Adobe Impressions

So I haven’t written here in a long time and I’m overdue to write something about Flex 2, but that’s still on hold as I actually work on the product. I’m hoping in the next few months that I’ll have more to say. In the meantime I thought you might be curious about my impressions of Adobe now that we’ve been part of the company for 2 months or so.

This week we had a big engineering summit, a 3 day gathering of almost all of the technologists at Adobe from all over the world in San Jose. It was an interesting experience, almost as many people as attended MAX this past year, except we were all Adobe employees. I’m glad that we had it; I think spending time getting exposed to the other teams and seeing what’s going on is incredibly important, especially since we need to be supportive of everyone else’s efforts. I’m pleased to say that Flex gave a pretty good showing. We had a number of people attending the Flex-related talks, and Sho’s demo as part of a “product shootout” was voted the best (thanks in large part to a very raucous Flash Player team).Another thing that was pretty cool was to see the crazy kinds of things that people are working on for other products. Let’s be honest, Flex is a cool product but I don’t think you’ll see us delivering papers at any conferences soon. But the folks who work on Photoshop and the other Creative Suite tools? There was one talk that introduced at a very high level some of the challenges that we’re going to face with the upcoming changes in computer hardware (as CPU speed is not increasing and chip manufacturers are instead moving to adding processors). Taking advantage of that new architecture is not a trivial task; I felt confident that for each of the presenter’s bullet points we were going to see the opportunity for a SIGGRAPH paper or two. And then it’s always pretty easy to impress with image manipulation demos 🙂 I should also mention that it’s cool to work for a company that produces its own video software. One of the things teams did at the conference was produce fun “commercial” spots. I don’t think anyone will be up for a Clio for their acting skills, but the production values were pretty good! I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to play with this stuff soon, I don’t do much video on my own but maybe I’ll play with Audtion at least.But believe it or not, the things that actually gave me the most warm fuzzies were the talks by the Adobe founders, John Warnock and Chuck Geschke. First off, both were excellent speakers, which I suppose they should be after a number of years of running the company, but it’s something I still appreciate. But more importantly, their messages seemed genuine and their passion for the company they founded was obvious. These guys are Co-Chairmen of the Board, and despite the fact that they are engineers I wouldn’t have expected them to spend the entire 3 days at this conference. The other thing that I think was great was the expression of their values. When Dr. Geschke (I’m not sure I can call him Chuck) spoke at the end about the values of the company, it was easy to feel proud that I work at a place where being a good corporate citizen is considered essential.Not everything is perfect. The bureaucracy has increased: more forms, a corporate credit card that seems unnecessary, an IT department that locks everything down a little too tight for my taste. And it will take time for the two companies to fully gel; we’ve had different approaches to building things in the past and no one is going to change their attitudes on what’s right immediately. But it feels like the core of this company is solid. I can’t say I was especially excited about working for what I’d call a large company (though I wasn’t against the merger); but I think if I’m gonna do it this seems like a pretty good place to be.</sap>