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The recent Adobe happenings and some projections

Yes, I have been away for blogging for quite sometime now and my apologies for the same. The last few months have been quite happening with new launches of innovative products by some companies like Adobe and some new events and work at an induvidual front as well. Now that I got a little bit of time, I thought I would post a recap and my perspective of it.

Flash 11 and Adobe AIR 3 is on its way. Molehill will be present full-on in this release. Also coming is Captive runtime for AIR, meaning you can package the runtime along with the app and users don’t have to download AIR separately before installing the app. There are some other cool features in this release as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With respect to Adobe, we saw the launch of Adobe Muse(codename). For those who missed it, it is a tool for interaction and experience designers and artists to create highly interactive webpages with no programming. It runs on Adobe AIR technology and from its early impressions, it is likely to mature or get integrated into a big software like Adobe Dreamweaver. Why is it amazing ? Cuz you only need a design or aesthetic sense to create rich webpages and don’t have to know jQuery, or <html> tags. You simply design on a canvas and it gets reflected into a website.

Another fascinating tool that has garnered some early interest is Adobe Edge, that makes animating HTML components or elements easy. In the dawn of HTML5, it is important it’s learning or adoption is smooth. I would say, this is Adobe’s yet another attempt in capturing the supply chain. The idea was very simple, if HTML5 was gonna make animations, transitions smoother, then it also has to be simple for designers to create those rich animations. It was pretty much the premise in which Flash started gaining momentum. Good designs can be planned and improvised only on a canvas and not from a HTML or text editor. So, Adobe Edge provides a canvas for animation which gets translated into HTML5 codes, making life the way it is meant to be for designers.

Seeing such tools emerge, I think interaction designers are gonna be key players in moulding tomorrow’s internet media future. As things evolve, my prediction is that there will only be two major kinds of techies in internet companies – interaction designers (who do all the art/design and basic interaction level coding) and back-end developers (those responsible for data engineering behind the scenes). My argument is that if more and more code components and tools/frameworks( like ones mentioned above) are readily available to make apps/websites quickly and easily, then the work of a front end UI programmer is gonna diminish slowly. With people advocating MVC programming, interaction designers don’t have to bother about data, their schema etc. All they need to do is make sure they have space(real estate) and navigation modes(scrolling and moving between) through that data.

What about HTML5 and Flash ? Yes it’s a hot question. With Flash now available as a tool to develop for iPhone/iPad, does it mark its dominance again ? Not necessarily, because it is not available on the browser yet. Consumers or developers don’t know if the app is running off Flash(translated objective-C bytecode) or native code. With the absence of Flash for 3-4 years on mobile platforms, developers have to an extent learnt to live life the hard way, writing native code. And the huge base of 4 million and 2.5 million apps and games on iOS and Android devices are an evidence to that. On the contrary however, we have seen Flash/Flex apps (like Politifact or Machinatum) top the charts of AppStore. Hence, we are getting positive response for using Flash to develop engaging mobile content. However, on the broader context Flash is beginning to disappear. I even heard recently that Slideshare adopted HTML5 leaving behind Flash. Microsoft (announced during showcase of Windows 8) that only a very small percentage of popular websites have Flash content (other than ads). Slowly, we should begin to accept that HTML5 will be the medium of delivery of advertisements on the internet. Adobe has also understood that and pushing its bet on Rich media applications like 1024px Video rendering, extensive use of GPU rendering for improved performance and 3D content as well. Hence we are seeing a shift in roles, the laggard HTML has caught up with Flash Player of ,say early 2000s.

AS3 Chrome Extension

Most of us being Actionscript 3 or Flex developers, very often require quick access to adobe documentation. After CS4, the docs don’t come along with the IDE. Although some of the reference can be obtained from intellisense and code hinting, very often I am in real need for complete docs. Today I was suggested by my friend about AS3.0 Chrome Extension. It caches all as3 classes the first time (first time alone it performs index retrieval and takes two or three seconds), and after that you get search suggestions of the classes you type in no time. It is very handy and I would recommend it to all AS3/ Flex devs.

Install it from Chrome Store.

AIR 2.6 Launched

Repost from the Adobe Blog,

Adobe is pleased to announce the availability of the Adobe® AIR® 2.6 SDK and AIR® 2.6 desktop runtimes for Windows, Mac and Linux. With AIR 2.6, AIR achieves feature parity for Android and iOS platforms. This new release provides significant improvements for iOS app development as well as updates for Android and desktop app development.”

Here are the updates:

iOS:

  • Updated AIR for iOS support with improved performance. Developers can take advantage of new features in iOS 4 like multitasking, Retina display for higher screen resolutions, and front and back camera support. Developers can now build application that capture audio with the microphone and take advantage of the same graphics hardware method used in AIR for Android using OpenGL ES2 for fast graphics.
  • Packager for iPhone (PFI) is now replaced with and the functionality integrated with AIR Developer Tool (ADT) a comand line tool for compiling application in the AIR SDK. ADT can now be used to package AIR files, native desktop installers, AIR applications for Android and iOS.

