Archive for July, 2008

AC@MAX2008 on "Delivery of a Mission Critical RIA for NATO"

Another presentation from Peter Martin (Adobe Consulting, Edinburgh) in collaboration with Mansour Raad, of mapping partner ESRI.  If you’re wondering what the picture of a NATO E-3 AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) aircraft has to do with Flex 3, LiveCycle Data Services, Data Management Services and ESRI mapping, then read on…

We often talk about "mission critical systems", but this literally is a mission critical system – Peter and team within Adobe Consulting have been working for several months with a team at NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) to help create an innovative Flex, LiveCycle Data Services and Oracle solution that facilitates the mission planning for AWACS aircraft that fly out of NATO bases.

Known as "MSS" or the "Mission Support System", a key component of the MSS system is an interactive world map that can be scaled, panned, and overlaid with mission planning information.  Innovative visualisations and interactions for mission planning make for a visually-rich internet application, while the sheer volumes of data being managed from the geo-spatial mapping information to the mission information makes for a data-rich application as well.

To support collaborative mission planning, as well as to reduce the implementation effort associated with a data-oriented architecture, MSS makes significant use of the data management services features in LiveCycle Data Services.  Peter and team have continued to drive our best-practices around data managements services within Adobe Consulting, and I’m confident much of that goodness will come through in this presentation, especially if asked.

And if those details of the back-end persistence tier aren’t your bag, then you might be more interested in how the team are able deliver the innovative mapping capabilities that will be demonstrated. MSS greatly leverages the AWX Flex API from ESRI, and Peter and Mansour have spent many hours with Flash Player and Flex engineering teams both on-the-phone and face-to-face in San Francisco squeezing the maximum performance out of the rendering of highly detailed maps. A few small islands may have been lost along the way.

With the geo-spatial data for the map being brought under the control of managed data collections within LiveCycle Data Services, mission planning is a truly collaborative experience, as updates to geo-data are immediately pushed to all connected mission planning clients.

As more and more organisations understand the power of the "mashup" in the enterprise, I’ve seen an increasing trend towards real-time collaboration and visualisations over geo-spatial data; the applications can be as far removed from NATO misson planning as one could imagine, but the technical challenges and solutions remain the same.

Working within Adobe Consulting gives us the right to work on some of the coolest, most innovative and exciting projects – and the Mission Support System for NATO definitely ranks up there.  I hope you can join our team for this presentation, share in a truly exciting Flex and LiveCycle Data Services application, and learn how we’ve addressed the most challenging of design problems from the vectors to PL/SQL and stored procedures.

Why would you miss this ?


Delivery of a Mission-Critical RIA for NATO

Adobe Consulting and ESRI will discuss the real-world implementation of a Mission Support System for AWACS aircraft, built in Flex for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). See this powerful example of leveraging ESRI mapping technology with Flex and LiveCycle Data Services ES.
Speakers: Peter Martin, Mansour Raad
Audience: Architect, Application Developer
Skill: Intermediate
Products: LiveCycle DS, Flex
When: Tuesday, November 18, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm


AC@MAX2008 on "RIA Development with Cairngorm – Tips from the Experts"

Peter Martin (Adobe Consulting, Edinburgh) and Eric Garza (Adobe Consulting, San Francisco) are both key members of the Adobe Consulting architect community who together have been responsible for leveraging many of the same patterns and practices across wildly different projects, whether they be financial services, manufacturing, military or healthcare projects.  Fundamental to all of their projects, have been underlying implementations based upon the Cairngorm architecture, and along the way the teams they participate in have had to face many of the same challenges that you are facing on your projects. 

Have you ever asked yourself:

“How might I use Cairngorm with Modules ?”

“I’m sure Adobe Consulting aren’t advocating a single huge ModelLocator class for all my client-side state, so what might be some tips or best-practices for managing the model in a Cairngorm application ?”

“Are there standard ways for managing Login and Logout behavior in a Cairngorm based RIA ? How can I more tightly tie this to the underlying security model of the application server, and how can I ensure on Logout that I’ve really cleared down the local state on my application ?”

“Are there times when I don’t need a business delegate and service locator; like when I’m using Data Management Services for instance ?”

I’m sure you have many many more questions, where the answer isn’t always that we should be adding more library, more code, or more APIs to Cairngorm, but rather we should be sharing with you the tactics and strategies we use when addressing these recurring challenges, and addressing them in a way that fits elegantly within a Flex and Cairngorm application, using the “right part of the right framework for the job”.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve observed Peter and Eric engaging the worldwide Adobe Consulting community in an “archaeological expedition” to dig up all the tips and best-practices that we could categorise and share around how we work with and within Cairngorm on our own Flex and AIR applications.  This presentation is very much a catalyst for us documenting so many of our learnings, will leave you with numerous tips and techniques that you can immediately apply to your own project, all presented in the context of learnings, solutions and recurring approaches on real-world Adobe Consulting projects.

If there are any particular tips or techniques that you’d like the guys to share, leave me a note in the comments and we’ll see if it’s something they can cover in the time available!

