D2WC 2011 – Second Time, Twice as Nice!

I just got back from D2WC, the Design and Development Workflow Conference. It’s hosted in Kansas City by Dee Sadler. This was the second time around for the conference and it didn’t fail to impress me yet again. Dee puts together a well executed conference with a great assortment of speakers. The venue was the Crowne Plaza hotel, conveniently located by the Power and Light District, a virtual cornucopia of bars, restaurants and nightlife spots.

D2WC Logo

I got in to town on Thursday, just before dinnertime. I drove with my friend Matt Forcum, and a new friend, Mark DuBois. Mark is a very knowledgeable web designer and instructor. He is heavily involved with the local community of web designers, and also the community at large. It was great to finally meet him in person.

The first day of the event was kicked off by Adobe’s Paul Trani, Steve Withington from Mura and Mark Drew from Railo. All are good speakers and had good content, but I have to admit I was expecting something less about tools and products and more about state of the industry or a broader topic. Not a slam on any of them per se at all, just a minor programming nit, IMHO. I spoke immediately following the keynote and presented my topic, “Is Mobile for Me, What Skills Do I Need?”, I’m sharing the presentation here, along with some more information on it. I think the reception overall was pretty good and got quite a few questions at the end, so that was great!

Next up was “Developers – The Most Critical Designers on Your Project” by David Ortinau. David’s presentation was well organized and loaded with useful anecdotes anchored around some very well researched quotes and stats. Great content overall and full of useful tips for developers as to why design truly matters and how to begin integrating design practices into your development workflow. I had a chance to talk quite a bit with David at the conference. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work in the future.

We then broke for lunch, with the groups, Mobile, Designers and Developers hitting the road to do a Birds of a Feather talk off site. First event I’ve been to that did that, but I have to admit, I kind of liked it. It was cool to get out of the space for a bit and even though it was hot, stretch our legs. Good conversation, and food, too. Tough to beat.

I had a phone call to make, so, I missed a bit of JP Revel’s talk on JQuery, but when I walked in, it was clear he had hit a nerve…He was getting a lot of questions and there was a conversation going on about what he had presented. Engagement is a good thing in presenting, and it looked like he had it.

Paul Trani, Ben Stucki and Jesse Freeman were some highlights from the rest of the day… All in all a solid way to start off the conference! Since we were in Kansas City, I went to visit one of my favorite breweries, Boulevard Brewing Co. The tour was fantastic, and the tasting room was really nice! They had a test beer there that I hope they add to the Smokestack series, a nice caramel-y Belgian Dubbel called Nommo. After sharing dinner with some of the best and brightest in the Flash and Flex world at Jack Stack, I called it a day. We had a lot to cover the next day after all.

The second day, I started out in Jim Babbage‘s session on Prototyping using Fireworks. Fireworks is one of those tools that I know I should use, but I just can’t seem to get into it. Jim obviously knows it pretty well, so it was cool to see a bit more about what you can do with it. That said, I was looking for a bit more on actual prototyping tips, rather than a how to use Fireworks session. Overall though, good content!

After Jim’s session, it was off tot he 28th floor to see Chris Griffith talk on “Developing Compelling User Interfaces”. He provided a wealth of tips, tricks and user interface conventions you should consider in your next mobile app. Nice rounding out of the concept overall, and the crowd seemed to agree by an large as well.  Chris has been building quite a little app catalog for himself, creating a lot of conference apps for multiple platforms. Very cool work, by the way.

Then, it was back to the LL, developer track to see Aaron Pederson and James Polanco present “Jumping Alligators: The Pitfalls of Project Planning”. This was a great presentation, focusing on the nuts and bolts on how to put together the early planning stages of a medium to large scale development effort. Their deck was awesome by the way, with images taken straight from the Activision classic dash and grab, Pitfall. These two are amongst my favorite presenters to see, I just love their chemistry. Funny, smart guys who really know their stuff. Great topic, shown by people who know what they are talking about. I didn’t get a chance to talk to them about their presentation that much afterward, so I didn’t get to ask them about if they’ve had success in setting up a “discovery phase” project to iron out technical or prototyping issues and get paid for it, rather than cramming it into the estimating portion of selling the work. We got a chance to talk a bit of Drupal, though, so that was cool.

Lunch followed at the Raglan Road Irish pub, with some great conversation about enterprise level Flash and Flex development. It’s conversations like that that make conferences so worthwhile to me. Talking shop in an informal setting, just being open and having a real connection with the others you are with.

