central fade?

Macromedia Central seems to have gone quite dark as of late. Perhaps it’s just the blogs that I read but the only real discussions I’ve seen regarding Central in the past month or so have been on its less than promising future. The counter argument seems to run along the lines of it currently being a developer release, and that Central 2.0 will be the turning point. Unfortunately for Central, a number of the blogs I read also come out of Macromedia and they seem to have fallen awfully silent in its regard. Take a look at some of the community resources linked from the Central dev center. Looks like a bit of a ghost town with engineer weblogs last updated in January 2004 and a couple of “a-thread-or-two” forums.

Contrast this with the way the next generation of the Flash player and IDE are being hyped and marketed by Macromedia. They have been incredibly open about where 8ball is headed, (word is it’s now in beta), demoing it at pretty much every MM related event for the past 6 months or so. Can it really be that the entire company is soley focused on this Flash release or that they’ve made some sort of concious decision that any news coming out of Macromedia will only be Flash related?

Disclosure here – I’m a developer and I’ve never built a Central application. If in your view that means I don’t have the cred to comment on it’s future that’s fine with me. Just remember, I am a user as well and this is how I regard the platform. And even more disclosure – I do appreciate the irony of someone who uses Authorware on a daily basis commenting on the “tottering” of a package.

I’ll continue to keep my eye on Central as I feel the concept has potential but at this point expectations are low. I really wouldn’t mind being the one in the dark here.

2 Responses

  1. John Dowdell says:

    February 23, 2005 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Andrew, sorry for my lateness in following-through here (I’m on mobile developer visits in Japan this week)… let me know if the following context is useful, okay?

    Macromedia Central isn’t so much software-in-a-box as a new way for developers to distribute their work (and to get compensated for it! ;-). In retrospect, I would have pushed harder against any “1.0″ moniker which implied otherwise… it’s actually more a capability, a delivery channel, than it is a separate software product.

    One thing that struck me about Central comment was how so many wanted something else, such as “our intranet wants unbranded, remote updates to local applications”. Another big comment was against that “console” type of UI… some would have preferred in-the-desktop-wallpaper UIs, others were looking for irregularly-shaped standalone floating windows, etc.

    Me, lately I’ve been more and more convinced that these concepts of “promiscuous yet safe app use”, “local background agents with notification ability”, “data sharing among applets” may be even more important on pocket devices than on desktop devices. The home-viewing device (TV, PVR) also seems to have greater needs for this than desktops too. That big desktop console doesn’t seem (to me) like the best solution here.

    Also viable is that whole area of “how can a developer get paid for their work?” People on staff to an organization get paid salary for development, but we need to surmount the barriers to independents found in the past: during CD-ROM days indys had to battle for retail shelf space… during WWW days it was easy to distribute web pages but hard to get money (best solution we found there was advertising)… for the field to really flourish it has to become easier for large masses of the public to discover and evaluate useful software tools, and then for developers to get financial feedback for that work, whether for the digital bits, or the ongoing services, or both.

    Whew, lots of typing, but here’s the key, at least for me: The Central initiatives remain valid and necessary, even though the shape of those abilities seem like they must change. I haven’t yet heard of the next round of development in this area, but I feel pretty durn sure that work must be and will be done in this area of safe, savvy application browsers.

    How does my viewpoint seem to you here…?

    tx,
    jd


  2. andrew says:

    February 23, 2005 at 8:43 pm

    John,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I tend to share your views about the requirements Central as an “environment” seeks to address. Particularly the concept of apps that are out there working for (not just with) me. As a barebones example, I have a tough time living without the bloglines notifier extension and all it does is let me know when it finds fresh content in feeds I monitor.

    You can see why I sat up when I first learned of Central. What has me slouching again is the perception that Macromedia has Central doing a slow burn. If this quiet spell is more of a trip to the drawing board then I would hope to hear some “development noise”.

    I appreciate your insight John and you are correct – this is going to come about some time, in some form.

    A.


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