I'm sitting in the airport in Nashville waiting to depart for San Jose, CA to attend the Adobe Community Summit. The summit is a get-together between Adobe User Group Managers, Adobe Community Experts, and Adobe employees (mostly from Developer Relations). The two day event should be a lot of fun and very informative at the same time. I'm arriving a day early and staying a day late in order to participate in 2 full days of hands-on Flex training.

I've been doing a little bit of work with Flex 2 using the SDK on my Mac and compiling applications locally. I've been playing around with the sample Flex 2 applications and if I get a chance I will compile them and put them up here so people can see how they work. So, needless to say I'm excited to get the chance to dive into Flex more and get some official training from the hands that created the product.

As the week progresses, I'll report on the trip and disseminate any information I can.


Adobe has now opened registration for MAX, Las Vegas which will be taking place October 23-26, 2006. Click the link below for all the details and to register yourself early.



New DevCenter Content

Posted by Aaron West at 1:36 PM in Adobe General, Flex, Flash

With the release of Flex 2 today and new information regarding Flash Player 9 and ActionScript 3.0 coming out Adobe has updated the developer center with new content. There's a redesigned Flex Developer Center, redesigned Flex sample applications, new Flex Quick starts and more information on Flash 9 and AS 3.0. You can check it all out right here.


There have been many changes recently as a result of Adobe acquiring Macromedia. The macromedia.com Web site is no more and the Adobe site has been completely redone. The Web forums have been moved as well as other community resources like the Team Macromedia (now Adobe Community Experts). With all this change you are bound to have an opinion on what's working and what isn't. Well, you can submit your praises, gripes, complaints, sentiments (and more) via the following Adobe Feedback Form.


2006 Adobe Customer Reel

Posted by Aaron West at 9:19 AM in Adobe General

You've probably read this everywhere else, but I wanted to post this real quick. Adobe is wanting people to submit their work for possible inclusion in the 2006 Adobe Digital Video and Audio Customer Reel. Adobe will be showcasing the work (built with products like Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Encore DVD, Adobe Audition, Adobe PhotoShop and more) at SIGGRAPH in Boston this August.

For more information or to submit your work click here.


We've all known it was in the works and now, after several months of being officially "Adobe" the macromedia.com site has been laid to rest. The integration of the adobe.com and macromedia.com domains has now taken place with the new site taking on an all too familiar landscape. Check it out:



FlashObject is now SWFObject

Posted by Aaron West at 8:40 AM in Adobe General, Flash

A little over a month ago I blogged about the IE Active Content update and how you could easily update your site with a nice piece of JavaScript called FlashObject. Apparently, using the word "Flash" ruffled some feathers at Adobe when they asked the author to write an article for the Developer Center. After attempting to compromise with Adobe on the issue the author has now been asked to change the name of his product. And so he has. FlashObject is now called SWFObject. I don't pretend to understand all the legal details regarding these types of issues, but it is definitely unfortunate that we [apparently] cannot have projects and products with the name "Flash" in them. Go Adobe. To read the author's take on this click on over to his blog post on the matter.

SWFObject JavaScript Code


MXNA Mobile is Cool

Posted by Aaron West at 11:51 AM in Adobe General, Blogging

MXNA Mobile, the mobile version of all aggregated MXNA RSS feeds, has been around since the inception of MXNA. Until this morning I had not checked it out but I must say it's pretty sweet.

I spend a fair amount of time on the go and some of that is away from my Mac. Now, I can whip out my Motorola RAZR and read all the latest posts on MXNA.

If you want to check it out, you need a mobile device with Web access. Just enter this URL (http://weblogs.macromedia.com/mxna/mobile/) into your device and you're set.


I'm not quite sure what MAX will stand for now that there is no Macromedia, but Adobe has announced the conference will be taking place this year and in Las Vegas no less. Sweet, even if I do get to go (baby is due 2 weeks before MAX), I'll surely get nothing done in a party town like Vegas.