Post lunch, I re-caffeinated and headed back to see Seb Lee-Delisle present al-fresco, basically with no deck. He interacted with the crowd, taking a lot of questions and using his twitter stream as a conversation starter. Seb is known by most as a top-notch Flash designer, building games, visualizations and wicked cool particle effects. Seb was mostly talking about his recent forays into HTML5 and JS, so this is a new forum for him and a new creative coding outlet. His work in that space is impressive, and he’s been touring to teach others how to use particles and WebGL in their web design work. Things got a little hot in the room due to the passion about the HTML vs. Flash debate, but overall things stayed very civil and full of insight.

After the Seb show, it it was time to go see Dave Hogue offer his “It’s OK to Throw It Away: Prototypes as a Collaboration Tool” presentation up. Dave is a super sharp user experience designer and project lead, and his expertise is so clear in the way he speaks. He offered up real world examples on how to successfully prototype, not just some canned prefab examples. This was a nice change from a lot of the other presenters showing non-descript tutorial like samples. Good show Dave!

I have to admit it was getting to be a long day, so but I managed to troop on… Headed back up the elevator to go see Rob Rusher present on “Simple and Usable”. He provided some no-nonsense tips on how to remove the non-essentials from your mobile design. No major revelations here, just solid advice from a veteran. Good stuff overall and well worth the time.

That was the final concurrent session, with the finale of the conference taking place downstairs. Tom Green and Jim Babbage hammed it up with plenty of jokes and loud shirts, showing how to take a design from one end of the Creative Suite to the other. Good demo from some peeps that definitely know how to use the products.

The conference closed with some great giveaways and Leif Wells and Mike Labriola just cracking everyone up. All in all another fantastic community created event, all made possible be Dee. Thanks Dee for a great event, you really are a vital part of this community. Thanks for letting me be a part of it!

Piles of New Conferences! Busy summer coming up.

I have 3 events confirmed for June/July!

I’ll be headed to eLearnDevCon in Salt Lake CIty, mLearnCon in San Diego and D2WC in Kansas City!

eLearnDevCon is a first time thing for me, so I’m looking forward to it! I’m giving two sessions over the 3 day event. “Design Approaches for Adapting Content for mLearning” and “Building Mobile Learning With Your Existing eLearning Toolkit“.

The eLearning Guild’s mLearnCon is in it’s second year and it’s shaping up to be a pretty awesome event indeed. I have two concurrent sessions at the event and may likely help out in a panel or two, so it’s going to be very very busy!

D2WC last year was an amazing conference. Great speakers, great town, great community. Dee Sadler did a fantastic job at setting up a fun, approachable event with lots of top tier speakers. Amazing job, really. This year looks to be even better. More sessions, a track on mobile… wow.

I hope to blog more extensively on all of these, but I thought I needed at least a starter post on here about the activities!

Building Mobile Learning with your Existing eLearning Toolkit – Adobe CS5

Chad Udell Presents at Max 2010

As promised in the session at Max, here is the content… My slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below:

Here is the video and audio recording of the session from Max as well. I would appreciate you visit the page at Adobe TV and rate the presentation if you have time!

I have also shared all of the code from the presentation as well. You can down;load starter projects complete with basic packager scripts for iOS and AIR here. Please note that you WILL need to generate certificates to run these examples out. To create the iOS apps, you also need to be a member of the Apple iOS developer program. The packager scripts were created based on some help from Christian Cantrell’s posts. I also added a folder of bookmarks in the Zip that may help you along the path of creating mobile learning using Captivate and the rest of the eLearning Suite tools.

Thanks so much for coming to my session. Please, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. And, of course as mentioned in my session… If you want mobile tools added to the eLearning suite, you NEED to let Adobe know. Contact the evangelists, let the product teams know. There REALLY isn’t a clear way to get to mobile from the eLearning suite. You can do it, but it’s pretty convoluted. Let’s get that fixed for the next product cycle.

P.S. Thanks for the opportunity come and speak Adobe, and thanks Kevin Hoyt for managing the process for me. IT was a blast!

Max 2010 – Year of the Devices

Just got back from LA. And yet another very successful Adobe MAX conference completed.

This year had a distinct theme – devices. From the free devices handed out to attendees, to the devices in the keynote, to the devices shown on the floor of the community pavilion, it’s clear that Adobe is very intent on getting their content production tools’ output on as many formats and platforms as possible.

