Adobe Summit 2006

Adobe Summit 2006

I am sitting in the airport in San Jose waiting for my flight back to Albuquerque. I spent the last four days at the Adobe Summit for Adobe community leaders – it was a wonderful experience!

The summit consisted of a day of training in Flex the day before the summit, two days of information about many of the Adobe products, followed by another day of more advanced training in Flex. It was a good mix.

I am always hesitant when thinking about attending a conference. Is is going to be worth my time? What will I learn? What information will I be able to bring home? And then there is the whole social aspect . . .

I don’t consider myself a social butterfly. Who knows – maybe most computer geeks feel this way? Since I hadn’t attended any Adobe or Macromedia conferences at the national level before, I had no idea what it would be like. The first day went fine, but still found it hard to mix with the others in attendance. Then, the second night, Ed, Christine and the others at Adobe who put on this event were creative….dinner at Dave and Busters!

For those of you who have not been to a Dave and Buster’s before, I heard a description that I thought was quite fitting – Dave and Buster’s is like a ChuckECheese for adults! The facility in San Jose was quite large – a lot of different dining areas, meeting rooms, bar – and tons of video games. What a better place for geeks to feel at home! And it worked. It seemed like many of us were able to loosen up after this event, including myself. It was a great way to meet people from not only different parts of the country, but from places around the globe – all who had one thing in common – Adobe. Each of us either leads an Adobe user group in our own communities, or are an Adobe Community Expert. A handful of us do both!

Throughout the days of the conference, these relationships grew. We spent our days watching presentations on the different Adobe products including roadmaps for the future direction of many of the products. The presenters are the who’s who of Adobe – Kevin Lynch, Mike Chambers, Ben Forta, Scott Fegette, to name a few. During breaks we are all out in the halls ‘talking computer’. Maybe that is part of what made this summit feel so wonderful…everyone felt like they fit in.

Maybe I should explain. For those of you who are geeks, no explanation is necessary. But for those who aren’t an explanation is in order. I’ll use a recent real life experience as an example. Our company, Zocoloco Studios does graphic design and web development. We also host sites for the clients we develop for. A couple of weeks ago, our server went down and it was a nightmare. One client after another calling to see what the problem was. To make a long story short, I ended up staying up most of the night moving my clients to a different server.

The next day four of us were cycling together. Now granted, cyclists are also geeks – but a different kind of geek. They were asking what was going on, and I told them briefly about my frustrations with the server. One of them, decided to be engaging and asked what all was involved when a server went down, and what did it effect. So I started to explain. Shortly into the conversation, I have 3 people staring at me with blank expressions on their face. One of them said, ‘Never mind . . . we don’t really need to know!”

How many times do you find yourself in a similar situation? You start talking about a new website you are developing or a new software application or server technology, and that pretty much is the end of the conversation. Now, imagine yourself at a conference with 100 other people and EVERYONE is doing this. ET phone home! Yes! It felt good to be home . . .

Social aspect aside, the event was remarkable. The Flex training was intense – we crammed about a week of training into two days – which I personally thought was great! The other two days, we learned about the future direction Adobe plans to take with its product line. Timing on this was great. After the Adobe/Macromedia merger, many of us were concerned what it was going to be like for our beloved web-tools including Flash, Dreamweaver and ColdFusion. Would a company like Adobe be as responsive as Macromedia was? For me, I had somewhat of a unique position – being a graphic designer AND web-developer, I was familiar with both products lines and both companies. I was optimistic in thinking that ultimately it would be the best of both worlds. I believe it to be true. This conference set my mind at ease.

The direction Adobe is taking capitalizes on integration and cross-purposing. This means a couple of things. One, there will be more integration between the different software applications. I have been both a Photoshop user and a Flash user for many years and always thought it would be wonderful for these two applications to be able to interact with one another more easily. Now I think it will happen. We will not only see tighter integration between the pre-Adobe (Macromedia) products like Dreamweaver and Flash with one another – but also, we will begin to see integration of the pre-Adobe products with traditional Adobe products as well.

Cross-purposing is going to be huge. This concept has been in existence for quite some time now – in fact, this is what all the buzz about XML has been for the past 5 or 6 years. One of the primary selling-points of XML was the ability to use data/content in one environment and then repurpose it another.

For example, lets say your company publishes a monthly print newsletter to its employees. The graphic design department is responsible for this and usually uses InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator to create the final product. The same company also has a website and would like to use some of the same content on their website. The design department send the web department all the text as word docs and the web department re-enters and/or cuts and pastes the content and posts it to the website. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if the graphic design department could just export it work as an XML document and then the web department uses this same XML document to drive the content of the website? That is the concept behind repurposing. And . . . it’s about time!

I think future Adobe products will more readily have these abilities built-in and be easier to use. In fact, this could turn out to be one of the highlights of the merger. The blur between the print world and the electronic world is becoming greater. Whether you work in the print world or work in web-development, you’ll see more opportunities cross between the lines.

My ‘dream’ request for the Adobe development team? The ability to design in InDesign – for either print or web, and then just export the InDesign document for web. That would be sweet! During Kevin Lynch’s Q&A session, I asked if this was something slated in the future Adobe development roadmap.

He paused, and then said . . . ‘hmmm . . . that’s a good idea!’

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