Posts in Category "Adobe"

The Relevance of User Experience Design in eGovernment

I recently spent some time with the Adobe Government team to discuss how the ‘consumerization of IT’, and the increasing expectation of users to have simpler, easier and more effective user-centered experiences in the enterprise, is just as applicable to citizens and constituents in open and electronic Government.  We captured our discussions as a series of 3 interviews that the Adobe Government team are posting over the coming days.

In part one, we have a general introduction to the Technology and Experience Innovation team at Adobe, what constitutes a typical day for the team, and broadly, the importance of user-experience as we see it as a complement to technology expertise.  In the interviews that follow, the team asked me about the importance of user experience in government, the relevance to the Open Government Initiative in the United States, and what we consider the future might be for digital experiences in the enterprise and in government.

I’d love to take some dialogue and questions to this blog, and here your own thoughts and ideas!   The first part of the video is here.

Design is on the Enterprise Agenda

Several years ago, I was one of the early adopters of Rich Internet Applications as an opportunity, and would spend a tremendous amount of time in front of prospective customers, evangelizing the need for greater richness, expressiveness and simplicity in the experiences we deliver.  Macromedia coined a tremendous phrase that, “Experience Matters”, but the dialogue I would find myself in with enterprise customers was very much what Geoffrey Moore would call “Provocation Based Selling”.  Provocation-based selling helps customers see their competitive challenges in a new light that makes addressing specific painful problems unmistakably urgent – in the case of Rich Internet Applications, the unmistakably urgent problem was that we were failing to deliver on the promise of the Internet, and that application experiences took a step back from client-server to desktop to web.  I’d say over the last 3 or 4 years, evidence that the provocation towards early adopters is no longer necessary, and that there is now mass market acceptance of the need for richer user-experiences, could be qualitatively measured by the fact that I no longer have to provoke, I no longer have to say why.

Fast forward a little, and the dialogue in the enterprise boardroom was less about Why? and increasingly about Why Adobe?   And so in this phase of our enterprise maturity around more effective digital experiences, the conversation would move more towards “Flex versus Laszlo”, “Flex versus AJAX”, “Flash versus Silverlight”.  As executives understood the present problem posed by the provocation, they sought to understood the technology to anaesthetise their pain.

But if I’m honest, I rarely engage in that dialogue anymore.  Whether I visit a customer, or whether a customer visits me in our Customer Briefing Center, it is much less common for me to be engaged in discussion of technology versus technology.  However, there is a new provocation today, and it’s the most enjoyable one yet and it’s an incredible differentiator for success.  Technology is necessary but not sufficient…irrespective of the vendor selection to deliver a richer experience, the delivery of a compelling experience, one that resolves the dynamic tension between the ROI the business seeks, and the tasks and goals their users wish to achieve, is not a technology problem.

It is a Design problem.

I am incredibly excited at the opportunity to play a role in this provocation, and to observe in front of Adobe’s customers how the provocation is also moving the importance of experience design in the enterprise from an opportunity for the early adopters, to a necessity for the emerging mass market.  Though customers like Morgan Stanley may have had the courage, the insight and the balance sheet drivers through which they understood the opportunity behind the provocation, they have created a bar that their competitors and peers now either choose to bang their head on, or also take a new approach to clear.

The approach is Design-thinking, and the approach demands that software engineers, business analysts and organizational behavior embrace and absorb designers, and Design thinking.

I’m very much looking forward to a 2-day event in New York next week, where Adobe is bringing together it’s enterprise customers and developers with it’s community of design talent and design customers.  As Design and Technology collides in the Enterprise, we are incredibly fortunate and excited to have both of those communities available to us.  Consider joining us, by signing up at

I would also encourage you to read Rob Tarkoff’s post here.  Rob is the Senior Vice President of our Digital Enterprise Solutions business unit, and is really driving this collision of Design Thinking and Technology Innovation in our enterprise offering.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again.  Experience Matters.  Business has never looked Better.

