Those folks at Adobe put on a good show…

Last week I attended the Adobe Max conference in San Francisco. It was my first time at this particular conference, and I must say I was impressed. The keynote speakers were engaging, the forthcoming product suite (Creative Suite 4, CS4 for short) was compelling, and most of the sessions and labs I attended were well worth making the trip from Chicago.

Now that I’ve had a week to let all the new information bounce around in my head for a while and settle into semi-organized piles of data, I have two major takeaways from the conference.

Firstly, Adobe users love their products, and they’re tremendously enthusiastic about the direction Adobe is taking them. In the main sessions, where all 6,000+ attendees were in the same huge room, many new features were met with thunderous applause. You just don’t get that sort of thing at a WebSphere conference.

Secondly, if CS4 is a big success – and I have no doubt but that it will be – we’ll start to see changes in the relationship between designers and developers on teams building RIA’s. CS4 contains a brilliant piece of software, Flex Catalyst, that lets designers using PhotoShop and Flash save content to the same source files as developers using Flex Builder. This provides a seamless transition from initial UI mockup to prototype to working application – and keeps the UI in the hands of the designer a little longer than has traditionally been the case. Designers can now exert great control over not only over the way an applicaiton looks, but also over the way it behaves as a user interacts with the various widgets in the UI. This will bring new challenges to RIA developers who work on teams with designers – developers will have less control, less latitude to say “We can’t do that – it’ll take too long”, or “Sorry, the tool won’t let us do that.” Developers will inherit a prototype that is quite complete in terms of look and feel, and will be focused more on adding functional meat to the UI bones (filling lists with live data, wiring events to real business services, etc.).

Oh, I did forget to mention one thing. This was my first time in San Francisco. What a wonderful city! I’ll definitely be back…

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