Speaking at MAX 2007, Building software people use with Flash and Flex

I’ll be speaking at this year’s MAX conference, but this year is a little different. Adobe this year has introduced a new track called the “inspire” track and I will be speaking on the “Building software people use with Flash and Flex”. A session that will highlight our experience over the past years of developing software products and how Flash and more recently Flex has helped our products. In the session I will showcase some of our work, talk about the process behind them, and touch upon some of the technical details.

Here’s the official session description:

One of the biggest challenges in software is user adoption. Building software in some ways is easy, actually developing software people use is a challenge. In this session Chafic will review the history of Atellis products where Flash and Flex played a key part in driving user adoption, including SimCenter, a product responsible for testing 25% of medical students in the nation, and SimCube a product just launched that is already revolutionizing student learning.

There’s also something else about this year’s MAX that has me excited more than usual. MAX has always been a great event, but typically it didn’t have a large presense from the community. Often community members didn’t even attend MAX or see a reason to. This year is different. With Ted (and I’m sure the help of others who I don’t know about inside Adobe), this year’s event showcases the community better than ever before. If you are attending I would also recommend you take a look at the sessions from Grant, Erik, Aral, and John.

Finally, if you haven’t registered, now is probably a good time. Early registeration ends on the 10th: register here

TED 2007 Wrap-Up

Every year a 1000 brilliant people get together in Monterey at TED. It’s hard to explain what TED is about, the website has some details, David Pogue good video coverage, and well you will find many places online that try to explain what it is about. For me, TED as someone said, is a chance for me to take a few days off and go back to college once a year. Not only are the speakers stellar, but all the attendees can all be speakers as well, which makes for an awesome event.

One thing I really enjoy about this event is how there isn’t a single narrow theme. I attend and speak at a many conferences, and most of them tend to be pretty focused (which is the way it usually should be), but with TED the focus isn’t a single technology or theme. It is basically focused on gathering really smart people from any background that can related to Technology, Entertainment, and Design (hence the name TED). All the speakers were great this year. I would say the speaker lineup was even better than last year.

One speaker that I really enjoyed is James Nachtwey. He’s a photojournalist with an amazing history and was truly an inspiration. For those who know me, I have enjoyed photography since being a kid and even considered doing it as a full time career. James is truly an inspiration and it was a great pleasure seeing him speak. You can see his presentation online at the TED blog. Another presenter that I enjoyed was Vilayanur Ramachandran, a neurologist who’s approach to solving syndromes such as phantom limbs are truly ingenious. His research in the field resulted in the mirror box , which not only helps alleviate the pain, but is practical and cheap as well. It truly is great to see that in this day and age, a solution to a problem doesn’t have to be so complicated. I believe in simple solutions to problems and Vilayanur proves that this is possible even today.

On a more related note to user interfaces, this year there was definitely a good presence of that at TED. First Hans Rosling showed his work in visualizing statistical data in a very useful manner. I especially enjoyed meeting Hans and talking to him as a few years ago I met his engineering team at MAX who were migrating from using Director to using Flash for their applications. They also make use of the Flash Charting Components in some of their work that Sam and I worked on a few years ago, truly great to see such great use of Flash. You can find out some more information on their work at the gapminder website.

Keeping with the user interface theme, Jeff Han was there again this year. Jeff is the main innovator these days in the multi-touch interface arena. He showed his latest work this year which included a large multi touch display. I got to play with it, and I think it has come a long way. I also got to hang out with Jeff one night and we talked about interface and industry trends. I think it will be really interesting to see where multi-touch interface will go. In many ways they can be more intuitive for users, and in certain use cases can be a huge productivity boost. I don’t see myself programming my next application though on such a display (and Jeff wouldn’t want me to) . Finally Jonathan Harris spoke about his new project universe. It’s hard to explain what it is without experiencing it yourself but it basically is a visualizer of data that is found out there on the net (semi-mashup?). You can enter a keyword for the data, and it will relate things for you automatically. Truly inspirational work (for those who care, it looks like his work is done using processing). Lastly, I missed two sessions that I really wanted to attend because I was sick by John Maeda and Alan Kay, I really hate being sick! I will have to wait till the DVDs arrive in the mail to catch up on their presentations.

