Final Keynote at 360Flex

Live blogging. As always, please ignore the typos and all mistakes are mine.

Sitting on my chair was an announcement for the Flex Cookbook. The cookbook is a growing resource for Flex questions and answers. Please have a look.

The Keynote:

Ted Patrick introduces Tom Hobbs from Adobe. Tom begins by discussing Designer / Developer workflow in the context of cycle racing. Cycle racing is not a spectator sport. The spectators wait for hours until the cyclists come by and then there is 2 seconds of action. On the projector screen Tom shows an example of the Amgen Tour and we can see a very slick application that follows the racers. The application will let the user select which racer to follow and keeps track of the race progress via maps from Yahoo. Additionally, the app references pictures from Flickr. The application is VERY nice and Tom says the Amgen Tour application was completed by 3 people in 6 weeks. 1 Designer, 1 Programmer and 1 System Architect.

Tom discusses the workflow between each of the three roles. The process is iterative, explorative and a lot of back and forth between principles. It is important to balance the interface and the infrastructure. Tom is explaining the challenges of syncing content from disparate sources and media types into a single real-time application. The application began looking quite simple on the back end and the final result is very involved.

Value = Simplicity + Quality

  • Design for the 80% of users
  • Show only tools needed for the task
  • Do more where you are
  • Let content breathe.

Content

  • Design Content not chrome
  • Express things visually
  • interact deeply with content

Animation

  • Flow orientation and Guide
  • Predictive
  • Task based vs. Tool based
  • Cinematic Transitions
  • Evokes Emotion, Focuses attention

Design as a Whole

  • One person or team should design
  • If features change significantly, the whole must be reconsidered
Personality and Community Rule
  • People and communities want to express themselves
  • Comminity creates better content
  • Users want different things, to use in different ways,
  • Identity and brand matter


Tom exhorts us to "Build to Think" and to not fear iteration in design.

Ted Patrick is now on stage and will talk about Next Flex. He gives the disclaimer that what we will now see might not make it into the final release. Ted stresses the open development process at Adobe and wants us not to get too upset if the final product changes.

One of the goals of the New Flex is to expand the reach of the RIA to include desktop, web and offline applications. Another goal is to make it easier for web and enterprise developers to learn Flex. Adobe wants to invest in the platform to serve the needs of the enterprise and that of the "Flex Ecosystem". Ted continues to stress the open development process and openness to the needs of the community.

The Next Flex will be built on Flash Player 9. ( In a meet the Flex Team session last night, I asked if the level of change from Flex 2 to Flex 3 would mirror the level of change from Flex 1.5 to Flex 2. Thankfully, they said it wouldn't be so dramatic from the coding perspective.)

Ted is now talking about the integration of the CS3 suite. Each of the applications will produce an output suitable for Flex / Apollo applications.

Demo of Fireworks Ted starts of with a Blank Fireworks project. There is a Common Library inside the Fireworks application that contains Flex Components. Ted chooses a panel and resizes it showing how the design scales in accordance with Scale9. Now Ted adds buttons and checkboxes to the panel and exports the whole panel as "MXML and images". The output is images and a working MXML representation of the Panel Ted laid out in Fireworks.

Borneo, the new Flex Data Services. The upcoming release of FDS (soon to be named Live Cycle Data Services) includes Scalability and performance enhancements. Integration with LiveCycle and a vastly improved <mx:Webservice> functionality.

Moxie the new Flex SDK and Builder

  1. Improving the language intelligence in the IDE
  2. Integrated Profiler
  3. Design View Enhancements
  4. Data Integration
  5. Enhanced DataGrid and Lists

As an example, Ted shows an example of an MXML application in the new Moxie IDE. He points out he doesn't like how the developer named the methods. He selects the method and clicks Refactor from the context menu and chooses 'Rename'. The Flex Builder application changed all the instances of the methods in ALL files, not just the one he was currently in. This will work with methods and properties, not sure what else. What a cool feature! Now he shows a Control + G search that will show where an element is used in an application. This search is context aware and if you search for a property, it will only find properties, not similarly named methods.

The talk shifts to the Flex ecosystem. Ted talks about how many companies and entities are involved outside of Adobe.

ESRI created vector based mapping component service. Rather than the normal Mercador projection style maps, the format that shows Greenland as the size of the United States, the ESRI format shown doesn't have the same distortion bias.

Farata Systems created a business intelligence application. The application features a drag and drop custom reporting module with custom filters.

Ted now talks about FlexLib. FlexLib is a GoogleCode based repository for Open Source Flex Components. This project is very new. Expect to see lots more components in the coming weeks. If you have components, you can submit them for inclusion in the FlexLib project.

Now Ted highlights Yahoo. Yahoo has a lot of APIs that can be used inside Flex applications. Ted shows Term extractor. This is an application that will take a term entered by a user and will map relevant other terms. Each term shown will link to other terms and if a term is clicked, another tree will generate. Very interesting application.

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