Recap of the Adobe Education Leader Institute 2014

Not long ago, I made my way back out to San Jose, California to attend what I believe would be my 6th annual Adobe Education Leader Institute. They have held the institute for years before that but no one involved in higher education was at that time a part of the program – at least not formally.

This is an event I look forward to every year. Not just because I get to visit Adobe HQ and learn a bunch of cool stuff from Adobe executives, product managers, the Adobe education team, and other AELs… but also because I get to hang out with these people and really hash things out, non-stop, no-holds-barred, for the duration of the conference. It’s an amazingly tiring yet simultaneously energizing experience.

A lot of future projects and collaborative efforts are seeded at this conference. I was even able to drag a bunch of AELs and Adobians down to a shadowy bar for late-night absinthes… so these people really are all-right ;)

Conference Overview Video

Here follows a video recorded during the event in which a number of AELs and Adobe EDU team members share insights on the conference, the AEL program, and what it means to stand for creativity in education.

AEL Institute 2014 from CreateEDU TV on Vimeo.

Flash Runtimes Panel

As mentioned in another post, I organized a panel at the conference around the Adobe Flash Runtimes. The primary point I want to spread throughout the general community and within Adobe itself is very simple. Great work still happens around the runtimes and no one should be dismissive of either their potential or application in the world today.

Aside from the perspectives that Andy and I provided as part of our real-world experiences at large institutions – Chris had some nice insights into how things are seen at Adobe and where the stats lie : 95% Flash Player penetration, full, quarterly releases, and 1.8 billion app installs is nothing to sneeze at or dismiss lightly.

Having a proposal like this accepted by Adobe, at Adobe HQ, by a large section of Adobe (education) which is under their enterprise area is also significant. As many have commented – there is a sort of rift within when it comes to the runtimes.

Aside from this presentation, I was able to speak with Chris for a few hours (thank you for your time, Chris!) and also the PM for Connect on a separate occasion. I get the very strong impression that Adobe is committed to the runtimes despite shifting roles.

When considering major investments like Connect or Primetime – these significant money-makers rely upon Flash. Besides which, they are very aware that it would be a terrible thing to “break the internet” and that Adobe (whether they like it or not) have a responsibility to ensure the future of the runtimes through platform support, security patches, and bug fixes at the very least.

Of course, we know that Chris and his team go far beyond this to provide support for new platforms like Intel on Android and new functionality such as AGAL2. So, while development is scaled down from the days when Adobe was all about Flash – the runtimes are nowhere near “maintenance mode”.

Hopefully this presentation and the retention of this set of artifacts within Adobe’s structure will help bring a little more positivism and awareness to the story. All I’m asking is that Flash is recognized for what it has done and for what it continues to do for the web and beyond. No one should be dismissive about these things – no one.


Always an adventure… and no one was hurt! Thank you to the Adobe EDU team and thank you to my fellow AELs for the great discussions and sharing over theses past couple of days. Let’s do it again in 2015 ;)

Another update to LevelUp for Photoshop CC: Level 5


LevelUp for Photoshop is a game of missions — and points and rewards — that guide you along the way of learning basic Adobe® Photoshop® CC software skills. If you are just starting to use Photoshop, this is the game for you.

We just shipped an updated version of LevelUp that contains a new, fifth, level. This new level has missions to help you create a poster, which is a bit different from the first four, which are all related to photography.

New in this version (1.1.0) of LevelUp for Photoshop CC:

  • An additional level to attain – Level 5: Create a Poster
  • Level 5 has three missions: Create a Poster, Add Text, and Add a Picture.
  • A new set of Quiz questions
  • Freeform Bonus Round

To install this update, navigate to Window > Extensions > Adobe Exchange:
Extension Panel

Then simply perform a search within the panel for “LevelUp”:

Adobe Education Leader Institute 2013

AEL 2013
Next week I’ll be attending my fifth (5th!) Adobe Education Leader Institute at Adobe HQ in San Jose, CA. This is an annual event where AELs are invited to interface with Adobe and one another for a week of pretty intense collaboration, networking, teaching, and learning (and shenanigans). This is an event I look forward to every single year because it involves such a great group of passionate individuals who care so deeply about both this technology and the people it affects. One of the new additions this year is an unconference day… things could get crazy :)

I have two sessions planned. One is a quick introductory session on Adobe Scout CC and the other is a full session on Edge Tools and Services. Looking forward to presenting on both of these topics!

