November 2008 Archives

I was visiting a customer this week when I was asked a question that flummoxed (check that spelling there) me.

I had been showing how easy it is now to incorporate Adobe Flash content inside a PDF file. Everyone was pleased and decided that this would be their preferred method for sharing prototype Flash apps with each other (not everyone was on the same network) in a nice secure wrapper. (I had already shown how easy it is to add security to a PDF.)

Now, since I had also shown how we can use Acrobat and PDF as a method for enabling commenting and general collaboration, the audience put two and two together and thought, "great we can send out our flash work and comment on it". Now I wanted to confidently say "yes, that's a cinch" but I couldn't, I'm just too darn honest... well, I didn't have a clue actually, so I promised to go away and find out if you could.

Good news everyone! (I've always wanted to say that)... Thanks to my colleague Joel Geraci with his huge brain and great Blog, I found the answer from way back in August....

http://blogs.adobe.com/pdfdevjunkie/2008/08/enabling_commenting_of_swf_con.html

There, Joel explains exactly how you can do just that, it takes a little coding but if you're a Flash programmer, I suspect that shouldn't be a massive issue.

Adobe Cocomo.... wha?

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There's been a bit of noise recently about something from Adobe called Cocomo. So... what's that all about then?

Codename "Cocomo" is a Platform as a Service that allows Flex developers to easily add real-time social capabilities into their RIA (rich Internet applications). Comprised of both Flex-based client components and a hosted services infrastructure, Cocomo allows you to build real-time, multi-user applications with Flex in less time than ever before. And because Acrobat.com hosts the service, issues like deployment, maintenance, and scalability are taken care of for you.

Add social features to your existing Flex apps or build totally new ones, such as real-time productivity/collaboration apps, multiplayer games, and audio/video chat.

Features of the Cocomo beta include the following

* VoIP Audio
* Webcam Video
* Chat
* Multi-User Whiteboards
* Real-Time File Sharing
* User Management
* Roles and Permissions
* Robust Data Messaging

You see, Cocomo is actually already in use in Acrobat 9 and the free Adobe ReaderĀ® 9 software, as well as Acrobat.com, (you remember my Cloud Computing piece?) where the platform provides end users with access to real-time collaboration within and around PDF documents...

I'd suggest you go here... http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/cocomo/ and find out a bit more, maybe even signup for the free public Beta?

Paperless Office

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Crikey, people read my blog!!

Rowan has asked me to expand on why I don't overly subscribe to the paperless office theory.

Well, I guess my thoughts are based around the behaviour of people. Let me say first, that as an Acrobat evangelist, I do believe that through use of Acrobat and the free Adobe Reader we can enable many many documents to live in electronic form only.

Indeed, I would clearly also prefer this method of working because of the many inherent advantages of using electronic documents. I won't bang on about them now because, to an extent, that's what this whole Blog is about.... but basically I'm a big fan.

But back to paper and why people still want it. I've often started seminars and presentations about Acrobat stating that I'm still a fan of paper, mainly to surprise the audience but I do follow up with reasons...

1. Paper is highly transportable, with the caveat that I'm not talking about a 5000 page Airbus maintenance manual. For many purposes it's a compact way of carrying data.
2. Paper doesn't need power, an operating system, or a device to work
3. You were taught how to use paper documents when you were 3, or 4 or 5 .. well you get the point.
4. When I send you a paper document, I'm confident that it will arive in the same format I sent it, the pagination won't have changed, font's will be correct, images won't be lost etc..

So, it's ubiquitous, transportable, has low usage requirements and we all know how to work it. I often state that "any electronic system you create to share information must be AT LEAST as good as a bit of paper"

(by the way, I believe Acrobat and PDF match my exacting criteria)

EDIT: Yup, it has been pointed out that Acrobat addresses point 4 in the list above. I really shouldn't write stream of conciousness blog posts. I guess that list is why I think paper is still valuable to people and I do think that as electronic alternatives go, Acrobat and PDF also do a good job of addressing point 1 (very transportable, think tiny flash drive) ... Point 3, well, I think most people are comfy using the free Adobe Reader these days.


Oh yes, the behaviour of people, I've watched people in offices, both for my work and in my hobby of stalking... (too much information?)

Anyway, pretty much everywhere I go, I still see people printing documents, why do they do this? Mainly it seems so that they can sit down and read through them. Often this is accompanied by changing the environment the person is working in, you know, move to a comfy chair, change lighting etc. So I think there's a real comfort factor to be had in reading paper based documents and a mind/mood change that can accompany working with paper.

I've also tried a number of different devices eBook readers etc, Laptops, Tablet PC's, handheld devices and I have to say, whilst comfortably being a child of the computer age, I still find them less comfortable to use for longer periods than paper.

Finally, I also consider the many different sizes and formats of documents. Whilst Acrobat can support documents of almost any size (a maximum document size measured in square metres) the devices we view them on impose constraints that mean we have to zoom and pan for very large page sizes. I see this a lot in the Architecture / Construction space.

Well, that was all a bit of a ramble, but I hope it made some sense. What I think I'm trying to say is that I believe in striving to minimise the use of paper, but I do believe that we will probably never reach a position where paper is eliminated from our workplaces.

Let me know what you think.


Acrobat 9 and Connect - Green

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....all went well yesterday. I guess I knew it would, but as my colleagues will testify, I'm always concerned that I should give good value for money when I present.

The general concensus is that, almost by definition, both Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Connect are inherently green products.

Acrobat, of course helps us to reduce the amount of paper we use (I'll never subscribe to the "paperless office" theory but Acrobat does help) This also reduces the cost and impact of having to transport paper based documents too. It's a win-win-win scenario, greener working practices save you money too and indeed can result in a more innovative and engaging way of working with customers and partners.

Connect gives us similar benefits in terms of people interaction, reducing (but not removing altogether) the need for business travel. You can communicate, collaborate and even train online.


By the way, I feel bad for asking so late, but how was your halloween? It seems that year upon year this event gets celebrated with more gusto in the UK, we have upped our game to almost US levels of participation. I can still remember a time before "trick or treat"-ing children wandering the streets, high on a sugar rush from all the Haribos, Celebrations, Flumps and other assorted sweets. So this year.. I dressed as the Dark Knight (as opposed to the 1960's Adam West Batman)... No offence Adam if you're reading this.. :-)

Saturday night will see another little soiree, this time belatedly celebrating Guy Fawkes night. Now, that's a proper British event, perhaps e should export it to the US in return for our immporting of the Halloween regalia?.... I can't quite see America embracing "Unabomber Night" myself.

....back to work........


Green IT Expo

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Soooo, tomorrow I'm presenting at the Green IT Expo at London's Barbican.

More details of the event can be found here: http://www.greenitexpo.com/

I'm really pleased to have the opportunity to present there because I think IT has the opportunity (and has had for some time) to make a considerable positive impact on the way we use our planet's resouces and how much damage our daily work does to the environment.

I'll mainly try to talk about how Green IT is actually a win-win scenario for organisations, as long as they understand the need to make their systems engaging for customers and other stakeholders. I think we can not only reduce our impact on the environment, but reduce our costs at the same time and make the lives of our customers that much easier... perhaps that's win-win-win... :-)

I hope I do a good job there, I always wonder/worry that i'm not delivering enough value in my presentations, hope to tell you about it on Thursday.... I'll count the number of people who nod off during my 30 mins....