Before you go hitting up the Max info page, Adobe has not updated it to reflect the details for 2006. I only know about this through Ben Forta's blog and the Adobe Community Expert lists. The dates for the conference are October 22 - 26. I'll post more details as they are available.


I'm a little late in posting a write up on the happenings for Thursday. Okay, I'm way late as it's Saturday now, but what can I say? After a nearly 9 hour drive and one full day to unwind I'm finally sitting down at the laptop. I started Thursday morning with another session on CSS called Creating Richer and More Maintainable Sites with CSS. This session was an incredible compliment to Besty Bruce's CSS Box Model class. Betsy's class focused more on using Dreamweaver to write your CSS and she didn't really get into the code much. James' CSS class was nothing but code. Of course he did use Dreamweaver but that's to be expected. Something that I found interesting in my sessions was how every single presenter, if demonstrating something in code, did so in Dreamweaver. I find it hard to believe that every presenter (that works at Macromedia) authors in Dreamweaver. More than anything it's probably Macromedia pushing everyone to use Dreamweaver in these highly visible, customer-focused sessions. What better way to promote Dreamweaver?

So what did I learn from this second CSS session? For starters, the newest version of Dreamweaver MX 2004 (7.0.1) writes some pretty clean transitional XHTML. Historically this hasn't been the case so it's nice to see Dreamweaver writing better code. Secondly, James did a fantastic job explaining the CSS Cascading Order. I wasn't necessarily aware of how this worked, but now it all makes sense. With this knowledge debugging CSS issues will be a lot easier/faster. Since I don't use Dreamweaver I didn't know about the Relevant CSS panel which is a pretty good tool for seeing the hierarchy of your stylesheets. What ID's, classes, etc. you are using and how each relates to the other. The last thing, and maybe the most relevant thing I learned was how CSS can control the layout for all different types of pages. Pages that are meant to be viewed on a monitor, pages that are meant to be printed or seen on a projector etc. Essentially, adding an attribute to your CSS include (the "media" attribute) will allow you to control what stylesheets are used for which type of viewing. For example, I could have a stylesheet that is used when visitors view this page in a browser. I could have a second stylesheet that is automatically used when a visitor goes to File->Print in their browser. This second stylesheet can eliminate all graphics, and certain style elements to make the printed page really clean. Using stylesheets this way could be incredibly useful!

Securing ColdFusion Applications by John Cummings and Sarge, two of Macromedia's product support engineers was the second session of the day. Before attending this session I was reading over the session slides getting pretty excited about what was going to be covered. Topics included: user security basics, implementing CF application security, securing CFC's, and information on Blackstone. Unfortunately, there were a ton of questions on the user security basics portion so we didn't get to much of the information in the slides. Sarge and John spent a considerable amount of time on the built-in authentication/authorization framework accessed through CFLOGIN and CFLOGOUT. This framework is worth looking into but there are some problems with it. For one, there is a bug (#53320) involved in logging users out. If user A logs out of an application using the CFLOGIN framework and then user B logs in to the same application on the same machine, user B will assume both his own and user A's application roles. Obviously this could be a major problem if an admin logged out and a regular user logged in. The regular user would have access to all the superuser features of the application. Most of the rest of the session was centered around authenticating users with a directory service like LDAP. I've never used ColdFusion to authenticate to anything other than a database. As such the info on LDAP was interesting but something I'd have to play with to really learn more.

My third session Using JSAPI to Develop Tools and Effects was different than I expected. When I think of "tools" I think of things I can build to allow me to use something better or easier. Eric Mueller focused litterally on the building of new tools in the toolbar. He demonstrated this by building a new polystar drawing tool. He showed us the JavaScript used to build-out the tools functionality and it was great stuff. The geometry code needed to manage the visual display of the tool was really interesting, not to mention complex. Next Eric showed some code that created a drop-shadow effect that could be applied to objects on the stage. It's interesting that Eric built this in the JSAPI and that the new version of Flash (code-named 8Ball) will be providing a drop-shadow effect built-in. I wonder if there's any crossover. If you're interested in learning more about JSAPI you can view the docs as well as the code for the Polystar tool here.