Flash Player is the #1 Free Download on Android AppStore

I grew up in the same town, and attended the same school, as the economist Adam Smith. Granted, we did so some 250 years apart. Adam Smith coined the metaphor, “The Invisible Hand”, in his book “The Wealth of Nations” .. it’s a metaphor about freedom of choice for consumers that I was immediately reminded of today when I saw Adobe Flash Player 10.1 sitting at the top of the Android Application store.


The theory of the Invisible Hand states that if each consumer is allowed to choose freely what to buy and each producer is allowed to choose freely what to sell and how to produce it, the market will settle on a product distribution and prices that are beneficial to all the individual members of a community, and hence to the community as a whole.

Investors invest in those industries most urgently needed to maximize returns, and withdraw capital from those less efficient in creating value. Students prepare for the most needed (and renunerative) careers. All these effects take place dynamically and automatically.

And consumers of mobile devices, when customizing their devices to maximize the experience they can enjoy and the services they can consume, are being guided by the Invisible Hand towards Adobe Flash Player 10.1

It’s great not only to see this initial adoption of Flash Player on Android, but to see it as a self-organization driven by the consumers of the experiences it offers.

Experience still matters.

Recording available of “Intuitive Experiences with Flex and SAP”

Earlier this month, Matthias Zeller and I presented on “Intuitive Experiences with Flex and SAP”, at SAP’s community event in Palo Alto. The presentation was recorded, and is now available here (we start presenting 24 minutes in to the presentation).

In this presentation, we showcase Project Hendrix at Adobe, we talk about the importance of Design in technology, we talk about how to build Flex experiences upon SAP implementations, and we introduce the idea of Experience Oriented Architecture.

I’d love to hear what you think.

Traits of an XOA (Experience Oriented Architecture)

As the phrase and philosophy of “Experience Oriented Architecture” (XOA) is capturing attention in the halls of San Jose at Adobe, particularly amongst our technical services organization and enterprise business unit, I find that I want to more concretely define what I mean when I think about XOA. It’s leading to a lot of interesting debate and dialogue that is promoting some of the SOA conversations of old, to XOA conversations of new…coarse grained versus fine grained, loosely coupled versus tightly coupled, etc. So let me share some of my own thoughts, on what traits define an architecture as “Experience Oriented”.

Let me start from my original premise – that of XOA as a way to address some common failures of SOA initiatives by taking a more user-centric approach to driving out services and architecture.

Addressing the SOA failure of reuse with XOA

So one of the cited failings of SOA initiatives is the disappointment in the ROI that was anticipated around re-use. SOA contends that by driving out a service tier, these services will be reused by developers across different projects. However, this is tightly coupled to another SOA challenge — too fine grained a service, and the reuse is wrapped up in a whole bunch of bespoke effort, too coarse grained a service and the reuse doesn’t happen because of the specificity of the service. The tension between fine and coarse-grained services is palpable.

So here’s the first traits I see for XOA:

  • Coarse Grained Experience Components
  • Implicit Choreography and Orchestration of Fine Grained Services in the SOA tier

I’ll take them up in another post; though I’d appreciate your thoughts and comments…

Presenting on Intuitive Experiences with Flex + SAP in Palo Alto

Next Friday, I’m co-presenting with Matthias Zeller (Group Product Manager, LiveCycle Mosaic) at the SAP Inside Track 2010 event in Palo Alto, Ca. We are presenting a technical deep-dive on Project Hendrix, explaining how Adobe is able to leverage it’s own technologies, including Flex, LiveCycle Data Services, LiveCycle ES, LiveCycle Collaboration Service and LiveCycle Mosaic, to deliver the best imaginable experience for end-users upon an existing SAP CRM infrastructure.

