Miss me? Yes, I haven’t posted for… oh man, way too long, and I honestly don’t think my schedule’s going to change much at all, so I doubt I’m going to pick up the pace anytime soon. But having said that, I’m currently in L.A. for the Adobe MAX conference, and since one of the caveats of Resource sending me here was that I’d try to collate all the things I came across and bring them back to the company, I figure I might as well make a few blog posts about it. Also, since I know my general readership isn’t as nerdy as I, I’ll try to put things in non-technical terms. I’m not going to explicitly critique individual sessions here- that’s tedious and boring, and you can see them online anyway (The keynote, for instance, is here) – but I will talk about the new stuff that’s coming out and give you some minor editorializing on it.
Flash to iPhone!
Yes, you’ve probably heard it everywhere- the next version of Flash will be able to compile for the iPhone. Chances are you’ve already learned all the details, so here’s a recap:
- Flash will be able to compile natively to the iPhone. This is a bytecode compiler, not a version of the AIR runtime or anything like that (Well, it might be, but Adobe’s not telling us what’s up).
- Right Now the support for mobile features is limited. For instance you can write to the camera, but you can’t read from the camera. So AR isn’t an option… yet.
- Since it’s pretty limited from a hardware standpoint, it will require mastery of a new application and component framework called “Slider” (Introduced today).
- As Adobe works on a roughly 18 month release cycle, you can expect the new version of Flash CS5 to be out around April/May, with betas available in the next month or three (Though they might accelerate it to coincide with the Catalyst/Builder release slated for Q1).
The interesting thing to note here isn’t that it’s “ooh ooh, iPhone”, but that it’s “ooh ooh, native bits!”. Adobe’s shown that Actionscript isn’t restricted to the flash player anymore, which could mean one of two things: 1- It’s Saberrattling directed at Microsoft and Sun to take their hands off the web space, else they’ll have competition in the Desktop space, 2- They’re trying to push AS as a legitimate development environment, or 3- Nothing, really, it’s just cool tech.
Flash Player 10.1
Secondly, Adobe announced a new point release of the Flash Player this morning. There are lots of features, but perhaps the largest is that this player has been designed to work on 29 out of 30 mobile platforms (guess which one’s not in the list). Yes- that’s the full flash player available to smartphones. Additionally, here are some more takeaways:
Mobile devices simply don’t have the computing power of desktop or laptop computers, so one of the major hurdles (and criticisms, if you listen to Apple and Google) is that the Flash Player puts a pretty significant strain on your system. While no amount of player improvement will save you from badly written software, it’s nice to see Adobe put some money into improving their own platform, and we’ll see exactly what the actual impact is.
Multitouch screens are everywhere now, mostly thanks to Apple, and for the Flash player to be competitive on a mobile platform it must accept input from a multitouch screen. This now opens the door to multitouch web experiences, which also makes Flash a competitive development platform for interactive walls and the such.
I doubt you’ll notice the actual impact of this, other than you won’t see as many interruptions while watching youtube… on your phone… while driving. No, really- the streaming enhancements are there to smooth out video playback in an environment where the video player is rapidly moving across different network access points (like cellular towers). You as a mobile user probably don’t realize how often your phone switches from one tower to the next because it’s handled so seamlessly, however it really did become obvious while watching video. If this enhancement really does what Adobe says it will, then live television on mobile devices will actually become technically feasible… while moving.
Personally I’m going to take all the marketing promises with a grain of salt, however whether or not these features perform is secondary to the nature of the features themeselves: This is probably the first time I’ve seen such an obvious example of how the desktop environment is no longer the feature driver, but is rather subject to how mobile devices are evolving. In order to bring Flash to the mobile platform, Adobe had to make some significant updates to the Flash Player, and desktop users stand to benefit greatly from them.
I highly suspect that this is the rebranding of the Adobe Genesis project which I blogged about some time ago. In short, it’s a way to create a series of interactive pods that can intercommunicate, but which in and of themselves have their own independent functionality. These pods can then be arranged on a page as you see fit (to, say, build out an HR application) and these pages can be managed (either at the page or pod level) by a workflow.
This is probably one of the strongest moves I’ve seen recently into the Enterprise software space (Well, other than the Oracle-Sun acquisition), and means that we might finally see a crack in the armor of monolithic ERP systems.
99.9% of you won’t care about this. To the remaining .1% who are operating with enterprise-scale budgets and are sick of hiring arrogant SAP consultants, this is a watershed product. Also, go follow Dan McWeeney- he’s one of the Devs on the project.
The announcement of AIR 2.0 addresses most of the major complaints people have had with the AIR platform. These are as follows:
- Native Installer support
This sounds like you can create an installer which is not dependent on having the AIR runtime installed. There wasn’t too much detail on this, but I’m hopeful.
- Memory Improvements
Tweetdeck won’t kill your machine anymore (Well, it still will, but it’ll do less of that- expect a 50% improvement).
- Launching Native Applications
It will be possible to launch already installed applications from your AIR application, so if, for instance, you’re building some kind of a file browser, you can now open those files in the application they were meant to be opened in.
- USB Recognition
We saw a demo of reading files from a USB drive. While this may mean that only device recognition is possible (hey, there’s some kind of new USB device, but I don’t know what it does), if this is fully built out we can see hardware device UI’s managed completely via the flash platform.
Honestly, this (plus the snippets pane in Flash which I don’t cover here) pretty much spell the end of Director. Good riddance.
There are a ton of new features available in the upcoming Flash CS5, and as I’ve talked about the iPhone above, I’ll highlight the other ones here.
- Real Text Support
This version of “Real Text Support” (Wasn’t there a buzzword like this a few years back?) means left to right, ligatures, underline, strikethrough, paragraph flow and the consolidation of all text embedding.
- XFL as the base file format
The base file format of a Flash file is moving to XML, so anyone can create/author flash files, and we won’t step on each other’s toes when they’re committed to a versioning system. Personally, I wonder how long it’s going to take Microsoft to write a XAML conversion script.
About bloody time. Also, I should note that we just upgraded to CS4 two weeks ago, so I don’t expect to have official corporate blessing to use any of this stuff for another two years.
LiveCycle Collaboration Services
This is what I spent most of my day on yesterday, and will be spending most of my day on on Wednesday as well. In short, it is a way to create live multiuser experiences easily on the flash platform. If that doesn’t make sense to you, think of your favorite webconferencing solution (WebEx, Acrobat Connect, etc) and realize that now you can put this into your branded flash application. Oh yeah, and that works on mobile, too.
To be honest, this is really hard to describe unless you have a working sample, but imagine for a moment that you’re on the ESPN site doing your draft picks for fantasy football. Normally, you’d have to take turns, and it would take forever for emails to work their way around and so fort. Well, if this site was LCCS enabled you would see all the other players in your league interacting real time (no really, you’ll see their mice moving around), and could hand the baton around as to who gets to pick next.
Now, this has been around for a while known first as Cocomo and AFCS- but the big change now is that they’ve announced pricing. The best place to look is here, though I expect it’ll be officially posted somewhere else as well. Something to note- their blog doesn’t appear to be linked from the labs site, so here’s the link to the LCCS Blog.
It’s going to take a while to figure out what neat things people will do with this. I already have a few ideas, but I’m hardly the only mensa-grade genius thinking of these things, so we’re bound to see some really cool stuff.
That’s about it for now. Today is going to be a really long day, so I doubt I’ll be able to post again, but you’ll definitely get an update from me on Wednesday-ish. If I missed anything, don’t hesitate to comment.