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By Gerard Mason
Thanks to Jesse at actionscript.org I am once again attending the WebDU web technology conference in Sydney. I was here in 2008 and was very excited about returning to see and hear from people in the industry about the latest products, techniques and projects currently happening in the field.

I arrived at Star City this morning a little bleary eyed but a quick cup of outrageously strong catering-style coffee gave me the kick in the pants I needed to enjoy the keynote presented by Mike Chambers from Adobe, the chief Evangelist for the Flash Platform. Mike focussed mainly on AIR and web-based Flash and showed us some examples of people doing interesting things with the Flash Platform. Notably, he demoed some Augmented Reality examples using PaperVision 3D and the AR Toolkit (I think). These were real candy-type applications, the kind of thing a company might use as interactive bait to attract people to their site - the GE SmartGrid and another one that lets you create and animate a 3D sasquatch, all online and creating rich experiences using the webcam.

Mike also demoed two projects from the New York Times - the first a photojournalism blog which was a really slick online experience. I wish newspapers in Australia gave this kind of first-class treatment to their photojournalism because it is a really engaging and intuitive way to digest news and events online.  The second a desktop application using AIR called the New York Times Reader, that was basically a digital version of the newspaper that utilised the new text rendering engine in Flash Player 10 to create a better reader experience for the paper than can be represented on the traditional webpage. To complement this, Andrew Spaulding from Adobe demoed an online/desktop app created (by one guy) with Adobe AIR. This was a music service (sponsored by Sony) that used a slick tie-in between the online service and the desktop app by allowing users to buy songs and videos online and have them available for playing on their desktop or in the browser.

These are great demos, however I reckon there is a bit of a problem with the proprietary players being used in the two AIR examples in that, if I get a digital subscription to the NY Times or buy songs and videos from the aforementioned online service, can I view that media on anything else other than the supplied applications? For the newspaper, not so bad because once news is read once, it is rarely revisited (although they do cache it all in the app, which is great). But in the case of the desktop media player, well, I generally consume my music and videos on my laptop using iTunes, and I’m pretty happy with it. Do I really want or need another media player on my computer? I will need to chase down Andrew and find out if those videos and mp3’s are available for use across any app I choose, because for me and suspect a few others, that’s a bit of a deal breaker.

Steven Heintz from Adobe was the third speaker for the keynote (I think this keynote should’ve been credited as being delivered by Adobe, because Mike Chambers was only a small part of the show!) and he gave us a demo and first preview of Flash Catalyst for Windows. It was a slick demo and the workflow for creating interactive experiences quickly from artwork (PS, AI) looked really attractive for lots of users. He showed us how to make an application using just Flash Catalyst with data entered directly into the IDE, and then he also took the same app and hooked up the components to web services using Flash Builder. This would be great for designer friends of mine who would like a better way of creating simple apps from their artwork with a better workflow than is currently available using the Flash IDE and artwork tools, but also allows nerds to get in there and hook up dynamic data if need be. Excellent.

Terry Ryan was the fourth speaker from Adobe, and he was talking about Cold Fusion but I have absolutely no right to comment on that! I know nothing about Cold Fusion, I’ve always been a PHP guy and I’m comfortable with that. Terry mentioned some new features for the upcoming new release of Cold Fusion and a new Eclipse-based IDE called Bolt (those Abode people loves the Eclipse don’t they...) which looked good. Someone behind was gasping like it was 1967 and she had just seen John Lennon every time he mentioned a new feature. I like John Lennon, he is my favorite Beatle. Maybe I should use Cold Fusion...

So that was it for this year’s Keynote. Not quite as spectacular as last year (where they were showing off new apps from the unreleased-at-that-time CS4 package) but still interesting and exciting enough to keep me happy and eager to try some of that stuff out! Alas though, no superhero intros...

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2 Responses to "WebDU 2009 Keynote"

Andrew Muller
said this on 24 May 2009 12:55:26 AM CDT
Hi Gerard, the Bandit desktop app that Andrew Spaulding demoed is a soon to be released application that I'm building for http://www.bandit.fm, a site owned by Sony Music. The mp3s are 320kbps sampled DRM free that you can then use in any player you like, video files are high quality mp4 files.

HTH Andrew

Gerard Mason ( Author/Admin)
said this on 24 May 2009 1:51:42 AM CDT
Hi Andrew,

Thanks for clearing that up. Really liked the look of the experience you've created there, and DRM free is great to hear.



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