Adobe MAX 2016 Resources

With Adobe MAX 2016 concluded, I’ve pulled together a number of resources from my own sessions on Animate CC and the SWF file format and also some important information from Adobe around Flash Player and AIR.

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I had a great time at MAX this year and it seems most everyone else did too. Great to be able to share Animate CC workflows with lab attendees, connect with the greater education and professional communities, and have fabulous conversations with new attendees as well!

Incidentally, Adobe MAX 2017 will be held October 16–20, 2017 at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada!

Adobe Animate CC: Introduction to Animation and Interactivity

Adobe Animate CC is a professional tool used to create a diverse variety of project types including rich animations, compelling interactives, award-winning games, popular mobile apps, and more. Learn how to get started creating your own engaging animated and interactive content across multiple platforms using Animate CC in this lab.

I taught this lab each day of the conference and it was completely booked each time. Those on the wait list were able to come in and observe if they desired – though there were no more lab machines available for them to use. I hope those who were not able to get on a lab computer (or even those not present at MAX) will benefit from these resources.

The workbook, project files, and slides are below – please share!

Workbook

Adobe Animate CC: Introduction to Animation and Interactivity Workbook (81 page PDF)

workbook2016

Asset Files

FLA and PNG files in a ZIP archive.

Download ZIP

Slides

And… here are the (really short) intro slides:

Don’t Fear the SWF (Adobe MAX Community Summit)

A quick overview of some of the cool stuff that is possible with the SWF file format that DOESN’T involve the F-word.

The day before MAX, I attended the Community Summit for Adobe Community Professionals and User Group Managers. We had the opportunity for a number of in-depth conversations with various Adobe project managers, Adobe community people, and one another.

Toward the end of the summit was a chance to talk about certain tips, techniques, or workflows with Adobe products that we wanted to share. I gave a talk on the SWF file format and some of the cools things you could do with it even if not targeting Flash Player.

Here is the Connect recording for the entire event – and below you will find slides.

(These are the revised slides that include additional NDA information I could not present that day.)

Don’t Fear the SWF (Adobe MAX Live!)

I also provided a live demonstration based upon the Community Summit talk as part of the Live from Adobe MAX 2016 series. It was hosted by Michael Chaize from the MAX Live streaming booth on the Community Pavilion show floor.

Check out the recording below!

Thanks to Michael and Tricia for getting this together – it was a blast!

Flash Player and AIR – Updated Stats!!!

During the MAX sessions given by Animate CC product manager Ajay Shukla (recording here) gave an update on the Adobe Runtimes, Flash Player and AIR.

Clearly stating that Adobe is committed to these platforms – he also reinforced that the platform is doing “very well” despite historical difficulties. In fact, AIR application installs and unique mobile apps built with AIR have more than DOUBLED since MAX 2015.

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Very well, indeed!

Photoshop’s 25th Anniversary and Adobe AIR

Earlier this year, I became involved in a project for Adobe and the Computer History Museum for the purpose of creating and interactive exhibit for the 25th anniversary of Adobe Photoshop.

CHM
The completed interactive alongside Photoshop CC 2015. A background location and famous person have already been selected.

For this interactive, we used Adobe AIR to communicate with Photoshop over the local server, and respond to messages being returned by Photoshop to perform some action. Commands needed to be sent to Photoshop to open selected images and composite them properly, perform actions such as green screen removal, watermark overlays, rendering, final processing for email, and so on. The interactive needs to listen to Photoshop to know when all of these actions had occurred – to know both what state the application experience should be set to – and when certain processes had completed. It is a highly complex dance between Photoshop and AIR!

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Photo taken by CHM during the Photoshop 25th anniversary event with a beta version of the interactive.

Users were able to approach the exhibit and perform a number of steps:

  1. Select a background location image.
  2. Choose a famous person which Photoshop would composite upon the background.
  3. Take a photo of themselves against a properly lit green screen – passing this off to Photoshop for removal of the green pixels.
  4. Use Photoshop to position their photo alongside the famous person against the background.
  5. Once completed, they would choose to have their image displayed within the exhibit on a big screen, or email the photo to themselves.
The interactive, as viewed when a user first approaches. The AIR application sits along the right side, and involves a number of steps for the user to interact with as they go through the application workflow.