AIR for Android, AIR on TV, Google TV, Flash Player on Mobile… Wow. The digital Publishing Platform alone is a huge step forward for publications looking to expand their reach to devices where they previously hadn’t been able to target. Pretty amazing overall, really. While some of the technology is probably still a ways off, such as the Mobile jQuery extensions for Dreamweaver (which John Resig helped to announce), there are other things like Flex Hero, with support for Mobile Development, are basically here (though in a Beta form). It’s exciting indeed.

Check out my photos from the event (shot on my spiffy new Canon S90)

The keynotes got mixed reviews from a lot of the attendees, and most all the people I track on Twitter that weren’t at the event were handily panning the skits and overall presentations given. Honestly, while yes there some dry spots (the Omniture skit spoofing Jim Kramer was terrible) and there were a couple minor technology issues (Epix’s video demo failed), I enjoyed them. I really though that Martha Stewart’s appearance, the BlackBerry Playbook demo and the mind blowing High Performance Flash player demos of 4k video and StageVideo, and MoleHill were just awesome.

One thing I noticed… The show’s opening with Joa and Natzke jamming some sick visualizations to a live AudioTool performance showed just how tough of a audience Adobe has to please… Here, I thought it was awesome and so did a lot of designers that I follow on Twitter. On the flipside… There were a ton of really smart and well known developers totally slamming it. WTF? It just highlights the heterogeneous nature of the Adobe customer base. You have creatives used to making beautiful or fun stuff with CS products and then you have these computer scientist developer types using Flex, LiveCycle and Coldfusion that just don’t care about that side of Adobe at all. One has to think that maybe Adobe needs to think a bit harder about what they want to be when they grow up… Or at least get the kids on each side of the fence to get along better. I stride the line between the two camps, so I love the creative mind blowing visuals and the whiz bang tech demos. Not everyone agrees.

Beyond the keynote announcements, there was some awesome labs sessions and concurrent presentations (my own presentation on Mobile Learning included. ;-) ). I really enjoyed Nate Beck’s multiplayer gaming session and the other labs I attended on both P2P and RTMFP and the other on the OSMF platform were both really enlightening. I attended a session on the Adobe InMarket service… and while it looks like it could be good eventually, it looks like it is a ways off for being flexible or powerful enough to warrant the effort. A lack of a public roadmap for the project could be a major turn-off for most app developers. How can you pin a business plan on a beta product?

The sneak peeks were great as always. Again Flash player improvements abounded as well as some super cool Flash player performance testing tools and output paths to HTML5 definitely caught my attention. The Coldfusion sneeks were pretty snoozeworthy to me, but I’m not much into that tech in general as it is. The real star of the sneak session was William Shatner though. Obviously oblivious to the bulk of the tech shown in the demos, he absolutely kept everyone entertained with a pile of jokes and incredulous responses to the advanced stuff on the screen behind him. Tons of fun.

The MAX bash was a great affair, with good food, entertainment (including some crazy dancing scantily clad snake lady, living statues, celeb look-alikes and a chain saw juggler), and the headliner “The Bravery”. A nice addition to the party, The Bravery put a good show on!

My session went well. I had about 60 attendees and ended up with a decent, though not superb rating. My topic, “Creating Mobile Learning with Your eLearning Toolkit” is an interesting one, mainly because it’s pretty much totally new to the Adobe crowd. The recently released eLearning Suite 2 doesn’t actually ship with a way to target mobile right out of the box, so it’s a little bit of a stretch for a lot of rapid eLearning tool users like people that use Captivate daily to entertain firing up a command line tool to package up the materials for AIR for Android or the iOS packager. I hope to release the deck and the demos files here soon, so please come back to get those here.

After all is said and done, though, the best thing was seeing so many friends from the community. Chatting with awesome people like Jesse Freeman, Elad Elrom, Michael Labriola, Aaron Pederson, Leif Weils, Stacey Mulcahy, Scott Janousek, Zach Stepek, Chris Girffith, Ben Stucki, Brian Rinaldi, Andy Mathews and so many more really made the time a lot of fun. I finally met a lot of people in the community that I follow on Twitter like James Ward, Rob Huddleston and Russ Ferguson and was reunited with a former classmate of mine from Bradley, the humble Flash platform genius, Dave Knape. Honestly, talking and connecting with so many smart, fun, and engaging people in a cool setting with so much going on is really the reason to go to these conferences. I get so much out of hearing their stories and experiences and sharing mine, too. These interactions are far more educational than any labs, really. Can’t wait to seem ‘em all again.

