Adobe CS6 Released on AIR?

Adobe AIR allows developers to build web applications without a browser. Why is this important? AIR apps are a combination of a web and desktop applications allows users to run web applications on any desktop whether it’s Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Adobe AIR utilizes HTML and Flash to give the user a consistent experience that feels like a desktop application. This enables applications to have more power and functionality, and because they run in the background, can enable notifications.

One example is Earth Browser by Lunar Software. It’s a 3D view of the earth that relays real-time weather conditions including live earthquakes, satellites, wildfires and more. With a simple click, you can view volcanos all over the world, and get real-time data on their activity.

With the recent Adobe-Apple war, we have to ask if this means that CS6 will be released via AIR? Clearly AIR is a pet project of Adobe, and has already taken off like a rocket.

From a practical point of view, users may love their Macs, but need their Adobe apps. Most of us consider Photoshop/Flash/Dreamweaver/InDesign a lifestyle, and with a library of existing files, a change to anything else is impossible.

It will be interesting to see how the current debates between Adobe/Apple/Flash/iPhone/AIR continue.

Adobe CS5 Free Shipping Ends May 31st

Adobe is offering free shipping on CS5 until May 31st, 2010. Adobe Creative Suite 5 is turning out to be one of the best upgrades since Photoshop version 3. Some of the new features to Photoshop are:

  • Better RAW processing
  • Content Aware Fill
  • Auto lens correction
  • Expanded painting effects
  • Advanced HDR processing

If you’re confused about pricing, Adobe has a great chart for you to examine the different applications and the best suite for you. Ascend is offering CS5 classes starting in June, but will continue to offer CS4 as long as there is demand.

The battle behind the screens – Flash vs. Silverlight

It’s definitely a war–it’s just that it’s a Cold War.

Since Microsoft released Silverlight, (and by the way, watch what happens when you surf over there) their answer to Adobe Flash, in 2007, there’s been a (sort of) silent war going on behind the two software giants about who gets to play your movies.

When you go to a site like Youtube or Hulu to watch videos (and who among us does not, these days?), isn’t it awesome how fast it is? How clear? How the videos you watch don’t take up space on your hard disk or really even slow down what you’re doing in the background? That’s because when you go to those sites (and soon others like Vimeo and possibly Dailymotion), your browser loads a plugin to let you read the Flash Video that someone has posted and that the website has slightly reconfigured–and plays it right from the source, like you’re looking through your computer to where the video really is, somewhere else. This means that anyone, anywhere can see it, which is good news for video producers and marketers alike. Just as Mac OSX, Windows, and Linux can all (usually) read the same types of files, now we can all see almost any type of video–the trouble is that not everyone feels like they’re making enough money this way.

Any guesses who? (*coughSilverlightcough*)

Well, you’re mostly right, but it isn’t JUST Microsoft. There are plenty of people out to get Flash, now that it’s the standard for video playback on the web: Sun Microsystems (who makes Java), plenty of open-source proponents, and Apple have either resisted or worked around integrating Flash into their video products (iPhone, anyone?) but more than ever, Adobe is realizing that if they want their product to stay at the top, they’re going to have to get into some heretofore unexplored venues. To that end, the rumors are flying about new tools for developing iPhone apps using Flash, putative Flash support on the theoretical Apple Tablet (if it exists, right?), and more.

Microsoft is responding to this by leveraging their power toward pushing Flash out of certain areas; ever notice that the streaming function of Netflix is run on Silverlight instead of Flash?

So here’s the question: both Flash and Silverlight are proprietary software, and both are the big boys when it comes to video playback on the web–now whom would we prefer as the keeper of our vids? Because someones’s going to win this battle–and either way, it’s going to mean a lot about how we get (and what we can do with) our video.

What do you get for the phone who has everything?

iphone, rumors, questions, next

What to do next with the coolest phone Ever?

So ok–it’s going to be a while until we get Flash for the iPhone, but I think we can all agree that it’s still pretty cool. The question is: now that you can do almost everything on the iPhone, like getting GPS Driving directions, reading e-books with the Kindle App, checking your email, stock quotes, and weather forecasts, and watching movies…what’s next for this niftiest of devices? I know! NEW APPS for it!

