Ludicrous Software

Adobe MAX 2010 Roundup

MAX has been over for three whole days, which means that this already seems dated, since most everyone else beat me to the punch in posting their thoughts on the event. Nevertheless, here are a few random thoughts on this year’s event…

There’s been a running joke that every year for the past few, the coming year will be “the year for mobile”. Interestingly, in the same year that Flash Player 10.1 is released and is being preinstalled on devices, this year’s theme wasn’t “the year for mobile”, but “the year for multiscreen.” Not that that phrase was ever uttered, but pretty clearly, multiscreen is the new mobile. The difference this year seems to be that it’s easier to point to places where it can actually take off. AIR will be on Samsung TVs, it’s on Google TV, it’s back on iOS, Flash and AIR are all over Android phones and tablets, Blackberry’s getting into the game, and so on. This is in contrast to previous years where much of the success of Flash on devices rested largely in the hands of Nokia and other companies that, while huge and very successful (as I’ve said to a few people, I make more money from my games on Ovi Store than the App Store), never really achieve the mindshare that these other companies seem capable of achieving. This time around it seems different, although feel free to come back and correct after next year’s MAX if I write much the same sentiment. Regardless, although I’ve been drifting away from Flash somewhat when it comes to devices, this MAX has succeeded in renewing my optimism and enthusiasm for Flash on devices.

In addition to the as-usual heavy focus on Flash, there was a fair bit about what Adobe’s doing with respect to HTML, from the keynote mentions of the already-announced HTML5 packs for Dreamweaver and Illustrator (although I still get errors trying to install the former, grrr), to the Sneak Peak showing exporting Flash animations to HTML - yes, yes, disclaimers that Adobe has not committed to ever releasing anything ever shown in the Sneak Peaks, ever, ever, ever, but seriously: who didn’t think something like that was coming?

On the Sunday before the conference proper started, I attended the Community Summit for the first time. This is an event for Adobe User Group Managers and Adobe Community Professionals, and was great. I especially liked the afternoon events, which were breakout sessions on specific topics. I attended the sessions on organizing/running an event, and on managing a user group - I think the latter was entitled something about increasing attendance, but turned into a more general discussion. In both cases, I was sorry that the session had to end when it did. While the morning events - a general “state of the community” presentation and a Q & A with Adobe Evangelists - were interesting, I found the afternoon events to be very valuable. Not sure how to give more time to those without squeezing out the more general sessions, though.

For the conference in general, I found the keynotes to be great this year. The Day 1 keynote almost felt like an extended sneaks session, since it featured a few things that are upcoming (Android on Samsung TVs, the new 3D API, etc.), and kept the focus pretty squarely on the tech, which was what I was there to learn about. The Day 2 keynote was a bit of a switch. In the past it’s been a little tongue-in-cheek, but Adobe went really over the top with it this year. Again focussing on Flash on TV, the keynote consisted of parodies of television shows, interspersed with humorous commercials. Some of the skits were a little laboured - the Omniture guy seemed to be doing the best with what he had, but that one went on way too long - but overall I thought it was great. Here’s a list of some of the better commercial spoofs, so you can decide for yourself. Even if you didn’t find much humour in it all, I think you have to give Adobe their due for loosening up and trying something different.

The sessions I attended were generally of a very high quality. The labs I attended (on building your first mobile Flex app, video with OSMF, and AIR for TVs) were uniformly excellent. One thing I appreciated about these labs in comparison to the ones I attended last year is that they had a better appreciation of just how much - or more to the point, how little - material can be covered in 90 minutes. Concrete results were achieved, and although in most cases they were situations where I could have done the same thing by working through a tutorial by myself, the “kick in the pants” from having registered and made that commitment to attend meant that I actually was able to learn more about some things that I’ve been meaning to look into but haven’t yet had the time for. A nice bonus in the AIR for TV lab was the ability to take home the Hardware Developer Kit. Now I just need to buy a TV or monitor with an HDMI input so I can actually use it!

The main thing I’m on the fence about is the location: one of the nice things about MAX was that it would change up the location every year, which is a nice way to get to spend some time in different cities that I may never have visited before. This was the second year in a row that MAX was in LA, and it will there again next year. On the one hand, I can certainly understand the logic behind this: it’s probably cheaper for Adobe because of the repeat business, and the planning no doubt is simplified somewhat from having held the event in LA before. Certainly the venue is great, and the amenities nearby are also excellent (many tasty draft beers at The Yardhouse!), so it’s not like this is an actively bad location for MAX. It’s just not new.

So overall, a really great event. Barring some unforeseen set of circumstances, you can bet I’ll be at MAX 2011.