Nintendo Wii + Internet Channel + Youtube + Flash Player = All the kitty videos my 2 year old can stand.

All jokes and mathematical equations aside, with the number of Flash video sites out there now and the Nintendo Wii, is IPTV here? Do we have the abilitiy to watch network/broadcast shows? Check. Can you view the latest videos? Check. How about Jon Stewart and Colbert? Check. News? Check. Silly Cartoons? Check. Sportscenter? Check. High Def capabilities? Sort of.

Now with the new Flash Media Media Encoder, we’re even closer. Content should be flyin’ out of the decks now.
What are we missing? DVR capabilties? Do you need em with everything a click away? Am I missing a part of the equation? I know I’m pretty happy with the arrangement I have. Now granted, it’s not Joost or something like that, but hey… content is content.

What is the realized value to your organization/company for you to be Adobe certified?

I have been working with Flash since version 3. My skills have grown with the application, and the things I primarily produce with the tool have grown and changed as well (From simple animations to full blown apps). I haven’t really ever had difficulty finding work related to Flash, even when I was freelancing. I haven’t really ever had difficulty in achieving the project at hand using Flash either (No more than most, of course ;-) ).

All these things considered, I have never been certified in any version of the tool, though I have sometimes contemplated it. I have little doubt I could pass the test with some studying/prep, so uncertainty hasn’t really formed that decision for me. Ultimately it comes back to ROI, I guess… I just haven’t been able to quantify it. Are you certified developers/designers out there reaping the rewards of putting that little badge on your site? Does it add anything to the bottom line of your company that employs you if you aren’t a freelancer?

On that note… the exams up there are currently for the MX2004 family of products, is there a Flash 8 series of exams coming soon? Just in time for the release of Flash 9/CS3 I suppose. I guess the certified professionals out there will need to recertify, does anyone have more info out there to share on that process? Is it $150 again? Is the test given for it the same one as the first timers must take?

This post isn’t meant to belittle anyone or the program itself, or anything like that. I am genuinely interested in learning more about what the Adobe certification program can bring to me, my fellow developers/coworkers and ultimately the company I work for. If you have feedback, please let me know.

And to this I say… “Beeyah!”

Adobe is winning developers and MS is losing them… Ryan Stewart’s article sure makes the future seem bright to me… My company is located in a region where most companies are developing using C#, Java and C++, etc. for their RIA/desktop apps. I see a lot of potential to make inroads using Flex and Apollo.

SIDEBAR: I am really looking forward to dropping Multidmedia’s Zinc. Have I mentioned that lately? Sorry, a little bitter here. Anyone out there using that app? While the capabilities it adds to a Flash projector are really cool, it comes at price. More difficult debugging, versioning issues, etc.

Back to the topic at hand. Being a Mac user, WPE/WPF isn’t really a development option for me… Especially since I’m still on a PPC based Powerbook for my primary machine (I could use bootcamp or Parrellels/VMWare then).

This post over at Robert Scoble’s blog is interesting… just what is Adobe showing next week? Something juicy I bet. Apollo Community Preview (Probably.)? Flash 9/CS3 Release Date (Possibly)? Flex/Flash IDE for Linux (I know that’s crazy – But just think about what that could do for the developer community for one second)? Seems like every chance they get they are stealing MS’s thunder and spoiling the .Net3.0 coming out party.
Very interesting times indeed.

Dx3 Conference In May… Anyone Going?

This Lynda.com Event looks pretty interesting. A broad mix of people from Adobe, Microsoft and other web technology companies and technology advocates (Web Standards and AJAX). I think I’m leaning towards attending this instead of Flash Forward this year. If for no other reason than the broadness and platform agnosticism.

Though I doubt I’ll ever switch from the Flash Platform to developing WPE/WPF multimedia… I would like to get a good idea of what the technology is capable of to see if it takes care of some of my larger pet peeves with Flash player performance and capabilities. The fact that MS is giving away Expression Web Designer there seems like an interesting hook. Perhaps by then we’ll have Flash 9/CS3 and Dreamweaver 9/CS3 in our hands and we’ll definitely have a preview version of Apollo (By the way – I preordered the pocketguide preview book).

