Adobe MAX conference: Sneak Peaks, Sound Treats

To close MAX 2006 Adobe gave delegates at the conference a sneak peek at some upcoming technologies and products.

To close MAX 2006 Adobe gave delegates at the conference a sneak peek at some upcoming technologies and products. With a satellite radio up as a prize for a people's choice favourite demo there were some great insights into what's happening in the labs of the Adobe product teams.

Some of the offerings were additional previews of new versions of popular products in development, while others where experimental stuff that the staff had been working on for themselves.

From the Breeze/Connect team came a demo of a plugin for Yahoo Messenger 8 that allowed you to invite your buddies to a Connect Meeting. The meeting was special as it one of the pods contained an Acrobat document that was synchronised in both users machines - Connect does not currently have the capacity to display Acrobat files.

From the ColdFusion team came a preview of Scorpio, the next release of ColdFusion. The server being used in the demo was failing, and to the rescue came Scorpio Man!!! ColdFusion Evangelist Ben Forta donned a cheesy costume for the event, but what was impressive was how the server's new monitoring tools can identify problem code running on the server - down to the line number.

Another demonstration of Soundbooth came next, available on Adobe Labs today this is looking like an excellent new product. Featuring standard like setting fades on sound files what impressed me was the ability to also see the frequencies that a file contains. A squeak from a sound effect was identified and eliminated. Another feature is bundled loops that can be easily used for soundtracks. You can link a loop to a video clip and have the loop adjust it's timing to suit the duration.

The new version of Fireworks will be a useful tool to Flex developers. It has copies of all the UI components that can be
used to do design prototypes which can then be exported out as Flex files. New features like intelligent scaling, even for
bitmaps, will be useful as well. Another new feature will be pages, where designers can create multiple versions of a design within the one Fireworks file and do a quick save to HTML so that a client can see designs in browser.

Adobe's Ajax framework Spry was demoed in a proof of concept application that used a tiny Flex file as a pipe to Flex Data
Services. This allowed for data to be pushed to the page without additional trickery. I'm in two minds about the technique as I wonder what real benefits occur compared to the whole application being built in Flex - the Flash player would be needed either way to make the application work.

From the Flash team came a preview of the next version of the Flash IDE. Compile errors have their own panel now, with the ability to quickly jump to problem code. Developers can set a target Flash file so that they can compile and test directly from within an ActionScript file. A new debug workspace was also demonstrated.

Beau Amber demonstrated the new Flash components that his company has been developing for Adobe, the big news here is a dramatic increase in performance and improved accessibility.

A member of the Acrobat team showed the 3D features in the next version of Acrobat. A model of a Motorola mobile phone was easily interacted with, what's new is the ability to add Flash to the model to provide interactivity and video - the demo itself was very slick, dialing the right combination of numbers on the phone eventually played the famous theme from Close Encounters and caused a video clip to play on the phone.