I made some changes to my schedule for Thursday at the last minute. This meant I would not be attending the SCORM 2004 primer for Flash but instead would visit the 90-minute hands on session Creating Your First Flex Application. As it turns out this was a great decision. Going in to this session I held the opinion that Flex was a programmers way to create Flash interfaces (outside of the Flash IDE). While on the surface this is basically a true statement Flex goes deeper than that. In this session we used Flex Builder, the Flex IDE, to write mxml. mxml is the XML-centric language used to create a Flash interface. Of course, Flex as a product wouldn't be much without ActionScript so knowing mxml doesn't get you that far. You really need a solid understanding of ActionScript (AS2 in particular) in order to write robust Flex applications. This session, taught by Matthew Boles, focused on creating several simple Flex applications writing a combination of mxml and ActionScript. We used mxml to layout the Flex applications and ActionScript for managing various events; like clicking a button or selecting a cell in a datagrid. Matthew was an excellent speaker/teacher and after this session I'd like to get more into Flex development. Doing this should be easy since Macromedia now offers a FREE Flex license for development purposes. Flex Builder comes with this license as well. Additionally, Macromedia released Flex 1.5 during the conference. You can check it out here.

Overall the MAX conference was excellent. I met some really cool people and was also able to put a face to several names and e-Mail addresses of people I've been speaking with for years. The networking that goes on at MAX is rather amazing. The sessions were pretty good and the conference was well organized. There is speculation that MAX will be held on the West Coast next year but who knows. I have no idea whether I'll be attending but if I have the choice and the money it's definitely something I want to do again.

As far as photos go for Thursday I didn't take any. It was, after all, a short day.


Macromedia MAX - 2004 Wednesday

Posted by Aaron West at 11:07 PM in Personal, Adobe General

I started off this morning with Ray Camden's "Coding for Reuse" session. I talked to Ray just before the session started and he mentioned one of his previous presentations had a large number of people who were just starting to work with ColdFusion Components, UDF's, and custom tags. As a result, his focus in my session was much the same, covering the "reuse" topic from a high level instead of delving into more advanced details. However, Ray did an excellent job presenting and I enjoyed the session.

Originally, my second session for today was going to be on the Flash player security model. After reviewing the session slides I realized I knew much of the information already. So, I switched my schedule around a little and attended Damon Cooper's "Mobile SMS Applications Made Easy." This proved to be a good decision on my part. Damon did a great job explaining how the SMS industry works now by providing information on the Short Message Service Center or SMSC. This is basically the enterprise server that SMS applications talk to. There are several SMSC implementations provided by major wireless carriers in the United States such as AT&T Wireless and Verizon. In Asia, where SMS adoption is amazingly more widespread, the major players are KDDI and DoCoMo. ColdFusion's implementation of SMS (in Blackstone) uses the SMPP (Short Message Peer to Peer) protocol to talk to a SMSC. Some examples of enterprise SMS use include purchase order approvals, critical notifications (i.e. a server is down), phone directory lookup, meeting reminders, and SMS to e-Mail bridging. The process for deploying SMS applications involves establishing an SMPP account with your favorite SMSC provider. According to Damon this takes a few weeks and should probably be done before the actual SMS application is finished. This will ensure you have less time-to-live when you have tested your application and you're ready for deployment. Once you have your SMPP account you basically setup your application to conform to the rules of your SMSC and test away. Once testing has been completed you can take your application live which would essentially involve promoting the app since you'd have it living on an actual SMSC. Note, that previous to testing your application on the live SMSC providers network you can use Blackstone's built-in gateways and mobile device simulation to test your application locally.

