Monthly Archives: October 2009

Two of the big events of the conference season, Adobe MAX and Future of Web Apps, finished up a couple weeks ago and now most of the recorded talks have surfaced online.

Adobe MAX 2009

Adobe TV has a MAX 2009 channel with a lot of content, with videos divided into three categories – Develop, Design and Envision.

Here’s some of the highlights:




Future of Web Apps

Carsonified have only uploaded a small handful of talks over the past few weeks but they’re all worth a watch. So far I’ve only found their London talks on their Vimeo channel, but the Dublin sessions have started to appear on the FOWA site.

Here’s what I’d go for:

I’ll update as and when more work their way online!

The big news out of Adobe MAX 2009 last week was all about mobile and the developments for the Flash platform on devices, the forthcoming release of Flash Player 10.1 and of course the announcement that Flash CS5 will be able to publish Flash files as native iPhone applications!

Flash on the iPhone

Here’s how they broke the news:

It’s a huge announcement.

Rumours of Flash running on the iPhone have been going around for over a year now, with Adobe and Apple ‘officially’ being in talks since November. The Flash team did well to bluff any developments when asked about it at Flash on the Beach this year, so clearly they were keen to save the big reveal for MAX as it deserves.

As you can see in the video, Flash CS5 will make it super-easy for developers to publish their Flash applications as a native iPhone executable, so simply it would seem, as changing a publishing setting at author-time.

This means developers don’t need to make any changes to their applications in order to run them on the iPhone (though presumably the APIs will be limited). It also means that existing applications won’t need to be rebuild from scratch (not even be completely refactored, as before) and can be distributed via the AppStore.

It doesn’t, however, have effect on viewing Flash in the Safari browser. This still cannot be done.

What Adobe have achieved is the ability to compile Flash as an iPhone executable to run as a native application – they haven’t created a Flash Player for the iPhone, or any way for the iPhone to interpret a SWF at run-time. They’ve made their files compatible, rather than the other way round.

There’s already some applications available in the AppStore, these are:

Adobe have created an Applications for iPhone Labs page demonstrating apps running on the phone:

Flash iPhone demonstration

There’s also an FAQ (and Developer FAQ) which goes through what can and can’t be done.

Mark Doherty has written about the announcement and lists some of the limitations that will be imposed, for example some typical features you might expect to work with, but won’t be available:

  • Microphone access
  • Camera access
  • Photo selection from file system
  • Contact selection from the address book
  • Cut/copy/paste
  • Maps

..actually quite a few limitations.

Ted Patrick is one of the Adobe team who developed some of the demo applications. He has posted an article on his blog with the four sample apps and included full source so you can see, as he says, there’s absolutely nothing special going on – it’s just simple AS3 cross-compiled to iPhone ARM Binaries.

Aditya Bansod has written an article for the Adobe Developer Connection which goes in the technicalities in a little more depth. He also has an hour-long episode on Adobe TV, taken from MAX, exploring the technologies:

Of course, it’s not news that Flash isn’t without sceptics. Not everyone is looking forward to the prospect.

Jeff Lamarche is an iPhone developer who has some very good points on being cautious when developing Flash for the iPhone.

He shares my opinion that you should avoid ‘hammer development’ principles and instead should choose the best tools for a platform. He says:

Flash has always been a compromise that takes considerable overhead to let you create applications that can run on multiple platforms, while feeling native on none and getting native performance on none.

He goes on to make valid points about performance when road-testing some of the applications, also noticing some inefficiencies and possible breaches of Apple’s guidelines.

Presumably when you create applications with the recommended workflow, with XCode, Interface builder and the iPhone SDK, developers are somewhat constrained by them – definitely with regard to the interface, visual components and interactivity. With Flash’s ‘back-door’ sneak of creating apps, these may be breached.

That being said, I haven’t had a chance to play with these applications yet (I don’t actually have an iPhone..) but even then, presumably these are apps for demonstration and are, as proven, purposely uncomplicated.

And as always Flash has its haters.

