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Flash Camp Manchester 2010, part 1

KEYNOTE
Adobe Systems

The two Mikes from Adobe give an overview of their current products and future plans- not much I hadn't seen at last months Scotch on the Rocks but in terms of out reach this was a great way for giant-multinational Adobe to connect with the smaller people who use and promote it.
They talked about how there has been a digital explosion across multiple devices, mostly mobile devices, and that this going to continue.
Adobe's job, they said, was to complement systems like Google Analytics; they'll provide hooks in their products that anyone can use, but may then offer a service like Omniture as an 'off the shelf' analytics package if you don't want to use it you don't have to.

By way of a sort of preview of a later talk, Mike gave a brief intro to Catalyst. It was obvious some people still hadn't seen this static-Photoshop to Flex-application converter before, as there were some gasps of excitement around me. I find it kinda odd that with all the 'buzz' around it, videos on the Adobe site etc. people still manage to miss out.
One thing I hadn't noticed before was that Catalyst decides some things for you but not others. For instance when wiring a scroll bar to a panel of text, it seemed to align the bar to the bottom of the scroll panel but didn't auto-align the top. Bit odd.

The other Mike then took over to say that it's not just about the web, or just mobile, it's about a contextual application that can keep your companies brand anywhere.
This means your content needs to rearrange itself, and you can't expect users to have arrow keys etc. Mike was keen to say this applies if your application is  Flash or HTML, native or anything else - the same applies, even though each device has it's own unique experience and limits.

As a sort of final jokey point, it was pointed out that Apple has recently got a lot of press for selling 1 billion dollars worth of apps via it's iPhone application store, but a single Flash (lite) company made 1.5 - in Japan.

 

INTRODUCING THE OPEN SOURCE MEDIA FRAMEWORK
Edwin van Rijkom (Adobe Systems OSMF Team)

Edwin started out by saying there are 300-odd people in the OSMF user group, so although it does have official Adobe backing there is a world wide distributed development model just like Linux has.
We were told a bit about the background to OSMF, and how it grew out of the Adobe Media Player project who saw that everyone was building the same parts of a video distribution framework over and over again.
OSMF is fully free and open source, you can also just download the .swf from their site, drop it onto your page and give it just about any binary format to play - it'll Just Work.

In the background there is quite an elegant architecture. A given thing you want to play is encapsulated by a MediaElement, and MediaElement's have 'traits' that define if they are playable, seekable (images aren't), visible (sound isn't) etc.
The UI classes then only has to know about traits, and is automatically proofed against future formats. Plugins for new formats, when loaded, can register any of the supported traits for the media type they register. You just write a new definition and wait for the next release, or load yours as a binary plugin at run time. You don't get this support with HTML5's VIDEO tag !
It's possible to run MediaElements in serial or parallel to produce things like on screen graphics, a title sequence or adverts that appear between tracks.

As mentioned earlier, there is a pre-built 'Strobe' player for the OSMF, that seems to do everything and it also allows a bit of skinning too. It's open source too, so you can use it as a basis for your own.
The media playback code is a fully cacheable .swz version that's also free if you want to go that route.

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