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FlashForward Austin / Day 1 / Adobe Keynote

The day started off with the Adobe keynote from Kevin Lynch, et al. He gave a great rundown about where the Flex framework is currently - especially Flex Builder 2 and Apollo. Then he turned it over to Mike Downey and Justin Everett-Church who previewed, for the first time, upcoming features in the Flash 9 IDE.

I have yet to work with Flex mainly because I've been overly busy with contract work and none of my clients have a need for Flex apps, but after seeing it in action I am ready to jump right in. I had no idea that Yahoo! Maps is a Flex application (Flex 1). With Flex 2 and FlexBuilder 2, it looks like this technology will really be taking off. I'm not really sure how much use I'd get out of it initially, again because it doesn't suit the needs of the majority of my clients, but I will be experimenting very soon.

I'll write more on Apollo in a bit, but I think this part of the framework excites me the most. The fact that I can make a desktop app in Flash without the need for Screenweaver, SWFStudio, or any other "helper" application is amazing. I think what excites me the most is that I am now empowered to create my own desktop apps -- even the simple little things that would make my day-to-day life that much easier. One great example that was shown today was an on-screen ruler that was semi-transparent and allowed for easy on-screen measuring. This is perfect for interactive design and development.

By far the most exciting part of the keynote was the new Flash 9 IDE features:

+ Native PSD and AI Importing
This is done through an import window which replicates the layers panel in Photoshop. Basically, it allows you to select individual layers and set properties for each layer and/or group you want to import. This means you can choose per layer if you want the text to import as paths, editable, or raster. It also allows you to create movieclips from your layers -- saving you a lot of extra work.

+ Image Compression Engine
The image compression engine in Flash is now the exact same as that in Photoshop. This means that when you import an image into Flash, you'll be able to compress it with the same exact results in PS or Flash. This eliminates the traditional back-and-forth workflow.

+ Designer to Developer Workflow
I think this one impressed me the most. A designer can now create complex timeline animations and when the developer gets the file, they can right-click on the timeline and choose "Export Animation to AS3". This creates all of the Actionscript 3 code needed to _exactly_ replicate the animation. The code is copied into the system clipboard so it can be placed where ever the developer would like. Because it is AS3, the code will also work in Flex - so a designer can work in Flash and then the developer can work soley in Flex. Apparently there is a lot more to come in this area from Adobe, Robert Penner (now working at Adobe), and the rest of the team.

+ Components
Smaller, more skinnable, and usable in both Flash and Flex. My guess is they will rewrite the component architecture once again since the current method can be a bit obtuse and they are really pushing components for use in Flex.

Overall the crowd was very excited with all the new features. I can't wait to see what else Adobe comes up with.

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