Imagine for a moment being stuck on a boat for 6 days with a bunch of geeks. Then imagine you’ve brought your wife (or husband) into it. There is no escape (except for excursions). What do you think the result would be? That’s what I was asking myself before RIAdventure. I have to admit I was a little nervous but I had faith that because it was the Flex community it would be a great time. I was dead wrong. It was a FANTASTIC time and I got to know a lot of people really well, saw some great presentations, and my wife and I even came away with some “couple friends”. It was the ultimate blend of great community, friendly people, geeking out, and personal friendships.
My favorite talks of the conference were by Doug McCune and Greg Burch. Doug talked about his work on data visualization and took us through the history of “datvislashun” (inside joke) that he’s researched because of the Spatial Key project. It was a perfect high-level, thought provoking talk. I also learned a lot about “Slider” the Flex Mobile framework from Greg Burch. It’s amazing what you can learn about your own products when you hang out with the person who’s the lead on internal projects.
But the best part was the socializing. We saw some great (and some terrible) karaoke, hung out on the beach with Flex people, and got to know some new members of the community. One of the most interesting parts to me was that a good chunk of the RIAdventure attendees were “new” to the Flex/Flash community and this was one of their first conferences. It’s kind of a hardcore way to jump in so hopefully we didn’t scare them off.
Thanks to everyone who made it fun. For those that weren’t there, I highly suggest you go next year. Bonding with the community, getting to know spouses, and geeking out on some cool topics was a great way to spend the week. It was just a completely different kind of experience for getting to know people in our world and I’m really glad I went. Of course the next best thing is 360|Flex in March. Be sure to register!
Ryan takes Doug McCune down at Sumo
This has been an interesting year for the Adobe developer community. We’ve seen public betas of the next generation of Flash Builder, Flash Catalyst, and watched the birth of a large open source project at Adobe in the form of the Flex SDK. We’ve also seen the beginning of developer services like Adobe Flash Collaboration Services, a public beta of ColdFusion which includes lots of Flex/AIR integration goodness, and heard a lot of talk about mobile devices and Flash. And that’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about RIAdventure. Getting a bunch of smart, passionate, RIA minds in the room is a great way to set the stage for next year.
One of the things that’s nice about RIAdventure is that it comes after MAX so we’ll not only have a whole bunch of new stuff to talk about, but we’ll be able to reflect on the entire year while discussing what’s coming up in the future.
My primary complaint of the Flash/Flex community is that there isn’t enough higher level thinking. With two powerhouses like Microsoft and Adobe in the space and a number of smaller, more nimble, and passionate startups, there’s a lot of different ideas about what RIAs are or should be. Throw in the open web initiatives with HTML5, and CSS3 and it really hasn’t been a better time to be building applications on the web. What does that mean for the Adobe developer community? What do you like about what we’re doing, what do you hate about it? The focus this year has been on mobile devices, and that’s extremely important. But it also means that the next phase of what I’ll call “core innovation” is coming up. What does ActionScript 4 look like? What direction do our tools move in? How should we evolve the Flex Framework? These are both geeky, nitty gritty questions as well as larger philosophical questions.
To me, there is no better group than the one we have and no better place to disconnect and think about larger issues concerning Flash Platform developers. We’re not going to have all of the answers, but I think RIAdventure is going to be an ideal venue in which to make your voice heard, hear what others want to see, and make your own opinions heard. Oh, and have a crap-ton of fun while you’re at it.