I took some time to think about what I saw at MAX 2009 last week. Although I knew what the announcements would be, the way we chose to package them was a surprise for me and, at the same time, the crowd’s reaction was an interesting barometer. Because it is one thing to think that your kid is the smartest one around and another thing to have others telling you the same.
First of all, more of the announcements were Flash Platform related compared to last year’s MAX. And please notice that I used “Flash Platform” and not some more specific terms like Flex, Flash Player, or AIR. I think almost everybody is now comfortable with this term and understands what it means. We first used Flash Platform on a large scale during the June launch of beta previews for Flex 4, Flash Catalyst, and Flash Builder 4. It is a nice surprise that in only three months you have embraced this.
Going back to the the Flash Platform news, I think one of the biggest was the preview of the Flash Player 10.1 for mobile. Today Nokia, Android, Palm, and Blackberry are on board for delivering early next year the first smartphones with full support for Flash Player 10.1, and this makes iPhone the only one without Flash. You’ll have goodies such multi-touch and accelerometer. Of course, we also announced that the next version of Creative Suite will let you develop Flash applications that target iPhone (they are compiled to iPhone native code). Later on this year you should be able to play with this new version.
The Flash team did great work to optimize Flash Player for mobiles. They reduced the memory footprint by 50% and optimized the execution so your battery will not run out of juice when playing Flash content. Furthermore as you might expect for mobiles, when the Flash application is not in the foreground it reduces power consumption even more. I’m sure this is only the beginning and the Flash team will continue to improve and innovate further around mobiles.
To tell you the truth I can’t wait to have devices and play with this technology to build Flash apps. I just have to have a little more patience and to convince my boss to approve a new phone for me. Having one platform to target all kinds of screens and devices is one step closer.
AIR 2.0 brings to the table many of the features you’ve requested in the past year. You’ll have raw access to the microphone. You’ll be able to package your application as a native installer and run commands and system executables from within your application. You’ll be able to open any documents with the system default application for that particular file.
On the same track of improving the performance for devices that don’t have the same power as computers, Intel and Nvidia demoed chips that bring HD playback capabilities (nice and smoothly) using Flash Player to netbook devices.
During the Sneak Peeks there were three cool demos. The first one showed how to swap code during debugging in Flash Builder (you can change the body of a function/method during the debugging and continue to debug, no need for restarting the debug session). Then there was Ely’s demo on a Flex framework for mobile. As a former Flex Builder engineer I am very excited thinking about having these two features available soon. And finally, the Rome demo an AIR application and browser application that can create digital content using animations, drawing tools, and text layout tools. It can even import Photoshop documents and display all the layers set in the original document.
Serge Jespers demoed a cool game built using AIR and how you can distribute and make money using Flash Platform Services. I think this was the missing link of our Flash Platform story. Using these services you’ll be able to distribute and monetize your applications more easily.
Speaking of the missing link, I have to remind you about the Omniture deal. We’ll see some interesting things in the future regarding the integration between Adobe technologies and Omniture services.
And since I mentioned Photoshop, during the same Sneak Peeks there was a cool effect demoed. Basically it is a smart heal brush that can intelligently removes parts from a photos and replace with suitable parts from the rest of image. You can remove persons, ugly buildings that ruin a beautiful landscape, wires, scratches, and so on.
ColdFusion was another product with great exposure and I think it was well deserved it. I know that in Europe ColdFusion is not the number one server-side technology, but if you’ll have a look at it, I’m sure you’ll find places to use it even in the enterprise world. As Miti loves to say it is just an amazing bus services platform, a product that can glue together different pieces from the enterprise world. ColdFusion 9 has an amazing set of features, integrates with Java, BlazeDS, and LiveCycle Data Services, can generate PDF, plays well with the Flex framework and finally has an excellent IDE built on top of Eclipse. Did you know there are more 800,000 ColdFusion developers out there and the trend is up?
While I’m talking about the enterprise, it was cool to see the FedEx application that allows them to see what their trucks are doing in real time and then redeploy the trucks according to the specific needs in time and space. It is built using the Flash Platform. Sometimes I hear people say something that annoys me a lot: “Well Flash is a cool thing, but for the enterprise world is just eye candy”. People who think this better think again. There are simply too many examples of enterprise applications that rely heavily on the Flash Platform in order to offer features, experience, and usability.
Of course there were many more things worth talking about, but these are, for me, the closest to my heart and mind. If you weren’t at MAX, then you can watch it online (http://max.adobe.com/online). Having said this, I can’t wait for the next year’s MAX. The countdown started and time passes in a blink. Are you coming?
PS. Thanks to everyone who took the time to talk with me and share his/her ideas and thoughts, including old friends and new friends.