The development of the interactive itself was fairly complex. It involved the use of Photoshop CC 2015, Apache Flex 4.14, a custom version of the Photoshop Touch SDK, a number of open source AS3 libraries, and both network email and local server configurations.

I remain absolutely convinced of the power and flexibility of Adobe AIR as a desktop development platform.

The interactive is now complete and should be available for use in the Computer History Museum for at least the next 5 years of so.

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During the Photoshop 25th Anniversary event – some people went a little crazy with the interactive!

 

Making the Case for Flash as a Creative Platform: Part II

This is the second part of a two-part series regarding correspondence with Adobe around Flash Professional over the past few years. I encourage you to read the first part as well.

The following comes about based upon some emails previous to the “Create Now 2014 World Tour” Adobe launched that year, which I did participate in as a speaker. I discovered that despite the enhancements Flash Professional received, there was zero acknowledgement from Adobe during the tour. The following correspondence demonstrates just how difficult communication around Flash Professional was during this time. I have many other examples, but this one does well to illustrate past difficulties.

Once again, names of Adobe employees and other pieces of information have been appropriately sanitized…

Joseph:

Speaking of which, {REDACTED}… I’m dismayed that the outlines do not reference Flash Professional CC at all!

As you well know – there are a bunch of great new features in the product which dovetail nicely with cutting edge HTML5 efforts via Canvas, SVG, and WebGL output and publish additions… Plus internal creative enhancements like beautiful strokes capabilities and the slick new Motion Editor. At least I see Sprite Sheet import in the Edge Animate section – which is a direct workflow tie-in with Flash Pro.

I wonder sometimes whether the evangelists themselves know what the tool is now capable of?

Not trying to shoot the messenger on this one, {REDACTED}. I just continue making some noise that hopefully lands on the right ears… someday… perhaps :/

REDACTED:

{REDACTED} has given me some feedback for you – sorry it’s not great news regarding Flash, but I hope it helps explain the tour focus.

This particular tour has a purpose: Encourage users still on Creative Suite to upgrade to Creative Cloud. That is Adobe’s goal. Highlighting key features in Flash Professional is not going to help achieve that goal.  End of story.  That’s not to say that Flash Professional isn’t awesome.  But the people that are holding out on CS 5 because “It does enough” are not the type to be influenced by Canvas, SVG or OpenGL. Which is not to say there isn’t someone out there but I’m saying it’s a tiny piece of the Venn diagram.

I understand that this is difficult to accept at times. {REDACTED}. Flash Professional isn’t its own product anymore, it lives or dies by how Creative Cloud does.

Joseph:

I don’t think my perspective is very far from the one presented… “Flash Professional isn’t its own product anymore, it lives or dies by how Creative Cloud does” – as part of the CC offerings, I would just hope that it be given suitable representation as a part of the Creative Cloud.

I use almost every CC product in my work. I think Creative Cloud is awesome. A lot of people think I don’t get it – but I really do, regardless.

REDACTED:

I think that’s fair Joseph, and I’d come back to you the same way several people have responded to my issues like this:

Construct a story using Flash Professional that convinces a CS3, 4, 5, 6 hold out to come to Creative Cloud.  Keep in mind that the majority of people who were heavy Flash Devs actually updated pretty quickly.

I ask you: What value does giving Flash Professional suitable representation have? I’m not asking this to be combative or anything. I’m genuinely curious what you see as the value of giving Flash Pro representation?

Joseph:

Hi {REDACTED}.