The high point of my day was Hal Helm's Object-Oriented ColdFusion session. As with other presenters, I have spoken to Hal on numerous occasions but this was my first time in one of his presentations. I was entirely blown away. Hal just has this way of presenting that is rather contagious. He really motivates you to learn more about what you are doing in ColdFusion and programming in general. Hal focused entirely on the object-orientation of ColdFusion and why it's vital that todays developers understand OO concepts. Hal began by giving an overview of OO concepts explaining "is a" and "has a" relationships, and talking about encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism. Here's some direct quotes from Hal today:

"Databases are a bad way to structure code."

"Do the database last."

"A database is only useful to persist data."

"Encapsulation is the most important concept of OO."

Some of those may not make sense out of context, so I'd be happy to explain if necessary. Other concepts Hal covered included: subtype polymorphism, upcasting, type promotion, aggregation, and composition. Great, great stuff.

My fourth session of the day was "Advanced ColdFusion Components and Web Services" by Simon Horwith. Simon's presentation was a compliment to Hal's although they both covered different elements of development. Hal's was more focused on theory and strict OO designs and Simon's was more on real world usage of CFC's.

The main thing I took from today was that the sessions in general at MAX are not advanced enough. Up until Hal's session I really didn't experience any great growth in knowledge. I was certain coming in to MAX that I was going to learn a vast amount in terms of ColdFusion and Flash development. Having finished 2 full days of training I really haven't learned all that much. Maybe that's a testament to my own skill level, I don't know. Interestingly enough, it seems I'm going to have to start investing in myself more if I want to continue learning best practices and programming theory. The conference has motivated me to go out and educate myself as best as possible. I'd like to learn more about Mach-ii since I've only touched on it. Whether or not it would be a feasible framework to work with (in terms of OO frameworks) in my development has yet to be seen. As of now, I haven't formed an opinion one way or the other. I guess it's time to look into it further.

I'm working right now on getting todays pics up. As with all the other MAX pics you can get to them from here:



Macromedia MAX - 2004 Tuesday

Posted by Aaron West at 10:12 PM in Personal, Adobe General

I started yesterday morning in a minor panic. I woke on my own just before 8:00am and my first session of the day was Ben Forta's at 8:30am. Through an amazing bit of luck I made it to the session on time. Ben's hand's on presentation "Structured Development, ColdFusion Done the Right Way" was awesome. I've heard Ben speak many times but never in person. While the content of the meeting wasn't really advanced it was nice to finally meet Ben and be involved in one of his presentations. Ben is an amazing speaker, for many reasons, and I encourage anyone to go and hear him speak whenever possible. The overarching theme of Ben's session was strategies on separating business logic from presentation logic. Ben covered many ways of approaching this separation using CFC's. Probably the most valuable information Ben shared involved persisting CFC's in the Application, Session, and Server scopes. Additionally, Ben spent a fair amount of time on using CFC's as Objects. Calling CFC's as Objects, having CFC's return other instances of CFC's etc. It seemed to me that most people were not aware of these uses of CFC's, but after hearing Ben they were excited about changing their coding habits. In the MAX pictures for Tuesday you'll see some shots of me and Ben and also one of me, Ben, and Calvin Ward.

My second session "Best Practices for Developing Flash Applications" was not what I expected. I was expecting a more advanced session covering AS2 coding strategies and other programming concepts but none of that was included in Nigel Pegg's presentation. Nigel was an interesting presenter but I walked away having laughed more than I learned. Which, given the cost of MAX, was unfortunate.

The keynote for Tuesday was pretty cool but most of the information given out was already public. At least, if you had seen the video from the Flash Tokyo conference it was. There were various presentations on Macromedia's vision and product strategy as well as information on deploying applications across mobile devices.