I’m really interested in the following sessions:

  1. Beyond Web 2.0Having trouble separating hype from reality? Where is the Web really headed? In this presentation, Jesse James Garrett looks at the deeper trends driving the latest innovations in Web development and considers the broader implications for the skill sets Web teams will need to invest in to successfully leverage emerging Web techniques and technologies.
  2. A Better Way: Agile Software Development - Agile software development aims to reintroduce sanity and common sense into the creation of software (be it software for the desktop, Web, devices, etc.). In this session you’ll learn about agile practices such as Extreme Programming and Scrum, and what agile can do for your organization, your employees, your products, and your clients. You’ll learn how agile can add value, improve communication, allow for rapid correction, and make software development fun again.
  3. Experience by DesignCreating a great experience doesn’t typically happen by accident. Learn some keys to communicating and working with complex technology in a fluid visual environment. A great idea is the best way to start a great project, but how do you transfer that vision through design, development and deployment with all the pitfalls and roadblocks to come? Focus on the strengths and understand the limitations of each phase of the process, and push the boundaries to ultimately deliver a compelling experience. The target will be rich interactive applications, that use both high design, and cutting edge technology.
  4. Designer-Developer Workflow - No description for this yet, but this is an issue I wrestle with all the time. I would like to see some other peoples perspectives on it.
  5. What’s New in Flash Always good to know what’s new on the scene.

With 40+ sessions I’m sure other things will bubble up, too. Really getting psyched for this… It takes place just after my teaching responsibilities at Bradley University end for the semester, too, so getting away will be great at that time of year!

“Curses IE7!”

Nutscrape Splash ScreenThis topic has been beaten to death amongst the web designers by now, and we have already launched a couple other sites since the release of IE7, but damn dude. IE7 really sucks. I don’t have a whole lot of unique or new views on this subject, and I know you all feel my pain; but when you couple a really pixel perfect design with the crazy new array of browsers out there and standards or not… you have browser wars 2007.

Firefox (1.5 and 2, Mac/Windows/Linux), IE6, IE7, Safari, Opera, Wii, Mobile devices… UGH! Just ready to nearly give up… How do you guys out there cope with the inconsistencies, etc?

I’ve been creating webpages since Netscape 2, so I remember the whole IE5 is awesome/Netscape 4.7 sucks argument, and though web standards at least puts a bit of armament on my side, it really hasn’t altered a designer or clients view on what a webpage should be. Sure, you show ‘em some standards based design and they get all gooey when you talk forward compatibility and lowered maintenance costs, but you show em their brand in a standards based format and they get a bit less enthusiastic, “It looks too bloggy, it looks too this, it looks too that.”

Tables and divs aside, what’s a brother to do? ;-) It’s enough to make you want to start slugging in font tags and spacer gifs or create the entire site in Flash. Maybe.

Moving from Flash to Flex: Team Integration and Workflow

I have the Flex Builder Beta on my Mac. I have gone through all the tutorials. The team of developers I work with also have the Beta on the computers and have gone through the tutorials. I have demoed Flex to the Designers I work with and they seem impressed, if only because its seemingly powerful but not overly complex in how using drag and drop components you can quickly build apps that would have taken days in Flash. So basically, we are just waiting for the right job to come to build using Flex. Low risk, flexible timeline, an easy to work with client, etc. We currently don’t have anything like that in the queue right now, but I’m sure in a couple months or less, something will come in, and it’ll be time to give it a spin.

One thing I’m not quite sure about is how to have the UI designer go through the graphic design process with Flex as the final deliverable platform. Flash MX2004 introduced the v2 components, which completely changed how you design commmon UI elements, etc. I had a heck of a time getting my designers to feel comfortable using those components and assist skinning them, making sure they knew the constraints, etc. Finally, at Flash 8, we are regularly reskinning these components and the workflow seems pretty comfortable.

