Tuesday, April 5, 2011

for Flash digital creators -did you visit FITC? April 4th


by Peter Buth (UI Architect)

What started out as Canada’s Flash event about 9 years ago has become a world-wide event around Flash and related design technologies with around 50 events so far.


For the 4th time FITC (abbreviation comes from its origin title “Flash In The Canada”) is also held in Europe, namely Amsterdam. All kinds of Digital Creators meet here to learn about new technologies and to get inspired. This year’s FITC Amsterdam took place March 8th and 9th plus option for an additional full day workshop on March 7th. About 350 participants took the chance to meet each other - some maybe merely came for the 2 evening parties...

Flash Developer Evangelist Paul Trani and Flash Senior Product Manager Tom Barclay (both Adobe) presented a lot of hot stuff around what's up and coming to the Flash Platform. "Flash on devices" was the name of the ~6 h workshop showing how to design for multiple screens - meaning for different screen resolutions and even different platforms.
One part of it was Adobe AIR 2.6 for Android, which was just recently released for Froyo, Gingerbread and Honeycomb. Besides some performance improvements related to scrolling, H.264 video and GPU accelerated animations also additional Android gestures, Bitmap Capture for StageWebView and support for iOS/iPad have been added, just to name a few enhancements. [Now even AIR 2.7 beta is available]

The second FITC day started with "HTMLArraaagh!" presentation by Doug Winnie (Principle Product Manager, Interactive Design, Adobe).
Recognizing that there is a shift in mobile technology towards HTML 5 & CSS3 he recently started to experiment with HTML5 which is often used as an acronym for using a bunch of new technologies like HTML5 Canvas (originally from Apple for dashboard widgets), CSS3 (especially Transitions, Transforms, Animations) and JavaScript. As mobile browsers already now quite well support them "they will be an important part of tablet and mobile web design today and in the future."
Adobe is also investing in new HTML5-related tools – see e.g. the Wallyby tool on Adobe Labs.
When talking about games Flash technology is a key player: Many know Flash based games like Farmville by Zynga. More than 65 million daily users on the Zynga gaming platform - with 14 million Farmville users per day - that's really impressive!
With 3D in Flash games it's getting even more impressive - currently many developed using Papervision3D. But there is more: Away3D (recently 4.0 alpha announced), Sophie 3D, CopperCube, Flare3D - just to name a few tools and engines.
Just recently Adobe also made a preview of "Molehill" available on Adobe Labs which is a bunch of low-level 3D APIs for Flash and AIR that use GPU-acceleration. Molehill shall be released within this year!

A separate session with Andrew Shorten (Senior Product Manager for Flash Builder) and Deepa Subramaniam (Senior Product Manager for the Flex SDK) was dedicated to the new and upcoming features in the Flex framework, the Flash Builder as well as the Flash Catalyst tool also enhancing the designer-developer workflow. Now also rapidly building RIAs for mobile devices – either using Flash Player or AIR runtime – will be better supported e.g. by offering special templates for mobile. Same as with the latest AIR release also Flash Player 10.3 comes with a lot of performance optimizations for iOS and Android platform.

Another device that Flash tools can be used to develop for is the BlackBerry Playbook - the 7" tablet device RIM announced last fall. As it's not yet available I chose to get first hand information by attend the session about "Building BlackBerry PlayBook Applications with Adobe AIR" by Sanyu Kiruluta (Team Lead for Developer Relations, EMEA at Research In Motion).
Taking into account the BlackBerry community with more than 55 million global subscribers and 300.000 registered developers (as of October 2010; mainly Java, some for web development) it seem sensible to also take BlackBerry devices into account when developing mobile applications.

The PlayBook uses a Webkit browser and fully supports Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.5. Besides HTML5 Audio and Video also Adobe Flash Stage Video as well as SQLite can be used.
RIM offers the BlackBerry® Tablet OS SDK for Adobe® AIR® as well as the Playbook Simulator and a lot of documentation for free.
Interested in developing for the PlayBook? Then go ahead and download the tools. I already did.

If you like to read even more – e.g. about multiscreen development – the entire report can be found here: http://www.teleca.com/FITC


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