Adobe MAX Keynote Session Part 2 – The Big Bet on Apollo

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 | Adobe, Technology, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

I am currently sitting in a session on “Building Dashboards with Flex”. Interesting stuff, but to many details for me. So here are more notes on the keynote session this morning.

Kevin is back to discuss how HTML, Flash and PDF come together on the client side, outside of the browser. Yes you have guessed it, time to talk about Apollo. Ed Rowe comes on stage to demonstrate the current status of Apollo. He describes Apollo as a cross OS runtime which enables developers to deliver Rich Internet Applications for the desktop by leveraging existing skill sets in web technologies.
He takes Sho’s browser based Music Player and runs it outside the browser in Apollo. The application can read and write files from the local disk and pull album art from the internet via web services. The cross platform story is critical to Apollo. Ed switches over to a Mac and uses the same application with exactly the same code. Nice!

The Apollo runtime sits on top of the OS (Mac, Windows, Linux in the future) and runs applications developed in Flex or HTML and can also embed PDF files. Ed shows Google Maps in Apollo. It works smooth, proving that Apollo can handle complex Ajax applications. He then brings up contact panel in Flash mashed up with Google Maps. The seamless integration of Flash and HTML rendering including transparency between the layers is impressive. Developer APIs for Apollo will be available both for Flex/Flash as well as for AJAX/JavaScript.

Here is a list of other key Apollo features:
– Local file access
– Online/offline detection
– Drag-and-drop
– Clipboard access
– Backgound windows
and many more…

Ed explained that there will be SDKs to develop Apollo applications similar to the current Flex SDK. Soon you will be able to sign up for Apollo SDK news on

Kevin comes back and shows some early Apollo applications. I was particular impressed by the Ebay client prototype which allows user to manage auctions. Some nice effects in there to browse auction item pictures and create pictures/videos on the fly with a webcam.
Prototype Ebay client based on Adobe Apollo

Another impressive example was a rich text editor and collaboration tool developed in Flex and deployed on Apollo. Other examples included a finance application for mortgage and loans, including PDF forms and an instant messenger for mySpace.
Wow I think I am just seeing the future of desktop applications.

Finally Kevin showed an Internet TV application developed by Adobe as a showcase for Apollo. It is driven by RSS and downloads videos to your desktop so you can watch them when you are offline. It takes advantage of the fullscreen video mode of the Flash Player 9 upgrade, also available on Adobe Labs.

I want it now!

However the biggest news was Adobe’s announcement to create an investment fund for $100 Mio. to invest in companies creating RIA’s and especially Apollo applications.

In the end a brand new Jaguar XK was hauled out, which Kevin cateorized as the largest mobile Flash device in the world. The console of the car is completely based on Flash technology.
Kevin Lynch in the new Jaguar XK with Flash based panel

Live update from MAX Keynote Session Part 1 – It’s all about the Designer – Developer Workflow

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 | Adobe, Technology, Web 2.0 | No Comments

I am sitting here in a crowd of a couple of thousand people enjoying a special performance of the Blue Man Group. It is 8:40am in the morning in Las Vegas and I am at the opening session of the Adobe MAX conference. When I registered last night I got a good amount of conference schwag including the special MAXUP T-Shirt for presenting today in the MAXUP track. I also like the conference bag. Unlike the typical black bags which I tend to leave at the conference, this one is actually cool and I think I can re-use it as a diaper bag :-) I will post a picture later.

Kevin Lynch kicks of the keynote and previews the upcoming Reader 8. Nice effects in there for previewing pages.

Now Shantanu takes over and talks about the Macromedia acquisition. A video of customers talking about their reaction when they learned about the acquisition highlights the excitement about this marriage. Shantanu talks about other milestones this year, including the launch of Flex 2 and Flash Player 9 as well as the announcement of Acrobat 8.

Kevin takes over and talks about Flash Player 9. Just during the last months the upgrade rate to the new player has been faster then for any previous Flash Player release. The Flash Player is really a ubiqutous virtual machine available cross-platform and cross browser. One factor for the dramatic adoption of the new Flash Player version is Flash video which has seen significant adoption over the last year from sites including MySpace, Yahoo, ABC and others. Kevin also mentions that there are now over 200,000,000 PDFs on the web.

Kevin switches gears now and brings a number of people on the stage to demo the improved Designer Developer workflows in upcoming Adobe products. It becomes very clear that Adobe is truly understanding customer needs here and a lot of the new integration features receive applause from the audience.

