A “MAX” Experience @AdobeMAX 2010

It was great to be part of the Adobe Community Team at my first AdobeMAX conference.  My first event with both developers and designers in a whole new community eco-system since coming over to Adobe from Sun Microsystems (6) months ago.  The communities are surprisingly very similar.  Adobe puts a lot of energy and resources into to its communities — We “Luv” Our User Group Managers (UGMs) and Adobe Community Professionals (ACPs). They just make it “all work” out there in the community.  But WHY? Why bother with communities, anyway?  Simply, when Adobe leverages its “Communities”, it helps the product teams expand their marketing reach for major product milestones beyond traditional methods and it can be done in a proven economical way.

So, Adobe’s Community Team put forth an extra effort this year by providing:

  1. UGMs and ACPs priority seating upfront at the MAX keynotes & awards/sneaks; they got a priority seating (Green) lanyard if they attended the Community Summit.
  2. “Community Driven” sessions for the UGMs at their very own Community Summit
  3. Access to the evangelists and product managers in a panel session… anything goes… most questions were answered. (some were NDA)
  4. A “Community Social” held at the Lucky Strike bowling alley + a special conference “community” gift
  5. A place to call “Home” during the conference — The Community Lounge (which was absolutely beautifully done, best I’ve ever seen)

I’d like to share some thoughts, sounds, and images in a sort of a “MAX timeline” — Lots of stuff here in this blog post, so be sure to check out all the links and images… you might find some surprises!

Adobe Community Team Arrives in LA (Sat Oct 23rd, 2010):

The Adobe “Community Team” started arriving on Saturday, a day early, to prepare the Community Lounge and Community Summit room for our special guests. Everything was super organized by Liz Frederick and her handy-dandy “Run-Sheet” which was a huge help for the team to know where to be and what to do for MAX. Our group Admin Tammy Leamons also came along to help us out at MAX.  Tammy helped the team manage the community summit registration desk.  Many of the UGMs got to meet Tammy at the Summit which is important, because Tammy is the person who fulfills the raffle prize serial keys as part of the Adobe Groups Program benefits.  I was presented with a special “NDA” T-shirt — I was told that there was “a story” behind the “NDA” thing from Ed Sullivan, so I guess I get the shirt & the moniker now.  After stowing the Community leader backpacks and “Adobe Air Is Everywhere” T-shirts, I had a chance to check out the Community Lounge in the Pavilion. One of the most beautiful lounges, I have ever seen at a corporate event. The RIA Radio booth was looking very sharp with the high-back circular seating arrangement; The Team just couldn’t wait to see our community folks check out this lounge!

Community Summit (Sun Oct 24th, 2010):

Morning came EARLY to some on the community team.  We got off to a few nervous jitters before the summit started, but once we got the technical difficulties solved with audio-visual stuff + started the introductions, it was “smooth sailing“.  This year’s summit had over 200 attendees which was quite impressive to me coming from similar program outside of Adobe.  Summit schedule was chock full of presentations, product & program updates, panel sessions, community-led sessions, and a special visit from the RIM BlackBerry folks. RIM spoke about their developer programs, outlined their plans for the Playbook, and an invited Flash/Flex developers to start innovating with apps on the Playbook.  RIM folks also invited the User Group Managers & ACPs to a private function later that evening.  My afternoon session, after the RIM announcement, was entitled “How to Pimp Your Adobe Groups Page” — Slides here. My “How to” session was well received and many thanks to Ray Camden who filled in some of the technical details.  Again, here is the place to report Adobe Groups Bugs. We will do our best to answer, log, and get Ray to fix the bugs. AND many thanks to RayC and Radley Marx (SilvaFUG) on their presentation(s) earlier in the day. Radley showed off the new look and feel of the Adobe Groups site.  See the new Adobe Groups 3.0 look & feel: here, here, and here.  Radley & Ray pointed out, that when the changes do take place that we will have a staging server on the amazon cloud for UGMs to look at the group pages, BEFORE we migrate to the new CSS.  There are MP3 recordings of the summit keynote & sessions below (by no means mean’t to be professional).  I will be dropping presentations I get from MAX here.  After a busy day of sessions, it was time to party. This year’s Community Party was held at the Lucky Strike with Open Bar + Tasty Snacks + entrees.  A good time was had by ALL… Again, the party was first-class… all the way!  I stayed pretty late @ The Lucky Strike and pretty much lost my voice at the end.

MP3 recordings of the Community Summit:

Afternoon Community Presentations (slides only)

Day 1 + Keynote (Mon Oct 25th, 2010):

Day 1 keynote was pretty exciting. Those who had the green lanyard with their attendee conference badge was able to enter the Nokia Pavilion through the side entrance which was really nice, right up front at the keynote.  The big announcement was the AIR 2.5 release.  Lots of the developers in the audience were pretty keen on this.  I really liked the potential of the Martha Living digital publishing demo: A time-lapsed image in Flash that played a video of a flower in bloom on a tablet.  RIM had some nice announcements; and. it was nice to see their CEO up on-stage with Adobe’s CTO Kevin Lynch.  Adobe AIR developers can start building their applications for BlackBerry PlayBook today and will be able to submit their AIR applications for BlackBerry PlayBook to BlackBerry App World™ later this year.  Of course, the big announcement came at the end of the keynote with the Motorola Droid2™ giveaway.  Steps for Using Your NEW Droid2 here.  Lots of the Community Leaders after the keynote were “jazzed” about that.  Lastly, while nothing compares to seeing the MAX stage and the audience in person — One can watch the keynotes online.

