WorldWide User Group Meeting
I attended the WorldWide User Group Meeting at Hot Pepper Studios here in Portland. Please forgive the spotty reporting here, but I was simply taking notes as I went, and I've done my best to clean them up so they're legible :)
The meeting started at 7pm sharp.
The first speaker was Greg Stren, who started out with some very poignant polls:
If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want to be stranded with:?
- Dreamweaver Developer
- Flash Designer
- ColdFusion Developer
- Ben Forta
Flash Designers won, with Ben Forta a very close second. Personally I think Ben would be far more entertaining than any Flash Designer I know.
What is the new geek diet for late night programming sessions?
- High Carb diet
- Low carb diet
- Red Bull
- Still Pizza and Jolt
Pizza and Jolt won on that one by a large margin.
What is the most important?
- Attractive Spouse
- Fast Car
- Killer Website
The results were Attractive Spouse, followed by Killer Website and then Fast Car.
After this little bit of levity, things didn't pick up very much. The presentation was mostly marketing material, and disparate slides from disparate parts of the company. The main reason I went was to find out more about Blackstone, the next version of
Cartweaver ColdFusion, and I got a grand total of 10 minutes, which basically consisted of seeing a few new tags and some more marketing statements. Granted, what I did see of Blackstone was encouraging, but it wasn't near enough. Here's my recap of the entire meeting.
Speaker: Greg Stern
View on the future or Net computing
Sneak Peeks of ColdFusion, Contribute, Flash Paper and Central (no guarantees)
Jeff Whatcott, VP Platforms
- Designers and Developers (5m)
- Business Users (68m)
- Consumers (1b mobile and device users)
Given the numbers Jeff provided, I'm a bit nervous about the future of Macromedia's developer applications. I'm hoping they don't move more and more into consumer apps like FrontPage. Only time will tell I guess. Jeff made it abundantly clear (and we knew this already) that their focus is on RIA and improving flash to make it "more expressive". I don't know what "more expressive" means, being a coder, but we'll see. He also gave a demo of the "Brocade Sales Dashboard" which was a nice fancy Flex app I'll never get to build at $12k a pop...
Jeff had his own quiz for us all, which was really nothing more than telling us all what we already knew:
What is the most broadly distributed video client:
- Windows Media
- Flash Player
Flash Player of course.
How long does it typically take for a new Flash Player to reach 80% penetration?
- 36 mos.
- 24 mos.
- 18 mos.
- 12 mos.
- 6 mos.
Only takes 12 month. Flash 7 currently at 54%, and on track to hit 80% in 12 months. Jeff mentioned that Breeze, Flash Video, Flex, Central, Mobile & Devices and Robo Products were driving adoption. They'll also be opening up Breeze for extensibility through ColdFusion, JRUN, and OpenLDAP APIs. Pod APIs will be available as well. There's more information at the Breeze DevNet Center.
Product Timeline (All plans are subject to change)
Jeff said Macromedia is starting to be more open with product timelines and information due to the fact that developers hold a stake in MM's future.
Later this year:
- Flash Player 7 for Linux
- Flash MX 2004 Updater 2 (focus on performance, documentation and general bugfixes)
- Central 1.5 and AIM SDK
- Brady (stated that they're in an active Beta, and you may request to be on the beta)
- Flex 1.5 (maintenance release, runtime library support, more components, performance enhancements, additional capabilities)
- ColdFusion "Blackstone"
- Flash Player 8 ("important release", but he didn't say why)
- Central 2.0
- Flex 2.0
- Additional releases of Studio, Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Freehand, Director, Authorware and JRun.
Questions and Answers
- What about FlashCom? We still love it, still under development.
- Mac OS9 compatability in future versions? Wishy washy "most are going to OSX"
- Flash for Palm OS? No answer, have to check with flash team.
- Plans for 3D in Flash? Trying to expand the aesthetic, more expressive, better for artists, nothing concrete.
- Studio for Linux? Working with a company that has DW running on Wine. "Emerging area", "doing research", etc. If you want DW on Linux, contact MM.
- CF -> .Net? May mention during Blackstone presentation
- Future of Homesite? customers want a code-centric environment, we hear that a lot, "deeply researching", "loud and clear". No commitments, but gave the impression they're looking at it hard.
Speaker: Tim Buntel, CF PM
This is what I was really at the meeting for, and he only spoke for about 10 minutes or so. I definitely wanted to see more about Blackstone than what he provided. He did say that there will a MacroChat with Ben Forta, Dave Gruber and himself on Thursday, so I'm hoping to get in there.