A comment on Mike Chambers’ post might be a bit knee-jerk and unjustified, but also hints as to some of the feelings that will no doubt surface if the AppStore is inundated with bad Flash apps and games.

Hopefully Apple won’t change their position on accepting Flash.

Flash on everything else

But not to forget – this was really the second big announcement of MAX.

The first announced that the forthcoming Flash Player 10.1 appears to run on pretty much every other smartphone and high-end mobile device on the market too. Which has a lot to do with new commitments to the Open Screen Project.

Ryan Stewart has a run-down of the news, which announces Flash will run on Blackberry, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile, Android and on Skyfire browser for Nokia Symbian OS (links via InsideRIA).

Google have joined the project, see the post on their blog and Adobe’s press release for more information.

At Flash on the Beach, Mark Doherty’s spoke about the improvements to Flash Lite and how advances in Flash technology outside of the ‘main’ Flash Player have beneficial effects overall, to the platform as a whole. One such advancement is that the new multi-touch and gestural events in Flash 10.1 will be completely available for non-mobile applications too.

Daniel Dura and Matt Bugbee‘s Multi-touch and the Flash Platform on Adobe TV discuss and demonstrate what can be achieved with these new events.

I’ve just noticed that InsideRIA already have a ‘Getting started’ primer for multi-touch Flash, too.

As I say, advances in one technology can propagate development in another. That said, Adobe have also announced that they are developing a lightweight Flex framework for mobile devices, called Slider.

Slider is a mobile-optimized version of the Flex 4 framework, allowing developers to leverage their existing Flex skills but benefit from optimised performance and a streamlined user experience for devices with less memory and slower processors.

There will also be a new set of user interface components.

Going full circle, a greater presence of Flash and Flex on mobile devices puts more pressure on Apple to adopt the Flash player for their Safari browser.

Hopefully some time soon, seeing this screen will be a thing of the past:

As Serge says, there’s lots of things to get excited about and it’s a great time to be a Flash Platform developer!

This Happened returned with their eighth London event as part of London Digital Week last month.

Shajay Bhooshan – Computer Generated Architecture

Shajay Bhooshan is an architectural researcher working at Zaha Hadid Architects and a course tutor at the AA School of Architecture.

Shajay talked about his research into alternative approaches to architectural design, namely his use of unconventional software and modelling techniques for some of his work at Zaha Hadid.

He spoke about using software traditionally used for developing videos games and designing motion graphics, showing us some of his experiments with Maya.

He explored the effects of using CGI over traditional methods, writing algorithmic and generative visualisations to create new original designs or influence his existing ‘traditional’ ideas.

Shajay showed us a lot of illustrations and motion captures from his research and project work, all of which can be found on his blog.

Shajay Bhooshan – Computer Generated Architecture video and slides.

Dotmancando – CoinFlipper

Dotmancando is Nitipak Samsen, an interaction designer and recent Royal College of Art graduate, who demonstrated his exhibition piece; the CoinFlipper.

His ideas revolved around the psychological aspect of control and his belief that contrary to our outward appearance, we don’t always want decisions left up to fate or randomness, such as that found in the event of a coin-toss.

Dot claims that we most likely always form a preference as to the outcome before flipping a coin and probably really only flip a coin anyway to feel less guilty about a choice, or to affirm that such an outcome is the right decision.

So he created a mechanism to take that decision out of the hands of fate and to perform a predictable coin toss by way of a impartial mechanical device, in turn, forcing ‘the flipper’ to reveal their true intention.

Dot was very entertaining in showcasing his many prototypes and the recordings of the experiments he carried out. We saw various incarnations constructed with wood, solenoid and Meccano and DIY-style gears attached to rulers until he ultimately achieved his final design.

His has all his work on his blog too, along with most of those prototypes), which can all be seen in this highlights video, on Vimeo:

Dotmancando – CoinFlipper video and slides.

Alexander Grünsteidl – Digital Wellbeing Labs

Alexander Grünsteidl is an ex-product designer who founded Digital Wellbeing Labs, a project set up to pilot a new kind of retail environment for digital lifestyle products.