Our abstract for our presentation is as follows:

“In this presentation, Steven Webster and Matthias Zeller will demonstrate how to create innovative and intuitive user-experiences upon existing SAP solutions by leveraging Adobe technologies including Flex and LiveCycle. Project Hendrix is an internal application to Adobe, developed to empower agents in contact centers around the world to help more customers, first time, in less time, every time. Built atop an existing investment in SAP CRM, the innovations in user-experience provide an interface that allows agents to focus on performing their tasks simply, easily and effectively, hiding from them the complexities of numerous underlying enterprise systems. Steven and Matthias will demonstrate the application and user-experience, before deep-diving into the technical details and best-practices that enable this Flex interface to be moulded upon SAP by technology integrations such as LiveCycle Data Services and JCO. They will challenge product engineering teams to think about how to bring design into the engineering process, share Adobe’s approach to bringing user-experience design, business requirements and software delivery together, and introduce the concept of “Experience Oriented Architecture” as a design and development approach to fusing Rich Internet Applications and Service Oriented Architecture. SAP development has never looked better.”

A number of our enterprise customers and partners have significant investments and experience in developing complex, mission and business critical systems upon SAP. What we have shown with Hendrix, is how we can realize additional return on these enterprise investments, unlocking further ROI through a design process, and by creating simpler, easier and more effective user experiences that are more useful, more usable and more desirable.

If you’re going to be in or around Palo Alto, I’d love to catch up with you at the event…you can find more details here.

SAP development has never looked better.

Work for Adobe building Great Experiences out of California!

As we build out our capability to deliver innovative, customer-centric experiences with our platform technologies upon our enterprise technologies, we’re creating a Solution Center in our San Jose office. The solution center is an incredible innovation-space, where a team of designers, developers and quality engineers will work together to create incredible experiences alongside Adobe partners, on behalf of some of our most strategic customers.

If you’re a developer, designer or quality engineer that thinks they could be a pivotal part of this initiative, then please check out Peter Martin’s blog post and drop him a note.

Note for Recruiters
Please don’t email me or call me … I’ll set expectation now that I won’t respond. I’m the messenger, not the hiring manager.

Call for Representatives on the Cairngorm Committee

As Alistair just posted, some of the most active Cairngorm contributors within the Adobe Consulting team met for the day on Monday, to discuss our various innovations and thoughts and ideas on how we move the Cairngorm projects towards a Version 3 release.  One of the outcomes of this meeting, was to re-ignite the idea of a Cairngorm committee that draws from Adobe Consulting, customers, partners and community leaders who are actively using Cairngorm to the degree we are, and who can provide counsel in future roadmap, drawing up the final charter for the project, and helping to manage the day to day logistics of running an open-source project.

What we’re looking for is representatives from companies, system integrators, partners, or from individual contractors and consultants who are actively using Cairngorm – on a near daily basis – in their engagements, to join a team of Adobe Consultants.  I’m very excited, as much as anything else, about the opportunity for collaboration this will create between Adobe Consulting and community leaders!

If you think you’d have energy to contribute and value to add to the team, please drop me a personal email to ("Steven").toLowerCase().substr(0,1).concat( ("Webster").toLowerCase(), "@", (("Adobe Systems, Inc.").split(" ", 2))[0]).toLowerCase(), ".com").

If you do manage to parse that above line in a way that a spambot can’t, and drop me an email, then I’d like to hear from you about the number of projects you have deployed using Cairngorm, something about the scale and complexity of these projects, the typical environments (Java, .NET, LiveCycle Data Services, Blaze DS, Data Management Services, etc) your projects are deployed in, the challenges you have faced, the innovations you have made in your own projects around Cairngorm, the number of developers that you have worked with and mentored in using Cairngorm, etc.  I’d also love to hear your thoughts around how you would want to contribute to the project, and the directions you think we can take.

We anticipate a number of different roles for participation, from the committee itself, to commiters, partial committers, etc.

I very much look forward to hearing from you!

(PS.  Alistair and I pair-programmed on the string above.  We also wrote tests, but if I put the tests here then I’d just be putting my email address in the assertion! 

AC@MAX2008 on "Agile Testing of Enterprise RIA with Flex and LiveCycle ES"

Alex Uhlmann (Adobe Consulting, Edinburgh) and Herve Dupriez (Adobe Consulting, London) are teaming up to present on all things related to the unit-testing, test-driven development, test-coverage analysis and optimisation of the kind of "Experiences on both sides of the glass" that we create when we build innovative and complex RIA front-ends in Flex or AIR and sit them upon enterprise architectures implemented in Java and/or LiveCycle ES as a service oriented architecture. 