1st example: Designer developer workflow for HTML website development
– Start with Photoshop
– Add interactivity in Fireworks
– Finish and deploy with Dreamweaver

The website creation workflow starts often in Photoshop and not in Dreamweaver. The presenter highlights improvements in bringing up Photoshop files within Fireworks. He also demos the ability to load multiple Photoshop images into Fireworks and add common elements like a navigation layer on top of the images and then add interactivity to the navigation bar. The result can be saved as HTML. This is a great way to create quick mock-ups which you can share with end-users and clients for feedback. In the next step the project is being opened the in Dreamweaver. A highlight is the new way to copy and paste images from Photoshop to Dreamweaver, which kicks off a workflow which allows the designer to add important web properties like accessibility tags to the image.

Additionally Dreamweaver enables the developer to add AJAX features to the site with the Spry framework. Instead of coding, features like AJAX animations can be configured through wizards in Dreamweaver. The Spry Framework is posted on Adobe Labs.

2nd example: Flash Workflows with Dynamic Media
Again the process starts of in Photoshop. Some of the usability features of a future Photoshop release are being demonstrated. The demonstration on importing a Photoshop .psd file in Flash got a round of applause. The import keeps all layers intact. A lot of nice import features I do not understand, but audience seems to like it 😉 Next step is to use After Effects to apply engaging experiences to Flash. Sample shows how to use a brand new technology called “Puppet Tool” in After Effects and animate a character. Finally some more 3D animation features get added and the result is exported as Flash.

The team also demonstrated a brand new audio application (cannot remember the code name) for creating soundtracks and to incorporate audio into Flash which will be available this week on Adobe Labs.

3rd example: Designer Developer workflow with Flex
Sho Kuwamoto talks about Flex application skinning and using UI components designed with Illustrator in Flex.
He starts in Flex Builder and creates the basic application layout for an iTunes like application with multiple buttons for controlling the music and a datagrid for displaying the songs. In a future version of Illustrator the integration of symbol graphics will be better integrated with Flex. He exports the button images out of Illustrator as .swf. Then he imports the swf’s in Flex and assigns them to the generic buttons using the “Style” functionality.

Switching from the designer to the developers perspective in Flex Builder, Sho now defines the Web Service connectivity for the application. He points out the ease of coding with MXML, code hinting and code highlighting. Sho creates the whole music player application in 10 minutes… on a Mac! Yes, this is not a typo… Later this week Adobe will announce a public beta of Flex Builder for Mac. Cool! One more reason for me to switch to a MacBook.

Ben Forta enters the stage and shows new features in ColdFusion for back-end development and the Flex Builder integration with ColdFusion.

4th example: Electronic Document Workflow
Ben demonstrates PDF functions for electronic document workflow. He starts with a plain non-interactive PDF form document and imports it into the Adobe LiveCycle Designer. The new field recognition wizard in Designer 8 is impressive. Ben shows how to use the Designer to add more interactivity to the form, standard functionality available today. What is new is the cross-over between interactive PDF forms and Flex/Flash applications to interact with data. Seamless integration between a PDF version and a Flex version of the form is being worked on. He also shows the future Guide Designer in the LiveCycle Designer which supports the generation of Flex wizards based on XFA/PDF forms. A lot of exiting stuff which will bring the Flex and LiveCycle world closer together.

Need to catch my next session. More about the keynote later, including Apollo update and the $100,000,000 announcement.

Conference Hopping / Amsterdam – Las Vegas

Monday, October 23rd, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments

I am sitting at the San Jose airport and waiting for my flight to Las Vegas. I actually just returned from the European SAP TechEd on Friday. It was a great event and we had a lot of Adobe related activities. I specifically enjoyed the SAP Developers Network day and showcasing Flex to SAP developers. Enrique Duvos, our European Flex evangelist, helped me with the sessions and I learned some more Flex Tips and Tricks. He also gave me a great presentation highlighting 10 reasons why one should use Flex to create Rich Internet Applications. I uploaded it on Slideshare, but the Adobe Myriad Pro Font got butchered in the process.

BTW Slideshare just opened to the public today (it is still in Beta), so try it out!

I also filmed some of the highlights of SDN day and SAP TechEd, but did not have a chance yet to edit and upload the video. The interest in Adobe technology was overwhelming and our booth was busy 8 hours a day. I had a good meeting with Eddy de Clercq. He created SDN World and we discussed how SDN World could be improved with Flex. I am hoping I can find a Flex engineer at MAX who is interested in this little side project. Talking about MAX, the Adobe customer conference… That’s the reason I am traveling again to Vegas (at least third time this year I think). I am very excited since this is my first MAX conference and people told me it is very energetic and lots of hands-on and ad-hoc techie stuff going on. I am particular interested in all session around Apollo (and obviously Flex). Even as an Adobe employee you sometimes learn more at a conference then back in the office. Next week I am having a workshop with SAP Research around Adobe technologies and MAX will be a good opportunity for me to get an overall update on interesting products and projects.

