cheap and simple export some people might have hoped for. Instead, it’s priced for serious publishers and its focus on analytics, distribution and e-commerce shows it’s been developed for the business side of publishing.

Adobe tells me they expect to put a reseller program in place so DPS customers can resell the service to smaller publishers and independents at a cheaper price. There’s no details on this yet but it’s good to see Adobe at least thinking about how to penetrate the small and mid-sized publisher market. I know there’s a lot of potential there, as the publishing business in general is full of small publishers and self-publishers.

Participate now

If you want to try the Digital Publishing Suite now, visit Adobe Labs and download the package. You can also learn more by visiting the Digital Publishing page on Adobe.com.

Adobe MAX Sneak Peeks—Video!

I finally got permission from Adobe to show some video I captured during the Sneak Peeks event at Adobe MAX. The Sneak Peeks reveal some of Adobe’s latest technology being developed for possible inclusion in future Creative Suite applications. Some of the technology is still pretty raw and didn’t always function during the event, but other features performed well and I would not be surprised if some are already in the beta stage, being prepared for future release. Adobe wanted me to add this disclaimer to the video: “The sneak peeks at Adobe MAX represent technology projects from Adobe’s development labs. Please note that the demonstrated technologies may or may not be incorporated into future Adobe products or services.”

Copy/paste Illustrator graphics into Dreamweaver

A demonstration of copying and pasting an Illustrator chart into Dreamweaver. A “Smart Paste” command pastes the chart and also binds data to the chart for dynamic updating.

Copy/paste Flash animation into Dreamweaver

As with the previous footage, the demonstrator is pasting media into Dreamweaver. This time, it’s a Flash animation.

Content-Aware retouching in Photoshop

This one got the most applause: the Content-Aware technology behind Photoshop CS4’s Content-Aware Scaling is now applied to a brush, making it an exceptional retouching tool. Star Wars fans also get a treat at the end.

Adobe Rome

Adobe Rome is an AIR application that combines tools from Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver and other Creative Suite applications. Rome probably surprised the crowd the most—a new desktop application that combines basic Creative Suite tools?—but it doesn’t surprise me: the CS4 applications often borrow features from one another, and I’ve predicted a “super-application” that could do the work of several apps. Rome doesn’t look as feature-heavy as the average CS4 application, but it has great potential.

Flash physics panel

A Physics panel attached to Flash allows gravity to be applied to instances on the stage and then animated by Flash. Experienced Flash users will note that the animation is produced frame by frame, not with ActionScript or tweens. This may be problematic from a production standpoint, but the effect looks cool nonetheless.

Adobe MAX: Notes From The Press Party

It’s great fun to be a designer, developer and also a journalist because I get invited to some of the press events such as executive Q&As (which I totally missed due to yesterday’s keynote messing up the schedule) and press parties, which I attended last night at The Yard House in L.A. Live. I arrived late due to my Ajax For Designers session running long, but was able to have some good discussion with three important Adobe insiders.

  • Heidi Voltmer, Group Product Marketing Manager for Creative Solutions Business. Heidi’s domain includes the Flash Platform, which made probably the most news yesterday with the announcements surrounding Flash Player 10.1, AIR 2.0 and the surprise about building native iPhone applications with the upcoming Flash Pro CS5. A lot of my conversation with Heidi revolved around the question of Flash Pro and where it resides in the growing landscape of Flash Platform. Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder (previously Flex) seem to make more news and have better-defined markets than Flash Pro, and perhaps that’s because the original Flash application started it all. But I suspected (and Heidi confirmed) that Flash Pro’s market is being fine-tuned to appeal to the creative Flash designer. It used to be that Flash was good for everything from drawing animations to developing ActionScript applications—and it still is—but Adobe has expanded the Flash Platform application family and Flash Pro CS4 and CS5 are seeing new creative advances you won’t find in Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder. At the keynote, John Loiacono demoed a new text engine for Flash that will be familiar to InDesign users. I’ve always hated Flash’s type handling and Adobe is wisely improving Flash Pro’s appeal to designers like me.
  • Will Eisley, Director of Product Management for Adobe’s Creative Solutions Business Unit and also an instrumental member of InDesign’s initial product team. I was honored to meet Will because I’ve been an InDesign user since version 1.5, back when every printer and even my early mentors were telling me I absolutely had to use Quark to be relevant in the industry. I was even more honored when Will told me he already knew who I was and read my work on Designorati! That was a thrill. Anyway, Will and I talked more about Flash but how it relates to InDesign, the XFL file format and the creatives who use it. Will commented that I’m actually a rare breed who designs and also writes code, and I thought there were more designer/developer hybrids out there than he thought but we left that question unresolved. The concept that designers and developers are different groups fuels Adobe’s separation of designer and developer products, though they also strive to build tools to let designers make code-based applications without getting their hands in code. Flash Catalyst and InDesign CS4’s Flash exporting are prime examples. In the end I tweeted the designer/developer question to the Adobe MAX attendees, and one person responded that they consider themselves a “designer/developer.” I’m sure there are more of them, but maybe Adobe’s research suggests they don’t come around often.
  • Adrian Ludwig, Group Product Marketing Manager for Adobe’s Flash Platform. Our discussion was focused on the big news of the day, Flash Pro CS5 Beta’s exporting to the iPhone, and it’s exciting news but we also talked about the technical limitations that temper that excitement. There are still relatively few Flash-based iPhone apps on the market, and even though the ones out in the wild look good and perform well there are still questions about long-term performance and the viability of developing for iPhone with Flash when the iPhone doesn’t support Flash. Perhaps the greatest takeaway from all this is the fact that the Flash Platform can now be an iPhone app development tool and this gives every Flash user the possibility to be an iPhone app developer too—without needing to learn the Objective-C language.

