The final day of a conference is always brutal. Multiple nights of vendor supplied beer, limited sleep, and a steady river of technical information lead to, well, a sore ass and a limited attention span. Despite this the final day of MAX 08 was solid for moi. Here’s the round up.
I was blown away by the morning session on the Flash Platform’s new text engine. It seems the InDesign team has been hard at work on an AS3 framework called TLF that will be released to labs this Friday. TLF provides enormous framework agnostic (works with Flex or Flash) layout capabilities built on top of Flash Player’s low-level APIs. Very cool stuff that definitely builds on Flash Player’s legend as a cutting edge experience-delivery runtime.
It’s areas like this where you really see the enormous payoff from the Adobe / Macromedia merger. Not many people in the world have the deep typographic and layout knowledge necessary to fully utilize the low level text API’s exposed in Flash Player 10. Adobe, however, has deep roots in type with everything from print drivers, to document formats designed for consistent cross-platform type rendering, to best-of-breed layout tooling. There’s scary potential for the platform when you consider they’ve already delivered Pixel Bender shader effects and are sitting on top of serious video tooling / expertise.
Next I sat in a fantastic Pixel Bender lab put on by the AIF crew. These guys ran the best code oriented lab I’ve ever sat in. I wish I could describe code as clearly and efficiently as these cats–I’d be a code super hero, or an even larger pain in the ass to other developers. Regardless, I should note there’s killer tooling built up around Pixel Bender. A shader language with a code hinting IDE, debugging, breakpoints and export of pbj (bytecode Flash Player 10 runs). Slick stuff–the little girlies over at Adobe should be proud.
I also got to sit in another session on XMP with some silly name like, “Use XMP Metadata to Label, Track, and Manage Assets within Creative Suite.” I’m hoping it was the designerish name that scared everyone off–less than 15 people were in the session. That’s seriously disappointing my fellow meta-nerds. Regardless, Gunar (a Sr. PM with Adobe) gave a super articulate overview of what XMP is, it’s alignment with various industry standards and how it provides tangible benefits throughout the create, edit, publish, deploy and consumption lifecycle. Good stuff that should be mandatory viewing for the lot of you (if only so you can mock my meta fetish).
That’s a wrap for MAX day three. If I get a chance I’ll type up some additional thoughts on the long plane ride home.
Only one presenter gets a golden star from me–Michael Coleman’s (an After Effects Product Manager) efficient, yet droll session on After Effects expressions left me quietly humming. Expressions eliminate the tedium of keyframing and drive some seriously wicked effects.
I had high hopes for a session called “Next-Generation Flex Skinning,” but Ely had covered most of the salient points in his Gumbo talk so this one sort of fell flat for me. If you haven’t seen Ely or you’re looking for skinning examples built on top of Gumbo then it’s probably worthwhile. However, it was encouraging to listen to someone UI nerdy enough to argue over beer about whether a radial knob (a range scrubber) fits under the same component framework definition as a slider (a range scrubber). Ultimately the Gumbo team’s answer was no, but those nerds are my kind of people.
The Sneak Peaks were also a big winner. Due to some smart tactical decisions (yay beer) this was a fun event. Nice work Ted.
Dear MeerMeer. You had me at onion skin. Adobe has a web service that will compare web pages, rendered back to you from the server via a virtualization farm, as they appear on multiple OS and browser combinations. Not only that, it will onion skin differences and allow you to debug between “frozen states” and the server. Amazing. I’ve seen some cool shite tonight, but this one might be the most practical.