Posts in Category "Documents"

Recent news, steady progress

Funny news day — lots of little things popping, some drawing much more attention than others, hard to get perspective. There’s a common theme among them, however. Even though there’s lots of growth in new types of environments, there’s a lot of work in bridging them, too.

One example is how browsers are starting to expose Flash Player local storage… from the FAQ:

“Integration with browser privacy controls for managing local storage — Users now have a simpler way to clear local storage from the browser settings interface, similar to how users clear their browser cookies today. Flash Player 10.3 integrates control of local storage with the browser’s privacy settings in Mozilla Firefox 4, Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 and higher, and future releases of Apple Safari and Google Chrome.”

Letting webpages store more-than-cookie-sized data is a good idea, as recent HTML5 local-storage work shows. But as cross-site tracking and personality databases become more worrisome, it makes sense to expose integrated local-storage to public control however people wish to control it. The good news is that different parties can (and do) work together to bring this about. Progress.

Another example is the Wallaby project… not as dramatic as Techmeme may paint it, but it’s still useful to be able to bring basic SWF assets into a different delivery environment. Fragmentation is natural during fast evolution, but connecting such silos is natural too. Progress.

A subtler example is from the Dreamweaver team this week, about the differences in touch events across different WebKit-based browsers. Touchscreens and scrolling forms, or preventing doubled events when there’s also a trackball controller… natural for fragmentation to occur, and natural to bridge that fragmentation too.

More obvious is the work that Adobe’s Digital Publishing group has been doing… working with major publishers to bridge across all the various islands of new devices rapidly appearing. This will soon help smaller publishers too.

Screaming headlines may clash and obscure significa, but the real pattern underlaying the news is easier to see: we’re rapidly gaining a wide variety of connected digital screens, and the big work is in helping anyone to write to them. There’s daily, incremental progress towards that goal… connecting those silos, bridging those islands.

Possible in Today’s Web

Without installing anything new, 90% of today’s desktop browsers can now do pretty much anything you can imagine with text layout. The same typographic capabilities will become possible in next year’s generation of mobile devices, too.

Tom Barclay, Flash product manager: “Text Layout Framework is an extensible ActionScript library that runs on the new text engine in Flash Player 10 and AIR 1.5. Leveraging the publishing expertise of the Adobe InDesign team, Text Layout Framework offers a level of typographic control and sophistication that goes well beyond what can be done with HTML and CSS.”

Features include right-to-left scripts (Hebrew, Arabic, Urdu, more)… vertical scripts (Japanese, Chinese)… font-embedding of world scripts… print-worthy typography: “kerning, ligatures, typographic case, digit case (oldstyle/lining figures), digit width (proportional/tabular figures)”… graphics nestled within live paragraphs… multi-column flow of text, arbitrary rotation, discretionary hyphenation, many other typographic necessities… text is described as external XML files. Rendered by Adobe Flash Player 10 and above.

Right now it’s just a beta API within the Flex 4 Framework, with an interface like this. One application of this API to content creation is in a Flash CS4 component.

There’s lots of room to grow — lots of other ways people will want to access precise layout. It’s easy to create a SWF, many authoring interfaces are possible.

Projects based on this may help with standard markup languages such as MathML and OpenMath… maybe even markup languages like MusicXML, rendering predictably across browsers, without installing anything new. Sort of a PostScript for the Web.

Resources: Release NoteswikiVeronique Brossier…. Mihai Corlan… info on Flex governanceweblog.

This capability is just sitting out there, in the world’s browsers, today. It’s waiting… waiting for us to learn how to use it.

Acrobat 9: First “Blended Web” App?

Press releases went out Sunday night. There are multiple parts, and they fit together in a new kind of way. Whether you use PDF and documents or not, there’s something here which is worth paying attention to.

One part is the new version of the local, native-code authoring tool, Adobe Acrobat, and the free client and browser plugin, Adobe Reader. But viewing documents in web browsers is only one small part of what Acrobat does. The desktop software is the realworld standard when people use documents together. It’s installed. It’s part of daily life.

Another part is Buzzword and in-browser, in-the-cloud applications. This field is newer, but Buzzword is already best-of-class. Some people say the web will replace the desktop. I don’t know about that. But Buzzword, Connect and the rest are already there.

A third part is web services. There’s no reason you should have to view your data through an Adobe interface. You should be able to extract your data independent of its presentation, and do with it as you see fit. Custom interfaces are a necessity these days.

Put them together and we have an in-the-browser set of document services… a native-code set of high-level document services… document servers *and* document services, all with strong collaboration, lifecycle administrative control, archiving, open-format.

Desktop authoring tools. Browser-based authoring tools. Custom-made authoring tools. Local data. Remote data. All of them working together. First time ever. A new way.

That’s what strikes me most about this news. Pundits will probably go into “Buzzword vs Google Docs” or “Reader vs Preview” comparisons, but zooming in on the parts hides the outline of the whole.

Any group of people now have access to modern document publishing. There’s the desktop, in-the-browser, and beyond-the-browser… there’s local storage, local network storage, or cloud-based storage. All the scales work together.

If you have a computer and a connection, it costs no additional money to participate. You can manage and protect your own data, or let someone else do it. The platform supports various workflows, and does not dictate what your workflow should be.

Pundits argue “desktop vs browser” and “cloud vs local” and “own-your-data vs free-your-data”, but I think needs are diverse enough that technology needs to support _all_ these choices.

This is the first version of Acrobat built after the Macromedia acquisition. It’s dramatically expands what has gone before. When you look at it, look at how the various architectural sections fit together, and at PDF’s existing space in the overall document ecology. I think we’ll see more structures like this soon. But, the entire wider Adobe Acrobat initiative is breaking significant new ground here.

Applications aren’t just on the desktop, and aren’t just in the browser. They’re not just stored behind the firewall, not just stored in the cloud. It’s all-of-the-above. This Acrobat initiative is a new thing.