So what’s next for Adobe? Hopefully some great success for this year across devices and more OSes… For now, I’m recuperating and then starting to plan out what to build on my new Droid 2 and Google TV. Maybe some mashups or apps are in order… Choices, choices, choices.

D2WC, it’s a Wrap!

What a great conference. Excellent Sessions, a nice venue, and a great city. I enoyed meeting a few people for the first time and seeing some old friends, too. Dee put together an awesome event. Many thanks to her, and to my coworkers, Matt and Heather for making the long trip with me.

I’ve uploaded my slides from my presentation to SlideShare. You can view them here.

There are a number of event summaries popping up on the web, so be sure to view ‘em. I really liked seeing the Workflow Lab team in action and thoroughly enjoyed Seb’s two presentations as well. Chris Griffith got the attendees up to speed on mobile and Ben Stucki gave a mind opening presentation as well.

All in all, it was a fantastic event, and one that I hope continues next year as well!

The image of me presenting was originally uploaded by aaronjped to flickr. I enjoyed meeting you Aaron!

D2WC is fast approaching… A great conference for a great price!

From the site:

Kansas City’s first Designer/Developer Workflow Conference. June 19-20 in downtown Kansas City, MO near the Power & Light District. We have some of the best speakers both locally and internationally coming to talk on all things workflow. If you are a designer, developer or both, this conference is for you.

The speaker list is great, the organizer, Dee Sadler is a pillar of the Adobe community and the venue look pretty fantastic. What else can you ask for? Oh yeah, the price is amazing! Only $225.00! (I might know of a discount code or two, as well. Contact me for a an even lower price)

I’ll be there speaking on Designer/Developer collaboration… “Developers are from Mars, Designers are from Venus“. Don’t miss it!

Hacking Robots for Fun and Profit

Just got back from the Flash and the City conference in NYC. The conference was a smashing success! It sold out, and people were really impressed as far as I can tell based on the discussions on Twitter and at the actual show. Elad, Jesse, Kevin, and Jose all have a lot to be proud of. As I mentioned in my presentation, I would share my deck and the source code… and so, here you go.

If you want the source code, mosey on over to Erik Peterson’s blog, Electric Pineapple.

Making the most of your toy robot (Part 1 of 4) – Custom hardware controls
Making the most of your toy robot (Part 2 of 4) – Object Detection
Making the most of your toy robot (Part 3 of 4) – Processing the video stream in Flash
Making the most of your toy robot (Part 4 of 4) – Docks and Beacons

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many great people in the Flash scene. It was pretty cool finally putting faces with the Twitter handles! Hey… and please go to the Adler planetarium and go check out the exhibit!

It’s Going To Be A Blast… FATC! Flash and The City Is Almost Here

Our Speaker List is Better than Your Speaker List

Seldom has a list of speakers this good been put together. Register for Flash And The City and come bask in the SWFfy goodness…

On the move. Headed to mLearnCon in June. San Diego, here I come!

A brand spanking new conference put on by the eLearning Guild, mLearnCon is set to happen in San Diego in June. I just got heads up that my session was accepted, so expect to see me there. I’m totally psyched top be a part of this groundbreaking event. It’s is the first mLearning event of this scale that I have heard of, so I’m expecting a lot. I have been to several eLearning Guild events and been part of the organization for a couple years now, so I know that they put awesome happenings together. From their site:

This event focuses on every aspect of mobile learning including management strategies, platforms (SmartPhones, PDAs, iPods, Tablets, etc), operating systems (Android, BlackBerry, iPhone OS X, Palm, Symbian, Windows Mobile, etc.), authoring tools and technologies, content design & development, and best practices. Whether you are working in academic, corporate, government, or military settings … mLearnCon will give you the ideas, information and community your organization needs to succeed.

I’ll be presenting on “Building m-Learning With Your Existing Toolkit”. The session will be focused on providing you, as the mLearning designer and developer, creative ideas to leverage things you already know about media production and interactive design and development in creating mLearning. Many professionals get hung up on the idea that everything has to be an active application to make use of the device or be perceived as being fully functional. I have some great examples, some information to share and code snippets to show that will change the way you think about mobile development.

You should really consider registering for this one. It’s going to be amazing. The keynotes are brilliant, there are Pre-conference Certificate Programs, and hey… it is in San Diego.

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