Google Wave Pisses Me Off

The hyptasticness that is Google Wave continues to annoy me as a Flash developer and RIA enthusiast. Now I preface all of this by admitting that I haven’t used it; maybe when I get an invite this thing will be worth all of the finger grease that keyboards have endured as people talk about it. And I’m not saying it’s not impressive; it is. It’s a great demo, it does some very cool stuff. I’m not annoyed at Google Wave, I’m annoyed because everything that people like about that demo was doable 3-5 years ago with Flash. Flash Remoting, Flash Communication Server, and our much better user interface capabilities pretty much could have created Google Wave. Now I understand that there’s some excitement because this is built on open standards with a more open model, but people don’t get excited about standards- they get exited about vision. And that’s what kills me.

I don’t care if you’re a Silverlight developer or a Flash developer; the technology platform you’ve got is years ahead of what Google Wave is built on. Yet with all of our UI prowess, our design sense, and our pure and simple technical superiority with things like real time communication and scalability we haven’t built very much that captures people’s imaginations the way that Google Wave has. I think we lack the vision.

I think it could be argued that in some cases we’re TOO visionary. If someone had actually built Google Wave 3-5 years ago it wouldn’t have made the same impact because people wouldn’t have realized what it meant. In the RIA world we live in the bubble of the future. I genuinely think that most of us look 3-5 years ahead because that’s where our technology puts us. When people don’t get what we’re trying to pitch we just move on to the next thing. Look at Augmented Reality. Possible with Flash for a couple of years now but it’s just starting to get some main stream attention. RIA developers seem permanently entrenched in the Technology Trigger of the Hype Cycle and we don’t seem to be able to follow things through to the Plateau of Productivity.

Part of the Wave hypefest is probably because of the world’s love/hate relationship with Google. When they do something everyone goes nuts and that’s because they really do have the power to change the web. They did it once, they’re big, they’re smart, they can do it again. But there are a lot of smart people in the RIA world. Big companies like Microsoft and Adobe and small ones like Aviary and Picnik. We just don’t seem to encourage the visionary demos, the ones that make people rethink how they’ll communicate and interact. I don’t know if that has to come from the big companies directly or whether it’s something we can encourage startups to do. We don’t have a technology problem; if that was all it took we’d be cranking out Wave-esque demos all the time. We just don’t seem to be able to look at the entire scope of what we’ve been doing for the past couple of years and put it together in a game changing way.

I don’t have a solution, but if you’ve got suggestions, I’m all ears.

Contextual Applications

Following on from my Flash on the Beach session on Contextual App development you can hear some of the ideas and values for products that run everywhere.  I thought I would skim over the first principles of Contextual Apps, which is a term you’ll hear coming out of MAX this year.

So last year we coined the term “multi-screen”, it was used to describe applications that ran on desktop-mobile-TV and the web.  What we learnt is that this is confusing, and for some it alluded to write-once run anywhere.  Over the past months we’ve started to fine tune this idea and build a picture of how applications are experienced, and therefore designed to run on different platforms.  It turns out that screen resolution or by platform design isn’t enough because users have different intentions for each, so “Contextual apps” describes a model where the user, the platform and their location, time etc all play a part in the development of a product.

Screen shot 2009-09-30 at 11.39.14

Context isn’t just about Flash, after all most Flash experiences are within the browser which is a context.  Above you can see the varying interfaces and interaction models used by the New York Times company across platforms, everything from the desktop to mobile, paper to wap and passive to interactive contexts.  Each of these applications is build using the same back-end services and content, but with varying business models.  It’s important to recognize when Advertising is a better business model that subscription, payment is contextual too.

Screen shot 2009-09-30 at 11.37.28

Fanbase is an example that you are probably all familiar with by now from Atlantic Records and AgencyNet.  The desktop application is a fully fledged experience including notifications, chat, audio, video and pictures.  Yet in the mobile and TV versions some of these features were removed because they aren’t relevant for those contexts.  In the Digital Home you are probably more interested in listening to music and watching video, it’s about understanding the passive nature of the big screen.  In fact Fanbase on the desktop also has a button to change the interface into a widgetized view, reflecting the use case where a user wants to work/browse whilst connecting with their favourite artist and fans.

Even the installation is contextual, reflecting not only the application served for installation, but the HTML page used to reach to that consumer.

Screen shot 2009-09-30 at 11.37.02

Here’s a sneak from our Open Screen Project Funded apps from unknown vector. uvlayer is an application that allows a user to manage their favourite content in the cloud.  As a user you can store your photos, favourite videos on youtube and share your content across social media sites.  The mobile version takes the context of the hardware into account, you see mobile phones are about reactive browsing and messaging.  Increasingly however they are about taking photos and videos and using Nokia’s Platform Services this application is capable of uploading images and videos taken on your mobile phone.

Using Flash 10, AIR and Flash Lite 3.1 the team at uvlayer have successfully implemented an incredibly rich experience that runs across platforms, whilst really holding to the context of the application and the user.

Screen shot 2009-09-30 at 11.15.07

You can see some new videos from the Open Screen Project funded applications over at the new Youtube channel.

As always feel free to drop any questions in the comments box..

Need participants for studies about AIR and Flex

Adobe is looking for participants for brief (~1 hour) online work observations/interviews. We’re offering $100 Amazon gift certificates to those selected to help us with these studies.