Regardless of the runtimes or Flex… so not telling a dev story here… Flash Professional is no longer (and probably never should have been) seen as a tool for developers…

Flash Professional was always something that was infinitely fun and creative. This is the case whether doing animation or simple interactions. The ease in which it enables designers to create engaging content regardless of target platform has always been such a strong story. That was the case when we could only target Flash Player. Now that we can target HTML5 Canvas, Edge Animate Sprite Sheets, and WebGL – publish that content and then integrate it within other Creative Cloud tools and services – it’s just such a compelling solution that I find it astonishing that Adobe – an entity that openly embraces creativity… does not take advantage of this. I see it as a missed opportunity to promote other CC offering by expressing the rich possibilities that exist when using Flash Pro as a purely creative tool.

It’s absolutely valuable for someone to be able to express themselves using Flash Professional CC and take that output into Dreamweaver Live View, Edge Animate Symbols, a PhoneGap project… not to mention things like HD Video and PNG Sequences or SVG. All of this doesn’t even mention Flash Player or AIR. The content produced could just about tie into any Creative Cloud application with the variety of targets and formats now expressed. It just baffles me that Adobe is not taking these strengths – from a purely creative perspective – and talking them up in the Creative Cloud story.

Anyhow – that is my opinion on the value that such representation would provide. I understand not everyone shares this view – but I think it is a legitimate one.

Thanks for listening. I hope that all makes sense.

REDACTED:

All good points, Joseph, but I’d argue:

  1. It’s not as compelling to CS3-6 customers as you think it is.  I know you feel strongly about this.  Our marketing people aren’t allowed to have feelings about this.  We have data that tracks who these people are, and what they’re interested it. Are there people who fit this profile who would be swayed by Flash?  Maybe, but it’s not as many as you think.
  2. Even if it was as compelling as you think it is (I admit I could be wrong on point 1. And I’m citing data that I’m specifically not allowed to share which seems unfair), to explain all of those features would basically eat up at least 100% of the time we have earmarked for web technologies. As almost every one of the things you cite would have to be explained before Flash’s value would be determinable. Not only do they have to be explained but most designers associate the most of the tech’s you listed as developer techs if they think of them at all: HTML5, WebGL, SVG, Phonegap, Canvas.
  3. Even if it was as compelling and explaining it wasn’t a huge time sink, what would you cut to make it fit? Cause we have 14 other tools that are being updated. 3 of them in the web segment.   Dreamweaver –  one of most successful tools that almost everyone we talk to uses?  Edge Animate, which is part of the value prop you reference for Flash Pro? Photoshop, which we’re not going to tone down?

In the end, Flash does have engineers, and marketing people responsible for making the best case for it, both internally and externally. We also have a staff of marketers and community outreach-ers (if that’s a word) who were put in charge of putting together an event with a goal of converting CS3-6 customers to Cloud.  They’re not idiots, and the Flash marketers sit right next to them, and can make the case themselves.  Juggling all of these products and making a case is hard, and tools get cut.  It’s not done with malice, and it’s not done thoughtlessly. A lot of smart people did a lot of work and research to come to come to conclusion you disagree with. It’s how it goes.

Joseph:

{REDACTED}– I want to be clear that I never thought anyone was making these decisions maliciously or thoughtlessly. Regardless of any disagreements I may have around Flash efforts… I am firmly in camp Adobe around Creative Cloud.

I do not have access to the data and research that you have access to… and my perspective has not been shaped by such research as yours surely has been. This places any perspective on the matter which I hold at an incredible disadvantage and renders it incomplete. There is no way I can argue against this sort of data.

So I must be wrong in my thoughts around this. I can accept that. It doesn’t jive with my experiences and personal positivity around the tool – but as you implied… that’s just how things are sometimes.

Understand where I’m coming from though: I just got done recording hours and hours of content around Flash Pro for {REDACTED}. Tomorrow I go into the {REDACTED} studio to record a course dealing with {REDACTED} – yet using Flash Pro as an asset generation tool. I cannot help but have Flash Pro front and center right now simply due to all of the work I’m doing around it. Has this colored my perspective? Absolutely. I’m up to my eyeballs in it.