Session Details:

RIA Development with Cairngorm: Tips from the Experts

Learn some of the tips and tricks from Adobe consultants who are using Cairngorm on large-scale Flex, Adobe AIR, and LiveCycle ES projects. Discover emerging usage patterns on topics such as security, modules, internationalization, data management services, and working with AIR, and take away ideas for your own developments.
Speakers: Eric Garza, Peter Martin
Audience: Architect, Application Developer
Skill: Intermediate
Products: LiveCycle DS, Flex, AIR
Wednesday, November 19, 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

AC@MAX2008 on "Television on AIR – Creating Custom Media Player Experiences"

Adobe Media Player

Increasingly, our user-experience and technology teams at Adobe Consulting have been engaging in projects that not only leverage Flex, AIR and LiveCycle ES to create enterprise/business Rich Internet Applications, but in projects that leverage technologies like Flex and AIR "on the glass" with "behind the glass" technologies such as Flash Media Server and Flash Media Rights Management Server, in order that we can create innovative broadcast experiences that will be experienced by millions of eyeballs at a time.

Xavi Beumala (Adobe Consulting, London) and John Bennett (Adobe Consulting, Boston) have both been engaged in a number of these exciting projects over the last several months, and between them will be responsible along with their colleagues for the technical delivery of products that I’m confident many of us will be consumers of in the months ahead.

In the first instance, creating a custom media player is about creating an online experience that is more compelling than experiencing the content on a television. John and Xavi will talk about how some of these innovative features can be implemented on the Flex and AIR platforms – whether that be building social communities over the content itself, or more innovative ways of engaging with more innovative online content.

However, fundamental to a great broadcast experience is everything focussed around delivering the highest-quality of viewing experience.  With the H.264 capabilities of the Flash Player, there is ever increasing desire to deliver the highest-definition of quality, which in itself creates recurring technical challenges that must be considered and addressed.  Whether it’s considering encoding and codec tradeoffs, picture size optimisations, bitrate and bandwidth requirements or architectures for content delivery networks,or whether it’s understanding the workflows that allow the secure delivery of rights-managed video, there are a myriad of technology and application decisions that need to be made that can have impact on the overall viewing experience.

Drawing upon real-world experiences of implementing several television experiences online, I’m looking forward to the best-practices and deep technical-tips that I know Xavi and John will have to share.

Session Details:

Television on AIR: Creating Custom Media Player Experiences

Join Adobe Consulting for a discussion on projects in which broadcasters and media organizations needed applications to stream protected video to consumers desktops. Learn how to create these experiences using dynamic media technologies. Hear Adobe Consulting best practices for Flash, Flex, Adobe AIR, Adobe Media Player, Flash Media Server, and Flash Media Rights Management Server.

Speakers: Xavi Beumala Segura, John Bennett
Audience: Creative Designer, Architect, Application Developer
Skill: Intermediate
Products: Flex, Flash Player, Flash Media Server, AIR
Monday, November 17, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

AC@MAX2008 on "Lazy Innovation"

Success is a Journey, not a Destination.  So stop running.


In the days ahead, I’d like to summarise each of the presentations that the Adobe Consulting team are giving.  I’ll start today with one that I’m most looking forward to from our User Experience practice, titled "Lazy Innovation". George Neill and Jerome Doran are experience architects within our User Experience practice, in Edinburgh and San Francisco respectively.  The title of the presentation arose from George’s observations during what we call "User Experience Discovery".  In "User Experience Discovery", we engage in many UX practices including ethnographic research and user-interviews, where we seek to better understand the end-users of our application as a means of informing the design of the user-experience itself.  Before our technical practice concern themselves with "building things right", our user-experience practice concern themselves with the more fundamental question – "are we building the right thing ?".

George provocatively contests that a human-train often considered a bad behavior – laziness – is actually an inherent human behavior that should be recognised as a virtue that can identify opportunities for innovation in user-experience design.  It is his belief that the "search for laziness" and the ability to learn how to better observe laziness can create short-cuts to finding the opportunities for innovation that exist every time we are given the opportunity to create more innovative user-experiences.

In their respective roles, George and Jerome have touched most if not all of the rich internet applications developed within the Adobe Consulting stable over the last several years, and so in this presentation they’ll be using their own work and the work of our team to show where identifying and incorporating the inventiveness of the lazy users results in simpler, easier and more effective applications.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to interview our MAX speakers around their chosen topics of presentation, so if you have any thoughts on this idea of "innovation through lazy design" then please leave them in the comments, and I’ll ask the guys on your behalf.

I can’t wait to attend this presentation, which I know is going to be as fun and entertaining as it will be informative and inspirational; it’s a really exciting theme through which to weave a showcase of user-experience from our team.

Session Details

Lazy Innovation: Strategy for the Design of Innovative User Experiences

When engaging with applications, users essentially want to complete their tasks with a minimum of difficulty and friction. In this entertaining presentation, the Adobe Consulting User Experience team will explore this "doctrine of laziness" as a means of identifying opportunities for innovative user experiences.