When the iPhone came out in 2007, most users were impressed and pleased with the number of cool applications you could get for it; in fact it’s this that makes the iPhone more of a palmtop computer than strictly a phone–you can load new software and get upgrades just like you can with your laptop or desktop. That said, the idea of WRITING software for the iPhone was, and still is for many, a black box. What’s involved in writing an app for the iPhone? Do you have to learn a new language? Does it mean you have to HAVE a Mac computer…or even own an iPhone?

With the meteoric takeoff of Apple’s App Store, it’s become clear even to the comparative luddite that someone is creating all these apps, and with the iPhone gaining (still!) in popularity, it seems likely that more and more people will learn how–but how?

Well, as far as that goes, there are a couple of ways to get going, but the best we can think of is a class on iPhone Application Development – how to use Objective-C, how to upload and test the apps, and how to get the most out of what you create.

Since the much-touted PastryKit is only a theory at this point, and since it’s gotten even easier to market new Apps with all the upgrades to the App Store, we think now is a fantastic time to start learning to program for what is STILL the coolest phone out there…and what can only be made cooler by a new app…by You!

Adobe Labs: Keep Updated on Adobe New Technologies like Pixel Bender

adobe-labs- by Jori Curry

Adobe Labs is a fantastic arena to collaborate in the development process of Adobe. Users find pre-release access to software, hosted applications and more. Resources such as code samples and forums allow visitors to interact with like-minded Adobe developers.

The most current technology on Adobe Labs is Pixel Bender. Previously under the code-name Hydra, it first was supported by After Effects CS3 as an engine for image transformations and effects. It’s a way to create extensive effects in real time using the graphics card, not the processor. The Pixel Bender just-in- time (JIT) compiler allows developers to create real-time cinematic effects within Flash 10 Player, but Pixel Bender filters running inside are rendered via software, and not accelerated which could be a detraction.

“Pixel Bender always works with 32-bit floating point channels. No matter what data type is used with Pixel Bender, it will be converted into a 32-bit floating point and on output will be scaled back to the appropriate data size. It only appears to be 8-bit because all current examples of passing data to Pixel Bender so far have been bitmaps which use 8-bit channels.” Said  Justin Everett-Church, Senior Product Manager for Adobe Flash Player. 

In addition, we have Pixel Bender shaders to allow users to bypass the image effects that come with Flash and manipulate pixels in real time. In addition to graphics, shaders can be used for other CPU intensive processes in Flash. This could be a great leap forward for Flash, Flex, AIR and Photoshop in the coming months!

Check the Adobe Labs site often for the latest and greatest Adobe has to offer.

Facebook and Adobe Partner with Flash

- by Jori Curry…

Flash, FacebookAdobe and Facebook have proposed a marriage between Flash and Facebook to give developers a whole new set of tools with the Client Library, a free open source programming language. An announcement that comes after MySpace’s partnership with Microsoft’s Silverlight. Using Actionscript 3.0 Client Library, the new Facebook Connect will integrate the power of Facebook into individual websites using Flash, Flex and AIR. A good example is Red Bull that is engaging customers through Facebook Connect.

Adrian Ludwig of Adobe recently told MacWorld, “We are seeing that it’s becoming quite easy for traditional developers to start using Flash,” said Ludwig. “That’s quite a change from where it was five to eight years ago when Flash was focused on animation.”

This marriage is a library that provides Flash developers a much easier process without the Facebook platform. Many developers have built their own libraries using Ruby on Rails that tie into Facebook, but now will have a much easier time plugging into the Facebook platform through Flash. On the Adobe Developer Connection, there are pages dedicated to tutorials and videos to help get developers started.

“Combining social functionality with the Adobe Flash Platform gives the millions of Flash developers the tools to create Web experiences that are truly differentiated,” said Bryant Macy, Director of Platform Product Marketing for Adobe.

While Facebook Connect is available for the iPhone, we are still unsure if Flash will come to the iPhone anytime soon. One can hope that the recent Adobe Open Screen Project, which is designed to partner with companies to use Flash as the RIA platform is the first step in enabling Flash on the iPhone.

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iFrame Facebook application

iFrame Facebook application

Flash for the iPhone?


Flash for the iPhone?

Flash for the iPhone?