It looks like with Flex and Apollo things are going to be shaken up again. The components and skinning process operate much differently, and the MXML files are not seemingly somewhere you want a designer digging around in. Content/Presentation and logic are separated, which is great from my point of view, but a bit abstract for those coming from a timeline and library type of background. The concept of states and stacks vs. timelines and nested movie clips are just foreign enough to prove to be a bit of a impediment. I am starting to explore information out there on skinning Flex Components, I have played with the new Flex 2 style explorer, and the new (to me anyway) site ScaleNine look to be a cool way to start learning how themes/skins work.

How about developers/teams out there actively working on and designing Flex apps and UIs? Any tips or ideas on team integration? Workflows? Design comps and process? Do you concern yourselves with getting the designers up to speed on how the components work? Or do you just depend on your skills/know how to make whatever your designers think up come to life?

FlashForward Conference in Chicago?

Let me be very clear. I love FlashForward conferences. They are tons of fun and the speakers are always inspirational. The freebies are usually pretty good. The networking is pretty easy with that many like minded individuals. The parties are great.

I attended the first one in San Francisco. Adobe gave out demo/betas of their Flash Killer LiveMotion and free copies of GoLive. The next day Macromedia gave copies of Dreamweaver and Fireworks. It was just too much! Ozmatli played and there was free sushi and booze for everyone… after all this was during the DotCom Boom.
Last year’s event in Seattle was great too. The Brothers Chap were hilarious and there were a lot of jaw dropping talks on the early stages of Apollo and Flex that energized me for 2007.

What I don’t like about them is that there is never one in the Midwest. No Chicago, no Minneapolis,?Ǭ Milwaukee, Indy, etc, anywhere in about 6-8 hour drive for me. Everytime I want to go to one, I have to hop in a plane. While traveling is fun, it would be great to see the Midwest get some love!

I have created a demand for FlashForward at Eventful.com. If you are a member, and interested in getting a FF event in Chicago, go demand it!

What will Dreamweaver 9 (Dreamweaver CS3) bring us?

I have been a Dreamweaver user since version 1.2. My relationship with the app is like a hollywood love affair. Hot and cold. On again, off again. When I first got into the app, I had previously been using SimpleText in Mac OS 7/8 to create simple webpages (lots of frames, yeecchhh.) When the WYSIWYG metaphor came out I was floored. Coming from a design background, this seemed like a panacea. After using it for a few sites, I felt as though my actual knowledge of how HTML worked wasn’t growing, so I gave BBedit a good try. I used that for quite a while.

Shortly after that, Dreamweaver Ultradev 4 came out and I began to dabble with PHP/MySQL… It seemed pretty cool, but by and large I stayed mostly with the text editor I had grown to love. I built a few DB powered sites by hand and then had a couple projects come up that were just too big for me to handle by myself writing PHP by hand. I took the time to learn the Dreamweaver way of server behaviors and felt empowered by what they could do. Around that time I got bit by the standards bug and started excising tables from all of my sites. Dreamweaver MX’s CSS handling was pretty poor around this time, so it was abandoned as an editor for me again.

With MX2004′s and Dreamweaver 8′s new and improved CSS capabilities, I jumped back in and really liked it overall. I wasn’t too sure about how 8 randomly created a few styles called “style1″, etc, but really, it was a serious improvement over the font tags and table soup. Shortly after my honeymoon phase with this a huge shift across the entire industry began. The Web2.0 Ruby On Rails / Open source Framework, AJAX, RIA juggernaut. At work we have been spending our time getting up to speed with Interface/JQuery and CakePHP.

Dreamweaver has all but been abandoned for everything except the narrowest types pages (not too simple, but not too complex). It’s too big and slow for rapid development, too quick and light for serious OOP apps. The inability to truly separate the logic from the markup is just as bad as the font tags of yore for us developers that stride the line between design and development.

In order for me to actively get back into Dreamweaver, I think I really need a few things to happen.

