An Architect's View

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An Architect's View

What I Learned At Adobe

June 15, 2007 ·

This week I had the good fortune to attend the annual Adobe Community Summit - a San Jose-based event for User Group Managers and Community Experts to learn about the "state of the union" in Adobe-land. Last year I popped into a couple of sessions as an employee and saw some sneak peaks of what ultimately became the CS3 product line. This year I attended as a Community Expert, to learn about the many recent releases.The pre-summit day was dedicated to AIR training, a condensed "alpha" version of what will become a two-day public training course for people to learn about building AIR applications. Rob Rusher was our trainer for the day and he has a great patter so he really keeps you involved. The course started a bit slowly because a lot of folks had to install the freshly released Flex Builder 3 Beta and AIR Beta (M4). Some folks were also clearly new to Eclipse which meant they struggled a bit with Flex Builder. Rob went through what differentiated AIR applications from both regular desktop applications and web applications and then delved into some of the APIs specific to AIR that enable Flex applications to run on the desktop. He covered the native windowing functionality and the file system functionality with plenty of "play along" exercises so that we all got to build and install Flex-based AIR applications that could open multiple windows and copy and delete files. I would have liked a little more depth but under the circumstances - with the new release having only appeared the night before - it would not have been realistic to cover auto-update and SQLite, useful as that would have been! In the evening, the Flash Player, Flex and AIR teams did some informal presentations while we networked, ate and drank. The new features in Flash Player 9 Update 3 (Beta on Adobe Labs) are very impressive: player cache for Adobe platform components, full screen video with hardware scaling etc (see Emmy Huang's blog entry for more details). Tuesday and Wednesday were packed with informative sessions on the recently released CS3 suite as well as a number of fascinating "sneak peeks". I was extremely impressed with Photoshop CS3 Extended: I haven't used Photoshop for years (I always considered it big and bloated so I preferred Fireworks) but two features absolutely blew me away! The first amazing feature is "smart objects". This allows you to take a collection of images and combine them into a "stack" and then have Photoshop automatically align them all according to the content - great for aligning a series of handheld photographs for a panorama, for example - but then being able to blend them according to the "median", i.e., removing content that is there less than 50% of the time. John Nack showed how this could be used to remove passers-by from a series of photographs of a building or sculpture - wow! The second amazing feature was the 3D support in Photoshop CS3 Extended: the ability to define a "surface" on a 2D image and then have Photoshop manipulate the result as if it were a true 3D object, rotating it in space. You can also "wrap" a 2D image around a 3D surface, e.g., applying cover art to a CD jewel case (converted from 2D to 3D using the "surface" technique). For more details, see John Nack's blog (that entry is the "tourist-zapping" smart object example but he also talks about the 3D stuff in other entries). Ted Patrick did a deep dive into Flex Builder 3 which highlighted a number of impressive new features (see Ted's blog for lots of posts about Flex Builder 3) and Mike Chambers showed us more on AIR, including how easy it is to build HTML / JavaScript AIR applications. Mike also talked about the on AIR Bus Tour which will bring several Adobe luminaries to a number of cities across the US with all-day AIR code-a-thons. Those were the highlights for me but Flash CS3 and Mobile / Devices also got strong coverage over the two days - and Ben Forta gave an excellent presentation on several of the features in the ColdFusion 8 Public Beta. Adobe is very serious about its community and wants to make sure that information gets out to everyone through user groups and on mailing lists and forums. This year's MAX conference also focuses on the community and should be much less a marketing event than in past years. Again, see Ted Patrick's blog for more details of the direction of MAX 2007. This latest news means I shall definitely attend!

Tags: adobe · adobemax07 · air · flex

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