– by Jori Curry

When the iPhone originally debuted, Adobe made it clear that Flash for the iPhone was a no brainer, and would happen. Then last March, Apple openly contradicted this, and now it has come to light that Apple and Adobe are potentially collaborating to make Flash on the iPhone a reality. The previous objections have been that Flash is too much of a memory/CPU hog, and Flash Lite isn’t sufficient. While the recent announcement has been that Flash isn’t a reality yet, talks continue, and the long relationship between Adobe and Apple ensure that there is much behind the scenes development going on.

According to GearLive and PhoneMag, the issue hasn’t been battery and CPU issues, but licensing negotiations. Apple has a long tradition of promoting Open Standards, while Flash is a proprietary standard. Apple has confirmed the 2009 World Wide Developer Conference for June 8-12th, and they are notorious for unveiling major announcements at that kind of  platform. Adobe and Apple have had a long relationship dating back to the early ’80’s. Logically, alienating Adobe doesn’t seem like a good business move for Apple.

Other rumors include the upcoming iPhone will have a 3.2 megapixel camera, and sources say that Apple has ordered CMOS image sensor orders for a Flash to be included….(camera flash, not Adobe Flash on THIS rumor). Also, the new iPhone is rumored to be integrated with AT&T U-verse protocol.

Now if we could only cut and paste…

Adobe Buzzword: Putting the Squeeze on Google and Microsoft


– By Jori Curry 

Leave it to Adobe to be the dark horse when it comes to online document creation. Built in Flex,  Buzzword creates stunning documents both online and offline. While Google Docs may be adequate for those creating simple documents, Adobe Buzzword puts an unparalleled emphasis on graphics–and even allows for real-time text wrapping around images. If typography and precisely placed graphics are part of your agenda, Buzzdocs is one to watch.  

Buzzword allows users to collaborate with any number of co-authors and control versions easily. The table creating capabilities are nothing short of spectacular, and the document dashboard allows sorting by author, date, file size, or your role. Anyone can view Adobe buzzdocs without an account by signing in. Buzzword feels much like it was created by graphic designers, FOR graphic designers. Not only does it bring an elegant interface,  but it’s impressively fast. Microsoft Word files can be imported as Rich Text Format (RTF) and saved out the same way. 

Adobe Buzzword is still in Beta, but for those that need more than Word or Google Docs offers, it’s the one to watch!

Reliance on the Digital World: Voice Recognition Software

To be honest with you, there were days that I want to go back to a rotary phone and a typewriter. Things seemed so much more straightforward then. That is, until I broke my finger. REALLY broke my finger, to where my neighbor came over to assist and SHE nearly passed out. I wish I had a good story like snowboarding, skydiving, but I simply tried to open the back door at an odd angle, and voila–emergency surgery.

The point is, that when I woke up with a full arm cast on Monday, I realized that I had 9 days ahead of me of complete uselessness. You see, I have to admit that I am right handed, completely and utterly addicted to my digital life, and had no right hand to facilitate any of this. Of course, when in a crisis in my neck of the woods, you call Tristan who usually has the answer and is kind enough to make that answer happen. Tuesday morning he showed up with MacSpeech Dictate. I ensured him I could set it up–I do teach Photoshop so that should guarantee I have SOME technological skills.

I went through the install, and had to spend about 15 minutes speaking paragraphs so that it could get to know me and my speech patterns, then I was on my way. Similar to the automated voice at United or American Airlines, I found that when I spoke too slowly, it was confused. I had to entrust that the software actually did listen to me, and I didn’t have to speak as if I were talking to a 2 year old.

  Amazingly, it did interact quite well with Photoshop, Mail, Word, and iChat among other things.  As the week went by, there were absolutely many times I had to go back and “Hunt and Peck” on the keyboard so I didn’t come across as a lunatic in email correspondence. The end result was that yes–as an alternative to not being able to communicate, it was an essential, wonderful tool. Does it replace the quickness of my typing–no, but I certainly am grateful that this kind of technology exists.

– Jori Curry

Freelancer Fiesta!

Join us for a freelancer extravaganza on July 21st! Ascend Training and the Chicago Area Adobe User group will enable freelancers and those looking for talent to come together and share their samples and upcoming projects. Ascend has served the Chicago creative community for 10 years, and The Chicago Area Adobe User Group is the longest-running user group in the area. Held at the Ascend Chicago facility at 410 S. Michigan Ave. Those using Adobe Flash, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, InDesign or other creative applications are encouraged to attend.