  1. The integration of some AJAX framework – I’m sure it will be Spry, but I don’t know if I’m into Spry. The nonstandards compliant custom attributes and lack of unobtrusiveness seems to fly in the face of just about every conversation I have with clients about what makes good web practices good. Regardless of the framework used, I hope that it behaves much like a marriage of the current server behaviors and the client behaviors pallette.
  2. A solid Javascript debugger integrated into the app – If we are going to build AJAX apps in Dreamweaver, we’ll need a good way to test them, right? Think Firebug, but built into your IDE.
  3. Webservices all over the place – Snap in support for SOAP/XMLRPC and also all the nifty web APIs like FlickR and GoogleMaps, etc would just be hot. Think of all the sweet mashups that would be out there if Adobe gave their creative audience the power to do something cool in this area. Many of the best designers simply can’t code, but with DW doing the heavy lifting, we could get some pretty pretty little apps.
  4. Better WYSIWYG Preview – It would be pretty cool if they took a page from the Apollo team and used a Webkit build to show us what we are working on. The live preview for DW hasn’t been so great since I gave up tables.
  5. Support for / Use of OOP PHP and modular design practices – I have to say, the ability to quickly scaffold an app in Cake or Ruby is damn impressive. How about juicing up the server behaviors in DW to give us something comparable. Reusable code would also be good. I’m sure you’ve noticed Dreamweaver isn’t so bright when you cut the PHP logic out of the page and put it in an include, the behaviors pretty much are guaranteed to break.
  6. Better Flash embedding – I use SWFObject pretty much exclusively. The method for putting SWFs in your page built into Dreamweaver is not what I would call professional at all. No detection, or alternate content. How about building the Flash detection kit into DW?
  7. Mobile Device Support – Smartphones, Wiis, Tablets, etc are just exploding right now… Let’s get a good way to preview the stuff we make in the closest way possible to the devices we are delivering to.
  8. CVS/SVN Integration – I’m not talking about the WebDAV method currently in Dreamweaver. I have some developers that don’t use DW and if DW used a more standard method for integration in a version control system, I would get more traction on using one at work, I’m sure. Add to the fact that some designers won’t use a versioning system unless it’s easy and painless and it seems like a logical choice for DW to pick up some key functionality here.
  9. Speed Speed Speed – I can just write code faster in BBEdit than I can in DW. Period. DW is sluggish oftentimes and I’m not quite sure why. The FTP process is pretty slow, too. Optimization just really hasn’t been happening the last couple of versions that Macromedia put out.
  10. Universal Binary for Macs – Of course this is going to happen.

So where is the public beta for this? Adobe has been very open at labs with all of the other tools and apps coming out these days, but for the #1 web design app on the planet, pure silence. I’ve dug through labs and the forums, can’t find anything… Hmm.

Most all of you who visit here have probably seen this, maybe.

I hang out with a lot of geeks, yeah, you know who you are. This video about the evolution of hypertext and the benefits of sharing information is pretty cool. Kevin had it on his blog, I got forwarded the link in an email or two, and I thought I would post it too, just for the non-geeks that come to visit here. So, enjoy.

Nice work, don’t you think?

An open question on Javascript/AJAX frameworks.

I had a really nice post on Javascript and frameworks going here… really I did. Asking questions about whether people actually surf with Javascript off. Wondering if JQuery or Prototype were being given a free pass about the whole degrading/failing gracefully sort of mindset held by most standards focused designers/developers out there. I did.

Then, Firefox crashed. How did it crash… I went to Digg.com and turned off Javascript with my Web Developer toolbar. Gah.

Anyway, the question is valid. Who has Javascript turned off while surfing? Of course, using custom attributes or some sort of crazy non-standards compliant trickery is not nice. But really, it’s 2007. Can’t we depend on if we send the client a script for media type = screen, can’t we depend that the functions will be executed? Can’t we trust that our cool fades/reveals and asynchronous data requests to XMLRPC / SOAP webservices will work flawlessly? This blog post raises the same questions.

I’m torn. On one hand, yes, I realize that the site you are slaving over needs to at least offer a minimal amount of functionality to all users, script enabled or not, but do we need to provide an equal experience? I sure hope not.

Flash sites exist because they enhance an experience… I think that with these new breed of interactive RIA like sites with AJAX will occupy a similar but equally as important space as these Flash sites. They enhance an application. They make things like a page refresh a bad memory. They produce a more seamless interaction platform. They make people happy while they use your site/application. All of these seem like a win to me.

Wetblankets beware, you will probably have someone in a position above you asking, “Why doesn’t our site have fading menus and sliding windows?”.

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