Impressions on Adobe MAX Day 2 Keynote

It’s been a week since I returned from Adobe MAX, but I still have some notes to publish. Here are my notes from the keynote on Tuesday, October 6:

  • We’re watching MLB executives David Yu and Jen Taylor talk to themselves about MLB.com’s use of Flash video to stream their games. I wish they were talking to the crowd instead of themselves—Jen Taylor doesn’t have much to say other than “very cool, very cool.” And David just walked off the stage after maybe four minutes of dialogue. Jen is much more interesting, talking about Flash video innovations. I’m excited by David’s mention of delivering a DVR experience to MLB.com, and Jen’s mention of new HTTP streaming with Flash Player 10.1 is great news. It sounds like there’s also going to be some kind of security protection for Flash video online.
  • Jen Taylor has just officially announced that the Strobe project is now OpenSource Media Framework (OSMF). Ironically, I just finished a hands-on session working with OSMF and I found it to be fairly easy to use if you’re a professional coder.
  • Adam Mollenkopf, FexEx’s Strategic Technologist, is now showing FedEx Custom Critical, a very nice browser-based enterprise application FedEx uses to monitor truck positions and the number of carriers in any given area. The vehicles even return temperature and speed data via an RTMP streaming server, the same technology used for streaming video (though Flash Player 10.1 will also stream from HTTP servers). LiveCycle Data Services and Flex were used to build the user interface and move the enormous amounts of data around.
  • Heidi Williams, Adobe’s Senior Engineering Manager, is walking through a Flash Catalyst/ColdFusion 9 demo. I’ve never used ColdFusion before but the fact that it’s closely entwined with ActionScript and Flash makes me wonder if it’s a smart choice for Flash designers who want to branch out into application development like I am. Heidi and Ben say this entire demo can be done without writing hardly any code, but there’s a lot of code up on the screen and it didn’t just magically appear. Even when there’s prebuilt components and frameworks, the developer has to know how to handle code when the inevitable bugs arise.
  • Daniel Fiden, EA’s Senior Producer for POGO.com, is talking about POGO.com and the variety of online games available there. The statistics say it’s the US game site with the most engagement (minutes per visit) and traffic overall. It’s interesting to know some of their games’ early development involves building cheap mock-ups in Flash and playing it during development, creating many iterations along the way before a decent game takes shape. All this is done with Flash.
  • Serge Jespers, Adobe’s Senior Platform Evangelist, wrote the Flash-based MAX widget—looks nice, but I never put it on my website—is demoing a simple Flash game that sends win/lose notices via Adobe’s Wave, a new notification service that I just heard about here on MAX. I’m running it right now but I haven’t found a good use for it yet. Anyway, Serge just built a simple demo application and is using the Flash Platform Services Distribution Manager (bundled with Flash Builder) to track installations of his widget around the world. Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen talked yesterday about not only giving people the tools to communicate but to also track and optimize, and this is an example. Serge is also showing how to export the Flash application to AIR, upload to the AIR Marketplace and let Adobe handle the transactions and report your sales and revenue. It looks great and the demo mentioned only three lines of code are needed, but I still think it can’t be as easy as that.
  • CTO Kevin Lynch is back from yesterday to demonstrate augmented reality in Flash. The major demo is a new song by John Mayer, which has a multimedia component using augmented reality. Now on stage is John Mayer himself, talking about using augmented reality to tell a story and create an artistic experience. He mentioned “the Blitz guys and the Adobe guys” so I am sure John isn’t actually sitting in front of Flash producing this piece, but he knows that it’s the cool online videos that get passed around (or the funniest or the stupidest). The very short clip that was shown here looked interesting technically and for John it’s about combining an art form that’s “been around for a thousand years with an art form that’s not been around for a thousand hours.” That’s an interesting (and smart) approach, though I’ll be curious to learn if people do all the necessary work to experience Augmented Reality.