Android:

  • Submit apps to be included in the Amazon Appstore for Android when the store launches.  Companies now have an additional distribution option with one of the largest online shopping destinations on the web.
  • USB debugging was added as an additional debugging option to WiFi.

Security Analysis Of Flash Applications..!!

While my primary involvement at Adobe happens to be around the ActionScript language, I also have some background in security, and recently I have been thinking about channeling some of that into designing and implementing tools for secure programming in ActionScript. ActionScript programs are compiled to run as Flash applications (on the web) or as AIR applications (on the personal computer / mobile device); as such, they are run on platforms with security models, and their security on those platforms is controlled by various security mechanisms, both at the language-level as well as at the platform-level. (More here.(Adobe blogs)….>)

Facebook Graph API Development with Flash: Beginner’s Guide’s by Michael James Williams

Facebook Graph API Development with Flash: Beginner’s Guides by Michael James Williams, his twitter ID:@MichaelJW (Published by Packt Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-849690-74-4, with TOC and Index) is a surprisingly comprehensive how-to book that should be on the book shelf of all levels of flash Developers, especially those who starting to work on Facebook API Development with Flash.

This work includes some of the topics that are covered in “Accessing the Graph API through a Browser,” traversing the Graph and other instances. But it goes well beyond that. Although I’ve been in writing my tutes in several flash websites for long time, I was delightfully surprised to read about some interesting topics that are rarely talked about in books of this kind.  In Chapter 5: Search Me; in Chapter 6: Adding to the Graph; quite interestingly in Chapter 7: FQL Matters (Yes, it is FQL, Facebook’s version of the database language SQL) and a lot more.

The scope and quality of this book is no doubt directly related to the excellent credentials of its author. Michael James Williams is a technical concept writer and freelance Flash developer. He is the technical editor for the tutorial website “Activetuts+” and also runs his own blog about Flash game development. He currently lives in England, in a nice little town that has both a river and a canal. As per his say, he has been using Facebook since it was just some site that his American housemate wouldn’t stop talking about.

His method of delivery is to introduce the main idea, the concept of a writing category, and then take the structural components of the document in question and explain each action component in detail. We can feel the patient hand of a well-seasoned developer leading the reader chapter by chapter towards knowing in detail.

For example, before explaining the individual components of this book (Abstract, Introduction, Body, Conclusion, pop quiz), the author first explain the major steps involved in approaching and researching. Much forethought and planning went into the preparation of this 324 pp. Beginner’s Guide, obviously.

Those who’d like to do some developing Facebook apps in Flash will be delighted by the chapter 6 devoted to “Adding to the Graph.” I found the list of topics of “Putting it online” on p. 265 very useful too.

Every chapter is capped by “Topics” section, which presents many visual elements that the reader/student is asked to cope with by coming up with the correct solution, as explained within the chapter.

The book is so thorough that even topics such as how to use Facebook features, what’s that got to do with the Graph API, and the basic rules of Facebook’s security restrictions and its access are also covered. Oh, let’s also not forget the delightful support of Packt Publication and others that adds a welcome light touch to this serious volume.

Highly recommended e-book for anyone who works or intends to work on Facebook applications as well as those learning in a classroom settings.

 

Playbook offer extended

This morning I received a note saying the free Playbook offer has been extended until March 15th. Read the amended terms and conditions page, from Blackberry site.

So there is more opportunity for Adobe Flash / AIR developers.

Google Now, Enhancing SWF Indexing..!!

This is amazing news indeed. Its has been feature talk with many of clients and colleagues all long for many years.

Currently almost any text a user can see as they interact with a SWF file on your site can be indexed by Googlebot and used to generate a snippet or match query terms in Google searches. Additionally, Googlebot can also discover URLs in SWF files and follow those links, so if your SWF content contains links to pages inside your website, Google may be able to crawl and index those pages as well.

Yesterday, Google announced that they have now expanded their SWF indexing capabilities

Last month we expanded our SWF indexing capabilities thanks to our continued collaboration with Adobe and a new library that is more robust and compatible with features supported by Flash Player 10.1. Additionally, thanks to improvements in the way we handle JavaScript, we are also now significantly better at recognizing and indexing sites that use JavaScript to embed SWF content. Finally, we have made improvements in our video indexing technology, resulting in better detection of when a page has a video and better extraction of metadata such as alternate thumbnails from Flash technology based videos. All in all, our SWF indexing technology now allows us to see content from SWF files on hundreds of millions of pages across the web.

Read the full blog post on the Google Webmaster Central blog.

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