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Flashforum Konferenz 2010 - Day 1

Flashforum Konferenz 2010 - Day 1

Flash conferences come and go, but some manage to put on a good event every year. This year is the tenth anniversary for the German FlashForum Konferenz and as in the two former years it was fully sold out. The 500 attendees are treated to a fine mix of local and international talent covering the large Flash Platform and also the first deeper looks into the new CS5 software.

As the veil has been lifted on CS5, many of the presenters had gotten permission to show more of the new software so the attendees got closer looks at Flash, Premiere, Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign CS5. For the tenth anniversary, a very cute animation explaining the history of FlashForum and the FFK conference was made and this kicked off the show, followed by a gorgeous looking opening title sequence. Conference organizers Marc and Sascha went up on stage and toasted each other and the got the show started with the keynote from Adobe's Serge Jespers.

Keynote

Serge had fun showing off some performance demos of javascript, HTML5 and Flash, both on the desktop and mobile. It's a valid comparison, but given that many browsers soon will get hardware acceleration (and some already have) this demo will only last that long. Then again - you really can't do anything to hide the extremely slow framrates the iPhone shows in these tests (1-fps for the 3G, 4-5 fps for the 3GS). On the Google Nexus One, the same test was running at more than 40 fps using FlashPlayer 10.1 beta. While they only test simple graphic performance, these tests clearly show that HTML5 won't kill Flash over night as Apple Store employees appear to be trained to say these days.

 

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While it's fun to see 250 colored dots fly around the screen, it's much more impressive to see Ralph Hauwert's milky ball demo playing with very acceptable framerates on the Nexus and Serge also showed the ordinary BBC site playing back video both on the site and in fullscreen while he said "Now THIS is a magical web experience". After a neat demo of the NativeProcess Api that used his Mac's builtin speech synthesizer HAL, he gave the stage to one of the reps from Adobe Germany that started off a set of CS5 demos for Premiere, Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. Serge opened the file from InDesign in Flash and showed the TLF and how the text layout/flow was preserved. Read our full Flash CS5 review here.

As teased on Twitter, Serge closed off by giving away a Google Nexus to one of the attendees! For those that didn't get a chance at this, he'll also do this via his blog in the weeks to come so pay attention to http://www.webkitchen.be

Mind the gaps! – Making Flash Applications secure

Michel Wacker

Security has always been the Alpha and Omega for the Flash Player team and the continued success of the player depends on this. The team has been very good in preventing and plugging the few serious security holes there have been, but they can only do so much. Some of the responsibility is on the developer and this is what Michel's session focused on.

He listed the four code problems that are Decompilation, Request interception, parameter injection and general misconfiguration issues. The session was full of good advice such as never storing usernames, passwords, keys or SQL in the SWF since decompilers will always be able to grab this (given time). You can use all the tricks you want using fancy commercial tools, but any Flash file can be decompiled, also the obfuscated ones. Obfuscation is really all about making it more difficult to get to the bits.

 

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The only real trick is to put all the logic possible onto the server where you have tighter control over things. Adding obfuscation/encryption to the communication between server and client will also make hacking more difficult but not prevent it. However - never ever store the key for the encryption inside the SWF. That'll be easy to find.

A tool he mentioned that I had already forgotten about is the HP SWFScan that can reveal many of these threats. The tool will load your SWF and analyze it to highlight possible security risks. Several possible developer mistakes such as XSF and XSS attacks were solved with Flash Player 9.0.124. Back in the days, this also required many Flash users to change their files, but it's really all for the good.

Michels final list of things to do looked something like this:

  1. always use AS3 as it's safer
  2. always compile for the most recent version of the player that your client will allow
  3. clean up and validate all variables
  4. test the security

I knew most of the content delivered in this session, but it's always good with a repetition. The room was filled so there were many that were in need of such a session and one fact that I certainly did not know is that 80% of Flash content online still runs in AVM1 (Flash 8 or earlier). A number that made me think.

IntelliJ IDEA

Kirill Safonov

Every time I meet David Lenaerts (@DerSchmale) at conferences, he keeps bragging about IntelliJ and especially it's refactoring features. This presentation was just a quick introduction to the actionscript version of IntelliJ so it did not cover this part, but it really looked good. This years conference has some of the sessions start with a mini-presentation, many of these from the sponsors. Despite being marketing oriented, the selection of sponsors still makes this relevant to attendees and the turnout wasn't bad at all.

IntelliJ is a Java based IDE so it'll run on any Java platform be it Mac, PC or Linux. The main feature really sets it apart from Flash Builder and FDT is the UML view where you get a visual representation of your entire project. From this you can setup your view to contain just class names or also methods and properties. Such a tool gives you an excellent overview and it can really help you understand a large codebase better.

IntelliJ has all these nifty features that let you create getter and setter methods from variables and you can also type a call to a non-existing method and right-click to have the tool create it for you. Features like this can really speed you your coding process and the list goes on. You can ask IntelliJ to implement stubs for missing methods (based on interfaces), simplify if statements, move vars to constants or class level and much more. You can move and copy methods between classes when refactoring and when writing Embed-tags it also does file lookup on disk that help you write the path and can even show a preview right there in the IDE. I'll certainly dig into IntelliJ when I get home.

Intelligent Online-Video based on the Flash Plattform

Sven Brencher

Adobe has really worked on the workflows in CS5 and in this session focusing on the video workflow, we got to see how OnLocation, Adobe Story and Premiere CS5 works together to deliver video to Flash that includes metadata based on the original script. This truly is a tempting workflow. After the script is added in Story, you go shooting. While shooting, you're using OnLocation and clips are linked up against the script. Premiere will then analyze the spoken word in the video stream and map that to the script. This means that the entire video production is searchable! Another thing this enables is doing rough edits by using the script to set in/out points.

 

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When you export the FLV files (not F4V) from Premiere Premiere, you'll automatically get cuepoint events containing the metadata. By just setting up a cue-event listener listening for the XMP metadata in Flash, you'll have the subtitles ready. Could it be easier? It's really fascinating to see how the metadata moves between the apps and Sven also took a look at a complete XMP file. This XML format contains every single bit of information about the project such as spoken text, filenames, sequence and more. Using this, you can even render a custom timeline that allows the end user to skip back and forth in the video, just as you would in Premiere.

Dancing with crutches

André Michelle

Audio sessions with Andre are "legend" on Flash conferences but he's never as relaxed as he is on his home turf. Joking with the audience, smiling and laughing he took us on a trip through older and more recent experiments. It's apparent that he's been playing with more advanced ideas lately such as FFT transforms and new kinds of synthesis.

 

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I just love it when he shows new experiments and the crowd starts applauding. At times he'll stop the applause and say "no, no. not yet - there's more to show". Conference organizers Marc and Sascha told him that he had to show something new and he came up with no less than 27 amusing and fun experiments combining audio with physics engines. The crowd absolutely loved it!

After a couple more presentations, Marc and Sascha finished off the day and welcomed all the attendees to the AudioTool party!

 

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Chris Pelsor ready to give his talk on - DIY Methodology, or, When Being Agile Can Break Your Back

About Jens C Brynildsen

Jens has been working with Flash since version 3 came out. Since then, he's been an active member of the Flash community. He's created more than a hundred Flash games (thus the name of his blog) but he also creates web/standalone applications, does workshops and other consulting. He loves playing with new technology and he is convinced that the moment you stop learning you die (creatively speaking). Jens is also the Editor of this website.

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