The press conference after the keynote

Kevin Lynch spoke to the press after the keynote and spoke in a little more detail about some things. Keynotes tend to be flashy without drilling down into the details, so I was glad to attend.

  • Adobe is being cautious about entering the 3D market. Kevin mentioned that Adobe products already handle 3D well: Photoshop has 3D capabilities and Flash Player and PDF also support 3D models. It seemed that a full-fledged 3D application was not yet on their radar.
  • Augmented Reality is still new and hasn’t found its killer application. It’s cool to watch but computers still need a black rectangle or colored rubber bands in view to motion track and add graphics. Kevin thinks AR will eventually work without these requirements and offer a blend of virtual reality and true reality.
  • “Flash needs to be on mobile to be relevant,” said Kevin, and the Flash Platform is now being engineered for mobile first and the desktop second. The Flash mobile and Flash desktop teams have in fact been merged at Adobe, whereas until now they have worked separately. I think Kevin is correct that Flash needs to stake its claim as the dominant mobile media format, but the mobile device industry is so fragmented that I think it will be a hard goal—the fact that the iPhone does not support Flash is a prime example.
  • Kevin briefly mentioned the multitouch and multiscreen market, which is emerging for both mobile devices and desktop monitors. Many desktop computer users have had multiple monitors for years but touch monitors are still not very common in the market. However, Kevin thinks it will emerge and the market share will go to the companies who work best within “the ecosystem” of their competitors. He cited the example of the PC market in the 1980s and 1990s: while Apple followed their own vision, Microsoft partnered with other companies in the ecosystem and Windows thus gained dominant market share.

Adobe MAX, Day One

Day one of Adobe MAX is nearing the end of sessions and the beginning of networking and fun—pizza and beer with the software product teams, and an afterparty for the press hounds. I attended three sessions:

  • Flex 101: Introduction to Flex 4 turned out to be a good pick for this Flex novice. Flex (now renamed Flash Builder) is a complex application and this session was well done but rushed due to the keynote, which ended over an hour late! We did some basic FB techniques such as data binding, creating custom components and building a user interface with multiple controls and objects controlled by an external XML file. I’m sure it was an easy session for regular developers but it was just right for a novice: tough but a good learning experience.
  • Motion Tracking in After Effects was more in my area of expertise, as I’ve done some work with Mocha, the surface-tracking software included with After Effects CS4. I think Mocha was a great addition to After Effects and Jeff Foster gave us a straightforward Mocha tutorial, overlaying a license plate image on video of a driving car and tracking the car’s motion. One thing I learned was that Mocha has been updated to version 2 since I wrote my After Effects CS4 review, and the interface looks improved. The other tutorials, which were more interesting to me, focused on the Stabilize Tracking function in the Tracker panel. This has all the tools you need to stabilize handheld video so it doesn’t look like it was shot on a dinghy.
  • Ajax For Designers with Greg Rewis is a good session for beginners and intermediate web designers but it’s a little rudimentary, especially the basic JavaScript tutorial that starts the session off. Despite this, there’s little tips and tricks throughout that may surprise you. One is the fact that you can Ctrl/Cmd-click any item in Dreamweaver’s Insert menu and insert the object without messing with any dialog boxes. Right now we’re learning about the jQuery framework, which I’ve been using myself in some of my recent website projects. The session is a really nice learning experience for those who haven’t used Ajax frameworks before.
  • That’s all for now, I will try to write more as I learn new things! Tomorrow’s schedule includes the Flex/Adobe AIR Boot Camp, a session on the Open Source Media Framework and the MAX Bash.

