Max 2010 – Year of the Devices
Just got back from LA. And yet another very successful Adobe MAX conference completed.
This year had a distinct theme – devices. From the free devices handed out to attendees, to the devices in the keynote, to the devices shown on the floor of the community pavilion, it’s clear that Adobe is very intent on getting their content production tools’ output on as many formats and platforms as possible.
AIR for Android, AIR on TV, Google TV, Flash Player on Mobile… Wow. The digital Publishing Platform alone is a huge step forward for publications looking to expand their reach to devices where they previously hadn’t been able to target. Pretty amazing overall, really. While some of the technology is probably still a ways off, such as the Mobile jQuery extensions for Dreamweaver (which John Resig helped to announce), there are other things like Flex Hero, with support for Mobile Development, are basically here (though in a Beta form). It’s exciting indeed.
Check out my photos from the event (shot on my spiffy new Canon S90)
The keynotes got mixed reviews from a lot of the attendees, and most all the people I track on Twitter that weren’t at the event were handily panning the skits and overall presentations given. Honestly, while yes there some dry spots (the Omniture skit spoofing Jim Kramer was terrible) and there were a couple minor technology issues (Epix’s video demo failed), I enjoyed them. I really though that Martha Stewart’s appearance, the BlackBerry Playbook demo and the mind blowing High Performance Flash player demos of 4k video and StageVideo, and MoleHill were just awesome.
One thing I noticed… The show’s opening with Joa and Natzke jamming some sick visualizations to a live AudioTool performance showed just how tough of a audience Adobe has to please… Here, I thought it was awesome and so did a lot of designers that I follow on Twitter. On the flipside… There were a ton of really smart and well known developers totally slamming it. WTF? It just highlights the heterogeneous nature of the Adobe customer base. You have creatives used to making beautiful or fun stuff with CS products and then you have these computer scientist developer types using Flex, LiveCycle and Coldfusion that just don’t care about that side of Adobe at all. One has to think that maybe Adobe needs to think a bit harder about what they want to be when they grow up… Or at least get the kids on each side of the fence to get along better. I stride the line between the two camps, so I love the creative mind blowing visuals and the whiz bang tech demos. Not everyone agrees.
Beyond the keynote announcements, there was some awesome labs sessions and concurrent presentations (my own presentation on Mobile Learning included. ). I really enjoyed Nate Beck’s multiplayer gaming session and the other labs I attended on both P2P and RTMFP and the other on the OSMF platform were both really enlightening. I attended a session on the Adobe InMarket service… and while it looks like it could be good eventually, it looks like it is a ways off for being flexible or powerful enough to warrant the effort. A lack of a public roadmap for the project could be a major turn-off for most app developers. How can you pin a business plan on a beta product?
The sneak peeks were great as always. Again Flash player improvements abounded as well as some super cool Flash player performance testing tools and output paths to HTML5 definitely caught my attention. The Coldfusion sneeks were pretty snoozeworthy to me, but I’m not much into that tech in general as it is. The real star of the sneak session was William Shatner though. Obviously oblivious to the bulk of the tech shown in the demos, he absolutely kept everyone entertained with a pile of jokes and incredulous responses to the advanced stuff on the screen behind him. Tons of fun.
The MAX bash was a great affair, with good food, entertainment (including some crazy dancing scantily clad snake lady, living statues, celeb look-alikes and a chain saw juggler), and the headliner “The Bravery”. A nice addition to the party, The Bravery put a good show on!
My session went well. I had about 60 attendees and ended up with a decent, though not superb rating. My topic, “Creating Mobile Learning with Your eLearning Toolkit” is an interesting one, mainly because it’s pretty much totally new to the Adobe crowd. The recently released eLearning Suite 2 doesn’t actually ship with a way to target mobile right out of the box, so it’s a little bit of a stretch for a lot of rapid eLearning tool users like people that use Captivate daily to entertain firing up a command line tool to package up the materials for AIR for Android or the iOS packager. I hope to release the deck and the demos files here soon, so please come back to get those here.
After all is said and done, though, the best thing was seeing so many friends from the community. Chatting with awesome people like Jesse Freeman, Elad Elrom, Michael Labriola, Aaron Pederson, Leif Weils, Stacey Mulcahy, Scott Janousek, Zach Stepek, Chris Girffith, Ben Stucki, Brian Rinaldi, Andy Mathews and so many more really made the time a lot of fun. I finally met a lot of people in the community that I follow on Twitter like James Ward, Rob Huddleston and Russ Ferguson and was reunited with a former classmate of mine from Bradley, the humble Flash platform genius, Dave Knape. Honestly, talking and connecting with so many smart, fun, and engaging people in a cool setting with so much going on is really the reason to go to these conferences. I get so much out of hearing their stories and experiences and sharing mine, too. These interactions are far more educational than any labs, really. Can’t wait to seem ‘em all again.
So what’s next for Adobe? Hopefully some great success for this year across devices and more OSes… For now, I’m recuperating and then starting to plan out what to build on my new Droid 2 and Google TV. Maybe some mashups or apps are in order… Choices, choices, choices.