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Adobe Refresh 10 Sydney, Flash is reborn

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Yesterday I went to Darling Harbour for Adobe’s Refresh 10 conference. I was all hyped for a big day.

Signing was my first disappointment, no show bags, and only three stalls on offer, ho hum. The conference got underway with all the presenters showing us one at a time why we enjoyed the Adobe Creative Suite so much with some very OOoo and Aaaah moments. Followed by a demonstration by a design company which has offices in Sydney. The skills were extremely impressive and their work of the highest class on the net.  This was followed by news and demo of Adobe’s newest merger/buyout. Not exactly sure how all this worked or how to explain it, there was a section on tracking revenues from your websites, which was interesting for those in eCommerce. The system worked much like Google Analytics does except that it allowed you to make adjustments to your site on the fly and have some idea as to how many clicks these changes may generate as well as suggested improvements to your revenue stream.

The day after this was sectioned into sequential sessions which you had to choose from on registering for the event a month ago. I chose to go to Extending PDF’s with Flash, AIR with HTML and AJAX/HTML5/CSS3, Multi-target apps, Flash Future technology sneak and Building an iPhone app with Flash CS5. In the opposing sessions they were learning about about Adobe Live Cycle and making forms, collecting data and that boring stuff.

Extending PDF’s with Flash was enjoyable. Having already experimented heavily with this concept this year I still picked up on some interesting pointers especially with alpha transparency swf’s and video over laid on text. There was an interesting section on PDF Portfolios, how they actually work and that the best results come from using the service. (does anyone from DETNSW know if we have access to this from the DET Portal?)

My only disappointment from this session was that I missed the session on Illustrator to Flash Catalyst. Flash Catalyst which is still only a Beta is very interesting and would be a good place for students no matter which subject area to begin learning Flash or Flex development. I was lucky enough though to receive a few pointers on Flash Catalyst from a fellow viewer. (anyone in the DETNSW know if Flash Catalyst Beta is part of the current Adobe package? I haven’t been able to see it on the school network list)

the Air to HTML and AJAX session was a good eye opener for me as I was not aware that this was available in Dreamweaver. All you need is to download an extension form Adobe and you can transform web apps into desktop apps. You can have them read from a local sql lite database or have them receive information from the web. They can also be skinned so they do not appear like normal windows chrome.  I am going to try this out with my HSC students as an extra for their Major Projects. Should see some interesting results.

The Flash future technology sneak peek was excellent. Despite Apple and others calling for the end of Flash content on the web, Adobe has seen the change in the market and moved forward in an appropriate fashion. The bulk of the sneak peek though was running through the improvements made to CS5 over CS4, such as the splash screen which if you have used CS4 before you would know how it hangs there  blocking everything until loads the program. Not with the demo version of CS5, it was up on the screen other apps could be used with ease without a mess of graphics etc. One of the big changes is the change in file format. CS5 no longer supports the original .fla file method. It has fully moved to an XML baseed .fla file method. In the demonstration the file which had been saved out to the desktop as a .fla was changed to a .zip and then opened to reveal that the file structure was still intact displaying all the separate file components that make the new file type.

The next session was fairly straight forward from a developers view. Multi-target apps is not a new concept, but one that is picking up momentum. When you develop an application such as a web site, you also develop and design for all media devices. This is the core to Adobe’s Creative Suite, applications such as Device Central will be expanded to accommodate platforms other then mobile phones, AIR for desktop apps which can be developed through three of Adobe’s platforms. The future for continual connectivity is looking good.

iPhone apps built on Flash is an awesome new feature in CS5. There is a little more work to do compared to using the iPhone SDK on a MAC (signing up to be a developer and then processing all the documentation and certificates), but once you have that sorted your away. You simply select the iPhone.fla and develop your application. When you test your app natively in Flash, you can only have the normal vertical window. To test the accelerometer and horizontal positions you need to publish and test on an iPhone or iTouch. When you publish the iPhone app there is a slight delay for the compiler to work on producing .ipa file, it is a little longer then publishing a standard Flash file. Once published you simple double click on your new .ipa file to load it in iTunes then sync it to your iPhone or iTouch and test. Under your developers agreement with Apple you can share the app for testing with friends once you have registered their device.

At the end of the day all the presenters were together on stage to show off the new CS5 features they liked the best that they could share with us. One of the first was the new 3D paint brushes in Photoshop which has been up on YouTube for quite sometime (although I could not find it just now?), these should be awesome in the hands of creative Art students. Also new for Photoshop was the ability to simply draw around an object in a photo and remove the object totally from the image. It was hard to tell the difference of the background replacement. Along the same lines as this was the ability to add to the image in a similar way. In the demonstration the presenter showed a series of images which had been brought into Photoshop using the Panorama tool. The top and bottom of the image were missing details, such as the sky (which was a cloudy storm) and the earth below. The presenter simply drew around the top section with the marquee tool, ensuring that they had some of the original image within the selection and with one click Photoshop had filled out the sky. It looked amazing.

The Flash demonstrated was similar to what had been shown already to those in the Flash session. But the ease at which the presenter could use the bone tool to demonstrate animated walking just blew me away. I have been trying when I can to do this and have yet to be successful.

The final new bits involved how Flash will survive the Apple mobile devices and the introduction of the brave new world of HTML5. We were shown a standard Flash animation which would be a header ad in a web page. In Dreamweaver it was imported using a new function and added to the web page. When the page was viewed in Firefox, the presenter right-clicked on the Flash element. Instead of the “About Flash Player” context menu, the menu asked to save the image. Sure enough, when the image was viewed on a separate page in Firefox it was an image of the animation at the point of the right-click. This was repeated several times to demonstrate, simply the best idea. All that happens is, Dreamweaver adds the new HTML tag of ‘canvas’, adds the appropriate  images from the Flash file and some JavaScript including CSS3 styling. No More troubles on iphones or computers that do not support Flash. The next example takes the new ‘canvas’ tag even further. Using an Illustrator file of a multi-coloured line graph and an Excel spreedsheet they inserted a graph. The Illustrator file had the graph lines all at the same height. Once it was placed together with the spreedsheet and inserted into Dreamweaver, the lines displayed to the data of the spreedsheet. Same HTML, JavaScript and CSS techniques, different outcome. I can not wait for HTML5 to be available to everybody.

There was more to show but they had run out time. Just have to wait for the official release later this year and hope that the DET contract with Adobe flows this on quickly. Much creativity to be had.

Links to Adobe presenters:

Written by themolisticview

February 24th, 2010 at 8:32 am

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