Vegas: Elvis, Blue Men and the world's biggest Flash enabled

I'm in Las Vegas this week for MAX, Adobe's annual user conference, and this morning's opening keynote went off with a bang. And a loud one at that!

I'm in Las Vegas this week for MAX, Adobe's annual user conference, and this morning's opening keynote went off with a bang. And a loud one at that!

The music blasts from speakers either side of the stage, just like waiting for a rock concert to begin. It's Elvis and this is
Vegas... but this time it's "Pump It Up" and it's Elvis Costello - I can't help but wonder if it's deliberately ironic or accidental.

As the lights dimmed the main stage spun around in an unexpected fashion and the Blue Man Group appeared, doing the goofy stuff with paint and drums that they've become famous for.

This morning's keynote was all about the workflow and how the next versions of Adobe products will work together - a result of the merger between Adobe and Macromedia.

Examples of how Photoshop and Dreamweaver will be able to interact with each other. The next version of Dreamweaver will have the Adobe Spry Ajax framework will be integrated into it, offering easy to implement effects and visual components like accordion panes.

The next version of Photoshop will introduce collapsable panels. Flash 9 will be able to import Photoshop files directly
maintaining layer structure, including hidden layers. On import you will be able choose to make a Photoshop folder/layer into a Flash movieclip on import. The Flash stage can be made to size of the Photoshop file being imported. Photoshop blend mode was translated into an Actionscript blend during the demo.

Next a new After Effects preview with a richer workflow. New tools to express creativity including a new animation option
called the puppet tool which offers organic and express animation. With it you can create character animation without setting keyframes. You will also be able to embed cue points directly into a timeline.

Adobe announced a new soundtrack tool called Soundbooth. It's designed for video and flash professionals who aren't audio specialists. With it you will be able too edit and add audio effects, clean up existing recordings and create music. It will be available on Adobe Labs this week.

The next version of Illustrator will offer a better export to Flash & Flex, supporting 9 slice. You will be able to design
skins in Illustrator and bring them across to Flex Builder. Flex Builder 2 will be available as a beta download for the Mac this week on Adobe Labs.

The next version of ColdFusion, code named Scorpio will be the most feature rich with new .Net integration and server side image manipulation as some of the new features.

Working with PDFs is also going to get very interesting. You will be able to scan a print version of a form and with one button convert it into a PDF form. A new version of LifeCycle Designer will offer the ability to build forms that can be used as either Flash or PDF version with data able to be shared between the two versions.

Although it's been shown off already at a few other conferences the must see for me was Apollo, Adobes cross operating system runtime that will deliver Rich Internet Applications for the desktop. Content can be built in Flash/Flex, HTML & Ajax and Acrobat. The two standout Apollo demos were Google Maps interacting with Flash based VCards and a stand alone eBay application.

Adobe announced that they are going to establish a venture fund of US$100,000,000 to be used to be invested in companies leveraging Adobe platform technologies, particularly building applications that make use of Apollo.

As a taster for tomorrow's keynote Adobe showed off the largest Flash enabled device, a Jaguar sports car, which has an
entertainment system built by Alpine that has a Flash UI.

OK, if all of that is a mouthful there's still more to come with another keynote tomorrow, will fill you in on that and the other activities happening during MAX.