Also I am presenting at MAX. There will be an invitation only session (Wednesday 10:00 – 11:30am) for Adobe partners to learn more about the strategic partnership between Adobe and SAP and why this is relevant to the larger Adobe ecosystem. I am presenting together with Roman Bukary from SAP. If you are at MAX, work for an Adobe partner, but did not get an invitation please let me know and I will get you one.

I am also doing a cool Flex SAP mash-up demo as part of the MAXUP un-conference. Don’t know my time slot yet, but will update you later. It would be great to meet some readers of my Blog in person. Since I am Vegas regular, I know also a lot of good bars and restaurants :-)

Need to get into the plane now…

Update: My 15 minute presentation slot at MAXUP (5th floor of the conference center) is tomorrow (10/24) at 11:30am.

Book Arts Jam Video

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006 | Adobe, BayArea, Technology, Video | No Comments

While flying to Amsterdam I finally had a chance to play around with the new Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0. My first little project was a Book Arts Jam video. Since I work for Adobe I am obviously biased, but I have to say I was very impressed how easy to use the software is. I have had no previous experience with video editing software and yet it was very easy and fast to create this clip from my recordings, pictures and music.

So here it is. The Book Arts Jam video featuring a demo of the Letterpress printing process.

MAXUP Unconference @ Adobe MAX

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology, Web 2.0 | No Comments

I just learned today that there will be a shadow unconference called MAXUP as part of the Adobe MAX developer conference. That’s excellent! I find these events often more useful then the “real” conference program. The SDN Day as part of SAP TechEd was a good example. Even back in the 90’s when the term “unconference” did not exist I really enjoyed technology discussions and working on ad-hoc projects at hacker meetings like the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.

If there are enough people who are interested I could talk about Flex integration with SAP and do some demos. Well, I hope to see you at MAXUP in Las Vegas (or next week at SDN Day and SAP TechEd in Amsterdam).

P.S.: Funny Fact – Adobe MAX will be my last conference for a while since I expect my first baby around mid of November. It is a boy and his name is Max… and no, this has nothing to do with the conference… What do you think? I am not that crazy… Well I am geeky enough however to have reserved his domain and put up a baby blog.

First Report and Screenshot: Flex2 on Linux

Thursday, October 5th, 2006 | Adobe, Technology, Web 2.0 | No Comments

James Ward, an Adobe Flex evangelist, just posted a first report of his experience running Flex2 applications on the pre-beta Linux Flash player 9. Sounds very exciting and he even has a screenshot. Finally you will be able to write your Rich Internet Application once and run it consistently on Windows, Mac and Linux in IE, Firefox, Mozilla and Safari.

I have been working with JBoss on a Flex based collaboration client and the results have been stunning. It’s beautiful, extremely fast, and as soon as Flash Player 9 on Linux debuts it will work the same on any OS or browser, without any “if IE” workarounds! When Apollo is available this will get even more interesting since we can take the same collaboration client application and run it offline, without the browser! » Blog Archive » Flex 2 Apps on Linux!!!

Henning Kagermann: The future of SAP, Enterprise Software and Heavy Metal

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology | 1 Comment

Great interview from Knowledge@Wharton with SAP’s CEO Henning Kagermann. He discusses how web technologies transform enterprise software, the importance of partnerships, including a discussion about the strategic partnership between SAP and Adobe, and his interest in rock music.

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Slideshare Debuts and Gets TechCrunched

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

Congratulations to my friends Rashmi and Jonathan on officially launching SlideShare and being immediately covered by TechCrunch and others. I have been an early Beta user of SlideShare and was especially intrigued by the ease of use of the service. It allows you to upload PowerPoint presentations, tag and share them with other users, either on the SlideShare site or via your own Website or Blog. In true Web 2.0 fashion Jonathan decided to release early (and hopefully often) so the current functionality provides just the basic features, while I bet that we will see many enhancements based on user feedback over the coming months.

I uploaded my slide deck on “Enhancing the Usability of SAP Applications Using a Rich Client” four days ago and it is right now the most popular deck with 120 views… yeah, my 5 minutes of fame have finally arrived :-) And even better now you can view the slides right here as well…

I think an important decision was to use the Amazon S3 service to handle the storage of the actual content. The instant availability of high bandwidth and storage via web services really changes the game for every company in the Web 2.0 field. Remember your typical Web 2.0 announcements which got covered on TechCrunch or Digged? You try to reach the site/content and it is slow or not available at all due to the spike in demand. With services like S3 this is no longer the case and it gives a start-up the same scalability like Amazon.