Finally, as part of the entertainment theme of the event, Tracy Chapman performed a few songs, including a song she wrote for TED. I have enjoyed her music for years, but this was the first time I have seen her perform live. I have to say her performance was amazing. She is an extremely talanted live performer. Here’s a picture I grabbed with her during a party.

Although the speakers are a great attraction to the conference (and there is no way I can write about how great each one was), talking to attendees is just as inspiring to me. To me it helps me remember that there are a lot of brilliant people out there. It helps me think of what I want to be doing long term and gain a lot of insight into things I wouldn’t otherwise (who has time to learn about the advances in space travel in their free time these days). One final thing is that although this event attracts a lot of high profile people to the event, people realize that everyone at the event is there because they share the same appreciation for things in life. This makes for a great environment where you can exchange ideas with people in an open format. Hopefully one day I will find a way to inspire others, until then TED will continue being an annual ritual for me, a chance to take a break from the day to day and get inspired.

To leave off here is another picture

With James Hong (great guy to hang out with and co-founder of HotOrNot.com), Darryl Hannah (Everyone knows who she is), me, and Max Levchin.

See everyone at TED 2008!

Here are some other write-ups of TED 2007 and links

  • James Hong has a nice write-up
  • David Pogue has a nice write-up as well, some good reader comments too
  • TED Blog, the official TED blog
  • TED Talks, online videos of a lot of the talks (mainly past years as of this writing)

Arrived at TED in Monterey, 360Flex was a great event

I had to leave 360Flex early (which was an excellent conference) to make it to TED 2007 which starts tomorrow. This is the second time I attend TED and I’m really looking forward to this year’s event. Unlike most of the conferences I participate in throughout the year, this is not a pure developer technology conference (nothing Flash related), but an event to that’s gets a lot of smart people together to exchange ideas about technology, entertainment, and design. If you haven’t heard of TED before, make sure to check out the website and the TED talks for online video access to some previous sessions.

If anyone here is at TED, drop me a line to meet up.

360Flex Next Week, Speaking on Component Development

360Flex is next week in San Jose, and Ben and I will be there. I will be speaking on the topic of component development and component based development, two topics that I feel every Flex developer should know (My session is on Monday at 2:30pm in the component track). Ben will be presenting an introduction of how to work with binary data, both the fundimentals of binary data and how that is exposed in ActionScrpit 3 (His session is on Monday as well at 1:00pm). He also has some pretty cool demos he’s been working on to show you will want to check out if you are there.

My session will cover:

  • The theory behind component based development
  • Building an applicatoin component
  • Custom components
    • Building a StatusIcon component
    • Component lifecycle
    • Invalidation/validation model and why you need invalidation
    • Implementing the different validation methods

If you make it out to 360Flex make sure to say hello!

From Enagage, Apollo, new Flex, new Flash Media Server, and stand alone Flash Video Player this year

During the first session today at Engage, Kevin Lynch unveiled the timeline for Flash related products. There were some interesting things mentioned.

First half of the year

  • Apollo on public labs
  • New Flex, codename “Moxie” also on public labs
  • CS3 will be release

Second half of the year

  • Apollo 1.0 will be released
  • Flex “Moxie” will be released
  • New product, Flash stand alone player codename “Philo”
  • A new version of Flash Media server will be released

Here’s a picture of the timeline

This seems like an exciting year for Flash, especially the announcement of a stand alone video player. Flash has taken a large chunk of the online video market very quickly, this will only further that growth.

For Flex, not many hints were given yet on what will be new with Moxie, but one of the main goals seems to be adding Apollo support within the framework.