We’ve been murmuring about a new version of FlexUnit for a while now, but we’re close to rehousing the FlexUnit project as a more active community open-source project; the most major contribution from Adobe Consulting to the project will be a brand new visual test runner implemented in Flex by a number of our user-experience and technical team, that we’ve been using internally on our own projects within Adobe for some time now. 

To the presentation at MAX; starting on the client-side, Alex will be focussing his talk around unit-testing best-practices for Rich Internet Applications.  Alex has been working on some incredibly complex Rich Internet Applications of late, on code-bases that have teams of 20-30 developers in projects measured in years rather than months. As you can only imagine, the complexity of such application demands rigor and discipline around unit-testing, and Alex will be sharing his experience and best-practices.

One such area is having the tooling to help you identify the strength of your test battery; identifying the areas of your application where test-coverage is weak using test coverage tools. Both Alex and Joe Berkowitz had been immersed in parallel efforts creating test coverage tools, recently joining their efforts to contribute to the open-source FlexCover project.  Alex will, I’m sure, be discussing how to leverage FlexCover in your development workflow, including your continuous build workflow, to ensure that you’re testing in all the right places. 

Meanwhile, Herve will be focussing on how we achieve the same level of coverage on the other side of the wire, where ActionScript becomes Java.  For pure-play Java development, the techniques are well understood – LiveCycle ES however offers a rapid development approach to many classes of enteprise application; just because we alleviate the complexity of implementation, the number of things that could possibly break does not change, therefore nor should our diligence around unit and regression testing of our delivered software.

LiveCycle ES allows the encapsulation of business logic into discrete components called DSCs; these are essentially service classes, that are packaged with resource files and component descriptors that allow them to be assembled and debugged graphically in the LiveCycle Workbench ES environment. Just because business logic is being encapsulated in a DSC, doesn’t mean it should become untestable.

LiveCycle Workbench ES allows your custom DSCs to be seamlessly choreographed and orchestrated into complex business processes, leveraging a number of pre-built services alongside other invocation methods out to 3rd party services.  While these orchestrations can be easily exposed to a Flex or AIR application through endpoints that can be invoked through RemoteObject or WebService tags, we should also think about how we create unit and regression test suites for the code that is essentially generated by the orchestration in LiveCycle Designer ES.

As best-practices emerge in how to ensure we are designing-for-test and testing design with LiveCycle ES, Adobe Consulting are keen to share them with the community.

I’ve attended MAX since the day Ely Greenfield stepped up on stage in New Orleans and showed this forthcoming project called Royale (what’s now Flex) to an audience of designers and developers, most of whom hadn’t heard the phrase Rich Internet Application.  That was the same conference where we open-sourced Cairngorm, and it’s amazing to look back over what’s really only a relatively short period of time, to see the kind and complexity of the applications we are building today upon the Flash platform.  Cross-pollenating software engineering best-practices into our enterprise RIA development has never been more important!

I’m confident that in attending this presentation, you’ll have the confidence to attack the most complex of Rich Internet Applications safe in the knowledge that defensive testing strategies can be used across the Adobe platform; and I know that Alex and Herve will do a tremendous job leading this discussion.

Session Details:

Agile Testing of Enterprise RIAs with Flex and LiveCycle ES

Hear how Adobe Consulting delivers complex rich Internet applications built on Flex and LiveCycle ES, while still employing agile engineering methods to assure quality. Learn about testing with FlexUnit; using Code Coverage tools, designing for testing, and improving test coverage; and how to extend these capabilities to unit-test LiveCycle ES applications "behind the glass."
Speakers: Alex Uhlmann, Herve Dupriez
Audience: Architect, Application Developer
Skill: Intermediate
Products: LiveCycle ES, Flex, AIR
Wednesday, November 19, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

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