Impressions on Adobe MAX Keynote

I’m here at the keynote, listening to Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch talk about the Flash Innovation Timeline. Some of my general thoughts:

  • Josh James of Omniture was on stage a moment ago, but not many people appreciated his “Omniture Is Awesome” speech. Not enough time spent talking about Adobe’s acquisition of Omniture, too much time bragging about the huge money that’s been thrown at him and his big clientele.
  • Flash Player 10.1 is going to be a big step forward for leveraging mobile devices’ attributes with Flash. 50% reduction of RAM usage on current web content (videos, ads, animation) and possibilites for accelerometer and social networking. They’ve also been optimizing battery usage: Flash Video will be able to play over 3 hours of video or 6.5 hours of animation on a phone with a single charge. A dimmed screen will run for 14.5 hours! Kevin demonstrated Flash animation and video on Nokia and Android phones as well as live web conferencing with Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro in real time—on the mobile device. I am really pleased to see this: I’m currently in mobile web training with the W3C and we are taught to shy away from rich media because it makes for a bad browsing experience on phones. Flash Player 10.1 has all the right ideas but I think it will take years before these capabilities get true penetration to rural areas and Third World countries. Those with slick smartphones will see these improvements much, much sooner.
  • I need to learn more about Adobe’s Open Screen Project. Google and RIM joined it today. Right now Kevin is talking about improved video playback on netbooks and televisions—streaming Flash video in HD. The video looks great—clear Flash video on TV and netbooks, a lot different than the usual YouTube video experience. But that is changing….
  • AIR 2.0 is here. USB storage device detection, performance increases, native installer support, socket servers, UDP support and increased accessibility. You can also launch native applications with AIR 2.0 applications. The AIR team is making all the right moves with this announcement, and I would be curious to compare AIR 2.0 with Silverlight, which I honestly don’t know much about. Kevin just demoed an AIR application that detected content on a USB device when it was plugged in and launched a file in its native application. Another application was able to execute a search on multiple online and local resources and also use the computer’s microphone to record and play back sound.
  • AIR 2.0 and Flash Player 10.1 handles gesture and touch events, so multitouch applications are a possibility. Kevin demoed a New York Times reader and a photo-posting website (it wasn’t announced, but I could see the URL is http://beta.adobepost.com/).
  • Rob Tarkoff, Adobe’s Senior VP/GM of BPBU is talking about building enterprise software that “works the way systems work” and “work the way people work.” The big push is for data visualization through the Flash Platform, LiveCycle and ColdFusion. ColdFusion upgrades to version 9 and LiveCycle Enterprise Suite upgrades to version 2. Both CF and LC are getting cloud production capabilities, plug-ins for Flash Builder and other advancements.
  • Johnny Loiacono has just taken the stage. This is what I’m most interested in because it’s about the tools I use daily in my work. He’s demoing the unreleased Photoshop CS5 with a Wacom tablet. Photoshop CS5 has some new brush improvements that remind me of what Corel Painter has done for years: brushes respond to tablet pen angles and move and mix color in a realistic way—not just by mixing pixels.
  • Flash Pro looks like it is also going to be getting some text tools from InDesign, including the text engine needed for multi-column and threaded text boxes. It’s also sporting new physics capabilities that allow more realistic movements such as bobbling and bouncing. Johnny is also showing some code snippets that are to help people use ActionScript 3.0—this is still a difficult thing for many designers to handle.
  • Now on to Flash Catalyst. I have had the beta for months but admit I’ve been too busy to really play with it. It’s designed to make Flash creation easier, and it’s certainly easier to build things like buttons and video, but the interface is still complicated. I don’t think you can get around this when you’re creating multimedia. Johnny’s demo of Flash Catalyst looks nice, and he knows zero ActionScript (his admission) so I will be curious to explore the new beta 2, available today.
  • Now we’re being treated to a Mythbusters with Kevin and Johnny blending an iPhone with a Flash CD—making fun of the notion that iPhones do not run Flash. Johnny announced that Flash applications do now run natively on the iPhone—and demoed the game Chromacircuit on an iPhone. These apps are already on the iPhone App Store. This is news to me, and I’m curious to hear more. Johnny showed how it’s done in Flash, and it looks like Flash Pro actually publishes to a new iPhone setting (instead of Flash Player 10 or Flash Lite). He also mentioned that this is not interpreted code but native iPhone code, so I think this is actually not Flash but native iPhone code. I’ll be researching this new announcement.
  • Now we’re going to see Jim Cameron’s new movie Avatar, and I’ll publish more.