MAX Update

I haven’t had a lot of time to blog since I’ve been here, but quite a lot has happened. First of all, it’s been a blast hanging out with so many great developers in the Flash and ColdFusion communities. I don’t want to start listing names because I don’t want to leave anyone out, but it’s a great group of people who I always look forward to seeing at these events.

I just got out of a session by Danny Dura during which he dissected a Central app. The idea of Central is really growing on me. I’ve always thought it was cool, but now I’m really realizing how much potential it has. I’ve talked to some people here who aren’t quite sure what the advantages of Central apps are over Flash apps embedded in web pages. This is the way I see it:

The browser equivalent to Central would be a collection of bookmarks or favorites pointing to various sites with Flash applications embedded in them. If these applications were important to you, you would presumably visit them daily. The process would be something like:

  1. Go to a bookmark
  2. Log in
  3. Load data
  4. Browse and/or interact with the applications
  5. Go to the next bookmark and start again

Now consider the Central model. Rather than visiting one site at a time, all of your favorite applications are always open, always updating themselves, always caching data, potentially communicating and collaborating, and always ready to alert you in a standard way of something you should be aware of. And since they are running locally, there’s no need to log in. Incremental caching is a very important aspect of Central since it allows you to grab your laptop and go, and still browse information offline that is potentially new to you. Asking what the difference is between Central and Flash on the web is like asking what the difference is between instant messaging and email. The differences may seem subtle, but they are in fact profound.

And speaking of instant messaging, it was announced during the keynote that an AIM and ICQ Central API will be available. That means you will be able to integrate AIM and ICQ instant messaging right into your applications. Incredibly cool! There was a demo of two guys chatting — one with an Central AIM client, and one with the standard Windows client. It was seamless!

The Flex demo was wild. Christophe Coenraets built an awesome RIA right in front of us in about 3 minutes using nothing but a text editor. The crowd was amazed.

Ben Forta did a great job with ColdFusion during the keynote. It kind of seems like ColdFusion isn’t getting a huge amount of attention right now simply because it is so mature and solid at this point. Don’t be fooled, though; there are some great new features in the works. Although we obviously can’t get into specifics, Ben did mention sophisticated reporting and printing capabilities and some interesting new deployment options involving encryption.

If you are here at MAX, come say hi! If you’re not, more to come…