Impact of Adobe Edge Tools and Services in Higher Education

Everest Conference Room, East Tower, Level 2
Presenter: Joseph Labrecque, University of Denver

Adobe Edge Tools and Services affect many aspects of higher education; from the classroom, to the staff office, and the internal development of tools and systems. Adopting this technology is exciting but challenging. This presentation addresses:

  • Curriculum issues facing Animation, Design, and Web faculty
  • Training needs of technical staff
  • Impact on legacy systems

Profiling with Adobe Scout CC

Park Conference Room, East Tower, Level 1
Presenter: Joseph Labrecque, University of Denver

A quick overview of profiling ActionScript in Adobe Scout CC with emphasis upon the new memory allocation features.

Audience interpretative drawing of my presentation ;)
Audience interpretative drawing of my presentation ;)

Education Exchange 2013 Refresh

This week, Adobe released a totally revamped version of the Adobe Education Exchange!

Hey! Look who is quoted on the homepage!
Hey! Look who is quoted on the homepage!

For those unfamiliar; over the past two years or so, the Education Exchange has provided a way for educators to share resources, materials, content, and whatnot to anyone else registered with the exchange. There is also a place set aside for discussions that was introduced last year. The new updates not only redesign the entire system – but also create a more personable environment for collaboration and sharing. There are two features that I’ll highlight here: public profiles and a new points system with a growing set of badges.

Public Profiles
Member profiles are now more public and provide a much greater amount of visibility to a member. Included in the profile are links to other networks, a rundown of EDEX contributions, involvement, and personal network statistics.

Points System and Badges
badges A set of earnable badges are also displayed upon the profile page alongside an activity stream. Some of these are small changes… but I think they’ll do well to enable members to better interface with one another and with the exchange.

I’d recommend that anyone involved in K12 or Higher Education register and contribute to this great resource!

Create the Web: A Look Back

I was fortunate to be able to attend the Create the Web event that Adobe put on in San Francisco early last week. During this one day event, Adobe basically revealed their plans for tooling and services around web standards with a series of announcements, walkthroughs, and deep dives. As someone who is heavily invested in the Flash Platform but has also worked extensively in HTML & Friends over an even longer amount of time, I came away from the event with some very positive feelings in the direction they are taking all of this.

Note that some of this post takes on a more journalistic tone than many of my others. If you don’t want to know the more personal details of my trip – you may want to simply skip to the bottom for major take-aways :)

I flew in late Sunday morning from Denver and landed in San Francisco around noon. A quick taxi ride to the Marriot Marquis and I was all checked in. There was nothing on the official schedule for the day or evening, but some of the community people who had traveled to the event were arranging a small get together that evening and I had some time to kill beforehand. Fellow Denver AEL, Matthew Leach, and I decided to walk around the city and explore some of the local attractions. In many ways, San Francisco reminded me of the 16th Street Mall here in Denver – just spread out over a much wider area. Evening was spent with Matthew, Tom Green, Dee Sadler & co., and Doug Winnie; drinks, dinner, and a really interesting trolley ride!

Fun Fact (1): This was my first time back in San Francisco since Adobe MAX 2008!

Fun Fact (2): Same hotel, too!

Monday was the event itself: an entire day (and evening) of presentations and gatherings around Adobe and the web. After a nice little breakfast, I checked into the event and had some nice conversations with a whole assortment of fine people from the general community and from the Adobe and Animate teams.

Doors opened around 10:00 and I was able to get some nice seats up front. The keynote itself started with a good overview of contributions Adobe has made to WebKit, the W3C, jQuery Mobile, and such. It’s actually really impressive that they’ve been able to get features like magazine-type layouts and CSS Shaders into the spec (and into some browsers!) as quickly as they have. An online tool, CSS FilterLab, is available to see a bunch of filters and custom shaders in action – it is quite impressive.

The second half of the keynote was focused on tooling and services. Specifically, a new suite called Edge Tools and Services; Edge Animate, Edge Code, Edge Reflow, Edge Inspect, Edge WebFonts, and PhoneGap Build. This is an entirely new suite of products and services targeting web standards in a way which Adobe has not traditionally been involved in; rapid, transparent development practices, feedback from the community early and often, even including community contributions in core application codebases. It really is what open source Adobe Flex should have been and it is good to see that some have learned a lesson or two from how that was handled. I am excited for this new family of tools and am glad to be a part of it from the very beginning with my work through the Edge Advisory Board.

A presentation on “The Graphical Web” followed the keynote. It was honestly a bit dry… if you’ve have been involved in the Flash community for the past 15 years of so – the immediate takeaway is that the 7 different technologies showcased during the presentation were sort of retreading old areas. It’s great that the web can do a lot of this natively, do not get me wrong – I am happy to see it all coming together, but it is hard to get excited for “new” things you’ve been doing for 10+ years already. Sorry – I am hard to please!