I have a couple of enhancement ideas for SlideShare as well…
1) Be able to view/browse slideshows on SlideShare without logging in. Only uploading should require a user account (similar to Flickr)
2) Be able to upload slides with audio and/or add audio to slides using SlideShare
3) Handle animations in the Powerpoint slides
4) There are some font issues which you can see on my slides (e.g. 4 and 5)
5) A lot of people commented that slides cannot be set private to specific user groups. I am personally not very interested in that feature since my slides are used for evangelizing technology and I want to reach as many people as possible.

I have also some related ideas which I am refining right now. But thats something I want to first discuss with Jon over a glass of beer.

Keep up the good work!

SAP TechEd Las Vegas Demo Jam Retrospective or the Demo Super GAU

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology | 1 Comment

Now that I am fully recovered from Las Vegas (yes it took two weeks) and already preparing for SAP TechEd in Amsterdam I wanted to capture my memories from the Demo Jam. As you probably know I participated this year in the SAP TechEd Demo Jam showing how to create an Adobe Flex application and connect it to an SAP backend.

My original idea was to present a Rich Internet Application for a customer support scenario which we already developed with our SI partner company Roundarch. It is pretty cool and shows the web service communication between the Flash front-end and the SAP backend as well as real-time data messaging between multiple clients. Great idea, but didn’t fly with the SAP Demo Gods. They wanted to see live development on stage. Great, so here I had two weeks left to develop a new demo which can be delivered in 6 minutes and includes live development against an SAP backend.

Luckily I have great colleagues who helped me out. Juergen Hauser, who is working in the Adobe SAP partnership team in Walldorf showed me how to create and configure Web Services in our test SAP ABAP server (which is located in Ottawa). Then I worked with Flex evangelist James Ward to create a compelling demo which is simple and short enough to be delivered in 6 minutes.

We finalized the whole project on the morning of Demo Jam day. So obviously when I did the dry run that afternoon with Jeff Word, nothing worked. I know I had it all under control, but Jeff was definitly nervous. I spent the rest of the afternoon practicing all steps and rehearsing the demo. Two hours before the start of the Demo Jam I hooked up my laptop on stage did a couple of more trial runs and everything worked… Yeah! Then the official part began and as presenters we were huddled into the VIP area with Shai and he exchanged some war stories about live demos. Next was a photo shoot of everyone and at that point in time I just wanted to get on stage and get it over with. Well unfortunately my demo was the second to last, so I spent time joking around with Ed and Dan who had the demo slot before me. After what seemed to be an eternity finally it was my time to enter the stage (while Ed and Dan showed of their excellent SAPlink demo). A quick check to see if the computer and network are still up and running… OK! Quick check of the application itself… OK and ready to go. So here was my turn in front of about 1000 attendees. After the introduction from Jeff the clock started (did I mention you have only 6 minutes?) I started the SAP GUI and entered the transaction code “WSADMIN” to call up the Web Service Admin UI. Nothing… Really, here I stand and nothing happens, UI does not come up (it worked just a couple of minutes earlier). Well, I thought now you need to improvise, so lets bring up Flex Builder. Just when I started to talk about Flex Builder (and in the back of my brain tried to figure out how I can build this application without access to the SAP Web Service) hell broke loose on my screen, various pop-up boxes informed me that I lost my VPN and network connection. I was paralyzed. That was the worst case scenario the demo super Super-GAU (a German abbreviation for the largest accident which can be assumed).

Jeff recognized my pain and was kind enough to ask the audience to give me a second chance and have the last demo presenter go first. That gave me exactly 6 minutes to fix my problem. I checked the network cable and general settings… Everything seemed fine, except I had no network connection. The SAP IT guy came to help and saved the day. He noticed that I had both wireless as well as the wired internet connection running. Apparently at the minute I started to demo the wireless connection timed-out for a couple of seconds and my computer got so confused that he refused to connect to the internet at all. After I manually turned of the wireless connection, everything worked again and just in time for my second chance. This time the demo went smooth and the audience went wild (especially after showing them the shark ;-). So believe it or not, but in the end I made second place and was classified as the best recovery every at a Demo Jam. Congratulations out to Ed and Dan who won with their excellent SAPlink tool!

For those of you who missed my performance you have three options:

1) Come to SAP TechEd in Amsterdam, where I will compete again

2) View the recording of the whole event on SDN TV

3) View my ScreenCam recording of the demo which includes some more background about the technology being used

Hope to see some of you in Amsterdam!

Interview with Robert Scoble

Friday, September 22nd, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology | 1 Comment

Sorry for my blog posting pause. I am suffering post TechEd Las Vegas Stress Syndrom… which means I had a pretty bad cold.
I just browsed Flickr and found this great picture of me and Robert. Looking forward to see the full video on very soon.
Also stay tuned for a great story about my participation in the demo jam.
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