Adobe Community Team opens up the Community Lounge
Buttons!
& Robots! were the giveaways this year; and, they were both huge hits.  I never seen so much activity over bunch a buttons.  (FYI — there were 15 different kinds of buttons for the collectors out there).  We also had the Adobe AIR is everywhere T-shirts, but we saved most of those for Day 2.  The RIA Radio guys seemed to really like their booth.  They also posted podcasts and photos.  The Community Team spent lots of time talking to User Group managers and ACPs.  I did a few 1:1 Adobe Groups sessions with a few folks.  Generally, people were quite pleased with the Community Lounge — couches and seats were almost always in use!  The Green Hornet Car on the Pavilion floor was cool!  A wonderful day!

Day 2 + Keynote (Tue Oct 26th, 2010):

The first day MAX keynote was great — demo — after demo — announcements, etc.  The second day keynote was a little bit more light-hearted and FUN!   The skits with the Adobe Evangelists were quite entertaining.  The PIMP my APP skit was perhaps my favorite, though folks outside the U.S. probably wouldn’t get the reference to the “Pimp my Ride” MTV show here in America.  But, now I’m going to remind Evangelist Duane Nickull of his “Pro-Cess-es” every time I see him.  Good job by the Adobe evangelists.  Ben Forta did a couple of interviews ala “Larry King Style” about HTML5 and Flash, particularly with John Resig from jQuery and others. Resig was there to announce jQuery Mobile integration into DreamWeaver.  I would expect Adobe to do more with jQuery in future and contributing to it. The video with the Flash and HTML5 muppets with Ben Forta was pretty entertaining as well, but also pointed out Adobe’s commitment to future HTML5 tooling and the complimentary nature of Flash and HTML.  Lastly, there was yet another attendee giveaway from Google — a Google TV box. Rachel Luxemburg talks about her “first impressions” with the Google TV.  After the keynote, it was back to the Community Lounge to meet more friends from the past and the present.

The Giveaways:

Much of the talk at this year’s conference was about the number of things the attendees got for attending this year’s MAX conference. Droid2′s, GoogleTV boxes were the main giveways.  The UGMs and ACPs got special conference gift(s) — the Community Leader’s backpack + the “Adobe AIR is Everywhere” T-shirt, (special thanks to Adobe AIR Program Mgr — Michael Hu).  And a few folks, who managed to get into the Adobe AIR for TV lab got a  Samsung set-top box to start developing AIR apps for TV.  I heard that over 150 of these boxes were given to selected to developers.  Hopefully, we’ll have more surprises from Adobe and its partners next year, but this was not a typical AdobeMAX from what I learned from fellow Adobe employees and UGMs who have attended past events. So, folks shouldn’t expect free phones or set top boxes next year.

Community Lounge|Venue|Pavilion

The Community Lounge this year was absolutely beautiful.  And unlike other conferences which put business partners right up front at the Pavilion entrance,  Adobe puts its community front and center.  The Community Lounge is the first thing an AdobeMAX attendee sees as they walk into the Pavilion — that’s pretty cool.   I did had one attendee who was looking for a sales engineer to buy something.  I and some of the User Group manager’s explained to her that AdobeMAX is a different kind of conference.  Sure, you can go to the Adobe online store to purchase Adobe’s software.  But, the MAX event is more geared towards our technology and what our community folks are doing to innovate with it on the web and mobile space.
There was also plenty of networking in the community corner. I talked to several User Group Managers about doing post-MAX events. Most were set up in the Community Lounge:

So the Community Lounge is an excellent place for UGMs to meet-up and network with potential speakers while at MAX and the Adobe Community team does its best to facilitate these community engagement.

Day 3 + MAX Bash/Awards (Wed Oct 27th, 2010)

Shatner:  The MAX awards had a special guest: William Shatner. And, Capt Kirk, got a standing ovation from the Adobe faithful as he took the stage to present the AdobeMAX awards. Was nice to see the awards and the product sneaks.  And the MAX Bash party was again first-rate, although, the human statue fountain was bit unnerving…but beautiful.

Are YOU smarter than an Evangelist? Well it was close!  There was a very spirited contest by some of the community members and Adobe Evangelists in the afternoon in the Community theater, EmCee’d by non-other than Ben Forta. Click on one of the above images to see a video take by one of our community members.

Meeting Mr. Sullivan — One of my personal highlights  @AdobeMAX was to meet Ed Sullivan.  Ed was the former Adobe Community Manager before Rachel Luxemburg took on the job a couple years back.  Anyways, Ed managed to find me in the Community Lounge before he headed out for his flight back home.  We talked; and, it became readily apparent why so many folks in the Adobe Community liked Ed.  I am glad he’s still on the “Adobe Team” running the Adobe Developer Connection (ADC) website.

Post-MAX session in Vegas

The MAX fun didn’t stop in LA! I was in Las Vegas shortly after AdobeMAX and met up with the local User Group Managers: Greg Hamer (OSMF UG); John Olson (Las Vegas AUG); Deb Havre (Las Vegas AUG); Krystal Hosmer (Vegas Photoshop & Print UG); Sergio Chavez (VegasWeb UG); Terence Carroll (VegasFlash UG); and Simrod Furman (UG member). We discussed some of the highlights and announcements of the Community Summit and AdobeMAX. My special thanks to Terence Carroll of Vegas Flash for picking me up at my hotel and driving me to Sushi Kaya — what a wonderful place. Who knew Vegas would have such great sushi!  My advice to any Adobe Evangelist, ACP, Community Champion/Speakers passing thru Vegas — Look these folks up. They will treat you right! They have great hospitality in Vegas!
Adobe Evangelist(s) in Vegas:  I missed Tom Krcha and Renaun Erickson who was presenting at VegasFlash the night I had to fly back to San Jose…. sorry guys next time.

Looking forward to AdobeMAX 2011 — User Group Mgrs — Hope to see you there!