MAX 2010 – Day 1 Review

This year I’ll be missing Adobe MAX in person, heading to Ireland tomorrow for a family wedding, so it has been an interesting experience to watch from afar.  I guess the most obvious thing to point out is that “I can” – that is, watch it from afar.

The keynote this year is being approached differently, it’s all about solutions.  You’ll notice that ‘devices’ don’t have a predictable section of their own, instead they are presented together across a set of five innovation vectors, Web Development, Video, Digital Publishing, Enterprise Applications, and Gaming.  The dynamic has shifted from technologies to solutions, as presented by Kevin Lynch and guests Martha Stewart, Mark Goldberg of EPIX, Joe Simon of Condé Nast, Mike Lazaridis of RIM and David Nuescheler of Day Software (soon to be an Adobe company).

The conference this year is powered by Akamai and distributed using Flash Player to desktop computers, mobile phones and tablets and all major browsers.  In addition, this years MAX is also streamed using Peer-2-Peer technology, found in Flash Player 10.1 – which is now available on 74% of desktop computers and just 3 months after launch.

These changes sum up our ongoing strategy to enable the creation of applications that are fit for purpose, expressive and multi-screen.  As part of this we re-organized our teams at Adobe, folding the Flash Platform business unit into the Creative Suite Business Unit.  Together our new group is called CIBU – Creative & Interactive Solutions.

Web Development

Earlier in the year at Google IO we showed a new HTML5 extension for Dreamweaver CS5, created to enable the production of web properties across screens.  Within this new HTML5 pack we have added support for CSS3 and media-queries that allow your web pages to be easily transposed to different screen sizes.  Simply run the Adobe Updater to get started.

Kevin also showed a new prototype, codename “Edge” that is effectively Flash Catalyst for HTML and uses the popular JQuery JavaScript library.  Using Edge you will be able to create HTML5 applications and sites with animations and media, drastically shortening the development time for web properties, widgets, and not to forget, great prototypes that run across screens.  I can’t wait to start creating AIR applications and mobile websites with Edge, it’s going to be huge.

Finally, with our recent acquisition of Omniture we also showed NetAverages, an amazing product that forms part of the suite of applications including analytics, optimizations, conversion and acquisition tools.  With NetAverages you can now gain access to a wealth of data around HTML5 support, devices, platforms and various technologies – all of which is presented in a stunning Flex interface.  Statistic are gleaned anonymously from a large range of the worlds most popular websites.

Digital Publishing

This year we’ve seen the introduction of the Tablet form factor, which is a great leap forward for the publishing industry – enabling a new distribution and monetization model for the publishing industry.  As part of this great work we’re going to ramp up our contributions to webkit, delivering improvement in layout control – including precision text wrapping around shape/images and enhancements for dynamic rendering of content for different form factors.

Today, almost all major publishing houses use Adobe InDesign to create their print pieces and deliver these to consumers at news stands.  So it makes a lot of sense for this workflow to be enhanced to encompass the packaging and delivery of Digital Publications.  We’re calling this solution the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, a set of tools, deployment and SiteCatalyst reporting services that make it incredibly easy to target these new devices in a sustainable way.

Publishers create “stacks”, which are essentially articles/pages/ads in InDesign CS5 in portrait/landscape/both and publish these individually.  Each stack can include interactive elements, buttons, links, scrollable frames and slideshows to enable rich experiences and drive innovation in their digital pieces.  In addition, you can also use the Interactive Overlay Creator to produce 360° views, panoramas, image pans, audio, video, and web views.  Web view is very similar to StageWebView, described in my previous blog posts :-)

Video and audio are added very easily and use the H.264 format in addition to standard mp3 formats.  You can integrate audio as part of the experience, maybe clicking sounds or swoosh effects – although I hope you can be more imaginative!  Each interactive element has associated parameters to enable you to control the interaction for the user, such as looped slideshows, handling swipe events, fading, hightlights, transition timing and delays.

Finally, you can use the Adobe Digital Content Bundler to take the stacks and create an issue of your publication by simply adding each of the publication content folders and stacks.  Publications can then be viewed in a generic viewer application and later deployed in a custom viewer for each publication.

From a publishers perspective, managing the technologies, deployments and interactions is pivotal to success in this new multi-screen world.  With the Digital Publishing Suite, content creators can spend more time driving their content and brand – instead of worrying about the ever increasing costs of reaching their users across devices.