In any case… thanks for the discussion and your willingness to hear me out and provide some insight into this matter. I do appreciate that, {REDACTED}.

REDACTED:

Make no mistake, I’m not mad or upset. Nor do I have any power to retaliate against you even if I was. I have been on your side of this conversation many, many times.  Remember I used to be a {REDACTED}.

No, I just remember what it was like to argue your side, and feel my soul slipping away just a bit to be able to so forcefully argue this side. ;)

In any case, we’ll have a good string of events in the upcoming weeks, and break a leg out there.

Regardless of how the data may have appeared at the time… it seems that Flash Professional has truly won out in the end. NEVER GIVE UP! 2016 will be a great year for Flash Professional as the reborn Animate CC!

Once again, I must stress that I am not posting these articles to “out” Adobe – it’s obvious they have been against marketing Flash in any sense for quite some time until very recently. It’s a way to snapshot a common occurrence – for historical preservation – and then to let it go.

Positive times ahead!

 

Making the Case for Flash as a Creative Platform: Part I

Over the past few years, I’ve argued – passionately discussed – with Adobe as to why they should be paying much more attention to Flash Professional (soon to be Animate CC) as a creative tool.  I spoke with many people about the value of Flash Professional and the wider Flash Platform… across many segments of the company… and after a number of face to face, telephone, and email conversations; I prepared and sent out this letter to a few of the people who I thought might be able to make a difference.

Now that Adobe has come out in full support of Flash Professional as Animate CC, I thought it might be time to publish this… as it’s been sitting in my drafts for quite some time! Names of Adobe employees and other pieces of information have been appropriately sanitized…

October, 2013:

Greetings, {REDACTED}.

I want to have a conversation around the Adobe Flash Platform and {REDACTED}. This is going to be a long email so thanks in advance for putting up with me.

It just absolutely boggles my mind how Adobe has {REDACTED}. I understand that the decision makers want to do all they can to push Creative Cloud subscriptions – that absolutely makes sense since it is going so well. I’m a huge supporter of the initiative. It also makes sense to invest in web standards tooling and technologies (it is so needed and Adobe is the perfect entity to do some real good here) – but not at the expense of the runtimes. I’m also a supporter of the Edge Tools and Services – I’ve written books and authored videos on this stuff – I champion HTML5 but I recognize the limitations and struggles involved in that platform as well.

I was chatting with {REDACTED} just yesterday and while it is great that Adobe is committed to the Flash Platform for the long term – it is terrible that we’ve gone from the plans of ASNext (new runtimes and AS4) of a year ago to having the runtimes team slashed by {REDACTED}. The numbers are there in terms of both users and apps (AIR) using these technologies (I believe a blog from the runtimes team is in the works) but this does not seem to matter any longer. Voices are not being heard.

In terms of tooling, at least the Flash Professional CC team have a good grasp on how things stand and retain a solid hold on the creative potential of that tool. Authoring content and then outputting that content to SWF, AIR, SVG, HTML5, HD Video, WebGL, Dart, whatever – that is a great strategy but all of the newer targets have huge limitations when compared to authoring for the traditional runtimes. There is so much that can be accomplished using Flash Player and AIR. The numbers regarding AIR on mobile are astounding and there is real momentum there. With the current focus on tablets and other mobile devices – this is a goldmine and has the potential to enable a boon in the creative arts.

If Adobe is trying to sell CCM subscriptions and focus on creativity… the single most creative platform in the world is just sitting there – untapped. It is amazing that they do not realize the potential the platform has to enable full-throttle, open creativity across disciplines! For {REDACTED}– there is nothing like it. At the 2012 {REDACTED} we had an Adobe VP stand up in front of us all and declare that the Flash Platform was the “largest engineering effort” at Adobe. This statement among others made during that event and over the past few years now feel like a deep betrayal to the {REDACTED} community invested in these technologies.

