This was my fifth year attending Adobe MAX, always a great event to catch up on the latest developments when it comes to web and creative tooling. Its also an opportunity to see many friends, fellow enthusiasts in the community who we usually only get to talk to over email or social networks.
This year was somehow different and looking back I think it could very well be the edition where a new course was chartered for the Flash Platform.
Some argue that the keynotes were more marketing than substance, which I agree with to a certain extent. What stood out more to me were the opening remarks by Danny Winokur – VP of Flash Client Platform – for the first time clearly positioning Flash and HTML5 in the Adobe realm and reaffirming the commitment to supporting standards and providing the best tools regardless of the technology.
A lot of the drama of previous years has settled down, though there was still an undertone of discomfort with some on how to adapt to this brave new world and how it affects everyone individually. I think a lot of the unhappy comments I’ve seen are based more on a latent fear than any objective concerns. Being Switzerland is tough but the neutral, platform agnostic approach has always been part of Adobe’s DNA.
Using the Flash Platform to innovate and actively work to get those innovations subsequently adopted back into web standards is a great approach that I fully support. It not only allows innovation on the web to happen at a much faster pace, it also ensures there is always a fallback mechanism when native browser support falls short.
CSS regions, exclusions and shaders (which was particularly impressive) are great examples of how Adobe can help drive innovation on the web standards side. The acquisition of Typekit and Nitobi (and as such closer ties to PhoneGap) help solidify this and I’m convinced it wil make open source and web standards even more of a cornerstone in what the company does.
On the Flash runtime side we have some great enhancements with native extensions, GPU acceleration, Stage3D,… gaming and mobile being on the forefront but not exclusively what is being focussed on.
The last day of the conference brought us the sad news of Steve Jobs passing away. Its fair to say the relationship with Apple has been strained over the last few years and the “Thoughts on Flash” letter did not help ease the tension. While I still fundamentally disagree with many of the points outlined in the letter, it certainly did stir things up, forced us to do some introspection. There is much stronger commitment from various partners in adopting HTML5 and web standards which in turn caused a need for the Flash Player to start further innovating.
Unlike how tech journalists and enthusiasts on both sides like to portray the situation, things are rarely black or white – HTML5 and Flash are not mutually exclusive and in fact in many cases complementary – something I’ve come to appreciate more in my new day job at Google.
I for one am very excited about where things are going and seeing a new drive for innovation in the Flash Platform. The engineers are doing an outstanding job considering the advanced new features being worked on and the moving target of new devices that need to be supported
The sneaks, MAX bash and the community summit on Sunday really made the event for me – special thanks to Rachel, Aaron, John and Liz for their hard work and continued support.
Bring on Adobe MAX 2012!