The FITC Toronto 2009 officially ended yesterday. Congrats to the award winners. My overall experience was pretty good. I’ve attended FITC in the past four years and they are getting better and better. This year, I’ve learned a lot of new things about Flash, particularly the multitouch Flash content and mobile Flash. In this post, I’m going to share my thoughts on some of the presentations that I’ve attended.
Touch me Baby
Presented by Lee Brimelow (platform evangelist at Adobe), it is one of the presentations that I particularly liked. Lee started the presentation by instroducing the history of multitouch and supported devices such as the iPhone, Microsoft Surface, HP Touchsmart, etc.
Then he demostrated on how to create multitouch in Flash CS5. With just a few lines of coding, he created a photo gallery where you can drag, rotate, and zoom the photo with multitouch gestures as seen on the iPhone (eg. pinch to zoom). He tested the movie with Device Central. With the new Device Central CS5, you can test Flash without the actual mobile device. Basically, it is a simulator that lets you to test Flash as it is appear on the mobile phone. You can even test multitouch gestures. To test multitouch in Device Central: hold Alt / Opt key and click to set the first point, then drag around the mouse to simulate multitouch gesture/movement. Right now, you can only do two touch points, but they are working on it to build more touch points.
Watch the video below to see how multitouch works in Device Central (skip video timeline to 6:30).
Richard Galvan (technical product manager) and Mark Anders (Flash Catalyst) started the keynote by showing off Photoshop’s new features in CS5: puppet warp and content aware fills. Most of the attendees have already seen the puppet warp and content aware feature during the CS5 pre-launch event, so it wasn’t that wowing but if you haven’t seen it before it is a must see. Check out these videos: content aware & puppet warp.
Flash Player 10.1
Richard and Mark then demonstrated the new Flash Player 10.1 on various mobile phones such as Palm Pre and Nexus. The new player runs Flash content smoothly as if it is being viewed on desktop computers. It has higher performance and it consumes less device’s battery.
One of the major changes in Flash CS5 is the file format. The source file is no longer saved as a single binary file, instead it is stored in a folder. The new .fla file acts like a zip folder where the codes, images, and assets are stored. You can edit the files within the folder without having to open it in Flash. This is a great feature for team collaboration. You can have the developers work on the coding and the designers work on the image files.
Flash Catalyst is a new product that Adobe introduced to CS5. They’ve been working on this new software for several years. I was on their early pre-release beta program when I was designing a demo template for them back in 2008 (they called it Thermo at that time). Back then, I didn’t see the purpose of it. After I saw Mark Ander’s presentation on Flash Catalyst, I have better understand of it. Catalyst is for designers to build interactive Flash without any Actionscript skills.
Mark did a quick demo on Catalyst. He showed how easy it is to import Illustrator design into Catalyst. All text, graphics, and layers are retained (you don’t have to copy and paste). Then you can convert any graphic element to a button or scrollbar, and assign actions to it. All the actions and options are on the palette. No coding is required.
To the advance Flash developers, you probably won’t find it useful. But to the designers with no coding skills, Catalyst is like a magic tool to build interactive Flash content.
One of the major new features in InDesign CS5 is you can convert the design into an interactive SWF format. You can do simple transitions such as animating objects around and assigning click actions to buttons. I rarely use InDesign, so this feature doesn’t really wow me. But I can see how print designers with no Flash skills can benefit from this new feature. This feature might be good to create interactive presentation slideshows.
Luncheon With Adobe Team
I was invited to join the luncheon with the Adobe team (left to right: Mark Anders, Richard Galvan, and Tom Barclay). The Adobe team discussed the benefits of making Flash file as an open format (a zip folder instead of a single binary file). It is very nice to hear that Adobe is working hard with their partners such as RIM, Google, Palm, etc. on the Open Screen Project to make Flash more accessible across all devices.