Speakers: George Neill, Jerome Doran
Audience: Web Designer, Creative Designer, Application Developer
Skill: General Audience
Products: Flex, AIR
Monday, November 17, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Adobe Consulting Track at MAX 2008

I’m delighted that this year, Adobe Consulting has been given our own dedicated track at MAX 2008 where our consultants can share presentations that leverage our learnings of the last year delivering Enterprise and Dynamic Media projects on behalf of Adobe Customers. 

Next week, I’ll post a talk-by-talk breakdown of each of our talks, but for now, let me introduce the sessions and the speakers, to get you thinking about signing up for MAX 2008 and signing up for some of our talks.

Our talks are drawing down the experience of our User Experience Design practice and our Technology Practice, as well as drawing down on our experience of using technologies including Flex, AIR, LiveCycle ES, Flash Media Server and Flash Media Rights Management Server.

Lazy Innovation – Strategy for the Design of Innovative User Experiences; George Neill and Jerome Doran

Television on AIR – Creating Custom Media Player Experiences; Xavi Beumala and John Bennett

RIA Development with Cairngorm – Tips from the Experts; Eric Garza and Peter Martin

Delivery of a Mission Critical RIA for NATO; Peter Martin and Mansour Raad (ESRI)

Agile Testing of Enterprise RIA with Flex and LiveCycle ES; Alex Uhlmann and Herve Dupriez

Rapid Enterprise RIA Development with Solution Accelerators; Danny Saikaly and Steven Webster

Architectural Best Practices for Flex and LiveCycle ES Applications; Tunde Turner and Steven Webster

Delivering Collaborative Applications with AIR and LiveCycle Data Services; Xavier Agnetti and Alistair McLeod

Flex for Java Architects – Delivering Rich Internet Applications with Java, Maven, Spring and Hibernate; Francois le Droff and Eric Garza

As you can see above, we’re going for a dual-speaker approach to each presentation – I’ve paired our North American and EMEA consultants together on each talk, to ensure that what we present to the community in each of these subjects is harnessing the experience of our worlwide consulting team, across the maximum spread of our projects.

The prevailing theme for all of our presentations in our consulting mantra of "Innovation on Both Sides of the Glass", helping to bring together useful, usable and desirable user-experiences upon Flex and AIR with either the enterprise infrastructures of LiveCycle ES, the data-rich infrastructures supported by LiveCycle Data Services, the media and broadcasting infrastructures supported by Flash Media Server, or some combination thereof.

Our team are busy preparing these presentations – if there are any topics or examples you would like us to cover under the above subjects, then drop me some comments in the blog, and we’ll see if we can work them in for you.

I hope to see many of you sharing your your experiences with us during these presentations!

Enterprise Web 2.0 – Banking on Facebook

As I meet with enterprise customers, whether they be Financial Services organisations, Government organisations or other enterprise service providers, a question I’m often asked when speaking about creating innovative solutions upon Adobe technology is "…but what about web 2.0…"

I often talk to customers about the need to "match the medium to the moment".  When we think about creating innovative user-experiences, it’s not about "will it run on a mobile", "will it run on AIR" and "will it run on a set-top box" but "when would a user want to engage with their mobile", "what tasks and goals would a user want to accomplish when offline" and "what aspirations would they have engaging in front of their television on a set-top box rather than sitting on their laptop or desktop computer".  The medium must match the moment, and the moment most likely defines a different pattern of engagement.   When I’m stood at the bus-stop, perhaps I’ll want to quickly check my bank balance, or even transfer some money into one of my accounts – but I’m less likely to want to chart my spending and see how much money I’ve spent this month on home improvements (but that is the kind of analysis I might prefer to do sat on my laptop, not connected to the Internet necessarily, in an offline client).

So often when I am asked about web 2.0, I’m being asked about "gadgets" and "widgets" and integration with social networking platforms.  Personally, I think the real innovations around "web 2.0" are when we think about architectures of participation and wisdoms of crowds, and I really want to post some more on how I think companies like Mint and Wesabe are doing a great job of creating experiences in commoditised service industries.

But I did see this announcement today – Albany based credit union SEFCU have created a "Facebook Banking" application that offers secure, one-click access to account information through Facebook APIs and the Facebook platform.  The application has been developed by a mobile banking company, MShift (out of San Jose) – and what’s interesting here is that 2 different mediums (mobile and facebook) have very similar, I believe, moments.

I see great opportunities here, when you look at how organisations like Mint and Wesabe are delivering innovative financial services by leveraging the collective intelligence of their userbase, with applications like SEFCU are creating.  When you start leveraging the collective intelligence of your trusted social network and not just the collective intelligence of a website’s entire social network, innovation opportunities abound…

What do you think ?  Would you bank on facebook, or on another social network ?  Are there innovative services that you can think you might trust more because they were in some way validated or surfaced through your chosen crowd ?  Would you refinance your mortgage with a certain provider because your facebook friends did ?