past glories

Among the numerous Flash anniversary posts of the past few days I especially enjoyed reading John Dowdell’s reminiscence on the first 10 years of Flash.

One of the anecdotes he shares described Flex as the fulfillment of a quest for an authoring environment that uses XML to natively describe multimedia “experiences” and once again reminded me of what I’m starting to think of as “Authorware’s past glories”. When Authorware 7 was released in 2003 it included functionality that allows one to export (and import) an XML description of Authorware files. (Sadly, it remains just too incomplete to fulfill it’s true potential). Nevertheless, while JD does a good job of connecting the XML dots to Flex it bears noting that Authorware was also a dot on that path.

Authorware, a dot in so many ways.

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Last month Sys-Con Media posted an interesting interview (brace yourself before clicking – ads on that page tend to get in your face) with Adobe General Manager David Mendels. One of the first points David makes addresses a question about “hiccups” during the Adobe acquisition of Macromedia. He does a great job of dismissing the suggestion, mentioning that any hiccups are “internal”. I have no doubt this may be the case from a Flash or Flex perspective however I think that a few Macromedia products and groups actually have stumbled under Adobe’s guidance.

While eLearning wasn’t exactly a primary focus at Macromedia they did have a few of the leading tools for developing learning content (Captivate, Authorware, Director…), people (Tom King) and even an “enterprise solution” (Breeze). Add Flash and Dreamweaver to the mix and they had a reasonable offering for the broad spectrum that is “eLearning”. While some of the tools are becoming long in the tooth and had languished, (to a degree), with small dev teams and little marketing there was also strong community involvement from MM folks. In many cases this was the product developers themselves out in forums and on mailing lists supporting users. Unfortunately, it would seem that has changed under Adobe’s watch. The fact that Adobe recently felt the need to release a set of FAQ documents stating a degree of commitment to the continued development of these tools really makes it apparent. What can be said about the state of your community relations if one the most frequently asked questions about a product is ‘what’s going on’ ?

To be fair to David the interview was focused on his Enterprise and Developer group and most specifically Flex and large scale application development. However, it is worth pointing out that as these large business applications are built, as rich and collaborative as they are, the organizations that own them will be looking for ways to get employees up to speed on ways to use them effectively. This will become even more true as tools like Apollo come about and even further change the way people do their jobs.

As a developer I find it kind of ironic that I’m thinking about this so much. While the development I do is training related, I really consider myself more of a developer who happens to develop training rather than a trainer who develops. Because of that however, I tend to subscribe to mailing lists and read forums / newsgroups where some of the true eLearning thinkers are and from my perspective a good number are becoming increasingly frustrated with Adobe’s apparent neglect of the tools and communities they use.

Now, the good thing about hiccups is that there are a number of simple “cures“…

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macromedia director commitment faq

Adobe’s Tom Higgins is pointing to a new Macromedia Director and Adobe Shockwave Player FAQ on the Adobe website:

Most significant is that Adobe is expecting a new Director release in 2007 and are committed to continued investment and development.

With 14 of the 21 FAQ items dedicated to the Google Toolbar bundled offered with Shockwave Player I wonder if the document would be more aptly named the Macromedia Director, Adobe Shockwave Player and Google Toolbar FAQ.

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watching apollo

The Article I Think I Read
I burned a good hour of time that I didn’t really have today looking for an article that I’m pretty sure I read a few years ago. The way I recall things it was sometime in maybe 2002, the article was published on and it described a fictional “day in the life” in which the principal “character” was helped in their day to day routines by various “intelligent”, occasionally connected devices and software. Things like reading and writing email, buying concert tickets, tracking current events and making social plans all being done while she made her way to the coffee shop, rode a train to the office etc. A vision that’s pretty common today but back when I read this article it all seemed quite revolutionary to me and ever since I’ve been watching for it to become reality.

Did Kevin Read the Article?
In October I was lucky enough to be sitting in the audience during Kevin Lynch’s keynote at Macromedia’s Max when he first talked about “Apollo”. Something tells me Kevin read the article too. Here, go check out the video from that keynote and you’ll see how familiar it sounds. Choose ‘Day One’ > ‘Platform Future’ (3rd thumbnail from the right), then jump ahead to around 1:08:00 (yup, the ability to direct link that would be easier for me too).

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my flash lite in 06 resolution

Yeah, so it’s not really a New Years resolution, but with today’s release of the Flash Lite 2 update for Flash on Adobe Labs I think 2006 is the year I attempt to build a Flash Lite app.

I’ve never really considered trying to develop for devices until now. I actually sat in on one of the Flash Lite sessions at Max this year and while I found it very infomative I can’t say I was eager to jump into Flash Lite development. The old Flash 4 AS syntax of Flash Lite 1.1, the limited data transfer, device inconsistencies, and those crazy memory and filesize constraints all just make it so unattractive. Obviously Flash Lite 2 won’t solve all of these but hopefully it’ll be enough to make things alot less painful. Check out Bill Perry’s Flash Lite 2.0 Preview for a good Breeze presentation on the new features.

There, now I’ve pledged to it. Hopefully this post won’t be haunting me in December…

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