I get the business strategy behind the Creative Cloud. I understand the momentum the web tools and services have right now. What I do not understand is how Adobe cannot see the potential of the Flash Platform in furthering their main effort – CREATIVITY. I just don’t know how to effectively communicate all of this to the decision makers at Adobe. I can talk to you all on the {REDACTED} team… I can talk to the product managers for AMS, Flash Pro, and the Runtimes… but if the decision makers don’t hear it… if they cannot understand it – out of site/out of mind – and nothing changes for the better.

Anyway – hope this finds you well… long winded as it is. Please share with whomever you think appropriate – I would be remiss in my duties as {REDACTED} to not voice these concerns.

I think this example helps illustrate the struggles that have been going on, in the background, in regard to the Flash Platform these past few years. It’s important to remember history through snapshots like this. Now that Adobe is once again on board with Animate CC, I feel that I need to just open the windows and let the breeze in… air out all these thoughts and conversations and just let them go.

What better time to clean house than at the end of such a triumphant year?

Adobe Animate CC: The Evolution of Flash Professional

Adobe Animate CCAdobe has announced the release of all new versions of the major desktop applications available through Creative Cloud. There are a couple of applications which have not had updates made available during this milestone release… primary among those is Flash Professional CC.

Flash Professional CC is now Animate CC

FLAFlash Professional has had a strong showing at Adobe MAX this year. If you were able to attend those sessions, or any of the subsequent presentations I have given around the product, you will know that it has received a lot more resources, leading to many more enhancements over the past year. Adobe cares very deeply about Flash Professional once again and wishes to restore it as the premiere animation and interaction tool – but now as a platform agnostic creativity application not restricted to any single platform. As a point of clarity – to reinforce this renewed focus – Adobe has decided to rebrand Flash Professional CC as Animate CC.

To more accurately represent its position as the premier animation tool for the web and beyond, Flash Professional will be renamed Adobe Animate CC, starting with the next release in early 2016.

In the opening chapter of my upcoming book, I spend a good deal time specifying terminology. Explaining to the reader the differences between such terms as “Flash Player” and “Flash Professional”… with the caveat that many resources they will encounter on their journey will simply refer to either (or even both) as simply “Flash”. How confusing for users just starting their journey! The “Flash Professional” designation itself was always an odd one as it emerged when Macromedia decided to offer it alongside of a “Flash Standard” edition. Generally, most people in the community of users simply ever refer to the application as “Flash” anyhow… and none of this really makes sense any longer, given the platform agnostic nature of Animate CC.

What does all this mean for Flash Player and AIR? Nothing has changed in terms of what can be accomplished with these targets in regard to previous versions of the application. In fact… all of the enhanced drawing tools and additional features that will be soon available can absolutely be used when targeting ActionScript-based .fla documents.

Animate CC will continue supporting Flash (SWF) and AIR formats as first-class citizens. In addition, it can output animations to virtually any format (including SVG), through its extensible architecture.

All platforms benefit from new tooling and enhancements present in Animate CC! The message that is most important in regard to this subject is that Flash Player and AIR remain two targets among many – just as it has been with recent versions of Flash Professional CC. The Flash Runtimes are absolutely supported within Animate CC and will continue to be supported in the same way. These runtimes are very important to a lot of people and Adobe will not abandon them. I have a few more words on the subject of Flash Player and AIR below, suffice to say that these targets exist within Animate CC and remain a first class target platform.

1441905319366On a personal note… I feel really quite validated by this change. I have been pressing the fact that Flash Professional is one of the most creative tools out there… with lengthy emails documenting this struggle over the past few years. The variety of different project types available to us as creative people through this single application is astounding. Many of us have been holding high the banners for Flash Professional even when much of Adobe has refused to even notice them laying trampled and broken in the mud. Our work around these technologies has been marginalized and diminished – yet many have not given up. There have been handfuls of supporters who have fought alongside us in this effort – some within Adobe but most on the outskirts just building cool stuff every day despite what we’ve had to deal with.