Rob Brooks-Bilson's "Coding for Scalability" session was really nice. Rob did a really great job discussing many issues regarding ColdFusion performance, scalability, and reliability. He focused mainly on scalability and how there is a correlation between the level with which a CF application is planned and the level a CF app achieves scalability. Rob touched on the use of load testing tools to put a ColdFusion application through it's paces under simulated load. He also covered several strategies on caching queries and page level caching. Finally, he discussed coding tips regarding recursion, timeouts, and locking. This was my first time hearing Rob speak in person and he definitely lived up to his high reputation. Great job Rob!

My last session "Using the CSS Box Model for Page Layout" was not entirely what I expected but it was definitely worthwhile. It mainly focused on building a CSS layout in Dreamweaver. I don't really use Dreamweaver too much but I still found the session informative. In fact, we built an entire layout in a hands on excercise that demonstrated several features of CSS-design in Dreamweaver MX 2004.

Overall it was a great day. You can check out the various pictures I took by viewing the MAX 2004 photo gallery here:



Macromedia MAX - 2004 Monday

Posted by Aaron West at 10:50 PM in Personal, Adobe General

The continential breakfast offered by Drury Inn & Suites was really good this morning. The sausage biscuit and eggs hit the spot. After breakfast I made my way to the Ernest N. Morial convention center. I had an idea to take a picture of the building where all the MAX festivities were taking place but since the convention center is likely more than a mile in length it's not going to happen. I am amazed at how large this building is; it's likely the largest building I've ever been in.

Much of todays Community College events contained information that's covered under non-disclosure, so unfortunately there's not a lot I can share. I will say, to start, that it was a very productive day! Jennifer Taylor started things off right presenting on Dreamweaver MX's new release code-named "Coltrane." There are some pretty interesting things happening in the Dreamweaver camp specifically some ehancements that will make HomeSite fans happy. Many HomeSite users have struggled to convert to Dreamweaver and understandably so. Others continue to work with HomeSite for good reason, they're familiar with the product and have a significant amount of resources they've created within the IDE. If you're happy with HomeSite there's no real compelling reason to switch to Dreamweaver but the new release will definitely give developers more of reason to investigate the product.

Following Jennifer and company, Tim Buntel, Product Manager for ColdFusion, spoke on some of the features of Blackstone. Even if I could divulge information regarding Blackstone it would take more space than this blog has. Tim did a great job presenting. If you'd like more information on Blackstone, visit Macromedia's Blackstone page which is located here.

The afternoon sessions were kicked off with Vinnie Holman presenting on Corporate Communication Skills. I got a lot out of her session and wished she could have had a full hour instead of just 30 minutes. The last part of the day involved a quick session on using Breeze Live as a presenter, a Team Macromedia break-out, and then a round table discussion on many different topics. It was a great start to what should be an awesome week in New Orleans. Tomorrow, the regular sessions start. I'll be starting the morning off right with a ColdFusion session with Ben Forta on Structured Development.

As far as pics are concerned I don't have any for today. I carried my camera with me all day but never shot one photo. I guess I was constantly talking with people or busy in sessions. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get more time to take pics.


Macromedia MAX 2004 - Sunday

Posted by Aaron West at 9:25 PM in Personal, Adobe General

I was sleeping really well when the alarm sounded at 5:30am this morning. I would have been more than happy perpetuate the hit-snooze-sleep, hit-snooze-sleep routine, but we had a couple hundred miles to travel before arriving in New Orleans, LA. Fortunately, the car was already packed so we were able to shove off rather quickly. We pulled out of the neighborhood at exactly 6:00am, neither one of us talking very much because we were so sleepy. Immediately apparent was the complete lack of traffic on the interstate. Traveling on Sunday early in the morning is definitely the way to go!

