Web 2.0 stylizations, whether its the design visualizations or the weak catchphrase tokenism, have truly “Jumped the Shark.”
The arrival of MS fresh on the scene with Web Apps like Popfly indicates that we’ll be having a Web 2.0 design hangover for quite some time. In fairness to Popfly its difficult to call it out as the tipping point when most of the recent MS web offerings (i.e. Wallop, Soapbox) seem to share the same design tenants. Don’t worry MS, I’ll be doing my part to contribute to the lameness, having only in the last few months gotten approval to target Flash 8 specific APIs, by shoving as much wet floor reflection down the world’s throat as I possibly can. :)
I’m hopeful the Web 2.0 “bubble gum” design mentality will be replaced by a more wabisabi like trend towards unpretentious simplicity. With an increasing emphasis on high-gloss software UI’s I’m a bit worried that the really important elements, simplicity and ease of use, in rich “experience” oriented applications will be lost.
One potential negative side effect of web inspired technologies such as WPF and Apollo is we may see less of the muted elegance of desktop apps like CS 3 (pictured below) in favor of trendy web “flava of the month” application stylizations.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not one to underestimate the talent, creativity and vision so often exhibited by the Flash or larger design communities. Desktop applications desperately need the breath of fresh air brought on by new technologies like Apollo and WPF. It’s fantastic to be able to easily step beyond the defaults that toolkits like MFC and Swing provide, but we all better get used to the “trendiness” factor.
If you live under a rock and haven’t seen the wave that’s coming I’ve grabbed a few screenshots of some new-age desktop apps.
One of my personal favorites (simple and clean) is Grant Skinner’s DiggTop Apollo application:
From the folks over at Finetune we get this Web 2.0 desktop application stylization:
For Silverlight fanboys, here’s the obligatory conference organizer and networking app from Thirteen23 (don’t even get me started about the vapidity the company name implies):
After some very loud complaining, I’m happy to announce that it appears the release of the Flash 9 file format specification / license is imminent. Emmy Huang, Adobe Flash Player Product Manager, posted the following comment on my blog:
Sorry about the SWF9 spec â€” it is partly my fault that I didnâ€™t push it along faster. But, well, you know â€¦ there are always lots of balls in the air over here
The engineers did their job, but then we needed to update the EULA language with the Adobe wording and I also wanted to clean up some of the poorly worded terms. The basic structure is the same â€” the spec is for figuring out how to output SWFs. We are very very very close to getting it posted for you. Last steps are approval of the new license and getting through the web publication process.
Product Manager, Adobe Flash Player
Though I wish the spec had been released much earlier I very much appreciate JD and Emmy for listening and responding. Here’s to hoping we have the spec / license in our hands within a month. In the future it would seem appropriate for Adobe to include information about the release of the file format spec / license in their public roadmap.
I get a daily report from my SPAM filtering tool indicating all of the messages that have been flagged and deleted. I rarely take a second look at what its filtering out, but today the first comment flagged for deletion caught my attention and made me smile.
Thankfully even the SPAMMERs have a sense of humor. :)
I am impatiently chomping at the bit for the Flash 9 file format to become available to the general public. The big problem with this is that I’ve been waiting for this for over a year – since Flash Player 8.5 officially became Flash Player 9 and was released in the wild.
IMHO its almost criminal that Adobe has dragged its feet this long and without so much as a peep about when or if to expect the spec and license. I do realize that the Adobe engineering staff has, to date, been tasked with writing and maintaining the documentation for the file format as time becomes available, but at some point someone needs to have an epiphany and realize that the current program just ain’t workin.
An even larger issue is the mixed message that emanates from Adobe HQ regarding the openness of their “de facto” web standard. If Adobe really is interested in playing the “open standard” card they need to get their shit together and walk the walk rather than just talk the talk. If you want swf / flv and Flash Player to continue to dominate then you sure as hell better start getting the file format specs and a reasonable license into the hands of developers and tool makers ASAP. In the future it would behoove Adobe to release this type of info simultaneously with the release of each new major player version. This is an extremely reasonable expectation for something you wish to call an “open standard.”
A reasonable / readable EULA should also be expected and demanded by the community. I can tell you very explicitly as a member of a software development team that the licensing and fear of litigation is a very large deterrent with any Flash output related feature. I should note that its not just the folks at TechSmith who experience this chilling effect – check out this comment from Stuart MacKay of Flagstone Software, or this rant from Jesse Ezzel of Articulate fame. Granted, Jesse seems to have drunk more .Net coolaid than Ray Ozzie can pack into a single MIX event, but the point is well taken.
While I’m at it can I mention that Adobe needs to make sure they get a new standards based video / audio codec in to Flash Player 10 which is not the IP of a company which tells Adobe customers to grab their ankles. I’m so tired of the .Net zealots in my mostly Windows shop beating me up with their “VC-1 is higher quality and its free to encode and distribute” talk. I love Flash video and on2 makes a great codec, but there is no love lost between them and your developer community–just talk to the guys on the FlashComm mailing list if you want to warm to the task. :)
Look, I’m not asking Adobe to undermine its ability to make money–I’m trying to do the opposite. The more open the spec is, the more likely Flash output is going to be generated by tool vendors like TechSmith. With more Flash content comes greater investment in Flash Player as a delivery platform. Generating more Flash output also means more Flash developers need to be hired (somebody has to create rich presentation for all of that content). The more Flash developers there are the more tool licenses Adobe will sell, because we absolutely love your tooling (I damn near catch wood when I get to use the Flash 9 IDE – god damn it’s a beautiful piece of software). I’ve sold Adobe tool licenses at every shop I’ve ever worked just because I’m so passionate about how they empower me as a deseloper–make the format truly “open” and I can continue to sell even more.
Ok, I’ve ranted enough, but you can hardly blame me–I’ve watched Flash Player 9 adoption get over the 80% hump without ever a peep concerning my frustrations. If there’s any justice in this world JD will pick this up from the wire and raise the awareness inside the mothership.