MAX 2007 - Day Two


By: Sean Corfield | 2007-10-03

The day's general session kicked off with Bruce (Chizen, CEO) telling us how much it inspires Adobe to see 4,000 people at the conference (after he told a funny story about going backstage at a rock concert, only to have the lighting and sound guys mob him and enthuse about Adobe software!).

Taking the Web into our own hands, one computer at a time

Then Steven Webster talked about LiveCycle ES, showing some examples of the Eclipse-based forms designer, some possibilities with rights management (via Policy Server restricting access to documents across the 'net) and the process management workflows (again, an Eclipse-based workflow designer and a Flex app that provides a dashboard / workspace view into active documents in the workflow).

There was a lot of material in the keynote from the various hosted services groups at Adobe. First up was an on-demand image rendering service, powered by Scene 7 who were acquired by Adobe in May. The ability to render photo-realistic 3-D composites in 2-D in real-time via a simple web service was pretty amazing!

Next, Andrew Shebanow showed off the Adobe Share service and talked about plans for the future, including more supported document formats. Then Danielle Diebler (sp?) showed off "Pacifica", a peer-to-peer VoIP system built on top of a Flash Player (with a high-fidelity audio codec I think). Finally, Nigel Pegg showed off a set of Flex components that provide the functionality of the pods we are used to seeing in Adobe Acrobat Connect. We quickly built a Flex-based chat / video / whiteboard application that hooked directly into a live room running on the Connect servers. He said that these components, codenamed CoCoMo, will be released with the next version of Connect and will allow developers to build custom applications that provide the functionality of Connect, leveraging the existing hosted Connect service.

The much anticipate "Thermo" was next. As expected, this is a designer-focused application for creating Flex applications. Starting with a Photoshop PSD file, Thermo imported this and converted it to MXML. Design elements can then be selected and with a simple right-click they can be converted from artwork to Flex controls. The automatic inference of design-time data sets so you could test UI interactions with "real" data was very impressive. You really cannot appreciate the impact this had on the audience - it drew a huge amount of applause and loud cheers!

The eXperience Design team - who are responsible for the look'n'feel (and interaction design) on the Adobe Media Player, Share, Pacifica and many other recent Adobe offerings - walked us through their new (ColdFusion-powered) XD website. Lots of useful and insightful content!

After last year's Jaguar, this year's largest Flash device was a luxury motoryacht powered by Intelisea monitoring and management technology - all built with Flex. Check out the interactive demo on their website (I blogged about this eighteen months ago when the system was in progress and they were still using Flash 8).

A final "sneak" was news that the next major release of ColdFusion was being planned, codenamed Centaur (which you'd expect to follow Scorpio if you know your zodiac!).

After lunch, I caught about half of Grant Skinner's "Fifty reasons that ActionScript 3 rocks!" INSPIRE session which had a lot of interesting tid-bits in it. Then it was my turn to INSPIRE folks with my "Design Patterns and ColdFusion" talk. Some networking problems prevented me recording it via Connect but it was videoed (and broadcast later in the "onAIR park" theater).

I took a break in the Community Lounge area - and did a short stint in the "Ask an Expert" chair - and then headed into the awards / sneak peeks session. Another big production like the keynotes, this time with a live band and a Blues Brothers theme, with clips from the movie between demos.

Adobe Visual Communicator was up first. My first thought was video blogging as the two guys quickly created a fake news piece, using the built-in "teleprompter" and simple transitions and captions. We all got a copy in our conference bag so it was hardly a "sneak peek" (and it seems to be Windows only). Then we saw Pacifica again but this time emphasizing the peer-to-peer VoIP in a custom telephony app that had bizarre anime overtones.

Next was Photoshop Express - a cut-down, consumer focused online version of Photoshop. It was very slick and got a lot of applause.

An extensive demo of Fireworks "next" was, er, next showing various workflows for creating and skinning Flex controls as well as generating MXML and AIR applications. Following in the AIR application generation theme, Hemant showed some possible AIR integration with ColdFusion, via a tag and ColdFusion.air JavaScript object. It was a bit of a clunky workflow so it will be interesting to see how this evolves in Centaur...

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About the Author: Sean is currently Chief Technology Officer for Railo Technologies US. He has worked in IT for over twenty five years, starting out writing database systems and compilers then moving into mobile telecoms and finally into web development in 1997. Along the way, he worked on the ISO and ANSI C++ Standards committees for eight years and is a staunch advocate of software standards and best practice. Sean has championed and contributed to a number of CFML frameworks and was lead developer on Fusebox for two years.