Sometime around 9:00am we crossed the Alabama / Tennessee state line. Lindy snapped a few pictures for a scrapbook she plans on putting together after the trip. We stopped for lunch in Meridian, Mississippi at 12:00pm and decided on Wendy's. There was a cute little girl with her parents in the booth next to us. I think they called her Abbrey. She kept turning around smiling at us and immediately sank in her seat when we returned the glance. Lindy guessed her age at 12 months. The next 200 miles were pretty boring - heading South through Mississippi towards Louisianna. We reached downtown New Orleans at about 2:45pm which put us right on time given our estimation of a 9 hour drive. Check at the Drury Inn and Suites was at 3:00pm but we wanted to make sure our room was ready before arriving. We decided to kill some time and head down to the bay to look at the cruise ships. The riverwalk was hardly spectactular and basically uneventful. We saw only one cruise ship, a Norwegian, but that was at a distance. You couldn't get anywhere near it. Running the length of the riverwalk was a multi-level mall. It was very similiar to a strip mall except this one was all in doors. You could however walk outside at times to view an overlook of the Mississippi river and get a glance at the cruise ship(s). Discouraged from not seeing any ships up close we decided to head back to our car and make our way to the hotel.

The Drury Inn and Suites is a pretty nice hotel. Probably not a 5 star by most peoples standards, but it's relatively close to the Ernest N. Morial convention center and it was by far the best price we could find. Internet access is supposedly high speed but I'm not impressed. I wish the rooms and/or the hotel lobby's had wireless connectivity, but I guess having anything is better than having nothing. Lindy and I unpacked all our bags and then I decided to have a look at the days pictures. Soon, we began to get hungry so we started to talk about dinner. We had several places that we were interested in visiting but in the end we decided on something rather close and inexpensive (when compared to the rest of the eateries here), the Hard Rock Cafe. The drive to dinner took us very near but not exactly through part of the French Quarter. Man, there are some weird people down here. Being Halloween may have had something to do with it, but still, you see some odd things here you won't likely see anywhere else. After Lindy's Fajitas and my BBQ ribs we've settled back into the hotel and are ready to call it a day. Tommorrow will be a rather long day for me so I want to be sure I have all the rest I can get.

I've posted some pictures from todays drive and arrival in New Orleans. As the week continues I'll be uploading additional galleries. You'll be able to view everything from this link:



It's just after 10:00pm and my wife and I are ready to hit the road. The car is packed up with all the essentials - and some things that aren't so essential - and now we have but to wait till morning. The plan is to get up at 6:00am, freshen up a bit, and get on the road as soon as we can. Having never been to New Orleans before I can only speculate as to how long it will take us to get there. I'm guessing it will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 to 9 hours. I can't stand to ride in a car for an hour much less 9 but we plan on making the trip as painless as possible with lots of music and some photos. Looking at the map it appears we'll be driving over part of the gulf that New Orleans nearly surrounds. The view there should be worth a photo or two. I'm very excited about finally getting the opportunity to attend Macromedia's annual conference. It's something I've wanted to participate in for several years but I've never had an employer willing to pay my way and until this year I couldn't afford to send myself. When you add together all the sessions, keynotes, and time spent putting names to faces it should be one fantastic week.

Monday, is Community College which is specifically held for Team Macromedia members and User Group Managers. The day is spent in sessions with product managers focusing on specific information or new technology. We'll also participate in break-out sessions designed to better equip TMM's and UGM's in our efforts to support the various Macromedia communities. Monday evening is host to the first keynote speaker and the general conference kickoff.

The rest of the MAX attendees will arrive some time before Tuesday when the main conference starts. Sessions will continue through Thursday. Oh I nearly forgot, CF Underground is being held on Sunday but due to traveling I won't be able to attend. Adam Bell is hosting "Mini MAX" which is slated for Monday evening. I'm planning on checking that out if Monday's keynote doesn't run over.

Right now, it's time to get some sleep, especially considering I won't be getting too much of it in the days ahead. Tomorrow, after arriving in New Orleans and getting settled I plan on providing a quick update with photos.

Here we come New Orleans!!