Today… things have changed. Drastically. Flash Professional, as Adobe Animate CC, is now poised to regain its proper place aside such giants as Illustrator and Photoshop as a top tier application in the Creative Cloud portfolio. Kudos to Adobe for making some really good decisions around Flash Professional – and where to invest resources for future innovation. No more messing around… let’s create some amazing experiences regardless of platform! Choice in technology is a grand thing – and POWERFUL.

Adobe re-commits to Flash Player and AIR

Flash Player and AIRThe Adobe Runtimes, Flash Player and AIR have had a rough couple of years. There has bee no other technology which has seen such an amount of literal death threats against it than Flash Player. However, both runtimes manage to survive… and even thrive across certain segments of distribution.

Casual gamers experience Flash Player every day through their interactions across the Facebook platform.Those with small children understand how important Flash Player is when completing learning exercises through a Chromebook. Those playing console games may not know it, but the menus and HUDs are often created using Flash technology. Speaking of mobile – for the past two years Adobe AIR has won awards as the best cross platform mobile application development platform!

  • Flash Player is build into every current version of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Internet Explorer.
  • Flash Player remains an integral part of the Google Chromebook experience.
  • Flash Player for other browsers is downloaded over 1.2 billion times every month from Adobe’s servers. This is in addition to what is stated above.
  • Adobe AIR has seen over 4 BILLION application installs in the past couple of years.
  • There are over 200,000 Adobe AIR applications available for both Apple iOS and Google Android.
  • A number of 3rd party projects continue to make use of ActionScript, Flash Player, or AIR: Apache Flex and FlexJS, RedTamarin, and others.
  • Even the very DNA of the web has been affected by these technologies as HTML5, JavaScript, and related technologies absorb capabilities first introduced through the runtimes. Flash is absolutely everywhere!

Adobe has announced today that they have partnered with Facebook alongside existing partners such as Microsoft and Google to assist with the Adobe Runtimes moving forward!

“While standards like HTML5 will be the web platform of the future across all devices, Flash continues to be used in key categories like web gaming and premium video, where new standards have yet to fully mature. Moving forward, Adobe is committed to working with industry partners, as we have with Microsoft and Google, to help ensure the ongoing compatibility and security of Flash content. In that spirit, today we are announcing that we are working together with Facebook to help ensure Flash gaming content on Facebook continues to run reliably and securely. As part of this cooperation, Facebook will report security information that helps Adobe improve the Flash Player.”

There is truly nothing like Flash Player and AIR.

Edge Animate and the Edge Suite

Edge AnimateWith all these good announcements also comes the bittersweet news that Adobe is no longer going to be actively developing Edge Animate (and the entire suite) and is working toward integrating the more successful concepts from these tools into the major desktop applications. Some examples of this include .oam output from Animate CC, device preview in Photoshop CC, visual breakpoints in Dreamweaver, et cetera.

I’ve been a big supporter of Edge Animate… having been an active member of the early advisory board for “Edge”, writing two books and authoring a number of courses and standalone tutorials on the product, and even teaching a university class on Edge Animate for the past four years… I’ve placed a lot of time and love into this product. Part of me is quite sad to see development come to a close.

With so many great libraries out there which can animate DOM elements, it really doesn’t require a tool to do so. Where a tool is required is for complex animations and interactions which are rendered within HTML5 Canvas. This is where Flash Professional CC (now Animate CC) has always had the upper hand.

Moving Forward

51XhAEoe3EL._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_Over the past few months, I have been working on a good number of resources in support of these changes. Having published content on Flash Professional earlier this year for BrainBuffet, Train Simple, and Lynda.com… I happen to know that ALL of these publishers are interested in more material focusing on Animate CC! In addition to this, I’ve written what will be the very first book on Animate CC to be published soon by Adobe Press and Peachpit. I’ve also recorded a good amount of video content in support of Animate CC and the transition to come. Please join me in enthusiastically embracing this change – advancing these technologies and tools to the forefront of the creative community!

Additional Resources (updated 12/14/2015)

I’m adding this section post-publication to include helpful links and other resources around these subjects as they come to my attention.

Official Adobe Announcements

Helpful Community Resources