Archive for October, 2010

The Community Team at Adobe MAX

The Adobe MAX Stage in 2009
Image by Richard Cawood via Flickr

Adobe’s annual conference, MAX is amost upon us. The team will all be flying into Los Angeles and we’re extremely excited to go.

MAX is the single largest face-to-face gathering of Adobe community annually – at least 200 Adobe User Group managers and Adobe Community Porfessionals will be in attendance. Probably more, I don’t have the final tally in front of me right now.

So if you’re attending MAX and want to say “hi” to the team, find out more about what we’re up to, meet other community leaders, or find out how to get more involved in the Adobe community world, where will you find us at MAX?

That’s easy. :)

On Sunday, we’ll be hosting an all-day Summit for community leaders. Liz has done a fantastic job organizing this event, and the agenda is chock-full of presentations and discussions from the best of the Adobe teams as well as the community.

Then after MAX officially opens, we’ll be in the Community Lounge during the show. Just walk into the show floor and we’re right up front, with a big sign hanging from the ceiling to point the way. Please stop by anytime to say “Hi!” and pick up a little gift. We’re here specifically to meet and talk with as many community people as possible.

Two other community events I want to call out at MAX are:

1) The Manager to Manager meeting – Monday night, 9PM. Led by longtime community leader Dee Sadler, this even is open to all user group managers where they can share and network. Beer and pizza will be available as well.
2) “Are You Smarter Than a Flash Evangelist?” – Tuesday afternoon, 4:30. Four Evangelists face off against four community members to see who’s smarter. This should be a heck of a fight! The Flash Community Cares team is also using this event to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders.

If you’re not able to make it to LA for MAX, Adobe will be streaming both keynotes, and they WILL be worth watching. Here’s the link to sign up for the stream.

For those of you onsite, don’t forget to download the MAX Companion! The desktop downloader is here, and it’s also available in the Android Market. A guide to the Adobe MAX Unconferences is also in the Android Market.

So map out your schedules, charge up your batteries, load up your software, and get going! We’ll see you at MAX!

The Future of Developer Communities: Some Thoughts

Lately, I’ve noticed an increasing amount of discussion about the role of the “platform agnostic” developer – a developer who is equally comfortable across a range of languages and technologies, switching from one to another as each new project or customers requires. To call out just a few examples, Seb Lee-Delisle has been talking a lot about this subject, as well as Grant Skinner and too many others to list here.

It makes a lot of sense for developers to take this approach. In today’s environment, with significant fragmentation in the mobile world, lots of change in the browser environment, and new devices coming to market practically every week, sticking to closely to what’s worked in the past can limit your future options.

I wonder, though, what the role of community will be in this new world. Today’s user group model is focused very much around communities of expert practitioners within single technologies — ColdFusion developers form ColdFusion communities and come together to discuss CF-specific techniques, frameworks, and practices. Flash developers, the same. It’s all very siloed and very focused.

What will happen when that developer is working on an Android project one month, maybe an iOS gig the next, and then some Flash work after that? The old model doesn’t fit the need so well anymore.

One answer might be for that developer to find and join multiple communities to help support him or her in their work, but I’m not sure that’s the best answer. It’s hard enough to find and build relationships within even one community. I wonder if developers will have the energy or the time to create those kinds of connections across multiple communities.

So what’s a better solution?

A change in focus, for one thing. With more developers looking to expand their skillsets, I expect that we’ll see developer communities paying more attention to supporting new to intermediate developers coming into the community and a little less to deep-dives into expert-level topics.

And that changes of focus is already being reflected within our own community. We’re seeing an increasing number of people wanting to hold Camps – from Flash Camps to After Effects Camps and more. Camps are a great way to reach out to new community members and introduce them to new topics, as you have more time than a typical user group meeting. If this trend continues we”ll see a whole lot more Camps in 2011.

I also think our concept of community itself will evolve. We need to start thinking about defining communities less in single-tool silos and more in broader categories. “Adobe developers” instead of “Flash developers”, for example.

Some user groups are already changing to meet the needs of this new environment.  To name just a few examples, SanFlashcisco has been doing sessions on HTML5 as well as Flash in recent months. Fire On The Bay is expanding beyond Fireworks to focus on a range of web development tools. FlashBrighton is now dotBrighton, covering a range of topics from HTML5 to AfterEffects and beyond.

I don’t have all the answers yet, but we all need to start asking those questions.

What do you think?