Born out of distaste and ‘recognition of failure’ of the traditional mindset of consumer retail in selling electronic products, Digital Wellbeing Labs attempts to address the need for innovative consumer experiences in converging products with digital services and new media.

Alexander saw that his electronic products no longer sold successfully in ‘traditional’ shops, suggesting that the conventional retail model is a leftover process of the industrial age, a process that works for big brands but not for smaller.

He claims that now in our ‘society of information’ a different distribution model is required, that small brands don’t need innovation in their products – what’s needed is innovation in shopping.

His showroom attempted to challenge both the traditional and Internet retail economies, specifically the current trend of ‘the last click’ – and pointed out Dixon’s recent advertising campaign which recognises that.

His showrooms are intended to be places for companies to connect with customers and to demonstrate their products, not places to perform actual transactions, but social spaces to engage.

Alexander has written an interesting article, titled ‘Goodbye high-street?’, which explores the thinking behind Digital Wellbeing Labs.

Alexander Grünsteidl – Digital Wellbeing Labs video and slides.

Jenhui Liao – The Self-Portrait Machine

Jenhui Liao, another RCA graduate, showed us his exhibition piece; the Self-Portrait Machine.

Jenhui works on the connections of humankind and machine, exploring the relationship and cooperation between humans and machines in the manufacturing process and the apparent dependency and inseparability that the two share.

He created a machine that takes a snapshot of the ‘user’, a person whose hands are immovably strapped the machine, holding marker pens, and moved around a canvas by a set of motors and devices in order to create their portrait in a ‘cooperative’ process.

Jenhui was intrigued by the cooperative roles of humans in manufacturing, working around (and even inside) machines.

He claims that similarly human identity is not independent of the machine-like workings of our society. That consumer buying and what we consider to be individual characteristics of our personalities are determined by mechanics outside of our control, that we are extensions of that machine.

He went on to consider the notion of a portrait, a single representation of a person, a traditionally selected and contrived choice.

His conception subverts that idea, partially removing choice by enslaving the human locked into his machine (which he named Geppetto) and forcing the human to recreate (and experience) the machine’s point of view.

Whilst their influence is limited, the participant can affect the outcome of portrait in choosing to cooperate with the machine (or not) by allowing or constricting their movements.

Jenhui Liao – The Self-Portrait Machine video and slides.

It’s been two weeks now since Flash on the Beach so I thought I’d collect all the links, slides, source code and videos from the various talks and demonstrations here in one place for ease of reference for whoever might need them.

I’ll try and keep this updated as and when I see more appear online, likewise if you see something I’ve missed – give me a shout!

I also thought I’d show off Artillery‘s excellent FOTB titles:

Day 0: Sunday 20th Sep 2009 (Workshops day)

Day 1: Monday 21st Sep 2009

  • Hillman Curtis (site) – Telling Stories
  • Joel Gethin Lewis (site) – Epiphany
    Lights On! in action

Day 2: Tuesday 22nd Sep 2009

  • Jeremy Thorp (site) – Hacking the Newsroom
  • Jennifer Shiman (site) – Using Flash for Your Cartoon and Comic Projects
  • Richard Lord (site) – Frameworks: The good, the bad, and the ugly
    View slides
  • Joel Baumann (site) – Numbers in Art
  • Paul Burnett (site) – More than Bending Pixels
    Source code and examples
  • Karsten Schmidt (site) – We make our own tools, and then they shape us.

Day 3: Wednesday 23rd Sep 2009

  • Andre Michelle (site) – Kling Klang
  • Serge Jespers (site) – The Flash Platform in a multi-screen world
  • Mark Doherty (site) – Contextual Application Development
  • Koen de Weggheleire (site) – PLAY with Vectors!
  • James Jarvis (site) – Live Drawing with James Jarvis
  • Jared Ficklin (Twitter) – Seeing Sound: Visualization in Nature & Code
    Source files
  • Ralph Hauwert (site) – Research Realtime graphics with Flash 10

Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night.