September 30, 2007

Adobe Max 2007

Writing about web page

Why go to an Adobe conference? The conference covers all Adobe products including PhotoShop, Acrobat and everything else that they make, but I’m really only interested in their Flash product (and associated tools such as Flex, LiveCycle, FMS and so on). I’ve got three things I’m hoping to get out of it:-

  1. To find out more about the areas where Flash is strong and might be a better choice than HTML and javascript user interfaces, which is what we currently use for most things. Time was that received wisdom said that Flash was the best/only way to do any kind of dynamic UI, but then along came Ajax and people started pushing the limits of how interfaces could behave and what could be done without Flash. A few years ago, if you’d seen apps like this gallery you’d have assumed that they were Flash, but not any more. So where does Flash excel? Audio and video streaming, maybe. Slideshows and so on. Widgets outside of the browser, perhaps. (Maybe the win is guaranteed cross-platform compatibility with no per-browser work-arounds. But then we get by with the work-arounds right now.)
  2. To find out more about whether we could develop in Flash to the same standards of software engineering practice as we currently do in java. Being able to achieve certain things very quickly in Flash or Flex is certainly nice, but it doesn’t matter to us as much as our ability to develop “properly”. Most of our applications have quite a long lifespan so speed of development matters less to us than, if you like, management of development – our ability to build, test, deploy, roll back, check in, check out, etc. our applications. Can all this be done in the same way for Flash as we’re already comfortable with for java?
  3. Perhaps most interestingly for me at least, what kind of applications are other people building? When Chris and I went to ETech a couple of years ago, one of the most useful things I got from it was just seeing what kind of things other people were working on. If you spend too much time just looking at your own applications, you run the risk of starting to see your apps as a giant hammer, and every problem or requirement as some kind of nail. It’ll be interesting, I hope, to see what a wide range of other developers are building for their customers.

I’ll be tagging all the entries I do while at the conference with the tag “AdobeMax2007” so there’ll be a URL just for those entries for anyone strange enough to want to follow along.

- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Robert O'Toole

    A further question might be:

    how easily can a complex application (say for example an online video editor) be built in Flex/Flash, within the bounds of good software development practice? And how does that compare with Ajax and other javascript libraries?

    It’s easy to point to nice Ajax apps as evidence that anything that Flex can do Ajax can match. But how much more effort goes into the Ajax app? What tools are there available for building big Ajax apps? Are we still really talking about Java server applications with some nice UI additions? Does that matter? When does it matter? – for example, does a thicker-client Flex/Flash app require less expensive support and maintanance than a thinner-client Java/Ajax app? (now that’s more than one further question, sorry).

    01 Oct 2007, 13:28

  2. John Dale

    Well, maybe. As I said in my post, ease of development does not rank highly with me as a deciding factor, because for apps which have a non-trivial life span, the time and effort of initial development are swamped by the longer-term questions of maintainability, extensibility, robustness, etc. Essentially, the time it takes to develop something isn’t a problem which we currently need to solve.

    01 Oct 2007, 14:20

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