Enterprise Applications

For the Enterprise we are now focused on “Customer Experience Management”, a new set of solutions that are targeted directly to enhancing the productivity and experiences for our largest customers.

At MAX we announced the availability of Flex 4.5 “Hero”, the latest version of Flex that has been highly optimized to enable the creation of mobile applications for Android, Blackberry and of course desktop computers.  This new framework includes additional mobile components and skins to speed up the production of multi-screen apps and deliver new experiences on devices.

Flash Builder Burrito / Flash Catalyst Panini

Attendees received a DVD with a new version of Flash Builder, with some amazing new features for creating mobile applications.  These include device debugging for Android (inc. USB support), integrated Android SDK tools and simulation for a host of supported devices.  Flash Builder Burrito ships with Flex 4.5 embedded and you can download the trial here.  Among the many new features are improved coding features, performance improvements and much improved support for working with Flash Catalyst Panini.

The Catalyst team have also been hard at work improving the workflows for designers and developers using Flex.  With “Panini”, the team have focused on delivering the first steps towards full round tripping between Photoshop and Illustrator and Burrito.  The results are looking great, enabling resizable applications and components, custom skins, code generation improvements and improvements for animation control and styles.  You can download the trial of Panini here.

Day Software

Earlier this year we announced that we are to acquire Day Software, a Swiss company with offices in Boston.  Day are a global leader in content management with customers like Audi, Nissan, Volkswagen, MTV, Virgin Media and McDonalds.  David Nuescheler was on hand to show CQ5, an amazing solution for managing content in multiple languages and for multiple screens.  Customers can simply drag and drop assets and pages, type content directly into the pages and leverage approval and localization workflows directly from the tooling.  I can’t wait to see more of our new EMEA team :-)

Video

Flash is now enabling the playback of 120 Billion megabytes of video every month, an astounding number that presents huge challenges for the Flash Player team.  Today Flash supports numerous formats, resolutions and audio codecs being mixed together and delivered using DRM, encrypted streams, the open RTMP and it’s variants.  In the latest player we also support playback over HTTP and RTMFP for P2P distribution of large events, thus driving the industry forward.

So what’s so big about video on a TV?  – Well, what we actually showed is DRM protected and encrypted video running across the internet in HD format to a television.  We’ve all sat at home watching video on our computers with 30″+ televisions in front of us, it’s just annoying.  Today we showed that EPIX can leverage the Omniture analytics suite and industry approved Token based DRM (Flash Access) to present high-value content from the studios directly into the home.  This signifies an industry change, for the first time you can deliver video across screens, whilst protecting it, measuring it, and enabling users to gain access to a full web of video currently missing from the living room.

At MAX we announced two things, Flash and AIR for TV and a new way to display video – StageVideoStageVideo enables the use of hardware decoders, much like VLC does today, and this results in huge improvements in the CPU usage – but with limitations.

The API enables video to playback on a graphics plane, delivered straight to hardware, as opposed to being pipelined back into the Flash Player.  Because of this, videos rendered with this API cannot support transparency and objects will not render behind the video.  Flash content, such as overlays for video controls are rendered on top of the video in a separate graphics plane.  In fact, on TV this will be the defacto rendering method and all video objects will render this way.

Moving forward, all devices using the Flash runtime will have access to this new API set.  The Blackberry Playbook is the first tablet to implement this support to deliver an incredible video experience on their hardware, demonstrated for the first time at Adobe MAX.

AIR applications can now be built for TV using AIR2.5, the applications runtime deployed for Android and desktop platforms.  These applications are typically video based, although we do see some great opportunities for gaming and social connectivity moving forward.

Flash Player and AIR on TV are supported on Samsung TVs and Blueray Players, Google TV and BBC Youview hardware.

Gaming

The most exciting piece from the keynote today was probably the advancements in gaming and 3D support planned for an upcoming Flash Player release.  On the top of the tick list is game controller support, the ability to simply plugin your USB joypad or steering wheel and start playing games!  I’m so excited about it :-)

Needless to say, gaming on the web is set for a omplete overhaul, with 3D capabilities that use leverage GPU hardware and rendering millions of triangles per second.  What’s more incredible is that the demo below uses 0% CPU, and if our current stats hold true, we can get this out to 3/4 of the online world in three months after launch.

Check it out…

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