The remainder of the day consisted of time for lunch and a number of sessions focused upon different tools in the new suite and beyond. The session on Animate was very good and including both Sarah Hunt and Lee Brimelow together for this portion was brilliant. One aspect of Animate I’ve always tried to focus on are the similarities with Flash Professional and how simple it is to pick up and just start using this new tool for those already familiar with Flash Pro. The other stand-out session for me included the experimental Pipeline demos from Tara Jane Feener and company. Some really neat web inspection with Chrome… I want to see more of what they are working on!

After the conclusion of the event, a few of us AELs gathered in the hotel lobby to talk about what we’d seen that day. I think all of us came away quite positive from the experience – though questions around how to teach around these tools and services will remain with us for quite some time. The good thing is that many of us are already teaching Animate, Inspect, and the technologies around them… so I’m sure we’ll figure something out :)

That evening, the Animate team threw a sort of release party for Edge Animate 1.0 and I couldn’t be happier to see this go gold! After working on my soon to be published book, Learning Adobe Edge Animate, for over a year now – amidst all of the changes that were thrown in at the strangest times during the production cycle… and some of the most bizarre scheduling I’ve ever seen in my nearly 8 years of Adobe prerelease experience: again… I could not be happier.

The great thing on top of this is that the final product really is a killer application. It’s fun to use and even after working with it so closely over the past year or more – I am still learning all sorts of neat things with every project and demo I build with it. Big congrats to Sarah Hunt, Mark Anders, Rich Lee, and the rest of the team! (and thanks for putting up with us cranky authors)

The night wrapped with a splendid dinner with members of the Adobe Education team and a few fellow AELs. (Thank you, Claire!)

The day after. Not much to say, really. I spent a good part of the morning simply gathering everything from my hotel room and packing. I was a bit nervous for my flight seeing the thick fog that had engulfed the area. Turns out to be not a huge deal though as my flight was able to leave on time. After gathering my things and checking out, Tom and I were scheduled to have a quick breakfast with video2brain so that we could finally meet some of the people we’d been working with so much. Additionally, we chatted about some new courses in the works. More on that soon.

A personal challenge for myself during this trip was that I intentionally left my laptop at home. All I had with me was an Android phone and tablet – and I never even powered on the tablet. Looks like I can survive without hauling a huge laptop around, afterall. Good to know for the future!

Impact on Education
As an Adobe Education Leader; at events like this I am always mindful to try and see things from the faculty and student perspective. Teaching complex subjects such as animation, interactivity, and responsive design has been difficult for a number of reasons; primary amoung these are the amount of prerequisite knowledge required to even approach these activities, and the sheer amount of unaided time and effort required. What Adobe is now doing with the Edge Tools and Services is astounding because they are introducing tools which address both of these issues. This allows the instructor to teach concepts and techniques using tangible assets and the student to freely express their vision in a much more direct and familiar way. In terms of emerging web technologies: Adobe has thrown open the doors to a renaissance!

(psst! I’m at 1:24!)

Keep in Mind…
I have a few lingering thoughts after the event on points that I do not think were mentioned at all during the week, glossed over by some, or totally ignored alltogether:

  1. Create the Web is not a Flash event. I knew this, of course – and even though Flash was mentioned a LOT during some of the sessions… no one should expect any major Flash announcements from an event focused on web standards. I saw a bit of grumbling over my Twitter stream around this – it just isn’t the focus of the event. There is a ton of great activity around the runtimes and tooling; new public betas, Flash Builder 4.7, “Hellcat”, project “Monocle”, a new ActionScript Compiler (ASC 2.0), a revision of both the runtime virtual machine and ActionScript language – Flash peeps have a lot to look forward to.
  2. Adobe has been investing in html for years before this. Certainly not as much as they are now – but to frame this as Adobe “waking up” around HTML and web is just off. HTML has been stagnant for years upon years. Now that there is activity in this area, of course Adobe is going to contribute.
  3. Adobe has been involved in many open source and open spec projects in the past. This isn’t new for them. There are open specs around PDF, SWF, RTMP, et cetera… not to mention the Adobe Flex framework, Open Source Media Framework, the oAuth 2.0 Library for ActionScript, and many other great libraries of code. Adobe has been strong on “open” long before HTML5.
  4. Stop assuming anyone involved in web standards is “moving on” from Flash or anything else. I was going to write a whole post about this… drives me insane. Please do not use such dismissive phrases as “moving on” when talking to the Flash crowd: chances are, they were doing the web standards thing before ever touching Flash… and have been using both in parallel for many years. It is frustrating and diminishes the great work that many have done and continue to do with this platform.
  5. A better enabled, more expressive web is good for everyone. I mean… c’mon! Don’t hate on HTML & Friends just because of it’s peculiarities. It is the foundation of the web, after all.

Thanks for reading!