Stated that their focus has been on J2EE for a few years, working on plumbing. Now it's time to get back to what makes ColdFusion amazing, coding features. Blackstone EQ "New Features"
The first new tag was <CFDOCUMENT>. Basically, wrap some HTML in a <cfdocument> tag, and the browser sends the appropriate mime-typed document to the browser. Take this for example:
Now the content between the <cfdocument> tags gets sent to the browser as a PDF file, in the Reader plugin for IE (or whatever browser of choice you happen to have. This means you don't have to make any changes to existing pages if you wanted to turn them into PDFs besides wrapping them with <cfdocument> tags. There were hints of Microsoft Office and FlashPaper formats for <cfdocument>.
The <cfdocument> tag can contain <cfdocumentitem> tags, which can set headers and footers and all that fancy stuff (even page breaks). Here's a sample:
<cfdocumentitem type="footer"> <cfoutput> Page #cfdocument.currentpagenumber# </cfoutput>
That would of course add a footer with the page number to every page in your new PDF.
Another new feature is some Flex-like flash components. We all know the dreaded <cfgrid> java applet. Well check out the format attribute:
Yep, that's a Flash (Flex-like) formatted data grid. But that's not all, they're also adding tabbed navigators and accordion panes:
So Blackstone looks to have a lot of flex capability built-in, but according to MM, it's no replacement for Flex, and includes only some ancillary pieces of the Flex application, and does not use MXML.
You can also bind one <cfinput> tag to the input/output of another. This code would bind the values of a set of first and last name fields to a third username field:
Some of the additional Flex-like form elements include calendar widgets, radio buttons, drop downs, links, and all that other flash based fancy RIA stuff. Ben is going on a Roadshow in June promoting the new Blackstone product, and inviting people to join the beta. So check to see if he's going to be in your area by checking out Forta.com. And don't forget the MacroChat Thursday at 1pm Pacific.
Some additional info gathered through the QnA session:
- Will be able to skin forms.
- Flash coms come only from cfform, using Flex tech, surprise
- Can handle page breaks in PDFs and such.
- How to get on the beta, go to one of Ben's roadshows, or go to beta site
- Alpha is out.
- Other doc types: let MM know what you want... FlashPaper and PDF for sure
- SWF files sizes, can't answer, no optimization yet
- Generate graphs with cfdocument? Planning to support.
- Charting will be vastly superior to PopChart, improved charting
- Use Flex libraries? Very different from Flex, different purpose, etc. Synergistic
- Sourceless deployment? Looking at for JAVA apps.
Lawson's presentation was on Contribute and FlashPaper. The next release of Contribute will be based on MX 2004 rendering engine and will include an Image edit toolbar, with FW image technology, rotate, crop, sharpen, contrast, etc. CT3 also has much better support for reviewing content before publishing, and includes role-based publishing capabilities.
FlashPaper 2 advancements
- Plugins for MS Office apps (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc)
- Printer Converter (like PDF Writer)
- Outlines/Bookmarks through FlashPaper
- Text Search and Select, copy/paste
- Printing from FlashPaper
- PDF Replacement?
- Fully accessible
- FlashPaper will be available on the Mac.
- Is FlashPaper Skinnable? Currently no, but is being considered going forward
- Will when FP be it's own product? Considering, still in CT only for now
- In DW? No plans that he's aware of.
- Conntribute's 508 compliance? Fully compliant.
- When will one copy of CT be included in DW? Looking at packaging options.
- CT3 SourceSafe or WebDav? WebDav will be supported.
- FlashPaper will support Hyperlinks
Bill Schulze, Senior Director, Product Management
Bill gave some more information on Central, which I still just don't get...
- 75k downloads
- 26% of developers who have the SDK currently building apps
- 45% plan to build in 6 months
- Try-buy model, sign up with payment processor, 20% to MM.
- AOL IM SDK - main focus
- 3rd party apps in dev
- status tracking for housing developers
- campus news/events/
- varsity athletic scheules
- election results
- diet tracking
- multiplayer games
Improvements in 1.5 release
- Full support for FP7
- ActionScript 2.0
- File Upload and Download
- Improved UI, enhanced application try
- Memory/Performance Improvement
- Integration with Flash Authoring (3-click publishing)
- Improved Network Detection
- Provide integration with Flex
- Public release of AIM SDK
The Central demo was pretty short and to the point, as the meeting was running over the time limit:
- Tour of interface
- More changes to the UI possible (minimize toolbar states)
- Better application tray (versus goofy flyout)
- Move apps on and off toolbar into apptray
- Better notifications
And that was it for the meeting. It ended rather abruptly, and I was honestly left a little wanting.