We’re exploring two areas of Flex and AIR application development:

  • Building AIR applications with Flex that use local files
  • Building AIR applications with Flex that use a database

Here’s the participant criteria for each:

Building AIR applications with Flex that use local files

  • Flex and ActionScript experience
  • New to Adobe AIR (you haven’t built an AIR application) or familiar with AIR but haven’t built an AIR application using local files

Building AIR applications with Flex that use a database

  • Flex and ActionScript experience
  • Experience writing SQL and building an application that uses a database (e.g. a PHP, J2EE, or ASP.NET application that uses a database)
  • New to Adobe AIR (you haven’t built an AIR application) or familiar with AIR but haven’t built an AIR application using a database

If you meet these requirements and would like to participate, please send an email to…

UPDATE 7/21/09– Thanks. We got a fantastic response to this request. Those selected are being contacted this week. We’ll be doing a second round of testing next quarter and we’ll contact those not selected for the first round. Thanks for the support!

The Adobe Flash Platform Documentation team

Introducing the ActionScript 3.0 Reference for the Adobe Flash Platform

We’ve just released a beta version of something that we’re all very excited about – the ActionScript 3.0 Reference for the Adobe Flash Platform. What’s the big deal? It’s all the APIs and core AS3 language stuff in one place. Today, tomorrow, forever. One URL to bookmark. One destination for Flash Player, AIR, ColdFusion, LiveCycle, Flash Professional, and Flex APIs. In addition to that, the content is filterable. You select the APIs you want to see in the reference. You can select APIs by runtime, by product, and by versions.

This is our first beta so we’d appreciate your feedback, particularly in these areas:

  • What do you think of the new structure of the reference? Please compare the experience of accessing all of the products and runtimes in one spot against the experience of using the separate product-specific language references we have published to date.
  • Is the content filtering feature useful? Content filtering lets you see only the products, runtimes, and versions you are interested in.

You can send us your feedback by using the feedback link in the version pod (top right popup in the reference).


The Adobe Flash Platform Documentation teams

Flash Platform Services: Explaining the Distribution service

The Flash Platform is used to create a large amount of applications and content on the Web. One of the challenges that developers face after they have created applications is getting users to notice them and use them. The Distribution service helps solve this problem by providing ways to promote applications and content to users.

In the last few years we have seen a clear shift in how people use the Web – they are spending a lot of their time on social media sites and on mobile devices. The Distribution service was especially designed to promote applications to social media and mobile users.

How do you use the Distribution service?

1. Establish an account
Install the Distribution Manager (available here through the install badge) and login using your Adobe ID. If you don’t have an Adobe ID, create one here.

Find your partner ID in the lower right corner of the Distribution Manager

2. Add sharing to your application
Install the extension for your preferred authoring tool (Flash Professional, Flex Builder 3 or Dreamweaver). It is easy to make your applications sharable by adding the Share menu (tutorials).
Here is an example of a sharable application with the Share menu.

You can share your applications to over 70 destinations including Facebook, MySpace, iGoogle, mobile devices and the desktop. A complete list of the supported destinations is available here. Note that you will have to create native versions of your applications on mobile platforms where Flash is not supported.

3. Manage the application
Approximately 15 minutes after you’ve loaded the Share menu during your application testing, the application will appear in the Distribution Manager. Once your application appears in the Distribution Manager, there are 3 main activities you can perform (tutorials):
a. View the analytics
b. Earn money with your application by opting in to host cross-promotions
c. Assure installs for your application creating a new campaign

Here is a screenshot of the Distribution Manager with some analytics:

Who should use the Distribution service?
The Distribution service is broad enough to be used by anyone who is creating applications targeted towards social and mobile users. Advertisers, publishers and game developers will find the Distribution service particularly attractive.

Advertisers can use the Distribution service as part of an effective, predictable and scalable social media and mobile campaign. Advertisers are finding that branded applications are the most effective ad-unit on social media sites.These applications blend interesting content with an advertising message.

The Distribution service lets advertisers make their branded applications sharable on social, mobile, and desktop destinations. When users on social sites embed them on their pages, they are implicitly endorsing the brand to their friends. Their friends can then take this application and place it on their own pages or send it to their mobile devices. In addition to getting distribution through “earned media,” advertisers can use paid promotions to get guaranteed installs for their applications within the specified timeframe. Advertisers also get persistent real-estate on the user’s page and can push new messages. The Distribution service collects analytics data that advertisers can use to measure the success of their campaign.

With the growth of social media, online publishers have to find ways to go beyond their own web destinations to reach their audience on social networking sites and mobile devices. Publishers are increasingly letting consumers take pieces of their content to their social pages or mobile devices. An effective way of syndicating content is to build widgets and applications.

The Distribution service lets publishers syndicate their applications to more than 70 destinations, including Facebook, MySpace, iGoogle, desktops, and mobile devices. Once a consumer has installed an application on his or her social page or mobile device, the publisher can push new content to the consumer.

These applications often help publishers indirectly monetize the content by driving users back to the main website. To help publishers directly monetize their sharable content, the Distribution service has built in ad hosting. By turning on ad hosting, publishers can make money with their applications.

Game developers
Game developers often distribute their games by listing them on game portals. This approach is effective but can miss the opportunity to get games to users via social networks and on mobile devices.

Game developers can use the Distribution service to make their games sharable distribute them on social media sites, mobile devices, and desktops. The Distribution service also provides ad hosting, which enables game developers to make more money. This ad hosting does not conflict with other advertising in the game, so game developers do not have to remove existing advertising. Finally, game developers can track distribution and engagement and use the data to improve the engagement and viral lift of the game.

Adobe Max online

As most of us know there is no Adobe Max in Europe this year. For the ones not able to go to Los Angeles you can register on Adobe Max online – the keynotes are going to be streamed live. Also you can find here all the registered sessions.
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