October 26th 2010 | Jens C Brynildsen
The annual circus of Adobe MAX kicked off today. With 5000 attendees, this is by far the largest Flash related conference and it's also where Adobe sneaks all the new features coming down the pipe. Kevin Lynch really got the event off on a right foot, impressing both attendees and press with what's coming. Not only that - all the attendees got a brand new toy to play with!
Warming up the crowd was a special trio up on stage consisting of Joa Ebert, Eric Natzke and a DJ. The three of them produced graphics, visuals and music live on stage and MAX TV host Serge Jespers came in and connected all the three together for a final showcase just before the show kicked off. Neat, geeky and not all that "typical" MAX as the conference has usually started with more show-like things.
Kevin Lynch entered stage and started by going over how the markets are now changing. Mobile devices will overtake Desktop computers in 2013 and Adobe is very much gearing up for this. MAX this year is all about Multiple screens and how to make the same content display beautifully across different sizes. Kevin started off showing the new feature that was added to Dreamweaver in the last update, allowing you to target multiple screen sizes with Media Queries for CSS. They've show this before as well as the EDGE Prototype that allows for motion design but it's now progressed further. EDGE is not targeting developers or producers, but rather the visual artists that are now coming in to create more advanced HTML content - the kind of stuff that you formerly only could do using Flash.
Next was a showcase with SiteCatalyst Netaverages that showed html5 adoption broken down in a multitude of ways. A great tool for any web developer and this theme kept through the whole keynote. Flash or new features in it actually wasn't mentioned at all until after almost one hour. This really is a testament to how Adobe is now changing. They're targeting two pipelines - one for HTML and one for Flash and the plan is to overlap on the lower level, but to keep innovating with Flash. They sure saved the best part to the end of the keynote!
Martha Stewart is a well known publisher, author and TV show host in the US. As Kevin Lynch invited her out on stage, you could see her carrying her iPad with her. Having seen the application version of Wired, we guessed that this would be another example of the upcoming publishing solution for digital publications. She showed off a beautiful magazine application and she and Kevin delivered a very playful and unscripted performance that had the audience cracked up.
Apparently Kevin Lynch showed her a thing or two yesterday eve and while this comment was in regard to devices, the whole room started laughing. When Martha left the stage and Kevin opened another device, the startup screen came up with a Wired magazine showing cleavage, the whole room cracked up laughing again. Good times!
Next up was Wired Magazine, published by Condé Nast. This was also a very playful appearance with lots of jokes on stage without anything seeming scripted.
They showed the New Yorker Magazine dynamically paginated for device size on multiple devices. The Condé Nast ceo also announced that they will now bring all their publications to digital using Adobe tools.
Next up was a killer demo of automatic HTML reflowing around irregular shaped objects. Just imagine how nice it would be if you could rotate images and text would automatically reflow as you rotated? Kevin also pointed out that this code will be contributed to Webkit so it can become and integral part of the browser and thus also the AIR runtime in the future. They've also integrated tracking in the publishing products and using the SiteCatalyst Beta, publishers can get full statistics on the readers, including what pages and paths through the content they went for.
Next segment was about video and they got a TV and leather recliners up on stage. We got to see Amazon's Video streaming live on stage using the Google TV with beautiful, high quality HD video. Amazon had a quite standard web-layout but next up was HBO's system with a custom overlaid interface. Next up was AIR for TV. You'll find that many of the forthcoming TV-boxes are using Flash in some way. Devices from Google, Broadcomm and Litl are exhibited here at MAX and rumours has it that there could be some giveaway for that as well. Next, Kevin showed the beautiful UI of the Epyx player (built in AIR) that offers not only streaming movies, but also the extras you usually only get with the DVD/BlueRay version of a movie. Epix ceo Marc Goldberg came up on stage to show how he was streaming on his mobile and was able to catch up on the big screen just where he left off. This demo crashed though, but idea is promising.
Video has become so important on the web now and numbers like Petabytes of video per month was mentioned. Encoding for multiple devices is hard though so Adobe Media Encoder now comes with new presets for targeting multiple screens and devices. You drag and drop to encode for all the different devices and the new FMS will also make it possible to automate this. Just upload your main video and it'll be automatically encoded and delivered across the CDN.
Devices was the next topic and Adobe have set up a Device Lab in exhibition area of MAX where you can check out all the latest mobile phones and tablets as well as Google TV and one of the AIR enabled BlueRay Players from Samsung. Here, Developers may upload their apps to see them running on all those devices. kevin also showed a sneak of Content Aware fill working on devices. If you told someone about this being possible even 3 years ago, they probably wouldn't believe you. Another cool demo was a Photoshop sidekick-app running on an iPad app that let you do organic mixing of colors with water. The selection of colors on the iPad synced to a Mac running Photoshop so you could work the Photoshop image with one hand and use the iPad as a multitouch color mixing UI with the other. Neat!
Enterprise was next and LiveCycle 2 was announced today. David Nüescheler from Day Software came up on stage and talked about Content Management while showing off the CQ5 CMS that targets the enterprise. It looked surprisingly simple with edit-in-place features for both desktop and mobile. After a neat demo of a medical imaging app done in Flash and running on various devices, the CEO of RIM, Mike Lazaridis, came up and showed the BlackBerry Playbook. It's tightly integrated with the AIR runtime all the way down to the hardware level and offers full multitasking. All apps showcased were made with AIR and if you download the BlackBerry Playbook Developer Kit (launched today) and get you app approved, you are eligible for a free PlayBook.
The theme then shifted to Games. Kevin showed the Green Hornet game playing on both PC and Android, based off the same codebase. He also showed how hardware acceleration allowed the Retro space shooter play back really smooth and announced that AIR for Android is released as of today.
He went on showing Idle Games - Idle Worship demo. Great and fun game and Kevin also announced that Game Controller support for Flash Player is now coming! The code name for this feature is Molehill and there's now official information out on Adobe Labs. If you missed the keynote, you can check this video with Thibault Imbert (product manager for Adobe Flash Player) talk more about the upcoming features. He showed this by playing a game using a xBox control. Last out was the sneak we had all been waiting for - real 3D in Flash!
We'll soon be able to do millions of polygons on the screen! This is going to change the gaming business and put Adobe head to head with companies like Unity. The demo for this was made by Alternativa3D and was a full on multiplayer car racing game where Kevin used a Logitech steering wheel to drive around outside a very detailed model of the conference arena. The car showed beautiful reflections and it must have been many hundred thousands polygons in that model. This is really promising!
The last bit of the keynote was a real kicker! Christy Wyatt, Corporate Vice President from Motorola came up on stage giving every attendee a Motorola Droid 2! Now that's a nice gift!
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.